In a world of earbuds, plastic pods, and itty-bitty phones, there's something reassuring about an A/V receiver. In appearance, at least, receivers are throwbacks to the olden days of stout components and heavy lifting. But receivers are dinosaurs in weight only. Case in point: The new Onkyo TX-SR804 A/V receiver, which, looks aside, is thoroughly modern.
Aah, summertime. Lather on sunscreen, pump up the bike tires, and you’re almost set. What’s missing? Music! And we’re not talking about those antisocial earbuds that cocooned you through the dark winter. We’re talking about actual speakers that you can take along with you on outings.
Life is short. Why shouldn't you treat yourself to a porterhouse and a bottle of merlot now and then? And why not enjoy decent speakers, too? In a world of surround sound speaker systems priced around $1,000, it's easy to forget that there's a parallel universe populated by people who spend a little more money and get a lot better sound.
The XDP-100R is already available in some overseas markets (most notably in Japan, where enthusiasm for hi-res audio is very healthy) but now the player is available for us nephews and nieces of Uncle Sam.
High-Res Audio is alive and well, thank you very much. New hardware is arriving, as well as new high-res streaming services. Case in point, regarding the former, Pioneer showed the XDP-300R, its newest portable audio player. It joins the previous XDP-100R player but does not replace it.
Audio buffs have been known to lock horns over all kinds of things - CDs vs. vinyl, Dolby Digital vs. DTS, tubes vs. solid-state, DVD-Audio vs. Super Audio CD, and on and on. But one of the hottest debates of recent years has been over which kind of speakers work best for the rearward surround channels in a multichannel setup: monopole (a.k.a. direct-radiating) or dipole?
It’s been awhile since I’ve heard anything from new from Pono. When it was first unveiled, at least in concept, two years ago, Pono was a bit of a head-scratcher. Brainchild of rocker Neil Young, Pono was his response to the scourge of lo-fi music. Pono was a new music player and/or file format and/or music delivery system that would resurrect recorded music. Stay tuned. So, it was interesting to see Pono surface again at SXSW last week.
Quick. What's the company everyone loves to hate? The cable company, of course. The aggravating installation, the inexplicable outtages, the maddening programming bundles, and the fees. Oh yes, the fees. But there's hope, and possibly change. President Obama has endorsed a proposal that would eliminate perhaps the most annoying cable TV fee. That's good, right?