Desktop digital-to-analog converters keep getting better and better, and the Micromega MyDac is a fine example of the breed. The 24-bit/192-kHz MyDac has three digital inputs: coaxial, optical, and USB, all selectable via the thumb wheel control on the front panel. The stereo RCA analog outputs can feed either your powered speakers or power amp. I was pleased to see the MyDac has a built-in power supply, so it doesn't use a wall wart. Micromega will soon release a matching headphone amp, which I hope to review here with the MyDac. Available in black or white finishes, its … Read more
Music, or should I say most recorded music, is already free; you can get it whenever and wherever you want it and pay nothing.
I've bought thousands of CDs, SACDs, LPs, and a few hundred downloads. Of course, when I started buying music I didn't have too many "free" options, other than radio or taping friends' albums. Radio was a great way to discover new music, but once I heard something I really liked, I bought it. My $3.98 "Led Zeppelin II" LP was a great investment; I've played it hundreds of … Read more
I never had any doubt that readers of this blog have the coolest systems, but the magnitude of the flood of homemade speakers, desktop systems, headphones, and all sorts of groovy turntables totally knocked me out. There's some sweet gear here, so click to the slideshow and check out the systems. Thanks to all who sent JPEGs -- I heard from well over 100 readers, so I can't show everyone's gear.
I had a good feeling about the SVS Ultra Bookshelf speaker even before I heard it. First, the high-gloss black finish was perfect, and the heft of this 19-pound beauty left no doubt about the speaker's build quality. It seemed solid.
I've confessed many times on this blog my fondness for big speakers, but if you don't have the space for a set of tower speakers, so-called bookshelf speakers are the way to go. I said so-called because the last place you'd ever want to put a set of bookshelf speakers is in a bookshelf cabinet. … Read more
High Resolution Technologies makes some of the very best and most affordable digital-to-analog converters on the market. The company's newest model, the MicroStreamer, is a tiny thing, just 2.5 inches by 1.2 inches by 0.4 inch, and since it's USB-powered it doesn't have a power supply or require batteries. It works as an external sound card for computers, tablets, and some smartphones. It's also a high-quality headphone amplifier. It was designed in the U.S., and the little guy's circuitboard's components are mounted in Southern California. The aluminum case is made … Read more
More and more people are getting into vinyl and buying turntables, but to get the best sound you need to buy a separate "phono preamp." Some entry-level turntables come with built-in preamps, and that's a great way to get started, but if you want to really bask in all-analog glory you'll need to step up to a separate phono preamp. Look around on Amazon and you'll see a vast range of models, and some are decent enough, but they're not going to sound as good as a high-end phono preamp.
The thing to understand … Read more
I'm usually a sound-first guy, but when it comes to evaluating headphones, comfort is a very close second. So even when I love the sound of a headphone, if they start to hurt my ears after a half an hour, that's a deal-breaker.
That's why I'm happy to report on a remarkably comfortable and great-sounding headphone, the MrSpeakers' Mad Dog. That's an odd name for a headphone maker, but MrSpeakers' Dan Clark started out as a speaker designer. Now he extensively modifies Fostex T50RP headphones, a headphone that I've never cared for. Clark transforms … Read more
I was bowled over by Anthony Gallo Acoustics' original Reference Strada when I heard it at a hi-fi show a few years ago. The small speakers projected a sound that rivaled the scale of big, flat-panel speakers, like my Magnepans. I never got around to reviewing the Strada, but when I heard that the Reference Strada 2 was coming out I let the company know I wanted a pair ASAP.
Unboxing the speakers it was impossible not to be impressed by the solidity of the cast-aluminum chassis and brushed stainless-steel spheres. The Strada 2 is 13.5 inches tall, and … Read more
Years ago, long before the dawn of the DVD or Blu-ray formats, consumer video was strictly all-analog, from the very first broadcasts right up to the introduction of the LaserDisc. The 12-inch, double-sided LaserDisc looked like a giant CD, but the video was analog encoded on two single-sided aluminum discs layered in plastic. The discs that debuted in 1978 had analog audio soundtracks, but later discs featured stereo digital sound. Millions of players were sold in the U.S., but LaserDisc was, even during the height of its popularity, a niche format that appealed mostly to videophiles. It had much … Read more
There's no doubt that the best of today's receivers sound great and come jam-packed with a vast range of features. Even entry-level models paired with a decent 5.1 speaker/subwoofer system can do a fine job, but some buyers aim higher. They may have invested in a 65-inch or larger display, or maybe a video projector and a 120-inch screen. They crave a sound that matches the grandeur of the picture, and they can get that only with separate components like the Outlaw Audio Model 975 Surround Processor and Model 7125 Power Amp.
The Model 975 Surround … Read more