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AV Rant #238: The Boot

If you are wondering what those weird silences are, ask Liz. Liz and Tom take on the topic of the death of the movie theater, part deux. Tom lets everyone know how 24 could have been the greatest show ever. Which cloud service is the best? What do you think? Google buys SageTV. This week’s Soup to Nuts is part 1 (of four) of an interview with David Janszen. It’s all about electrostatic speakers. Thanks for listening and don’t forget to vote for us at Podcast Alley! To see our (mostly) complete collection of show videos, click here. Download Tom’s ebook Bob Moore: No Hero which is pretty much available everywhere.

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  1. Rob
    June 24th, 2011 at 22:43 | #1

    Whaa? Tom mentioned ‘Breaking Bad’ of his own free will? My head is spinning!


    Season 4 starts July 17, by the way 😉

    Hey, if Tom mentions it in a list of good dramas on TV, you KNOW it’s good, right?


  2. Rob
    June 24th, 2011 at 22:45 | #2

    I really, really enjoyed this first part of the David Janszen interview! I’ll definitely be looking forward to hearing the rest!

    I loved that he spoke about some of the differences between the various planar speaker designs and brands out there. Really cool to get that comparison from an expert.

  3. Downtowner
    June 26th, 2011 at 14:39 | #3

    Learned a lot from the interviuew with David Janszen. I did not understand the difference between true electrostats and the various magnetically-driven planar designs.

    Slightly off-topic, Monster Cable gets a lot of heat these days but I was digging through my analog RCA cable collection and found a set of stereo Monster Cables that I bought back around 1985. Still look great and work great! Back in those days, Monster was a real departure from the runn-of-the mill, stiff PVC, non-gold-plated, small-gauge patch cords that 99% of people typically purchased at Radio Shack. I have to give Monster credit for showing us that there could and should be something better.

  4. jeffreynoah
    June 26th, 2011 at 18:41 | #4

    Audio Nirvana Achievable
    By Jeffrey Asher

    Audioholics offered an interview with David Janszen and may soon review the Theos electrostatic speaker, which prompted a retrospect along audible lane.

    In 1969, I kit – built four Dynaco SA80, three for friends. The sales manager enticed me into his ‘high – end salon’ to hear the KLH Model 9 electrostatic speakers. The sound was so clear, I momentarily imagined that the Oscar Peterson Trio was in the room.

    But the KLH price amounted to a year of income, before taxes. I bought component drivers, set in glued and screwed 3 cubic foot ¾” plywood boxes, the panels damped with 12 pounds of sand.
    The music sounded OK.

    About 1980, my breath was taken away by the Yamaha NS-1000s. A key ingredient was the beryllium-dome midrange and tweeter. I was immediately struck by the stability and clarity of image and tightly defined bass.

    “Stereo imaging was phenomenal … We could stand to the left of the left-hand speaker and still hear the full stereo spread between the two speakers. They are also remarkable in that they reproduce depth and perspective about as well as any speakers we have heard. Only the IMFs and the Magneplanars are better …”

    The NS1000s cost about a half year of pre-tax income. The best musical reproduction I could afford then was Koss Pro4AA headphones.
    Good sound.

    I did not forget the clarity of ES speakers. Most were as big as doors, ugly, unstable, fragile and exorbitantly priced. While mulling over a used pair, a sales manager assured me I would develop a long-term relationship with the ES repair technician.
    No thanks.

    In 1980, a dealer enticed me to listen to Micro Seiki MX1 headphones. I could finally afford ES clarity. I could hear soloists breathing and fingers squeaking on soundboards. I listened from the best seat in the house – my head. After relaxing with Allegri’s Miserere, a lady friend assured me that in exchange for my MS MX1s, she could be very nice to me.
    I served her my best breakfast.

    In 1990, I moved the MX1s to the TV room and discovered that complex surround systems are surpassed by ES headphones. Full ambience on well-made recordings only awaits reproduction from an accurate speaker.

    After an audio salon went belly-up, a Stax 3030 ES headphone allowed me to hear counterpoint complexity and cathedral reverberation in the music of Monteverdi, Handel and Rameau. I could hear complex organ and choir voices, distinguish drum types and gut vs. metal strings.

    All speaker manufacturers claim proprietary advantages. But “electrostatic loudspeakers offer levels of distortion one to two orders of magnitude lower and exemplary frequency response – in amplitude and phase – than is possible for cone or dome drivers.” NB: “possible”.

    Almost all listeners have become so accustomed to conventional speaker ‘sound’ that they are startled when they hear the clarity of ES speakers. ES’s not only offer width (easy), but when properly placed, musical stage depth. The cymbals and drums can be heard from the back of the orchestra. You can also hear piccolos.

    “The Quad ESL-989 … delivers topnotch imaging, smoothness, focus, low distortion, and low listening fatigue. … warmth, transparency, transient response, and power …”

    The full ES driver weighs less than the air it drives. The mass of conventional speakers causes under- and over- extension (inaccurate transient response), therefore distortion. ES speakers respond and stop, instantaneously with the signal.
    ES clarity sounds perfect.

    As I lower the volume, the ES sound recedes to the back wall. As it should. Applause does not sound like rain, but hundreds of hands clapping. With choirs, I hear many individual voices. In the introduction to the Hallelujah chorus, the harpsichord is audible. With chamber music, instruments are so clearly located, that I can point to their image.

    Electrostatic speakers have been the gold standard for audiophiles since the 1950s. Until the 2000s, ESs were expensive and unpredictable to maintain. That was then. The latest Martin Logan full-range ES speakers sell for under $2K the pair. Not cheap, but not prohibitive. The panels are transparent.
    If you love music, start saving for a pair of ESs.

    I plan to audition every one of my CDs. (Those I will not listen to again are graciously taken by the local library.) The Lully Te Deum and Saint-Saens Organ Symphony sound glorious.

  5. arbeck
    June 27th, 2011 at 13:09 | #5

    Just so you know, 10 songs on album would mean Google Music can hold 2000 albums not 200. (2000 x 10 = 20000).

    I find it much more useful than Pandora. Basically I have all 7500 songs from my library available anywhere with a web browser.

    I like Pandora, but I don’t always want to hear what it suggests. Sometimes when I want to hear Sigur Ros, I just want to hear Sigur Ros; not bands who sound like them.

    The only downside was uploading all the music (which is 320kbs MP3). But doing 7500 songs only took a day and a half. It went completely in the background without any intervention from me. It found the correct metadata and artwork for almost everything. I only had one album with the wrong art (though I had a few with no art).

  6. jnmfox
    June 29th, 2011 at 10:35 | #6

    How I love my SageTV if only I could articulate like Rob…
    Like Tom mentioned when it comes to PVR+media player there is WMC and Sage. Sage has the advantage of no DRM, many great user plug-ins, and a awesome extender.
    The server to client/extender set-up of Sage is great as you can have one main PC (that PC can also be used as a normal PC) that serves the content to as many clients/extenders as needed. With the Sage extenders (the HD-300) there is no reason to have a dedicated HTPC at every TV. You can get all your content through one small, quite, and power efficient extender.
    Sage offers (offered 🙁 ) the TV experience of TiVo plus the media playing capabilities of a Dune or Popcorn Hour media player. I’m sad to see SageTV go, it was the best option around but I’m also interested to see what Google does with the acquisition. Hopefully Google will take Sage and add Google TV search, native Netflix, and cable card support; with that Google would have a near perfect PVR+media player.

  7. arbeck
    June 29th, 2011 at 16:21 | #7

    I like Sage, but the lack of ability to record from the encrypted channels is a killer for me. That’s why I use WMC. Four tuners on one cable card is absolutely great.

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