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Consumer Reports joined Into Tomorrow this week to suggest ways to test your audio system:
It takes more than a good set of ears to identify great sound, especially when it comes to evaluating sound systems. According to the experts at Consumer Reports, you also need a great playlist. Their electronics spokesman James McQueen is here to explain.
To evaluate a sound system, believe it or not the use of musical tracks can spot the qualities found in a top-notch system. Before you snatch up your wallet and rush off to the store, track down some audio files to help. Here are five songs that can assist in your search for your next sound system.
First song to add to your playlist is Led Zeppelin: “ Whole Lotta Love”, by positioning yourself midway between the speakers, the song’s soundboard effect will begin to circle your head, demonstrating proper channel separation. Ingrid Michaelson’s: “The Way I Am”, you can hear both fingers moving along strings and Michaelson’s breath between the lines.
Within Diane Schuur’s song “Travelin’ Light”, carefully listen to catch the vocals and horns resound off the walls of the performance. Fabio Biondi, Europa Galant: “RV315 L’Estate: III. Tempo Impetuoso d’Estate (Summer in G)”, the strings are being played at breakneck speed, but on a quality sound system, each note will be distinct. Lastly, “Sin Wagon” by the Dixie Chicks on better equipment, the instruments will be easy to hear and have definition.
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Chris and Mark share apps they’ve been playing with:
Want to travel around the world without leaving town? The Earthcam app can help. I downloaded this app and have found myself spending way too much time looking at live streaming webcams all over the world. You can look at live views of places like Miami Beach, Niagara Falls, Sydney Harbor in Australia, Moscow, The French Quarter in New Orleans, they even have one stationed outside a pub in Dublin, Ireland, and lots of other places around the world. I originally came across their website which has countless links to cams all over the place. The app has a smaller amount, although you can get access to other “sets” of cameras for 99 cents each via an in-app purchase. For 5 bucks, you can purchase access to all their webcams. The Earthcam app itself, along with a handful of webcams, is free.
My app of the week is Shipt (I realize it sounds like it might be something else). Shipt is an app that lets you buy groceries using your smartphone, among other things. In my house, we use it primarily to purchase things from Publix, which is our grocery store of choice. The app has the Publix inventory stored in it, and we can scroll around and pick what we want. It tracks sales and BOGOs (those famous buy one, get one free deals) but you do lose the ability to take advantage of coupons. You’re charged approximately 15% above the store price, plus there is a delivery charge for orders below $35. There is also an annual fee to belong to Shipt. Recently they added support for ABC Liquors, so now I can buy some chow AND get blitzed, all without leaving my house! The ABC Liquors option works differently, because in Florida they can’t mark up the price of the alcohol, so you always pay a delivery charge. Shipt is adding new stores all the time, in different areas of the country. I expect them to add Costco here, soon. There are other shopping and delivery services, Publix has their own deal with Instacart, calling that their “official” delivery service. We’ve tried the others and keep coming back to Shipt. Their shoppers communicate well about out of stock items, they do an excellent job at not buying items that are close to out of date, they pick out good looking meat and produce, in short–they shop for you like you’d shop for yourself, and they are also always on time in their delivery window. Even if Shipt costs a bit more than the others, the quality of service we get makes it far and away the best of its kind.