Chances are you have heard of the popular photo-sharing iOS app called Instagram. What makes the app so appealing is its broad range of filters and effects the average photog can apply to photos to make them, in some cases, look amazing. … Read more
I wasn't expecting much from the Hifiman Express HM-101; it's just a $39 outboard USB digital-to-analog converter and headphone amplifier. Well, this tiny USB-powered (it doesn't need batteries or an AC power supply) device definitely pumped up the sound of my Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones! They sounded significantly better with the Express than they did plugged directly into my Mac Mini's headphone jack. Sure, the Mac's sound is perfectly acceptable--until you compare it to something better.
The Express is a lot better.
Before we go any further, the Express isn't just for headphones, it also has a line-out 3.5mm jack you can run to a set of desktop-powered speakers, like myAudioengine 2s. DAC resolution isn't specified, but it's probably 16-bit/48-kHz.
Switching over from the computer's headphone jack to the Express, the first thing I noticed was that the Express could play a lot louder. That's great, but when playing drummer Ginger Baker's "Going Back Home" CD at equal volume levels from the computer and the Express, the Express unleashed more of the drummer's hard-hitting dynamics. The computer squashed his sound, especially Baker's mighty bass drum. Wow, the little thing delivers. If anything, the Express errs on the side of too much bass fullness, which isn't such a bad thing.… Read more
A great headphone amplifier is one that makes headphones sound better than you thought they were. Judged by that standard, the Centrance DACport will be an awesome upgrade for buyers who have already invested in high-quality headphones.
This component, which was made in the U.S., is downright elegant in its simplicity. There's no power adapter or batteries; the Centrance DACport ($400) runs off your laptop or home computer's USB port, and it doesn't care if it's running Mac, PC, Linux, or iOS. The DACport has a 1/4-inch (6.3 mm) headphone jack at one … Read more
As any record buyer knows, LP quality varies a lot. I'm not just referring to the dusty old records sold at yard sales; some new records have noisy grooves, clicks and pops, or they're not flat. Those imperfections are common vinyl woes; making consistently quiet records has never been easy. That's why I was thrilled to hear that Quality Record Pressings (QRP), in Salina, Kansas, employs the most advanced technology ever used to manufacture LPs. The proof is in the listening, and the sound is spectacular.
I spoke with QRP's Chad Kassem about the undertaking, which … Read more
I get a fair number of promo CDs in the mail, but don't be jealous, most of them are instantly forgettable or just awful, and only a few are worth a second listen. Greg Garing's self-titled CD was an immediate standout, and its rootsy, blues-infected grooves hit me hard. The music has a lot of soul, and sounds like it was made by a group of really talented players who were having a good time together. That happens so rarely nowadays I had to learn about how the record was created.
If you miss the feeling of carrying around one of those old-fashioned standalone cameras (remember those?), this case lets you dress your iPhone up like one.
The Wood Camera iPhone Case, from Photojojo, comes in bamboo or walnut engraved with old-school camera stylings to "up your photo-taking cred." It's made for the iPhone 4 and contains openings for the phone's volume button, headphone jack, power button, and camera flash.Related story Teen hipsters discover joys of analog photography
The $42 case slides on in two parts over each end of the phone, closing in the middle, and won't crack, scratch, or splinter, Photojojo promises. (Just keep the thing away from termites.) It also has a snug felt internal lining to cushion the phone's glass from the wood.
While we haven't gotten our mits on the case yet, it certainly exudes a sleek retro flair. We can imagine it might hold particular appeal for young Digital Age hipsters who are discovering the joys of analog photography but may not want to tote an actual old-school cam around all the time. … Read more
A couple of weeks ago, "k_hettich" posted a question in CNET's How-To forum asking about converting vinyl LPs to CDs. A couple of people recommended USB turntables that automate the process and cost from $70 to more than $230.
Over the last couple of years I've converted a couple hundred audio cassettes and dozens of LPs to MP3s and WMAs, many of which were ultimately burned onto CDs. The only expense required was a $5 connector between my stereo amplifier and PC sound card. The real work was done by the free Audacity audio-conversion software.
Back … Read more
SAN FRANCISCO--Carolyn LaHorgue might seem like the type of teenager who would embrace digital technology. She designed her own Web site, is a Facebook aficionado, and is planning to study media and communications at New York University this fall.
Yet the 17-year-old, who lives just north of San Francisco, totes around an artifact right out of the 19th century: an analog camera that uses actual film. "It represents the individualist lifestyle," LaHorgue says.
LaHorgue is not alone. Teenagers are leading a kind of backward transition, leaving digital devices behind, at least temporarily, for technology their grandparents pioneered.
Classic film cameras, such as Holga, Diana, Minolta, and Nikon, are being chosen over smaller-than-your-fist digital point-and-shoots on the theory that it's cool to struggle with manual aperture settings. Or it's rebellious to scope out the best lighting for a shot.
A popular clothing chain among teenagers, Urban Outfitters, has picked up on the trend and now offers more than 60 product combinations relating to cameras, which are overwhelmingly film-based. … Read more
The analog vs. digital debate has been raging for nearly three decades, and there's still no clear winner, because it's really just a matter of personal preference. I'm fine with that, but there's a lot of sniping in the analog/digital wars, and each side never misses an opportunity to put down the other side as misguided, deaf, just plain stupid, or worse. Each side claims its chosen format is superior and the opposite's is garbage.
I'm an analog guy, but I'd admit that analog's distortions, speed variations, and noise/hiss make … Read more