Your iPhone's camera is good for a lot more than just snapping photos. For example, it can translate foreign-language signs, menus, and other printed materials in real time. And grade the foods at your grocery store. And scan documents on the go.
Just as with speakers, size matters with subwoofers. Pint-size subs can make bass, and the best mini subs can deliver fairly deep bass, but the volume capability, bass quality, and definition of baby subs can never match what you can get out of something like the $449 Hsu Research VTF-1 MK2 sub I reviewed on this blog last year. That bruiser measures 18x14x17 inches, and has a down-firing 10-inch woofer and a 200-watt amplifier. It's the best under-$500 home theater and music sub I've heard, but I was curious about Hsu's $699 VTF-3 MK4 monster, to … Read more
I've reviewed a number of portable headphone amps over the years, but they just took the analog output of a phone or MP3 player and made it sound better. Ideally, you want to totally bypass the player's digital converters, but up until recently that was a very expensive proposition. The V-Moda Vamp Verza cuts the price to less than half, and works with iPhones, iPads, and iPods, as well as Androids and computers. I'm really impressed with the little Vamp Verza's sound.
The look and concept were designed by V-Moda's Val Kolton in Milan, Italy, … Read more
The Micromega MyZic is the first headphone amp I've tested that's made in France. The amp shares its chassis and design with the Micromega My Series of components: a phono preamp, wireless streamer, and an integrated amplifier that will come out later this year. The MyZic's street price runs $269.
MyZic sounds like a bona-fide high-end component, but some buyers may quibble with the ABS plastic construction. It seems rugged enough, and it's certainly lightweight. Connectivity is limited to just the basics: a high quality Neutrik 6.3mm headphone jack on the front panel, and stereo … Read more
My first encounter with one of Adam Audio's smallest speakers, the ARTist 3, took me by surprise last year. That little speaker is still in the line, but when I learned Adam just introduced a less expensive, but slightly larger desktop speaker, the F5, I was eager to get it in for review. The ARTist 3 has a better tweeter, bigger amps, a more robustly designed cabinet, and it's a lot nicer looking. The F5's black vinyl-covered cabinet is strictly business, and at $499 a pair it lists for $300 less than the ARTist 3.… Read more
Though the official 2013 hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30, the news earlier this week out of Moore, Okla., is a sobering reminder that dangerous weather comes in many forms, and you often don't know where the next disaster may strike. Even now, many states are being pounded by heavy storms as the cleanup from the tornado in Moore is still under way.
Recently, I collected a few weather apps that are great for a quick glance at the weather, but those apps won't help you much in severe weather conditions. For more-serious weather activity, … Read more
With high-quality digital cameras on every smartphone and apps that make your pictures even better, just about anyone can be an accomplished photographer. Sure, you may not be an accomplished photographer in any serious sense, but you can certainly upload your images to photo-sharing sites to get them out to the public and receive feedback to make your shots even better.
As most people know, there are a number of popular services already out there that let you take your shot, add effects and other enhancements, then upload it for all to see. But the other thing that's great … Read more
The Anthony Gallo Acoustics Micro SE speaker ($239) is a tiny steel sphere, just 4 inches in diameter -- that's the size of an orange. It's an audiophile quality performer, capable of delivering high-resolution sound and a big, downright spacious stereo image. In fact, the imaging of the Micro SE and the slightly larger A'Diva SE reminds me of the wide-open, boxless sound I get with large, flat-panel speakers. Since these Gallos have just one full-range driver, they don't need a crossover network to direct high frequencies to the tweeter and bass to the woofer, and … Read more
New music services are great at making me feel old.
Opening Spotify is like opening the door to some hip cafe where a mustached 20-year old barista takes my order with folded arms and a stamp on his hand from last night's secret show. I feel not just a little lame. But instead of running for the door like the curmudgeon that I am, yearning for the comfortable embrace of my iTunes collection, I stay.
I stay because even in these days of free apps, free video streams, and free e-books, I'm still totally enthralled by the idea … Read more
No one can deny the popularity of sound bar speakers, but I've always been frustrated by their sound quality. There were exceptions; the $899 Atlantic Technology PB-235 and $699 SpeakerCraft CS3 are quite good, but in the more popular $300-to-$400 range the 'bars weren't all that great. Granted, they were a big step up from TV speakers, but their sound was still a compromise, compared with what's available from the better $300-to-$400 Emotiva and Audioengine self-powered stereo speakers (they get hooked up from your TV's stereo analog jacks).
A few weeks ago I spent … Read more