The first question is, what do you want from your hi-fi? Do you want to play LPs, CDs, or an occasional movie? Next, where will you put the speakers, and how large or small do they need to be? I'm writing this blog post for folks trying to put together the best-sounding hi-fi they can on a fixed budget. That's why I won't be covering wireless systems, because dollar for dollar, the better wired speakers always sound better than wireless models.
Alex Chorine built his very first amplifier when he was 15, and one amp led to the next. He kept building amps for friends and friends of friends. This was in the Soviet Union, where there was no established high-end audio industry. Chorine went on to earn an electrical engineering degree from the Moscow Institute of Technology, and started working with TVs, but audio was his passion. He took on side projects building guitar and bass amplifiers and pro sound systems. He modified European VCRs to work with Russian TVs. He came to the U.S. in 1992, and a … Read more
Wharfedale is an 80-year-old speaker company, not to mention one of the oldest names in British audio. They make high-end and affordable speakers with prices starting at around $300 a pair. I recently checked out the Wharfedale Diamond 10.5 towers; their curvy cabinets cut a nice figure in the sound room at the In Living Stereo store in NYC. I listened to a few LPs on the stunning new Rega RP8 turntable. The tower speakers sell for $950 a pair.
The Diamond 10.5 is a three-way design with a 6.5-inch woofer, a 2-inch dome midrange, and a … Read more
I don't know how I missed Kudos Audio before, but the company has been in business for more than 20 years. When I heard Kudos' little X2 speaker at Sound by Singer in NYC I knew it was a serious high-end contender, but one that can easily fit in the most cramped apartments. Andrew Singer knows his market, and even fairly wealthy New Yorkers live in small spaces. The X2 is a mere 31 inches high, unusually petite for a tower speaker.
Though the speakers are made in England, the X2's 6-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter are manufactured … Read more
I hear a lot of geeks make jokes about "really pretty paperweights." Even some Android fans have been known to refer to the iPhone that way, just for amusement. In this case, it's ... kind of true.
We put the iPhone 4S through the normal battery of tests back in season 1, and it was relatively tough, despite a nasty purple line on the screen after being dropped. But its unibody construction meant we could never dry it out enough to save it from a spin in the washing machine.
But I believe in miracles, and I'm … Read more
The CD player's days may be numbered, but we're seeing more and more turntables. They all share the common design features of a base, platter, and tonearm, but the Townshend Audio Rock 7 turntable is decidedly less common.
In addition to those three components I just mentioned, the Rock 7 employs proprietary features, mounted on the front of the tonearm, ahead of the phono cartridge. The cartridge and its needle are designed to convert the record groove's tiniest wiggles into electrical signals, but on other turntables the tonearm is unsupported and free to vibrate at the cartridge … Read more
Way back in the late 1970s, long before the Internet, iPods, and home theater changed the way we listened to music, I worked at Sound by Singer, a high-end audio store in NYC. I didn't know it at the time, but it was the golden age of high-end. It had a good, long run that made it to the early 1990s, but the high-end audio market didn't shrivel up and die. Here in NYC there are more high-end stores than there were in the golden age. Rents are sky-high, so you might wonder how the stores prosper, and … Read more
Looking at Lego's most impressive creations -- its giant "Star Wars" sets, its Master Builder Academy initiative, its programmable Mindstorms system -- it's easy to forget that it was 80 years ago that the global behemoth had much more humble beginnings when Ole Kirk Christiansen started a little wooden toy company in Billund, Denmark.
Today, Lego is celebrating its 80th birthday, and touting its growth from a tiny outfit in a single building in Billund to the world's third-largest "producer of play materials," employing 10,000 people, many in its variety of production facilities in Europe and beyond.
As the company is fond of pointing out, "Lego" comes from the combination of two Danish words, "leg" and "godt," meaning "play well." And in the early years, when it was focusing its energies on wooden toys, it was by no means a world-changer. … Read more
PayPal announced today it is partnering with 15 more U.S. retailers aiming to get shoppers to use PayPal's offline payment system.
"Consumers are relying on technology now more than ever to simplify their lives when it comes to shopping and paying, and retailers must adapt to this shift or risk becoming irrelevant," PayPal President David Marcus wrote in a blog post. "Innovative retailers everywhere are looking for ways to improve the shopping experience, extend loyalty programs and better engage with their customers."
The new retailers include, Abercrombie & Fitch, Advance Auto Parts, Aeropostale, American … Read more
Kick the iTunes habit and stop streaming, it's time to get physical with music you can touch!
Record Store Day is a celebration of the joys of buying music in the real world, and brick and mortar stores all over the country are participating in the event on Saturday, April 21.
The first Record Store Day was in 2007, and every year more and more stores get involved. The Record Store Day Web site has this quote from author Nick Hornby:"Yes, yes, I know. It's easier to download music, and probably cheaper. But what's playing … Read more