"Copper," the new BBC America crime drama, is set in NYC in 1864, while the Civil War was still raging. I was intrigued because the 10-part series was created by Tom Fontana, who did "Homicide: Life on the Street" and "Oz," and on a more personal level, my old friend Frank Morrone is a sound mixer for the show. We met in 1999 when I was writing a feature story on mixing sound for Ron Howard's film "Edtv," and more recently, Morrone shared some of his experiences about mixing sound for … Read more
A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about AV receiver feature glut. Today's receiver manufacturers put an inordinate amount of time and money into designing feature-laden receivers, and feature glut might be part of the reason why today's receivers don't sound as good as receivers did in the 1980s. I get it, today's consumers rarely compare one receiver's sound with another receiver, but they can count HDMI connections, so that's where the money goes.
It's not that Denon, Onkyo, Pioneer, Sony, and Yamaha aren't trying to make great-sounding receivers, … Read more
I wrote a Top 10 music Blu-ray list late last year, so it's time for an update.
Patricia Barber, "Modern Cool"Sultry jazz singer Patricia Barber's "Modern Cool" album was a hit with the audiophile crowd soon after its release in 1998, so I was surprised to see it come out on Blu-ray with a new 5.1-channel DTS Master Audio mix. Even more surprised that the surround mix totally works. You're in the middle of the band, which I usually don't care for, but it clicks here. Barber wrote a lot … Read more
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
Andrew Jones has a degree in physics, but his real passion is speaker design. He worked as a research engineer for KEF, Infinity and now with Pioneer, and he's chiefly responsible for their ultra high-end TAD Reference line of speakers that sell for upwards of $80,000! So a few years ago when I first heard that Jones was working on a line of superaffordable speakers for Pioneer, I didn't believe it. I said, "You mean that Andrew Jones? No way." Well, it was that Mr. Jones, and the speakers were astonishingly good. The now-discontinued 5.1-channel, … Read more
I have fond memories of the original Aragon 4004 power amplifier from my days when I worked as a high-end audio salesman. That was in the late 1980s and the big 200 watt amp sold for a lot less money than the reigning high-end amps of the period. The distinctive styling, with a "V" cutout in the 4004's chassis, made it stand out from rows of lookalike designs at the store. While the Aragon amps sold for a couple of thousand dollars, they were more affordable than most high-end amps. A few years after the 4004 arrived … Read more
This morning Apple quietly rolled out Hulu Plus on the Apple TV. The missing service was one of the last pieces to a puzzle being put together by those who've decided to cut cable, and go all streaming.
If you aren't seeing Hulu Plus show up on your Apple TV yet, you simply need to restart it. Turning it off and back on wasn't enough for me, I had to actually go in and restart it from the settings menu. Here's how.
On your Apple TV, go to Settings > General.
Scroll down to the bottom … Read more
I first spotted Josh Ray's Urban Fidelity Kickstarter project on the Stereophile Web site, and it looked really interesting. The speaker is less than an inch thick and uses a made in the U.S.A. 8-inch driver. Completed speakers will sell for $399 a pair! The Urban Fidelity speaker is an "open baffle" design that uses sound from the front and back of the 8-inch driver. The speaker panel is made with formaldehyde-free wood sourced from North American forests and manufactured in Los Angeles, and the paints and inks are water-based and free of harmful chemicals. … Read more
My fondness for big speakers is longstanding, but I'm almost as big a fan of smaller speakers that sound big. Take Definitive Technology's StudioMonitor 55 speaker ($299 each). Measuring 13x7.8x12.3 inches it's not all that big, but it weighs a hefty 15.4 pounds. The StudioMonitor 55 is a handsome, but conventional-looking design, until you peel off the cloth grille on the top of the speaker and see the "racetrack bass radiator." It's a unique Def Tech feature, and one that really helps the StudioMonitor 55 outperform similarly sized speakers.… Read more
Streaming can only take you so far. It's nice to carry at least some of our tunes and videos with us in our mobile devices, but most of us have run into space limitations. SD cards can only hold so much, but compressing your files can help you cram more onto your device. Note that higher levels of compression almost always mean lower levels of quality, but most of us won't notice much difference.First, clear off extraneous files. You may have old pictures, videos, and other detritus that can be better stored on your computer or … Read more