Newest Updates - Quick View
- MartinLogan Wireless Ensemble Bravado Loudspeaker
- Paradigm PW Soundbar / PW 600 Loudspeakers / Monitor Sub 8 Subwoofer
- The Problem with Blind Testing
- Living Colour: "Shade"
- MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 Soundbar
- Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC Headphones
- Is It Possible to Say Something Stupid About Audio?
- Gregg Allman: "Southern Blood"
- Music Everywhere: Audio-Technica ATH-SR6BTBK Bluetooth Headphones
- "The Breaking Point"
- Paradigm Reference Signature S6 v.3 / C3 v.3 / ADP3 v.3 / Sub 1 / PBK Home-Theater Speaker System
- Monitor Audio Silver RX6 / RX Centre / RXFX / RXW-12 Home-Theater Speaker System
- Anthony Gallo Acoustics Nucleus Reference 3.5 Loudspeakers
- Explaining HDMI while Solving the Cause of Blue-Screen Nightmares
- Jienat: “Mira”
- Back Cover
- Peter Gabriel: "Scratch My Back"
- Paradigm Reference Signature S6 v.3 Loudspeakers
- Beat Kaestli: “Invitation”
- Paradigm Reference MilleniaOne / Seismic 110 Home-Theater Speaker System
Wireless loudspeakers are propagating at a remarkable rate. The first appeared in the 1990s, and received music signals from the source components via RF. But they sounded pretty awful, and didn’t catch on. The next wireless speakers used Bluetooth, which have gradually become better as Bluetooth’s codecs have improved, from SBC to aptX to the new aptX HD. Lately we’ve seen a proliferation of wireless speakers that work via Wi-Fi; these are easy to implement, as most people’s homes now have a wireless network. Apple, Google, and Amazon are the latest and biggest players in this market, with voice-activated products that also play music.
As I write this, I’ve just returned from the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, where I moderated a panel titled “Best Headphone Rigs vs. State-of-the-Art Audio Systems.” One comment, from PSB Speakers founder and chief engineer Paul Barton, especially stuck with me. As best I can recall, he said, “Once you go to blind testing, where the listeners can’t see the identity of the products, everything changes,” and he punctuated it with a wave of both arms.
I’ve been asked to review several home-theater soundbars over the years, and I usually decline. In my experience, the vast majority of them don’t sound any good. They’re so compromised in size and abilities that they wouldn’t be on the radar of most home-theater enthusiasts. Nor have I had an easy way to accommodate a soundbar, either in my home-theater room or my living room. The speakers in my living room are on-wall models, and running wires from my receiver to a traditional soundbar would be messy.
Outrageously overlooked in the annals of recent rock history in favor of other mid-’80s bands like Metallica and Guns N’ Roses, Living Colour is back, and sounding tougher than ever. The quartet’s sixth album -- its first since 2009 -- is an extended meditation on the blues that is stuffed full of slamming guitar hooks and uncompromising social commentary.
The Missus and I relocated to the Carolina coast earlier this year, and are now happily perched next to a tidal creek and its wondrous array of wetlands avifauna. When we moved, two desires (read: edicts) were that the living area of our new house have excellent music and movie sound but not be awash in speakers. This is something I clearly understand. Few artifacts of modern living disrupt domestic feng shui more than arrays of surround-sound speakers, and man, there can be a host of them -- 11.2 channels, anyone?
Asked the question I pose in the title of this article, most of the people I deal with in the audio industry with would say, “Of course.” But a few -- including most high-end audio publications and some high-end audio manufacturers -- might say, “No.” “Trust your ears,” they tell us over and over, implying that whatever you hear, or think you hear, is just as real and valid -- and perhaps even more so -- than conclusions derived from blind testing, laboratory measurements, or scientific research.
Audio-Technica is vigorously promoting its new Pure Digital Drive headphone models, the ATH-DRS7BT ($299 USD) and ATH-DSR9BT ($549). But lest you feel left out in the cold by those prices, A-T also offers the dandy ATH-SR6BTBKs for $199 -- $100 less than the ATH-DSR7BTs, which I reviewed in July, and an appealing alternative about which there’s much to like. One catch -- the ATH-SR6BTBKs are available only at selected Best Buy stores and Best Buy’s website.
Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.
Some of the fabled audio brands of my teen years, in the 1970s, seem to be aging even less gracefully than I am as they face brutal competition from online merchants and low-cost Chinese brands. Sure, established names like Sennheiser can still command a premium over such brands as Fleeken, Hiearcool, and Paww. But when consumers can choose between OK headphones for $70 and name-brand cans for $350, most will likely cheap out. I’m guessing this is why Sennheiser has introduced the HD 4.50 BTNC noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones for $199.95 USD -- half the price of their next-least-expensive current models of this type, the PXC 550 Wireless and HD1 On-Ear Wireless, both at $399.95.
The first music review I had published examined an album by Gregg Allman. By then, 1977, I’d already been hearing his voice for seven years. So I approach his final recording with both sadness and a wealth of historical context. Although I met Allman only once -- very briefly on a beach in Macon, Georgia, in 1979 -- I feel like I’m saying farewell to an old friend.
JBL E55BT Quincy Edition headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.
The E55BT Quincy Edition headphones take me back to the early days of the headphone boom, when it seemed that the primary goal of headphone brands was to get a celebrity to endorse their products. While endorsements were once common to the point of absurdity -- Soul Electronics sold a model endorsed by Tim Tebow -- these days they’re rare. I think the E55BT Quincy Edition ($199.95 USD) is the first set of celeb-endorsed headphones I’ve reviewed in about four years.