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- Bluesound Node 2 Streaming Tuner, Pulse Mini Streaming Loudspeaker, and Vault 2 Streaming CD Ripper and Storage Device
- "Only Angels Have Wings"
- Focal Sphear Earphones
- The Allman Brothers Band: "Live from A&R Studios, New York, August 26, 1971"
- Sonos: I'm a Convert
- The Future of Headphone Listening
- Music Everywhere: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
- Bluesound Pulse Flex Bluetooth Speaker
- "Bicycle Thieves"
- Audioengine HD6 Powered Loudspeakers
- 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
- Paradigm Reference Signature S6 v.3 Loudspeakers
- Paradigm Reference MilleniaOne / Seismic 110 Home-Theater Speaker System
- Explaining HDMI while Solving the Cause of Blue-Screen Nightmares
- Logitech Squeezebox Touch WiFi Music Player
- Jienat: “Mira”
- Anthem Performance MRX 710 A/V Receiver: King of the Sonic Frontiers
- Bowers & Wilkins 802 Diamond Loudspeakers
Bluesound Node 2 Streaming Tuner, Pulse Mini Streaming Loudspeaker, and Vault 2 Streaming CD Ripper and Storage Device
When, in the 1950s, Eichler installed the first whole-house intercom/radio system in a tract house, it jump-started a fascination with the notion that you could listen to your favorite radio program anywhere in your home. The marketing went something like this: “With whole-house audio, no matter where you are -- kitchen, laundry, den -- you [the stay-at-home mom] don’t have to miss a word of [insert favorite show, song, etc.]” Of course, it helped if you didn’t mind the horribly tinny sound quality, or the limitations of the AM radioband. The convenience sure beat having a tabletop radio in every room -- even if you already had a tabletop radio in every room.
Barranca and Bananas on an Excellent New Criterion Release
The Criterion Collection 806
Howard Hawks (1896-1977) had a long and distinguished career in Hollywood, and those in the know rate him as one of Tinseltown’s greatest directors. The general public, not so much. Perhaps that’s because Hawks made films in so many different genres -- Bringing Up Baby (1938), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), His Girl Friday (1940), Sergeant York (1941, nominated for an Oscar), Ball of Fire (1941), To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), Red River (1948), The Thing from Another World (1951), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Rio Bravo (1959), Rio Lobo (1970) -- even this partial list (Hawks directed 47 films) is quite diverse, and the films themselves lack any obvious signature of director as auteur. In going to see Hawks’s movies, audiences were more interested in the stars than the director. One thing these films have in common is that, regardless of genre, Hawks always elicited the very best performances from his actors -- another reason they were more memorable than himself.
For years, I’ve labored under a skewed perception of the headphone listening experience, thanks to two unique experiences, one of which took place two decades ago. But two experiences in the last couple of weeks have completely changed my beliefs.
The first pair of headphones I ever owned were Sennheisers, back when the German company’s main competitor was the US manufacturer Koss. Many competitors and multitudes of headphones later, I was happy to check out Sennheiser’s Momentum Wireless Bluetooth circumaural (over-ear) model -- noise-canceling ’phones that can be used with or without wires. The noise-canceling feature is always on. The Momentum’s price of $499.95 USD is a bit higher than those of many competing products. There are also Momentum models in an on-ear wireless version, and wired over- and on-ear versions.
Focal Sphear earphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.
With the Sphear earphones ($149 USD), Focal has become the first high-end audio company to attempt building a product as good as a Bose model. Yeah, I wrote that to rankle audiophiles a bit -- but regardless of what you think of the sound of Bose headphones, there’s no denying that they’re comfortable, and that’s the part Focal is trying to match. A frequent traveler, I believe that the comfort of headphones and earphones is as important as their sound. Getting deeper into the music you love is what high-quality audio is all about, and you can’t get deep into any music when your earlobes feel as if they’ve been worked over by Manny Pacquiao.
Whenever I start getting snobby, the only one who loses is me. You’d think I’d learn. After all, it happens with enough regularity that I ought to be able to recognize the warning signs.
The Allman Brothers Band Recording Company 1116
Few rock bands had the stylistic scope or instrumental prowess of the original Allman Brothers Band: guitarists Duane Allman and Dickey Betts, organist/vocalist Gregg Allman, bassist Berry Oakley, and drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny Johanson. From the spring of 1969 to October, 1971, the band grew steadily from an energetic-but-raw group of disparate forces to a highly disciplined-yet-uninhibited band of improvisers.
Until recently, the product category of loudspeaker had seen little change outside of relentless tweaking by designers trying to refine its basic capabilities. Now, like almost everything else, it’s been absorbed into the Internet of Things and forced to undergo some reinvention. Most people associate wireless audio with Bluetooth speakers: affordable, portable, decent-sounding (good ones, at least). But in the past few years other options have emerged that can tap your home’s Wi-Fi network to deliver an even better wireless music experience than a typical Bluetooth speaker provides.
Vittorio De Sica’s Landmark Film: Still Very Moving
The Criterion Collection 374
Immediately after World War II, Italy’s film industry was a shambles. The studios were gone, good film stock was hard to find, and there was little money. There were independent directors and producers, however, some of them men of genius who established a new style that would not only make film more affordable but take it in a new direction. The style of this movement became known as neorealism, which was similar to the style of verismo that had preceded it in literature and opera. (Verismo was the Italian version of the late-19th-century shift toward naturalism, in operas such as Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci.) The scripts would be slices of the lives of working-class people, and would be shot on location -- no movie sets -- often with non-actors or those making their debuts. If a well-known actor was employed, he or she would be cast dramatically against type.
I buy a lot of the audio gear I buy because I think I should. After all, it’s part of my gig to know what’s going on in audio. Recently, one of those products I bought because I thought I should completely changed my ideas about the future of audio, and in just the first few days I owned it.