Way back in the late 1970s, long before the Internet, iPods, and home theater changed the way we listened to music, I worked at Sound by Singer, a high-end audio store in NYC. I didn't know it at the time, but it was the golden age of high-end. It had a good, long run that made it to the early 1990s, but the high-end audio market didn't shrivel up and die. Here in NYC there are more high-end stores than there were in the golden age. Rents are sky-high, so you might wonder how the stores prosper, and … Read more
The great thing about headphones is that you can, with a bit of effort, find great-sounding models in every price range. True, the best expensive models definitely sound better, but my picks for the cheapest ones are still pretty awesome. In fact, the $89 Velodyne vPulse headphones are the ones I regularly used long after I wrote the review! There was something about the sound of the vPulse that had me coming back for more. I cover audiophile, in-ear, full-size, wireless, and noise-canceling headphones, and prices run from dirt-cheap to insanely expensive.
Hi-fi has a dated, almost "Mad Men" ring to it, but it predates Don Draper's 1960s time frame. Sound-quality advances in hi-fis first grabbed the public's imagination 10 years earlier, in the 1950s.
A hi-fi system could be configured in a variety of ways, but the basic setup had a turntable, amplifier, and a pair of speakers. That sort of rig, with a CD player, still works for today's audiophiles, but they're probably 1 percent of all music listeners. For the other 99 percent, their "hi-fi" is in the car, or maybe … Read more
This might be a tough question for a lot of people: defining what good sound is, and separating sound from music isn't easy. It might be impossible to distill it to just one album or song. We tend to like the sound of music we like, and conflate good sound with good music. That's understandable, but when the sound jumps out and draws your attention, take, for example, the sound of Jimi Hendrix's feedback. It was Hendrix's distortion, not his songs, that forever changed the sound of electric guitars.
Paul McCartney said it was the sound … Read more
The Clue has a proprietary, made-in-Denmark 5.5-inch woofer and an 0.8-inch silk dome tweeter. The heavily braced, medium-density fiberboard cabinet is beautifully finished in real maple, cherry or piano black. The cabinet is made in China, but the rest of the speaker is assembled in Sjofn Hi Fi's garage in Seattle. The Clue measures a tidy 14 by … Read more
The New York Audio & AV Show at the legendary Waldorf-Astoria Hotel is hosting the biggest collection of high-end audio products the city has seen in many years. Audiophiles and curious New Yorkers are crowding the halls and rooms, eager to see and hear some of the world's best audio products.
The New York Audio & AV Show starts today at 3 p.m. and runs through Sunday at the legendary Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan.
Sony isn't a company I normally associate with high-end audio, but it will be at the show demonstrating its award-winning SS-AR1 speaker. VPI turntables will be giving away a Scout turntable worth $1,800, with a handmade Soundsmith phono cartridge. Local dealers Audio Doctor, Sound by Singer, and Innovative Audio/Video will be on hand and they are promising lots of new gear presentations.
There will also be a full slate of seminars, including &… Read more
I sold high-end audio in New York City for 16 years before I started writing. Talking one-on-one with my customers taught me a lot about how a broad range of people relate to hi-fi. Those experiences influenced my writing, because I know firsthand that there's not a lot of agreement about what constitutes "good sound." You have to listen for yourself to really know if you love the sound. You might do that at a friend's house, but the best place to compare and learn what you like is in a hi-fi store
I've blogged … Read more
The Tivoli Audio PAL (Portable Audio Laboratory) radio is pretty small, just 6.25 by 3.7 by 3.9 inches, and it weighs a little under 2 pounds. It has just one 2.5-inch "full-range" speaker, but the little radio is one of my all-time favorite products. The battery-powered PAL is "wireless," because radio was, after all, the original widespread wireless format.
The PAL is dead simple to use: turn it on, select AM or FM radio, and tune to the station you love. You can also plug an iPod, or any device, into the … Read more
Remember when expensive headphones, let's say anything over $100, were never big sellers, and only audiophiles bought them?
That's no longer true--judging by the number of Beats by Dr. Dre headphones I see on the streets and subways in New York--pricey headphones have reached the mainstream. That's radical. Bose did pretty well with its QuietComfort noise-canceling headphones long before Dre jumped into the headphone business, but the Beats stand out in a crowd.
The reasons for Dre's success aren't purely based on sound quality, it's more that the other manufacturers' headphones sorely lacked any sense of street style. … Read more