Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for iPhone and iPad brings the legendarily gory and addictive fighting game to iOS, and it mostly hits the mark with only a couple of problems. What was formerly a smash hit (and somewhat controversial) stand-up arcade game went through a complete face-lift for the iPhone version. Gone are the stop-motion character animations from the original arcade game, replaced with beautiful 3D animations that re-create all your favorite characters' fighting moves. For the most part, this game looks and plays great, as long as you can get past the limited character set and the lack of … Read more
Sound & Vision magazine's Michael Trei recently tested three turntables: the Rega Research P1 ($395), Music Hall mmf 2.2 ($449), and Technics SL-1200MK2 ($699). And guess what: the most expensive turntable wasn't the best-sounding one!
Mike's an old friend and a major turntable guru in his own right. His knowledge of all things analog runs deep, and he regularly sets up finicky high-end turntables for the rich and famous, including the president of a major record company, here in NYC. Mike set up the VPI Classic turntable I bought last year.
The three turntables covered in his report, the Rega, Music Hall, and Technics are all excellent, but I was more interested in the belt vs. direct-drive aspect of the reviews. The Technics is a long standing DJ favorite, for its powerful, direct-drive motor, which is a big plus when you're back cueing and scratching records. Direct-drive 'tables never wowed the high-end crowd, they favor belt-drive turntables. The appeal is mostly based on the fact that the belt "decouples" the motor from the platter. So whatever noise and vibration the motor makes as it spins aren't directly transmitted to the platter, and therefore to the record. No wonder the vast majority of turntables sold to audiophiles are belt-drive designs.
Mike may be a hard-core audiophile, but he's not closed-minded about direct-drive turntables, and in fact owns a Technics direct-drive turntable (and many belt-drives as well).… Read more
Maybe it's an American thing; we love big stuff. We equate size with quality, and think that exquisitely designed, silly, expensive products are always better than more affordable alternatives. Is the new iPod always better than last year's model? Then again, how do you define "better"?
A lot of audiophiles believe more watts, more power, higher digital sampling rates, higher resolution, heavier turntable platters, speakers with more drivers, bigger drivers, or more channels of sound will always produce better sound. It ain't necessarily so.
Don't get me wrong, I love high-end audio. But I … Read more
Just announced today, the Wireless Desktop MK710 is Logitech's latest addition to its input device family. At $99, this keyboard and mouse combo offers an inexpensive incentive to get rid of those clumsy peripherals that came bundled with your desktop computer. Logitech also claims that the combo can get more than three years of juice from four AA batteries, but we'll see for ourselves with the test unit on the way.
The new keyboard incorporates Logitech's Incurve concave key design and cushioned palm rest to alleviate unnecessary pressure on your wrists; an integrated LCD dashboard up top … Read more
If you have ears, prepare to open them now.
I've just reviewed a bunch of contenders for the world's best full-size, over-the-ear headphone: Audio Technica ATH-W5000, Denon AH-D7000, Grado PS-1000, Sennheiser HD 800, Stax SR-007Mk2, and Ultrasone Edition 8 headphones--and all boast higher MSRPs than the JH Audio JH 13 Pro in-ear headphone.
Sure, full-size headphones can be used with iPods and MP3 players with varying degrees of success, but they're a lot more of a hassle to lug around than the JH 13 Pro. Honestly, I prefer the sound and comfort of over-the-ear models compared with in-ear headphones. Then again, the JH 13 Pro is a very different type of in-ear design, it uses six drivers--two woofers, two midranges, and two tweeters--to lower distortion compared with other in-ear designs. It's a difference I can hear.
The JH 13 Pro's resolution of fine detail is extraordinary, drums sound more realistic than I've heard from any other type of headphone. The JH 13 Pro is "fast," cymbals' shimmer and sparkle the way they do in real life, and when a drummer whacks his sticks against the drums' metal rims, the sound is more realistic. Dynamic oomph and slam are the best I've heard from an in-ear headphone.
The JH 13 Pro's bass goes deeper than any in-ear headphone to date, but it's the way these headphones decode palpable bass textures that's highly addictive. Electric, acoustic, and keyboard basses sound more different from each other with the JH 13 Pro. Switching over to Monster's excellent new Turbine Pro Gold in-ear headphone ($299) is startling, the Turbines sound mushy and muddled by comparison. The Monster has more mid-bass fullness, which some listeners may prefer. I do not.
The JH 13 Pro's midrange clarity is radically better than any in-ear 'phones I've used to date. Its bass, midrange, and treble are better balanced and accurate than what I'm used to from in-ear designs. … Read more
Logitech has announced a new wireless keyboard and mouse combination today: the Wireless Desktop MK700. The system features the company's Incursve key design (buttons meant to cradle to your fingertips) and an LCD heads-up display for battery life status and caps and number lock notifications.
The included wireless mouse has a frictionless scroll wheel with two options: click-to-click and hyperfast. Perhaps the most impressive feature of the system is battery life. Logitech says the mouse should last up to one year on a pair of AA batteries, while the keyboard will supposedly yield a whopping three years of use … Read more
Lucky me, I've reviewed most of the world's very best headphones, including the Audio Technica ATH-W5000, Denon AH-D7000, and Sennheiser HD 800. But now there's something even better: the Woo Audio WES headphone amplifier ($4,500) and Stax SR-007Mk2 headphone ($2,410). The complete review can be found on the Home Entertainment Web site.
Yeah, it's a lot of dough, but the Woo/Stax combo creams the other contenders for world's best headphone sound, and the pair goes for less than the price of a world class, high-end camera, like the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III. The camera's great now, but in a couple of years it'll be hopelessly out of date. Great audio is simply a better long-term investment.
Stax headphones use a very different operating principle than dynamic headphones (pretty much every headphone from lowly earbuds to full-size headphones are dynamic designs). Stax has been making electrostatic headphones since 1960 in Japan, and the company's current flagship model, the SR-007Mk2, is what I'm using with the Woo WES amplifier. The Stax is a big and comfy design.
The Woo WES is an all-triode tube drive, fully balanced design; the prototype unit I'm reviewing has a total of 10 tubes (four EL34 power tubes, four 6SL7 drive tubes, and two 5AR4 rectifier tubes), but production models will have 11 tubes. It works with Stax and Sennheiser electrostatic headphones only. The machined, all-metal dual chassis is beautifully crafted.
The WES, like all Woo amps, was designed by Wei Wu, and handcrafted in Woo Audio's factory in New York City. Each WES will be built to order over a four-day period; it's slated for release in October 2009. The preintroduction price is $4,500, and full retail is expected to be $4,990. Woo prices start at $470 for the WA 3. All Woo Audio electronics are sold direct from the factory, the waiting list is three to four weeks.
A look inside reveals no circuit boards; all wiring will be "point to point." That's a very expensive way to manufacture amplifiers, but Woo Audio thinks point-to-point wiring makes for better-sounding amps. The amp also features handmade inductors, and even the machined cone feet are designed specifically for the WES.
The clarity of the Woo/Stax combo with acoustic jazz mimics the way live, unamplified music sounds in a good concert hall or club. The Woo/Stax is the closest thing to being there I've heard to date.… Read more
The new Special Forces combat assault rifle (SCAR) meant to replace a hodgepodge of weapons currently used by U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is undergoing its field assessment phase, the last step before full-production and battlefield deployment.
Available as the MK-16 or MK-17, (accepting 5.65 and 7.62 NATO ammunition respectively) the SCAR is a highly modular system designed to adapt easily to future upgrades and new ammunition. The weapon, produced by the Belgian company Fabrique Nationale Herstal (FN), with replace the Colt M4, long a source of bitter gripes throughout the SF community due to its lack … Read more