GoldenEar Technology may have had the fastest rise to the top of any speaker manufacturer in history. The company started less than 2 years ago. Yet its very first product, the Triton Two tower speaker, was named Sound+Vision’s 2010 Audio Product of the Year — and practically every other audio publication raved about it, too.
It shouldn’t have come as too big a surprise, though. GoldenEar is the creation of Sandy Gross, a co-founder of Polk Audio and Definitive Technology, and engineer Don Givogue, the other co-founder of Def Tech. Still, to have people comparing your $2,500-per-pair speaker to $10,000-per-pair models is an accomplishment.
I have a confession to make: I've been a woofer wuss for most of my career as an audio journalist. When I started 21 years ago, there weren't many good subwoofers, and the little ones were usually less bad than the big ones, so I stuck mostly with smaller subs for my personal systems.
As I stood chatting with the pilot of a B-1B Lancer supersonic bomber at Edwards Air Force Base recently, I realized that audio geeks have something in common with military aviators. "This air- plane is older than I am," the pilot mused. I thought to myself, "So are some of the speaker designs I review." Like the military, audiophiles don't reflexively throw stuff out if it still works. See?
Glancing over the stylish, diminutive Paradigm MilleniaOne speaker, you might assume it’s nothing more than a flimsy plastic housing packed with 25-cent drivers scavenged from a parts bin somewhere in the bowels of Guangdong Province. But besides its cute looks, the MilleniaOne has nothing in common with the typical “lifestyle” speaker.
There’s some debate among vinylphiles about whether USB phono preamps need to exist, but I for one am glad they do. When I bring home my latest haul of vinyl from Amoeba Records, I love being able to plug a laptop straight into my NAD PP 3 to make quick MP3s of albums I like so I can listen to them on my smartphone. (Sacrilege!) It’s easier than making an analog connection, and it bypasses the lousy analog-to-digital converter built into my laptop.
With the Zphono-USB, Parasound brings new versatility and features to the USB phono pre concept.
Carbon fiber is included in all sorts of products, sometimes for absurd and cynical reasons. My Philips Arcitec electric razor, for example, has carbon fiber trim on its sides. The carbon fiber doesn’t lighten or stiffen the razor, much less improve my shave. It merely adds cachet. Call me unromantic, but I don’t need my razor to evoke images of F1 cars and high-tech jets.
So why should you care that Pro-Ject dolled up its new Debut Carbon turntable with a carbon fiber tonearm?
It’s a ritual. You hear audiophiles claim how great vinyl sounds, but you never quite buy into it. Then you finally hear your first good turntable, and you’re hooked. In my case, it was a Rega Planar 3, demo’d by Sound+Vision contributing writer Ken Korman. Back in 1991, I spent an evening at Ken’s checking out old sides by the likes of Miles Davis and Todd Rundgren, in each case marveling at how different the sound was from the CD.
The reason many audiophiles get their start with a Rega is that Regas deliver above-average performance at below-average prices. The new RP6 is a great example.
Romantics see Italy as a place of rich history and sophisticated culture. Not me. As a non-romantic, I can think of Italy only as the birthplace of the Fiat 128 that often left me walking instead of driving, and the location of a honeymoon in which I fought frenzied traffic and struggled to find a decent meal.