Newest Updates - Quick View
- "Barry Lyndon"
- AKG N60 NC Wireless Bluetooth Noise-Canceling Headphones
- Acoustic Research AR-H1 Headphones
- Music Everywhere: Audio-Technica ATH-DSR9BT Bluetooth Headphones
- What Does a Brand Mean in 2018?
- Mavis Staples: "If All I Was Was Black"
- Sony WH-1000XM2 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
- "The Big Knife"
- Monoprice Monolith M300 Earphones
- The Differences Between Home Theater and High-End Audio . . . Two Decades On
- 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
- Explaining HDMI while Solving the Cause of Blue-Screen Nightmares
- Jienat: “Mira”
- Back Cover
- Peter Gabriel: "Scratch My Back"
- Beat Kaestli: “Invitation”
- Paradigm Reference Signature S6 v.3 Loudspeakers
- Paradigm Reference MilleniaOne / Seismic 110 Home-Theater Speaker System
AKG N60 NC Wireless headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.
Noise-canceling headphones are greatly prized by commuters and frequent fliers, as they subdue engine noise and other intrusive sounds. Up until now, most noise-canceling (NC) headphones have been over-ear designs, to provide a better seal. But commuters also like headphones that are smaller and lighter and can be folded up into smaller packages. AKG has therefore decided to release on-ear models, wired and Bluetooth, that can be folded up yet provide enough NC to be viable. Their Bluetooth model, the N60 NC Wireless ($299.95 USD), provides wireless transmission backed up by a wired analog cable mode. Design-wise, AKG has achieved this goal, but I have some minor criticisms, and a major criticism of something that will be, for some, a deal breaker.
Criterion’s Best-Looking Blu-ray
The Criterion Collection 897
I first saw Barry Lyndon in its original theatrical release, in December 1975. I thought it was merely okay -- a muted tapestry on which to hang a barrel of cinematic tricks. What a difference 42 years has made! In no small part thanks to this splendid transfer from The Criterion Collection, I now view Barry Lyndon as Stanley Kubrick’s (1928-1999) masterpiece.
My recent review of the Monoprice Monolith M300 earphones, and my friend Steve Guttenberg’s review of the M300s on CNet, have raised a timely question. The M300s seem to be a knockoff of one of Audeze’s iSine planar-magnetic earphone models, but they arrived so soon after the iSines’ introduction that it makes me wonder if some third party isn’t dealing to both sides. The provenance of the tech products we buy is increasingly unclear, a situation that prompts me to ponder: Today, what does a brand mean?
The relatively expensive ATH-DSR9BT headphones ($549 USD) are almost identical to Audio-Technica’s ATH-DSR7BT model ($299), which I reviewed in July 2017. They employ A-T’s new digital-transmission design, Pure Digital Drive. Instead of a traditional DAC feeding an analog amp, this method uses Trigence Semiconductor’s Dnote technology, in which, A-T explains, “the digital pulses of the chipset move the voice coil and diaphragm [of the drivers] forward and backward to create soundwaves heard by a listener.”
Acoustic Research AR-H1 headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.
The AR-H1 headphones are the last thing I expected from Acoustic Research. Audiophiles know AR as the pioneer of the acoustic-suspension loudspeaker, in 1952, and as the builder of widely varying yet generally quite good speakers created in the 1990s by teams that included such audio luminaries as NHT cofounders Chris Byrne and Ken Kantor, Infinity cofounder and current Artison CEO Cary Christie, and current James Loudspeaker CTO Mike Park. But for the last 15 years or so the AR brand has been applied mostly to accessories, such as inexpensive cables and Bluetooth speakers -- in fact, AR is currently owned by Voxx Accessories Corp. While it’s puzzling to see this once-revered, now-trashed brand name suddenly applied to high-end, planar-magnetic headphones, I have to admit that it gives me a bit of a warm feeling inside.
As a child in Chicago, Mavis Staples idolized Mahalia Jackson, a towering figure in gospel music who attained such stature that she was invited to perform at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961. Young Mavis got first-hand exposure to Jackson through the established performer’s friendship with Roebuck “Pops” Staples, the patriarch of the Staple Singers and an important -- though often overlooked -- link between the seminal Mississippi Delta guitarists and the urban gospel-soul of artists like Curtis Mayfield, Sly Stone, and Marvin Gaye.
Hollywood Corruption, 1955 Style
Arrow Academy AA1HA-TM
The recent allegations of sexual misconduct by Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, and others have come as no shock to film fans. Hollywood’s long history of scandal stretches all the way back to its beginnings in the early years of the 20th century. Rather than being shocked, we’re more likely to see such abuses as just another stumble for Tinseltown. Sad.
Monoprice Sony WH-1000XM2 earphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.
Based on what I’ve observed, the greatest challenge in headphone design isn’t building the world’s greatest audiophile headphones. It’s building really good noise-canceling headphones. Consider the challenges Sony faced in creating the WH-1000XM2 noise-canceling (NC) headphones ($349.99 USD). The engineer must deal not only with the incoming music signal, but also with the signals coming from one or two microphones in each earpiece, each mike separately filtered to compensate for its distance from the driver, and for the acoustical properties of the driver and enclosure. The response of the drivers must be tuned to compensate for the effects of NC on the headphones’ sound -- and they still have to sound reasonably good in passive mode, when the battery runs down. Then there’s the noise of the internal amps and microphones to worry about. Perhaps worst of all, I’m told that many of the key patents of this technology are still held and vigorously defended by Bose.
A few subwoofer reviews aside, I haven’t been all that active in home theater the last few years. So when I was invited to be on the AV Rant podcast, hosted by Tom Andry and Rob H., I was thrilled to catch up with what’s going on in the field. The AV Rant is a roughly two-hour weekly podcast in which Tom and Rob discuss home-theater news and answer reader questions. From 1995 to 1999, when I was editor-in-chief of Home Theater magazine, I became acutely aware of the differences between the home-theater and two-channel-audio industries. Talking with Tom and Rob reminded me how different the fields are -- and how much more different they’ve become over the years.
Here we are, closing in on the end of another year. It’s been a doozy, with political storms equivalent to the 1960s, seemingly endless gun violence, and nightly reports of sexual abuse by entertainment bigwigs and national politicos. On the positive side, we’ve had a breadth and quality of music that spanks the intellect and caresses the spirit. We’ve even had some wonderful films, though you’d have to be Sherlock Holmes to find them.