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Steve Guttenberg

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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: Feb 01, 2004 0 comments
Innovative Engineering + Dual Concentric Driver + SuperTweeter = Magical Sound.

Take a close look at the new Tannoy Sensys DC speakers. Notice anything unusual? Anything at all? I suppose that little gray pod sitting atop each speaker will catch your eye first. It's home to a SuperTweeter that's designed to extend the speaker's response out to a range that only dogs and bats can hear, claimed to be all the way up to 51 kilohertz. Look again and scrutinize the 7-inch woofer with bull's eye circles in its center; that's another, albeit standard, tweeter. Tannoy dubbed their "tweeter inside a woofer" design as Dual Concentric, a hallmark of the company's upper-end speakers that dates back to (gulp) 1948. Dual Concentric is a really big deal because it generates minimal off-axis phase shifts over its nearly full-range frequency response: High and low frequencies originate from the same point. The Dual Concentric breakthrough led to a range of legendary speakers in the pro audio and high-end markets for more than half a century.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Dec 01, 2003 0 comments
Tune Your Room. Atlantic Technology's new speaker system will do just that.

If there's one evergreen audiophile fantasy, it's the perfect speaker. I know lots of guys who obsess about this sort of thing, but I always remind them that, even if they had a home theater packed with perfect beauties, they still wouldn't attain audio nirvana. The perfect speakers would be confronted by the realities of a very imperfect room—its standing waves, peaks, dips, image-smearing reflections, and reverberations would conspire to muck up the sound.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Nov 10, 2003 Published: Nov 01, 2003 0 comments
Feeling blah? I've got the cure.

My friend Gene is a professional musician. Back in the early '80s, he used Klipsch Heresys as PA speakers in clubs. One hot August afternoon, I dropped by his Greenwich Village apartment. Just for fun, he set up the Heresys at home. Hot damn, I was absolutely floored! The first LP (remember, this was in the pre-digital era) he played was the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street. Oh man, I thought I knew that record inside out, but not like that—the Klipschs sounded like a mini version of a concert system. We listened at extremely high levels, easily 100-plus decibels. Gene's neighbors must have thought Mick and the boys were gigging in his apartment.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Feb 11, 2003 Published: Feb 12, 2003 0 comments
DVD-Audio: The long and winding road to the future of music?

DVD is a hit. Lauded as the most successful format launch since—well, I guess nothing has had this overwhelming level of acceptance in a long, long time. I wish I could say the same about DVD's younger sibling, DVD-Audio. Introduced three years ago, it's just now starting to gather some momentum. On the hardware side, DVD-Audio offerings run the gamut from saucy little $200 players to budget-busting state-of-the-art machines. New DVD-Audio titles are still just trickling out, but even a cursory glance at a typical disc's fairly lengthy production credits might explain the relative paucity of releases. I counted 13 DVD-Audio-related producers, engineers, and mixers on R.E.M.'s Reveal disc and a crew of 21 on Queen's epic A Night at the Opera. Releasing a DVD-Audio reissue or brand-new title is a labor-intensive effort.

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.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Apr 09, 2002 Published: Apr 10, 2002 1 comments
Back to square one.

I can't listen to B&W speakers without thinking about my audio buddy Ralph. Back in 1977, Ralph was a hot young artist rolling in dough. He had just become an audio junkie and picked up an amazing set of B&W's potbellied, time-aligned DM 6s. Sure, they looked kinda funny, but their sound was so good that I developed a bad habit of regularly barging into Ralph's Greenwich Village loft, armed with a bag of take-out Chinese food and a stack of LPs.

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.

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