I view the rising popularity of sound bar speakers as proof positive that more and more people are rejecting the notion of deploying five or more speakers in their home theaters. It's not just the number of speakers, people are also not thrilled by the idea of running wires to the far corners of their home theaters. Truly "wireless" surround speakers are a recurring fantasy, but I've yet to see a wireless surround speaker that doesn't have at least one wire; most have two (one for signal, one for power), which as far as I … Read more
Ben Meadors and Owen McCafferty are in their early twenties; both are really into LPs, and they are trying to raise $6,500 on Kickstarter to publish a book, "The New Face of Vinyl: Youth's Digital Devolution." The guys will travel to Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, Cleveland, and New York City to photograph and interview young record collectors, record store owners, and the occasional young vinyl buyer to ask them why they love records. McCafferty is a writer and will document their journey in a 180-page, full-color photo book.
Some new vinyl buyers really care about sound … Read more
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
PopMarket is a Sony Music Entertainment online club, or more specifically, it's a (free) members-only music club that caters to fans, bargain hunters, and serious collectors. The site offers "Daily Deals" (changing each day at 9 a.m. PT) and five channels containing a mix of premium music and rare, collectible albums, boxed sets, and memorabilia at discounted prices. Shipping is free on most items.
PopMarket is an online store, but Sony temporarily converted New York City's Morrison Hotel Gallery into a brick-and-mortar record shop on May 25, and will continue selling a limited selection of … Read more
I listen to a lot of products, trying to find above-average sounding ones to write about in this blog. So that means I hear a lot of awful-sounding gear, and as my readers know, the best stuff tends to be expensive. So when I find great-sounding, affordable products, like the Jolida JD301RC integrated amplifier and the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 speakers I featured last weekend, I'm happy to give them enthusiastic reviews. The new Deos headphones go for just $40, and for that kind of money I think they sound pretty darn good.
I have to admit the Deos … Read more
Jolida may not be the most recognizable name in consumer electronics, but the little company has been selling overachieving budget-priced audiophile tube gear in the U.S. since 1992. I have a few friends using Jolida gear, and they're all enthusiastic supporters of the brand. I reviewed the Jolida FX10 all-tube amp late last year.
The Jolida JD301RC ($425) is a 30-watt-per-channel integrated stereo amplifier. It's a "hybrid" design that uses a pair of vacuum tubes (12AX7) in its preamplifier section, and National Semiconductor MOSFET transistors in its power amp stage. The JD301RC has four line-level … Read more
Introducing a great new headphone resource: Inner Fidelity, created by audiophile and technician Tyll Hertsens. When I met Hertsens about 10 years ago he quickly became my prime source for information about headphones. Now with his new Web site, everyone has access to Hertsen's knowledge base.
He made a big splash with one of the site's first reviews, the Beats by Dr. Dre Solo headphones, and let's just say Hertsens didn't love them. You won't have to read between the lines to learn how Hertsens feels about a set of headphones. He also did a … Read more
This past Thursday I attended an informal "summit" hosted by Craig Kallman, Atlantic Records' CEO and Chairman, to learn more about the label's plans to start releasing high-resolution music. Kallman is passionate about improving the sound of music, and I was impressed by his candor about the industry's appalling track record and declining sound quality standards.
I think the widespread overuse of dynamic range compression is far more musically destructive than the low sampling rates used in formats like MP3. I fear that if the new formats are just higher-resolution versions of the dynamically compressed MP3 … Read more
More people are listening to music than ever before, but the record companies are all in dire straits. Starting in the 1980s the CD brought booming sales and profits, and the record business fell head-over-heels in love with digital audio. CDs were selling for double the price of LPs at the time, so profits soared.
But what about the music? The 1980s wasn't such a great decade for music; it peaked early with Michael Jackson's "Thriller" in early '83, and then rock music stagnated. Rap and hip-hop, born in the digital era, were the only new … Read more
Most of my audiophile friends believe that headphones (and speakers and electronics) sound better after the first 100 hours of use than they do when they're brand-new. When I'm doing high-end product reviews I leave the "burn-in, break-in" question up to the manufacturer. If the company's reps claim their product won't sound its best until it has a solid month of use, I'll request a unit with enough hours on it that I can start working on the review right away. If the manufacturer scoffs at the very idea of burn-in, I start … Read more