Steve Guttenberg

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jul 31, 2001 Published: Aug 01, 2001 0 comments
M&K's K-5 proves that a small speaker doesn't have to deliver a small performance.

Miller & Kreisel Sound has a habit of being there at the very start of things. The company's timeline stretches all the way back to 1973, when Steely Dan's Walter Becker wandered into Mr. Kreisel's shop and asked him to design a subwoofer and monitoring system for his Pretzel Logic mixing sessions. The rest, as they say, is sub-history. OK, you probably already knew that M&K is synonymous with badass subwoofers, so here's another cool bit of trivia. In 1976, long before the words "home" and "theater" were ever used together in a sentence, M&K introduced their first subwoofer/satellite system. Their pioneering spirit in the pro-sound world is legendary; so, naturally, Dolby Labs depended on an M&K MX-5000 system during their developmental work on Dolby Digital in the early '90s. M&K's list of achievements could easily fill this entire review, so I'll stop myself right now and move on to the subject at hand: their brand-new and most affordable satellite speaker, the K-5 ($149). This little guy, measuring a scant 7.375 by 4.875 by 5.875 inches, can serve with distinction as a front, center, or surround speaker.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Nov 04, 2002 Published: Nov 05, 2002 0 comments
Listening outside the pod.

Mirage's VP of engineering, Ian Paisley, went bipolar way back in 1987. Hold on a sec, let me restate that: Paisley designed the first commercially successful bipolar loudspeaker, the Mirage M-1, in 1987. That speaker garnered raves in all of the audiophile mags and put Mirage on the map. Ah, but do bipolar/wide-dispersion speakers always produce great sound? It all depends. People have criticized some omnidirectional speakers for their overly diffuse, vaguely defined imaging. While I've never owned a set of Mirages, I've been a fan of this sort of speaker since I bought a pair of "direct/reflecting" Bose 501 speakers in '76. Hey, I was still wet behind my not-yet-golden ears, and Bose's dispersion concept caught my fancy. My Bose affair was a quickie, and I eventually settled down for a long-term relationship with a pair of Quad ESL-63 (dipole) electrostatic speakers.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Mar 18, 2005 0 comments
It's three omnidirectional speakers in one.

Here's a tip for home theater newbies: Don't shop for speakers using just your eyes. That advice holds true for any speaker, regardless of size or price; when it comes to what we euphemistically refer to as "lifestyle" speakers, though, please try to listen before you make a purchase, or you'll deserve what you get. Lifestyle-inflicted design compromises too often exact a toll on performance—skinny towers can sound undernourished, wall-mounted speakers can produce pancake-flat imaging, and pint-size satellites can come up short.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Sep 03, 2007 Published: Aug 03, 2007 0 comments
Melodious metal.

Monitor Audio has the metal thing down. I remember thinking that after my first encounter with a pair of Monitor Studio speakers in the mid-1980s. In those days, metal drivers had a reputation for adding an annoying metallic zing to the sound, but the Monitors were as sweet as could be. Over the years, Monitor continued to hone the technology; even now, when there are a lot of great-sounding speakers with metal drivers, to my ear, nobody does it better. Monitor's current product range includes a healthy selection of custom-install models and the heavy-metal contenders, which run from the entry-level Bronze, the Silver, the Gold, and up to the flagship Platinum speaker lines.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Mar 01, 2004 0 comments
Little speakers with big aspirations.

It must be something of a conundrum for speaker designers: Today's buyers are demanding more and more from smaller and smaller speakers. The designers' incredible shrinking speakers work their mojo with ever-more-innovative cabinet designs, and their high-tech drivers push the performance envelope. At least that's what they tell me. No doubt some of their more-extreme claims are jive techno babble, but that's OK—the sonic truth will inevitably be laid bare when the pedal hits the metal on the Fast and the Furious DVD. The pint-size speakers better deliver the goods. . .or else.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jul 03, 2012 0 comments
In the beginning there was "lamp cord." Speaker cable was something you bought off a spool at the local hardware store, but Noel Lee had a better idea: audiophile speaker cables. He had a day job at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, where he worked as a laser-fusion engineer. In his spare time he played drums in an all-Asian country-rock band called Asian Wood.
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Aug 16, 2006 0 comments
It's not just cables anymore.

It was in the late 1970s when Noel Lee, a laser-fusion design engineer, started a little company, Monster Cable, which soon spawned, well, the entire high-end audio-cable industry. Over the decades, Monster maintained their dominance in the cable market as it branched into power conditioners and M•Design home theater furniture. Now, with Monster Music, they're jumping into the record business with a line of High Definition Surround SuperDiscs. Noel Lee's passion for multichannel music—and frustration with the stillborn SACD/DVD-Audio formats—pushed him to extract the best sound from Dolby- and DTS-encoded music. Monster Music claims that the SuperDiscs are the first music releases certified by THX for sound quality.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Sep 17, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Comfort
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
3D-printed headphone
Big, highly dynamic sound
Dig those ear pads
Minus
Lacks mike and phone controls

THE VERDICT
MrSpeakers dared to go where no headphone manufacturer went before and used 3D printing technology to make a better-sounding headphone.

While MrSpeakers’ Alpha Dog may be the first high-end headphone to fully exploit 3D printing technology, the original intention was to speed the development process, and then make injection-molded plastic ear cups. But as MrSpeakers owner Dan Clark revised and refined the design, he realized it would be more cost effective to 3D-print his production headphones’ double-walled ear cups and added an intricate lattice to the printing process to increase the ear cups’ rigidity. He took the next step and bought enough 3D printers to keep quality control in-house. After the ear cups are printed, they’re chemically polished, hand sanded, sealed, primed, and finished with automotive-grade paint.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jan 26, 2007 0 comments
They want to take you higher.

The component that put NAD on the map in the mid 1970s—the 3020 integrated stereo amplifier—didn't look like a giant killer. Finished in an indeterminate shade of grayish-brown and devoid of gee-whiz features, the 3020 nevertheless became one of the best-selling audiophile amplifiers of all time—and not just because it sounded better than anything going for two or three times its humble MSRP. The 3020 had that special something that made it, well, lovable. Over the decades, the engineers squeezed a bit of the 3020's magic into every NAD product, but they've pulled out all the stops with the new Masters Series components. They had to, as the ultimate NADs are competing with the likes of Anthem, Arcam, B&K, and Rotel. They're playing with the big boys now.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: May 07, 2014 1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb sound
Elegant good looks
Comfy to wear for long trips
Minus
Non-hinged headband doesn’t collapse for compact storage

THE VERDICT
NAD’s first headphone scores high on every front—style, sound, comfort, and value.

This was an easy review to write; the NAD Viso HP50 sounds as smooth as silk, with excellent detail retrieval, a big soundstage, and bass with the perfect balance of speed and low-end oomph. As a long-term NAD fan, I wasn’t surprised. The company has always made fuss-free, great-sounding, affordable gear; why would the Viso HP50 be any different?

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