Ears On

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Mark Fleischmann  |  Apr 06, 2018  |  7 comments
The cobbler's kids always go unshod. I know nearly as much about video as I do about audio, but for a Sound & Vision editor—even a mere Audio Editor—I have been subsisting on a shockingly old and small TV. My 10-year-old Sharp LCD set was only a 32-inch because it was originally intended to supplement a front-projection display. But since then it has become my only video display. For that and a long list of other reasons, it was due for replacement.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Mar 02, 2018  |  1 comments
With the death of Mark E. Smith, The Fall are no more. Britain's longest-running postpunk band burned through 66 members and recorded 31 studio albums over a four-decade span. The defining element was always Smith, who poured torrents of vituperation, fragments of wit, wry observations, and occasional startling insights into a microphone, mesmerizing multiple generations of Fall obsessives.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 02, 2018  |  4 comments
Smart speakers, I harrumphed. That's something I'll never want, I said hubristically. A speaker's job is to sound good, isn't it? I watched in dismay as smart speakers became the fastest-growing speaker category, leaving righteous makers of good-sounding speakers in the dust. Then my roommate gave me a refurbished Amazon Echo Dot for my birthday and everything changed.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 05, 2018  |  First Published: Jan 04, 2018  |  16 comments
Longterm reliability is a missing piece in most reviews of electronic products. A big missing piece.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Dec 01, 2017  |  3 comments
Normally I use this blog to explain things. In this case, perhaps I need you to explain something to me. Specifically (in Jerry Seinfeld voice) what's the deal with those expensive phones?

Mark Fleischmann  |  Nov 03, 2017  |  0 comments
It's been more than a decade since I blogged on holiday survival tips. The advice I gave then (in the form of a diablog, amusingly enough) is evergreen: You should save all packaging and boxes, remember how to repack intricately packed products, save store and credit card receipts, keep on top of rebates, start an electronic junk drawer if you don't already have one, label power adapters, file manuals and other product docs, prepare to mentor the receipient, write the serial number on the manual, and be nice to customer support people, should you need one. All that is still good advice. But I missed a few things...

Mark Fleischmann  |  Oct 06, 2017  |  2 comments
It has been seven years since I last wrote a blog shamelessly promoting my book Practical Home Theater: A Guide to Video and Audio Systems. In fact, I've never told the whole story of why I wrote the book, why I update it every year, and why it's lasted so long—the latest edition, dated 2018, is the 17th. Addicted as I am to numbers divisible by five, I might have waited for the 20th edition. But this blog is long overdue. Think of it as a delayed reaction to the 15th.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Sep 01, 2017  |  3 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.