Rob Sabin

Rob Sabin  |  Apr 18, 2018  |  2 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  |  5 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...

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  |  4 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  |  1 comments

PRICE $199

Typical Sonos build and sound quality
Alexa voice control
No Bluetooth
No hi-res audio

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.