High-Res Audio is alive and well, thank you very much. New hardware is arriving, as well as new high-res streaming services. Case in point, regarding the former, Pioneer showed the XDP-300R, its newest portable audio player. It joins the previous XDP-100R player but does not replace it.
Audio buffs have been known to lock horns over all kinds of things - CDs vs. vinyl, Dolby Digital vs. DTS, tubes vs. solid-state, DVD-Audio vs. Super Audio CD, and on and on. But one of the hottest debates of recent years has been over which kind of speakers work best for the rearward surround channels in a multichannel setup: monopole (a.k.a. direct-radiating) or dipole?
It’s been awhile since I’ve heard anything from new from Pono. When it was first unveiled, at least in concept, two years ago, Pono was a bit of a head-scratcher. Brainchild of rocker Neil Young, Pono was his response to the scourge of lo-fi music. Pono was a new music player and/or file format and/or music delivery system that would resurrect recorded music. Stay tuned. So, it was interesting to see Pono surface again at SXSW last week.
Quick. What's the company everyone loves to hate? The cable company, of course. The aggravating installation, the inexplicable outtages, the maddening programming bundles, and the fees. Oh yes, the fees. But there's hope, and possibly change. President Obama has endorsed a proposal that would eliminate perhaps the most annoying cable TV fee. That's good, right?
Whether you support it or not, few of us are completely comfortable with the fact that the government can read our e-mails and listen to our phone calls. On the other hand, without much thought, most of us freely give away our privacy to various companies. Now, that privacy debate is coming into our home theaters.
When you buy a Rolex Submariner from a guy with a dozen of them in a cardboard box in Times Square, there is absolutely no chance of misunderstanding. Both parties fully understand that the timepieces in question are fakes. But what if you buy a pair of high-end headphones from that kind-of-weird stereo store across from the mall?
Over 10 million of them have been sold, and it seems like everybody has one. Some are pink, some are green, some are blue, some are black, but most are white. Owners caress them, lovingly running their fingers back and forth across "my precious." Some can hold 10,000 of your favorite songs, and they'll follow you wherever you go.
Audiophiles laughed when the CD was first marketed as "Perfect sound forever." They rejected the notion that digital was better than analog, or that the CD sounded better than the LP. Today, it's generally accepted that 44.1-kHz, 16-bit files (with modern improvements such as noise shaping) can challenge the ability of most listeners to detect aural format flaws.
MAKE NO MISTAKE: The equipment reviewers at Sound & Vision aren't nice people. Without naming names, I'll just mention the following: three restraining orders, steel-cage death-match champion, and a lifetime ban from the National Hockey League. And that's just one of the reviewers. Frankly, they're curmudgeonly, tough SOBs.