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Bob Ankosko Posted: Sep 28, 2016 1 comments
My first encounter with B&W’s coveted 800 Series speakers is ingrained in my memory. It was the summer of 1981 and a musician friend invited me over to see and hear his newly acquired pair of 801s. As I entered the rehearsal space in his finished basement, I remember thinking how unusual they looked compared with my boxy Fishers. Minutes later I was sinking into a cushy chair at the apex of a triangle formed with the speakers, listening to the White album feeling that I had somehow been transported into the studio during the making of a great album. The sound was authentic. I felt closer to the music—music that was very special to me. Today, more than three decades after John Bowers proudly unveiled the original 801 in 1979, B&W has reinvented its flagship under the aegis of Martial Rousseau, head of research. Here Rousseau shares the story behind the remaking an iconic speaker.
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Bob Ankosko Posted: Aug 26, 2016 0 comments
I’m going to date myself here, but the first thing I thought of when I laid eyes on the Zero 1 XD was the stark white interior of the spacecraft in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Am I crazy, or would it fit right in? In sharp contrast to a traditional horn-based speaker (think JBL or Klipsch)—and even the spectacular floating horn designs for which Germany’s Avantgarde Acoustic is known—the speaker’s ultramodern appearance is unique with its molded baffle and slim rectangular enclosure.
Bob Ankosko Posted: Jun 16, 2016 1 comments
The Akoustic Arts “A” is one of the more unusual-looking speakers you will encounter, with its honeycomb of mini transducers (200 in all). But looks aren’t the only thing unusual about this speaker. Rather than spray sound in every direction like a conventional speaker, the A projects sound in a focused beam. As the Paris-based company likes to say, it’s “the speaker that only you can hear.” And it appears to be off and running. By mid-April, Akoustic Arts had raised more than $200,000, exceeding its Indiegogo funding goal by 662 percent in less than a month. We spoke with founder and CEO Ilan Kaddouch to learn more.
Bob Ankosko Posted: May 31, 2016 1 comments
On the Webpage dedicated to its most ambitious speaker system ever, Bang & Olufsen delivers the perfect, if not poetic setup:
It will not be for everybody. But it will be for the right somebody. Three years in the making, BeoLab 90 is the culmination of the wildest dreams of our acoustics department: creating the future of sound.
Bob Ankosko Posted: Mar 31, 2016 2 comments
Is your mouth watering yet? Mine was when I laid eyes on the 2HP-D, one of three amazing amplifiers that signal the return of Scientific Audio Electronics. Founded in 1967 by stealth designer Morris Kessler (see "15 Minutes with SAE Founder, Amp Guru Morris Kessler."), SAE has always been synonymous with world-class amplification, which in Kessler’s view boils down to three key ingredients: reliability, accuracy, and freedom from noise. As he puts it, “Voltage and current must be available to satisfy the demands of the program material, and the amplifier itself cannot intrude on the user experience.”
Bob Ankosko Posted: Feb 16, 2016 1 comments
When JBL fired up the latest iteration of its state-of-the-art Synthesis system at 2015 CEDIA Expo, more than a few jaws dropped (ours included). The system mated a mind-blowing array of 32 speakers with a 17-foot-wide screen and a battery of amplifiers that delivered 10-plus kilowatts of power to the (eight) subwoofers alone. Talk about visceral.
Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 27, 2016 1 comments
When I picked up Pioneer’s SE-MASTER1 headphone at CEDIA Expo in October, I knew it was special. Substantial yet lightweight and exceptionally well crafted with scrupulous attention to detail, right down to the contoured ear cushions and engraved serial number. (Sorry, S/N 00001 is already spoken for.) If you were to crack open the ear cups, you’d find the same commitment to excellence in the form of a highly refined ceramic-coated aluminum diaphragm surrounded by a ribbed ring, designed to reduce distortion, all framed in a sturdy aluminum alloy to minimize resonance.
Bob Ankosko Posted: Dec 01, 2015 1 comments
If you’re French, you don’t just build a speaker, you build a French speaker—one that takes design seriously. So seriously that you might end up with a speaker that looks nothing at all like a traditional (boring) speaker. La Boite Concept made a name for itself in Europe with the imaginative High-Fidelity Laptop Dock, a small desk featuring an integral sound system and high-quality USB DAC. The Cube is an extension of that concept that would seem to be ideally suited for small living spaces.
Bob Ankosko Posted: Oct 23, 2015 1 comments
It might take a minute to process what you’re looking at. Those squiggly figures are not pieces from a life-size puzzle, and you won’t find them in the gift shop at Muir Woods (or some other rustic destination). Nope. What you see is the brainchild of Sia Rezaei, who had been building speakers as a hobby until he took on the challenge of making “some awesome desktop speakers” back in 2010.
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Bob Ankosko Posted: Sep 23, 2015 1 comments
Poet Audio Pandoretta 360° Wireless Sound System

When I stumbled upon Poet Audio’s Pandoretta, I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking at. I knew it was a speaker and not some sort of fancy air-filtration system, but what kind of speaker? Was it a new take on Yamaha’s Digital Sound Projector with an array of tiny drivers behind all those holes? It didn’t occur to me that the stainless steel “grille” might be an elaborate design element. Yet that’s exactly what it is.

Bob Ankosko Posted: Aug 14, 2015 2 comments
Viewed dead-on, the Phantom looks like a huge eyeball. Catch it from the side and it resembles a dinosaur egg. Either way, this self-contained, powered speaker—small enough to be cradled like a baby (albeit a heavy baby at 24 pounds)—embodies an unmistakably unique form factor and technical design. We spoke with Quentin Sannié, co-founder and CEO of Paris-based Devialet, to get the story behind this most unusual speaker.
Bob Ankosko Posted: May 28, 2015 8 comments
2015 is shaping up to be the Year of the Ultra HD as the balance begins to shift from everyday HDTVs to 4K/Ultra HDTVs with their higher-than-HD 3840x2160 pixel count. The latest projections from the Consumer Electronics Association show UHD shipments growing exponentially over the next few years, jumping from 1.3 million sets in 2014 to 4 million this year and tripling again to 13 million in 2017. Before long, UHD will become as commonplace as HD.
Bob Ankosko Posted: Apr 14, 2015 2 comments
Samsung S9W Ultra HDTV

I tried to imagine the S9W at home but quickly realized my rustic family room is no match for its art-gallery vibe. Although I have to admit, when I first laid eyes on its magnificent 82-inch Ultra HD screen with its cinematic 21:9 aspect ratio, I wondered why it was perched, just shy of teetering, on a compact refrigerator. Refreshments at hand, perhaps? No, that wasn’t it. (Not even close, knucklehead.)

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Mar 02, 2015 1 comments
Steinway Lyngdorf P200 Surround Processor

At last September’s CEDIA Expo, Steinway Lyngdorf offered a sneak peek of the P200 surround processor it plans to start selling in early 2015 for $18,000. (No, that’s not a typo.) The P200 distinguished itself as the first processor to support both Dolby Atmos and Auro-3D. Equipped to handle multiple speaker setups, it’s designed to switch between speakers positioned for either format at the touch of a button. To get the story behind this one-of-a-kind product, we spoke with CEO/CTO Thomas Birkelund.

Bob Ankosko Posted: Dec 23, 2014 7 comments
LG 65EC9700 65-Inch Ultra HD OLED TV

LG made headlines this past summer with the announcement that its 55-inch OLED TV would sell for $3,500. Not cheap, but a whopping 75 percent less than what its predecessor sold for. Then along came the 65EC9700, a TV capable of delivering lush OLED images in 4K resolution that sells for $10,000. LG made headlines again—this time for making television’s holy grail a reality. We spoke with Tim Alessi, director of new product development, for the story behind this inspiring 65-inch hybrid.