MonoPrice's speakers and subwoofers may be priced at the extreme low end, but they offer respectable performance for very little money. I wrote about the company's subs a few days ago, today we'll look at two MonoPrice "bookshelf" speakers: the 8250 ($28 per pair) and the 8251 ($54 a pair). When the speakers and subs are used together they can serve as a viable alternative to a sound bar home theater system, for buyers who already have a receiver.
I've heard some surprisingly decent-sounding, dirt-cheap speakers over the years, but quality subwoofer prices bottom out around $250. Sure, you can find deals on closeout models for less, but $250 or so has defined the lower limit of what you'd have to pay for a nice subwoofer.
That's what I thought, until I heard MonoPrice's 8-inch, 60-watt powered sub (model 8248). It sells for $57. Granted, for that kind of money my expectations were low, but the sub's fit and finish are respectable. The black wood cabinet measures 13.75 inches by 11.75 inches … Read more
Announced today, Mono for Android widens the scope for mobile developers who use Microsoft's .Net framework--Novell released a similar product, MonoTouch, for Apple iOS devices in 2009. Mono is the open-source implementation of Microsoft's toolset, designed to make it possible to run .Net applications across multiple platforms.
"We developed Mono for Android to give both individual developers and businesses a way of sharing their code across multiple mobile platforms, increasing efficiency and reuse of their C# and .NET expertise across the board," Novell developer platforms chief and Mono project founder Miguel de Icaza said in a … Read more
This is interesting. Sony Music's The Remix Project is a contest on Facebook where music fans can create their own remix of Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" using the song's original 4-track "stems"--the individual vocal, guitar, bass, and drum tracks.
Fans can mix and match the components of the original, with new versions of the classic that have been recorded for the project by Sony Music artists, including The Ting Tings, 2AM Club, and more. Best of all, fans can record and upload their own covers of "Subterranean Homesick Blues," and … Read more
Some users are finding that after updating to iTunes 10.1, their music is playing entirely in mono sound. Though iTunes itself does not have the ability to change your machine's output to mono, the Audio MIDI Setup utility does.
As Apple Support Discussions user Roger Wilmut1 suggests:Check this: go to Applications / Utilities / Audio-MIDI Setup. Click on "Configure speakers." In the pane which opens (right) check that the speakers are indeed set to left front and right front. Click each speaker to check the sound. Are you using external speakers? If it's still in mono … Read more
NASA scientists have discovered a new type of bacteria that is able to substitute arsenic--a poison to most living creatures--as a biological building block, something no other known life form on Earth can do, the agency said today.
In a press conference held at NASA's Washington D.C. headquarters, scientists announced that they had discovered a new form of bacteria, known as GFAJ-1, in California's Mono Lake that has DNA completely foreign to anything ever before found on Earth. It has the ability to substitute arsenic at the DNA level for phosphorus.
That would distinguish it from every … Read more
High-end cables are a controversial subject, even among audiophiles. I know an extremely wealthy audiophile who uses cheap hardware store wire in his $200,000 hi-fi system. He thinks audiophile cables don't make a difference, so he doesn't use them. That's fine with me.
When I was a high-end audio salesman I sold a lot of very expensive wires to my customers, including customers that didn't initially believe cables would make any real difference in the sound of their hi-fis. "It's just wire" was the classic rebuke, I've heard it thousands of … Read more
"The Witmark Demos" two-CD (or four-LP) set features 47 Bob Dylan songs recorded for his music publishers, Leeds Music and M. Witmark & Sons between 1962 and 1964. Fifteen songs have never been officially released until now. All of the songs on "The Witmark Demos" were written and recorded before Dylan was 24 years old.
Some of the earliest songs on "The Witmark Demos" weren't first heard on Dylan's own albums; they were covered by others, including Peter, Paul, and Mary, Stevie Wonder, Judy Collins, and the Byrds. In 1962-3 Dylan was primarily known as a songwriter, and the demos were made in hopes of getting more artists to cover his songs.
The demos weren't recorded at official Columbia Records sessions, so there's no fancy production or sweetening, just Dylan singing and playing his guitar in a tiny 6-by-8-foot studio at Witmark Publishing on 51st Street and Madison Ave. in NYC. "The Witmark Demos" contains Dylan's very first recordings of songs like "Blowin' In the Wind" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'," so it's almost as if you're hearing them at their moment of creation.
Reissue producer Steve Berkowitz worked from the surviving original analog tapes and promo records. The amount of research that went into finding the best possible tapes and other materials from nearly 50 years ago was extensive. Even so, some tunes are distorted and downright fuzzy, and sound quality varies from track to track, but most are good, and some are the best, most natural sounding versions I've heard. The demo recordings are free of dynamic range compression so you really hear Dylan singing his guts out. "Boots Of Spanish Leather" gave me a new appreciation for Dylan's singing. He's really thinking about the words. … Read more
"The Original Mono Recordings" box set features Bob Dylan's first eight albums, available on CD and in their original release format, mono LPs (and on MP3, sans box). The set runs from his first album, "Bob Dylan," released in March 1962, to "John Wesley Harding" from late December 1967. At that time most people listened to Dylan's music over mono AM radios in the car, mono portable radios, or mono home hi-fi systems. Sure, stereo Dylan LPs were simultaneously released with the monos, but it's my best guess that Dylan and his production team listened to the mono mixes in the studio. Besides, mono LPs retailed for $2.98 in the early 1960s, and stereo LPs were a buck more, so most kids bought the mono, even if they had a stereo (that would include me). "John Wesley Harding" was the last mono LP from Dylan; after that all subsequent American releases were stereo only. So unless you have original 1960s-era LPs, chances are you've never heard the mono mixes.
I spoke with reissue producer Steve Berkowitz to get more details about how the transfers were done. He assured me the 96/kHz-24-bit resolution digital masters were made from the original analog master tapes, played on vintage mono tape machines, and that the LPs were cut directly from the analog masters. I was relieved to hear that; most, no, nearly all newly recorded or remastered old analog music that comes out on LP is sourced from digital masters. "The Original Mono Recordings" on LP are pure analog discs, with no digital conversions whatsoever in the mastering process. The LPs were cut here in NYC at Sterling Sound by George Marino, a true master of the record-cutting lathe.
Berkowitz stressed the guiding principle for everyone involved, including engineer Mark Wilder and producer Jeff Rosen, was to make the new LPs sound as close to the first generation American LPs as possible. Berkowitz said, "We went back and forth comparing the new mono LPs and CDs with the original LPs. They were the 'masters' we served to replicate." … Read more
I get this question all the time, "Do I need to spend a lot of money on wire?" The short answer is no. It's like asking if you need to drop $50 or $100 to buy a good bottle of wine. No, unless you're a wine connoisseur; most folks are perfectly happy with a nice $10 variety. True, you'll use a cable a lot longer than it takes to drink a bottle, but I wouldn't recommend spending more on a single set of wires than you'd spend on wine--unless you're an audiophile.
Audiophiles obsess about the tiniest details of sound quality. That, and we frequently listen attentively, an activity few non-audiophiles ever do. Everybody else puts music on and then reads, talks, works, exercises, or cooks. So if you're not really listening, I wholeheartedly agree, spending money on expensive cables isn't a smart move. Another thing, you'd have to own a pretty decent set of speakers to hear the benefit of better cables, and if you already have a set of great speakers you're probably an audiophile.
So all of you non-audiophiles can rejoice. Don't let anyone talk you into spending a lot of money on a speaker or interconnect cable! Head on over to your local hardware store, Blue Jean Cable, or MonoPrice and buy dirt-cheap, decent quality cables. … Read more