EARS ON

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 02, 2007 0 comments
Somewhere back in the dusty corridors of time, in a house in New Jersey, a child found an old radio in the basement. It was a Sears Silvertone with a dark brown plastic chassis. No FM, just AM, and therefore not of much interest to the increasingly music-aware child. But he--oh, all right, I--was fascinated by the tubes inside. Unlike all the other radios in the house, which immediately started blaring when turned on, this one took time to warm up. When ready to play, its single speaker emitted a rich tone. Not exactly a silver tone. More of a chocolate tone. But I did love it, and was sorry when it suddenly disappeared from the house, as so many artifacts of my childhood did in those days.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 05, 2007 1 comments
Which would you prefer: To buy a new PC with Windows Vista, or go on using your iPod? You can't have both unless you're extremely careful. Apple Computer--oops! sorry! Apple Inc.--has issued an advisory with a couple of warnings. First, when ejecting your iPod from a Vista-loaded PC, use the eject command in iTunes, not the one in the Vista system tray. Otherwise the PC "may corrupt your iPod," Apple says. Other potential problems: Songs purchased on iTunes may not play in the iTunes software, and since the DRM-wrapped tracks won't play in any other software, that means they won't play, period. Contacts and calendars won't sync. And adjustments can't be made to some settings. Apple explains and offers a patch, but you might want to wait for the next full version of iTunes ("available in the next few weeks") before letting iTunes and Vista butt heads.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 25, 2006 1 comments
Interesting piece by Wired columnist Leander Kahney on the iPod's steady rise to acceptance as a hi-fi audio device. But I think he oversells his point when he says the iPod has audiophiles "spinning in their soundproof graves." He also oversimplifies, asserting that "to purists, only old-fashioned vinyl platters cut it." This stereotype (pun intended) ignores a whole universe of digital audio developments such as SACD and DVD-Audio, great concert videos in lossy surround formats, and the use of Dolby Pro Logic II to coax surround out of stereo source material (whether from CD, WAV, MP3, AAC, or none of the above). Speaking as an audiophile, I find these things just as interesting as my LP collection or, for that matter, my iPod. The biggest problem with high-performance audio, according to 56 percent of consumers in one survey, is that not enough of them have heard it.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 06, 2013 2 comments
It's official. The future of audio hardware and software now has an acronym. It's HRA, or high-resolution audio, trumpets a press release from the Consumer Electronics Association. HRA may well emerge as a key theme of CEA's 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show. So this would be a good time to discuss what is, and is not, high-resolution audio.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 17, 2006 2 comments
Hard-copy music libraries are becoming passé, at least across the pond. eBay surveyed 1000 households in the U.K. and found that £17.2 billion, with a b, worth of CDs will have been ripped to MP3 by year-end. What's happening to them? The Guardian reports that charity shops are being "inundated with donated CDs, as more and more people trim their collections—or even get rid of them altogether to free up space." Of course, for those of us who like our music uncompressed, or just want to stay up to date with the latest codec, this avalanche of cheap CDs is a buying opportunity reminiscent of the days when faddish listeners dumped perfectly good LPs. Do you really want to eviscerate your music library? Go ahead, make my day!
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 07, 2006 0 comments
You know the folks at the Consumer Electronics Association are riled up when they send out a press release with a head like "Back to School with Baloney." The low-end luncheon meats in question are being packed into collegiate lunchboxes by the Recording Industry Antichrist of America (I have decided to make this a recurring reference) at campusdownloading.com. CEA, the media-activist group Public Knowledge, and the Computer and Communications Industry Association issued this joint communiqué laced with italic outrage: "The RIAA back to school message is 'Beware of anything free.' Ironically, it applies most aptly to the free 'educational' DVDs that RIAA is peddling to students and to the bogus legal advice on RIAA's 'Campus Downloading' website.... The 'FAQ' posted by the RIAA in support of its campaign dismisses the copyright law's Fair Use doctrine as applying only to productive or scholarly works. It suggests, contrary to explicit Supreme Court precedent, that Fair Use has no application to the home recording of entire works." The statement points out inconsistencies in the RIAA's stance on copying for personal use: "The RIAA's freeDVD...says that it is OK to make a CD copy for yourself, but is criminal to do so for a friend.... Where in the AHRA [Audio Home Recording Act of 1992], or in any court decision, does it say that purely personal recordings are legal, burning or emailing a single song for a friend or family member is criminal?"
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 25, 2006 2 comments
Powered-subwoofer specifications have long been a minefield of inconsistency. How deep, how loud can they really play? Consumers may shop with greater confidence now that the Consumer Electronics Association has delivered its long-awaited sub specs. Given the catchy name CEA-2010, the document commands that subs be tested "in a calibrated anechoic [non-echoing] chamber, in a suitable ground plane environment, or in a large calibrated room." Test tones, with one-third octave spacing, are at these frequencies: 20, 25, 31.5, 40, 50, and 63 Hertz. The specs don't cover power ratings, but it will be great for consumers to get standardized information on the acoustic output of powered subs. The end result on spec sheets should look like this:
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 28, 2006 1 comments
Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Electronics Association—who often looks like he needs a shave but is otherwise a perfectly respectable individual—is making a renewed push for HR1201. The Digital Media Consumers' Right Act of 2005 was introduced by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) more than a year ago. The bill would directly write into law the Supreme Court's 1984 landmark Betamax Decision, which sanctioned recording for personal use. "For innovation and for consumer freedom, the doctrine originally announced in the Betamax case is the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence rolled into one," Shapiro declared in a press release from the Home Recording Rights Coalition. In a CEA press release based on Shapiro's remarks to a Cato Institute meeting, he also took some interesting shots at the presumed sacredness of copyright: "The content community has undertaken a slick public relations and positioning campaign to distort the law of copyright to make it seem as if it is a subset of the law of real property. What they totally ignore is that the United States Constitution accorded patents and copyrights a different treatment allowing Congress to grant patent and copyright terms for limited times.... It is not only intellectually disingenuous to treat copyright as a real property, it distorts the debate so that fair use becomes less relevant and consumer rights...become marginalized to the point of vanishing." If you'd like to put your oar in the water, please do.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 24, 2010 3 comments
The Consumer Electronics Association hosted a Line Show in midtown Manhattan for the second consecutive year. Our colleagues at TWICE covered the economic forecast while we did a walk-through. Anthem, long known for its pre-pros and multichannel amps, unveiled four receivers. They range from the MRX 300 ($1000) to the MRX 900 ($4000). All have Anthem's own room correction.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 22, 2010 0 comments
This company demonstrated a filter that fits over a small screen, like the PSP shown, and shows 3D content without the need for glasses. You have to play with the viewing distance until the image snaps into focus. To be used with YouTube, games, etc.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 22, 2010 1 comments
Eton's Soulra is a fairly ordinary iPod docking speaker product with a twist: It's got a solar panel that can charge in about 10 hours, providing 4 to 5 hours of play time. It's water-proof, sand-proof, and $199.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 24, 2010 2 comments
Mitsubishi's L75-A91 is the latest generation of its LaserVue rear-projection technology. The 75-inch set is up 10 inches over its predecessor, costs $1000 less at $6000, and exceeds Energy Star standards by 50 percent. Mitsubishi has been supporting 3D since 2007 in its DLP models and offers an adapter for use with 3D ready sets that will convert formats supported in HDMI 1.4a.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 22, 2010 0 comments
The MusicLite uses 2.4GHz wireless technology from Eleven Engineering in its combination Sylvania LED lightbulb and Artison powered speaker. Use your choice of iPod or USB dongle to send signals to the MusicLite. The system can address up to four zones. Shipping in September for a price yet undetermined.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 22, 2010 1 comments
Sonos has long been the noninvasive multi-zone audio technology of choice for many. Its latest move, not surprisingly, is an iPad controller that works much the same as its iPhone/iPod controller. The free app lets you slide between rooms playing different content or link all rooms with the same content.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 22, 2010 0 comments
This maker of toothbrush sanitizers now offers a model for personal electronics such as phones, iPods, headsets, earbuds, etc. They can get dirtier than the bottom of your shoe, we were told. The ultraviolet device takes three minutes to remove 99.9 percent of nasties such as salmonella, strep, flu, etc. Available in September for $100.

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