Rob Sabin

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  |  101 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.
Rob Sabin  |  Oct 12, 2017  |  1 comments
Not content to let consumers come to OLED, LG Electronics is now taking OLED straight to the public in an impressive new traveling demo experience. Dubbed the "LG OLED TV Cinema House powered by Dolby," LG's portable theater kiosk features a spartan demo room inside that comes to life with the assistance of a 77-inch sample of LG's Signature W7 "wallpaper" OLED TV, it's accompanying Dolby Atmos soundbar, and a half-dozen projectors that together turn the four walls of the approximately 10 x 20-feet viewing space into a visually and sonically immersive cocoon.

Rob Sabin, Steve Guttenberg  |  Sep 27, 2017  |  1 comments
In this episode of Pixels & Bits, Sound & Vision editor Rob Sabin and contributing tech editor Steve Guttenberg spotlight the Vizio SB3621 36-inch soundbar (00:50), talk about the anticipated arrival of HDMI 2.1 and what it means for today's TV and A/V receiver shoppers (4:18), and review Angeleena Presley's CD, Wrangled (8:18).

Rob Sabin  |  Sep 15, 2017  |  1 comments
Last June, I was invited to a press tour and demo of a new IMAX VR Experience Center in New York City. The company best known for entertaining big audiences with big screens had created a space in the lobby of a popular AMC multiplex on Manhattan’s East Side to deliver one-on-one virtual reality entertainment to walk-in customers. It was their second such facility, after a standalone pilot location in Los Angeles.
Rob Sabin  |  Sep 11, 2017  |  0 comments
M&K Sound, known for its studio-quality speakers and subwoofers, was at CEDIA this week talking up some new powered studio monitors, a new slimline on-wall speaker, and a new powered subwoofer.

Pages

X