Jazz Legend Marian McPartland Dies at 95 – The host of the longtime NPR show Piano Jazz and recording artist for Concord Records died last week at her Port Washington, NY home. Her career spanned over six decades as a talented musician, well-loved radio personality and a great supporter of up-and-coming new artists in the business. McPartland fought three counts against her when she first came on the NYC jazz scene: Being British, White and a Woman. A Concord spokesman said she was one of the most motivated and driven artists he’s worked with, and she also had a super-sharp sense of humor and knew how to laugh and have a good time. The terrific conversations and music-making (not always on two pianos either) of her Piano Jazz series are available on many Concord Alliance CDs. Her last Concord recording (which we reviewed), Twilight World, came out in 2008.
Denon Music Maniac Headphones – Denon is getting a lot attention for their new line of comfortable high-end headphones. Ranging from price tags of $199 to $1199, the phones leverage over 100 years in producing audio products, and come in on-air, over-the-ear and ear-bud models. Their engineers studied over 4000 pairs of ears around the world to come up with designs that automatically account for subtle differences in ear shape, placement, ear canal size, head size and jaw depression. They also have a free Denon Audio App for both Apple and Android products which provides instant playlist creation capability, setting up custom EQ curves with an integrated 100-band equalizer, and updating of Facebook/Twitter’s status on the music you like with a touch of a button.
TiVo’s New DVRs – TiVo has announced a new line of retail DVRs named Roamio, offering four to six tuners, streaming to iPods and iPhones (with selected models) and whole home DVR capability. They can send recordings to subscribers’ smartphones and tablets wherever they are, in addition to inside their homes. They also have improved menus and interfaces, a more robust program search and recommendations, plus faster operation. The new line is for use with cable TV services and requires a CableCARD for premium services. They will not work with satellite TV or AT&T’s U-Verse. The basic Roamio model has a 500GB HD and is $200, and the top model is $600.
Wired Still Better Option Than Wireless – According to experts on home electronics installation, a wired setup is still the best option, although running networking wires is something most people will only do if they have wall and ceiling access, or are having a home built from the ground up. Wireless technology has improved over the years, but users can still experience interference from other equipment, it’s subject to dead spots when the signal doesn’t penetrate certain materials, and signal delivery is often subject to silences or freezes. All our appliances share the same spectrum, and while there are multiple channels within that spectrum, experts may be needed to minimize problems. Wired is always more reliable. But everything seems to be getting the wireless treatment lately, including Control 4, the smart remote control system that programs just about everything in the home.