Friday, September 25, 2015

Most Overrated Speakers in the World

Yes, this is a troll to get traffic, but yes, I'm going to be sincere nonetheless. 

Bowers & Wilkins

There's nothing wrong with the sound, but also nothing right.  Just some of the most boring to listen to speakers ever.  And by this I don't mean transparent and neutral.  It's like they suck the flavor out of music.  On the other hand, they aren't particularly objectionable so I wouldn't get up to shut them off, but I also wouldn't pay for a pair.

Wilson Audio

I actually really like the sound of Wilson speakers, but not the prices.  For 1/10th of the price a mid-line Focal or high-end Monitor Audio would sound as good and take up less floor space.  The one area where they can excel is in dynamic range and bass extension.  Still, good subs from Hsu run a lot less.  Also, from the perspective of overall tonal balance, to me, they sound very close to Focals, so if you like the Wilson's, check out a variety of Focals with a subwoofer.

Golden Ear

Really painful treble.  It's a banshee in the shape of a speaker.   The current positive reviews astound me.  


Same as Golden Ear, only it's not a screech so much as a sneaky ear needle.  I know it may be psychosomatic to think of them as ear drills based on the shape of the tweeter but to me the Triangle sounds very clean and distortion free compared to the Golden Ear, but still painful to listen to.  Like eating something very spicy, but you can't tell for the first two or three bites how spicy it is. 


The third speaker in the "bad treble" group. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Focal Sopra

Focal just introduced the Sopra speaker line.

I find it very interesting, and in some ways it's a marriage of the Profile and Electra lines, with a dash of Utopia thrown in.  The color finishes are pretty too, but I'm not really completely enamored of the shape.  At least I find them less ugly than the current Utopia line.  What I'm most interested in however is how "tweakable" it is.  Focal makes excellent drivers in many ways, especially low distortion and low storage of energy.  Flat, smooth frequency response however is not their forte. Also, their cabinets and crossover components below the Utopia line kind of suck by comparison.   There is some, but not extensive, internal bracing allowing unusually large amounts of vibration to come off the sides.   I can already tell by the pictures they have shown they are not particularly proud of the crossovers in this unit.  Not that they were ill designed, but probably did not have the highest quality components.

I'm sure we'll be reading about the performance of the Sopra's in gushing details from "unbiased" reviewers soon, and by that I mean to exclude all of TAS, but what I would really want to know is if the Sopra's are a few hundred dollars away in mods from being small Utopia's? 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The HSU VTF-15H MKII Subwoofer sucks

I could tell this as soon as I unpacked it.  Just look at this picture here:

Do you see that?  The lettering on the lower left side?  It is a font- ographical travesty.  How many different fonts do you need to label a product?  Dear Goddess Minerva have mercy.

OK, yes, that's all tongue in cheek but I wanted to illustrate some bad trends lately in reviewing products people haven't even been near, let alone listened to.   I've seen a lot of trash talking about the Pono player lately based on it's looks, or that (they claim) it can't technically sound better than other players.  Mind you, the looks are an aesthetic thing, and people are free to dislike it, but when people who have never heard it (I have) driving good headphones (again, I have) trash it I feel they are doing everyone a disservice.

The Pono player sounds really really good at any resolution of audio.  Go listen to a set yourself, and if you don't hear the difference, then the price ($399) for you may not be worth it's value, but for those of us who like that warm, rich Ayre sound, it's a bargain. 

The other terrible trend that continues to plague audio and video philes are feature counters.  People who evaluate the number of features to compare products without a care to the quality with which they are delivered.  Consider counting a Honda Civic as a better car than a Ferrari F1 due to the number of dashboard apps.  Mind you, in many cases a Civic may actually be a better car, but probably more to do with the four doors and trunk room a commuter or parent may need on a day to day basis.  To merely count features to determine product value is stupid and leaves us who like quality with fewer and fewer choices we can afford.

So to really get back to the HSU, I bought it for 17 reasons.  15" of woofer diameter, great reviews and really awesome, if sometimes overly enthusiastic, customer service.  Great job guys.  A real review will be coming up after I have re-hydrated myself from moving it into position.  

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Go Theta Digital!

Kudos to Theta Digital for releasing the Casablanca III HD and Casablanca IV.   Also, congrats on the review of the beautiful  Prometheus 250W monoblock amps in stereophile.   It seems that the release of the Casablanca IIIHD has uncloged the pipes, so I hope we will see more rapid releases of new products in the coming months.

Since I am among the working poor in San Francisco, I cannot afford any of these, so I was hoping to see news of the replacement of the Casanova, the Supernova soon.  That is where my heart truly lies, but so far no mention of it in over a year.

I'm still stuck with the 16 year old Casanova until someone makes a DAC better than that for less than $2,000.  I'm checking out the NAD M51 soon, will keep you posted.  There's a reason they still sell for $800 on ebay.  They are just that good.