Car manufacturers are Jedi Masters of product design based on their mastery of customers’ perception of their cars more than any innate design quality. Part of the magic of any expensive mechanical product is the sound, and car companies have perfected a variety of devices that deliberately add interior sound to boost the sensation Continue reading
KEF’s M500 headphones are the mellowest product I’ve ever put on my head, short of the floppy hat I wear skiing. If you listen to real music played through real devices, meaning CD and MP3 quality sound played from iPhone or equivalent, these will be a good match. By real music, I mean recordings that might not be the first you would think of as test or demonstration music – music that is not perfectly recorded. Follow me on my musical exploration from streamed MP3s to CD to Blu-Ray Continue reading
Sometimes I am blown away with what I don’t know. That’s not to imply I think I know everything. Instead, I’ve been in the audio business a while and I’ve seen pretty much everything. Recently I discovered a new dimension of the audio biz – a solid and growing commercial audio niche known as Sound Masking. It’s been around for over 50 years, and a few months ago I joined one of the industry-leading companies, Cambridge Sound Management. Our product plays a special kind of noise in office environments ON PURPOSE – which for an audio guy like me first sounded, frankly, bizarre.
Sonos gets beaten up because it lacks a battery-powered product. Well known for its focus and a conservative product line-up, Sonos requires you to take a plugged-in extension cord wherever you want to enjoy the system – such as on your deck or by your back-yard pool. My own experiments with battery-powering a PLAY:1 give insight on why Sonos is stubborn, besides just their determined desire to own the domestic space (rather than audio in the car, or on the beach for that matter). Continue reading
I’m a big fan of new technology, but occasionally something ancient like my Zenith radio shows me how a twist on old technology improves a product design and user experience. My grandfather Hale T. Shenefield’s 1950-vintage Zenith AM radio (G503 / Chassis 5G41) takes a routine technology of the day – tuning a variable capacitor by a string-and-pulley system – and uses the method advantageously to give the radio a simple operation and clean appearance.
This week I had an opportunity to guest-write an expanded story about ClearView Audio for Ted Green’s Strata-Gee newsletter, so I visited with Allan Evelyn at ClearView HQ earlier this week. Take a look, at Strata-Gee.com.
Just returning from CES 2014 in Las Vegas, I contemplated what made the biggest impression on me. It’s not 4K “UltraHD” TVs, this year with curved screens. It’s not the “Sonos killers.” I’m hard to impress, having gone to this show for years. The product that struck me the most was relatively simple – the ClearView Audio Clio Bluetooth wireless speaker with a clear panel producing the sound. The fact that the product came from renamed local Boston company Emo Labs was a complete surprise that I discovered later.
In this blog series on the Sonos PLAY:1 I’ve been describing observations and experiences with the product in a variety of configurations, so far concentrating on stereo usage and adding a subwoofer – either Sonos’ own SUB or any sub you want, using my vintage ZonePlayer (similar to the current “CONNECT” or “CONNECT:AMP” products).
Used in its purest form, the PLAY:1 already does a great job in several very different (but more routine) applications. Most people will just use 1, or maybe 2, of the speakers on a shelf or kitchen counter or nightstand. Custom installers will find applications for PLAY:1 units around the house, owing to its humidity resistance (important in a bathroom or covered porch), small size, and integral threaded insert on the back (for wall mounting with an Omnimount 10.0 W/C or equivalent). This time around I want to show two usages a bit more off the beaten path – using the PLAY:1 as a desktop computer speaker and also building a three-channel stereo system. Continue reading
In my earlier blog article I commented on the first rate fit and finish of the new Sonos PLAY:1. This time I want to share some of my experiences combining different Sonos pieces – I wanted to configure different systems for more functionality and performance compared with typical usage of the Sonos products. What I found was that the products were surprisingly configurable. This aspect of Sonos system capability is admirable and probably not accidental – I think it a result of their considering all the possibilities and testing them exhaustively.
In this article I will share my experiences setting up a Sonos 2.1 system (pair of speakers plus a subwoofer) including some less-than-obvious configurations combining Sonos and non-Sonos equipment. Continue reading
By Stephen Shenefield
The Apple team has succeeded over the years because they continue to offer a premium user experience – what many call “easy to use” – but which really extends to all aspects of working with the company and its products. Apple products are easy to buy, and relatively easy to set up and use.
Apple’s AirPlay is a networked (usually Wi-Fi-based) streaming audio system that allows the owner to choose music from iTunes (PC or Mac) or an iOS device (iPhone/iPad/iPod touch) and play it on a compatible Apple-certified AirPlay audio product. In the case of Apple’s own Apple TV, it is possible to play videos as well, or photos, from a modern Mac or iOS device.
Apples’ AirPlay for many people has been a disappointment because it simply doesn’t Continue reading