Rob Sabin

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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...

Rob Sabin  |  Jan 09, 2018  |  0 comments
Audio product news is sparse at Sony's booth for this CES, but the headliner at its press conference was a compact, 3.1-channel soundbar/wireless subwoofer combo that touts compatibility with Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks.

Rob Sabin  |  Jan 09, 2018  |  0 comments
Roku founder and CEO Anthony Wood (left) and TCL Sr. VP Chris Larson announce the TCL Roku Smart Soundbar

TCL announced at its CES 2018 press conference a revamped line-up of budget Ultra HDTVs and its plans to introduce the first Roku-enabled soundbar.

Rob Sabin  |  Jan 09, 2018  |  3 comments
Samung made a huge statement as the 2018 CES was preparing to open—and we mean "huge"—with the introduction of The Wall, a 146-inch diagonal micro LED display that is expected to reach the consumer market later this year. Meanwhile, enthusiasts should cheer the company's new Q series quantum dot LCD UHDTVs, which will include the Q9S, an 85-inch model with 8K resolution, and the Q9, a more mainstream UHD set that marks the return of high-performance full-array local dimming to Samsung's premium model.

Rob Sabin  |  Dec 29, 2017  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Typical Sonos build and sound quality
Alexa voice control
Minus
No Bluetooth
No hi-res audio

THE VERDICT
Sonos was slow to deliver a voice-controlled smart speaker, but with integrated Alexa (and Google Assistant arriving soon) in what amounts to a redesigned Play:1, they've created a nearly irresistible, low-cost intro to their wireless ecosystem.

The full impact of the home-based voice-actuated assistant, invented first by Amazon in the guise of Alexa, then followed by Google and now Apple with its Siri-driven HomePod, has yet to be felt. The category has loosely evolved into what we are now calling the "smart speaker," though it is not the speaker, but the microphone (or mic array) in conjunction with a network connection that imbues these devices with their extraordinary power. Sure, the speaker plays music, perhaps the simplest of its voice-controlled functions and (according to a recent study by NPR/Edison Research, the activity a smart speaker is still most frequently used for). But the opportunity presented by an artificially intelligent device that can respond to human language and trigger any number of events in our environment possesses extraordinary potential for transforming our lives. The fact that the most sophisticated of these voice interfaces to date, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, are offered in open, licensed platforms and being constantly advanced and promoted by two of the world's richest tech giants, suggests that we are on the verge of an explosion of innovation. The best is yet to come.

Rob Sabin  |  Dec 08, 2017  |  2 comments
...We Were More Than a Decade Strong

A recent visit to The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, site of 1969’s Woodstock Music & Art Festival, inspired me to dig into the stored archive of our magazine as we set sights on our 60th anniversary year. And what a library it is. Sound & Vision was founded in February 1958 as HiFi & Music Review, when the big news in audio tech was the transition from mono to stereo.

Rob Sabin  |  Nov 21, 2017  |  0 comments

Arena Wireless Speaker
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

Festival Wireless Speaker
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE Festival, $499; Arena, $249

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent build and sound quality
Chromecast, AirPlay, Bluetooth built-in
Away mode and optional battery for portability
Minus
Chromecast multiroom interface

THE VERDICT
Riva Audio continues a tradition of excellent sound quality with the WAND series, the company’s first wireless multiroom speakers.

I first met Riva Audio founder Rikki Farr and chief engineer (now also president) Don North in the fall of 2014 when they marched into Sound & Vision’s New York City conference room to demo their first product, a Bluetooth speaker called the Turbo X. North was a youthful, glasses-wearing geek who had just enough of the right credentials and tech swagger to suggest he really knew what he was doing.

Rob Sabin  |  Nov 10, 2017  |  100 comments
A couple of emails we recently received got me thinking about our current state of audiophile affairs. One, from Paul Thiel of Crescent Springs, Kentucky, headlined “The Great Equalizer,” asks whether the disappearance of standalone graphic equalizers from the home audio market, along with the jacks to connect them, was the result of automated room EQ coming to bear...or perhaps proof that manufacturers were mistaken in the notion that consumers were interested enough in audio to want to tailor the frequency response of their systems.
Rob Sabin  |  Oct 27, 2017  |  2 comments
Courtesy of Imaging Science Foundtion

If you ever wonder what the geeks at Sound & Vision do when we’re not listening to new speakers or tuning up video displays, well, we’re probably debating some arcane technical detail that most non-enthusiast mortals would neither understand nor care about. And so it was that a rather fired-up exchange of e-mails occurred recently between myself, video technical editor Tom Norton, and our contributing technical editor Kris Deering.

Rob Sabin  |  Oct 17, 2017  |  2 comments
Yeah, we keep hearing how the awesomely versatile, stupendously well-performing, and tremendously high-value audio/video receiver is going away, soon to be replaced by all manner of soundbars and soundbases, self-powered tabletop wireless speakers, or perhaps just your old Aunt Matilda playing her kazoo from atop a stool in your living room.

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