All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Product Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

163

Hewlett-Packard TouchSmart 610 with Beats Audio

Hewlett-Packard TouchSmart 610 with Beats Audio
Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
Though digital music has changed the landscape for everyone in the business—record companies, artists, and consumers—one of its many criticisms has been the loss of audio quality in the listening experience. Audiophiles and those old enough to remember the prevalence of Long Playing (LP) record albums (those huge flat vinyl discs now popularized by DJ scratching) and high fidelity components can sometimes become nostalgic for the days of analog quality-delivered media.

Whereas the current availability of MP3 encoding—and less popular alternative formats (e.g. OGG, and FLAC)—is ubiquitous, listening to files processed below 256 Kbps (thousand bits per seconds) can result in significant degradation. Within the ocean of hardware (players and headphones) and software enhancers (Digital Signal Processors and media players) the choices are abundant; the catch, though, is finding products that offer a seamless meeting of both worlds. Enter the HP TouchSmart 610 personal computer with Beats Audio to integrate a hardware/software solution into a more streamlined package.

Beats was formed in 2009, a collaboration between Hewlett Packard, Hip Hop music mogul Andre Romelle Young (aka Dr. Dre), and Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records chairman Jimmy Iovine. Their goal was to "improve the transmission of sound between the record makers and the consumers" through a line of products that began with high-performance headphones and loudspeakers.

The HP TouchSmart 610 is an all-in-one "touch screen" computer that comes with a 1080P High-Def widescreen display; Windows 7 Home Premium powered by an AMD Athlon II processor; and a host of other amenities that include a wireless keyboard and mouse and an integrated speaker system. The 610's 23 inch screen renders vivid graphics and takes full advantage of "TouchSmart" ready applications. It also has another unusual attribute: a revolutionary "60 degree decline mode" which allows for a more comfortable ergonomic operation. It's the equivalent of a giant-sized Ipad without Apple's vast app library.

While portability is clearly not in the 610's equation, its capabilities for personal computing are impressive, notwithstanding sound quality that can't be matched by Steve Jobs and company. The audio system comes with the proprietary media player, but any Windows-based music application will do the trick; especially when augmented by the enhancements of Beats Audio, whose solution is integrated via the software application's shortcut or at the simple touch of a dedicated button loaded on the 610's wireless keyboard. Beats Audio makes a significant and immediate difference, with crystal sound clarity and reverberating punch: crisp highs, balanced midrange, and deep bass response. The software's GUI interface allows for plenty of configurable options: speaker setup; equalization/sound presets; input selections (Line In, Headset) and outputs (Line Out, Subwoofer).

Further proof was heard through tests with external computer speakers (Harman Kardon Rev A00) and high performance headphones (Beats Pro). The budget-priced Kardons aren't the brand's award-and design-winning 2.1 Channel Soundsticks, yet provided decent results—albeit with muffled bass response—that did not perform as well as the 610's internal speakers. Yet the real ear-openers were witnessed in conjunction with Beats signature headphones, which are manufactured and distributed under exclusive license by Monster Cable Products. Their thundering bass and superior reproduction combined with the 610 was quite remarkable; which points to another revelation: the 610 is more than adequate as a standalone music system, but when matched with high quality hardware, it can achieve even better results.



Regardless of the genre, the music literally comes to life: the psychedelic electronic dance-funk of Ritual Union (2011, Peacefrog/EMI) by the Gothenburg, Sweden-based band Little Dragon; the sweeping procession of sumptuous strings set in the utopian story of Fordlandia (2008, 4AD) by Icelandic composer/ multi-instrumentalist Jóhann Jóhannsson; sweltering African rhythms from singer Khaira Arby, the Malian queen of the "desert blues" in Timbuktu Tarab (2010, Clermont Music); the "low end theory" bass vibrations from the hip-hop gurus The Roots, in How I Got Over (2010, Def Jam); or the meditative swing of John Coltrane's A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1964) on SoundCloud.

Tested with varied encoding bitrates, CDs, lossless formats, and audio sources including YouTube, movies, and games, the HP TouchSmart 610 with Beats Audio boasts and delivers a better audio alternative for personal computing.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Tonic Games To Cure What Ails You Product Reviews
Tonic Games To Cure What Ails You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 11, 2016
Read BenQ treVolo: Wireless Bluetooth Portable Electrostatic Speaker Product Reviews
BenQ treVolo: Wireless Bluetooth Portable Electrostatic...
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2016
Read Miles Davis Trumpet High Performance In-Ear Headphones Product Reviews
Miles Davis Trumpet High Performance In-Ear Headphones
by John Kelman
Published: December 24, 2011
Read Hewlett-Packard TouchSmart 610 with Beats Audio Product Reviews
Hewlett-Packard TouchSmart 610 with Beats Audio
by Mark F. Turner
Published: July 31, 2011
Read 955 Dreams Launches Jazz app for iPads Product Reviews
955 Dreams Launches Jazz app for iPads
by Wade Luquet
Published: February 6, 2011
Read North Coast Brewing Up Some Monk Product Reviews
North Coast Brewing Up Some Monk
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 16, 2010
Read "John Sharpe's Best Releases Of 2017" Best of / Year End John Sharpe's Best Releases Of 2017
by John Sharpe
Published: December 28, 2017
Read "Miles Electric Band at Koerner Hall" Live Reviews Miles Electric Band at Koerner Hall
by Alain Londes
Published: October 28, 2017
Read "David Murray Octets on Black Saint" Multiple Reviews David Murray Octets on Black Saint
by Patrick Burnette
Published: October 11, 2017
Read "Newport Jazz Festival 2018: Part 2-2" Live Reviews Newport Jazz Festival 2018: Part 2-2
by Timothy J. O'Keefe
Published: September 3, 2018
Read "Brilliant Corners 2018" Live Reviews Brilliant Corners 2018
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 3, 2018