GRACE NOTES

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Leslie Shapiro  |  Jan 08, 2018  |  0 comments
CES 2018 kicked off this morning with the always entertaining, always optimistic Monster Press Conference hosted by head Monster Noel Lee, who launched the company's 39th year in the industry with the motto "Takeover 2018." Along with an array of new speakers and headphones, Monster announced a variety of new products that will capitalize on the popularity of smart speakers and headphones with MonsterTalk, powered by Speak Music’s Melody voice service.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Dec 18, 2017  |  0 comments
Smart speakers are all the rage at the moment, and companies can’t afford to let customers slip away. I had a chance to check out the new Amazon Echo ($100, currently discounted to $80) complete with the updated software that improves audio performance.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Dec 04, 2017  |  0 comments
Days are shorter, snow is on its way, and temperatures are plummeting. It’s getting cold and we’re all looking for ways to stay warm, without giving up our music. Sound Huggles are wireless Bluetooth headphones that double as comfy earmuffs. Okay, so I live in Florida and I’m still in shorts and flip-flops, but I know some of you are bundling up to head to work on frigid mornings or out for your evening jog. Wouldn’t a pair of toasty-warm, snuggly headphones make your ears happy?

Leslie Shapiro  |  Nov 20, 2017  |  0 comments
A week ago, if you had asked me if I could love a $550 portable speaker, I would have laughed you out of my listening room. Yet here I am, just days later, completely smitten with the Oslo speaker from Vifa, a Danish speaker manufacturer. It’s uniquely stylish, massively overbuilt, and the sound is amazing. I am in love with the Oslo.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Nov 06, 2017  |  0 comments
Voice-activated speakers are hitting the market hot and heavy with everyone vying to be the only system you’ll invest in. Amazon is hoping you’ll pick Alexa, and Cortana is hoping to get some traction in the market. Once you’re a Google family, odds are you’ll stay there. To that end, JBL just released a new line of Google Assistant voice-activated speakers, and the LINK 20 is the perfect balance of features, sound quality, and portability. Yup — that’s right — a voice-assistant that’s not only portable, it’s waterproof too so it can go anywhere.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Oct 23, 2017  |  0 comments
When a company known for making very good speakers and receivers comes out with the first Cortana-based smart speaker, it better sound good. Did it? Nope — it sounded great!

Leslie Shapiro  |  Oct 09, 2017  |  0 comments
Ah, the freedom and flexibility of wireless Bluetooth speakers. Some companies let you connect several of their speakers together to create a whole-home solution. However, one company has developed a way to potentially connect any and all Bluetooth speakers together, speakers from any company, as well as Bluetooth headphones. Your jogging group can all run to the beat of the same drum. Tempow, a French tech company is making this possible.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Sep 25, 2017  |  4 comments
Picture your dream living room. We close our eyes and listen to the subtle nuances of our favorite recording. Luxurious speakers line the walls, a subwoofer discretely positioned in the sonically perfect corner. There’s nothing better than leaning back in a comfortable chair, spending hours listening to music. But the sad reality is that we don’t.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Sep 11, 2017  |  0 comments
I showed up at the gym without my favorite Audio-Technica earbuds. So there I was, staring at a pair of gym-branded earbuds hanging next to the water bottles and headbands...
Leslie Shapiro  |  Aug 28, 2017  |  5 comments
It seems clear that phones have become the end-all/be-all product for most people. It’s a phone, computer, GPS, camera and music player — an essential part of everyday life. However, one group remained somewhat disconnected, until, perhaps, now. The new Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ both have features that many serious music listeners are getting excited about.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Aug 14, 2017  |  2 comments
Few people probably noticed a subtle change to Spotify that started a few weeks ago. In keeping with a standard already adopted by Tidal, YouTube and iTunes, Spotify has lowered the volume of its streams...
Leslie Shapiro  |  Jul 24, 2017  |  1 comments
Summer’s here and the time is right…for summer concerts, of course! There’s something magical about sitting under the stars serenaded by your favorite artist that only happens in the summer. But in actuality, there’s another side to the midsummer night’s dream of lovely music. What is it about outdoor concerts that brings out the worst in an audience? Who’s attending these concerts, and why are they making them so miserable for the rest of us? Nowhere else could the outrageous behavior seen under the summer sky be tolerated.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jul 10, 2017  |  0 comments
I worry when I see any product claiming to have audiophile sound. As if any company is going to advertise their new headphones with tone-deaf, mediocre sound? How about I-don’t-give-a-crap sound? Let’s just say that I start off a bit skeptical when I read claims like that, especially from a company who is a relative newcomer to the market. After some quality listening time with the new Zipbuds 26, I’m cutting them some slack. These earphones sound really good. Claim away.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jun 19, 2017  |  12 comments
Last week Apple released its own Siri-powered speaker, the voice-assisted HomePod. It’s Apple’s attempt to muscle its way into a market already dominated by Amazon’s Echo with Alexa, and the Google Home. The HomePod is touted as an audiophile-grade speaker with excellent performance. Sound quality? Really? Let’s do a quick reality check on this.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jun 05, 2017  |  0 comments
These days, air travel just sucks. Seats are smaller, flights are overbooked, computer glitches cause massive delays, and whatever happened to in-flight meals? You’re lucky to get a tiny bag of pretzel crumbs. Whenever I travel, I always slip on a pair of headphones, and tune out the chaos. If there’s a baby screaming all flight long, I won’t hear it. So when AKG announced the N60NC Wireless, a new active noise-cancelling headphone with Bluetooth, I was all ears.

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