Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Leslie Shapiro Posted: Sep 21, 2015 3 comments
For most of the country, summer coming to a close signals that it’s time to put away your outdoor gear and head to the gym. In Florida, it signals the best weather to get outside and play. The temps are cooling off, humidity is dropping, and it’s the best time of year for cycling. When two Bluetooth speakers that are water-resistant and shaped to fit in a bicycle waterbottle cage showed up at my house, I decided a speaker shootout was called for. The JBL Charge 2+ and the Scosche boomBottle+ are both next generation products. Let’s see which one is going to become a permanent feature on my bike ride.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Aug 03, 2015 2 comments
Apple has just released the 6th generation version of the iPod touch, with up to 128GB of built-in memory and the same A8 processor as the iPhone 6. It’s a gorgeous device with a 4-inch Retina display, all sleek and shiny and desperately trying to fit in. The question is: in 2015, with nearly 65% of Americans owning a smartphone, who needs it?

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jul 20, 2015 2 comments
Face it: life can be hard for our favorite gadgets. I love my gear, but admittedly, I’m not as gentle with it as I should be. The Samsung Galaxy S6 Active was made for people exactly like me. I lead an active life, and my electronics need to be up for the challenge. I ride my bike almost daily, kayak, and hike as often as I can – either along a mountain creek or along the beach. I need my phone (which these days is my camera, music player, and laptop too) to stand up to the rigors of dirt, water, rugged terrain, and less glamorously, sweat. I took the Galaxy S6 Active along this summer to see if it was as active as I needed it to be.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 17, 2015 2 comments
It is remarkable that people who pay attention to what they feed themselves—fussing about calories, cholesterol, and gluten—can be so cavalier about what they feed their headphones.

True, you can get used to anything, including the flea-sized amplifier in your smartphone and the messy output of your computer’s soundcard. But for those who are willing to step up to a new normal, products that combine a USB digital-to-analog converter with a headphone amp can make good headphones sound better—and allow better headphones to fulfill their destiny, which is to bring listeners to a higher plane of audio existence.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 03, 2015 1 comments

PRICE $1,200

Deluxe build quality and beautiful design
Plays DSD and files up to 192/24
128 GB plus microSD slot

Sony’s top-of-the-line Walkman music player is comfortingly overbuilt, loaded with bells and whistles. And it sounds fantastic.

The new top-of-the-line Sony Walkman is not the smallest or lightest dedicated music player out there. But is smaller always better? The smallest music player in my possession is the sixth-generation iPod nano. The tiny touchscreen device has about the footprint of a postage stamp, but that doesn’t make it easier to use. There’s not much room for a fingertip to move. For the seventh and final generation, Apple moved to a larger form factor, similar to early nanos except with the touchscreen replacing the clickwheel. Likewise, Sony went for an old-school nano-like form factor in its Walkman NWZ-A17. But that was a relatively lightweight device in more ways than one. For the top-drawer Walkman NW-ZX2, reviewed here, Sony decided on more substantial build quality—and more of it.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Dec 22, 2014 0 comments
It’s getting down to the wire—stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and Santa’s helpers are desperate for an idea for that last-minute gift. The Nyrius Songo is just what Rudolph ordered for that grumpy Scrooge who hasn’t bought all the latest and greatest electronics. The Songo ($25) and Songo HiFi ($50) turn any receiver or dock into a wireless Bluetooth system. Scrooge can even use an iOS dock with an Android phone via Bluetooth, as long as the dock has an AUX input.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Oct 13, 2014 0 comments
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. True that. However, you usually can assume quite a bit by that cover. When I first saw the Harman Kardon Esquire Mini portable Bluetooth speaker ($150), I knew it was something special. Very few speakers can compete with the looks of this one; and on an executive’s desk, looks do matter.

Mike Mettler Posted: Aug 19, 2014 16 comments
Does Pono deliver on its promise of providing high-res digital music that best reflects how the artist intended you to hear it? I listened to a number of FLAC files at 192/24, 176.4/24, and 96/24 on a yellow PonoPlayer through Sennheiser HD-650 headphones during an exclusive listening session in New York City, and—spoiler alert—the answer is a most emphatic yes.
Leslie Shapiro Posted: Aug 11, 2014 0 comments
Just when I thought the wireless Bluetooth speaker market had finally run out of new ideas, bēm wireless announces the Speaker Mojo, a 2.5” speaker cube with a nifty charging base. Sure, there are tons of other portable speakers, but the Speaker Mojo features a wireless conductive charging base that houses a 1800-mAh power bank to charge not only the speaker, but also whatever else might need a boost via its USB power port. Neato. Gotta love a device that can multi-task.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 26, 2014 2 comments

PRICE $2,500

Native DSD decoding Superb sound Elegant styling
Jaw-droppingly expensive Bulky form factor

If you’re willing to pay big bucks for a portable music player, Astell & Kern’s AK240 delivers state-of-the-art sound with the big plus of unfaked DSD decoding.

Yes, this portable music player costs $2,500. That would buy you 10 Apple iPod classics. Let the gush of hate mail begin.

Look, if it’s a choice between buying this product or, say, paying the rent, or fixing your car, or otherwise keeping the wolf from the door, I’d advise you to attend to the essentials. I know what it’s like to live within limits. But if you have golden ears and cash to burn, then be aware that the Astell & Kern AK240 bids to become the prince of performance among portable music devices.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Apr 28, 2014 0 comments
It’s possible that you’ve never heard of Bayan Audio. The company is better known in the UK, where it has built a solid reputation. Now, Bayan is bringing two new products to North America. The Soundbook and Soundbook X3 are portable Bluetooth speakers packed with some very cool features in very impressive packages. Can they make the jump over the pond and land with a big enough splash in an already crowded speaker market?

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jan 06, 2014 0 comments
The Pocket Kick is a “honey-I-shrunk-the-kids” version of Soundfreaq’s already popular Sound Kick. However, unlike Soundfreaq’s usual sharp, straight lines and edges, the Pocket Kick has rounded edges. Much more pocket-friendly, don’t you think? The Pocket Kick is just about the same size as an iPhone 5 but slightly thicker to accommodate the speakers. (Dimensions are 5.9” x 2.5” x 1.2”.) The Pocket Kick has a slight stereo sound with two speakers powered by a 5-watt amplifier. It’s a rugged little thing, with steel grills on the front and back. The “kick” is provided by a passive bass radiator on the back of the device.

Michael Antonoff Posted: Nov 04, 2013 0 comments
Price $100

At A Glance
Plus: Watch broadcast TV while commuting • Steady reception in motion • Works without Wi-Fi or a mobile data plan
Minus: Limited channels • Reception spotty in buildings and locking in stations can be frustrating

The Verdict
Lets you watch TV while on the on the go but programming options are limited and reception is not a sure shot.

Though the picture quality of over-the-air TV can surpass cable, you’re likely to get no reception at all in a moving vehicle. That’s because broadcast DTV was conceived for stationary screens—not today’s legion of mobile devices.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 16, 2012 2 comments
Apple has redesigned and added features to the ever-evolving iPod touch 5G and iPod nano 7G. Lighter and slimmer than its predecessor, the touch now packs a movie-perfect 16:9 screen, while the nano gets its largest screen ever. Read on to find out which one is right for you.
Rob Sabin Posted: Oct 02, 2011 0 comments
Price: $600 At A Glance: Excellent tonality • Good imaging • Cumbersome WiFi setup

I've never been a big fan of paying for brand names for their own sake. Build quality? Yes. Performance? Absolutely. Aesthetics? Sure. Ease of use? Certainly. Each of those has value, and it often makes sense to pay more, even a lot more, for any one of them. But sometimes, in the course of shopping for whatever, you encounter an entry from a well-respected or even elite brand that at first glance seems so outlandishly priced you have stop and wonder: what am I really paying for here?

Suffice to say that was me when Bowers & Wilkins first suggested I take a little ride with the Zeppelin Air, the company's $600 iPod dock...


Enter your Sound & Vision username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.