GRACE NOTES

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Leslie Shapiro  |  Dec 20, 2012  |  0 comments

The Google Play Music Manager has been around for quite a while. Upload and store up to 20,000 songs in the cloud, so you can play them from any connected  Android device or computer, anywhere. The problem was that you had to go through and upload each and every file. However, Google has just launched a new scan and match feature in the U.S.

Leslie Shapiro  |  May 28, 2017  |  2 comments
Although it was many years ago, I still cherish the time I worked with Gregg in the studio.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jun 05, 2017  |  0 comments
These days, air travel just sucks. Seats are smaller, flights are overbooked, computer glitches cause massive delays, and whatever happened to in-flight meals? You’re lucky to get a tiny bag of pretzel crumbs. Whenever I travel, I always slip on a pair of headphones, and tune out the chaos. If there’s a baby screaming all flight long, I won’t hear it. So when AKG announced the N60NC Wireless, a new active noise-cancelling headphone with Bluetooth, I was all ears.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Apr 28, 2017  |  0 comments
I have never been a fan of soundbars. How can a little row of speakers replace the full-range sound of a true home-theater speaker system? It just can’t. However, soundbars heavy-set cousin, the soundbase, provides an interesting middle ground. I was skeptical of the Fluance AB40 Wide Angle soundbase when it first showed up, but after spending some time getting to know it, my opinion has changed—dramatically.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Nov 24, 2014  |  0 comments
Home theater fashion comes and goes, with almost as much regularity as hemline heights and tie widths. Years ago, massive speaker arrays were in vogue, then tiny little home-theater-in-a-box cubes, and more recently, skinny little soundbars. The problem with soundbars was two-fold. First, they blocked the lower portion of some TV sets. Second, and more importantly, they tended to sound as thin as they looked—requiring a separate subwoofer to get any type of bass response. JBL has an elegant solution with the Cinema Base Soundbar with built-in subwoofer, Bluetooth, HDMI and optical inputs.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jan 26, 2015  |  0 comments
Ever since I left the world of car stereos, Pyle Audio has fallen off my radar. When offered an opportunity to listen to their latest soundbar, the PSBV600BT ($300), I have to admit that I was intrigued. I knew this company had a long history of making good speakers for the automotive world, but haven’t heard any of their home products. This was going to be interesting.

Leslie Shapiro  |  May 08, 2017  |  0 comments
Who doesn’t love staying up late and watching a guilty-pleasure movie while the rest of the household sleeps peacefully? The problem is that you can’t turn up the volume without fear of waking them or the neighbors. The Sennheiser Flex 5000 turns any headphone into a wireless option designed to let you watch TV using your favorite wired headphones. Plus it has features that help make TV audio clearer and enhances dialogue for better intelligibility.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Feb 02, 2015  |  0 comments
It’s rare for a product to “wow” me right out of the box. So I surprised myself when I let out an audible “Ohh” as I opened the box containing the Harman/Kardon Soho Wireless headphones. They just oozed class and elegance—in fact, I’m reminded that I had a similar reaction to the Harman/Kardon Esquire Mini Bluetooth speaker. Black leather, stainless steel, and a hefty dose of panache. Could the Soho Wireless possibly sound as good as they look?

Leslie Shapiro  |  Nov 02, 2015  |  0 comments
Christmas came early in my house. A package just arrived from Kinivo with an assortment of products that I felt I should share—start spreading that holiday joy just days after Halloween. It’s never too early for that, right?

Leslie Shapiro  |  Nov 11, 2013  |  0 comments
IK Multimedia has just released its latest product, aimed at musicians and music lovers alike: the iLoud portable speaker. The company claims it is “studio quality” and equips it with a guitar/microphone input. Hmm, “studio quality”—I’ve heard that one before, but I decided to check it out. Is it actually something I would have used in my own recording studio?

Leslie Shapiro  |  Mar 10, 2014  |  0 comments
I’ll admit it. I’m over it. Or at least I’m just a little tired of the endless parade of portable Bluetooth speakers that claim to be “stereo.” Sure, if you hold your breath and keep your head positioned precisely in front of the 3-inch wide box, you can almost convince yourself there’s a slight impression of stereo imaging. Worse are systems that claim you can easily pair two devices for true stereo but it turns out that pairing is funky and frustrating and never seems to work. When did stereo become so disposable? The iLuv SyrenPro claimed to be different. Let’s just see about that.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Mar 02, 2015  |  0 comments
It’s rare to be able to mention a feature that’s found on an Android device that wasn’t featured first on an iPhone, probably with a sleeker presentation. Somehow, however, IR remote control ability seems to have been left out of iPhones, even though it was rumored to be included on the iPhone 6. Samsung, LG and HTC all have managed to include IR blasters on their phones, yet Apple devotees have been out of luck if the want to control their home theaters, until now.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Dec 08, 2014  |  0 comments
Jabra has introduced a wireless Bluetooth headset designed to take workouts to a whole new level of efficiency. They’ve introduced the Jabra Sport Pulse, the world’s first Bluetooth earbuds with a built-in heart-rate monitor. Crazy? I think not. Anyone who’s at all interested in fitness knows that the most effective way to monitor your workout is to track your heart rate. Check out the Orange Theory craze if you don’t believe me, or just look at the treadmills and elliptical machines at most gyms. Heart rate monitoring is an essential part of a safe, effective workout, and Jabra has nailed it. The heart rate monitor is built right into the left earpiece of the Sport Pulse, so finally, you can toss that unsightly, sweaty, uncomfortable heart rate strap.

Leslie Shapiro  |  May 22, 2017  |  0 comments
Thanks to Apple, there’s a surge of Bluetooth headphones hitting the market. Apple users are practically forced to go wireless, and other users find it convenient to ditch the cords. However, besides the sound quality issue of going wireless, there is also a comfort factor. Because more electronics have to be jammed into earphones, most Bluetooth earbuds are heavy, making them uncomfortable for many users. Jam Audio’s Comfort Buds is a solution for those sensitive listeners. Is comfort worth the sacrifice in sound quality?

Leslie Shapiro  |  Mar 20, 2017  |  0 comments
Spring is in the air. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, bunnies are multiplying and so are Bluetooth speakers. Doesn’t it seem that there is a new Bluetooth speaker hitting the market almost daily? One of the latest is the Jam Xterior Max, and it’s ready for any and all of your spring-time endeavours.

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