Sunday Aug 25


Noise // Notes

A is for Armstrong

In our formative years, ABC books helped us learn our letters and also introduced us to information about the world. A trip from A to Z remains fun for almost everybody, typically blending the familiar with the unexpected. Thus, the ABCs of Jazz which follows.  [Originally published as a "Jazz Tracks" column in CD Review, 10/1992.]


Gear is the stuff you can kick–the metal, plastic, wood, and glass constructions that let us hear recorded music and see stored images at home and on-the-go. 

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Bowers & Wilkins launches Panorama 2
Widescreen for your ears

The first two sentences of the following (slightly edited) press release from B&W is a perfectly clear statement of the basic issue of abysmal sound quality from most flat panel televison sets.  Given how horrible out-of-the-box TV sound is, a soundbar solution doesn't have to hit a high audio standard to improve a viewer-listener's experience.  But that doesn't mean that you should settle for any old soundbar.  Bowers & Wilkins has out a new Panorama soundbar, appropriately dubbed the Panorama 2.  They say it is "a true one-box, surround sound home cinema solution."  I have no doubt that it is.  Here's what they have to say about it.

Parasound HALO: Black is the new black.
..but you get to choose

Personally, I like silver finishes but I know black is appealing to other eyes.  What's really nice is having a choice and that's what Parasound is offering buyers of its top end HALO line.

Precision:  new residential hi-fi speaker line from Tannoy
...the heart and soul of music.

Tannoy's Precision group of speakers seems to be a solid anchor in the company's extensive lineup of residential hi-fi speaker offerings. Here's a slightly edited version of their press release (I omitted the matching center channel speaker) along with some photos. At this writing, I don't have pricing information. I'll add it as soon as it's available. You can find additional personal observations at theSoundscapeBlog.

Updates from SoulSonic

SoulSonic, a high-end speaker manufacturer headquartered in Slovenia, bowled me over with amazingly musical sound from an impossible-looking speaker.  That was about two years ago during Las Vegas electronics show time. SoulSonic was holding forth at the audio-oriented T.H.E. Show.

I recently heard from Miro Krajnc, SoulSonic's top man, with news of changes in the speaker line, pricing, and sales policies.

Parasound's Zcd
Small package promises high performance

Parasound's compact and high quality Z Custom components fit small spaces and, by doing so, fill big needs. The official word on the new zCD appears below. Click here for my take on it.

SAN FRANCISCO (March 14, 2012) - Parasound has added the Zcd Compact Disc Player to its popular Z Custom line of half-width (9.5 inches) rack-mountable components. While small in size, the Zcd has a high-performance digital-to-analog converter and a fully independent power supply for the analog circuits.

Music marriage: Gibson Guitar & Onkyo Japan

Nashville (January 04, 2012) - Gibson Guitar Corp. today announced a strategic partnership with Onkyo Corporation, a worldwide leader in consumer audio. Onkyo offers Gibson’s newly-formed Pro Audio Division substantial technology resources. Gibson will provide Onkyo with its marketing resources and expertise. The result will be an ability to deliver a far superior audio experience to the consumer who has become more and more used to hearing only inferior compressed music through inexpensive ear bud headsets.


Better than free
Sennheiser CX 215

The earphones that arrive with an MP3 player serve two easy purposes. They assure you that the player operates and they provide instant gratification. It won't be long before you're ready to replace them with phones that sound better than the freebies, are more comfortable, and hold up under regular use.

The problem, of course, is finding them.

Tannoy can take it.
Speakers on bridge defy Irene

I got this release from Tannoy today. I'm impressed, but not surprised.


USB Phono Preamp
A-to-D preamp with USB and more...

SAN FRANCISCO (8/18/11) – Parasound has introduced the Zphono•USB, a compact preamplifier for magnetic phonograph cartridges and line-level analog sources. Zphono•USB also adds an analog-to-digital converter with a USB port to transfer audio from vinyl LPs to digital media files.

Audiocentric A/V
' will always come first'

The latest NAD A/V receiver is here. It's the NAD T 757 and it looks like a winner to me.

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Gear // News

Music // Overviews

Big band surprises from Pablo

Fantasy Records surprised me [in 2002] with a double-barreled blast of (officially) previously unreleased live recordings by the Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton Orchestras.  They are, respectively Duke Ellington at the Alhambra: Pablo PACD-5313-2 and Stan Kenton Orchestra: Stompin' at Newport. Pablo PACD-5312-2).

Ellington at the AlhambraKenton at Newport