GRACE NOTES

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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.

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jan 12, 2015 4 comments
Two weeks ago, I had two friends ask me to recommend an MP3 player for them. “No problem, “ I replied. I was heading to CES, showcase for all that is bright and good in the world of electronics. “I’ll make a list of all the MP3 players I’m bound to see.”

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jan 06, 2015 1 comments
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, ARCHT (pronounced "arc") is taking pre-orders on the ARCHT One, a single device with a patented sound array and iOS sound optimization program that creates an omnidirectional, room-filling sound.

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: Dec 08, 2014 0 comments
Jabra has introduced a wireless Bluetooth headset designed to take workouts to a whole new level of efficiency. They’ve introduced the Jabra Sport Pulse, the world’s first Bluetooth earbuds with a built-in heart-rate monitor. Crazy? I think not. Anyone who’s at all interested in fitness knows that the most effective way to monitor your workout is to track your heart rate. Check out the Orange Theory craze if you don’t believe me, or just look at the treadmills and elliptical machines at most gyms. Heart rate monitoring is an essential part of a safe, effective workout, and Jabra has nailed it. The heart rate monitor is built right into the left earpiece of the Sport Pulse, so finally, you can toss that unsightly, sweaty, uncomfortable heart rate strap.

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: 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.

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?

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