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Audio Files: Darn That Stream

For most music fans, the ability to stream practically any tune you want in seconds through the Internet is a dream come true. Audiophiles have been less enthusiastic, because most of the major music streaming services use data compression (such as MP3 or AAC) to reduce the Internet bandwidth and disk storage space needed to … Read More “Audio Files: Darn That Stream”

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Audio Files: Can Exotic Accessories Improve Your Sound?

Audio’s most contentious debate began about the time Wynton and Branford Marsalis joined the Jazz Messengers. It’s the argument about whether various accessories can improve the sound of an audio system. Browse a few high-end audio sites and you’ll find loads of these accessories, from fancy cables, to devices that clean up AC power, to … Read More “Audio Files: Can Exotic Accessories Improve Your Sound?”

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AudioFiles: Beating the Bluetooth Blues

With headphone jacks disappearing from all Apple phones and many Android phones, listening to audio on the go often demands that you use wireless Bluetooth headphones. Although it’s possible to use wired headphones if you attach a headphone amp dongle, headphone makers tell me almost no one bothers—and that’s why they’re switching their headphones to … Read More “AudioFiles: Beating the Bluetooth Blues”

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Audio Files: Why Are Ultra-Low-Power Amps All the Rage Among Audiophiles?

Music’s always going to have occasional throwbacks—who would have expected that in 2019 we’d be seeing a renaissance in tubas and tenor guitars? In the related field of high-end audio, though, the throwback may soon become the norm. Many audiophiles are rejecting modern amplifiers that deliver hundreds of watts of power, instead embracing so-called “flea-watt” … Read More “Audio Files: Why Are Ultra-Low-Power Amps All the Rage Among Audiophiles?”

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Audio Files: Headphone Amps to Kick Your Cans

If you decide to step up from mass-market headphones to serious audiophile cans, one thing’s for sure: You’ll be hit with online ads promoting headphone amps. Most jazz fans, who for years have simply plugged their headphones straight into a smartphone, will wonder why they suddenly “need” a headphone amp—or if someone’s just trying to … Read More “Audio Files: Headphone Amps to Kick Your Cans”

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Audio Files: Are Expensive Headphones Really Worth It?

Many people think of headphones as commodity items that deserve little of your attention or budget. Headphone enthusiasts beg to differ. As manufacturers started inching up their prices after seeing the success Beats had selling $300 models, they found ’phone enthusiasts happy to spend more in search of sonic nirvana. The last two years have … Read More “Audio Files: Are Expensive Headphones Really Worth It?”

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Audio Files: The Revolution Doesn’t Have to Be Televised

Stereo receivers once formed the core of practically every audio system. By combining a power amplifier, preamplifier, and AM/FM tuner in one box, they offered the most convenient and affordable way to start a music system. As music fans shifted their focus to streaming services and smartphones, the trusty old stereo receiver was left behind. … Read More “Audio Files: The Revolution Doesn’t Have to Be Televised”

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Great Sound on a Student Budget

In the battle for better sound, no one has it tougher than students. Most are on limited budgets—and if they’re music students, their reeds, strings, or cymbals come first. Most live in small bedrooms or dorm rooms, often shared with others who might resent a late-night exploration of Head Hunters or Bitches Brew. The good … Read More “Great Sound on a Student Budget”

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Jingle Bell Swing

Ask any serious music fan, and they’ll probably tell you that the holiday gifts they remember best were audio products. The Sears 8-track player I got for Christmas 1975 gave me my first listens to George Benson’s Breezin’ and Jeff Beck’s Blow by Blow. Later, the Panasonic cassette boombox I got for Christmas 1979 let … Read More “Jingle Bell Swing”

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Vinyl Accessories

Contrary to almost all predictions, vinyl record sales just keep on growing: up 9 percent in 2017 versus 2016, capping 12 years of sales growth for a format that was once declared dead. Not only has this growth inspired the production of countless new vinyl records, turntables, and cartridges, but it’s also spawned a whole … Read More “Vinyl Accessories”

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