EARS ON

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 22, 2007 3 comments
Last weekend I took a Sunday afternoon stroll in Greenwich Village. I was wearing an "Upper West Side 10025" T-shirt to show the Lower Manhattanites who's boss. Following an excellent lunch of cold egg noodles at Mingala, as I strolled down Lafayette Street, I put on the Audio-Technica QuietPoint noise-canceling headphones. Traffic wasn't especially heavy, but you're never really free of internal-combustion noise in Manhattan, and as I hit the switch on the left can, I noticed the low-level hum just disappear, to be replaced by the NC circuit's acceptable low-level hiss. I started grooving on Oleg Kagan's and Sviatoslav Richter's expert performance of Beethoven's "Sonata No. 5 for Violin and Piano."
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 19, 2007 113 comments
Is less of a good thing better? You're about to find out as Audioengine returns to these webpages with a smaller version of the previously reviewed Audioengine 5 powered speaker system. The new Audioengine 2 scales down the formidably chunky form factor of its larger sibling into something that won't dwarf your video monitor or earn dirty looks from boss or spouse.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 04, 2008 1 comments
There are lots of wireless ways to get two channels of audio from point A to point B. But which is the right one for you? One of several possible answers is the Audioengine AW1 wireless audio adapter. It takes the form of two shiny black objects. Each one is the size and shape of a box of kitchen matches, with a stubby USB dongle at one end and a stereo mini-jack at the other end.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 04, 2013 2 comments
Bar, what is it good for? Absolutely nothin', say most audiophiles. But an increasing number of consumers begs to differ, and the audio industry caters to them with an increasing selection of soundbars. At the recent CEDIA Expo, nearly every manufacturer that makes audio-for-video products was showing a soundbar or three, and no doubt I'll be reviewing some of them over the next year. With such a proliferation of soundbars, some of them may actually be pretty good, within their inherent limits, and worth considering in a bedroom system or something other than a primary home theater system.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 16, 2006 2 comments
Are you about to bring your iPod to San Francisco, Oakland, or the Bay Area? Then don't forget to download Bay Area Rapid Transit information before you leave home. In addition to the BART system map, you'll also get schedules, station information, and email warnings whenever the system changes. The map will work only on iPods with color displays and iTunes 4.7 or later. For skeds and stations you'll need a display (color or B&W) plus the Notes feature. BART also offers a PDA QuickPlanner for the Palm OS and Pocket PC and a Wireless QuickPlanner for web-enabled mobile devices. For other cities, check out isubwaymaps.com (formerly ipodsubwaymaps.com before Apple's lawyers sent a nastygram). The enthusiast-fueled site has maps of Berlin, Bilbao, Boston, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, LA, Lyon, Melbourne, Milan, Montreal, NYC, Paris, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, Toronto, Vancouver, and Washington DC. Paypal donations appreciated but not compulsory.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 27, 2006 0 comments
Digital camera pooping out on you? Duracell says its new PowerPix can power twice as many pictures as an ordinary alkaline battery. The PowerPix uses a new NiOx technology—that's nickel-oxy-hydroxide for those of you majoring in chemistry. Meanwhile, Panasonic makes the same claim for its new Oxyride batteries, compared to its own Alkaline Plus, adding that a new version will deliver three times as many pictures around the time the swallows return to Capistrano. Finally, Energizer says its e2 Lithium lasts seven times as long as competing alkalines and that e2s have replaced all the alkaline batteries aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. Any of them should keep your remotes under control for years.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 30, 2007 3 comments
The British Broadcasting Corporation has been busy lately. Its iPlayer is about to relaunch following a beta test. It will enable viewers to download single episodes or entire series a month after airing. In other BBC news, an archival project will put a million hours of historic material online for free, according to the Guardian. In this case there's a catch. You'll have to pay the annual BBC license fee to access it. The archives include an interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, conducted two days before the shooting, in which they candidly discuss the impact of their relationship on the Beatles. There's also an interview with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., conducted the day before his death, in which he says: "The important thing isn't how long you live, but how well you live."
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 04, 2006 0 comments
"Fortune has learned that iTunes is close to a deal to bring the Beatles catalog online," the magazine's Tim Arango reported last week. How ironic, given their 20 years of legal battles, including most recently a tug of war over the right to use the brandname Apple. Neither Apple Computer or Apple Corps has confirmed the rumor and the deal may still fall through. However, the president of EMI recently told a music industry conference that he expected to see Beatles downloads available "soon." Still to be determined: What window of exclusivity will iTunes win from the Fab Four and their survivors? Will the Beatles allow their tunes and images be used for televised or other cross-promotional advertising, as U2 has done so successfully? Frankly, I couldn't care less, since my iPod already contains Beatles content ripped from legally purchased CDs. What I want to know is: How much longer do I have to wait for the Beatles catalog to be remixed in surround and released on SACD, DVD-Audio, Blu-ray, or HD DVD?
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 09, 2006 0 comments
Here are some fun facts about VEIL, one of the technologies underlying the Digital Transition Content Security Act of 2005—better known as the Analog Hole Bill:
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 07, 2007 1 comments
Let's say you spot a bargain on the Best Buy website. You go to the local Best Buy to buy the product. Sorry, says the salesperson, that's not the correct price for that product. How can that be?, you ask. The salesperson boots up the site and shows you and then you feel like a ninny. But you're not a ninny--you've merely been robbed. Best Buy has confirmed to Connecticut state investigators that it maintains a second site, an intranet site, with different prices. I'll let "Consumer Watchdog" George Gombossy of the Hartford Courant tell the rest of the story: "State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal ordered the investigation into Best Buy's practices on Feb. 9 after my column disclosed the website and showed how employees at two Connecticut stores used it to deny customers a $150 discount on a computer advertised on BestBuy.com. Blumenthal said Wednesday that Best Buy has also confirmed to his office the existence of the intranet site, but has so far failed to give clear answers about its purpose and use. 'Their responses seem to raise as many questions as they answer,' Blumenthal said." Best Buy's serpentine response is to blame its employees: "We are reminding our employees how to access the external BestBuy.com web site to ensure customers are receiving the best possible product price."
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 12, 2008 4 comments
I've been to CEDIA EXPOs in Dallas, New Orleans, a few in Indianapolis, and the last three in Denver. I'll never forget walking the mist-shrouded streets of the French Quarter, of course, and Indy is underrated. But by far the best venue has been Denver. The downtown area is set up with most major hotels within walking distance of both the convention center and amenities in and around the 16th Street Mall. For both work and play, Denver has been the ideal place to attend a convention, and I'm truly going to miss it. So...
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 12, 2008 8 comments
I was too woozy after CEDIA 2008 to deliver my final show blog. Anyway, I like to take an annual stand on what was the best thing I heard at the show--after all, people at the show are always asking me. The answer, hands down, was Pioneer's EX Series Reference Class Architectural Speakers.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 20, 2008 17 comments
Any takers for the world's greatest music collection? Paul Mawhinney has been collecting for 60 years, amassing a three million items, but is selling due to age, health, and financial problems. An appraiser says the library is worth $50 million, though Paul is willing to settle for $3 million. That's just a dollar a record. The collection includes LPs, CDs, EPs, 45s, and 78s and right now they're sitting in a climate-controlled warehouse waiting for a buyer. Mawhinney would prefer to sell to a museum, library, university, or foundation which would keep the collection intact, though he adds, the new owner is "free to do as you please." If you'd like to check the contents, there's an online database.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 21, 2006 0 comments
In the latest act of a long-running drama, Dish Network PVRs will not be judicially disabled—at least, not yet. A federal appeals court has blocked an injunction from a Texas district court that would have shut down Dish video recorders. Dish's adversary is TiVo and the issue is patent infringement. TiVo has successfully argued that Dish PVRs violate TiVo's patents, winning $74.9 million in penalties. That matter was decided months ago, but what to do about it has not, so millions of Dish PVRs have the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. The Dish people say they expect to reverse the Texas district court decision and will "continue to work on modifications" to the allegedly infringing machines. Even if TiVo gets a short-term win in this situation, its real challenge is competition from not only satellite DVRs but those marketed by cable and emerging telco-video services. No judge or lawyer is going to make that problem go away.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 16, 2006 1 comments
A problem with Blu-ray security technology will delay the launch of both Blu-ray and HD DVD by at least a few weeks, insiders have told a German security portal. The stumbling block is BD+, which allows updates of encryption schemes when they're hacked. While the BD+ component of the Advanced Access Content System is used only in Blu-ray, the delay in finalizing AACS will delay both formats. AACS LA, the standard-setting body, tried to resolve the problem last week but failed. The group will meet again next week and take another crack. In the meantime, HD DVD's slight product-debut lead over Blu-ray is dissipating. The HD DVD people must be fit to kill.

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