Are you under the mistaken impression they don't make records anymore? Or maybe you think only nerdy audiophiles are into vinyl, or just a handful of baby boomers are reliving their youth spinning dusty old platters? Groove on over to Circuit City and sample their tasty vinyl selection. The Beastie Boys new one, "The Mix Up" is there, Interpol's "Our Love To Admire," Ryan Adams' "Easy Tiger," Boxer's "The National," and the Shins "Wincing The Night Away" are all available. Circuit City also stocks oodles of golden … Read more
I met Richard D at the Home Entertainment Show in NYC in May and we immediately connected. The guy's a really intense audiophile, equally passionate about sound and music. He's a Final Cut video editor and producer by trade, so sure, he's a total tech geek. Just like me.
Last week I dropped by his Manhattan apartment to check out his hi-fi, and I have to say, it's pretty unusual. I didn't recognize any of his components, except the Atma-Sphere vacuum tube power amplifiers. The tubes illuminated the room with a lovely warm orange glow, so I felt right at home.
The monitor speakers' sides are covered with an exotic knitted weave, and Richard explained his speaker cabinets are made out of the sort of "ballistic ceramic" material used to make body armor. His speakers are, in fact, two-of-a-kind prototypes that were never put into production, probably because they would have been too expensive to manufacture in significant numbers. Oh, and there was a cool looking Raven turntable on a shelf under the amplifiers.
Richard has around 4,000 LPs, and when he played a Louis Armstrong recording from the '50s or '60s the system sounded amazingly good. Pops' vocal and trumpet were three dimensionally present and the sound was extremely precise. I loved the way the speakers communicated Armstrong's energy and rhythm--he sounded absolutely "live." And the band's acoustic stand up bass' percussive pluck and "woody" resonance were exceptionally realistic. The sound was oh-so high-fidelity, it was truly great.
Richard's drawn to gear that pushes the technology envelope, like his Liquid Ceramic Composite Conductor Audio Cables that are as thick as garden hoses. This level of exotica is really expensive, so Richard buys most of his gear second hand from Audiogon, a great source for used audio. Even so the system is worth about as much as "a nice car." He also prefers to buy from folks who allow him to try the gear at home, so he knows if he's really going to like it.… Read more
Amplifier power is measured in watts, as in "100 watts per channel," but what does that really mean? Do all 100 watt per channel receivers deliver 100 watts? And what about those "1000 watt" home theater in a box systems? Are they more powerful than 2,000 A/V receivers? And what about high-end 100 watt per channel high-end power amps? Are all watts created equal? I don't think so!
Unfortunately power ratings are a near meaningless way to compare the loudness potential of one receiver, amplifier, or HTIB against another. That's what power … Read more
I was in the Level 5 bathroom at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan, when I heard this amazing sound. Strange and beautiful music filled the one-person-at-a-time restroom, which I assumed was part of the Museum's "The Shapes of Space" show that runs through September 5. The music was pleasant enough, but there was something about the way the sound filled the bathroom that fascinated me. I could only locate one tiny speaker, up near the ceiling bouncing sound off the curved walls of the "D" shaped room. The sound was so ethereal, spacious, and calming, … Read more
Maria Schneider is a jazz composer, but on "Sky Blue" (artistShare) her music doesn't immediately sound like jazz--it's more meditative and expansive than what you might expect--it glides more than grooves. On paper her group, which has been together since 1988, looks like a big band, but it definitely sounds like an orchestra.
I recently spoke with Schneider about her music and she said "I want to create beauty and hopefully each time you listen to the CD, you'll hear something new." Well, with arrangements as densely layered as Schneider's that's … Read more
The new beta version of the classic streaming-media app RealPlayer lets users record both audio and video streams to their hard drives. In this Quick Tips video from CNET TV, Tom Merritt shows you how it's done.
Sometimes less really is more, and software that does a single task well is better than a feature-rich app that bogs down performance, clogs system memory, or over-reaches its abilities. Here are seven programs that were built to do a specific job, and succeed. These downloads may not have all the fixin's, but they taste great all the same.
UPDATED: We asked for your favorite picks and you responded. Here are five fresh one-trick ponies of the software world that you just love to bits.
MediaCell Video Converter This multiformat video converter makes the list thanks to a three-part, one-pane interface from which you browse for the video file, select the mobile device you'll be watching it on, and click the large, bubbly "convert" button. No need to concern yourself with file formats, bit rates, and sound quality. While users certainly can tweak the volume and settings themselves in the app's "output" section, MediaCell Video Converter's preset optimizations per device make it unnecessary for most.… Read more
I heard on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday that it was 30 years ago that NASA sent Voyager 2 into space with the music of Louis Armstrong, Chuck Berry, Beethoven, Bach, and a wide selection of world music. The disc that also contained images of Earth, and the sounds of whales, a baby crying, and waves breaking on a shore. The NASA scientists must have felt sound was one of the best ways to communicate human experience of the 20th century to intelligent life in the distant future.
The gold-plated, 12-inch copper disc was an all-analog recording, probably because that … Read more
I read the sad news yesterday of the death of jazz drummer Max Roach, he was 83. He played on the first bebop records with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker in the 1940s and later worked with Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins and many, many others. He remained active until fairly recently.
I literally bumped into Max Roach at the Tower Records store near Lincoln Center in the early 1980s. We were both deep in browsing mode when we collided; I looked up and immediately recognized him. We each excused ourselves while I tried to remain calm as we … Read more