What's so good about good sound? Who gives a crap? Strolling around Apple's oh-so-cool Fifth Avenue emporium in Manhattan, taking in the screechy din of countless cute-as-a-button iPod speakers, you'd have to conclude no one. Apple's temple is flush with style, but the sound is, in my opinion, flat out dreadful. OK, it's a showroom and hardly the sort of environment conducive to a quality listening experience, but even so, the priorities disparity is jarring. With most iPod speakers hovering around $100 to $200, you'd have to conclude that's what sells: a tinny … Read more
When it released the original Digital Sound Projector in 2005, Yamaha was one of the first mainstream manufacturers to dabble in the burgeoning virtual surround-sound field. Since then, the company's products have been the benchmark in the single-speaker surround field. Not content to rest on its laurels in the face of increasing competition, Yamaha's just announced three new models, which make up the third-generation of the Digital Sound Projector line. All three are designed to deliver a wider soundstage than earlier units, and include new 5-Channel and "My Surround" modes in addition to standard Dolby Digital and DTS decoding modes. While they can be used in conjunction with AV receivers, each model is essentially a fully functioning home-theater-in-a-box, so you can just connect your sources (DVD, cable/satellite, game consoles, etc.), and be good to go. The big step-up feature for 2007 is the addition of HDMI connectivity to the two top-of-the-line models. Details are as follows:… Read more
Boston Acoustics today launched a new series of home audio products for the fall, along with a new logo and slogan ("Play Smart") designed to reinvigorate the storied brand. The trio of new product announcements are as follows:
TVee Model Two (September 2007, $400): Add Boston to the parade of brands offering a single-speaker audio solution. Instead of a virtual surround solution offered by the likes of more expensive models from Yamaha, Philips, Nirotek, and Polk Audio, the modestly priced TVee (Television Entertainment Enhancement System, pictured above) is more in line with that of earlier Zvox and SoundMatters … Read more
Forget the mousetrap--some inventors are apparently obsessed with building a better sleep machine instead. Or, in this case, a "travel sleep sound generator" called "Sound Oasis."
The latest example of white-noise machines, as we used to call them, tries to raise the bar yet again with all manner of sleep-inducing sounds (18 altogether). This one's product literature includes such marketing gibberish as "a patent-pending sound designed to combat jet lag using non-linear music and slowed nature sounds that encourage relaxation and can reset the body's internal clock." Our translation: They've added … Read more
Bluetooth developer Open Interface announced today that it has a new lossless audio codec that leaves the existing A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) standard in the dust. The codec is called SoundAbout Lossless and promises low-latency, low-complexity, multichannel Bluetooth audio, without compromising audio fidelity. Open Interface's Chief Operating Officer Rick Romatowski ran a demo of the new Bluetooth codec at our CNET offices last week, and we were definitely impressed. Jasmine France and I viewed a few scenes from House of Flying Daggers and were blown away by both the sound quality and the undetectable latency introduced by the … Read more
When I was a kid, we had those gadgets sold in the "well-being" section of Bed Bath & Beyond--you know, alongside foot massagers and home-spa kits and other things that I never thought anyone actually bought--and their whole schpiel was that they'd play you the soothing sounds of forests at night, crashing waves, chirping songbirds, or something else that was supposed to block out your neighbor's annoying dog. Or kids. Or garage chemistry lab.
But now, apparently, the Digital Age of Excess 2.0 demands that everything be a little bit fancier and more ridiculous than … Read more
Looks like there's been a truce in the fight over Net radio.
After threatening to impose per-song performance royalties on Net radio stations, which could have increased costs for some Net broadcasters by hundreds of millions of dollars, royalty collection agency SoundExchange offered to delay the new royalty payments until 2008.
Savenetradio.org, a coalition representing Internet radio broadcasters, rejected that previous offer, saying that the threat of drastically increased fees in 2008 was little better than the July 15 deadline, as it would staunch any investment into Net radio. An eleventh-hour court appeal failed, and it looked like … Read more
Looks like the day of Net radio silence worked. Enough publicity was generated that SoundExchange, the organization responsible for collecting royalties on Internet radio broadcasts, has offered to impose a $2,500 maximum fee per broadcaster on July 15, rather than instituting the per-song fees that could have put many small broadcasters out of business and raised costs for big broadcasters into the tens or hundreds of millions (!) of dollars.
Nonetheless, it's only a temporary reprieve: the original fee increase will still go into effect in January 2008, if SoundExchange has its way. SaveNetRadio, the group that organized the … Read more
Gaming chairs are great, especially when they're combined with bean bags, but there's only so much they can do in the way of performance--especially where sound is concerned. That's apparently why Pyramat, which makes its own line of chairs, is extending its offerings to include the "Lap Blaster" sound booster.
The device promises to turn any laptop into a "personal home theater experience" by connecting it to two full-range speakers housed in a flat surface that lies under the computer, according to Uber-Review. With an ergonomic design, it can double as a writing … Read more
Tomorrow, some of the most popular and prominent Internet radio stations will go silent to protest the imposition of new fees that many Webcasters claim will drive them out of business.
The protest stems back to a Mar. 2007 decision by the Copyright Royalty Board to impose per-song performance royalties on Web radio, starting at 0.08 cents per song (retroactive to Jan. 1, 2006) and increasing gradually to 0.19 cents per song by 2010. The former rules forced Webcasters to pay a minimum annual fee and 12% of their revenues. (Small Webcasters might be able to abide by these old rules … Read more