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Bob Ankosko Posted: Feb 07, 2017 0 comments
I’ve been fascinated with player pianos ever since I visited the Alamo Saloon in Old Abilene Town years ago as a kid. The reenactment of Wild Bill Hickok’s famous gunfight was a hoot, but watching those cancan girls dance to an upright piano that was playing itself was downright mesmerizing. I recently visited the Yamaha Artist Services facility in New York to experience a modern, super-charged version of that old player piano—the Disklavier Enspire.
Bob Ankosko Posted: 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.

Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 24, 2017 0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great for impromptu gatherings
Easy to transport
Rugged build quality
Plays loud and clear
Water resistant
Minus
A bit bulky/heavy for a portable speaker
Pricey

THE VERDICT
The Bullfrog Jump lives up to Kicker’s reputation for delivering big, bold sound that you can take with you wherever you go.

“That’s an ugly speaker.” Oooh. That’s not what I was expecting to hear when I walked into the family room, Bullfrog Jump in tow. I like the way it looks. Then my son chimed in: “Well, it does sorta look like a space heater.” Hmmm…. He’s got a point, I thought to myself. OK, so it isn’t a work of art. It’s not supposed to be—it’s an outdoor speaker. And a darn good one at that.

Bob Ankosko Posted: Dec 29, 2016 0 comments

15 Minutes with Cleerline President Robert D’Addario

Fiber optics has been around in audio gear for years. Verizon’s Fiber Optic Service, better known as FiOS, has 7 million Internet subscribers in nine states with plenty of expansion potential. Google, too, has been rolling out its Google fiber service in recent years, though on a much smaller scale with limited service in seven states. Meanwhile, copper is still far and away king of signal transmission both inside and outside of the home. But for how long? To get a sense of what role fiber will play in the future, we sat down with Robert D’ Addario, president of Montana-based Cleerline Technology Group, an innovator in optical cable.

Bob Ankosko Posted: Dec 23, 2016 1 comments

Duetto
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value

Solo
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $299 (Solo), $399 (Duetto)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Versatile
Solid build quality
Streaming via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
Impressive sound
Intuitive app plus traditional remote
Minus
Wish it was battery-powered

THE VERDICT
Como Audio's Solo and Duetto look good, sound great, and are loaded with features.

Don’t be fooled by the clock-radio appearance of the Solo or Duetto. Yes, there is a clock with dual alarms and, yes, there is an FM radio—but these extras barely scratch the surface of what these mini marvels can do. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a compact music system that’s as versatile or sounds as good as the Duetto or Solo from Como Audio.

Bob Ankosko Posted: Dec 01, 2016 0 comments
A few years ago Sonos published an infographic that traces the History of Hi-Fi from Edison’s phonograph through Apple’s introduction of the iPod in 2001, stopping just short of documenting its own arrival in 2002. Long before anyone even heard of streaming, the company set out to reinvent stereo with an Internet-connected wireless speaker and introduced one of the first iPhone apps—a controller for its first system—just a few months after the App Store opened in 2008. By the end of the decade Sonos had captured the imagination of a public that seemed to be waiting for its fresh, cloud-based take on classic hi-fi. Today Sonos is a billion dollar company offering a variety of products, including the Top Pick-winning Play:5 wireless music system. We recently sat down with Patrick Spence, who took over the reigns as president in July, to talk about Sonos, past, present, and future.
Bob Ankosko Posted: Nov 23, 2016 0 comments
When you stop and think how tech-infused our lives have become, it’s no wonder electronic gadgets are the most popular holiday gifts. Technology is cool. Technology enriches our lives. Technology… (add your declaration here). As the holiday shopping season gets under way, we’ve sifted through dozens of potential gifts and settled on 12 at prices ranging from $20 to $800. Approach these pages with an eye toward matching one or more of these gems with friends and loved ones on your list. Or maybe you’ll be inspired to put one or two on your wish list. I don’t know about you, but my family is always asking me what I want for Christmas. I now have a better idea…
Bob Ankosko Posted: Nov 17, 2016 0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Elegant styling
Top-notch build quality
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi streaming up to 192 kHz/24 bit
Remarkably full sound from a compact speaker
Minus
Can sound a tad bright
Not battery-powered
Rudimentary app

THE VERDICT
Oppo’s Sonica is an elegant and versatile wireless speaker whose superb sound belies its small footprint.

As I waited in anticipation for Sonica to arrive, I was reminded of an old ad slogan: “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” It’s kinda that way with Oppo. Over the past 12 years, the Silicon Valley–based company has built a stellar reputation with its best-in-class Blu-ray players and Top Pick–designated headphones and amp/DACs. I couldn’t wait to see if Oppo had extended its golden touch to wireless speakers—a category with more than its fair share of duds. My expectations were high.

Bob Ankosko Posted: Nov 10, 2016 0 comments
Once again, Samsung has partnered with a noted industrial designer to rethink modern TV. Last year it was the magnificent S9W, an ultra-wide 21:9 TV designed by Yves Béhar. This year it’s the modestly sized (and priced) Serif TV, created in collaboration with the Parisian design duo Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.
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Bob Ankosko Posted: Nov 01, 2016 0 comments
Laurie Fincham has a storied career in speaker design and engineering that began in England in the early 1970s when he worked for Goodmans Loudspeakers, Celestion, and KEF. By day, he delved into speaker theory and design. By night he played stand-up bass in a jazz group to supplement his income. While at KEF, he co-developed the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) system for measuring and modeling speaker. In the early ’90s, he moved to the U.S. to work for Infinity before joining THX in 1998.

Today, as senior vice president of audio research and development, Fincham manages the audio side of the company George Lucas founded to raise the bar for cinema sound...

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