PS Audio Sprout
PRICE PS Audio: $799/TEAC: $549
AT A GLANCE: PS Audio
Line input and output
Warm, engaging sound
No remote control
No direct DSD decoding
AT A GLANCE: Teac
Six source inputs
Dedicated sub output
Dynamic and transparent
No stereo line out
These compact, versatile, and affordable combos will drive good bookshelf speakers or headphones to audiophile heights, each with its own sense of style.
It&rsquo;s certainly a thing. It may be a trend. Or possibly even a wave&mdash;a new-wave, high-res groundswell sweeping over the nation&rsquo;s small but growing (we hope!) cadre of youthful audio fans.
I&rsquo;m talking about ultra-compact integrated-amplifier/digital-to-analog converters: &ldquo;ampDACs,&rdquo; I&rsquo;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&rsquo;s ubiquitous Bluetooth wireless capability.)
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.
Do wireless HDMI kits really work? We test three to find out.
In late 2003, HDMI-equipped consumer-electronic devices started to appear on the market. Unfortunately, the transition to digital has been anything but smooth. Although HDMI was a vast improvement over DVI (Digital Visual Interface) in its ability to carry both audio and video in one cable, it came with its own set of issues.
Price: $400 At A Glance: Effective, free alternative to cable or satellite &bull; Vudu streaming &bull; Runs hot!
In this day of dozens of HDTV channels delivered via hardwired cable or satellite transmission, it&rsquo;s hard to remember that watching TV wasn&rsquo;t always quite so easy. Way back when, every television had an antenna connected to it. If you were distant from the transmission tower, you might have had a big mast antenna on your roof, as did your next-door neighbor, and his next-door neighbor, and so on, until the suburban skyline came to be defined by these skeletal sculptures reaching into the bright dawn of a soaring postwar America. If you lived a little closer to the tower, you probably just used the telescopic rabbit ears poking up from the back or top of every set, and the ritual of changing channels (to another of the seven or eight available) involved walking across the room, manually clicking the TV&rsquo;s rotary tuning knob, and then reorienting the antenna arms to minimize the distortion. Even then, it didn&rsquo;t always work. Depending on conditions, it wasn&rsquo;t uncommon to get snowy artifacts from a weak signal, or ghosting caused by multipath reception as the signal bounced off nearby buildings or other large objects.
The dirty little secret of the iOS aftermarket accessory world (at least where audiophiles are concerned) is that Apple's various bricks and slabs actually sound fairly good out of the box. Output impedance of the headphone jack is comfortably low (around 5 ohm for iPods and iPads most cases, below 1 ohm for the iPhone 4/4s), the onboard DAC isn't a slouch - totally adequate for on-the-go, and for everyday desktop listening, you could do a lot worse.But that might not be enough for you.
I have seen the future, and it is wireless. Wireless data, wireless music, wireless speakers, wireless keyboards, and now, wireless HDMI hi-def video. (Of course, all these things still need to be plugged into the wall, for AC power. Perhaps, somewhere on the Other Side, Nikola Tesla is still working on that.)Wireless HDMI gets us that much closer to the Jetsonian ideal of the sheet-of-glass video screen floating unencumbered on a wall – without having to tear down that wall to run wires.
After becoming music director of the Minnesota Orchestra in 2003 Osmo Vänskä began recording an excellent multi-channel SACD set of Beethoven symphonies with his new group. The Finnish conductor has since returned to the work of his countryman Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), recording this multi-channel SACD of the composer's most popular symphonies, Nos. 2 &amp; 5.
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?
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.
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.