Internet trolls and obnoxious PC owners know that the quickest way to annoy a Mac user is to claim that the only reason people buy Apple stuff is because they “want to look cool.” And smart Mac fans dismiss this criticism as quickly as it comes, easily recognizing it as little more than baiting. We love our Apple gear for tons of reasons, most having to do with functionality and ease of use. But it’s true that Apple designs great-looking devices, and that’s certainly part of the appeal--it’s not our fault that the other guys insist on making such ugly stuff. So it’s no wonder that we often gravitate toward equally good-looking accessories.
Created by San Francisco–based designer Joey Roth, the simply named Ceramic Speakers are exactly that: speakers built from handmade ceramic enclosures, cork, and wood.
Your MacBook’s built-in speakers are fine for the odd YouTube clip of dogs jumping in slow motion or for listening to NPR streams. But when it comes to bringing the rock to your desktop, they’re pretty weak sauce. Twelvesouth aims to improve your audio situation with its BassJump, a USB subwoofer built to boost the beats coming out of your MacBook.
“’80s coke dealer.” That’s how one Mac|Life staffer libeled the Rotaliana Diva when trying to describe its visual statement. True enough, this multitalented iPod dock--brazenly slick and swoopy, unapologetic in its design flamboyance--does look like the kind of thing that Tony “Scarface” Montana might place on an end table in his Miami mansion. Are the Diva’s lines too over the top? That’s for you to decide. What we can tell you is that a host of interesting features make this ostentatious obelisk a compelling bundle of functionality.
Like X-ray glasses and sea monkeys, vacuum tubes are the stuff of 1950s
pulp-fiction cool. They even glow in the dark! And it turns out that
they can improve the sound of modern digital music--if you stick with
high-quality, lossless files, that is.
Internet radio offers options well beyond the powers of old-fashioned
broadcasting, but something’s still missing--that’s because many music
apps don’t go the extra mile themselves to let you record
internet-radio streams. Radio Gaga plays and records thousands of
stations, but the more you try to do with it, the more you’ll only hear
You might be familiar with Sonos’ high-quality music gear, which lets
you stream tunes anywhere in your home over its own Wi-Fi network. The
new S5 is a set of self-contained powered speakers that can expand an
existing system or serve as the starting point for a new one.
Intriguingly, the S5 lets you take a pass on Sonos’ effective (but
pricey!) $349 dedicated remote, offering a free iPhone app to control
all your Sonos gear.
Podcasters, singers and anyone who wants to look like Edward R. Morrow, should give the Blue Yeti a look. If you're more of the on-the-go sort of audio recorder, the updated Blue Mikey iPhone microphone could be the audio ticket for you.
The worst part about airplane travel is, well, the plane. Besides being
cramped, crowded, and short on any decent snack foods, they’re also
noisy. So noisy that it’s difficult to make the hours zip by more
quickly by revisiting your favorite albums on an iPod or watching a
movie on your MacBook. Bose’s new Quiet Comfort 15 headphones are made
for just these moments. The active noise cancellation helps block out
background noise, and Bose’s considerable audio experience brings you a
clean-sounding set of cans--with a couple of drawbacks, however.
GarageBand has done a great job of bringing user-friendly, intuitive
home-recording tools to the masses. But while the results usually
outstrip the four-track compositions of yore, most GarageBand creations
sound like exactly what they are: one person recording simple musical
sketches to a computer. Fortunately, with the application of a few
simple pro-recording concepts, your solo projects can be so much more.