When I dropped by the Park Avenue Audio NYC showroom, I was on a mission to find an audiophile bookshelf speaker that wouldn't break the bank. The store's selection covers a wide gamut, but the majority of speakers are $1,000-plus per pair. Then I ran across the Monitor Audio "Silver" RX1; it's a medium-size bookshelf speaker, measuring a tidy 12.3 x 7.3 x 9.4 inches. At 15 pounds, it feels surprisingly heavy for its size. It has a 1-inch ceramic-coated aluminum/magnesium-alloy dome tweeter and a 6-inch metal woofer. The speakers … Read more
This is a follow-up to last week's "Before you buy a sound bar speaker, read this" post, but this time I'm setting my sights on expensive, $400-plus iPod and Bluetooth speaker "docks." They have built-in limitations common to all single-speaker systems. They might have two sets of speaker drivers housed in a single cabinet, but when the drivers are just a few inches apart, "stereo" sounds more or less like mono. In the quest to make these speakers as sleek and lightweight as possible, bass and dynamic range capabilities are limited, compared … Read more
Nothing gets older faster than high-tech, but the Harbeth P3ESR sounds so good you may never want to replace it with another speaker. That's no hype; I know audiophiles still using similar speakers originally manufactured in the 1970s.
That's when American audiophiles first fell in love with small British monitor speakers engineered and designed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and manufactured by a number of companies, including KEF, Goodmans, Rogers, Spendor, and Harbeth. Though the speakers were all built around the same design, known as the LS3/5A, not all LS3/5As sounded exactly the same. Back … Read more
I know it doesn't make sense, but it's true: most musicians don't have good hi-fis.
To be fair, most musicians don't have hi-fis at all, because like most people musicians listen in their cars, on computers, or with cheap headphones. Musicians don't have turntables, CD players, stereo amplifiers, and speakers. Granted, most musicians aren't rich, so they're more likely to invest whatever available cash they have in buying instruments. That's understandable, but since they so rarely hear music over a decent system they're pretty clueless about the sound of their recordings.… Read more
Congrats to David B. of Manchester, Conn., for winning a Swann MP3 DJ Doorbell in last week's giveaway. This week winner's gets a twofer: a CD by hit U.K. pop/soul recording artist Emeli Sande, and a stylish pair of Bowers & Wilkins headphones for listening to it.
A legendary name in British hi-fi, Bowers & Wilkins is known for making speakers used in many of the world's top studios, including the Beatles' favorite, Abbey Road. You'll be getting a pair of fancy Bowers & Wilkins' P5 noise-isolating headphones, which CNET's Steve Guttenberg, aka The Audiophiliac, loves for their warm, rich, and clear sound (he recently called them out in a post on three awesome-sounding on-ear headphones).
Since in-ear headphones sit in or near the ear canal, they don't interact with the pinna, the bends and curves of the outer ear that direct sound to the ear canal. The pinna also serves as an acoustic filter, enhancing the frequency range of human speech, and it also supplies directional cues, so we can localize where sound is coming from. That's how our ears and brains process sound in real life, but in-ear headphones don't interact with the pinna, so they can't sound as realistic as full-size headphones or speakers. In-ears can still sound great, … Read more
I was shaken and stirred by the Bowers & Wilkins P5 on-ear headphones back in 2010. It set a new standard for sumptuous sound and build quality for very small, on-ear headphones. Designed with portable music players and phones in mind, the P5 was definitely a step up from most ear buds, and the sound was easy to listen to over the long haul. The P5 ($300) is still around, but B & W recently introduced a similar, but less expensive model, the P3 ($200).
When I unboxed the new one I decided to first judge it without directly comparing … Read more
Bowers & Wilkins' first two models of headphones -- the on-ear P5 and in-ear C5 -- have earned strong reviews from CNET. Now the company is extending its headphones line with a more affordable and more lightweight on-ear model, the P3, featuring a fold-up design and a hard-shell carrying case.… Read more
I've always been partial to Bowers & Wilkins' Mini Theater-series speaker systems, especially the orb-shaped PV1 subwoofer that came with the higher-end setup. B&W seemed to have managed a near-perfect balance of style, technology, and performance with those systems.
This year's updated MT-50 and MT-60D packages feature upgraded M-1 satellite speakers, which are said to have a "longer-throw mid/bass driver" to deliver improvements in low-frequency response. The new M-1 satellites are rated to reach 55Hz, which is a lot better than the 90Hz low-end of its identically named predecessor. … Read more
These five cars have the best-sounding stereos we've tested all year.
To get good sound in a car, you used to have to visit an installer, who would rip out four tinny speakers and replace them with six-by-nines, a sub, and an amp. But now many automakers are partnering with known audio companies to put high-quality audio components in cars at the factory. These systems are designed specifically for each car by professional audio engineers. We picked out five cars with the best-sounding audio systems we heard this year. These systems produce the kind of sound that will have you driving around the block until your favorite song finishes playing.… Read more