PREMIERE DESIGN

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Bob Ankosko  |  Aug 23, 2017  |  0 comments
It’s not new but Steinway Lyngdorf’s S-15 remains stunning in its aesthetic and technical design. Visually, this tiny treasure has little in common with your garden-variety box speaker—nor should it, considering its pedigree. For starters, it’s 10 inches tall, 8 inches wide, and only 3 inches thick—or about a half-inch wider and an inch thicker than the 1997 Webster’s New World College Dictionary collecting dust on a shelf in my office.
Bob Ankosko  |  Jul 10, 2017  |  0 comments
As much as it might look like it, this is not your father’s long lost amplifier—the one you remember sitting on a rack in the den next to the Dual turntable and AR-3s—recently discovered in a remote corner of the attic. Nope, behind those vintage VU meters is a thoroughly modern USB DAC/integrated amp designed for the post-analog age or, more specifically, the Age of Hi-Res Audio. Simply put, Teac’s mission with the compact AI-503 is to preserve the fine details and nuances of your carefully curated music collection, whether you’re pulling tunes off your home network, a USB thumb drive, or a digital audio player.
Bob Ankosko  |  Jun 30, 2017  |  1 comments
Stereo consoles were all the rage in the ’60s. Every major TV company sold them—some with an integrated 25inch screen, some without. Many were imposing pieces of furniture placed front and center in living rooms across America. I have vivid memories of paying $3 or $4 for my first album at the long-gone Jersey-based chain store Two Guys and promptly replacing the Engelbert Humperdinck LP on the platter of our Zenith console with Abbey Road.
Bob Ankosko  |  Apr 26, 2017  |  1 comments
HiFiMan founder Dr. Fang Bian has been crafting fine headphones for more than a decade, collecting numerous awards along the way. In the past two years alone, five of his designs have been designated Top Picks in these pages. Despite this incredible success, Bian wanted more. He had a lifelong dream to fulfill: To create the “world’s best-sounding headphone.” As he put it, “While HiFiMan has made many good headphones, and people certainly enjoy them, none has ever fully satisfied that dream.”
Bob Ankosko  |  Mar 15, 2017  |  0 comments
Go ahead, take a few seconds to savor the radiant splendor of the McIntosh MT5. Rolling Stone dubbed it "The Turntable of the Gods." Fitting, indeed, for one of the most striking turntables you'll encounter. Beyond the hypnotic allure of its mirror finish and luminous platter—not to mention the conversation it's sure to stimulate—you'll find a precision device that treats cherished albums with the respect they deserve, while extracting the goosebump-inducing nuances that define your passion for vinyl.
Bob Ankosko  |  Feb 24, 2017  |  1 comments
I was immediately drawn to the sf16’s neofuturistic styling. Its gentle curves reminded me of the iconic TWA Flight Center at New York’s JFK Airport—an aeronautic theme sustained by wing-like sound pods that sprout on command. Unusual and unique.
Bob Ankosko  |  Feb 07, 2017  |  0 comments
I’ve been fascinated with player pianos ever since I visited the Alamo Saloon in Old Abilene Town years ago as a kid. The reenactment of Wild Bill Hickok’s famous gunfight was a hoot, but watching those cancan girls dance to an upright piano that was playing itself was downright mesmerizing. I recently visited the Yamaha Artist Services facility in New York to experience a modern, super-charged version of that old player piano—the Disklavier Enspire.
Bob Ankosko  |  Nov 10, 2016  |  0 comments
Once again, Samsung has partnered with a noted industrial designer to rethink modern TV. Last year it was the magnificent S9W, an ultra-wide 21:9 TV designed by Yves Béhar. This year it’s the modestly sized (and priced) Serif TV, created in collaboration with the Parisian design duo Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.
Bob Ankosko  |  Sep 28, 2016  |  1 comments
My first encounter with B&W’s coveted 800 Series speakers is ingrained in my memory. It was the summer of 1981 and a musician friend invited me over to see and hear his newly acquired pair of 801s. As I entered the rehearsal space in his finished basement, I remember thinking how unusual they looked compared with my boxy Fishers. Minutes later I was sinking into a cushy chair at the apex of a triangle formed with the speakers, listening to the White album feeling that I had somehow been transported into the studio during the making of a great album. The sound was authentic. I felt closer to the music—music that was very special to me. Today, more than three decades after John Bowers proudly unveiled the original 801 in 1979, B&W has reinvented its flagship under the aegis of Martial Rousseau, head of research. Here Rousseau shares the story behind the remaking an iconic speaker.
Bob Ankosko  |  Aug 26, 2016  |  0 comments
I’m going to date myself here, but the first thing I thought of when I laid eyes on the Zero 1 XD was the stark white interior of the spacecraft in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Am I crazy, or would it fit right in? In sharp contrast to a traditional horn-based speaker (think JBL or Klipsch)—and even the spectacular floating horn designs for which Germany’s Avantgarde Acoustic is known—the speaker’s ultramodern appearance is unique with its molded baffle and slim rectangular enclosure.
Bob Ankosko  |  Jun 16, 2016  |  0 comments
The Akoustic Arts “A” is one of the more unusual-looking speakers you will encounter, with its honeycomb of mini transducers (200 in all). But looks aren’t the only thing unusual about this speaker. Rather than spray sound in every direction like a conventional speaker, the A projects sound in a focused beam. As the Paris-based company likes to say, it’s “the speaker that only you can hear.” And it appears to be off and running. By mid-April, Akoustic Arts had raised more than $200,000, exceeding its Indiegogo funding goal by 662 percent in less than a month. We spoke with founder and CEO Ilan Kaddouch to learn more.
Bob Ankosko  |  May 31, 2016  |  1 comments
On the Webpage dedicated to its most ambitious speaker system ever, Bang & Olufsen delivers the perfect, if not poetic setup:
It will not be for everybody. But it will be for the right somebody. Three years in the making, BeoLab 90 is the culmination of the wildest dreams of our acoustics department: creating the future of sound.
Bob Ankosko  |  Mar 31, 2016  |  1 comments
Is your mouth watering yet? Mine was when I laid eyes on the 2HP-D, one of three amazing amplifiers that signal the return of Scientific Audio Electronics. Founded in 1967 by stealth designer Morris Kessler (see "15 Minutes with SAE Founder, Amp Guru Morris Kessler."), SAE has always been synonymous with world-class amplification, which in Kessler’s view boils down to three key ingredients: reliability, accuracy, and freedom from noise. As he puts it, “Voltage and current must be available to satisfy the demands of the program material, and the amplifier itself cannot intrude on the user experience.”
Bob Ankosko  |  Feb 16, 2016  |  1 comments
When JBL fired up the latest iteration of its state-of-the-art Synthesis system at 2015 CEDIA Expo, more than a few jaws dropped (ours included). The system mated a mind-blowing array of 32 speakers with a 17-foot-wide screen and a battery of amplifiers that delivered 10-plus kilowatts of power to the (eight) subwoofers alone. Talk about visceral.
Bob Ankosko  |  Jan 27, 2016  |  1 comments
When I picked up Pioneer’s SE-MASTER1 headphone at CEDIA Expo in October, I knew it was special. Substantial yet lightweight and exceptionally well crafted with scrupulous attention to detail, right down to the contoured ear cushions and engraved serial number. (Sorry, S/N 00001 is already spoken for.) If you were to crack open the ear cups, you’d find the same commitment to excellence in the form of a highly refined ceramic-coated aluminum diaphragm surrounded by a ribbed ring, designed to reduce distortion, all framed in a sturdy aluminum alloy to minimize resonance.

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