"The bigger the speaker, the better the sound" is a rule of thumb that you're likely to hear from many audiophiles. Thankfully, every rule has an exception. In this case, it's the Energy RC-Micro 5.1. Energy's latest surround-sound speaker system sports downright miniscule dimensions--the satellite speakers are a mere 4.7 inches high--but they deliver the sort of sound you'd expect from much larger speakers. Among the highlights were the $1,000 system's ability to blend seamlessly between the tiny satellite speakers and the 8-inch subwoofer. While the system's size does … Read more
Recently, a server upgrade caused my office XP system to reset to its defaults. I knew as soon as I heard the Windows startup chime that something was wrong. The first change I make on any new or renewed PC is to set the Windows sound scheme to No Sounds.
As I reset Windows' default sound settings for the umpteenth time, I got to thinking about the many Windows customizations I make on any machine I use on a regular basis. Here are my five favorite Windows interface tweaks. (Note that the last two default-beaters apply only to Vista.)
Tell … 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
It's a small island, populated by audiophiles, but please don't look down on us for our devotion to good sound.
Yes, it might seem a little strange to outsiders, but we like to hear music the way the producers and musicians did when they recorded it. If they put a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears into creating it, it might be worth listening to. Sure, you can play and enjoy music over freebie headphones or $20 computer speakers, just don't kid yourself that you're hearing everything, or more important, the emotion that went into … Read more
Technology companies are supposed to be wide-eyed novices on Capitol Hill. I've read that they don't spread enough money around or aren't hip to the ways of Washington.
Regardless of whether that's true, this weekend saw Pandora, a struggling music service, whip up enough support among fans of Web radio to help persuade the House of Representatives to unanimously pass the Webcaster Settlement Act on Saturday, according to multiple people associated with the bill. The proposed legislation is designed to give Internet radio stations added time to negotiate a settlement with the music industry on reduced … Read more
Update at 5:50 p.m. PDT: The House actually did weigh in on the bill on Saturday, passing it unanimously by a voice vote.
Proponents of Web radio stations are predicting a very close vote in Congress on a bill that they paint as life or death.
The House of Representatives is set to vote Sunday on the Webcaster Settlement Act, which would allow Web radio stations to negotiate with the music industry for a royalty rate lower than what Congress mandated last year.
Companies like Pandora are seeking a reduced rate and say that they simply cannot afford … Read more
UPDATE Friday, 3:25 p.m PT: To include Pandora's letter to fans
Time is running out on a bill that could pave the way for Pandora and other Webcasters to pay reduced royalty rates, as traditional radio broadcasters are now trying to kill the legislation.
As Congress readies to adjourn, representatives of the National Association of Broadcasters are lobbying lawmakers to stop legislation that would allow anyone streaming music over the Web, such as National Public Radio and Pandora, to continue negotiating with SoundExchange, the body that collects statutory rates for the music industry.
SoundExchange and the Digital … Read more
With Congress due to adjourn Friday, lawmakers worked late Thursday evening to resolve a couple of high profile digital-entertainment issues.
A "Webcasting" bill was introduced in Congress on Thursday that would allow SoundExchange, the body that collects royalties on behalf of the music industry, to reach a settlement on royalty rates with the Digital Media Association (DiMA) after Congress adjourns.
SoundExchange and DiMA, which represents Web radio stations such as Pandora, have been at odds over the fees charged to stream music. Sources close to the talks say the introduction of the bill signals the two sides are … Read more
If Apple's "I am rich" app limits your ways to show off, no worries. Here's another product that can help you do that with style, and is substantially more eye-catching, better sounding, and, most importantly, more expensive.
It's called the Art.Suono Wireless Music Transmission System and iPod Dock and it costs $1,500. Designed by David Wiener Ventures, which makes products under the DWV and Ferrari brands, the Art.Suono is a limited-edition, luxury iPod-compatible product that works as both an audio instrument and, depending on your tastes, a piece of art.
The product … Read more
If you're finding that your notebook is pulling double duty as productivity machine and audio server in your home, Creative has a new tandem of products that may hold some appeal: the Sound Blaster X-Fi Notebook sound card and Wireless Receiver.
The $90 Sound Blaster X-Fi Notebook sound card fits into an ExpressCard slot and, on its own, promises to restore details to compressed audio files. It also delivers an approximation of surround sound to gamers using headphones.