I own 3,000 CDs and 4,000 LPs. They take up a lot of space in my apartment, and that's OK with me. They're lined up in metal racks, wood shelving, and stacked up in piles on the floor. But a lot of my friends with just a few hundred CDs are in a big hurry to dump them into their computers and get rid of the discs. I just had lunch yesterday with an audiophile friend who is in the midst of transferring all of his CDs as WAV files to his new HD. As always … Read more
UPDATE: An earlier version of this blog incorrectly described the technology used in an advertisement for the A&E's TV show Paranormal State. The technology, developed by the Holosonic Research Lab, uses a beam of ultrasound as a "virtual source", which changes into audible sound as it travels through the air. Please read the technology's inventor, F_J_Pompei's comment or visit the Holosonic Research Labs site to learn more.
The folks who heard the ad for A&E's TV show Paranormal State emitted from a billboard in New York City's Greenwich Village … Read more
I don't know how many times I've read a post or an article by some small-minded, self-important journalist advising a public company's board of directors on how to "fix" the company. The most common advice is "sell the company," "fire the CEO," or better still, "fire all the executives."
Even if a company is screwing up, how is a journalist--whose entire management experience consists of looking at his watch to be sure he files a story by 3 p.m.--qualified to dole out management advice? Is mastery of a keyboard sufficient experience to know how to run a company?… Read more
I thought technology was or should be designed to serve us. Make life easier, and that as the technology evolved it would become smart enough to figure out what we're trying to do and accomplish the task at hand. But that rarely seems to be the case; you buy a cell phone, and it comes with a 150 page owner's manual. That's why John Tierney's "Why Nobody Likes a Smart Machine" piece in yesterday's New York Times struck a chord with me.
I guess it has something to do with the manufacturers loading … Read more
I just heard a guy on the radio refer to Fountains of Wayne's "Traffic and Weather" CD as a lo-fi wonder. What's up with that? Most of the lo-fi recordings I've bought from street musicians sound like the band I heard on the street, which is definitely a good thing. Which is more than you can say about most of today's slickly produced pop and rock music CDs. They sound awful--voices never sound remotely human, guitars don't sound like guitars, and drums, forget about it, they bear absolutely no relationship to the actual … Read more
It's safe to say most, I mean like 99 percent, of music buyers don't give a hoot about sound quality. Why else would CD sales continue to plummet and worse than CD quality downloads go up every year?
OK, that's the mainstream, what about the other 1 percent; why have the audiophiles, according to a poll on the Stereophile website, already given up on SACD and DVD-Audio? Before I cite their feedback I'd like to point out that despite the naysayers, the super sound formats are still hanging on. Neil Young's latest release, "Chrome … Read more
Every few years, some new technology or application comes along that everyone's sure will miraculously conquer every obstacle in its path and, in some ludicrously short time period, make existing technology obsolete. And then, long after all the media hype fades away and investors' checkbooks disappear, well, nothing happens.
So what? Who cares? Why bother talking about our industry's bombs, the next big things that weren't? Well, for one thing, it's interesting to note how hungry we all are for news about new technology. It gets us excited. We complain about media hype, but love the hype.
It's also fascinating how existing technology has this way of hanging on by its fingernails way past the point of its predicted obsolescence. More importantly, we learn more from mistakes than we do from successes. That's part of the scientific method: hypothesis, test, learn, repeat until you get it right.
Lastly, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Those are all good enough reasons for me. So here are my top 10 technology flops. But first, some ground rules. I stuck to the last 50 years or so. And I avoided specific company products. We've heard enough about the IBM PCjr, Apple Newton, Microsoft Bob, and OS2 to last 10 lifetimes.… Read more
A reader responding to my The Beatles on iTunes? Who Cares? rant came up with this great summation: "iTunes are to audio what McDonald's is to hamburgers, but if this is how the public wants to buy music, then let 'em have it." Right on! Sound quality doesn't matter anymore, just the so-called convenience of downloading 1s and 0s at the cheapest possible price, or better yet for free. Why buy the complete "Sgt Pepper" when you can just get "With A Little Help From My Friends"? That's where it's … Read more
Yes, I know, this is Train Wreck: Dysfunctional corporate behavior. But hey, there's a time and a place for everything. And the holidays aren't about blogs, they're about family, friends, food, and of course, drink.
Wine is a complex subject that can be intimidating for novices. It takes years to really know what you're doing just with American wines, let alone those from France, Italy, Australia, and everywhere else. If you want to learn enough to buy or order good wine but don't know where to start, you're in the right place.
Years ago I wrote a column called Tobak's great wine for techies. It's timeless stuff. Click on this link and you can read the archives. You'll find articles that will teach you everything you need to know to get started with wine.… Read more
First things first--center channel speakers do one thing really well--they anchor dialog to the screen for listeners sitting over to the left or right sides of home theaters. So if your family or friends watch movies together, I'd definitely recommend using a center channel speaker.
But for one or two people sitting directly in front of their TV a center isn't necessary, and almost always sounds less good than the left and right speakers. Center speakers tend to sound boxy, so Denzel Washington sounds like he's in a box. Ditch the center and your A/V receiver … Read more