The S&V Interview

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Mike Mettler  |  May 28, 2014  |  1 comments
“We were united for the best sound we could get, and that was it. That was what we were chasing.” Is Linda Ronstadt revealing her high-end hopes for Hasten Down the Wind? Actually, that’s her assessment of the main goal she had for the 15 songs on her new compilation, Duets (Rhino). The ace song interpreter simply soars on songs like the tender but tough “I Never Will Marry” with Dolly Parton, the special intuitive blend she gets with James Taylor on “I Think It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” and the complementary vocal halo she sets for Frank Sinatra on “Moonlight in Vermont.” Ronstadt has since retired from singing (in 2013, she revealed she has Parkinson’s disease), but that hasn’t stopped her from appreciating the sound of a good mix or a stellar vocal — or gently trilling a few lines of her favorite songs while we talk. Here, Ronstadt, 67, and I discuss her hi-fi proclivities, when not to use echo, how the right vocal texture tells the right tale every time, and how she learned about spotting hollow fifths.
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Dec 21, 2007  |  6 comments

<I>Trying to build the perfect home theater isn't easy, but it sure is worth it.</I>

Mike Mettler  |  Jul 19, 2017  |  0 comments
Believe it or not, even Little Steven—Bruce Springsteen’s longtime guitar foil and songwriting soundboard in The E Street Band, and the decorated Godfather of the Underground Garage and Outlaw Country radio formats—feels the need to recharge the creative batteries every now and then. “This record turned out to be a really wonderful reset, reintroduction, and rebirth of myself,” Little Steven admits about his first solo album in 18 years, Soulfire (Wicked Cool/UMe). “It was a wonderful opportunity to start again, and really show my roots in a way I had never done before. I mean, I never put a blues song on a record before, I never did a doo-wop song before, and I never did a cover of anybody before I did this thing!”
Bob Ankosko  |  Jan 28, 2018  |  19 comments

15 Minutes with Apple’s Phil Schiller

On Friday, Apple announced that it will begin taking pre-orders for the HomePod. We reached out to Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, for an inside look at the company’s entry into the burgeoning smart speaker space.

Bob Ankosko  |  Jan 30, 2017  |  1 comments
15 Minutes with WiSA President Tony Ostrom

Tony Ostrom, president of the Wireless Speaker & Audio Association talks about the past, present, and future of high-resolution wireless audio technology.

Nancy Klosek  |  Aug 28, 2007  |  0 comments
What's possible these days—and how much or how little money does it take?
Jamie Sorcher  |  Nov 30, 2012  |  0 comments
At Home Theater, we’re all about the gear, but our systems would mean nothing without the memorable films we watch on them. Barry Sonnenfeld has had a hand in a good many of those. A 1978 alumnus of New York University Graduate Film School, Sonnenfeld broke into the biz as cinematographer for 1982’s Academy Award–nominated documentary In Our Water.
Bob Ankosko  |  Nov 03, 2015  |  1 comments
Andrew Jones has an impressive history in loudspeakers, having served as the chief speaker engineer at KEF, Infinity, Technical Audio Devices Laboratories (TAD), and Pioneer, where he established a reputation for designing budget speakers that sound shockingly good. In May, following the merger of Pioneer and Onkyo, Germany’s ELAC announced that Jones had not only joined the company as vice president of engineering but was already working on a new line of speakers.
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 03, 2016  |  0 comments
It’s one of the Top 3 moments of smashed guitars in music history, right behind Jimi Hendrix at Monterey Pop and Pete Townshend at Woodstock. But this one happened in a movie — namely, in the 1978 comedy classic, National Lampoon’s Animal House. That man on the stairs whose guitar was so violently gutted by Bluto (John Belushi) was in fact noted singer/songwriter Stephen Bishop (“On and On,” “It Might Be You,” “Separate Lives”). I called Bishop, 64, at his homestead in Los Angeles to discuss the literal sonic blueprint for his eclectic new album Blueprint, the give and take of writing with Eric Clapton, and confirming some heretofore unrevealed tech specs about that infamous Animal House guitar.
Mike Mettler  |  Dec 10, 2014  |  0 comments
When Mark Rivera isn’t splitting his time being Music Director for Ringo Starr or serving as a versatile multi-instrumentalist with Billy Joel (the latter for 32 years and counting), he’s doing what any good audiophile would — dropping the needle on some fine, fine wax. “The warmth of vinyl is like nothing else,” Rivera reports. “It really is. To me, it feels like it embraces you. It simply surrounds you.” Earlier this year, Rivera also found the time to put out his first solo album, Common Bond (Dynotone/Red River), and he’s patiently been overseeing having 1,000 copies of it pressed onto vinyl. “I couldn’t be more enthusiastic and more pleased about that,” he says. Here, Rivera, 62, and I talk about Common Bond‘s core production values, vintage gear and favorite LPs, and the ways music resonates over one’s lifetime. Ok, fine, we admit it — we just can’t get enough of that vinyl stuff.
Bob Ankosko  |  Dec 30, 2015  |  0 comments
I’ve met enough top speaker designers over the years to know that they’re all obsessive. And I mean that in a good way. To design a great speaker, you have to be obsessive. You have to be prepared to spend countless hours in the lab and in listening rooms evaluating and tweaking every conceivable variable to isolate that elusive mix of art and science that yields a speaker capable of fooling listeners into thinking they’re experiencing a live performance. A tall order, to be sure. Geoff Martin is not a designer, but as Bang & Olufsen’s tonmeister, he plays a critical role in the development of every speaker the Danish company makes. What’s a tonmeister? Read on.
Mike Mettler  |  Apr 09, 2015  |  0 comments
Chances are you know the name Michael Des Barres, but just exactly how most likely depends on your entry point. If you’ve read I’m With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie, then you know him as the ex-husband of Miss Pamela, Pamela Des Barres. If you’re a devout fan of ’70s rock, then you know him as the frontman of cult-fave bands Silverhead and Detective. If you’re a TV aficionado, you know him as Murdoc from MacGyver — and maybe even as Dog, the nattily dressed lead singer of fictional punk band Scum of the Earth from an all-time classic October 1978 episode of WRKP in Cincinnati. And if you’re a dedicated listener of Little Steven’s Underground Garage, Channel 21 on SiriusXM satellite radio, then you’re probably quite riveted to the insights, encyclopedic rock & roll knowledge, and cheeky humor he provides between the tracks that spin during his always exhilarating weekday shift. While the man’s far-reaching C.V. is indeed impressive, Des Barres is a musician first and foremost, and all of his killer instincts have converged on The Key to the Universe (FOD Records), his strongest and most consistent record, well, ever. Notes Des Barres, “People go insane for these new songs. It’s so astounding to me, after having not really done anything on this scale in 25 years, that people are responding to them. I think I sound better on this record than I’ve ever sounded.” Recently, I rang up Des Barres, 67, to discuss the sonic philosophy behind The Key, how to avoid including any “twiddly bits,” and finding one’s own voice as an artist. MDB is a true rock & roll survivor who knows how best to overcome adversity and get it on.
Mike Mettler  |  Jun 12, 2019  |  1 comments
Keyboardist/vocalist Michael McDonald called us to discuss his upcoming summer tour with Chaka Khan, the true secret to his well-respected background-vocal prowess, the compositionally related reason why he was genuinely surprised at the chart-topping success of The Doobie Brothers classic “What a Fool Believes,” and what his real-time reaction was when he watched Rick Moranis pay, er, homage to him on a vintage episode of SCTV.
Mike Mettler  |  Jan 25, 2017  |  1 comments
Uriah Heep burst onto the music scene at the dawn of the 1970s, and their heavy-but-melodic sensibilities instantly catapulted them into the hard-hitting Brit-rock fraternity collectively known as The Big Four, placing them right alongside Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple. A full-bore Uriah Heep reissue series is now underway, having commenced late last year with the two-CD set Your Turn to Remember: The Definitive Anthology 1970–1990 (BMG/Sanctuary) and followed by the band’s first two albums — namely, 1970's ...Very ’Eavy ...Very ’Umble and 1971’s Salisbury — with scores of bonus tracks to boot. I got on the horn across the Pond with co-founding Heep guitarist Mick Box to discuss the ins and outs of putting together the Anthology, how the band recorded an actual tea kettle onto the classic 1972 track “The Wizard,” his thoughts on streaming, and the band’s future plans.
Mike Mettler  |  Apr 05, 2017  |  0 comments
With Genesis essentially in the rearview mirror save for reissues and other archival material, Mike Rutherford, the consummate songwriter/guitarist/bassist, has focused his energies on ensuring Mike + The Mechanics remains a going concern. To that end, Rutherford and his Mechanics have collectively tinkered under the hood to engineer the quite-fine-indeed-sounding Let Me Fly (The End/BMG), out on April 7. Rutherford, 66, called in to discuss his approach to Fly, how he thinks you should listen to it, and why he no longer sings his own material.

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