I've always been obsessed with sound, and I've always wanted to hear my music with the best possible sound. It enhances the experience for me, because I can more clearly hear what the musicians are playing, and the subtleties in the mix, so I get more out of the music. That's true at home and for on-the-go listening, and even when I didn't have much money I still managed to put together a pretty good hi-fi. Then again, good sound is in the ear of the beholder, and that beholder may not be so sure about … Read more
I worked as a high-end audio salesman for 16 years and spent another 16 reviewing audio products. Here's what I learned: The very best gear is always expensive. Sure, there are occasional examples of affordable products that are remarkable, but they never get remotely close to what true high-end gear can offer. Beyond price the main thing that separates high-end companies from mass-market brands is high-end designers are all about maximizing performance. Mainstream audio companies rarely try to make the best possible sounding gear. They know that features, wireless connectivity, styling, compact size, cheap pricing, marketing, distribution, etc. -- … Read more
I've covered a lot of great sounding budget gear this year, but the very best audio is far from cheap. That's hardly unique to high-end audio; the best cars, cameras, and clothes are always pricey, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that cutting-edge audio can be crazy expensive. What follows is a list of most astonishing gear I listened to this year. I love my job!
Lucky me -- I get to play with lots of headphones, but I sometimes wonder if they're all made in the same factory, and their mostly plastic construction, similar features, and designs feel interchangeable. So when CNET's David Carnoy put the Meze 88 Classics in my hands I was intrigued. The beautifully finished, hand-carved ebony wood ear cups gave a high-end sheen to the design, and a quick audition proved the 88 Classics' beauty was more than skin deep.
Build quality is a step up from what you get with Beats by Dr. Dre 'phones, and I liked … Read more
With most speakers or headphones, you're stuck with the designer's sound, but with the Logitech UE Personal Reference Monitors (PRM) you get to play headphone designer and dial in exactly the sound you want.
Each pair is totally unique; they're built with the individually designed equalization curves you selected. My PRMs sound absolutely amazing, but I'm a little biased, I designed them to please my ears! Every PRM buyer will do the same, and if they totally screw up and hate the result, Ultimate Ears will give them another try. Each PRM set is handmade in UE's facilities in California.
The price for this level of customization doesn't come cheap, though; the Personal Reference Monitors sell for $1,999. That's extreme, but so are $285,000 luxury cars. I cover the full gamut of audio, from affordable to the craziest expensive gear. … Read more
DENVER--The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, held in Denver, was a must-see event for audiophiles young and old. The biggest change this year was a bonanza of affordable high-end products -- mixed in with the usual crazy expensive gear -- along with a good helping of midpriced goodies.
Music Hall had a rather plain-looking little monitor speaker, the Marimba ($349 a pair), that sounded big and truly powerful. I have never heard that level of bass "slam" coming out of such a diminutive speaker; I can't wait to get it in for review.
Whenever Apple brings out a new iPod Touch, the specs never quite measure up to the latest iPhone's, though the Touch is a good deal lighter and thinner. In the case of the new fifth-generation iPod Touch, you get an A5 processor instead of an A6 and the camera isn't as good as the iPhone 5's camera (though it has improved quite a bit).
Alas, iPod Touch buyers should also note that while Apple has included its new EarPods, they're missing a small but important feature: the inline remote with integrated microphone found on the iPhone … Read more
After a week of using the iPhone 5, I've posted my review of Apple's new phone on CNET. Which brings me to wondering: how much can a familiar-looking device that we've seemingly known about for months be capable of surprising anyone, much less a tech editor?
For me, the iPhone 5 surprised in the following ways.
The weight Shaving about an ounce off a phone's heft doesn't sound like a lot, and I've always been skeptical of incremental reductions (20 percent lighter!), but the first thing that shocked me when I picked up the … Read more
I'm a lucky guy; audio companies keep asking me to check out their gear, and that's not a bad way to make a living. Before you get too jealous, I have to listen to a lot of crap to find the good stuff. There's a lot of shipping to and fro, and that's not a fun part of my work. Every now and then something really special arrives, and that makes it all worthwhile.