If you've laid down serious cash for a great pair of headphones but they're plugged into your phone or computer, you're missing out on a lot of the sound quality you paid for. Don't get me wrong, phones and tablets can sound acceptable, but their designers didn't focus on sound quality -- that's the last thing they worry about. The cure for so-so sound is straightforward: invest in a high-performance digital converter/headphone amp, like the Cypher Labs Theorem 720. It can be used with iPhones, Android phones, or computers via USB connection with … Read more
Audiophiles love tube amplifiers; a sizable percentage of us own tube-based systems. It's easy to see why; tube amps look a lot more interesting than solid-state amps, and second, they sound different than solid-state. There's more character to the sound, and you can change the sound of a tube amp by swapping one brand of tubes for another. Sometimes a new $5 tube can light up your Wilco records in ways you never heard before.
Some tube amplifiers sound warm and rich, and some sound a lot like solid-state amps; Decware amps are right down the middle. The … Read more
As soon as I spotted the Aedle VK-1 headphones on the Web, I just had to check them out. That was early last year; e-mails were exchanged, and there were delays along the way, but now that I have them I'm happy to report they sound as good as they look. Aedle designs and manufactures the VK-1 in Paris, France.
I've had the VK-1 for a while; Aedle's founder Raphael Lebas was in NYC a few months ago and hand-delivered the headphones to me. He's a young guy, but totally focused on the job at hand. … Read more
Sennheiser makes a lot of headphone models, and it can be a bit confusing to make sense of the lineup. Some models are close cousins, and then it's even tougher to keep track of them all. Take the Sennheiser HD-25 Aluminum ($330), the 25th anniversary edition of the classic HD-25 headphone. Then again, the HD-25 Aluminum looks like a twin of the Sennheiser Amperior ($349), and to keep things interesting Sennheiser just introduced another very similar model, the HD 26 Pro ($320). I don't have an on-ear Sennheiser Momentum ($200) in house to compare, but I know it … Read more
If you listen to more music than watch movies at home, a top-notch integrated stereo amplifier may be a better choice than an AV receiver. I've said that for years. But a lot of the better-sounding integrated amps are feature-challenged, and some offer nothing more than an input selector for analog sources and a volume control. Some don't even have a remote control. So I was happy to spend some quality time with Rotel's sweet-sounding, fully loaded RA-1570 amplifier.
The 17x5.8x13.75-inch component weighs a hefty 28.7 pounds. That's interesting because this 2x120 watt … Read more
Rega may have started out as an audiophile turntable company in 1973, but it now offers a full line of amplifiers, CD players, digital converters, phono cartridges, and speakers.
They're all good, but to me Rega has always set the standard for affordable turntables. Most companies venturing into that market owe a lot to Rega's aesthetics and simple-is-better, functional design ethic. Take a look at the new U-Turn Orbit turntable reviewed just a few weeks ago and you'll see what I mean. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a clone, but the Rega … Read more
The Koss Pro4AA has been around for ages, and when you listen you'll know why. Koss got the sound right the first time. And while contemporary headphones have more features and are lighter and more comfortable, they're nowhere as ruggedly built as the Pro4AA. This headphone will shrug off more than a few mishaps that would shatter to pieces a lot of 2013 designs.
So if you're rough on headphones, you might want to pick up a pair. And since they're covered by a lifetime warranty, Koss will keep repairing or replacing them forever. The warranty … Read more
I didn't know the retail price of the newly revised Alesis M1 Active520 desktop/computer speakers when I first set them up. I assumed they ran $300 to $400 a pair. They look and feel that expensive, so imagine my surprise when the company's representative sent an e-mail quoting a $199 minimum advertised price or MAP.
"That's each," I asked. She said no, "The M1 Active520 retails for $199 a pair." Well alright!
This bi-amplified speaker features a built-in 25-watt amplifier for the 0.75-inch silk dome tweeter and a 50-watt amplifier for … Read more
The Centrance Hi-Fi M8 is a rather unusual product on a number of counts, starting with the fact that it's offered in eight different connectivity configurations that were proposed by potential buyers who responded to a crowdsourced thread on the Head-Fi Web site. I admire Centrance's willingness to accept consumer opinions, but as it turns out most consumers opt for the configuration I have for review, the HiFi-M8 XL4, which features 3.5mm, 6.3mm and four-pin XLR headphone output jacks on the front panel. Some of the other versions are directed to pro users with headphones that … Read more
I remember hearing the first Davone speaker, the Rithm, at a hi-fi show in 2008. The small, 31-inch tall floor standing speaker looked and sounded like nothing else. I've heard hundreds of speakers since then, but the Rithm stands out from the pack.
The Davone models that followed -- the Ray, the Mojo, and now the Grande -- are all unique, and they're all bona fide audiophile masterpieces. The company steers clear of boring, flat-sided boxes. With Davone, it's all about the curves.