To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Audiophiliac blog I've collected some of the best, most memorable, ear- and eye-grabbing ones for your viewing pleasure.
The first Audiophiliac blog was called "My speakers can beat up your TV," posted on August 3, 2007. Ten years ago flat screen TVs were still really expensive, that year's 60 inch Pioneer Kuro PDP-6020FD display was $5,500. The technology was still rapidly improving, so I recommended before you buy an expensive TV that will soon be out of date, invest in a set of great speakers that would still sound terrific over the long haul. That was good advice, anyone who carefully selected the right speakers in 2007 might still be enjoying them in 2017.
$23,000 Yves Saint Laurent sweater vs. high-end audio system
August 30, 2007: I was intrigued by an edition of the Sunday New York Times Style Magazine that featured women's fashion. Apparently there was an insatiable market for luxury apparel; the 316 page issue was jam-packed with goodies like a $3,495 Chanel Jersey Handbag and a freaky looking $5,390 Louis Vuitton Feather Necklace. Then again, if you really wanted to make that special someone really happy, go for the $23,155 Yves Saint Laurent sweater embroidered by Lesage. The lucky sweater owner probably wore it a few times a year. By contrast, a high-end audio system might be enjoyed on a daily basis. By that standard you might conclude it's far better value.
March 4, 2015: I cringe every time I see a small speaker sitting on the floor. That placement all but guarantees they'll dull sound because most of their midrange and treble detail will never make it up to your ears. Ideally, you should have the speakers placed so their tweeters are as close as possible to the same height as your ears when you're listening. It's easy enough to experiment with different placements and see if you hear a difference, and I'm sure you will. Ideally, you should be the same distance from the left and right speakers.
Sennheiser's new €50,000 headphone breaks the 'sound barrier'
November 12, 2015: Sennheiser's new (at the time) Orpheus HE-1electrostatic headphone system was designed without budgetary constraints or limits, so expectations among the audiophile cognoscenti were running high. For my listening session in New York City, I loaded a USB drive with familiar tunes to evaluate the Orpheus. I'll tell you upfront the sound was, in many ways, more realistic than I've heard before. Sound "barriers" were indeed broken!
Listening to art in the bathroom -- at the Guggenheim Museum
August 23, 2007: I was in the Level 5 bathroom at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, when I heard an amazing sound. Strange and beautiful music filled the one-person-at-a-time restroom, which I assumed was part of the Museum's "The Shapes of Space" show. The music was pleasant enough, but there was something about the way the sound filled the bathroom that fascinated me. It was so ethereal, spacious and calming.
Audiophiliac readers show off their amazing hi-fis and headphones
May 28, 2016: This selection of Audiophiliac readers' headphones, speakers and components might turn out to be downright inspirational for any of you just starting your journey into good sound. Each of us puts together our music systems our own way, and I never tire of seeing what you guys are up to. I was deluged with images of tasty audio gear, so thanks to everyone who took the time to send in shots of your pride and joy!
August 20, 2016: There's high-end audio, and there's a wholly different strata of high-end audio that even I, the Audiophiliac, rarely come in contact with. I was keenly aware of that fact when I dropped by Rhapsody Music & Cinema, here in NYC. I was warmly greeted by the owner, Bob Visintainer, who showed me around his impressive selection of exotic gear from the US, Europe and Asia.
Can a 2-watt amp sound better than a 200-watt amp?
January 21, 2011: Americans love power. We buy 320-horsepower Chevy Tahoes to haul kids to soccer practice. I decided to take on the power issue head-on and compared a 2 watt per channel Decware Zen Triode SE84C+ amplifier with a 200 watt per channel Bel Canto e.One REF500S, and the results proved very interesting.
We get an earful at Brooklyn's guitar and ukulele haven
February 4, 2017: I'm not a musician, but some of my best friends are. I was having lunch with one of them at my favorite Brooklyn Middle Eastern restaurant on Atlantic Avenue, and he mentioned we were just a few blocks north of Retrofret, an amazing vintage fretted instrument shop. It was filled to the brim with rare acoustic and electric guitars, basses, mandolins, banjos, ukuleles and a smattering of other instruments.
August 30, 2014: Nothing gets old faster than new tech -- most of today's cutting-edge products will be old news in a few years, but the best speakers of 2004, or 1994, or even 1984 still sound great today. So it's hardly a stretch to see that the best of today's new speakers will sound terrific in 2034. Pushing your budget to buy terrific new speakers that will provide decades of enjoyment makes a lot of sense. However, I'd never recommend spending big on Bluetooth and other types of wireless speakers. I doubt too many of today's wireless speaker companies will be offering parts or service for their 2014 products in 2024.
July 3, 2013: If you were around in the 1980s, you know what a big deal MTV was. It launched on August 1, 1981, with the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star," and MTV changed the way we listened to tunes. Music was an all-analog medium, the CD was still a year away, and YouTube was beyond our imaginations. Thirty years ago MTV brought a new dimension to music, and we started to care a lot more about the way bands looked and moved on camera. Before MTV, music programming on TV was mostly limited to bands playing a song or two on late-night talk shows or "Saturday Night Live." For one day, July 4, 2013, MTV played music videos for 12 hours.
December 8, 2013: A fantastic speaker, the Zu Druid V is a 50-inch-tall floor-standing loudspeaker, bolted to an immaculately finished, machined aluminum base. The Druid V was designed and manufactured in Ogden, Utah, and is still in production.
August 15, 2010: When Theo B was 12 years old, he got a turntable "just to demolish," but he was so fascinated by the machine's inner workings he spared the turntable's life. He put a mirror under it to get a better view of the automatic record changing mechanism's gears, belts and levers that lifted the tonearm at the end of a record side, moved the arm to the rest position, dropped another record to play and gently lowered the "needle" into the grooves. He played records on that first turntable until he fully understood how the mechanism worked, and that led to more turntables!
August 29, 2012: Merely buying a great subwoofer is no guarantee that you'll wind up with great bass. There are too many ways to squander its performance potential, and that's why putting in the extra effort to achieve proper subwoofer setup is crucial. This two-part guide will help you get the best room-shaking bass from your subwoofer.
'The Art of Listening' explores how we experience music
March 4, 2017: "The Art of Listening" is a new documentary that brings together instrument makers, musicians, recording engineers/producers and we the people who listen to music. Exploring the art of sound has been attempted many times before, but most of these films struck me as overly superficial. This one connected all the dots, it's must see!
July 25, 2010: I've known my share of audiophiles who own lots of speakers, amplifiers, etc., but Wayne McManus has 40 high-end headphones. He's still adding to the collection, and now mostly concentrates on out-of-production classics -- Sennheiser HE90 electrostatics, Sony MDR R-10, Sony Qualia 010, AKG-K1000, Audio Technica L3000 and Grado HP-2 -- because each one has its own distinctive character and feel.
April 14, 2013: Subwoofer connection to a two-channel system differs from the methods used in home theaters. AV receivers feature bass management to direct the low bass frequencies to the sub and the midrange and treble frequencies to the speakers. Stereo systems require a very different approach.
August 16, 2007: The very best high-end systems don't have a sound per se, they sound like the music they're playing. That's the goal at least, and the $350,000 system I heard at Bill Parish's GTT Audio & Video shop in Long Valley, New Jersey, was one of the best ultra high-end systems I've heard. And I've heard a lot.