GRACE NOTES

Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Leslie Shapiro Posted: Aug 17, 2015 0 comments
Everything needs to be enhanced these days to stand out from the crowd—everyone needs a schtick. Potato chips need wacky truffle-oil flavoring, cars need a carbon fiber wrap, and well, most celebrities keep their plastic surgeons on speed-dial. Even headphones need a hook to make a splash in the over-saturated market. While the Plantronics BackBeat Sense wireless headphones look like ordinary headphones, they are packed with enhancements, including knowing when they’re on or off.
Leslie Shapiro Posted: Aug 03, 2015 2 comments
Apple has just released the 6th generation version of the iPod touch, with up to 128GB of built-in memory and the same A8 processor as the iPhone 6. It’s a gorgeous device with a 4-inch Retina display, all sleek and shiny and desperately trying to fit in. The question is: in 2015, with nearly 65% of Americans owning a smartphone, who needs it?

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jul 20, 2015 0 comments
Face it: life can be hard for our favorite gadgets. I love my gear, but admittedly, I’m not as gentle with it as I should be. The Samsung Galaxy S6 Active was made for people exactly like me. I lead an active life, and my electronics need to be up for the challenge. I ride my bike almost daily, kayak, and hike as often as I can – either along a mountain creek or along the beach. I need my phone (which these days is my camera, music player, and laptop too) to stand up to the rigors of dirt, water, rugged terrain, and less glamorously, sweat. I took the Galaxy S6 Active along this summer to see if it was as active as I needed it to be.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jul 06, 2015 1 comments
Standards and guidelines are a good thing. Just ask anyone who’s ever had an 11-inch long Footlong from Subway. (Subway, interestingly enough, claims that “Footlong” is a descriptive name not intended to be a measurement of length. Seriously?) As audiophiles, we need to make sure that what is called Hi-Res music, is indeed high-resolution, and not just a descriptive name. The Producers & Engineers Wing of The Recording Academy (who presents the Grammy Awards) has come up with a set of production guidelines for high-resolution music. (In full disclosure, I’ve been a voting member of The Recording Academy for over 30 years.)

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jun 15, 2015 0 comments
Choice is good. My laptop can convert to a tablet. My hiking pants convert to shorts. My car converts to a stargazing roadster. And my Torque t402v on-ear headphones convert to over-ear headphones. Even better than that—the sound converts from balanced headphones to bass-heavy beasts.
Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jun 01, 2015 2 comments
While I like to think that every single product in my home should be beyond audiophile quality, the reality is that in some places, I want a product that sounds okay but more importantly, does its job very well. Sure, I could set up the most amazing home theater to use as an alarm clock, but the reality is that I just need a really good alarm clock at my bedside. Thankfully, the JBL Horizon Bluetooth clock radio just showed up at my house. I’m not saying that I’m a gear snob, but I would much rather wake up to a JBL logo than a Timex logo. Just sayin’.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: May 18, 2015 3 comments
Rdio isn’t new to the highly competitive streaming music market, but they just announced a new price structure that’s garnering some big interest in the music industry. Aiming for the cost-conscious consumer, Rdio has initiated a plan that’s just $3.99 per month, Rdio Select, for an ad-free experience with unlimited skips and 25 downloads. This makes it the cheapest commercial-free subscription streaming service. How does that compare to what they’ve offered before, and why should we care?

Leslie Shapiro Posted: May 04, 2015 0 comments
Travel companions really have to stand out if they’re going to make the final cut on my packing list. They have to be small, pack a punch, and be fun to have along. The Soen Audio Transit XS (MSRP $180) Bluetooth-enabled portable speaker was begging to come on my next trip—a weekend at the beach. Was this small Bluetooth speaker up for the challenge?

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Apr 20, 2015 0 comments
Good news for audiophiles who like to take control of their music. A while back we reviewed a rather unique pair of in-ear monitors, the Torque t103z (MSRP $180). While they were a really good-sounding earphone, what made them stand out were the interchangeable passive filter valves—patented by Torque as PAVT, Passive Acoustic Valve Technology. When Sound&Vision initially reviewed the t103z, there were only three filter options. Now, we get a chance to listen to three new offerings from Torque Audio. For choosy music lovers (and who here isn’t?) this is great news.

Filed under
Leslie Shapiro Posted: Apr 06, 2015 10 comments
In the late 1960’s and early ‘70’s, psychologist Walter Mischel conducted a series of tests at Stanford University. The basic premise put a 4-year-old preschool child in a room with an adult, and two marshmallows. The adult explains that he has to leave the room for about 15 minutes. The child can eat one marshmallow while the adult is gone, but if the child waits until the adult returns, the child can eat both marshmallows. While the basic test is interesting enough, it’s the follow-up that proved most intriguing. The children who showed the most self-control/self-discipline by waiting until the adult returned grew up to have significantly higher SAT scores, lower BMIs, more self-control and self-discipline, and in general, were more successful in life. As music lovers, we failed the marshmallow test.
Filed under
Leslie Shapiro Posted: Mar 16, 2015 1 comments
It’s Saturday night! And you know what that means! Once again, you can be the life of the party, creating killer mashups from your killer playlist. The problem, of course, is Ted, who delusionally thinks his killer mashups are more killer than yours. But now you can resolve that issue once and for all. You can whip out your Braven Fuse portable mixer and show him who’s da bomb.

Filed under
Leslie Shapiro Posted: Mar 02, 2015 0 comments
It’s rare to be able to mention a feature that’s found on an Android device that wasn’t featured first on an iPhone, probably with a sleeker presentation. Somehow, however, IR remote control ability seems to have been left out of iPhones, even though it was rumored to be included on the iPhone 6. Samsung, LG and HTC all have managed to include IR blasters on their phones, yet Apple devotees have been out of luck if the want to control their home theaters, until now.

Filed under
Leslie Shapiro Posted: Feb 16, 2015 3 comments
I was recently working in an anechoic chamber for a few days and the ambience in there (actually, the lack of any) really got me thinking about ambient sounds. Anechoic chambers aren't just silent—it's the absence of any return energy that makes them so unnatural, and after a few hours, downright uncomfortable. You become aware of sounds your own body makes, especially your heart beat in your ears. It’s such an unusual space because it doesn’t really occur in the natural world. Standing on the sandy plain of a desert comes close, but even there, one would hear the movement of air over the ground, and distant ambience. A true anechoic experience almost never happens in our daily lives.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Feb 02, 2015 0 comments
It’s rare for a product to “wow” me right out of the box. So I surprised myself when I let out an audible “Ohh” as I opened the box containing the Harman/Kardon Soho Wireless headphones. They just oozed class and elegance—in fact, I’m reminded that I had a similar reaction to the Harman/Kardon Esquire Mini Bluetooth speaker. Black leather, stainless steel, and a hefty dose of panache. Could the Soho Wireless possibly sound as good as they look?

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jan 26, 2015 0 comments
Ever since I left the world of car stereos, Pyle Audio has fallen off my radar. When offered an opportunity to listen to their latest soundbar, the PSBV600BT ($300), I have to admit that I was intrigued. I knew this company had a long history of making good speakers for the automotive world, but haven’t heard any of their home products. This was going to be interesting.

Pages

X
Enter your Sound & Vision username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.
Loading