Chesky Records aims to re-create the experience of listening to live music from the best seat in the house with its new Binaural+ Series of high-resolution 24-bit/192-kilohertz recordings. Specially calibrated microphones implanted in the ear canals of a dummy head are used to capture a “stunningly accurate and realistic” 3D representation of the soundfield. With traditional binaural recordings, which have been around for decades, distinct left and right channels are recorded as they would be heard by a pair of human ears and played back through headphones—left channel to left ear, right channel to right ear—to create the illusion of a 360-degree soundstage.
Simple, modern, elegant—the PS1 from Cue Acoustics is definitely not your father’s speaker. Think of it as a forward-looking system for discriminating listeners who crave a simple setup that’s free of wires, hulking speakers, and an ugly stack of components (like the ones collecting dust in the back of your den). Promising big sound and a vivid soundstage, the PS1 system is extremely compact and provides everything you need to pump up the volume except an audio source: a pair of speakers, each with its own built-in 150-watt digital amplifier/processor, and a wireless transmitter that streams uncompressed audio from your TV, PC, smartphone, tablet, you-name-it, to wherever you decide to put the speakers (which, by the way, must be plugged into an AC outlet). Want to grab your tablet and play impromptu DJ at a party? As long as the tablet supports the DLNA connection standard, you can stream audio wirelessly to the PS1’s iPhone-size transmitter, which runs it through a signal processor and sends it to the speakers; otherwise, you can go old school and plug a cable into the transmitter’s digital (optical S/PDIF) or analog (3.5mm stereo) input.
Yes, this seductively curved work of art is a speaker. And, yes, it is one of the most unusual (and stylish) speakers you will come across. Born out of a passion for modern architecture and industrial design and inspired by the work of iconic designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, Rithm is the handiwork of aeronautical-engineer-turned-speaker-designer Paul Schenkel, who set out to create an audiophile speaker that would be appreciated as much for its artisanship as for its sound.
If you want to create digital copies of Blu-ray and DVD gems you own so you can watch your favorite flicks wherever you happen to be, you won’t have to schlep into Walmart with a bag of discs anymore (“UltraViolet: Building a Movie Library in the Cloud,” October 2012). Walmart is expanding its Disc-to-Digital service so discs you own can be registered for digital conversion on your home PC. Once the discs are authenticated and you’ve paid to acquire the digital copies, movie files are stored in the cloud.
Dish, the satellite TV provider that pleased TV viewers and upset broadcasters last year with the introduction of the Hopper DVR that automatically skips commercials on recorded prime-time shows, today introduced a second-generation Hopper with built-in Sling capability. The upgraded box lets users watch and control live TV and DVR recordings from smartphones, tablets and PCs, essentially replicating the living room TV experience wherever they go, and has built-in Wi-Fi for accessing a home network. Dish also upgraded processor speed to 1.3 GHz, which is said to deliver the fastest guide scrolling in the pay-TV industry.
Dish officials said the new Hopper, which has a 2-terabyte hard drive that holds more than 500 hours of high-def programming, will be offered to new customers at the same price as its predecessor with no monthly fee for the Sling functionality.
The road to A/V perfection is littered with formats and products that didn’t make it for one reason or another. Some were technically sound but ahead of their time or poorly marketed. Some were victims of bad timing, unforeseen circumstances, or uninspired design. Others were just plain curious in a “what the heck were they thinking?” kind of way. And then there are the tweak formats and technologies—embraced by enthusiasts and ignored by the masses—that refuse to go away. Here, we remember A/V formats, products, and technologies that are gone but (mostly) not forgotten.
Stunning or strange? One of these words is likely to come to mind when you first lay eyes on the 101 X-treme speaker system, the flagship of MBL’s Reference Line. And what a system it is, handmade to order in Germany and comprising a pair of approximately 6-foot-tall towers, each of which supports two utterly unconventional driver arrays in an open frame, and two subwoofer towers, each comprised of six 12-inch woofers, a crossover, and an amplifier broken into three ported birch and aluminum boxes that can be stacked or laid side by side as needed. (No lows left behind.)
Harman Kardon, the company that brought us the world’s first audio receiver nearly 60 years ago, unveiled two affordable, forward-looking A/V receivers at CES. Both models have wireless connectivity via AirPlay, Wi-Fi and DLNA and include a vTuner for access to thousands of Internet Radio stations. Other common highlights include 4K upscaling for all inputs, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, multizone capability for simultaneously playing two audio sources in two rooms, an eco-friendly digital-power supply, Harman’s EzSet/EQ system and multiple HDMI inputs, including those for 3D playback, CEC and Deep Color.
The 7.1-channel AVR 2700 ($799) is rated to deliver 100 watts per channel, while the 7.2-channel AVR 3700 ($999) is rated at 125 watts per channel and provides two subwoofer outputs and a remote control for the second zone.
Both models are slated to hit stores over the next couple months and are compatible with Harman's free remote control app for Apple and Android mobile devices.
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.