The S&V Interview

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Mike Mettler  |  Aug 22, 2018  |  0 comments
The peak-era TV juggernaut known as The Walking Dead continues to roll-roll-roll along on its bloody and unbowed path, and it remains one of the best-shot, best-designed, best-looking, and best-sounding shows being broadcast today. That said, TWD is actually best enjoyed on hi-res disc, and its ever-galvanizing eighth season was just released by Lionsgate on Blu-ray and DVD. Lennie James, who plays the struggling pacifist Morgan Jones, discusses why his character endures, why he feels the show’s soundscapes are underrated, and how two other cult-favorite characters he’s portrayed over the years might fare if they met Morgan on the road in the zombie apocalypse.
Mike Mettler  |  Apr 02, 2014  |  0 comments
Photo by David McClister

“I’m basically what is known as a talented illusionist.” So says piano wizard Leon Russell, but the Oklahoma native is being more than somewhat modest. His C.V. is as impressive as they come: First-call member of the legendary ’60s L.A. studio collective known as The Wrecking Crew, co-founder of Shelter Records in 1969 with Denny Cordell, spearhead of Joe Cocker’s infamous 1970 Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, and beneficiary of a revived recording career by teaming up with Elton John on 2010′s T Bone Burnett-produced The Union. On his just-released Life Journey (UMe), Russell comes full circle to show his mastery of the form on tasty covers like his piano-vamp stab at Robert Johnson’s “Come on in My Kitchen,” a slip-slidin’ romp through “Fever,” and a swing-sational full-orchestral take on Duke Ellington’s “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good.” Here, Russell, 72, and I discuss his ever-unique recording technique, what it’s like being “out on the edge,” and his time in the studio with Frank Sinatra. Face it, Brother Leon: You’re a one-man Wrecking Crew unto yourself.

Bob Ankosko  |  Nov 13, 2015  |  0 comments
When Larry Hornbeck stepped up to the podium to accept an Oscar for inventing the digital micromirror device—the core technology behind DLP video projection—he held up a postage-stamp-sized DMD chip and said: “It’s hard to believe that there are more than 8 million digital micromirrors on this device. Who would ever have believed that [this invention] would change the way the world views cinema.” A couple decades later I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea of 8 million microsopic mirrors tilting at precise angles and reflecting light to create stunning images at home and in movie theaters. So I reached out to Dr. Hornbeck, holder of 38 U.S. patents and winner of numerous awards and honors, to learn more about his crazy invention.
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.

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