It's got to be the No. 1 audiophile fantasy: someday we'll have a breakthrough that allows speakers to perfectly reproduce sound. Once the engineers find a new way of moving air -- presumably a more accurate method than a vibrating cone, dome, or flat diaphragm -- the heavens will part and we'll suddenly hear the sound of real instruments and singers through our hi-fis. Not so fast -- that would be a great start, but once the sound leaves the speakers and interacts with your living room's acoustics, all bets are off. Put aside the perfect … Read more
This isn't just for audiophiles. I don't care what kind of speakers or headphones you have -- once you start listening, you'll hear more of what's going on in the music. The only "downside" to focused listening is that you might turn into an audiophile. Once you focus on sound, the more you'll hear, and the opposite is also true, and the music matters less and less. I usually stick to acoustic music when evaluating sound quality, but this time out I went for highly processed, totally unnatural, but beautiful sounding recordings.
"… Read more
The Audiophiliac blog is almost six years old. I've written about everything from Spotify to dynamic range compression; from atrocious sounding music to the 30-year-old iPod; from the man with 230 turntables to 3D printing LPs and even a guy who makes boom boxes out of old suitcases, (not to mention the craziest high-end gear), but it's always about sound and music.
I always love to hear from Audiophiliac readers, but this time I'd like to give one of you a chance to spout a bit of audiophile wisdom. Write a great "think piece" about … Read more
I've lost count how many times I've given props to Emotiva's $299 per pair Airmotiv 4 desktop monitor speakers on this blog, but never got around to auditioning the next model up in the line, the Airmotiv 5, which are currently on sale for $409 a pair. The 5 sounds really good, very similar to the Airmotiv 4, just more so. There's also an even larger model, the $599-per-pair Airmotiv 6s, I might get around to checking those out someday.
The Airmotiv 5 has a 5.25-inch polypropylene composite woofer, and instead of a dome tweeter, … Read more
At first blush you might think the Audiophiliac would be thrilled to hear the news about the Universal Music Group's new High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-rays -- and I would be, if I didn't know how this story plays out. In 1999 and 2000, the original high-resolution SACD and DVD-Audio formats debuted and quickly faltered. Then the record labels tried again with the DualDisc format in 2004, and that one came and went so fast most people didn't even know it existed. I heard a lot of those discs, and I didn't feel that most (but … Read more
One great thing about Bluetooth speakers is you can use them to learn about how room size and acoustics affect a given speaker's sound quality. Experiment with placement and you'll quickly learn that where you put a speaker in a room can make a big difference in the sound, for better or worse. That's true for all speakers, but since BT speakers tend to be small and light, they're easier to move around.
Start by putting the speaker on the floor in the middle of the room, and you'll hear that it makes more bass … Read more
The continuing popularity of Bluetooth speakers mystifies me. The under $50 ones sound pretty weak, but they have a good excuse: they're cheap! Sadly, the $100 models aren't much better: they sound undernourished next to my $52 Dayton Audio B652 stereo speakers, powered by my $25 Lepai LP-2020A+ stereo amplifier. Before we go any further let's put aside for a second the question of how BT sounds; the biggest problem with BT speakers is that it's just one speaker, and can't fill a room as well as two speakers, spread five or more feet apart. … Read more
If you were around in the '80s, you know what a big deal MTV was. It launched on August 1, 1981, with the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star," and MTV changed the way we listened to tunes. Music was an all-analog medium, the CD was still a year away, and YouTube was beyond our imaginations. Thirty years ago MTV brought a new dimension to music, and we started to care a lot more about the way bands looked and moved on camera. Before MTV, music programming on TV was mostly limited to bands playing a song or … Read more
Over the past year or so we've seen a new product category emerge: the portable digital converter/headphone amplifier. Of course, no one "needs" such a device -- phones and iPods already have converters and amps built-in -- and sound perfectly fine with average headphones. The sound is good enough, but your phone's converter and amp share space and battery power with the phone's electronics. A separate converter and amp, about the size of a phone, has only one mission: improved sound quality. So if you upgraded to a high-end in-ear headphone, like the $399 … Read more
Let's face it: our "indulgences" can get expensive, so whether we go to sports events or concerts, buy flashy clothes or jewelry, gamble, drink, or take lots of vacations, those things can add up to a lot of money. Smoke a $6 pack of cigarettes every day, and you'll see close to $22,000 go up in smoke over the next 10 years. In that context, dropping serious cash on a great hi-fi doesn't seem out of line.
Middle-class audiophiles with $10,000 hi-fis might appear to be a wee bit over the top, but … Read more