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Mark Fleischmann  |  Sep 01, 2017  |  2 comments
It started with Thelonious Monk. I was playing Thelonious Alone in San Francisco when a rhythmic swishing sound began to make itself heard. It was not present at the beginning of the disc, but it faded up slowly toward the middle and became an excruciating noise by the end. This was the first audible manifestation in my music library of something I'd been dreading for some time: CD rot.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Aug 04, 2017  |  5 comments
I live in a dense urban neighborhood where it's not uncommon to see secondhand LP dealers plying their trade on the sidewalks. One day I was pawing through dirty old LPs when I came across something decidedly odd. The jacket mentioned a singer named Marni Nixon; no relation to the president, but if you grew up during the Nixon era, the name would catch your eye. Backing her was an all-cello chamber ensemble. And the titles of the works, by Villa-Lobos, were Bachianas Brasileiras Nos. 1 and 5. I knew nothing of the Brazilian composer then but have always loved Bach. Curiosity pried $1 out of my wallet and I carried home my prize.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jul 07, 2017  |  2 comments
Though I live in an apartment packed with LPs and CDs, my work as an audio reviewer sometimes requires me to access music from a mobile device, either directly from the device itself or streaming to an a/v receiver or wireless speaker(s). I use a tablet for that. Ideally, the tablet should hold a generous selection of music files, the higher-res the better, and make it easy to manage them. Unfortunately the tablets I've owned up to now have done neither of those things. So it's time for a new tablet. And it's not an iPad.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jun 02, 2017  |  0 comments
If you're a Beatlemaniac, by now you've heard all about the 50th anniversary reissue of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Perhaps you've even read our interview with producer Giles Martin. What remains to be said about this milestone about a milestone? How about Sgt. Pepper in Dolby Atmos?

Mark Fleischmann  |  May 05, 2017  |  1 comments
Over the past year or two my concertgoing life has accelerated and intensified. I love music, and I live in a great city with a first-class symphony orchestra and several concert halls, yet until recently I've rarely taken advantage of them. Only lately has the desire to attack my classical bucket list taken hold. I mentioned some of this in a previous blog, but never discussed why. So you may be wondering: Why this, why now?

Mark Fleischmann  |  Apr 10, 2017  |  9 comments
Back when I was a kid, music streaming was awesome. The music of that era—I'm talking about the late 1960s to the mid '70s—was so good, it would eventually become known as classic rock. The streams were in high-quality analog sound, spun from actual LPs. And there were no monthly fees—all streaming was free!

Mark Fleischmann  |  Mar 03, 2017  |  0 comments
At some point in my relationship with Facebook, Mr. Al Gorithm figured out that I like live music. Once he pegged me as a concertgoer, Mr. Gorithm began stuffing my timeline with ads for concerts. This hasn't bothered me at all. In fact, I often click through to the venue's website and buy a ticket or two. Mr. Gorithm seems aware of that as well because the ads have proliferated, especially those from Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. This has had an impact on my listening life, and by extension my listening work. Click, buy, go, listen, reflect.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 04, 2017  |  3 comments
2016 was a brutal year for rock fans and especially for progressive-rock fans. We didn't lose just Prince and Bowie. We lost Keith Emerson's keyboards, and in the final month of the year, the extraordinary voice, not to mention the bass and guitar, of Greg Lake. The year before we lost Chris Squire's Rickenbacker bass. If you recall my ELP in 5.1 review and Keith Emerson tribute, you might be a little tired of hearing about the keyboard-based power trio that was one of my boyhood heroes. But I can't let Greg Lake's death at age 69 pass unremarked.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 10, 2017  |  0 comments
I have been attending the Consumer Electronics Show nearly every year since 1985. Every year I promise myself that this year's CES will be my last.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Dec 02, 2016  |  3 comments
If you have a limited amount of money to spend on audio gear, should you spend it on hi-fi or head-fi? In recent years head-fi has been gaining ground as sales of traditional audio components flatlined and sales of headphones and associate gear skyrocketed. Companies with long track records in hi-fi (and mass market audio) have conjured new headphone lines out of thin air. Companies with long track records in head-fi are making hay.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Nov 04, 2016  |  3 comments
Soundbars are not for everyone. But they are for an increasing number of people, with unit sales having risen from 1.3 million in 2010 to 12.9 million in 2016. I review soundbars and soundbases as well as satellite/subwoofer sets and orthodox speakers, so I know what it's like to live with one. I must admit it wouldn't be my first choice for a primary audio system. But the following scenarios don't apply to me...

Mark Fleischmann  |  Oct 07, 2016  |  3 comments
To buy or not to buy? That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler to pay an Ebay seller several hundred bucks for an ancient Luxman L-80 or take arms against a sea of regrets—that is what has been troubling me for years as I've ogled this stereo integrated amp from 1975. I don't need it; yet I want it. I'm suffering from non-buyer's remorse.

 |  Sep 02, 2016  |  9 comments
I adopted a new reference receiver recently. You've already read all about the product itself, the Denon AVR-X7200W. But it's one thing for a reviewer to evaluate a product positively. It's another thing to give it the coveted reference-receiver berth on my rack. This is a big event, so perhaps I should say a few words about it.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Aug 05, 2016  |  1 comments
My job is to write audio equipment reviews and news briefs for our magazine. My hobby is to write this blog. Writing for a print medium means writing tight because there's only so much space to go around. That means routinely eliminating material. The temptation I face most often is to lard hardware reviews with music criticism. I'm a lapsed music critic and like to blur the boundary between tech criticism and music criticism as long as it doesn't disserve the tech-oriented reader. Recently I faced a similar temptation when reviewing a Sony Walkman and earbuds. It required a trip out of the office. Some impressions of the trip ended up on the cutting room floor. They weren't strictly necessary for the review, but they haunted me. I'll blog them here instead.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jul 01, 2016  |  3 comments
When it comes to my music library, sometimes I'm like a little kid. Buy now, think about the consequences later. My apartment was already groaning under the load of LPs, CDs, other media, and gear a year or two back when I suddenly went on an accelerated vinyl-collecting binge. When my workday was over, I'd sit in my armchair with a tablet, making one Ebay buy after another. On weekends I was off to Academy Records on West 18th Street in Manhattan to look for classical treasures (because classical vinyl is still cheap and cheap is what it's all about). Vinyl started overflowing from the shelves to the floor. Those LP-size BD/DVD-A/CD box sets made matters worse. Soon, and not for the first time in my life, I was in the throes of a full-blown LP storage crisis.