Grado Labs is located in a small, four story building in the Sunset Park neighborhood in Brooklyn, where Joe Grado started making phono cartridges in 1958. John Grado (Joe Grado's nephew) took over day-to-day operations right after he graduated from college in the late 1970s, but he started working at the factory when he was 12 years old. The little company was producing 10,000 cartridges a week (520,000 a year), so everybody pitched in to get the orders out on time. The CD eventually lowered demand, but they currently turn out 60,000 cartridges a year, and … Read more
The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2010, held last weekend at the Denver Marriott Tech Center Hotel, showcased the best and brightest high-end audio designs.
Hundreds of high-end manufacturers from North America, Europe, and Asia, from tiny one-person operations all the way up to industry giants like JBL were on hand. RMAF has a very different vibe than the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas every January--RMAF is a more grassroots affair.
Vandersteen Audio's incredible Model 7 ($45,000 per pair) features balsa wood/carbon-fiber woofer, midrange, and tweeter drivers individually hand-crafted by Richard Vandersteen himself. Each driver can take up to one day to build. The sound is more believably natural and realistic than that of any other speaker at the show. Stereo imaging was full-bodied and dimensionally convincing in ways no other speaker can match. Vandersteen speaker prices start under $1,000, and they're all made in Hanford, CA.
Vandersteen's sound just nudged past Kaiser Acoustics' stunning Kawero speakers. These slender towers are priced about the same as the Model 7, but were even more transparent and pure sounding. The made in Germany speaker's transient speed and dynamic punch were spectacular. The design is said to produce excellent sound quality in real rooms, without any acoustic treatment. Kaiser invested seven years into research and development of the Kawero speakers.
Entry-level audiophile gear from Napa Acoustic made an immediate strong impression. Their NA-208S ($199 a pair) speakers, mated with their NA-208A ($399) tube integrated, 25-watt amplifier sounded rich, with lots of detail. Napa's build quality is the best I've seen for budget-priced gear.
The best headphone sound came from the Audeze LCD-2 ($945). These full-size headphones had a huge, open sound, with effortless clarity. Audeze has a hit on its hands, and its customer waiting list is currently running to four weeks! I hope to get a pair for review soon. The LCD-2 was plugged into Red Wine's Isabellina HPA headphone amplifier, but the headphone can also work with iPods.
I had a great chat with headphone guru and Head-Fi founder Jude Mansilla about the future of high-end audio. Our conclusion: today's younger headphone audiophiles will be tomorrow's high-end audiophiles. That is, headphones are a great way to discover what high-end sound is all about, for a fraction of what a speaker-based high-end system would cost. Mansilla promised to introduce me to a bunch of young Head-Fi-ers, who are just starting to get into speakers. The next-generation audiophiles are an intensely passionate group of people! I'll report back soon about what they have to say. … Read more
Denon will commemorate 100 years of audio innovation with its Anniversary Product Collection offerings.
One might wonder what an electronics company built in 1910, but I never really got a definitive answer at the media event held at the D&M Holdings (Denon's parent company) headquarters in Mahwah, N.J., last Thursday. True, there was some mention of the introduction of Japan's first phonograph (turntable) in 1910, but no one gave any specific information. According to Denon, it was honored to produce the very first audio recording of Japan's Emperor Hirohito's voice at the close of World War II in 1945.
Actually, the biggest surprise of the event, at least for me, was learning that Denon was founded by an American entrepreneur Frederick Whitney Horn. With Denon, he started Japan's first audio company; apparently, globalization isn't a new idea.
Denon focused most of its media event on presenting its Anniversary Product Collection's offerings, which include new amplifiers, SACD/CD and Blu-ray players, a direct-drive turntable, phono cartridge, and headphones. All of the products, except the phono cartridge and headphone, share the same $2,499 MSRP; the phono cartridge and headphone are $499 each. The Anniversary Product Collection models are limited editions and will be sold at 40 specially selected dealers in the United States starting in November. They will all be sold with five-year warranties. … Read more
It's no surprise electronic garbage commonly referred to as e-waste is piling up in our nation's landfills, but the Australian National Park Service has a creative alternative: Repeat Plastics Australia just opened a new bike path made entirely out of excess plastic materials from discarded printer cartridges.
The 10.6-mile bike path stretches between Alice Springs and Simpsons Gap in the northwest territory of Australia and sees over 120,000 visitors every year. According to Parks and Wildlife Minster Karl Hampton, the bridge echoes the Australian government's commitment to sustainable development, "saving landfill, trees, and ensuring … Read more
Psst...want to save some money on printing? Try Century Gothic.
Hit by the high prices of inkjet and toner cartridges, we're all looking for ways to shave some bucks off the cost of printing. New data from Printer.com found that because different fonts use different amounts of ink to print, using the right font could save you as much as 31 percent off your inkjet and toner cartridge expenses.
Hewlett-Packard says it has resolved several patent violation complaints filed against manufacturers of compatible inkjet cartridges.
Last September, the tech giant--arguably best known as a printer maker--had filed its latest complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), claiming that several makers of cartridges for use in inkjet printers were infringing on HP patents by importing and selling their products in the United States. Following an investigation by the ITC, 11 different companies were found to have violated patents related to HP's 02 inkjet cartridges.
Among the 11 companies charged with patent infringement, InkPlusToner.com and Comptree … Read more
Maybe it's an American thing; we love big stuff. We equate size with quality, and think that exquisitely designed, silly, expensive products are always better than more affordable alternatives. Is the new iPod always better than last year's model? Then again, how do you define "better"?
A lot of audiophiles believe more watts, more power, higher digital sampling rates, higher resolution, heavier turntable platters, speakers with more drivers, bigger drivers, or more channels of sound will always produce better sound. It ain't necessarily so.
Don't get me wrong, I love high-end audio. But I … Read more
Recently, I replaced an ink tank in a printer and unthinkingly tossed the empty cartridge into the trash bin. Looking at the ink cartridge lamps from crafts site Etsy.com, I now feel a tad guilty.
Who would have thought an expanded printer cartridge could be converted into such an interesting home decor item? Not only does it make a great conversation piece when guests swing by, it's also an innovative way to go eco-friendly.
It's just a shame there aren't any DIY instructions on how to make the ink cartridge lamp yourself. Instead, you'll have … Read more