The LP was invented in 1948, and judging by the sales surge over the past few years, LPs won't be going away anytime soon. Amanda Ghassaei's "3D Printed Record" project demonstrated vinyl's continuing relevance in the 21st century. Years ago when I saw an early demonstration of 3D printing, I knew the technology would eventually lead to printing LPs, but now it's a little closer to becoming a reality. First, however, there are major sound-quality issues to overcome with 3D printed LPs (though they can play tunes with fidelity that's far below MP3 … Read more
I've long admired Pro-Ject turntables, but I was only vaguely aware of their electronics line so it was high time to check out one of their amplifiers. I requested their baby amp, the Stereo Box S ($299). It's the smallest power amp I've ever seen, a mere 4.1 by 1.4 by 4.8 inches, and the build quality of its all-metal chassis felt robust. The amp is available in silver or black finishes. A remote control adjusts volume and switches between two RCA inputs. The gold-plated speaker binding posts are really pretty small, and so … Read more
Great audio can be expensive, but Ben Carter's ambitious Kickstarter project aims to make a serious dent in the price of quality turntables. A $150 pledge secures an Orbit belt-drive turntable, fitted with an Ortofon phono cartridge. As I write this blog, and just a few days after the Kickstarter project was launched, Carter has already passed the halfway mark to reaching his $60,000 goal!
I spoke with Carter on Thursday; he has a background in marketing and consulting, and Bob Hertig is handling the engineering for the project. Orbits will be manufactured by U-Turn Audio in the … Read more
I've covered a lot of great sounding budget gear this year, but the very best audio is far from cheap. That's hardly unique to high-end audio; the best cars, cameras, and clothes are always pricey, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that cutting-edge audio can be crazy expensive. What follows is a list of most astonishing gear I listened to this year. I love my job!
Sound bar buyers' performance expectations are pretty low; all the 'bar has to do is sound better than the lousy speakers that are built into their TVs. So if that's all you need, a sound bar will get the job done -- but there are better-sounding alternatives, starting with a pair of self-powered Audioengine A2 ($199) speakers. The A2s are terrific, but the Paradigm Millenia CT ($700) is a 2.1-channel subwoofer/satellite system, and it sounds better than the Audioengines. A lot better, and it's really pretty amazing.
Spread 64 inches apart, the Millenia sats produced a … Read more
A great-sounding recording will sound its best only when it's properly mastered to LP, SACD, DVD-Audio, or a high-resolution file. Those formats will reveal the full glory of the music in ways that lower-resolution formats like MP3 or analog cassette always miss. But if you didn't have access to the high-resolution file to compare it with, a great recording will still sound pretty terrific as an AAC, M4A, or 320kbps MP3 file, because the recording's innate quality would shine through. On the other hand, a heavily compressed, processed and crude recording will always sound heavily compressed, processed … Read more
The best I can say about most cheap subwoofers is they make bass. The bass won't be the deepest, most powerful, or the clearest, or blend all that well with most speakers, but all subs make bass. Better subs, like the $449 Hsu Research VTF-1 MK2, generate deeper, less distorted sound, so you can actually hear distinct bass notes, and can play louder and fill larger rooms better than most cheap subs.
I've long admired Aperion Audio's Intimus speakers, but for one reason or another, I never auditioned the company's higher-end Verus speakers. The line starts with the $350-per-pair Verus Forte satellite speakers, but I went for the bigger Verus Grand bookshelf speakers that run $598 a pair. The speaker has a 1-inch dome tweeter and 5-inch woven Kevlar woofer. It measures 13 by 7.5 by 9 inches, weighs 14 pounds, and the curved sided cabinet feels like it's well put together.
Aperion Intimus speakers' satin real cherry wood or high-gloss black finishes are superb, but the … Read more
While audiophile gear can be quite expensive, picking out a selection of terrific gift ideas that won't break the bank is still doable. Here you'll find books, music, gear, and even a free download that will put a smile on any audiophile's, or music lover's, face. The Audiophiliac had a self-imposed price limit of $100 max and easily met that goal. Seven of the 10 gift ideas are under $50!
Lucky me -- I get to play with lots of headphones, but I sometimes wonder if they're all made in the same factory, and their mostly plastic construction, similar features, and designs feel interchangeable. So when CNET's David Carnoy put the Meze 88 Classics in my hands I was intrigued. The beautifully finished, hand-carved ebony wood ear cups gave a high-end sheen to the design, and a quick audition proved the 88 Classics' beauty was more than skin deep.
Build quality is a step up from what you get with Beats by Dr. Dre 'phones, and I liked … Read more