Ariel Bitran

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Ariel Bitran  |  Jun 12, 2013  |  1 comments
After each sweepstakes winner confirms receiving their prize, I request a photo of the lucky recipient posing with their reward. Ken Olen’s photo had me mystified. The grainy image of a mustachioed man with a mischievous smile seemed darkened and distant. Where did this picture come from?

Though Olen claims to be from Bedford, New Hampshire, using our fancy photograph-decoding software from partnering magazine Shutterbug and some of John Atkinson's equipment measurement tools, I unveiled Olen’s actual location. He’s in outer space galaxies away! No wonder his transmission came through so hazy. The sound of those Logic3 Scuderia R300 Headphones must really be something special.

Thanks for participating Ken and safe travels!

Ariel Bitran  |  Jun 12, 2013  |  8 comments
I spent about sixteen hours last weekend studying a rainbow of frequency anomalies and the subdivisions in which they lie. Why? Because I am an audiophile, and it is fun. Also, it’s my job.

After reading the all-encompassing Audio Glossary at from front-to-back, I rewrote the glossary as a bulleted list reflecting an organized critical listening process to utilize in the future.

Sections include ‘Midrange: 160—1300Hz,’ ‘Soundstaging and Imaging,’ and the seductive ‘Pleasurable Excess’. In the process, I got to know words I thought I understood a little better, learned about sonic situations like a chocolaty sound, comb filtering, and the venetian blind effect, and drew out differences between words that seemed similar but are not quite, such as “accuracy”, a qualifier to describe how truthful a system is to recreating the incoming signal but not necessarily how much the system sounds like the real thing, versus “realism”, a term used to describe a system’s sound only if the recording being evaluated is truthful to the acoustic event. So if you have an accurate system and put on a recording that captures an excellent live performance and true timbres of the instruments in a pleasant-sounding acoustical space, you’ll be just as happy as a pig in… well, you know what.

Ariel Bitran  |  May 30, 2013  |  9 comments
This guy cares a lot about his headphones. Though ludicrous, the Beats tattoo is admirable. He's saying, “Music runs through my veins and the Beats pumps that blood.” Would you tattoo “Vandersteen” in cholo lettering in an arch across your back? Would you inscribe “S-O-U-N-D” and “S-T-A-G-E” on each of your knuckles so that if someone insulted your system, your beat-down would arrive in stereo?

How much do you care about your hi-fi?

Ariel Bitran  |  May 29, 2013  |  0 comments

Listen, I rarely recommend some hazy, over-saturated indie rock played by a Crayola-hair colored, geometric-patterned-vinyl-jacket wearing, wide-eyed goon drinking a glass of red kool-aid to wash away his reverb and irony soaked introspection, but I think there's something special here. Something magical. Trevor Powers of Youth Lagoon might even be a wizard.

Ariel Bitran  |  May 28, 2013  |  133 comments
Rune Skov shows off the new Nordost Valhalla 2 interconnect ($9799/2m pair) next to his sweet Nordost tattoo.

On Tuesday May 28th, 2013, Nordost premiered the Valhalla 2 cable lineup at Lyric Hi-Fi in New York City. Rune Skov, International Product Training & Sales Support Manager for Nordost, gave a demonstration to a garrulous group of audiophiles who joyfully suggested what differences they heard as Skov switched out each old Valhalla cable for the new one.

Ariel Bitran  |  May 24, 2013  |  4 comments
In April of 2011, after watching one of the many iterations of The Due Diligence perform at Silent Barn, the soundman made an announcement: “We have a bunch of old music gear for sale in the venue’s basement.” I jumped from my seat.

Dusty guitar amps, dirt-speckled stage light fixtures, and busted drivers piled atop each other on a series of shelves. I inspected each piece of gear carefully. Atop the highest shelf, I found them. Though covered in scratch marks and gum, the logo was clear: Polk Audio. The “i" was dotted with a little heart. I fell in love.

Ariel Bitran  |  May 21, 2013  |  0 comments
Despite a recurring and subtly bothersome perirectal abscess, I was committed to making this a good weekend. My life had been devoid of concerts and bars due to my renewed vow to frugality, but an endless stream of incredible live music in NYC this weekend could not and would not be ignored.
Ariel Bitran  |  May 15, 2013  |  6 comments
JA guffawed, “It sounds like you need a tweeter-ectomy.”

“I hope that’s all I need.” After buying a replacement tweeter for my Usher S-520s, I asked Stan Tracht, US representative for Usher, a pair of questions.

“Will I need to solder anything?”

“No soldering needed,” Stan advised.

“Do I need to buy a second tweeter to ensure the speakers match?”

Ariel Bitran  |  May 14, 2013  |  0 comments
For gamers, video games can instill a sense of purpose. They imbed the idea in their minds that any ordinary boy or girl can become a hero. On their second full-length record Endless Fantasy, Anamanaguchi recreate the quest of becoming something bigger than yourself.
Ariel Bitran  |  May 09, 2013  |  2 comments
I wear polo shirts daily. Polo shirts keep things simple. Seven-time French Grand Slam tennis champion René Lacoste invented the “tennis shirt” in 1929 as an alternative to the traditional player’s outfit of white button-down and tie. The easy-to-wear “tennis shirt” rapidly expanded as official garb for polo players, golfers, and Homer Simpsons of America. Like the polo, the Logitech|UE 4000 on-ear headphone ($99.99) is accommodating to all in both fit and acoustic profile.
Ariel Bitran  |  May 08, 2013  |  2 comments
On Wednesday May 8th, 2013, B&O announced the release of the H6 over-ear headphone ($399) and H3 in-ear monitor ($249). Long known as a lifestyle brand that embraces both excellent sound and excellent design, B&O’s H6 and H3s promise no different.

Nicolaj Shabtai, Category Manager for B&O Play, explained the products’ three priorities: "outstanding sound, design for life & style, and quality materials."

Ariel Bitran  |  May 07, 2013  |  0 comments
Simon Hewitt, Cambridge Audio’s Director of Marketing, visited Stereophile HQ to demonstrate the Cambridge Audio Minx Air one-box Bluetooth system. Hewitt says Cambridge Audio’s business is exploding thanks to the Minx Air. It makes up 15% of Cambridge’s current profits. Meanwhile, Cambridge is busy building more speaker lines as their fathering company, Audio Partnership, fades out mass distribution of Mourdant-Short.

Minx Air is currently available in two sizes, the Minx Air 100 ($449) and the larger Minx Air 200 ($599). It features Airplay, on-board Internet radio, and bass EQ that can be controlled via app. I played three synced Spotify playlist selections transmitted via Bluetooth from my iPhone. At the end, Hewitt asked, “What was that first track you demoed?”

Ariel Bitran  |  May 05, 2013  |  3 comments
My hi-fi basked in morning sunshine. The sparkling white finish of the Usher 520s reflected angular glints of yellow light across plaster walls. Birds chirped as I hoped for the best. Would my bass bloat be gone? Would I have an evenly dispersed image?
Ariel Bitran  |  May 02, 2013  |  3 comments

On March 27, 2013, Stephen Mejias blogged about the single “Love and Respect” from Danish electro-pop group When Saints Go Machine, which “features Killer Mike offering strong and exciting contrast to Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild’s delicate falsetto.” Although the track left him “wanting more,” SM admitted the restraint from both Killer Mike and Vonsild made his yearning a good thing.

In UNKWON’s remix of this track, the Danish DJ leaves yearning at the door, and unleashes an onslaught of sonic manipulations, big bass, and layered tambourines, handclaps, snares, and bells transforming the track from one of self-discipline to groove indulgence.

Ariel Bitran  |  Apr 25, 2013  |  0 comments
The HiFiMAN RE-400s come with four sets of eartips, flanged and unflanged, and a rubber dongle for wrapping your headphones up safely.

The HiFiMAN RE-400s Waterline cost $99. By definition, waterline is the point where a boat meets the water. According to HiFiMAN representative Peter Hoagland, “waterline” implies these headphones are “reference for its class”. Is HiFiMAN trying to say these headphones float above the rest? Maybe.