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
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
Tech startup Coleridge Design Associates is trying to raise $45,000 on Kickstarter to manufacture a sleek-looking and transparent-sounding desktop speaker system, the aCube BMR. I've covered Kickstarter projects before, but this time I had a chance to listen to the product, and the sound definitely piqued my interest.
The aCube uses an advanced 4.5-inch BMR (Balanced Mode Radiator) driver mounted in handmade clear-cast acrylic 6.5-inch cube enclosures. The $180 speaker houses a stereo 20-watt Class-D amplifier, but if you want stereo sound, you have to buy a second speaker (without the amp) for $120. Optional at … Read more
I've heard the naysayers for years, the ones that say vinyl is a fad, or that kids buy records just because they think LPs are cool. But the fact is vinyl sales keep going up year after year. I'd be the first to admit that playing an LP is more of a hassle than listening to Spotify, so why do people who grew up listening to CDs and files invest in a turntable, and search out their favorite music on LP? Why do they do it?
Recently, I talked with a few music lovers who grew up in … 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
I've always been obsessed with sound, and I've always wanted to hear my music with the best possible sound. It enhances the experience for me, because I can more clearly hear what the musicians are playing, and the subtleties in the mix, so I get more out of the music. That's true at home and for on-the-go listening, and even when I didn't have much money I still managed to put together a pretty good hi-fi. Then again, good sound is in the ear of the beholder, and that beholder may not be so sure about … Read more
I worked as a high-end audio salesman for 16 years and spent another 16 reviewing audio products. Here's what I learned: The very best gear is always expensive. Sure, there are occasional examples of affordable products that are remarkable, but they never get remotely close to what true high-end gear can offer. Beyond price the main thing that separates high-end companies from mass-market brands is high-end designers are all about maximizing performance. Mainstream audio companies rarely try to make the best possible sounding gear. They know that features, wireless connectivity, styling, compact size, cheap pricing, marketing, distribution, etc. -- … Read more
The LP was invented in 1948, and judging by the sales surge over the past few years, LPs won't be going away anytime soon. Amanda Ghassaei's "3D Printed Record" project demonstrated vinyl's continuing relevance in the 21st century. Years ago when I saw an early demonstration of 3D printing, I knew the technology would eventually lead to printing LPs, but now it's a little closer to becoming a reality. First, however, there are major sound-quality issues to overcome with 3D printed LPs (though they can play tunes with fidelity that's far below MP3 … Read more
Great audio can be expensive, but Ben Carter's ambitious Kickstarter project aims to make a serious dent in the price of quality turntables. A $150 pledge secures an Orbit belt-drive turntable, fitted with an Ortofon phono cartridge. As I write this blog, and just a few days after the Kickstarter project was launched, Carter has already passed the halfway mark to reaching his $60,000 goal!
I spoke with Carter on Thursday; he has a background in marketing and consulting, and Bob Hertig is handling the engineering for the project. Orbits will be manufactured by U-Turn Audio in the … Read more