COMPUTER AUDIO REVIEWS

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Michael Berk Posted: Oct 25, 2011 0 comments

British manufacturer Monitor Audio has a deserved reputation for well-designed, high-performing speaker systems, and the latest offerings in the company's line of iOS device docks, the i-deck 100 and 200, follow in those footsteps. And now they can be yours.

Michael Berk Posted: Dec 14, 2011 0 comments

Cable cutting. You've probably begun the process already, even if you haven't gone all the way - think about how often you turn to Netflix, or Amazon, or Hulu Plus. And despite the panicked efforts of networks and providers nationwide, when are you watching live TV, exactly, aside from sports?

Michael Berk Posted: Aug 23, 2011 0 comments

Elite Screens' new Lunette isn't your everyday curved projection surface.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 02, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
HDMI input for high-res music on Blu-ray
Adjustable ’phone impedance and sampling rate
Sounds good with different ’phones
Minus
None to speak of...

THE VERDICT
Essence’s HDACC bridges the gap between Blu-ray music content and legacy audio systems with an extremely adjustable and great-sounding DAC.

The most unusual product in this roundup is the HDACC HD Audio Center from Essence Electrostatic, a company that also markets flat-diaphragm loudspeakers. Like the NAD, it qualifies as a headphone amp, DAC, and stereo preamp with TosLink, coax, and analog inputs. But its greater claim to fame is a pair of HDMI jacks, input and output, on the back panel.

Michael Berk Posted: Sep 13, 2011 0 comments

It's curious enough to find venerable speaker companies getting into the headphone business, but the announcement today by Apple accessories specialists InCase of an all-new - and very complete - line of headphones is even more of a surprise.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Oct 16, 2012 0 comments

When we first looked at iPhone/iPod touch remote control solutions in our September 2010 issue, the concept was novel enough that we were unabashedly gushy. There was only a bare handful of remote control apps, and the variety of angles by which they attacked, mostly success- fully, the ever-vexing problem of how to operate an A/V system without losing any marbles (and then throwing them, hard, at expensive components) was truly cool.

Michael Berk Posted: Oct 04, 2011 0 comments

Along with a couple of other choice items - the Mode M40 noise-cancelling full-size headphones and the G-17 AirPlay dock - Klipsch has released the S4A, an Android-friendly incarnation of the popular S4 in-ear headphone.

John Sciacca Posted: Dec 25, 2012 0 comments

Remote controls can essentially be clumped into three categories: low-, middle-, and high-end. At the low end are DIY models that offer basic “all-in-one” control functions and are meant to replace lost or broken manufacturer-issued remotes. High-end models require professional programming and provide powerful automation features, IP and RS-232 control, and radio-frequency operation.

Michael Berk Posted: Nov 16, 2011 0 comments

Over the past couple of weeks Hewlett Packard has rolled out a huge pile of new consumer products, among them a clutch of all-in-ones, touchscreen PCs and tablets, Beats-enhanced laptops, and even a curious little Wi-Fi mouse.

Al Griffin Posted: Feb 14, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $249

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive sound quality for Bluetooth
Audiophile-friendly look
Pain-free setup
Minus
Pricey

THE VERDICT
It might not be high-rez or high end, but Mass Fidelity’s Bluetooth receiver is a great option for casual listening.

Bluetooth gets a bad rap in the hi-fi world, and for good reason: In contrast to other wireless audio technologies that let you stream uncompressed CD-quality audio from a PC or portable device, Bluetooth subjects the signal to lossy compression. If you’re an audiophile with a reputation to uphold, the story pretty much ends there.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 25, 2013 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Enhances computer audio
Sleek design
High-end build quality
Minus
No headphone jack
Ambiguous indicators

THE VERDICT
The Director is the best USB DAC we’ve heard yet.

I will never forget the moment when I first heard digital audio in 1985. It was a profound disappointment. I had just bought my first CD player and played my first Compact Disc. The sound was harsh and alienating. How could that be? CDs offered perfect sound forever. There must be something wrong with my ears, I thought. It took years to trust my senses and rethink my digital signal source.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 10, 2013 5 comments
Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $299 At a Glance: Computer-friendly USB DAC • Headphone amp • Clean and precise sound

Do you have a pack of cigarettes on your desk? If so, try this. Connect a USB cable between the pack and your computer. Then connect a line-level cable between the pack and your desktop-powered speakers or amplifier. Finally, replace the cigarette pack with a Meridian Explorer USB DAC. There: Your life just got a whole lot happier and healthier. And your music is smokin’.

Fred Manteghian Posted: Dec 06, 2010 0 comments
Price: $1,595 At A Glance: CD quality, or better, in an easy-to-use iTunes wrapper • iPhone or iPod touch remote control not included

From Air to iTunity

I used to say, “Disk is cheap,” even back in the ’80s when, let’s be honest, it really wasn’t. A 40-megabyte disk drive—go ask your dad what a megabyte is—went for $400 and was about enough to store a 4-minute CD track. Today, I have a pair of 250-gigabyte external drives that ran me half that amount even a few years ago. Together with my laptop, I’ve got a system that easily fulfills my every iTunes fantasy—except one. I still have to rely on an iPod and iPod docking station to get music from the computer rig to my main system across the room. If that’s been bugging you too, check out the Micromega AirStream WM-10. It’s an 802.11n wireless router that your iTunes library can connect to, all for a price that—well, there’s the rub. This thing ain’t cheap.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Dec 21, 2011 0 comments

Most headphone amps aren’t made for the way we use headphones. Even many small models are too big to slip comfortably into a pocket. And most require power from an AC wall wart or a USB port. What use is that when you’re stuck in seat 34B of a Boeing 757, miles above Enid, Oklahoma, struggling to get better sound from your smartphone?

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 02, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Well-balanced sound
Space-saving footprint
XLR and RCA outputs
Minus
No data rate conversion
Incomplete sampling indicators

THE VERDICT
NAD’s D 1050 is a well-rounded DAC and headphone amp with outputs to feed a stereo preamp or receiver.

NAD’s D 1050 USB DAC, to use its official name, is one of a trio of products introduced at the same time. Like the D 7050 Direct Digital Network Amplifier ($999) and D 3020 Hybrid Digital Amplifier ($499), it includes a headphone amp and USB DAC. Unlike those two products, it doesn’t directly drive a pair of speakers—only your humble cans and the analog inputs of an audio system. However, its shape and design are similar to that of the other two products, building their digital-to-analog and preamp guts into a smaller package.

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