Since 1985, Danish Gryphon Audio Designs has been well-regarded for its high-end audio electronics. But in the last decade, the company has expanded its portfolio to include speakers as well, foremost among which is the mighty Poseidon.
Among the myriad speakers introduced at CES 2010 was the Grand Master, the new flagship of Canadian maker Hansen Audio. A behemoth standing over six feet tall and weighing 650 pounds, it's packed with proprietary technology that promises exquisite sound.
I don't typically cover so-called multimedia speakers in this blog, but when I came across an ad for the GLA-55 from Harman Kardon in an upscale magazine, I was intrigued. The cabinet looks like it was chiseled from rock crystal, and its beauty turns out to extend well below the surface.
Barrister-turned-speaker-maker David Hart had the human ear in mind when he designed this unique speaker—but I see a giant molar turned on its side. I’ll let you decide what to make of it and whether it’s worth the asking price of $64,000 per pair in bronze, $300,000 in silver, or upwards of $5 million in gold (shown). Why so expensive? Remarkably, the 28-inch-tall cabinet is cast in solid bronze, silver, or gold, which explains the 110-pound weight (in bronze). Add to that the 200 hours it takes to cast and hand-finish each pair at Hart’s factory on Isle of Wight.
Data compression is probably the single most important factor in the meteoric success of digital audio, especially when it comes to online downloads and portable players like the iPod. Lossy compression formats such as MP3 discard as much as 90 percent of the original datahence the term "lossy"so that music tracks can be quickly downloaded. In addition, such files require very little memory, allowing thousands of songs to be stored in a device no bigger than a matchbook.
I've known Sennheiser headphones for a long time. My first pair of studio 'phones was the HD 414 SL, a featherweight, open-back design that I still have 30 years later, albeit with new foam earpads. So it was with great interest that I read about the company's new flagship model, the HD 800.
Eleven years ago, in the fall of 2000, the Sunday Arts & Leisure section of The New York Times published a long freelance article I wrote announcing the birth of digital cinema. Digital projection for large venues was mostly a dream at the time, but the technology existed and had been proven to provide satisfying images for the average moviegoer. Meanwhile, digital cinema’s biggest booster, filmmaker George Lucas, had just finished shooting Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones in 1080p/24-frame-per-second digital using a cutting-edge camera developed by Sony and Panavision. It was the first major motion picture to be shot entirely in video.
Horn speakers have been around almost since the invention of electrical-to-mechanical transducer technology, and they still enjoy widespread use today, especially in commercial cinemas. But cinema speakers use horns that limit the vertical dispersion of their sound, whereas circular horns used by a few high-end speaker manufacturers radiate sound in a spherical pattern. Among the proponents of this approach is German maker Acapella, which introduced a new model to its lineup at CES, the High Violoncello II, which, like all Acapella products, is distributed in North America by Aaudio Imports.
And now for something completely differenta turntable shaped like a piano with a tonearm made from a violin bow. Italian maker Horo calls the WJE168named in honor of jazz legend William J. (Bill) Evansa "tunable turntable."
Online distribution of video contentespecially high-def videowill never float my boat until the bandwidth available to most homes is way faster than it is today. According to Speedtest.net, in 2010, South Korea had the fastest average household bandwidth at 22.46 megabits per second, while the US was 30th in the world at 7.78Mbpsthat's less than Latvia (18.02Mbps), Lithuania (15.81Mbps), and Liechtenstein (7.79Mbps). But even in Korea, streaming high-defnot to mention anything with even higher resolution, like 4K or UltraHDrequires some serious compression, which lowers the picture quality dramatically.
An incredible solution to this problem was quietly demonstrated in a hotel suite at CES this year by a company called R2D2 ("Twice the Research, Twice the Development!"). The company's Hypernet technology bypasses the Internet completely, offering nearly unlimited bandwidth and instantaneous transmissions using the principles of quantum physics. Inventor Leia Organic Skydancer, love child of two spaced-out hippies, is a video artist and musician as well as a physicist and computer scientist who created Hypernet so she could effectively market her own material, including her first project, Music From the Hearts of Hyperspace.
As an avid sci-fi fan, Krell founder Dan D'Agostino decided to name his company after the race of beings that had wielded almost unlimited power in the classic movie Forbidden Planet. Since that day nearly 30 years ago, Krell's lineup has expanded from a single power amp to a panoply of ultra-high-end A/V products, including the flagship Evolution 707 preamp/processor.
The history of recorded music is a long and storied one that is worth preserving for future generations. Unfortunately, the earliest examples of the recording arts are difficult if not impossible to hear anymore. Many wax cylinders and shellac discs are crumbling in archives, unable to be played because any physical contact with a stylus would cause irreparable damage. Even those that can be played often suffer from lots of surface noise and scratches that cause clicks and pops. And many are broken, making even the most careful stylus-based playback impossible.
Wilson Audio is well known for ultra-high-end speakers, but most of its products are designed for 2-channel listening. To create a full surround system, all you need do is mate any of Wilson's superlative L/R models with a center, surrounds, subwoofer, and controller from the WATCH (Wilson Audio Theater Comes Home) lineup.
As I was looking for products to profile in this blog, I came across something astonishinga tube-based monoblock power amp that costs $350,000/pair! Hand-built by Japanese boutique maker Wavac Audio Lab, the SH-833 isn't newit was reviewed in Stereophile in 2004but when I saw that price tag, I knew I had to include it here.
In the pro-audio worldespecially live performance and commercial cinemano speaker company is better known than JBL. So it makes perfect sense that the California-based company would apply its considerable expertise to high-end consumer speakers, as it has in the JBL Synthesis line, which includes several models designated Project Array that seem ideally suited for upscale home theaters.