Bose has built quite the reputation for its entire audio line, so it's no surprise that the third version of the company's noise-canceling headphones, the QuietComfort 3, has a following. These earpad-style cans are supercomfortable and offer a sleek design that's significantly trimmed down in size from previous models. However, Bose made no move to lower the luxury pricing of the QuietComfort, which is where the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7 QuietPoint headphones come in. These full-size 'phones sound good, can be used with or without noise-cancellation turned on, and include a handy hard-shell carrying case--all at half the price … Read more
If you're at work and your co-workers won't stop chatting, there are two options: either tell them to go talk elsewhere or get a good pair of earplugs and/or headphones. If you've gone for the latter and can't seem to get over the concentration hump of focusing with music blaring, there's SimplyNoise, a white noise generator that runs right in your browser.
I've had a white noise loop kicking around on my iPod for years, and it doubles as a great way to get in the zone for napping. In SimplyNoise's case, … Read more
Don't keep that Brendan Benson collection to yourself. Or that Arcade Fire. Heck, even that John Mayer. Plug a set of portable speakers into your iPod, Zune, Zen, or other MP3 player and let the world (or at least the nearby) jam with you. B&H Photo has the JBL On Tour Portable Speaker System for $29.95, plus a reasonable six bucks (ish) for shipping.
These cool-looking curved speakers (which originally sold for $100) run on AC power or a quartet of AAA batteries--the latter good for up to 24 hours of play time, according to JBL. … Read more
One of the best parts of working on the Bill Gates transition stories was checking in with some of the pioneers of our industry.
Although the audio here was part of the reflections package that posted earlier Tuesday, I thought it was worth calling out our files of three luminaries reminiscing about Gates.
Below are the words of Ethernet creator Robert Metcalfe, Lotus founder Mitch Kapor, and VisiCalc's Dan Bricklin.
Gates 'isn't evil' Ethernet co-inventor Robert Metcalfe heavily criticized Gates in the 1990s on issues of Micrsoft's anticompetitiveness. Yet, he admits he likes Gates, even if … Read more
I don't easily give in to the gadget striptease of unboxing videos, but it felt a little like Christmas morning when Yamaha's futuristic Tenori-On music instrument landed on my desk today. Besides, with only 60 Tenori-On instruments on sale in the U.S. (only 17 left at the time of this writing), I figure this video might allow deprived electronic musicians to work through their anguish.
Expect a full review of the Tenori-On to make its way on CNET next week. By the looks of my video, I'll need some time to figure this thing out.
For … Read more
Placing the 'phones over the old Uncle Ned, we felt a similar level of comfort to the ATH-W1000s, which got a excellent rating in our review last week. They're snug without too much tightness.
Inside are decent specifications: a 53-millimeter neodymium-backed driver responding to frequencies between 5Hz-40kHz, an impedance of 40ohms, sensitivity of 101dB and an excellent maximum power input of 2,000mW. Click here … Read more
CNET's MP3 Insider blog posted a fascinating entry the other day on how CNET Labs tests the audio response of different MP3 players. They load several files of the type that are used to test traditional stereo equipment, such as white noise and pure sine waves, then plays them back into an audio analyzer, which reports numbers for qualities such as signal-to-noise ratio and total harmonic distortion. Two Creative players come out on top, the iPod Classic in the middle, and Microsoft's Zune in seventh place due to fairly mediocre harmonic distortion scores.
As Donald Bell correctly points … Read more
If you're not in the "club," high-end audio might look like a bastion of elitist snobs and the idle rich, so it may come as a shock to note that some of high-end audio's greatest engineers started out in rock and roll. Take John Curl, in the early 1970s he worked his magic on the Grateful Dead's concert and recording sound systems and later kept the Jefferson Airplane aloft. That was just before he tackled film sound in Hollywood. All of that led to collaborations with high-end pioneer Mark Levinson; together they raised the stakes, considerably, with the JC 2 stereo preamplifier in 1974.
It didn't matter that the JC 2 was two or three times more expensive than any other component in the nascent high-end market; a lot of folks lucky enough to hear it and afford it bought it. The JC 2 had that effect on people. Curl and Levinson soon parted ways and over the next few years Curl designed a long run of cutting edge electronics for other companies. Levinson eventually departed the company that bears his name, and his old company now designs car audio systems for Lexus. High-end is in the big time now.
When I heard that Curl had finished work on an all-new Halo Series JC 2 stereo preamplifier for Parasound I had to check it out (it's like hearing that Carroll Shelby just built a new AC Cobra). Better yet, for this review Parasound sent along a pair of the matching Halo Series JC 1, 400 watt mono power amplifiers. I reviewed the all-new JC 1 & JC 2 combination for Home Entertainment magazine, you can read the review here.
The JC 1 is a seriously powerful amplifier, its output stage employs nine pairs of high-current bipolar transistors with massive heat sinks to insure long-term reliability. Each amplifier can deliver 400 watts to 8 ohm rated speakers, and 800 watts to 4 ohm models, and if your speakers ever dip as low as 2 ohms, the JC 1 will happily serve 1,200 watts! The JC 1 sounds potent, even when listened to at merely moderately loud levels, and maintains its composure at lease breaking, call-the-cops volume. … Read more
When Jasmine and I evaluate MP3 players for CNET reviews, we always try to spend a few sentences describing any noticeable audio performance characteristics we detect during our subjective testing. We'll play around with all of the gadget's different EQ and sound enhancement options, listen back on our reference headphones, and run through a playlist of familiar music. We're only human, however, and hearing loss, ear wax, head congestion, and hangovers can skew our perceptions of audio quality from day to day. Thankfully, we have Eric Franklin.… Read more
Doesn't this sound familiar? Denon is selling an "ultra premium" $500 Ethernet cable (the AK-DL1), for the audio sucker, I mean, enthusiast, reminding us all of Pear Audio's $7,250 cable from not long ago. Officially, the AK-DL1 is a Denon Link cable--a proprietary audio connection used between Denon products--but any Cat6 Ethernet cable will do. So why should I drop $500 on a Cat6 cable with "high purity copper?"
You shouldn't. Copper is copper, and like with any digital connection (HDMI or Ethernet), you either have a high-quality connection or you don'… Read more