Opening gift cards is always a bit of a letdown. They're great gifts--I'd much rather get a gift card than some expensive gadget that I don't want or already have, and which I'll have to return for store credit. But the moment of revelation itself? Oh, a plastic card. Kind of boring.
Until now. Beginning Tuesday, Best Buy is selling $50, $100, and $200 gift cards with a built-in mini-headphone (one-eighth-inch) jack, connecting cable and speakers. Why? Because they can! Plug any MP3 player into it and you'll be able to rock some tunes around … Read more
The great draw of portable MP3 players is quantity.
I remember when my wife and I took a six-month backpacking trip back in 1999. We never even considered bringing an MP3 player, which might have had a whopping 64MB of flash memory, enough for about a hour of audio compressed at 256kbps. Instead, we brought a Discman and about two dozen CDs in a soft case. We grew extremely bored with those CDs and ended up jettisoning or trading most of them.
Today, you'd laugh if somebody told you they were considering bringing CDs on a trip--why would you, … Read more
America may not make world-class cars anymore, we don't build plasma TVs, or iPods, cameras, or all that much technology of any sort, but in high-end audio, we rule!
Come 2009 I'd love to see the best of the best American audio installed at the White House. The sort of system that the President could, after a hard day's work solving the world's problems, use to kick out the jams with a few James Brown or Parliament-Funkadelic tunes.
I'll volunteer my services to assemble such a system (donated by the manufacturers), with the following components:… Read more
Updated at noon PST Tuesday with more detailed information on how Ecotones works.
You know those blaring horns and screeching tires outside your office window? Listen again; you're actually hearing the soothing sounds of a babbling brook.
Silicon Valley start-up Adaptive Sound Technologies is out with its first product, Ecotones. It's an adaptive noise-masking machine that blends with the audio in your specific environment to create a relaxing individually crafted soundscape called a "SoundStory."
In the event a loud truck suddenly came by, for example, Ecotones would instantly and automatically raise the volume level and insert … Read more
Samsung has put out some pretty good Blu-ray players, but the company needs to setup an RSS feed to keep buyers up to date with the constantly changing firmware plans. We got a note from Samsung this afternoon explaining that the firmware update adding DTS-HD High Resolution decoding to the Samsung BD-P1500, BD-P2500, and BD-P2550 has been delayed until the end of the year. That means owners will have to live with standard DTS soundtracks for a little bit longer if they don't own an HDMI-compatible receiver with onboard decoding for DTS-HD Master Audio.
On the upside, Samsung … Read more
If you're looking for new forms of alternative transportation, stop by Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View, Calif., where Airship Ventures is making an old mode of transport new again.
This week, CNET reporters hitched a ride on the first zeppelin to take flight over the United States in 70 years. The German-built, helium-filled dirigible will soon offer sightseeing flights from three locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of just three zeppelins operating in the world, the unique airships will begin flying later this month from Mountain View and in early November from other locations, with ticket … Read more
The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2008 was held at two hotels: the Denver Marriott Tech Center Hotel and the Hyatt Regency Tech Center on October 10 through October 12, 2008.
UPDATE: Click here to view more pictures from the RMAF.
The hundreds of manufacturers participating at the show proves high-end audio is alive and definitely kicking. RMAF has a very different vibe than the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas every January--RMAF is friendlier, without a hint of corporate oppression that dominates mainstream shows.
High-end audio is a smaller industry, where established brands such as Krell and Vandersteen compete against fledgling start-ups. Every manufacturer sets out to build the very best performing products, without the dulling constraints that Sony or Bose has to contend with.
Cruising through the 160 demo rooms I noticed an interesting trend, a minority of companies were using CD players. Maybe half had music servers/laptops, 30 percent were spinning vinyl, a couple had reel-to-reel analog tape machines, and the remainder was CD based.
Jolida's new $399 JT-10 all-tube integrated amplifier sounded awesome. It's a gorgeous glass encased design, a little jewel of an amp. Jolida also showed the JD 9 tube phono preamplifier, which was also sounding phenomenal. I believe it's $450, what a deal!
Vacuum tube electronics were plentiful, perhaps even in the majority compared with solid-state. Sure, a lot of gear was pricey, but budget high-end brands, such as Audioengine were making great sound on the cheap, the Audioengine 2 speakers run $200 a pair. Clever name, the Audiophile One is a tiny, $249, 30 watts per channel stereo amplifier. It's no toy, the little thing comes in a bunch of colors and it's built to a very high standard. … Read more
In the realm of sub-$100 headphones, audio quality can vary significantly from model to model. It can be a challenge to find a pair that's music to your ears, though there are quite a few in the price range that offer good-to-excellent sound.
One such set is the Audio-Technica ATH-CKM50A In-Ear Headphones, an $80 model that comes in a choice of three colors: black, white, or red. The name may not be catchy, and the plastic design leaves something to be desired, but if you can get a good fit, you'll be rewarded with exceptionally rich and … Read more