Ariel Bitran
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Ariel Bitran
Ariel Bitran Jun 13, 2012 4 comments
“Dude. Whatever,” jabbed my drummer.

“But I need new over-ears,” I pleaded.

“What do you want me to do about it?”

“Nothing, I guess. Maybe show some sympathy?”

“Fuck off.”

It was getting serious. I was getting my drummer involved, but he didn’t care.

He didn’t care that my Sony MDR-V150s distorted at high volumes and always pinched out a chunk of hair from my balding scalp after I took them off. He didn’t understand that my favorite Grado SR60s (More SR60 links: Corey Greenberg’s review and Jim Austin’s review) had a broken earpiece frame rendering themselves un-wearable in stereo. Even some Grado SR125s that JA brought in for me to borrow were dead in one channel, and the headband on Stereophile’s sample of Monster Beats Studio had a crack down the center. I did not want to break them with further use. Listening to music in my cubicle had become near-impossible. My in-ear headphones hurt after an extended periods of use (that includes 8 hours at a desk); plus, the right channel in my Etymoic ER6s is silent. I always feel awkward playing music lightly through my desktop speakers, barely interrupting everyone else around me. I need it loud, and I need it to myself.

Then the Sennheiser HD 428s came into to my life.

Ariel Bitran
Ariel Bitran Nov 25, 2013 2 comments
In this recent couch gag, the creators of The Simpsons transform their characters into a world of anthropomorphic instruments. Not a detail was missed in creating this music wonderland with piano-toothed dogs, slide-armed Simpsons, and traffic lights shaped like notes on the staff. Mr. Burns threatens tyranny through censorship of all music forms except classical, but the Simpson family and friends soon figure out the music within them cannot be contained.
Ariel Bitran
Ariel Bitran Jul 03, 2008 9 comments

I plugged in the little guy, and his little tube started to smile a low, warm orange. While he heated up, I walked over to my record collection. I needed a reference: Where Have I Known You Before by Return to Forever, one of my favorite albums of all time. I plugged my Grado SR60s into the VP129's headphone jack.

Ariel Bitran
Ariel Bitran Nov 19, 2012 9 comments
Three weeks ago, I published my top five guitar solos, a subjective list based entirely on the guitarists’ ability to move my soul through their combination of note selection and technical wizardry. These self-imposed standards led to many obvious guitarists being left off the list in favor of some less-spoken for guitar heroes with a penchant for inspiration and resourcefulness. Now I’m putting the power in your hands. Using my original list plus your suggestions in the comments section, I created a collaborative Spotify playlist titled “Stereophile - Greatest Guitar Solos Ever”. You are all invited to add songs to this list and share what you feel are the most important leads of all time. It’s a guitar solo potluck where you can hear what other playlist subscribers have to offer as well as showcase your own tastes. Open the playlist in Spotify via this link or in your web browser here. Drag songs from different artists and albums to the playlist on the left-panel of the Spotify interface to add your choices to the list. Have fun!
Ariel Bitran
Ariel Bitran Oct 26, 2011 8 comments
The iconic "McIntosh-blue" meter

Lifestyle brand. Let me say it again: Lifestyle brand. Did you just shudder a little? This term terrifies many audiophiles, because for many audiophiles, calling a hi-fi brand a “lifestyle brand” equals a focus on marketing rather than sound. Yet, on the eve of Thursday, October 6th, in a presentation to members of the hi-fi press at the Savant House in the SOHO district of New York City, McIntosh President Charlie Randall comforted us with the news that this would not be the path for McIntosh.

Ariel Bitran
Ariel Bitran Nov 12, 2012 86 comments
CMJ in New York City is a clusterfuck. Too many bands billed at each venue for them to handle with ease in one night. Too many shows to choose from all within a 2-block radius with about fifty bands you have never heard of and only nine you have. And too many people who are there for the “CMJ” experience rather than to witness the bands. Nevertheless, this CMJ was a good one.
Ariel Bitran
Ariel Bitran Oct 12, 2011 0 comments
Valle del Elqui, Chile. Photo: Alberto Bitran.

For the past few months, my system has been in a serious playback rut. The disc tray on my Oppo DV-980H does not pop out, and my Rega P1 is in unmistakably poor shape: the tonearm cable to connect the tonearm to the cartridge ripped off from the tonearm, one of the tonearm pins ripped off the tonearm cable and is firmly pinned onto the cartridge I never installed (an Audio Technica AT95E), and the needle on my old Ortofon cartridge is bent backwards, which is the reason why I needed to change my cartridge to begin with. I promise, I have reasons for all of this. Not good reasons. Thus, most of my music listening for the past seven months, has been done at work in my cubicle via different digital music streaming services, in the hopes of finding a service that would be fun and functional.

Ariel Bitran Apr 16, 2013 0 comments
At last year's NYAS, the Audio Note room had been a musical joy and learning experience. After a brief hello to music lover, photographer, and Audio Note exhibitor David Cope, we got straight to business with music listening. First on the Audio Note TT Two Deluxe turntable ($3500) was Las Guitarras De Sergio y Eduardo Abreu, where the brothers perform the music of Bach, Scarlatti, Albeniz, and more. Having played this record at least fifteen times in the past four weeks, I noticed immediately that the soundstage was imbalanced. Both guitars were too far to the left, but I refrained from comment.
Ariel Bitran
Ariel Bitran Nov 28, 2012 4 comments
Show organizer Antonio De Leon (far left) and President of the Phillipines Benigno Aquino III (center) listen together.

At least 2,500 audiophiles attended the November HiFi Show at the luxurious Dusit Thani hotel in Manila, Philippines on November 10 and 11, 2012. The show featured thirty-nine exhibition rooms with a total of thirty plus dealers exhibiting products from across the globe.

Ariel Bitran
Ariel Bitran Dec 01, 2011 12 comments
A Spotify advertisement interrupts my listening. The ad is invisible, embedded in between the lines of my play queue. As it begins, a modern crooner soars over a twinkling piano. This is not the 311 I was just listening to. A voice very politely interrupts: “Hi, this is Bruno Mars.”

I need my riffage! Not ads!

Seconds later, a reminder pops up in my Microsoft Outlook program: “Rdio”

Ariel Bitran
Ariel Bitran Sep 18, 2007 5 comments

Stephen has challenged me to build a system with just $1000.

I need to think fast. My requirements for the system are loudspeakers, preamp/power amp, phono stage, turntable, CD player... Shit. $1000! That's it? I'll use the 2008 Buyer's Guide data and see what I can do...

Ariel Bitran
Ariel Bitran Nov 05, 2008 2 comments

We played Scrabble and listened to Brian Eno's Another Green World. The synthesizers were raw, saw-toothed, and gripping, and Eno's volume swells had never been truly appreciated till that night.

Even though he's heard me play the record about a million times, Kyle kept asking, "Who is this playing?"

I think it caught him by surprise this time around.

Ariel Bitran
Ariel Bitran Nov 18, 2008 0 comments

"Ain't it strange how sounds can let you down / When you're waiting for the one you love."

Ariel Bitran
Ariel Bitran Nov 12, 2008 12 comments

Secondly, we listened to Bobby Womack's The Facts of Life. Actually, I didn't even listen to it. I had to get some guitar stuff prepared for band practice later that evening, but Alex chilled on my couch, listening to the LP.

After Side 1 was over, he screamed, "This guy is AMAZING."

Ariel Bitran
Ariel Bitran Nov 25, 2008 0 comments

Following that record, I tuned in to Luciano by Luciano Pavarotti, also found in the trash. Pavarotti sang with impact and the timpani were a joy.

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