Fuji X-Pro 2 and XF 18-55 LM R OIS Lens – 1/320 @ f/5.6 – ISO 200

Thank you Joanne Sisco for the revised title 🙂

Joseph, New York, Photography

A Study In Texure

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This weeks Sunday evening review is of the Sonos Connect.  The MSRP of the Connect is $349.00. In my opinion this is not a true audiophile piece of gear but it does make your life a lot easier for casual listening.

Two weeks ago I stated I was an audiophile and in true audiophile fashion I do not use tone controls.  In fact my Bryston BP-20 preamp doesn’t even have tone controls.  My theory is if the music is recorded correctly and you have quality gear from input to output (CD or turntable to speakers) you shouldn’t need to introduce the added circuitry that tone controls require. Simplicty is much better than complexity in the audio world. The shortest distance between two points is a straight wire.  Being I have elected to purchase such purist gear it wouldn’t be a surprise to you that I have no remote controls for my system so I can’t just sit back in my easy chair, listen to some tunes and enjoy a bourbon without having to get up and switch CD’s occasionally. This is where the convenience of the Sonos Connect comes into play.

The Sonos Connect will allow me to stream music from my computer through my two channel classic audio gear. On the back of the Sonos Connect are two ethernet connections (RJ-45) terminals.  If you would like to hard wire the Sonos Connect to your home router you can do so by connecting a network cable to one of these RJ-45 connectors (the other RJ-45 connector is so you can connect a Roku, Apple TV or Smart TV) or just to have a spare RJ-45 connector available to daisy chain other devices. You could also choose to connect it to your router wirelessly. It also features a digital output (coax) and an digital optical output (Toslink) so if you desire to bypass the internal digital to analog converter (D/A) in the Sonos and output to an external D/A convertor you can. Also two pairs of analog outputs are included so you can connect the Sonos to your preamp, integrated amp or receiver.  Once this unit is connected to your audio system you then install the software on any computer that you will be using for a music server. If you do not wish to fill your computers hard drive up with your entire music collection you can use an external hard drive. I personally use a 2TB Western Digital My Cloud brand NAS (network attached storage) hard drive. These drives plug unto your router via a network cable (RJ-45 connection).  I chose a NAS rather than a hard drive that attaches via a USB cable to an accessory port on my router because the transfer rate is higher on the NAS drive.  You don’t want to be listening to music and have a hiccup then have to wait for your drive to catch up. If you choose to use an external NAS hard drive for storage you will not be required to keep your computer running while you stream music. Having said that every time you upload new music to the NAS drive you will have to run the Sonos software so it can recognize the new music you loaded and provide that information to the Sonos Connect.

If you choose to go the NAS route (which I think makes more sense than having a computer turned on all the time) remember you will have to copy all of your music to this NAS drive.  I spent a couple of days loading all of my music CD’s to my NAS drive and I used Apple’s iTunes to do this.  I chose the lossless option so all of my music wasn’t compressed to MP3 format.  The preferences menu in iTunes is where you will find the options to store your music on an external drive and choose lossless format.

The best part about this Sonos Connect is that you can either purchase a dedicated controller (remote) or simply download the free app from iTunes and this will turn your iPhone or iPad into a remote music controller.  You could build Cue’s of your favorite music using this app and listen for hours, control the volume or redirect music to other Sonos products all from you easy chair. Apps are also available for Android phones and tablets.

So lets get to the meat of this review which is the sound of the Sonos Connect.  Once you get everything up and running its amazing how easy the iPhone app is to use and the sound is better than I expected.  I find the extreme high tones are rolled off slightly and the sound stage seems more compressed compared to playing a CD through my Rotel – Adcom CD transport and D/A convertor setup.  Nothing terrible or offensive sounding but there is a noticeable difference.  I’m sure if I decided to run the Sonos Connect through my Adcom GDA-700 D/A convertor via the digital coax output the sound would improve noticeably.  I find the Sonos Connect is a worthwhile addition to any classic two channel audio system if you wish to add remote control capabilities and have your entire music collection available at your fingertips without leaving your easy chair.  It would be great for an endless supply of background music when throwing a party or if you are like me just kicking back and listening to some tunes and enjoying a bourbon (or two).  For most people the sound quality will be good enough or almost indistinguishable from a CD but for the audio purists like me there is a noticeable difference in sound quality. Not terrible just different but quite pleasant.

I did fail to mention one other feature. The the Sonos Connect will also enable you to stream internet radio such as Spotify and Pandora channels through your home stereo.  To do this you have to download the Spotify and Pandora apps, sign in to your accounts and then direct the Sonos app to access these accounts.

Audio, Entertainment, Joseph, Music, Photography

Sonos Connect

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Fuji X-Pro 2 and XF 60mm R Macro Lens – 1/280 @ f/4 – ISO 200

Joseph, New York, Photography

Deep Greens And Blue Are The Colors I Choose

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Black and White, Black and White Photography, Joseph, New York, Photography

Paint It Black

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As some of you know when people are addicted to a hobby like photography they usually have other addictions also.  My other addiction is classic audio gear, or stereo equipment.  I’m talking about two channel stereo, none of that surround sound for me, thank you anyway. Both my photography and audio addictions started about the same time when I was in my late teens. Yes folks I’m a full fledged audiophile also (in case you were wondering Emilio that doesn’t mean I stalk under age pieces of stereo equipment).  Although I lust after the classic old tube gear like a Marantz 10B am/fm tuner I haven’t yet totally lost my mind and bought one.  I am resigned to the fact that if I would like to be on talking terms with my wife I must be careful to spend my money on the kind of solid state equipment that taxes the limits of my hearing but also is affordable.

On this new page I thought I would share some of my observations on what type of stereo equipment sounds good to my ears and doesn’t cost a fortune.  I’m not a total audiophile snob just a partial one.  So starting today there will be a new bi monthly Sunday evening  post talking about some of the audio equipment that sounds great to me.  All of my posts will be my own personal opinions and not recommendations so don’t run right out to buy equipment I am speaking of.  Having said that there would be nothing wrong with going to your local stereo shop and giving a listen to a piece of gear listed in my post.

NAD Viso HP 50 Headphones

The NAD Viso HP 50 headphones carry a suggested retail price of $299 but I have seen them as cheap as $249 on Amazon.  Full disclosure I own these in my personal system and bought them used on Craigslist for a C-note ($100). Please take the time to listen at length to any piece of stereo equipment you were thinking of acquiring.  I never buy any equipment online unless I have listened to it previously at length at a local shop.  I then only buy online if the price is substantially cheaper  and if the local shop refuses to negotiate their asking price.

Over the years I have owned many pairs of headphones or “cans” as they are sometimes called.  I have tried “open air” style like Sennheiser, and AKG and also “sealed type” like Sony, Audio Technica and Grado Labs.  My personal preference is the sealed type over the ear variety rather than open air style.  When I inquired about the NAD cans the previous owner told me he had bought them about two years ago and hardly used them (likely story).   Needless to say I wasn’t overly excited to meet and give these headphones a listen because I figured how good could they sound. He’s selling them right ?  We agreed to meet at a local Starbucks so I jumped in my car with my iPhone in hand and was on my way.

When we met up the headphones were in a faux leather NAD bag with all the original accessories.  The only thing missing was the original box.  I adjusted the headphones to my personal taste and plugged them into my iPhone.  I set the music equalizer to the flat position then proceeded to play some tunes from Bonnie Raitt’s Luck of The Draw album.  I was immediately struck by how much these headphones sounded like my home loudspeakers.  Not surprising since Paul Barton of PSB loudspeakers was credited with designing these cans.  Next I listened to a tune from Darius Rucker called Love Without You from his True Believers album featuring a duet with Sheryl Crow and  the separation of their voices was phenomenal.  I continued listening to tunes from various artists until the seller was getting fidgety because I was taking so long.  I liked what I heard so I purchased them but the true test was yet to come listening to them on my home stereo.  When I returned home I hooked them up to a Creek OH – 11 headphone amp driven by a Bryston BP-20 preamp.  The CD transport used was a Rotel RDD – 980 plugged into an Adcom GDA – 700 HDCD digital to analog convertor.  After about three hours worth of listening I came to the conclusion the NAD Viso HP 50 headphones offered a very big bang for the buck.  I feel even at the $299 retail price they could hold their own against higher priced manufacturers offerings.

Once again this is my personal opinion not an endorsement.  If you are serious about an accurate sweet sounding set of headphones you owe it to yourself to give the NAD Viso HP 50’s a listen.  On a thumbs up scale of one to five I would rate these a 👍👍👍👍  This short review and all other bi monthly reviews will be archived on a audio review page listed under the Joe’s World menu.

Audio, Entertainment, Joseph, Music

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RedWindow

Joseph, New York, Photography

Red Siding

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reflect-belmont

Fuji X70 – 1/120 @ f/ 5.6 – ISO 200

Black and White, Black and White Photography, Photography

Reflections Of Belmont

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