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- "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"
- Music Everywhere: Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 Headphones
- "Ride the Pink Horse"
- Aurender Flow Headphone Amplifier-DAC
- Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell: "The Traveling Kind"
- Music Everywhere: Outdoor Tech Buckshot Pro Bluetooth Speaker-Powerbank-Flashlight
- 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
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.
Pax Americana/Blue Note B002263402
In an earlier, less-cluttered musical era, Ryan Adams would be a much bigger star. He has the charisma and the songwriting chops of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, but, at 40, he is a generation younger and remains a cult favorite -- far from a household name (except, perhaps, for those who confuse him with Bryan Adams). In some quarters, he is best known as the romantic partner of quirky women like indie-film diva Parker Posey and actress-singer Mandy Moore.
A Film Noir with Redemption
The Criterion Collection 750
We usually associate films noirs with urban locations -- cities with streets that glisten in the rain, tall buildings casting long shadows. But, as film historian Imogen Sara Smith, author of In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City, points out in an enthusiastic interview on this Criterion Collection edition of Robert Montgomery’s Ride the Pink Horse (1947), that’s not always the case.
In a recent column, I complained about the rapid growth in the number of lookalike headphone amps that are little more than a DAC-amp chip stuffed into an extruded-aluminum box. The Aurender Flow ($1295 USD) is the exact opposite: a product that represents a major rethinking of what people -- specifically, audiophiles -- need in a headphone amp.
I’m writing this review on a sleek, highly portable Hewlett-Packard Spectre laptop equipped with a modestly sized solid-state drive (SSD) that makes me wish I’d spent the money on a bigger drive. Despite my efforts to move my storage-intensive audio and video files to an external drive, my SSD has just 2.2 gigabytes of space left. Yet thanks to the Flow, I can now use this overstuffed computer to access my entire collection of digital music files, and I can add more music without worrying I’ll run out of space.
Nonesuch Records 2-548243
Close harmony lives at the heart of rural American music, a reflection of the fact that, in its early years, it was frequently created by family members or friends -- as much self-entertainment as anything meant to share with others.
A YouTube video I recently watched got me thinking more deeply about my work than I have in a while. No, it wasn’t a video by some great audio scientist or famed writer or philosopher of aesthetics. It was a program from VH1 Classic’s series Rock Icons 2015, featuring none other than Officer of the Order of Canada (and Rush bassist and singer) Geddy Lee -- and he wasn’t even talking about sound.