GRACE NOTES

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Sep 26, 2016 0 comments
As more and more devices become wireless, it seems that it should be easier to connect together all the TVs in the house without the mess of cables. Truth is that it’s not as simple as it seems. The new Nyrius WS54 (MSRP: $170) makes it about as simple as it can be. Plus, it works in a challenging situation where many other systems have failed.

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Sep 12, 2016 2 comments
As we predicted, Apple just released the iPhone 7 and it’s missing one critical component for audiophiles—a headphone jack. Luckily, HRT (High Resolution Technologies) also just released the i-dSp digital sound processor to let Apple users continue to use wired headphones.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Aug 22, 2016 3 comments
It’s that time of year—when kids cringe and parents rejoice. The school bus armadas have begun. Little ones are heading back to school, but the whole family is heading back to the malls and online to load up on school supplies for the year. What tops the shopping list? Technology. What is the third most popular back-to-school technology purchase? Headphones. Bizarre, right?

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Aug 08, 2016 0 comments
Fourteen years is a very long time when talking about technology. So much has changed since then, yet some things remain oddly the same. Fourteen years ago, Ken Pohlmann and I wrote an article for Sound + Vision magazine comparing Sirius and XM. You would think that they have changed immensely since then, but some things haven’t. Back then, there were two companies. Was there a difference in sound quality? We definitely had a strong opinion then, but since the companies merged in 2008, could there still be a difference?

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jul 25, 2016 1 comments
Music mogul Will.i.am has produced a new earphone, the "EPs.", inspired by the look of vinyl, launching exclusively online at Apple.com and in select Apple stores. At a time when “Made in China” might not seem all that cool, the EPs proudly boast that they were designed in Los Angeles, and produced in China, with glamour shots of the factory included. They also boast that they’re for the dope. We’ll see about that. With rumors swirling around that Apple might be eliminating the headphone port on the next gen of iPhones, is it any wonder they’re the exclusive retailers of these wireless earphones?

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jul 11, 2016 2 comments
High-resolution audio has a new champion. This past April we reported that Nativ had launched an Indiegogo campaign to bring a premium high-resolution wireless touchscreen music player and DAC to production. It easily surpassed its funding goal by 316%—that’s $344,000 from its initial goal of $100,000. Well, to sweeten the ask, Nativ just announced they’re adding the Nativ Disc powered by Gracenote, a new CD ripping unit that continues their “bit-perfect” streak. Think no one cares about high-resolution audio? The 356 Indiegogo backers certainly care.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jun 20, 2016 4 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 4 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 2 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.

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