GRACE NOTES

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Nov 10, 2014 5 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.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Oct 27, 2014 0 comments
Typically at Sound &Vision, we review serious products, for serious listeners, tending to shy away from gimmicks. Every once in a while, however, a product shows up on our doorstep that looks like it might be a toy, but deserves a closer look. The Yantouch Diamond+ Bluetooth speaker with an amazing light display is one such product.

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.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Sep 22, 2014 4 comments
While all the Apple Kool-Aid drinkers could talk about last week was the new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, an interesting tidbit of news was mostly overlooked, but we feel it’s rather exciting. (Is it just me, or is it really hard to get all that thrilled about yet another iPhone launch?) Along with a sleek new interface for the set-top box, Apple TV has added Beats Music streaming.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Sep 07, 2014 3 comments
Samsung has a mind-bending new product that’s shaping up to be a real breakthrough, just revealed in Berlin at IFA 2014. Sure, Samsung’s new focus on curved TVs is exciting. But in addition to a complete lineup of 17 new curved TVs, including one that’s 105-inches (debuted at CES 2014), Samsung has announced a revolutionary 105-inch bendable TV. Yup—bendable! Stand back Gumby, step aside Elasti-Girl, Samsung’s flexing some serious muscle with this bad boy.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Aug 25, 2014 0 comments
Look around you - wires are so passé. If you’re in the gym and your earphones are connected to your phone or iPod, you might as well trade in your Crossfit membership for a circa-1989 Step aerobics class. How can you complete your WOD with a tangle of wires getting in the way? The new Powerbeats2 in-ear earphone from Beats By Dr. Dre is Bluetooth 4.0 compatible, and other than the snag-free wire connecting the left and right side, it’s completely wireless. You couldn’t connect it to your iPhone with a wire even if you wanted to - plus and negatives to that situation to follow.

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.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jul 28, 2014 2 comments
Bose, the pioneer of noise-cancelling headphones, has filed suit against Apple’s latest and largest acquisition, Beats Electronics. Bose alleges that the Beats Studio and Studio Wireless headphones use noise-cancelling technology that infringes on five patents held by Bose. They have also filed with the International Trade Commission requesting a cease-and-desist on sales and imports of Beats in the US. They are requesting an undisclosed amount of compensation for damages. Considering how long the Studio line has been available, did Bose wait until it could go after the deeper pockets of Apple?

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jul 14, 2014 2 comments
If you love something, set it free. It’s time to love T-Mobile for setting music free. T-Mobile users can stream all the music they want, free from the fear of hitting their data limits. While the Music Freedom news was announced a few weeks ago, the airwaves have just lit up with new ads touting T-Mobile’s new music streaming plan. Sound too good to be true?

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jun 23, 2014 0 comments
On the heels of Apple’s buyout of Beats, it’s unfair to expect Beats to suddenly stop production of anything that isn’t Apple white. The newly designed Beats by Dr. Dre Solo2 headphone actually comes in a rainbow of colors, including, umm, white. This is a revision of the original Solo headphone. While I was unboxing, I wondered, did Beats dial back the pounding bass that plagued the first generation of their headphone lineup?

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jun 09, 2014 Published: Jun 08, 2014 0 comments
In a new 416-page coffee-table book, part-time DJ and photographer Eilon Paz takes an intimate look at over 130 vinyl collections and collectors , exploring the beauty and passion behind each treasured trove. The book is a glorious celebration of vinyl records, and showcases the wide variety of collections along with the people and stories behind them.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: May 26, 2014 0 comments
Everywhere you turn, new ways to support causes and ideas have been created. Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding is inescapable. Friends just used Honeyfund to let wedding guests finance their honeymoon. Perhaps more philanthropically, another friend is getting help with medical payments through GiveForward.com. My bicycle rides are logged onto the Plus3 website that, through corporate sponsors, donates money to charities based on how many miles I ride. (I’ve personally raised almost $700 and burned 1.4 million calories; that’s a lot of M&Ms.) It seems that new ways to raise money for a cause are being created daily. Enter ShareBrand.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: May 12, 2014 3 comments
Any second now, confirmation is expected on Apple’s buyout of Beats Music for a reported $3.2 billion. That’s billion with a “b”. There’s no doubt that Beats is a valuable commodity. They did for headphones what Nike’s Air Jordans did for sneakers: No one cares if they’re the best product, they just care if it’s got the right logo. Is this a smart business move for Apple? Frankly, I don’t give a damn.

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: Apr 14, 2014 0 comments
As someone whose life seems to revolve around the outdoors, I’m all ears whenever I hear about a new “active” piece of electronics gear. The new BlueAnt PUMP HD wireless waterproof sportbud promised to deliver audiophile-grade performance in a rugged, IP67-waterproof rated Bluetooth-compatible package.As soon as it arrived, I charged it up and hit my favorite bike trail.

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