GRACE NOTES

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jun 20, 2016 0 comments
Every week a new pair of wireless Bluetooth earphones seem to appear on my doorstep. Usually, I have to take a long, hard look to find anything noteworthy to make one pair stand out from the others. The newly updated NuForce BE6i earphones feature aptX technology for better playback quality and that, my friends, is noteworthy enough.

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jun 06, 2016 3 comments
There are moments that stand out in most people’s lives. Where you were you when you heard John Lennon was shot. Your first kiss. The moment when you first heard high-fidelity music, and it was so profound that it changed the course of your life.

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: May 25, 2016 2 comments
Deciding whether to spring for an expensive sound-system upgrade when shopping for a new car can be a frustrating experience when you have no idea what you’ll actually be getting for your hard-earned money. Looking at pictures of a speaker grille is hardly convincing when the price tag for an upgraded system can be upwards of $6000. How often do you get the opportunity to spend literally hours in a potential car listening to and evaluating the sound system before you order your build? Recently, I did just that in the 2016 BMW 650i xDrive Gran Coupe with the upgraded Bang & Olufsen sound system. Here's what I heard.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: May 09, 2016 1 comments
Absolute power corrupts absolutely; lack of power is just freakin’ annoying. The new Plantronics BackBeat GO 3 is a wireless, sweatproof earbud that solves the lack of power problem in a unique and clever way. The carrying case has a built-in rechargeable battery that provides the power for up to two recharges, giving the Backbeat GO 3 an extra 13 hours of playback. That’s the kind of power a girl could get used to.

Posted: May 05, 2016 4 comments
Marvel is unleashing its latest Captain America saga, hoping that the recent disappointing Superman/Batman outing by DC Comics has not diminished the public’s enthusiasm for comic-book mayhem. Last night, resplendent in my superhero costume and not pulling any punches, I heroically battled supervillain Ken Pohlmann at the press screening of Civil War....

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Apr 18, 2016 1 comments
On May 10, 2016, a jury will begin a trial to decide if Led Zeppelin members Robert Plant and Jimmy Page copied parts of the song “Taurus” by the band Spirit for their mega-hit “Stairway to Heaven.” A ruling last week by a U.S. District Judge determined that the case should move forward, stating the following: “While it is true that a descending chromatic four-chord progression is a common convention that abounds in the music industry, the similarities here transcend this core structure. Enough similar protectable expression is here that the issue of substantial similarity should [be heard by a jury].”

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Apr 04, 2016 2 comments
Summer’s almost here and the time is right for dancing in the streets. Yup. I went there. While there are plenty of great-sounding Bluetooth speakers, sometimes you need one that you can really take anywhere and subject it to rigors you wouldn’t dream of with other speakers. The Hercules WAE Outdoor Rush ($129) is a water-proof, dust-proof speaker that is so rugged it will even float. Best part—it also has a built-in FM tuner. Bring on the beach party!

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Mar 21, 2016 10 comments
Sony’s Future Lab made some waves at South By Southwest by debuting an entirely new concept in personal listening. The Concept N device doesn’t go on or over the ears at all - instead, it hangs comfortably around the user’s neck with multi-directional drivers aiming up towards the listener, allowing outside sounds to still be audible. Extremely directional speakers direct the sound to the listener’s ears while preventing other people from hearing the sound very clearly. In a slightly noisy environment, other people around the listener can’t hear what is being played over the device.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Mar 07, 2016 4 comments
One of the hottest trends in consumer electronics is multi-room speaker systems. While single, portable Bluetooth speakers are fine for travel and using outdoors, many people are seeking simple and elegant solutions for whole-home listening. The new Libratone Zipp ($300) and Libratone Zipp Mini ($250) are certainly interesting options.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Feb 29, 2016 1 comments
Bone conduction technology has been around for a while, even before Beethoven pressed his ear against a piano and clasped a rod in his teeth to hear his compositions. But AfterShokz is bringing it mainstream to the active community with the new Trekz Titanium (MSRP $130) wireless headset. While you might not think bone conduction is right for you, there are plenty of advantages of the technology, including situational awareness, that you might want to consider.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Feb 15, 2016 5 comments
They say that size matters. With audio products, it is often the case: bigger speakers, bigger amplifiers, and bigger batteries can often translate into better sound and added convenience. The Nyne Rock boombox is one of the biggest and most powerful portable Bluetooth speakers we’ve seen in a long time. Let’s see if bigger truly is better.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jan 25, 2016 2 comments
Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, the giant behind the Fender Stratocaster, has just announced a new product line: in-ear monitors from the legendary guitar manufacturer. There will be five models when the products hit the shelves in March. However, it’s the history of these products that is the most interesting.

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jan 11, 2016 0 comments
It’s a few days after CES and I’m finally winding down from the relentless press events, press releases, and my feet have forgiven me for the miles of hiking the floors of the Convention Center. My waistline, however, may take a while to recover from the receptions and cocktail parties that manufacturers love to host during CES.

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jan 08, 2016 0 comments
While everyone likes to think they have perfect hearing, the reality is that most folks don’t.

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jan 08, 2016 0 comments
One of the biggest catch phrases at CES this year has been the IoT, or the Internet of Things. JBL is partnering with PubNub to create a Developer Ecosystem to the Pulse 2 and other JBL speaker systems to make them better than ever.

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