Newest Updates - Quick View
- The Most Promising (and Unexplored) Area in High-End Audio
- AudioQuest NightHawk Headphones
- Jason Isbell: "Something More Than Free"
- Music Everywhere: Koss BT540i Bluetooth Headphones
- "The Killers"
- PSB M4U 4 Earphones
- Bowers & Wilkins P5 Series 2 Headphones
- The Five Best Closed-Back, Over-Ear Headphones (According to Me)
- Ryan Adams: "Ten Songs from Live at Carnegie Hall"
- Paradigm Reference Signature S6 v.3 / C3 v.3 / ADP3 v.3 / Sub 1 / PBK Home-Theater Speaker System
- Paradigm Reference Signature S6 v.3 Loudspeakers
- Paradigm Reference MilleniaOne / Seismic 110 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
- Logitech Squeezebox Touch WiFi Music Player
- From "Home Theater & Sound" to "SoundStage! Xperience"
- Oppo Digital Does It Again: The BDP-93 Blu-ray Player
- Anthem MRX 700 A/V Receiver
- Velodyne Optimum-10 Subwoofer
On a recent, 40-day road trip, I learned a lot about audio. Although my trip had audio-related elements -- meeting with reviewers, engineers, and enthusiasts in six US states and British Columbia, and attending a weeklong summer jazz camp -- the biggest revelations about audio came from six weeks of doing almost all of my listening through a car stereo system, to recordings sourced from my Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone, a few CDs, and whatever I could tune in on AM or FM.
My big revelation? That the audio industry is wasting a lot of time on things that don’t matter much, and overlooking a huge opportunity.
Koss, one of the oldest manufacturers of hi-fi gear in the US, was founded in 1958 by John Koss. He believed that headphones could be used for something more than voice messages and monitoring on aircraft and ships, and premiered full-range stereo headphones to great success. Old-timers need no prodding to remember the company, and newcomers who’ve watched Mad Men might relate -- Koss is one of the real companies that Don Draper’s fictitious advertising agency works for. Many of the Koss models created decades ago are still being made.
With an eye to the future, Koss has now brought out the BT540i wireless Bluetooth headphones ($199.99 USD).
AudioQuest Nighthawk measurements can be found by clicking this link.
I couldn’t even guess how many companies have gotten into the headphone business since 2010, but I doubt any has done it so boldly as has AudioQuest. Their NightHawks ($599 USD) are the result of a from-the-ground-up effort to improve headphone sound. In fact, so much about the NightHawks is radically different that I mention here only their most important features; if you want an in-depth explanation, AudioQuest has devoted to them an excellent microsite.
Remember that romance? You thought you were deliriously happy -- until the next one came along and opened your eyes to how great love really could be. It’s easy enough to let lassitude and time combine to make you think things are better than they are. But sometimes you don’t realize how bad you have it until you’re rescued by something new and different.
Few things resonate in America as well as redemption tales. Alabama-born singer-songwriter Jason Isbell has a fine one to tell, bouncing back from an alcohol habit so bad it got him fired from the hard-living Drive-By Truckers in 2007, when he was just 28. Isbell's crash was particularly disappointing because he seemed to be living out the kind of disastrous self-destruction portrayed in some of the Truckers' darkest songs while proving himself to be the most promising young writer to come out of the South since Steve Earle.
PSB M4U 4 measurements can be found by clicking this link.
PSB’s new M4U 4 earphones raise an important question for audio manufacturers: After you’ve achieved near-perfection, where do you go? Before PSB’s founder and chief engineer, Paul Barton, built his first set of headphones, he read all the existing research and did a lot of his own. The result, the M4U 2 over-ear headphones, were indeed close to perfect, according to reviewers. But a manufacturer generally has to offer a complete line of headphones -- and Barton is responsible for designing headphone-related products for two of the audio brands owned by the Lenbrook Group: PSB and NAD. What’s a designer to do? Voice them all the same, so there’s little reason to spend more for the more expensive models? Or make some models sound different from the others?
Four Versions of Hemingway's Tale for the Price of One
The Criterion Collection 176
Ernest Hemingway's short story "The Killers" was first published in 1927, in Scribner's Magazine. It was made into a theatrical film twice, in 1946 and 1964. The Criterion Collection offers on this Blu-ray not only both of those versions, but also a 1956 student version by the Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, as well as Hemingway's story, read by Stacy Keach. These sorts of bonuses greatly add to one's knowledge of the feature films, and are what make Criterion so worthwhile and popular.
For many people, a good set of closed-back, over-ear headphones is the core of the personal listening experience. Properly designed, they seal out much of the sound of your surroundings, are comfortable enough to wear for hours at a time, and sound terrific, often with better bass than other types of headphones.
Even as new models of commuter headphones continue to be released by the dozen, there seems to be a trend toward designing headphones that can serve many purposes. Audio-Technica’s ATH-MSR7 ($249.95 USD) is one of these models.
Out of the box
On the ATH-MSR7s’ cardboard box is a dramatic, larger-than-life photo of the left earcup. In the upper-right corner is the official gold-and-brown Hi-Res Audio emblem. On one side panel is printed information about the three detachable cables, on another the specifications are listed in tiny type, and on the back is an informative exploded diagram that shows all of the components of the ATH-MSR7s’ 45mm drivers and the technology used in making them. Inside are the headphones, wrapped in black fabric and nestled in a plastic mold. The cables and instructions come in a separate black box. A cheapish vinyl carrying bag is included.
Bowers & Wilkins P5 Series 2 measurements can be found by clicking this link.
Bowers & Wilkins continues to be one of the most popular manufacturers among audiophiles. Mere mention of the name makes me think of hi-fi icons like their Nautilus loudspeaker, and the Nautilus 801 and 802. These speakers were far ahead of their time for their build quality, materials used, and acoustical engineering. Somewhere along the way, B&W made the leap from a pure hi-fi firm to a premium audio company, likely with its introduction of the Zeppelin iPod dock. Since then they’ve moved from strength to strength, offering a variety of wireless speakers, as well as a full range of earphones and headphones. The subjects of discussion here, the P5 Series 2 headphones ($299 USD), are a perfect marriage of old-school hi-fi and class-leading industrial design.