Steve Guttenberg

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Dec 14, 2004 Published: Dec 15, 2004 0 comments
The sound goes round and round and comes out here.

The 2004 Home Entertainment East Show was chock full of cool, new high-tech goodies, but I found myself returning again and again to the Arcam/Gallo Acoustics room. This was all the more surprising because I'm pretty familiar with Arcam's uncommonly elegant electronics and Gallo's radically round speakers, but they were demoing the Drumline DVD at realistically loud levels, and the choreographed thunder of competing marching bands was huge, dynamically alive, and tons of fun. A week after the show, I was still reminiscing about the sound. I made some phone calls, worked out some scheduling and shipping details, and now I'm sitting here exploring the system's capabilities in my very own home theater. Let me tell ya, the spectacular sound I heard at the show wasn't a hallucination; the Arcam/Gallo combination is good. . .really good.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Dec 14, 2004 Published: Dec 15, 2004 0 comments
Hallelujah! A custom-installation speaker package even an audiophile can love.

Klipsch's new THX Ultra2 speaker system boldly goes where poseur speakers fear to tread. Let's face it, the speaker industry is obsessed with producing ever skinnier and sleeker designs; you know, the sort of trendy speakers that look cool straddling plasma TVs. For their new high-end line, Klipsch's product planners took a different approach: The THX Ultra2's raison d'étre is the rapidly expanding custom-installation market. No doubt most of these big-'n'-brawny speakers will be tucked out of sight or flush-mounted in a posh home theater, but I'd bet a bunch of these systems will be sold to performance-oriented buyers. They're that good.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Nov 07, 2004 Published: Nov 01, 2004 0 comments
Close encounters of the audiophile kind.

Peter Tribeman, Atlantic Technology's CEO and founder, is a serious movie buff. So, when Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind advanced the state of the special-effects art in 1977, Tribeman, a native Bostonian, had to fly to New York City to savor the film's full magnificence—in 70mm, six-track surround—at the legendary Zeigfeld Theater. That's commitment. Not wanting to make the trek alone, he invited Dotty, a woman he had just met at a party, on his quest—"but it wasn't a date." They thoroughly enjoyed the film, immediately flew back to Boston, and married a few years later. Tribeman's wedding present to his bride was a signed Encounters poster: "To Peter and Dotty, on the occasion of their ultimate close encounter. Best Regards, Steven Spielberg." Not bad.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Sep 18, 2004 Published: Sep 01, 2004 0 comments
They're cool—really cool!

MB Quart's new Vera Series speakers have redefined cool. They're cool-sounding, for sure, but I also mean cool, as in low-temperature cool. Heat, you see, is the enemy of good sound. When you're rocking with Aerosmith's ballistic blues bash Honkin' on Bobo or crankin' Master and Commander, your speakers' voice-coil temperatures shoot up. In extreme cases, they can heat up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The excessive temperature does bad, bad things; it can raise the voice coils' resistance by as much as 25 percent. Distortion creeps up, dynamics flatten out, and transient response goes to hell. Worse yet, sustained overheating can lead to driver meltdown. Ouch!

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jul 01, 2004 0 comments
Licensed to thrill.

Krell's new Resolution Series speakers are all about pure hedonistic pleasure. Think of them as the speaker equivalent of a fire-breathing, 500-horsepower Dodge Viper SRT/10. But hold on a sec: The Resolutions are more than an exercise in brute force engineering. Their manifest also includes incredible precision, hyperclarity, and ultra-low distortion. Forget the Viper; the Resolutions are closer to a Porsche 911 GT3.

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.

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