Newest Updates - Quick View
- Moon by Simaudio Neo 230HAD DAC-Headphone Amplifier
- "My Own Private Idaho"
- Sennheiser HD 800 S Headphones
- Wes Montgomery: "In the Beginning"
- A Shakeup at Sonos Shakes Up the Audio Industry
- Music Everywhere: Audio-Technica ATH-WS99BT Solid Bass Bluetooth Headphones
- Bruno Putzeys Navigates Toward the State of the Art
- RBH Sound HP-2 Headphones
- Pryma 0|1 Headphones
- Paradigm Reference Signature S6 v.3 / C3 v.3 / ADP3 v.3 / Sub 1 / PBK 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
- Paradigm Reference Signature S6 v.3 Loudspeakers
- Paradigm Reference MilleniaOne / Seismic 110 Home-Theater Speaker System
- Logitech Squeezebox Touch WiFi Music Player
- Explaining HDMI while Solving the Cause of Blue-Screen Nightmares
- Bowers & Wilkins 802 Diamond Loudspeakers
- Anthem Performance MRX 710 A/V Receiver: King of the Sonic Frontiers
- Jienat: “Mira”
Quebec’s Simaudio has been designing and manufacturing audio electronics for the past 35 years. The company began with preamplifiers and power amplifiers, and later, following the demands of the market, added CD players and standalone digital-to-analog converters (DACs). More recently, Simaudio has launched a series of components incorporating their Moon intelligent Network Device (MiND) platform, which enables streaming audio from your computer, network-attached storage (NAS) device, or the Internet. It should come as no surprise, then, that Simaudio has brought their electronics-design experience to the thriving market of headphone audio -- with first their flagship 430HA fully balanced headphone amplifier ($3500 USD; add $800 for DAC option), and now the subject of this review, the more modestly priced Moon Neo 230HAD ($1500 including DAC).
Van Sant's Cobbled-Together Masterpiece
The Criterion Collection 277
My Own Private Idaho (1991) was director Gus Van Sant’s third feature film, cobbled together from several different earlier sources, two screenplays, a story, and Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Many have found its fragmented structure irritating, but every time I watch it, I find that these glimpses into the lives of Mike Waters and Scott Favor add up to a masterpiece.
A recent article on TechCrunch about layoffs at Sonos caught the audio industry by surprise. Whenever it wants an example of “how to do it right,” much of the industry looks to Sonos. In just a little over a decade, Sonos has gone from a few guys in an office in Santa Barbara to a company with $1 billion in annual sales. Not only has Sonos kept up with the latest trends in music consumption, in some cases it has led them. So the news that the company is undergoing a major shift in direction shook up high-end audio manufacturers who would give their last EL34 for even a small fraction of Sonos’s success.
Apparently, Sonos isn’t shrinking, it’s adjusting. Two trends are pushing the company in new directions.
Audio-Technica, one of the last big-name manufacturers to enter the market of wireless Bluetooth headphones, has put out two new over-ear models: the ATH-S700BT SonicFuel, which I reviewed very favorably two months ago, and the subject of this review, the ATH-WS99BT Solid Bass ($249.95 USD), which has problems.
Sennheiser HD 800 S measurements can be found by clicking this link.
It’s not often that most enthusiasts and professional reviewers agree about a set of headphones, but it happened in 2009, when Sennheiser’s model HD 800 ($1399) was introduced. “I don’t love them, but I respect them,” one of my favorite reviewers told me. Most people thought the HD 800s sounded admirably spacious, but lacked sufficient bass and seemed to highlight flaws in recordings. I heard them at a couple of audio shows and came to the same conclusion -- in fact, after hearing so many initial reports saying the same thing, I decided against reviewing them, worrying that I’d have nothing new to add to the conversation.
In my last column, I wrote about the wonderful Channel Islands E•200S two-channel amplifier. But what really got me excited was Bruno Putzeys, the Belgian designer of the Hypex UcD module used in the E•200S. Putzeys has been in the audio world for several years. He started at Philips, where he worked extensively in labs, experimenting with input stages, power types, and supplies. Unfortunately, as soon as he came up with a great design, he was confronted with a multinational conglomerate’s tendency to do nothing when presented with a new idea.
Resonance Records HCD-2014
One of the few authentic things in Don Cheadle’s gangster-fantasy bio-pic of Miles Davis is the trumpeter’s insistence that jazz was, first and foremost, social music. In the years before, during and after World War II, in particular, jazz was the soundtrack of black American lives. Before the rise of urban blues and R&B in the ’50s, it was jazz that was played on commercial jukeboxes in bars, on record players at house parties, and by combos at live music venues. It was, quite literally, ubiquitous in the air, especially in the large, industrial centers. In Indianapolis, Wes Montgomery started strumming a four-string tenor guitar at the age of 12, and seven years later, in 1942 -- inspired by brilliant, young guitarist, Charlie Christian, who died around that time -- switched to a full-size electric guitar.
RBH Sound HP-2 measurements can be found by clicking this link.
With their HP-2 headphones, RBH Sound -- intentionally or otherwise -- makes a bold statement: Nobody gives a damn what your headphones look like, so neither should you. Instead, you should care what they sound like and how comfortable they are.
That is exactly the approach RBH took with the HP-2s. The industrial design is fairly generic, reminiscent of Bose’s model QC25. RBH seems to have invested, in top-notch drivers and comfortable padding, all the money they might have spent creating a new design. The drivers use diaphragms made of beryllium, a metal often used in high-end tweeters because it’s extremely light yet stiff. (It’s also brittle and toxic, which is why manufacturing with it is expensive.) The padding, covered in soft plastic, has the look and feel of what you’d see on headphones four times the HP-2s’ list price of $249 USD.
Rita Hayworth at Her Best
The Criterion Collection 795
Rita Hayworth is Gilda. Gilda is Rita Hayworth. They’ve become synonymous -- to mention either name in conversation conjures up the other. Her entrance, tossing her hair and saying “Me?,” has become iconic. The movie changed Hayworth’s image overnight in 1946 -- from healthy, all-American girl next door to Hollywood’s reigning sex symbol, an accolade she enjoyed for a little less than a decade. She then moved on to more matronly roles, then to alcoholism, and finally to Alzheimer’s.
I spend a lot of time on Amazon.com, partly because it’s a great place to research the consumer-electronics market, and partly because it’s often the most convenient and affordable way to find and buy things. I also read the Customer Reviews posted on Amazon, because they’re sometimes the only source of information about a product other than the manufacturer’s website. But three recent events left me doubting the reliability of these reviews -- and wanting to do a little checking for myself.