Ah, once again, it’s that magical time of year. Malls jammed with shoppers looking for that elusively perfect gift, parking lots jammed with cars competing for that even more elusive parking space, and everyone’s favorite—the joyous strains of holiday music. When I say “strains,” I mean as in you straining not to go insane when you hear Little Drummer Boy for the umpteenth time.
Listings compiled by Peter Pachal Photo by Tony Cordoza Nothing's more frustrating than trying to fit a square peg into a round hole - except possibly trying to play a multichannel Super Audio CD on a DVD-Video player.
As I unpacked the box, I kept asking myself, "Yes, but where are all the speakers?" Your friends will ask, too, when they see the SurroundWorks 200 from Cambridge SoundWorks - and might wonder if you've decamped from the 21st century and returned to the days of mono.
Much to the dismay of audiophile old fogies, the audio scene has been overrun by punks and their celebrity endorsements. Everywhere you look (Dre, I’m looking at you) you see audio gear, headphones in particular, with a famous DJ or other artist name attached. Of course, even old fogies were young once, and now it’s another generation’s turn to discover how cool audio is.
The "Plato's Cave" allegory goes something like this: Imagine a deep underground cavern where prisoners have lived their entire lives chained to rocks, their heads immobile and facing one cave wall. Behind them is an illuminating fire. Between the fire and prisoners, statues of all sorts move back and forth.
A post on the Olive One by my colleague Al Griffin got me to thinking. For a modest dollar sum, you can own a cool audio component with audiophile-quality specifications. But here’s the paradox: if it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, can audio gear really have audiophile cache?
Digitizing music changed all the rules - even though we took almost two decades, from the introduction of the CD to the rise of MP3, to explore its full potential. Freed from the limitations of hard-wired analog circuits, new software-driven digital music systems can be amazingly powerful and flexible, especially when combined with networked computers.
Sure, DVD players are a dime a dozen these days. And even at the cheapest of prices, you can expect perks that were reserved for high-end players just a couple of years ago, like a progressive-scan component-video output. Amazing. But what if you want to spin more than one disc?
When I reviewed the first Super Audio CD (SACD) player, Sony's ultra-expensive SCD-1, in these pages almost two years ago, I envisioned the format as designed for audiophile "purists" who turned up their noses at CD and even (for reasons still very debatable) DVD playback.