Category Archives: Music

Klipsch Oval Ear Tips: Better Sound Through a Better Fit

Some of the greatest advancements in technology are made by simply taking a step back to see the obvious.

Early in our headphone research, we discovered that most earbuds and in-ear monitors either lacked a consistent seal, induced pain, or didn’t stay put. So before tackling acoustics, we knew had to improve the fundamentals—comfort.

We partnered with the Indiana University School of Audiology and took countless physical molds of ear canals. Through that research we found one thing to be abundantly clear—ear canals are oval, not round. The entire headphone industry uses ear tips that don’t coincide with the natural shape of the ear.

Klipsch Oval Ear Tips - The Klipsch Joint

Klipsch Oval Ear Tip Patent No.: US 7,681,577, March 23, 2010.

 

After designing our initial concepts of the oval ear tip, we took comfort level one step further. All of Klipsch’s competitors were using equal wall thicknesses throughout the entire mold, whereas we discovered that if the wall thickness decreased in specific areas we could achieve an even more universal fit.

We made our first patented oval ear tip in 2006 and quickly discovered we had something revolutionary in our hands. Not only were they more comfortable than round ear tips, they also provided a deeper fit and a very good seal. Compared to the average round ear-tip’s 0 dB of noise isolation, we were able to achieve -16 dB.

Klipsch Oval Ear Tips - The Klipsch Joint

Klipsch oval ear tips provide a comfortable and secure seal in the ear canal.

 

Immediately we noticed a further extended bass response and more high frequency detail. By modifying the size and shape of the tip, we had significantly improved acoustics through two means:

1. An earphone that went deeper into the ear canal achieved the perfect distance to the ear drum and preserved high-frequency information.

2. A great seal increased the bass response because sound pressure was no longer leaking like the round ear tip’s uneven contact with the ear canal.

And we didn’t stop with just one design. In order to make the most comfortable in-ear headphone, Klipsch designed three standard oval ear tip sizes and two dual-flange sizes for those with deeper ear canals.

Klipsch Oval Ear Tips - The Klipsch Joint

Klipsch oval ear tip sizes: small, medium, large, dual-flange small, dual-flange large.

 

And in the last two years we have revisited our research and come up with some new conclusions…You’ll learn about them in September.

Have you had a chance to try out our oval ear tips? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Klipsch at CES 2015: Day 2

Some common staples of the Consumer Electronics Show are large, showy concerts where some big name is brought in to perform in front a company’s key customers.

Heck, we’ve done it before. And we were lucky enough to find popular artists like Young the Giant and Lynyrd Skynrd who genuinely loved the Klipsch brand, but that’s not the case for some other companies here at CES.

They dole out tons of money for a band that, quite frankly, doesn’t give two hoots about being there. They are there to collect their paycheck and perform a few hits in front of a crowd that doesn’t generate any excitement.

With this in mind, Klipsch marched to the beat of our own drum at CES 2015 on Day 2 and had a special listening session event with our good friends Colleen Murphy and Eddie Kramer at the John Varvatos store. We stray away from partnering people and brands who don’t appreciate the Klipsch name and what we stand for.

Colleen Murphy

Colleen Murphy was all smiles during the special listening event at John Varvatos with Eddie Kramer and Klipsch.

If you don’t know Colleen Murphy, she is the founder of Classic Album Sundays and a long-time owner/user of Klipschorns. She is famous across Europe for her DJ-ing and, more importantly, she’s a class act who knows more about music than just about anyone out there.

Through a few various relationships, we have also become good friends with the people at John Varvatos, a high-end fashion brand. Their company’s DNA is engrained with rock ‘n’ roll and we hope to do more big things with them in the future.

Eddie Kramer

Eddie Kramer genuinely loves what he does. Quite simply, it’s infectious.

Eddie Kramer…the guy is a legend. It’s not just the guy on the stage with the microphone or axe in his hand that matters. The guy beyond the scenes is critical to making the album sound the way it’s supposed to. He has produced and engineered albums from the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.

The way these listening sessions work is that Colleen interviews Eddie who talks about the album, specific songs and plays tracks from the album. You may think that doesn’t sound too interesting.

Wrong!

Eddie has a unique ability to blow people away with his infectious charisma and his in-depth knowledge from the world’s most celebrated bands. His stories are incredible. For example, did you know that the Beatles performed the backup vocals for certain Rolling Stones albums that Kramer produced?

He also has a one-in-a-kind photo collection that isn’t available online. You can’t just Google “Led Zeppelin” and find the personal, intimate photos that Eddie took while helping the bands record. For fans of the aforementioned bands, it’ll take your breath away.

Eddie Kramer

Eddie Kramer delighted the crowd with his personal stories from all the time he spent with these iconic bands.

He left the stage to a standing ovation from all of those in attendance. If you are fortunate to come to one of our events that involve Eddie or Colleen, you will always walk away with a better appreciation for what goes into a classic album.

Oh, and the tracks were played on Klipsch Cornwall speakers plus a Reference R-115SW subwoofer in combination with an Audio Note record player and tube amp. It is pretty damn hard to get a better setup than that. It was truly a spectacular presentation thanks to Colleen and Eddie and it sounded spectacular thanks to our speakers as well as the first-class gear from Audio Note. (P.S. The Audio Note guys are first-rate blokes from the UK.)

These intimate experiences are what Klipsch is all about. We want you to feel a special, personal connection to your music.

Rock on.

Eddie Kramer

Thank you, Eddie!

Tomorrow’s blog post will focus on a random collection of things that we haven’t had the time to cover yet on The Klipsch Joint.

 

 

 

Klipsch at CES 2015: Launch Day

Day 1 of the 2015 edition of the Consumer Electronics show was one to remember for us all.

We teased you repeatedly that 01.06.15 would be the day of our biggest launch in years and we believe full-heartedly that we delivered. Honestly, we can’t believe that we kept it all a secret this well. (Although, some of our cunning forum members managed to scoop us!)

Here is what we introduced to the world:

Klipsch Reference Premiere (Available now)

Klipsch Reference On-Ear (End of January)

Klipsch Reference Premiere with Dolby® Atmos (Projected Q2)

Klipsch Reference Premiere Wireless (Projected Q3)

So much awesomeness.

Klipsch CES Demo Room

Time after time, we took people into our sound room and blew them away with our new Atmos and Wireless demos. We heard from several representatives that we were the only ones who are displaying audio correctly at CES.

We are genuinely proud of that. Hearing really is believing.

Klipsch Reference Premiere

Klipsch Reference Premiere speakers are not just a facelift. This is a whole new line of speakers that are redesigned from the ground-up

We couldn’t fit everything in the demo room, but we were able to showcase a ton of other speakers out on the floor. The Reference Premiere speakers drew people in with their big ol’ copper cones and BIG sound. The R-115SW was definitely “pissing off the neighbors.” (Our apologies to Ericsson and Toshiba!)

The noisy floor environment of CES did allow us to demonstrate the noise isolation capabilities of our in-ear headphones AND the new Reference On-Ear Headphones.

Time after time, people would try out the in-ears and be amazed at their noise isolation abilities. People are misinformed to believe that big cans deliver superior noise isolation. That’s not necessarily true and we were happy to prove it.

Klipsch Reference On-Ear

Klipsch Reference On-Ears are the best sounding and most comfortable on-ears we have ever made.

Comments regarding the Reference On-Ear largely stemmed from its ridiculous comfort level. The cushioning is outrageous and the sound quality is what you would expect from Klipsch. Oh, and people kept mentioning they were happy that they didn’t look like a teenager when they had them on their head unlike some other brands’ headphones – you know who you are.

Heritage Inspired Towers

These Heritage-inspired towers are conceptual (but functional!) speakers.

That’s not all. CES is often about producing concepts and gauging reaction from the audience. We designed Heritage-inspired wireless speakers that intrigued everyone who checked them out. We put them across from our Heritage lineup, which really got the message across that WE are the classic American speaker brand. We have great old stuff and we have great new stuff. These conceptual speakers offer a bridge between the past and the present. They are designed, engineered and built in the United States.

Hell, yah!

Bob Heil Runt La Scala

PWK made this runt La Scala for Bob Heil (pictured) to use with Jeff Beck.

Marky Ramone Colleen Murphy

Marky Ramone poses with Colleen Murphy in the WPWK Radio booth. Outside of products on display, we had Bob Heil and Marky Ramone drop by WPWK Radio to talk with Colleen Murphy of Classic Album Sundays about a whole smattering of topics. We can’t say enough good things about Bob and Marky. They are class acts that GENUINELY love Klipsch and we love them.

 

 

 

Tomorrow, Colleen will be talking with Steve Dobo from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame as well as Michael Burrato (Reference Premiere Product Manager) and Vlad Grodzinsky (Reference On-Ear Product Manager). You can check out the schedule here. Once again, we will be posting the interviews as podcasts after the completion of CES, so don’t worry if you’re not in Vegas!

Klipsch audio museum

The Klipsch audio museum has all sorts of PWK treasures.

One more thing…In this blogger’s humble opinion, the Klipsch audio museum that was oh-so-carefully curated by Klipsch historian Jim Hunter stole the show. 

CES is filled with sterile, white environments with flashy lights and obnoxious videos. The Klipsch audio museum was the opposite. It was authentic, honest-to-goodness fun.

People took their time strolling through the isle and snapping pictures of the collection. We even had a live demo of the 13th Klipschorn that was ever built – and it still sounds great! People were sampling a true piece of audio history.

Phew! That’s a lot of information to process, but we’ll have another blog post where we’ll dive into more detail about everything and about some of the stuff I missed.

There’s truly so much going on here with Klipsch at CES 2015. It’s genuinely a great time to be an employee here and we hope you guys love everything that we showed off here!

Cooking with Klipsch: Chef Jonathan Waxman

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving in the USA without family, friends, music and most importantly, a table full of food. To get into the holiday spirit, we sat down with some of the most buzzed about chef’s in the business and will be revealing everything about how music influences their food, their favorite dishes and what’s on their personal playlists.

Who better to start with than Jonathan Waxman, dubbed by Jonathan Gold of the LA Times as the “Eric Clapton of chefs.” Waxman, a successful chef, restaurateur, author and two-time participant on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters is a huge fan of Klipsch and just recently outfitted his new restaurant, Adele’s, in Nashville.

Here’s your inside look at what this professional chef will be listening to while his turkey is cooking this Thanksgiving.

What artists do you listen to when cooking?
Mozart, Tower of Power, Miles Davis, The Who, The Beatles, Bill Withers, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Thad Jones & Mel Lewis Big Band, The Crusaders, Ravel, Weather Report, etc.

Why do you listen to music when you are in the kitchen?
Same reason most do, it makes me cook better.

Jonathan Wax mand and Klipsch - The Klipsch Joint

Chef Johnathan Waxman, good food and Klipsch pair nicely.

Does your music genre change based on what type of food you are preparing?
Sure, if I am by myself, very loud rock, blues, etc.

Thanksgiving – classical.

For an event – an eclectic mix.

How does music influence the dining experience?
Sometimes a good mix. Estela in NY has a perfect (for me) one that leads me to enjoy the experience and let me relax.

What music (cooking and eating) would you think pairs best with home-style fare like Thanksgiving?
We cook part of the meal outside, so we like loud 60’s R&R and R&B. It makes the turkey taste better.

What music do you want to listen to when you are eating dessert?
Mozart

What music do you want to listen to when you are finished and ready for your tryptophan-induced nap or desert wine?
Strange, football is kinda music to me.

Jonathan Waxman's restaurant equipped with Klipsch.

Jonathan Waxman’s restaurant equipped with Klipsch.

Wine, beer or booze?
Margaritas’, Chablis, Rosé and Barbaresco

What’s your favorite food to eat currently?
Tacos

What’s your favorite food to cook currently?
Ditto

Read or write?
Reading the Innovators by Walter Issacson

Favorite TV show?
Leave it to Beaver

Headphones: on ear, over ear or in ear?
In Ear

Listening preference: CD, Vinyl, MP3?
Vinyl!

What artists are next in queue on your playlist?
Stitched Up – John Mayer & Herbie Hancock

Looking for some additional playlist ideas for your holiday get together? Check back soon for more from our holiday music and food series featuring some of the best chefs in the country. What music do you play when cooking or eating during the holidays?

Q&A with Legendary Producer Eddie Kramer

Eddie Kramer is a rock n’ roll legend.

No, you haven’t seen him perform in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans or seen his name on the top of the charts, but there are few people as important to the genre as the ultimate “man behind the glass.”

Kramer produced records for the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and the Beatles among many others. That’s basically a “who’s who” of iconic rockers.

On Friday, October 17, Kramer teamed up with Klipsch and John Varvatos for a very special edition of Classic Album Sundays which is founded by Colleen Murphy, a famous international DJ.

Alongside Murphy, Kramer presented the acclaimed Led Zeppelin album “Led Zeppelin II” explaining the nuances behind the tracks and revealing the band’s personalities. He played the album through Klipsch La Scala speakers which rocked the house.

Both Kramer and Murphy are long time Klipsch fans who are currently (or have been) Klipschorn owners. The latter DJ’d for years with Klipschorns and has partnered with Klipsch to do Classic Album Sundays listening sessions with Heritage Series products across the world.

Classic Album Sundays listening sessions are open to the public in both New York City and London. For more information, visit www.classicalbumsundays.com

Prior to this past weekend’s special edition of Classic Album Sundays in Toronto, Kramer took over the Klipsch Twitter page and did a live Q&A for Klipsch Nation.

Check out his answers below!

Best Home Theater Speaker Systems: 4 Things to Know

If you’re wanting better sound quality from your entertainment system, chances are you need to add a home theater system. The truth is that even the best high-def TVs are seriously lacking when it comes to speaker capability since they’ve become so slim over time. At the end of the day, they simply can’t deliver the clarity of voice in the softest whisper, or those deep, explosive lows that’ll bring your favorite action movies to life. The same goes for the full-range sound effects that only surround sound speakers can deliver.

Before deciding on which home theater speaker system is right for you, here are four things to consider:

1. The Perks of All-In-One Setups

Some of the best home theater speaker systems are considered “in the box” setups. All this means is that the manufacturer has taken the time to pre-package the essential equipment you really need. A good system will include a pair of floorstanding speakers or bookshelf speakers, a center channel speaker, two rear surround sound speakers and a subwoofer. This system set up is also known as a 5.1 system (five speakers and one subwoofer). As you’d expect, higher quality systems typically include two additional speakers for superior surround effects (making it a 7.1 system). Perhaps the biggest benefit of an all-in-one setup is convenience – simply make one purchase and you’re done. Going the pre-packaged route is also easier to install and usually more cost effective than buying pieces individually. The good news is that many of the best in the box setups are crafted with furniture aesthetics in mind, so your system won’t be an eyesore. If you need help choosing speakers, check out the Klipsch Reference Speaker Selector.

2. Building Your Own System

While a pre-packaged setup is ideal for some, others may prefer to build their own system from the ground up. (We’re looking at you, audiophiles.) It may be a bit more involved, but taking a do-it-yourself approach comes with some perks. For starters, you can tailor your system to meet your individual needs. One hardcore movie buff may be more choosy about their center channel speaker, for example. But another music lover might just be looking to customize their entertainment center with a pair of killer floorstanding speakers. Building your own system a la carte gives you the freedom to mix and match products as you see fit.

3. Understand the System Layout

Klipsch Home Theater Systems

Center speaker should be place directly under the TV screen and facing listeners. However, you can get creative with your subwoofer placement.

Before choosing your home theater speaker system, take a minute to assess your living room. In order to optimize your new system’s sound quality, it’s important to understand how to physically lay it all out. The center channel speaker should be placed right below or above your TV screen and positioned to face listeners. If you choose to position it on a stand, rest the speaker’s edge on the end of the stand. This will help prevent dialogue from sounding wonky. The floorstanding/bookshelf speakers should then be positioned on either side of the TV (at least six feet apart). Just be sure to keep them at an equal distance from the screen for the best sound delivery. As for the surround speakers, place these guys slightly above and behind the viewing position – about three feet above the listeners’ heads should do it. They should also be placed equally on each side. Things are a little more flexible when it comes to the subwoofer. While corners make for a good location, feel free to give it a try along a wall or next to a front speaker. If you haven’t already, check out our Klipsch WA-2 Kit that makes your subwoofer wireless, allowing more flexibility to find the perfect spot for your subwoofer.

4. A Killer Soundbar Might Be All You Need

A soundbar, while not as powerful as a full-out surround sound system, still represents a step up from your TV’s default speakers. For the electronically challenged, a soundbar’s super simple installation is enough of a draw. What’s more is that they actually do produce pretty killer sound in a compact, single-speaker device (which is perfect for small spaces, by the way). For one thing, the right soundbar can deliver strong virtual sound. What’s that, you ask? It basically simulates surround sound. A benefit to this system is that it’s sleek, not bulky and comes with minimal wires. If you snag one with Bluetooth connectivity, it’ll also seamlessly play your favorite music right from your smartphone, tablet or computer. Despite it’s crowd-pleasing features, some may prefer to add a subwoofer to their soundbar to add low bass frequencies. Plus, a soundbar’s easy plug and play function does not limit the system to your living room’s home theater setup. You can easily move it to the bedroom, kitchen or covered porch. Check out our Klipsch R-10B and R-20B models.

Tell us how you plan to or have set up your home theater speaker system in the comments section below. We’d love to see some pics too!

Iconic Music Couples: Muses for Better or Worse

When Paul W. Klipsch began his quest for live music in his living room, the person seated beside him in that room was his wife, Belle. It has been said that behind every great man is a great woman. The same might be said about a great song. Melody certainly matters. A memorable hook helps, along with clever or compelling lyrics to stick with us. But even if a song has all this going for it, it will fall flat if it’s missing authentic passion.

What do singers and songwriters draw upon to create this passion? Frequently, from their own life experience. Phil Collins’ famous break-up song “Against All Odds” begins with the line: “How can I let you just walk away / Just let you leave without a trace?” The song told the story of Collins’ own failing marriage, and in 1984 the crash and burn story resonated with music fans enough to see it hit number two on the Billboard Hot 100 U.K. and spent three weeks at number one in the U.S.

Hit songs about love and relationships get even more interesting when the song is about another musician. Iconic music couples have clashed and harmonized to create some of our best-loved songs throughout history. For example…

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album Rumours is widely considered to be one of the greatest rock albums of the 1970s, if not of all-time. Producing hits such as “Don’t Stop” and “Go Your Own Way,” Rumours won the 1978 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The album’s greatness was born, however, from simultaneous meltdowns in the intertwined romantic relationships of several band members:

Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were Fleetwood Mac’s American members. Long-time lovers, their relationship was crumbling by the late 1970s. In “Go Your Own Way,” Buckingham expressed his anger with Nicks, even including the line “Packing up, shacking up is all you want to do” despite her strong objections. The line stayed in the song and the beleaguered couple recorded it together as bandmates. To be a fly on that wall…

Two other members of the band, Christine and John McVie, were going through their own break-up while Rumours was being written. In the other best-known song from the album, “Don’t Stop,” Christine tells her ex-husband repeatedly, “Yesterday’s gone.” Although the song sounds cheery and optimistic, it was Christine’s way of telling John that their relationship was over, and it was time to move on.

Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac 05 DEC 1977

Sonny and Cher

Cher was a tender 16 years old when she met Salvatore “Sonny” Bono in a coffee shop. Sonny was 27 and working for legendary music producer Phil Spector. Before long, he had Cher singing backup for acts like The Righteous Brothers and The Crystals.

The couple’s romantic relationship began in 1962; their marriage in 1964. Their career-making song about one another: “I Got You Babe” was a hit in 1965. Ten years after singing the foreshadowing lyrics, “They say we’re young and we don’t know / We won’t find out until we grow,” Sonny and Cher divorced. Despite Cher having very few kind words about Sonny after the divorce, their relationship was the springboard that launched both their careers, and propelled her ultimately into super-stardom.

I Got You Babe – Sonny and Cher Top of the Pops 1965

Johnny Cash and June Carter

Thankfully, not all iconic match ups end in disaster. For Johnny Cash and June Carter, their 35 year-marriage weathered hard times with the couple staying together through it all. Johnny Cash, Jr. would subsequently write in memoirs about his parents that they “accepted each other unconditionally” and stayed in love until the end of their lives.

Before she met Johnny, June was a musical star in her own right as a performer with her family’s group, The Carter Sisters. Johnny started performing with the family and fell in love with June almost right away. He insisted that he would marry her one day, but she cited his drug addiction as the reason she’d never be with him. Biographers of Cash claim that it was largely his love for June providing the motivation to get his addiction under control. The two married in 1968 and stayed married until their deaths in 2003. Over the years, they sung a multitude of duets together, including hits such as “Jackson.”

Johnny and June Carter Cash sing Jackson


Who is your favorite musical power couple? Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale? Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood? Marc Anthony and J-Lo? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

10 Unreal Outdoor Music Venues You Must Visit at Least Once

With summer in full-swing, it’s time to think about road tripping to some of the nation’s most amazing outdoor concert venues. From East Coast to West, America has some excellent outdoor spots for live music. While we are partial to our locally renowned and legendary Klipsch Music Center, here are 10 additional unreal outdoor concert venues every live music fan should visit at least once.

1. Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Location: Morrison, CO
Capacity: 9,450
Summer ‘14 Highlights: John Butler Trio, Lionel Richie, James Taylor, Nas, Widespread Panic, Sarah McLachlan

The outdoor amphitheatre, where concerts and movies play all summer, is just one amazing feature of Red Rocks Park. Located in the Rocky Mountains a few miles west of Denver, the park takes its name from the red rock formations surrounding it. The amphitheatre itself is surrounded by the rocks, giving the space unique natural acoustics in a picturesque environment.

2. Greek Theatre

Location: University of California – Berkeley
Capacity: 8,500
Summer ‘14 Highlights: Sarah McLachlan, Jurassic 5, Counting Crows, John Legend, Dave Matthews Band

This venue looks like what its name suggests: A classic, ancient Greek outdoor theatre. Don’t come expecting Oedipus Rex, though. Everyone who’s anyone in the music world has played “the Greek” in Berkeley in the last 20 years. From R.E.M. and Elvis Costello to the Grateful Dead and Pearl Jam, the Berkeley attracts the biggest acts in rock.

3. Mountain Winery

Location: Saratoga, CA
Capacity: 1,750
Summer ‘14 Highlights: Jill Scott, Maxwell, Joan Baez and the Indigo Girls, Steely Dan, Boyz II Men

Big rock acts are great, but if want a smaller, more intimate venue with artists who are a little more “roll” than “rock”, check out the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, CA. Come for the wine and stay for the music, or come for the music and enjoy the wine. Either way, the Mountain Winery will give you a mellow concert with a more sophisticated vibe.

4. Hollywood Bowl

Location: Los Angeles, CA
Capacity: 17,376
Summer ‘14 Highlights: 36th Annual Jazz Festival, Pharrell Williams, the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra, Gloria Estefan, Motley Crue and Alice Cooper

From high culture to hair bands, the Hollywood Bowl is a classic venue that’s got it all. As long as you’re in California checking out the Berkeley Greek and the Mountain Winery, you should make a road trip south to visit the Hollywood Bowl. Regardless of the night or your musical tastes, you’ll find something to tickle your fancy.

5. Kansas City Starlight Theatre

Location: Kansas City, MO
Capacity: 7,947
Summer ‘14 Highlights: The Fray, Chicago and REO Speedwagon, Willie Nelson, Journey and the Steve Miller Band, Pat Benatar and Rick Springfield

In the Midwest, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better outdoor concert venue than the Kansas City Starlight Theatre. In addition to current and classic rock acts, the Starlight Theatre holds Broadway shows and a myriad of other events.

6. Alpine Valley Music Theatre

Location: East Troy, WI
Capacity: 37,000
Summer ‘14 Highlights: Wiz Khalifa, Jeezy, KISS, Def Leppard, Jimmy Buffet

Before 1993, Alpine Valley Music Theatre in Wisconsin was the biggest outdoor venue in the United States. While that’s no longer the case, it remains a classic in stadium rock and outdoor concerts. Since 1977, the Chicago-area amphitheatre has been host to some of the most important names in rock ‘n roll, including the Rolling Stones, Guns ‘n Roses, Aerosmith, and, more recently, Coldplay.

7. The Ravinia

Location: Chicago, IL
Capacity: 3,400
Summer ‘14 Highlights: Maxwell, John Legend, OneRepublic, Hall & Oates, American Idol Live

Located in the green space of Chicago’s North Shore, the Ravinia is one of the best-loved outdoor venues in the Chicago area. Besides hosting pop stars of various genres like those listed above, the Ravinia is also home to high culture acts, including theatrical productions, pianists, choral orchestras, and jazz artists.

8. Merriweather Post Pavillion

Location: Columbia, MD
Capacity: 15,000
Summer ‘14 Highlights: Jack Johnson, David Gray, Fall Out Boy and Paramore, Beck, Phish, ZZ Top

We’ve looked in the West and the Midwest, now let’s head over to the East Coast, starting with the Merriweather Post Pavillion. Since its establishment in 1967, the Merriweather has hosted some legendary acts — Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, the Who, and Janis Joplin to name a few. Today, the venue continues to host rock’s A-list acts.

9. Jones Beach Theater

Location: Wantagh, NY
Capacity: 14,000
Summer ‘14 Highlights: OneRepublic, Lionel Richie and CeeLo Green, Boston with The Band and Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, the Beach Boys, Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden

Long Island’s Jones Beach has long been a getaway spot for New Yorkers. In 1952, the addition of the outdoor theatre and concert venue made it even more popular. In 1991, the venue was renovated and expanded; in 1998, it was expanded again to its current size. A few years ago, Superstorm Sandy tried to take down the amphitheatre, but it’s the kind of beloved landmark that won’t be taken down so easily. The venue’s owner, LiveNation, spent more than $20 million repairing the venue; today it’s back to being one of the most important concert venues in the NYC metropolitan area.

10. Chastain Park Amphitheatre

Location: Atlanta, GA
Capacity: 6,900
Summer ‘14 Highlights: The Temptations, Goo Goo Dolls with Plain White T’s, Gipsy Kings, Boyz II Men and En Vogue

We can’t end our tour of the country’s best outdoor concert venues without visiting the Deep South. Although Chastain Park is technically “Delta Classic Chastain Park Amphitheatre,” to locals it’s still just “Chastain.” It started in 1933 as North Fulton Park, and has gradually grown over the years to its current incarnation. As the premiere outdoor concert venue in the Atlanta area, Chastain Park hosts all the biggest pop acts, along with sophisticated and unique concerts. For instance, this summer’s schedule will include U2 — as interpreted and performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.


Thoughts on our “top ten” list of outdoor music venues? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Anatomy of a Record Player

Before there were MP3s, CDs, and cassette tapes — heck, even before eight-track tapes — there was the record player. Although today, unless we have an affinity for vinyl, we think of record players as “old-school”, often forgetting they revolutionized music and the music industry as much as MP3s have today. Record players allowed for listening to music at home for the first time; before the record player, it was live or nothing. It made such an impression, we still call music releases “records” and “albums,” and the spinning album phrase “getting rotation” still means a song is heard on the radio.

Once record players came onto the scene in 1877, they didn’t leave until almost a century later — although they never fully left. Nostalgia as well as preference for the sound quality has kept vinyl alive, and DJs and hip hop artists still use turntables as part of their music-making. We celebrate the beauty of albums with our recent collaboration with Classic Album Sundays – monthly active listening sessions of entire albums in a studio setting with the best equipment available. It’s a truly unique experience.

So how does a record player work? What are the different components, and how do they work together to produce sound? Let’s take a closer look at this amazing game-changing contraption.

The Turntable

Although “turntable” and “record player” today are used almost synonymously, a turntable is technically the part of the record player where the record sits. Sometimes the turntable is also called the “revolving platter.”

The center of the turntable includes a metal rod, holding the record in the center as it turns. The plate of the turntable itself is generally metal, typically covered with plastic or rubber so the record isn’t inadvertently scratched.

The least expensive record players use steel for the turntable. The steel plates used in record players are light and cheap to produce, however, the consequence is that these plates have a low inertia, meaning any instability with the motor speed are quite pronounced.

A more expensive turntable plate is aluminum. Aluminum plates have better balance, reduce vibration, and don’t accentuate motor speed instabilities.

The turntable’s rotation is controlled by the turntable drive system. The two main types of drive systems are the belt-drive system and the direct-drive system. The belt-drive system goes a long way in reducing noise heard from the motor, because the elastometric belt helps to absorb vibrations and other low-frequency sounds. A direct-drive system, by contrast, doesn’t use intermediary gears, wheels, and belts. The advantage of a direct-drive system is later models had stronger motors and pitch control sliders. For this reason, direct-drive turntables were favored by disc jockeys for decades.

The Stylus

turntableThe stylus is the needle that rests against the record. Ideally, a stylus is a cone-shaped component made from diamond, which is the hardest natural material on Earth. Besides diamonds, sapphires are also commonly used for record needles. The stylus is connected to the tone arm by a flexible strip of metal. The flexibility in the middle allows for the stylus to ride up and down within the record grooves.

The stylus can be either spherical or elliptical. Elliptical styli have the advantage of increasing the fidelity of the music by allowing for more contact with the record groove. A spherical stylus provides less fidelity but is more sensitive.

Even a diamond-tipped stylus will need to be replaced after a while. Experts recommend changing the stylus after every 1,000 to 2,500 hours of listening pleasure.

The Tone Arm and the Cartridge

The tone arm is the arm of the record player that holds the stylus and, together with the cartridge, it is responsible for actually producing the sounds. Tone arms can be straight or curved. Which one is better? It depends who you ask. Some people insist curved tone arms produce better sound, but DJs and hip hop artists usually prefer straight arms because they’re easier to scratch with.

As the stylus follows the grooves of the record, vibrations travel through the metal wires inside the tone arm and arrive at the cartridge at the tone arm’s end. The cartridge contains coils within a magnetic field, and when the vibrations hit these coils, they are transformed into electrical signals. These electrical signals can be amplified and broadcasted through the speakers.

Amplifiers and Preamplifiers

Today, most audio receivers are designed for the signals that come out of a CD, DVD, or MP3 player. That means that they are not well-equipped to play the audio signal coming out of a traditional record player. Older audio receivers included what was called a phono preamplifier (also known as a preamp or phono stage) to boost record player signals to appropriate levels, but modern receivers lack phono preamps. Some record players include built-in preamps to solve this problem; talk to a true audiophile, however, and they will insist that you get a dedicated preamplifier for the best sound quality.

The right preamp depends upon the cartridge. Modern cartridges will play well with preamps at the 100pf to 150pf level; older cartridges, such as those from the 1980s, work better with preamps of the 200pf level. It should be noted, though, that if your cartridge hasn’t been changed since the 1980s, you should go ahead and replace it anyway!

Summary

In short, the vinyl record is placed upon the revolving platter. As the record revolves, the stylus bumps up and down within the groove, sending its vibrations along metal wires within the tone arm and into the cartridge. The cartridge converts these vibrations into an electrical current using a magnetic field. This current is sent into the preamp, which boosts the signal on its way to the speaker. When the amplified current hits the speaker — presto! — we hear music or whatever is recorded onto the vinyl.


We hope you enjoyed this short tour of the anatomy of a record player. Did we leave out anything crucially important? Do you still listen to vinyl? Let us know in the comments section below.