COMPUTER AUDIO REVIEWS

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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.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Oct 08, 2013 3 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.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 08, 2011 0 comments

DVD, say your prayers. Blu-ray Disc, better get your affairs in order. Judging from the new A/V receivers Pioneer introduced on Monday at the W Hotel in San Francisco, one could easily conclude that the old "hard" media formats have pretty much played out.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Jul 10, 2015 0 comments

PS Audio Sprout
Performance
Features
Value

Teac AI-301DA
Performance
Features
Value
PRICE PS Audio: $799/TEAC: $549

AT A GLANCE: PS Audio
Plus
Phono input
Line input and output
Warm, engaging sound
Minus
No remote control
No direct DSD decoding

AT A GLANCE: Teac
Plus
Six source inputs
Dedicated sub output
Remote control
Dynamic and transparent
Minus
No stereo line out

THE VERDICT
These compact, versatile, and affordable combos will drive good bookshelf speakers or headphones to audiophile heights, each with its own sense of style.

It’s certainly a thing. It may be a trend. Or possibly even a wave—a new-wave, high-res groundswell sweeping over the nation’s small but growing (we hope!) cadre of youthful audio fans.

I’m talking about ultra-compact integrated-amplifier/digital-to-analog converters: “ampDACs,” I’m calling them. The newly evolved species combines a two-channel integrated amplifier (usually of modest power), a headphone output (usually), and high-resolution audio digital-to-analog conversion, all engineered to meet audiophile expectations of quality, and all packaged into a single, paperback-sized unit conceived for versatility. (Most models, including the two under review here, add today’s ubiquitous Bluetooth wireless capability.)

Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Dec 14, 2010 0 comments

What is there left to say about iPods and iPhones that hasn't already been said? These are truly iconic products that exemplify what modern music listening is all about. If the compact disc launched digital audio, then the iPod raised the sails and navigated that boat to every faraway place in the world.

Michael Berk Posted: Jun 02, 2011 0 comments

OK...I'll get this out of the way upfront. Despite the great reviews it's received, before I'd actually encountered it in person I was suspicious of the rCube. Arcam's a company I know and trust, they build a fantasic line of products (including some impressive all-in-one systems), and they know their wireless and DAC design.

Al Griffin Posted: Apr 05, 2013 0 comments

I've had a DragonFly revolving in and out of my desktop setup ever since I first checked one out for S&V's 2012 Holiday Gift Guide, so I was already very familiar with its capabilities.

Al Griffin Posted: Apr 04, 2013 0 comments

When Audioquest released its DragonFly USB Digital-Audio Converter back in 2012, the tiny USB-stick DAC quickly found a niche with audiophiles seeking to improve the sound quality of music played on their laptop computers and listened to via headphones or desktop speakers.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 15, 2011 0 comments
A product that functions imperfectly yet possesses a singular character can be as enjoyable to own as one that delivers unassailable performance. Before you argue the point, know that millions of Harley owners stand ready to back me up.
Michael Trei Posted: Apr 27, 2011 0 comments

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