The "Spinal Tap" reference to the volume control that goes to "11" notwithstanding, there's a lot of confusion surrounding volume controls. There shouldn't be; the volume control setting has nothing to do with how loud an amp can play. Some folks mistakenly think that if you don't have to turn the knob up very far from the minimum setting to achieve high volume, that "proves" it's a powerful amp. No, not at all; the maximum volume level of any amp is determined not by how far you turn the knob, … Read more
The new Zoom H6 Handy Recorder jams a lot of technology and features into a surprisingly compact device, and it sounds great. The H6 was designed for musicians, sound professionals, journalists, and videographers, but I'm sure there's a smattering of audiophiles who would really enjoy using this thing. I spent a few days recording street musicians performing in various parks around NYC, and one feature immediately stood out, the interchangeable microphone modules that plug into the top of the recorder. The H6 carries a retail price of $399, and that price includes two mic modules, X-Y, and MS (… Read more
I've heard a lot of, but far from most of the world's best headphone amps, but even in that heady territory the Auralic Taurus MKII shines. I've used a wide range of my very best headphones, in-ears and full-size, and they're all sounding better than I've heard them before.
The $6,475 Mal Valve amp is right up there, but it's been a few months since I heard it, and I never had it at home so my experience was more limited. I had the luxury of living with the Taurus MKII for weeks, … Read more
Last month I asked readers to submit essays for my "You can be the Audiophiliac for a day" contest. I received a lot of thought-provoking pieces, and I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to write. You guys are a smart bunch, but there can be only one winner, and I selected John O.'s "Chasing the Ultimate Sound System." His perceptive examination of the audiophile quest for great sound will reverberate with a lot of folks. The only thing I'd like to add is that the only person you need to … Read more
The GoldenEar Technology Triton Seven is, as we audiophiles like to say, "transparent" -- it sounds like an open window to the sound of music. That's always the goal for high-end speakers, but only the very best ones take you all the way there.
The Triton Seven's slender cabinet leaves no doubt: this is a thoroughly modern design. The swept-back, nonparallel-sided cabinets, and high-gloss black accents are distinctive; I'm sure the Triton Seven will never be mistaken for just another big-box tower.
The Triton Seven's front, sides, and rear are covered with a wrap-around … Read more
Meridian is a legendary British company; I think of it as the Mercedes-Benz of audio, and the gear is priced accordingly. Meridian's engineering was always ahead of the pack, and it was the very first to market a high-end CD player in 1985. The company developed the original high-resolution lossless compression technology, MLP, that debuted in DVD-Audio players, and is now used in Dolby TrueHD-encoded Blu-ray discs.
I'm always on the lookout for great sounding products in all price ranges, so when an Audiophiliac reader suggested the almost too good to be true JVC HA-RX700 full-size headphones, I pulled the trigger. I'm glad I did, first the HA-RX700 doesn't look or feel like a cheap headphone. Better yet, it delivers a clear, highly articulate sound, with a wide stereo image, and it's the most comfortable budget headphone I've tried in years. Comfort is crucial, because even if a headphone is a top performer, but hurts your ears after a while, you're … Read more
The Magico Ultimate is now in its third revision, and runs close to $600,000 a pair, too bad you didn't jump on the originals back in 2004, when they were just $229,000! The original and current Ultimate speakers share the same "horns," the megaphone-like pieces that sit in front of the drivers, but the new speaker has redesigned drivers, crossover networks, and amplifiers. The form-follows-function "Blade Runner" aesthetic won't appeal to buyers with traditional tastes, but Magico's line of box speakers is certainly more conventional looking, and affordable. Well, affordable in … Read more
I'm always on the lookout for great cheap headphones, so when CNET's Matthew Moskovciak suggested I try Sony's MDR-ZX100 I jumped at the chance. We were both knocked out by Sony's MDR-V6 and MDR-7506 headphones, so I bought a pair of MDR-ZX100s on Amazon for $15. I had no expectations it would threaten those two amazing Sonys, but at less than 20 percent of those headphones' current prices I was curious to see how much of the magic trickled down to the MDR-ZX100. The MDR-V6 and MDR-7506 were both designed more than twenty years ago, when … Read more
Andrew Jones has a degree in physics, but his real passion is speaker design. He started out as a research engineer for KEF in 1983, later moved to Infinity and now he's with Pioneer, and is chiefly responsible for their ultra high-end TAD Reference line of speakers that sell for upwards of $80,000! Jones not only designs speakers that sell for as much as a luxury Mercedes Benz, he's also made some of the world's best affordable speakers.
Jones, like most of the speaker designers I've ever talked to, started thinking about building speakers before … Read more