The Wilson Alexia speakers and Dan D'Agostino electronics in the Innovative Audio room at the New York Audio Show stopped me in my tracks. I heard a lot of great gear at the show, but the sound in that room was closer -- a lot closer -- to the sound of the real thing than anything else. The system had a "this is happening now" quality that takes you back to the recording session, proof that cutting edge high-end gear is getting better all the time. Yes, ubergear prices are in the stratosphere, but there were plenty … Read more
I heard through the grapevine that the Mal Valve Head Amp Three takes headphone sound to the next level, so I had to check it out for myself. I brought two of my best headphones to the Audioarts NYC showroom to audition the amp, and it really was an ear opener. "Space" was the first thing I noticed, the Mal Valve decodes spatial cues in recordings better than any amp I've heard to date; and the resolution, clarity, and purity of the sound were all superlative via my Audeze LCD 3 headphones. The Mal Valve frees up … Read more
Subwoofers are used in most home theater systems, but subs can also radically improve the sound of stereo systems -- and not just the ones with small speakers. Subs can provide a foundation to the sound that few speakers can muster on their own. So adding a sub is not just about adding more and deeper bass; rather, a properly integrated subwoofer can improve the overall sound of the system.
The No. 1 question I get from readers is something along the lines of "What's the best speaker?" Some readers include a price range, which is a huge help, but there are a lot of factors that should be considered when selecting a speaker. Or to be more precise, a speaker system.
Speakers "play" the room, so room size and acoustics should be taken into consideration when buying speakers. The pair of 8-inch tall speakers that might sound great in a 10-by-12-foot bedroom probably won't cut it in a 25-by-40-foot living room, where you … Read more
I get asked this question a lot: "Does anyone still make great-sounding affordable CD players?" Sure, most of the major brands do, but only NAD currently offers a large slate of players starting with the $300 C 516BEE, and it's a honey.
Before we go any further I want to first clarify why I'm reviewing a CD player in 2013. Despite the naysayers the CD isn't "dead," far from it. Music lovers are still buying hundreds of millions of CDs every year. Download sales just barely surpassed sales of physical music (CDs, LPs, … Read more
Most folks rarely focus on music; it's background to other activities like talking, reading, working, exercising, and so forth. They don't really think about sound that much, as long as it's loud enough, or they can follow the dialogue, or there's enough bass, they're happy. Audiophiles are more likely to really listen, so we care about how our music or home theater sounds. The more you listen, the more you hear, and the opposite is also true.
I always liked music, but it was the sound of Jimi Hendrix's guitar feedback and distortion that … Read more
One of the things that separates high-end audio from mass market gear is that it's built to last and perform at a high level for decades. I bought a 20-year-old, mint condition Audio Research SP-6C tube preamplifier 10 years ago. It looked great and sounded wonderful, but a few years later I sold it to my cousin, who was just starting to get into high-end audio.
Late last year, I bought a 30-year-old Krell KSA 50 stereo amplifier from one of my old customers. He loved the amp and listened to it all the time, but he needed money … Read more
Most audiophiles' first "serious" speaker is a small, two-way monitor, so whenever I come across a little one that strikes my fancy I share it with my readers. The Teac LS-H265 is such a speaker, and priced at $199 a pair, it's definitely in the affordable price range.
The LS-H265 measures just 7.1x11.5x10.2 inches and weighs 9.7 pounds. It has a 1-inch dome tweeter and a 5-inch woofer. I can't get over how gorgeous the piano-black finish is; the LS-H265 looks better than a lot of $600 and $700 speakers! The speaker … Read more
Physical music formats were so 20th century, so we put our music on computers. But even that was too much of a burden, so music is going up, up, and away, into the cloud and streaming. The iPod Classic is firmly rooted to the ground, and I like it that way.
I can live without Siri, iCloud, a camera, iOS 6, a Lightning connector, Bluetooth, AirPlay, or any of that jazz to keep the Classic's 160GB storage capability, and the Classic's "classic" 30-pin connector that still works with gazillions of docks and accessories. Is there another … Read more