Regular readers of this blog may have noticed I'm not a big fan of any type of wireless speaker, and more specifically I have no love for Bluetooth or AirPlay speakers. For me the sound compromises that come with compact size and wireless technology are hard to swallow. I have less of a grudge against the smaller, under-$200 models; they produce "good enough" sound, but the more expensive models' sound pales next to a pair of wired Adam Audio, Audioengine, or Emotiva self-powered speakers.
I'm the kind of record buyer that always reads album credits, and starting in the early 1990s, with the Pixies' "Surfer Rosa," Nirvana's "In Utero," and PJ Harvey's "Rid of Me" I noticed that all of these great sounding recordings were engineered by Steve Albini. The man is extraordinarily prolific, and to date has worked on 2,000 albums! I reached out to him a few weeks ago to talk about his work.
I've used an iPod Classic as my on-the-go music player for years, while I was waiting for something better. Sure, Astell & Kern has two perfectly fine players, the $699 AK100 and the $1,299 AK120, but FiiO smashed the high-resolution music player price barrier with the X3, which lists for $299, but which sells for $200 on Amazon and most other online retail sites.
This past Wednesday, at the Time Warner Building in New York, Sony Electronics demonstrated a renewed interest in high-resolution audio. The company had a full slate of high-resolution hardware on display, and promised review samples would be coming our way in the near future. The initiative includes a commitment to make high-resolution audio "a more convenient, compelling, and cost-effective listening experience for digital music enthusiasts everywhere. To support this, select Sony products will come preinstalled with high-resolution tracks from Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment."
The flagship high-resolution audio model, the HAP-Z1ES ($1,999) … Read more
This blog is all about finding great-sounding audio products, in every price range. In June I reported on the best-sounding headphone I've ever heard, the Abyss AB-1266, but not long after that I was knocked out by Sony's MDR-V6, and now I'm auditioning these surprisingly decent $15 Audio Technica ATH-CLR100 in-ear headphones.
Introduced earlier this year, this all-plastic design is incredibly light, just 3.4 grams. It has 8.5mm drivers, sports small, medium, and large silicone eartips, and the headphone comes with a round plastic case. Amazon sells it for around $12, and even with that … Read more
The new Zoom H6 Handy Recorder jams a lot of technology and features into a surprisingly compact device, and it sounds great. The H6 was designed for musicians, sound professionals, journalists, and videographers, but I'm sure there's a smattering of audiophiles who would really enjoy using this thing. I spent a few days recording street musicians performing in various parks around NYC, and one feature immediately stood out, the interchangeable microphone modules that plug into the top of the recorder. The H6 carries a retail price of $399, and that price includes two mic modules, X-Y, and MS (… Read more
I've heard a lot of, but far from most of the world's best headphone amps, but even in that heady territory the Auralic Taurus MKII shines. I've used a wide range of my very best headphones, in-ears and full-size, and they're all sounding better than I've heard them before.
The $6,475 Mal Valve amp is right up there, but it's been a few months since I heard it, and I never had it at home so my experience was more limited. I had the luxury of living with the Taurus MKII for weeks, … Read more
Last month I asked readers to submit essays for my "You can be the Audiophiliac for a day" contest. I received a lot of thought-provoking pieces, and I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to write. You guys are a smart bunch, but there can be only one winner, and I selected John O.'s "Chasing the Ultimate Sound System." His perceptive examination of the audiophile quest for great sound will reverberate with a lot of folks. The only thing I'd like to add is that the only person you need to … Read more
The GoldenEar Technology Triton Seven is, as we audiophiles like to say, "transparent" -- it sounds like an open window to the sound of music. That's always the goal for high-end speakers, but only the very best ones take you all the way there.
The Triton Seven's slender cabinet leaves no doubt: this is a thoroughly modern design. The swept-back, nonparallel-sided cabinets, and high-gloss black accents are distinctive; I'm sure the Triton Seven will never be mistaken for just another big-box tower.
The Triton Seven's front, sides, and rear are covered with a wrap-around … Read more
I've lived in NYC since birth, so you might think I wouldn't have a hard time with noise. It's always been part of my life, but restaurants used to be a lot quieter than they are now. The noise isn't just an annoyance; in some places it can reach dangerous levels, according to standards set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The noise is generated by the restaurant's sound system and people talking, in an acoustic setting too often designed to exacerbate and reflect, rather than absorb noise. Bare floors and … Read more