The Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies is one of the most beautiful audio products I've ever used. For my money it approaches a level of design grace comparable to that of Apple products. The 5-inch cube headphone amplifier has two vacuum tubes protected by a thick glass cover. The WA7 also has a built-in 32-bit/192kHz USB digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and lots of custom-made parts, including dedicated nickel alloy output transformers. There's a 6.3mm jack for home-style headphones, and a 3.5mm jack for portable ones. That's noteworthy, as few headphone amps have both jack sizes. The … Read more
The first question is, what do you want from your hi-fi? Do you want to play LPs, CDs, or an occasional movie? Next, where will you put the speakers, and how large or small do they need to be? I'm writing this blog post for folks trying to put together the best-sounding hi-fi they can on a fixed budget. That's why I won't be covering wireless systems, because dollar for dollar, the better wired speakers always sound better than wireless models.
I've been listening to Jerry Harvey's custom-molded in-ear headphones for years. The very first one, the UE10, was a game changer; in 2006 it was the best sounding in-ear headphone I'd heard. Now with his new Freqphase JH13 and JH16 in-ears, Harvey's done it again. The performance gains in clarity, detail, resolution, and stereo imaging are huge -- the adrenaline-pumping sound of the music you love over a set of Harvey's headphones can't be matched by any other in-ear 'phones.
Years before he made headphones, Harvey mixed stage monitor sound for Kiss, Van Halen, … Read more
When it comes to choosing a bookshelf speaker, you're often forced to decide between one with a dock and one that supports Bluetooth.
Thankfully, you can have the best of both worlds. Today only, and while supplies last, Tech.woot has the refurbished XtremeMac Tango TRX Bluetooth speaker with 30-pin dock for $39.99, plus $5 for shipping. It originally sold for $179.99, and the best price I've seen elsewhere (for a new unit) is $99.
As you can see in the photo, the Tango TRX sports a dock that can accommodate nearly any iPhone, iPod, or … Read more
Audiobooks.com has lowered its subscription price, but now you can listen to only one or two books per month.
The new plans offer two different options. You can pay $14.95 per month to listen to one audiobook or $22.95 each month to hear up to two books. Previously, the site charged people $24.95 per month but gave them the ability to listen to an unlimited number of audiobooks for that fee.
Why the change? A spokesman for Audiobooks.com sent CNET the following statement:The switch from "all you can listen" to the new … Read more
ShiningMorning's Virtual Audio Streaming software creates a virtual sound card in your Windows system. It acts as a wrapper on your existing sound card, enhancing its capabilities and making it easy to record and stream whatever audio your system is playing, no matter what the source: microphone, media player, or external device. It also improves sound recording in Windows, even automatically fixing the "no Stereo Mix" problem in Windows 7 and Vista. It's free to try for 30 days, but the trial version places an audio "watermark" on the output.
Virtual Audio Streaming's … Read more
Schiit Audio's very first product, the Asgard headphone amplifier, left me shaken and stirred back in 2010. It sold for $249, looked and sounded amazing, and to top things off, it was made in the U.S. -- not just assembled here. Most of the Asgard's parts are sourced from U.S. companies.
The Asgard is still in company's product line, and it's still $249. But Schiit has grown since then, and now offers a full line of more expensive headphone amps and USB digital-to-analog converters (DACs) -- which is great. But the company's most recent offerings sell for just $99 each! The Magni headphone amp and the Modi DAC are also made in America, and they sound spectacular. … Read more
LAS VEGAS--Achieving DJing glory on the iPad is possible thanks to some pretty nifty apps out there, but there's always been something missing from the experience. A cold flat screen just can't replicate the dynamism and quirks of real knobs and records. Ion Audio is taking a shot at putting the feel back into tablet DJing with a set of tactile controls.
A demo unit of Scratch 2 Go is on the show floor at CES 2013. It consists of a slider control, two round discs for scratching control, and two banks of three knobs each for all the fine tuning. They hang onto the screen thanks to what Ion describes as "industrial suction cups."
The suction cups feel pretty solid. Pull them up and look below to see what makes this tick. Underneath, the spinners have what looks like the tip of a touch-screen stylus. It's nothing fancy, but it works.… Read more
LAS VEGAS--Wireless audio at CES 2013 has been almost entirely dominated by the idea of streaming music directly from your smartphone, usually via Bluetooth.
Teenage Engineering's newly announced OD-11 is taking a different approach, which it calls the Cloud Speaker. The cubelike speaker actually borrows its design from Swedish audio engineer Stig Carlsson, whose original OD-11 in 1974 featured the same angled tweeter and woofer that directs sound out the the top of the speaker, rather than a more traditional front-facing design. The idea is to throw the sound into a room, without a defined sweet spot that standard … Read more
LAS VEGAS--Wireless peripheral maker Parrot is showing off an update to its Philippe Starck-designed Zikmu Solo wireless speaker system. Due sometime this year, the system doesn't differ much aesthetically from the original model introduced back in 2009. The latest version, does, however, offer improved innards, powerful sound, and a lower price point.
The $999 Zikmu Solo has 2x100-watt output and a built-in 1GHz ARM A8 processor that the company says "controls the path of the coil of the bass loudspeaker in real time" to greatly reduce distortion during playback.
The 2.1 stereo audio speaker system features built-in Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC (for quick pairing). Aside from the array of connectivity features, the Zikmu also jives with DLNA for networked streaming and can even connect with another Zikmu (over Wi-Fi) for even more output. A built-in speaker dock at the top of the device works with older iPhones and iPods with a 30-pin power port.… Read more