Lauren Dragan

Lauren Dragan  |  Nov 07, 2014  |  0 comments
In-ear custom monitors are generally considered the gold standard for performers and audio professionals. And it makes sense; monitors are one of the only pieces of equipment that are made just for your anatomy and nobody else’s. The process of going from fitting to final product has remained largely unchanged for years: a painstaking, labor-intensive process.

Ultimate Ears is working on streamlining their workflow with the addition of 3D scanning, editing and printing. It’s working: what used to take three weeks, now can be done in one. But monitors at Ultimate Ears  still take a shocking amount of craftsmanship and skill to make, and I got to take a tour of their facility in southern California to see just how it’s all done. Wanna see? Check this out!
Lauren Dragan  |  Oct 17, 2014  |  0 comments
At the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles, the west coast edition of the Luxury Tech Show was filled with gold phones, automated homes, and personal drones. Here’s a roundup of some of the more unusual offerings on display.
Lauren Dragan  |  Oct 03, 2014  |  0 comments
This week, at a massive loft space in NYC, the people of Bose constructed a temporary museum of sorts: an impressive array of both consumer technology and fascinating prototypes, chronicling the company’s history. Bose is celebrating its50th anniversary, an accomplishment for any company, but especially in technology, a field where so many businesses launch with great fanfare only to sink into obscurity. Built on the shoulders of engineer, MIT professor, inventor, and entrepreneur Dr. Amar Bose, the Bose corporation began with a single product, the pod-looking Bose 2201. The 2201 screams 1960s design aesthetic. With its burlap-esque fabric and wooden housing, it’s fun to imagine what stereophiles thought of this unique and bizarre design in a sea of rectangle and square speakers.
Lauren Dragan  |  Sep 25, 2014  |  0 comments
After attending the phenomenal David Bowie exhibit at the Chicago MCA last week, I’m finding myself acutely aware of how much I miss regular access to art. As a college student studying music, and even as a high schooler fortunate enough to attend fantastic humanities classes, every day had some form of exposure to artistic endeavors. But once out of school, if we want to experience art, we have to seek it out. While we have plenty of access to media, one could argue that art is a bit tougher to come by. Of course, there are galleries to visit, which is wonderful and needs to be preserved, but unlike school, art no longer comes to you.

A few artists have come together to try to change all that. They took two things New Yorkers have encounters with daily: technology and advertisements, and created an innovative augmented reality art space...the NY subway station.
Lauren Dragan  |  Sep 22, 2014  |  0 comments
In the center of an all-white video screen, stands a young David Bowie. He is miming the story of a man who finds a mask that generates him enormous success and yet ultimately causes his suffocation. And so it’s fitting, perhaps, that the Bowie retrospective at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (September 23 through January 4, 2015), titled “David Bowie Is,” contains little detail concerning the life of David Jones, the man who would become Bowie.
Lauren Dragan  |  Sep 19, 2014  |  0 comments
Bowers&Wilkins have become known for their innovative takes on aesthetic design. (Remember the Zeppelin?) Sometimes weird, and often wonderful, B&W have a love-it-or-hate-it style that is distinctly their own. No exception is the C5: in-ear headphones with a bullet-like shape and a unique stabilizing loop that have been recently revamped and released this week. The C5 Series 2 have a few deviations from the originals, while still keeping a similar form factor. I sat down to compare version one to Series 2 to get a better sense of what’s new.

Lauren Dragan  |  Aug 29, 2014  |  0 comments
Blue may be the last major microphone company to take the plunge into the headphone business, but they’ll tell you this was a conscious choice. Known for solid mic products with funky designs, Blue says they didn’t want to release just standard-issue headphones. One glance at the design of Mo-Fi, and you’ll see that in the quest for individuality they succeeded. Mo-Fi are simultaneously retro and modern looking with a unique hinged headband and adjustable tension knob. They also feature a built-in 240mW amp that the folks at Blue say is specifically matched to the drivers. For folks like me, who just can’t bear the idea of having to carry around one more thing, not needing a separate headphone amp is a welcome addition. Sounds great on paper. But how successful are Mo-Fi in practice?
Lauren Dragan  |  Aug 22, 2014  |  0 comments
Rock stars, producers, and the audio elite have long been the target demographic for the custom in-ear monitor. Personalized, individually crafted, and generally prohibitively expensive, purchasing a set has often been out of reach for most audio hobbyists. But now two companies, Normal and OwnPhones are looking to cater to the custom-curious with affordable 3D printed in-ear headphones. Will the advent of of the printed earbud change in-ear headphones for good?

Lauren Dragan  |  Jul 16, 2014  |  0 comments
Last week we talked about The Distortion of Sound, the new documentary concerning the gradual decline in audio quality that plagues the music current music industry. If you haven’t watched it yet (it’s free, incidentally) you really owe it to yourself to take the half an hour, and to share with a less-tech-savvy friend. For those of you who can’t stream a video right now, the gist is this: music fans are getting deprived of the ability to hear the full quality of the music they’re downloading, streaming, and YouTube-ing. Initially, the desire for convenience of carrying a small device necessitated the severe compression of music files, but as tech has advanced beyond that point, the quality of the music we’re hearing hasn’t. In fact, since the CD, the clarity and authenticity or recordings has largely decreased. Buy the best headphones, speakers, you name it, and they’re all worthless if the audio you’re playing isn’t high quality. Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park is a vocalist, songwriter, guitarist and keyboardist, as well as producer, and was one of the many members of the music and recording industry who participated in The Distortion of Sound. I sat down with him before the documentary premiere to talk about the state of the music industry, how he listens to music, and what it was like to record an album analog.
Lauren Dragan  |  Jul 11, 2014  |  7 comments
We live in an amazing time, music-wise. For the first time in history, we can hear virtually any artist, living or deceased, perform for us on a whim, within seconds.

For perspective: if you lived in 1580, to even hear a professional musician you’d need to be a member of a royal court, or a very wealthy household like the Medici family. Fast forward two hundred years, and in 1780 you’d still need to travel great distances at great expense to hear Mozart play. In another two hundred years, 1980, hearing your favorite music meant a trip to the store, purchasing an album (if it was in stock!) and then carrying that album around when you wanted to listen. For four hundred years, access to music took money, effort, and determination.

Yet here we are now, a few clicks away from the stuff of riches and royalty. While on our couch, no less! One would think, at this pinnacle of technological accomplishment, that the recordings we enjoy would be of increasing quality. The better the technology gets, the better the sound, right? Nope.

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