GRACE NOTES

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Feb 09, 2014 1 comments
Live TV is one of the most anxiety-inducing tasks facing artists, producers, and engineers, not to mention corporate and political types. In the past two weeks, the NFL’s cash cow, the Super Bowl on Fox and Russia’s pride and joy, the Olympic’s Opening Ceremonies on NBC tried their darndest to impress the world. Both the NFL and Russia took extreme precautions to ensure a flawless show. But in the end, the best way to wow the crowd is to fake it.

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Apr 24, 2012 0 comments

For years, TV manufacturers have been striving to make the biggest and best TV displays. Every year in Las Vegas, the Consumer Electronics Show has been a competition to see who could show off the most ridiculously humongous TV screen.

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Nov 05, 2012 0 comments

While it’s easy to imagine that the federal government (in this case, the Copyright Office) is a bunch of Luddites, sticking to making laws about ancient or obsolete technologies and ignoring the new, the opposite is actually true. 

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Nov 10, 2014 6 comments
A few months ago, we reported that Tidal High Fidelity music streaming was going to be launched in the US. It’s now up and running, and we had a chance to check it out. It’s the first full-resolution music streaming service available to US consumers. (Deezer is also full resolution, but only available for Sonos users.) Blah, blah, yet another music streaming service. Is it really that much better than Beats, Spotify, Slacker, or Pandora? Is it worth the $19.99 monthly fee? After some intensive listening, I say without hesitation, enthusiastically “YES” on all accounts.

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Aug 04, 2011 0 comments

It's a tragic end to a lengthy love story: Ford Motors and the CD player are breaking up after years of happy matrimony. Ford just announced that, moving forward, they will not be installing CD players in the new Ford Focus, with the rest of their models following suit over the next few years.

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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: Feb 24, 2014 3 comments
Life is good. Having just moved into a house with a room for a dedicated home theater, it was time to get set up. More to the point, time for shopping. Usually, the last thing I want to do is to buy furniture, but the search for the perfect chairs for my home theater became my quest. Seeking perfection, I pored over furniture catalogs, websites and scoured any furniture in my path. A woman’s home theater is her castle, right? I already had furnished my girl-cave, I mean home office, and the A/V room, although last on the decorating list, was in my mind, the most crucial.

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jul 31, 2013 0 comments

Last week, Google released Chromecast, an HDMI dongle that promises to turn your “dumb” TV into a slightly smarter one. With a price tag of just $35, the device is sold out everywhere, and its bundled 3-month Netflix subscription has been halted, due to overwhelming demand. So what’s this little device causing all this ruckus?

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Dec 20, 2012 0 comments

The Google Play Music Manager has been around for quite a while. Upload and store up to 20,000 songs in the cloud, so you can play them from any connected  Android device or computer, anywhere. The problem was that you had to go through and upload each and every file. However, Google has just launched a new scan and match feature in the U.S.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Nov 24, 2014 0 comments
Home theater fashion comes and goes, with almost as much regularity as hemline heights and tie widths. Years ago, massive speaker arrays were in vogue, then tiny little home-theater-in-a-box cubes, and more recently, skinny little soundbars. The problem with soundbars was two-fold. First, they blocked the lower portion of some TV sets. Second, and more importantly, they tended to sound as thin as they looked—requiring a separate subwoofer to get any type of bass response. JBL has an elegant solution with the Cinema Base Soundbar with built-in subwoofer, Bluetooth, HDMI and optical inputs.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jan 26, 2015 0 comments
Ever since I left the world of car stereos, Pyle Audio has fallen off my radar. When offered an opportunity to listen to their latest soundbar, the PSBV600BT ($300), I have to admit that I was intrigued. I knew this company had a long history of making good speakers for the automotive world, but haven’t heard any of their home products. This was going to be interesting.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Feb 02, 2015 0 comments
It’s rare for a product to “wow” me right out of the box. So I surprised myself when I let out an audible “Ohh” as I opened the box containing the Harman/Kardon Soho Wireless headphones. They just oozed class and elegance—in fact, I’m reminded that I had a similar reaction to the Harman/Kardon Esquire Mini Bluetooth speaker. Black leather, stainless steel, and a hefty dose of panache. Could the Soho Wireless possibly sound as good as they look?

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Nov 02, 2015 0 comments
Christmas came early in my house. A package just arrived from Kinivo with an assortment of products that I felt I should share—start spreading that holiday joy just days after Halloween. It’s never too early for that, right?

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Nov 11, 2013 0 comments
IK Multimedia has just released its latest product, aimed at musicians and music lovers alike: the iLoud portable speaker. The company claims it is “studio quality” and equips it with a guitar/microphone input. Hmm, “studio quality”—I’ve heard that one before, but I decided to check it out. Is it actually something I would have used in my own recording studio?

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Mar 10, 2014 0 comments
I’ll admit it. I’m over it. Or at least I’m just a little tired of the endless parade of portable Bluetooth speakers that claim to be “stereo.” Sure, if you hold your breath and keep your head positioned precisely in front of the 3-inch wide box, you can almost convince yourself there’s a slight impression of stereo imaging. Worse are systems that claim you can easily pair two devices for true stereo but it turns out that pairing is funky and frustrating and never seems to work. When did stereo become so disposable? The iLuv SyrenPro claimed to be different. Let’s just see about that.

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