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COMPUTER AUDIO REVIEWS

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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?

Daniel Kumin Posted: Oct 08, 2013 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Fine performance and sound
Elegant looks
Clear value
Minus
No mute control
Limited detail in volume readout

THE VERDICT
As an integrated amplifier/DAC combo for serious listeners, the D 3020’s audio quality and value are unmistakable.

Audio types old enough to have viewed Chevy Chase’s pratfalls live rather than on demand may remember an unprepossessing integrated amplifier from an unfamiliar brand. The NAD 3020, despite a power rating laughably modest even in 1978 (20 watts per channel) and next to no features, gained notice because, as the lore went, “it sounded great.” And it did—thanks to intelligent amplifier design, a conservative power rating, and the value—widely underappreciated, then and now—of dynamic headroom.

Michael Berk Posted: Nov 13, 2012 0 comments

Futureproofing. It's a concept that appeals to consumers, but for various reasons most manufacturers have shied away from products that enable people to extend the useful lives of the gear they already own.

The brand-new Griffin Twenty ($99, out today) is a refreshing exception to the rule.

Peter Pachal Posted: May 04, 2006 0 comments

COOL FACTOR Without a doubt, getting rid of your iPod's headphone cable would be a huge plus. Sure, you may not get as much street cred without the dangling white wires, but think of the freedom you'll have with TEN's naviPlay, which has volume and track-skipping controls right on the earcup.

Michael Berk Posted: Aug 03, 2011 0 comments

In a sure sign that the low-cost DAC is finding its place as an object of mass consumer desire, NuForce has released a 24-karat gold plated version of their uDAC-2 converter-and-headphone-amp combo unit

Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Jun 06, 2012 0 comments

Aah, summertime. Lather on sunscreen, pump up the bike tires, and you’re almost set. What’s missing? Music! And we’re not talking about those antisocial earbuds that cocooned you through the dark winter. We’re talking about actual speakers that you can take along with you on outings.

Michael Berk Posted: Aug 18, 2011 0 comments

Parasound has packed a few more features into their Zphono moving coil/moving magnet pre, adding to the Zphono·USB ($350) an A-D converter and (obviously) a USB port, making it even more handy as a general-purpose interface for those with older and esoteric turntables (or pretty much any other stereo gear) looking to digitize their collections.

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