Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry is lucky. If he’s working on a track at his home studio and he needs a particular sound, he can just go grab another guitar, plug in, and another classic track is born. Those of us for whom money is still an issue have it a little tougher. Sure, we know that “Sweet Child O’ Mine” should only be played on a Les Paul (or a copy, like Slash used), but there’s only room for a couple of guitars in the back of the Civic, and if the song has to be played on a Strat, then so be it.
No more excuses! For the cost of a decent Stratocaster or half of a Les Paul, guitar players can have access to classic sounds from both of these instruments, as well as from banjos, sitars, resonators, and several acoustic guitars. The Variax carefully models the waveforms of classic instruments to product their sounds faithfully, and all of the sounds are just a knob twist away. Finally, guitarists can leave their vintage instruments at home and still be prepared for any musical need that may arise.
Read More | Line 6
Over the years, the trend for home audio speakers has been one of downsizing. Many a home theater enthusiast has foregone the lure of huge speakers that rattle their neighbor’s windows (three blocks away) to focus more on the SAF. The SAF (Spousal Approval Factor) is a major force when it comes time for speaker acquisitions, and typically the smaller, the better. Acoustic Research, an Audiovox company, has taken a slightly different approach than the norm to making speakers blend in with their surroundings. While their HD510 speaker system isn’t tremendously tiny (e.g., Bose Acoustimass), they’re still quite small, but that’s not their only claim to SAF fame. Acoustic Research has taken to hiding the speakers inside some fairly common looking objects to help disguise their presence.
Suddenly, subwoofers become steamer trunks, and satellite speakers become books, vases, and even wall sconces. With more than 20 different covers that are each sold separately, the options available are quite abundant. One thing though that should concern anyone interested in quality speakers, is the effect the covers have on the clarity and aspect of the sound. Unfortunately, besides mentioning that the covers allow “consumers to really express themselves without compromising speaker performance”, there are no hard numbers for a “before and after” scenario in regards to sound quality.
Satellites & Center Channel Speaker
Woofer : 3 1/2” Midrange (Magnetically Shielded)
Tweeter : 1” Teteron Tweeter
Freq. Resp. : 120Hz-25kHz +/- 3dB
Rec. Power : 25-150 Watts
Finish : Extruded Aluminum
Dims 6.15”(H) x 3.8”(W) x 4.0”(D)
Impedance : 8 ohms
10” Poly-Coated Woofer
Freq. Resp. : 25Hz - 150Hz (variable)
175 Watt Class D Digital Amplifier
Finish : Pewter Lacquer
Dims : 13.5”(H) x 23.9”(W) x 12.5”(D)
The speaker system and covers will be available this summer for an undisclosed amount.
The Gibson Digital Guitar, demonstrated last month at Microsoft’s Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Seattle, is the first electric guitar to feature an Ethernet port on-board. Using onboard electronics, the Gibson Digital allows players to send output from different strings to different amps or effect loops, as well as opening up the guitar’s traditionally analog signal to digital applications, like Internet streaming and single-string-per-track recording.
The real innovation here is in the media delivery system Gibson has designed to carry this information. MaGIC, which stands for Media-accelerated Global Information Carrier, is a protocol that carries media information bi-directionally on a standard Ethernet cable. Gibson’s goal for MaGIC technology is to replace all the cabling on musical instrument rigs as well as consumer electronics, allowing users to daisy-chain devices and greatly simplifying audio system component hookup. The MaGIC protocol carries 32 channels of digital audio over the single Ethernet cable.
Gibson has not yet released the digital guitar for sale, but has partnered with chipmaker Cirrus Logic to deliver a suite of digital audio and video products utilizing gigabit Ethernet connectivity in 2006.
Read More | Gibson Digital
With a sleek, sophisticated looking exterior the new Philips Streamium WAK3300 is an alarm clock with 802.11g wireless networking built in. The wireless networking provides the connection to Philips’ Wireless Music System, which includes their WACS700 Media Center that was announced during CES 2005. Using the WACS700 as a source, the WAK3300 can stream music for your listening pleasure, or merely provide variety for your morning wake-up call. Unfortunately, it seems that this also precludes the use of any other media server as a source for the Streamium WAK3300.
Additional details are a bit scare and no pricing or availability is known at this time.
We’ve talked about the virtues of Pandora many times in the past so I won’t rehash old news, but wouldn’t it be great if you could record your Pandora streams and save them for later? A utility called Pyrrha lets you do just that. Yes, there are other utilities out there that let you “hijack” audio streams and record them for later use, but Pyrrha works a bit differently.
There’s no need to go to Pandora’s website to login as Pyrrha handles all of that for you. Enter your username and password, choose your radio station and recording duration, click the “generate” button, and away it goes, quietly recording your chosen station as a 128kbps MP3 complete with playlist.
With a Java version for non-Windows users available, it’s hard to fault an application that does so little, yet does it so well. However, I like to nitpick so I’d like more control over the duration of the recordings, and a feature to remember my username and password.
Audiophiles are a strange lot. Where else can you find a group of reasonably intelligent people who will believe almost any preposterous concept, provided it relates to improving their perception of high-end audio? Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of audiophiles who are quite rational when it comes to audio equipment, but there are many others who take a flying leap from the cliff of intelligence when presented with an extravagent piece of audio gear. The latest word in excess comes from the German company Clearaudio who have crafted a turntable they call the Statement.
The aptly named Statement is a $125,000 conglomeration of wood, aluminum, and other sundry bits that aims to do only one thing - play records, and play them exceptionally well. Weighing in at a massive 770-pounds, the Statement derives its rotational motivation from the same type of electric motor used to propel the Mars Rover. So what we end up with is a turntable that is built to enormous excess, is supremely precise and stable, and plays vinyl so well that the average listener probably couldn’t distinguish it from a good quality CD player. Then again, the average listener isn’t the intended recipient of this German engineered tribute to overkill. No, that privileged spot would be reserved for . . . you guessed it, the audiophile.
In this episode, we catch up with Ken Castle of SanDisk, and he gives us a rundown of all of the features of the new Sansa e260. If you are looking for something that will provide you a lot more features than the iPod nano - at a cheaper price - the Sansa e260 looks to be it. Ken tells us why you should own one. Look for our review in a future episode.
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Bose has recently updated their SoundDock iPod accessory, finally making the product available in black to go along with the new 5th generation iPods with video. Some say that the SoundDock produces better sound than the iPod HiFi while remaining $50 cheaper than the official Apple product. You can pick up a Bose SoundDock in either black or white for $299 USD.
Read More | SoundDock Product Page
The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) is at it again, but this time, instead of suing consumers, they’re waging war against XM Radio. The lawsuit centers on the XM Inno, a portable satellite receiver with the ability to record songs. The RIAA is seeking $150,000 in damages for each song that XM users record on their devices. This of course is in addition to the royalty fees that XM already pays out for the “privilege” of broadcasting music.
Sirius Satellite Radio is being excluded from the lawsuit, even though their S50 device offers similar features, because they reached an agreement with the RIAA last month. In other words, Sirius already bowed to the RIAA’s demands and coughed up whatever additional fees they were demanding.
David Butler, from XM Radio, said, “The music labels are trying to stifle innovation, limit consumer choice, and roll back consumers’ rights to record content for their personal use.” So, what David is saying is that everything is pretty much status quo.
Read More | Top Tech News
We’ve talked about Pandora before, a music service which recommends new music for you based upon your favorite artists. A plugin has surfaced to merge the power of Pandora with Microsoft’s Media Center 2005, and while the installation process isn’t idiot-proof, it’s still easy enough for all but the most computer illiterate among us.
Since “simple” is often times the best, the plugin sticks to that ideal with usage that couldn’t be easier. Browse through your collection of artists to find one you like, stab the “info” button on your remote, and choose “More…” to let Pandora do its thing. The only downsides so far seem to be a formatting issue (since Flash-based Pandora was never intended for the “big screen”), and some minor performance issues with the author’s website (the plugin runs a web application on said site). To help ease the first a tad, and eliminate the second, a refined plugin has been created that runs off of a mirror site. The links to both versions of the plugin can be found below.
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