Over the past year or so we've seen a new product category emerge: the portable digital converter/headphone amplifier. Of course, no one "needs" such a device -- phones and iPods already have converters and amps built-in -- and sound perfectly fine with average headphones. The sound is good enough, but your phone's converter and amp share space and battery power with the phone's electronics. A separate converter and amp, about the size of a phone, has only one mission: improved sound quality. So if you upgraded to a high-end in-ear headphone, like the $399 … Read more
A brand-new phone for AT&T's brand-new Aio Wireless prepaid arm, the Samsung Galaxy Amp does a fairly good job balancing entry-level Android features with cost.
Ringing in at $129.99 off-contract -- or $99.99 during an online promotion -- the Amp has a few notable points in its favor, like its strong call quality (it is a phone, after all), Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and a smooth, compact frame. However, exceptionally cramped storage space forces a microSD card investment on you, it has more-limited software than Samsung's top phones, and the phone lacks 4G … Read more
I've reviewed a number of portable headphone amps over the years, but they just took the analog output of a phone or MP3 player and made it sound better. Ideally, you want to totally bypass the player's digital converters, but up until recently that was a very expensive proposition. The V-Moda Vamp Verza cuts the price to less than half, and works with iPhones, iPads, and iPods, as well as Androids and computers. I'm really impressed with the little Vamp Verza's sound.
The look and concept were designed by V-Moda's Val Kolton in Milan, Italy, … Read more
The Micromega MyZic is the first headphone amp I've tested that's made in France. The amp shares its chassis and design with the Micromega My Series of components: a phono preamp, wireless streamer, and an integrated amplifier that will come out later this year. The MyZic's street price runs $269.
MyZic sounds like a bona-fide high-end component, but some buyers may quibble with the ABS plastic construction. It seems rugged enough, and it's certainly lightweight. Connectivity is limited to just the basics: a high quality Neutrik 6.3mm headphone jack on the front panel, and stereo … Read more
A lot of audiophiles love tube amplifiers, and I've owned my share, but I don't currently have tubes in my main hi-fi system. I instantly remembered what I was missing when I hooked up the Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum integrated amplifier with my KEF LS50 speakers. They're good together.
Before founding Rogue Audio in 1996, Mark O'Brien worked for Bell Labs and other companies doing electronics development, lasers, and transformer design. Like so many audio designers I've met over the years, O'Brien started building amplifiers when he was a little kid. Audio is a … Read more
I heard through the grapevine that the Mal Valve Head Amp Three takes headphone sound to the next level, so I had to check it out for myself. I brought two of my best headphones to the Audioarts NYC showroom to audition the amp, and it really was an ear opener. "Space" was the first thing I noticed, the Mal Valve decodes spatial cues in recordings better than any amp I've heard to date; and the resolution, clarity, and purity of the sound were all superlative via my Audeze LCD 3 headphones. The Mal Valve frees up … Read more
Back in February I first posed the question, "Do separate components sound better than AV receivers?" when I checked out the Outlaw Audio 975 surround processor and 7125 power amp and compared their sound with a Denon AVR-1912 AV receiver. The Outlaws handily trumped the receiver.
I ran another comparison with the Denon, this time with the Emotiva UMC-200 seven-channel surround processor ($599) and UPA-500 five-channel amplifier ($399). If you just go by the numbers, the AVR-1912's 90 watts per channel might appear to be slightly ahead of the Emotiva UPA-500 amp, which has 80 watts per … Read more
The Fosgate Signature Headphone Amplifier is one of the very best-sounding amps I've ever used. It was designed by one of the greats, Jim Fosgate, a man who earned 18 audio related patents, founded a number of successful electronics companies -- oh, and he pioneered high-power car audio systems. He was also a big supporter of the very first home surround format -- quadraphonic -- in the early 1970s, and so committed to the format that even as quad was winding down, he designed the Fosgate Tate 101, arguably the finest quad processor of the era. Fosgate also created … Read more
Countless different music players are available in the Play Store, but there are only a few that stand out. PowerAMP Music Player for Android is one of them because of its simplicity and solid performance.
Installation and setup of PowerAMP Music Player for Android are fairly simple. This version, however, is a 15-day full-featured trial, and to unlock the full version you have to purchase the PowerAMP Full Version Unlocker for $3.96. The interface of this music player is straightforward and simple. The general layout of the home screen consists of a black background and high-contrast icons. Performance of … 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