Audiofile

  • The AudioFile: Audio Quality Cheapskates

    The AudioFile: Audio Quality Cheapskates

    Last week I got a 16GB Creative Zen V Plus, the first flash-based MP3 player to move past the 8GB mark (aside from players with microSD card slots). And we’ll be seeing a 16GB iPod nano before the holidays. Aside from simply holding more songs, more flash means those tiny players can hold bigger and better-sounding digital files, which is right on time for the glut of DRM-free 256Kbps… Read More

  • The AudioFile: Handcuffing Digital Music

    The AudioFile: Handcuffing Digital Music

    Copy protection is leaking out of the digital music industry like water from a cracked snow-globe. The latest developments continue to point toward a DRM-free future in which you’ll buy music from different online stores for use anywhere, much like buying CDs from different physical shops like Virgin or Sam Goody and having them work fine in any player or computer. But if digital music is… Read More

  • The AudioFile: Can Apple Afford to Slacker?

    The AudioFile: Can Apple Afford to Slacker?

    Radio gives you two important things: It keeps you from getting in a musical rut, and you don’t have to make any decisions about what to listen to next. Now that customizable Internet radio services like Last.fm and Slacker are all the rage, the time has never been better for Apple to let iPod users get a piece of the action. I smell an iPod + Slacker partnership now that Apple got GooTube… Read More

  • The AudioFile: Bluetooth To Bite Less

    The AudioFile: Bluetooth To Bite Less

    Next year, portable wireless audio is finally going to stop sucking. With the advent of the next generation of Bluetooth and improvements in miniaturization techniques, not to mention ever-increasing efficiency in power consumption, we’re going to see some pretty hot ear candy in ’08. Finally, Bluetooth audio will relinquish its crown as the world’s most annoying sound to this… Read More

  • The AudioFile: The iPhone Is Eyeing Your Living Room

    The AudioFile: The iPhone Is Eyeing Your Living Room

    This week: Computers, set-top boxes (like AppleTV), and AV receivers are battling to be your household hub, streaming music and movies back and forth across your pad until you become sterile and glow in the dark. All this gear is versatile, but it’s hard to know which one to pick — especially when hefty sums of money are involved. Sonos and now Denon seem to have the most promising… Read More

  • The AudioFile: Suspicious iPhone Activities

    The AudioFile: Suspicious iPhone Activities

    I was riding my bike the other day, when I got a call from Apple. I pulled over to the curb, and by the time the light on the corner changed, an iPhone was on its way to my apartment. I hadn’t even requested one, yet 36 hours later, it arrived. Sure enough, within an hour I was compulsively checking email and surfing the Web on it, like a kid picking at a mosquito bite. I did pretty normal… Read More

  • The AudioFile: Radioactive Music Discovery

    The AudioFile: Radioactive Music Discovery

    Satellite radio is in the toilet, and the government and the recording industry are trying to squeeze Internet radio for more dough — unsuccessfully for now, according to today’s news. Meanwhile, social networking sites like Imeem and Last.fm (and MySpace, of course) are continuing to blow everyone away in the digital music scene, thanks in no small part to their focus on community as… Read More

  • The AudioFile: 10 Facts About Steve Jobs

    The AudioFile: 10 Facts About Steve Jobs

    The major labels are acting funny lately, and it’s beginning to smell fishy. Warner is once again trying to buy EMI, Lala.com’s free streaming service (which offered mostly tracks from Warner) died of mysterious causes, and Universal appears to be backing away from iTunes. It all comes back to Steve Jobs in one way or another, and his legendary — and increasingly troubling… Read More

  • The AudioFile: Jacking Off the iPhone

    The AudioFile: Jacking Off the iPhone

    The iPhone drops today. If you didn’t know, you’re probably dead and aren’t reading this anyway. If you did know, hopefully you’ve been reading our roundup of early reviews. One thing in particular has caught my eye but has been the subject of very little gratuitous blathering speculation: the iPhone’s headphone jack. Think you’re going to use the iPhone as an… Read More

  • The AudioFile: Fave Sub-$1K Audio Gear

    The AudioFile: Fave Sub-$1K Audio Gear

    Yeah, the holidays are nowhere in sight and neither is my Capricornian birthday, but I’ve got the summer shopping bug — y’know, Christmas in July and all that. I don’t pull down six figures or anything (hey, I live in Brooklyn, not the O.C.), but I’ve got a decent budget to work with. So here are ten audio-tastic items that get my salivary glands lubed up in a jiffy… Read More

 
  • The AudioFile: Keep It Simple, Stupid

    The AudioFile: Keep It Simple, Stupid

    Einstein said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” Few companies in the MP3 player business grasp this important principle, and it continues to bite them in the assets. iRiver and SanDisk are feverishly trying to keep up the pace of feature bloat, while Archos and Creative are increasingly focusing on video players. Meanwhile, Sony is getting ready to… Read More

  • The AudioFile: Heavenly Audio Gear

    The AudioFile: Heavenly Audio Gear

    In my Brooklyn neighborhood, I’m surrounded by Christians, Hasidic and non-Hasidic Jews, Rastafarians, Santeria initiates, and the occasional Sikh. The MP3 player market must have similar diversity, right?naïveriffic! Well, not quite… in fact, I was disappointed at the dearth of religious zeal wrapped in a shamelessly commercial product–though Kosher cell phones do give me some… Read More

  • The AudioFile: Is Apple's iTunes Plus a Minus?

    The AudioFile: Is Apple's iTunes Plus a Minus?

    Apple’s latest blow to other online music download services is iTunes Plus — tracks encoded at 256Kbps in AAC format with no copy protection restricting usage. Big deal? Maybe not as big as many people hoped, thanks to some glitches and limitations, but it’s still a huge step in the right direction for downloaded music. But is Steve Jobs following the right path by shunning the… Read More

  • The AudioFile: The Expandable Revolution

    The AudioFile: The Expandable Revolution

    My favorite trend in MP3 players and music-phones is the inclusion of a slot for a ridiculously tiny microSD card. There’s just something really cool about taking a 2GB memory card out of my LG Chocolate phone and putting it into my SanDisk Sansa e280. But high-capacity memory cards also have the potential to resolve thorny issues related to digital music sharing — especially across… Read More

  • The AudioFile: The Beat of a Different DRM

    The AudioFile: The Beat of a Different DRM

    Is the recording industry officially losing control over digital music? And more importantly, what new restrictions will it use to combat the rampant piracy that’s sure to follow? Also: Digital music still has one major drawback: no resale market. But imagine there was a way to capitalize on the potential for used MP3s…. Read More

  • The AudioFile (Mothers Day Edition): Help Mom Rock Out

    The AudioFile (Mothers Day Edition): Help Mom Rock Out

    This Sunday is Mothers Day. (Sorry if I just made you snarf your coffee.) As usual, I’ve left it till the last minute to get my mom something. And naturally, now that she finally understands what it is I do, she’s slowly getting more interested in portable audio. So I think this is the year I splurge and get her some solid, simple, affordable audio gear, but I’ve got to do it… Read More

  • The AudioFile: Ultimate Pocket-Size Hi-Fi Rig

    The AudioFile: Ultimate Pocket-Size Hi-Fi Rig

    As part of HiFi week here at the ol’ Crunch, I’m detailing my favorite mobile high-end audio rig. I’ve spent a lot of time finding the right balance among portability, sound quality, and budget — which means don’t go freaking out about how your home setup is so awesome and can be taken with you as long as you have a portable generator and a power conditioner, not to… Read More

  • The AudioFile: 2.4's a Crowd

    The AudioFile: 2.4's a Crowd

    With all the wireless technologies out there, the airwaves are getting about as crowded as a New York City street at rush hour. Most of the traffic is on the 2.4-GHz frequency band, including everything from cordless phones to Bluetooth and WiFi, not to mention leakage from microwave ovens. Worse yet, once wireless speakers become a must-have companion for HDTV setups and people start streaming… Read More

  • The AudioFile: Apple and the Long (Mc)Fly Ball

    The AudioFile: Apple and the Long (Mc)Fly Ball

    People have been clamoring for WiFi-enabled music players for a long time now. But current offerings from Archos, Microsoft, and SanDisk make it seem like they’re all just taking weak jabs at Apple, like when George McFly goes to deck Biff in Back To the Future and just lands a wimpy blow on his shoulder. The big blunder is simple: keeping social WiFi (sharing music) and productivity WiFi… Read More

  • The AudioFile: The DRM Dam Cracks

    The AudioFile: The DRM Dam Cracks

    If you saw my April Fool’s post about Apple getting rid of DRM in the iTunes Music Store, apparently the joke was on me. The very next day, Apple and EMI (one of the big five major labels) made a deal to sell EMI’s entire catalogue–minus the Beatles’ music–without copy protection for $1.29 each. But as I read the reports and analyses and talked to some industry folks… Read More