GRACE NOTES

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jan 12, 2015 4 comments
Two weeks ago, I had two friends ask me to recommend an MP3 player for them. “No problem, “ I replied. I was heading to CES, showcase for all that is bright and good in the world of electronics. “I’ll make a list of all the MP3 players I’m bound to see.”

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jan 06, 2015 1 comments
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, ARCHT (pronounced "arc") is taking pre-orders on the ARCHT One, a single device with a patented sound array and iOS sound optimization program that creates an omnidirectional, room-filling sound.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Dec 22, 2014 0 comments
It’s getting down to the wire—stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and Santa’s helpers are desperate for an idea for that last-minute gift. The Nyrius Songo is just what Rudolph ordered for that grumpy Scrooge who hasn’t bought all the latest and greatest electronics. The Songo ($25) and Songo HiFi ($50) turn any receiver or dock into a wireless Bluetooth system. Scrooge can even use an iOS dock with an Android phone via Bluetooth, as long as the dock has an AUX input.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Dec 08, 2014 0 comments
Jabra has introduced a wireless Bluetooth headset designed to take workouts to a whole new level of efficiency. They’ve introduced the Jabra Sport Pulse, the world’s first Bluetooth earbuds with a built-in heart-rate monitor. Crazy? I think not. Anyone who’s at all interested in fitness knows that the most effective way to monitor your workout is to track your heart rate. Check out the Orange Theory craze if you don’t believe me, or just look at the treadmills and elliptical machines at most gyms. Heart rate monitoring is an essential part of a safe, effective workout, and Jabra has nailed it. The heart rate monitor is built right into the left earpiece of the Sport Pulse, so finally, you can toss that unsightly, sweaty, uncomfortable heart rate strap.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Nov 24, 2014 0 comments
Home theater fashion comes and goes, with almost as much regularity as hemline heights and tie widths. Years ago, massive speaker arrays were in vogue, then tiny little home-theater-in-a-box cubes, and more recently, skinny little soundbars. The problem with soundbars was two-fold. First, they blocked the lower portion of some TV sets. Second, and more importantly, they tended to sound as thin as they looked—requiring a separate subwoofer to get any type of bass response. JBL has an elegant solution with the Cinema Base Soundbar with built-in subwoofer, Bluetooth, HDMI and optical inputs.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Nov 10, 2014 6 comments
A few months ago, we reported that Tidal High Fidelity music streaming was going to be launched in the US. It’s now up and running, and we had a chance to check it out. It’s the first full-resolution music streaming service available to US consumers. (Deezer is also full resolution, but only available for Sonos users.) Blah, blah, yet another music streaming service. Is it really that much better than Beats, Spotify, Slacker, or Pandora? Is it worth the $19.99 monthly fee? After some intensive listening, I say without hesitation, enthusiastically “YES” on all accounts.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Oct 27, 2014 0 comments
Typically at Sound &Vision, we review serious products, for serious listeners, tending to shy away from gimmicks. Every once in a while, however, a product shows up on our doorstep that looks like it might be a toy, but deserves a closer look. The Yantouch Diamond+ Bluetooth speaker with an amazing light display is one such product.

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