Rob Sabin

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Rob Sabin  |  Jul 05, 2018  |  0 comments

PRICE $399

Affordable price
Alexa voice control
Links with other Sonos speakers
More optimized for TV sound than music
Requires HDMI ARC for voice control of TV

Sonos’ compact, Alexa-enabled soundbar offers impressive performance for the price. All in all, a smart value.

Without knowing history, you might dismiss the Sonos Beam as just another budget soundbar dropped into a largely undistinguished field. But as with most things Sonos, this attractive yet intentionally non-descript oval is significant both for the company and the audio business. Sonos execs have long seen the living room television as the most logical gateway for their wireless multiroom music system.

Rob Sabin  |  May 25, 2018  |  3 comments
Our “Flashback” feature “Speaker Cables: Can You Hear the Difference” (link below) offered as part of the ongoing celebration of our 60th year, is a juicy tidbit from 1983 that proved one of the most controversial articles in our predecessor Stereo Review ’s history.
Rob Sabin  |  May 01, 2018  |  5 comments

Build Quality
PRICE $800

Excellent video and audio quality
Smart ergonomics
Solid build quality
Potential for viewer fatigue
Battery gets hot
Propensity toward video noise with low-bitrate streams

Royole’s Moon successfully pulls off a serious home theater experience in a portable, wearable package.

Quick story: Back in the mid ’90s, I was the editor of a gadget review magazine. As long as a product was geeky enough and ran on AC or batteries, it was fair game for a test. This led me to bring home a variety of doodads that had nothing to do with audio/video— a self-cleaning litter box, a sports radar gun, et al. One day I walked in with what was claimed to be a “personal air conditioner,” basically a black beanbag neck wrap that had an imbedded metal cooling strip; the idea was that applying the band to your neck would keep you chilled in hot weather. When I tried it on for my wife, she walked by dismissively without even pausing. “That’s a good look for you,” she said.

Rob Sabin  |  Apr 27, 2018  |  2 comments
The Technology changes, but the goal remains the same.

In prepping for the May print issue’s focus on front projection, I found myself philosophizing on the value of having a big image for viewing movies, TV serials, and sports. Not just big, but really big.

Rob Sabin  |  Apr 26, 2018  |  5 comments
Julian Hirsch’s review of the Bose 901 in 1968 helped set off one of the greatest and longest-lasting audiophile debates.

There may be no singular product in modern audio history that has generated more accolades, derision, or pure controversy than the Bose 901 loudspeaker. Introduced in 1968 by a then four-year-old concern named after its MIT-educated founder, the 901 neither looked, nor sounded, like any speaker that had come before it. With its pentagonal cabinet that faced eight of its nine identical 4-inch, full-range drivers at the reflecting wall behind the speaker, its designer Amar Bose sought to have it mimic the way we hear in concert halls and imbue its sound with a giant soundstage and spatial realism that was unsurpassed.

Rob Sabin  |  Apr 18, 2018  |  1 comments
With new ultra-short-throw and cheaper 4K projectors appearing on the market, your path to the ultimate home theater experience appears to be shrinking.

Last year in our annual front projection update, we wrote about how the category wasn’t about to be left behind on the 4K, Ultra HDTV revolution. Nothing in this business stands still, of course, and we’re happy to report that “front projection’s reinvention,” as we dubbed it last year, is moving into yet another phase. Not only are 4K-compliant projectors more readily available, better performing, and in some cases much cheaper, we’re also seeing a batch of fresh ultra-short-throw home theater projectors reaching the market in 2018. So what does this mean for you if you’ve always dreamed about sitting back in front of that giant 100-inch screen? Read on to find out.

Rob Sabin  |  Apr 11, 2018  |  4 comments

PRICE $349

Superb sonics with extraordinary bass
Great build quality
AirPlay capable
Easy setup
Integrated music streaming restricted to Apple Music
No bluetooth
More limited smarts versus competition
No wired input for TV viewing

Apple has created the best-sounding small speaker we’ve heard to date, but its Apple-centricity and immaturity as a smart device may deter some buyers.

From conception through launch, the Apple HomePod speaker was six years in development. That’s a long time to bring to fruition something as ubiquitous and seemingly simplistic as a wireless tabletop speaker. If we account for the many poor examples of the breed, we can acknowledge that a truly excellent wireless speaker might require some extra time to create...but six years? The HomePod was so long in coming that the “smart speaker” with builtin voice assistant that it eventually became hadn’t yet been invented (by rival Amazon) when the project was begun. Which, I’m certain, delayed it even further.

Rob Sabin  |  Apr 01, 2018  |  3 comments
Audio had Loof every April, but Stereo Review had Rodrigues all year long.

In preparation for our April print edition , and in search of a subject for our retrospective flashback feature, I pressed deep into our 60-year archive for hints of the origin of Lirpa Labs and its mysterious, opinionated, and wildly creative founder, Loof Lirpa.

Rob Sabin  |  Mar 29, 2018  |  4 comments
For decades, the cartoons of Charles Rodrigues poked fun at us and the hobby we otherwise take all too seriously.

In the very first issue of HiFi & Music Review in 1958, the magazine that became Stereo Review and then Sound & Vision, a gifted 31-year-old artist named Charles Rodrigues contributed the first in a string of cartoons that both celebrated, and made fun of, that odd bird known as the audiophile. It ended up being a long run that lasted more than 40 years.

Rob Sabin  |  Jan 26, 2018  |  5 comments
As we turn 60, it’s all about analog. Who’da thunk?

There’s some real irony in our February/March print issue, and it wasn’t planned. Well, maybe a little...