When I dropped by the Park Avenue Audio NYC showroom, I was on a mission to find an audiophile bookshelf speaker that wouldn't break the bank. The store's selection covers a wide gamut, but the majority of speakers are $1,000-plus per pair. Then I ran across the Monitor Audio "Silver" RX1; it's a medium-size bookshelf speaker, measuring a tidy 12.3 x 7.3 x 9.4 inches. At 15 pounds, it feels surprisingly heavy for its size. It has a 1-inch ceramic-coated aluminum/magnesium-alloy dome tweeter and a 6-inch metal woofer. The speakers … Read more
Regular readers of this blog know we're living in the golden age of desktop audio. The speakers just keep getting better and better, and digital converters from the likes of Schiit Audio, AudioQuest, Hifiman, FiiO, and HRT have all made computers sound better than ever.
Now along comes the Meridian Explorer, a sleek, extruded aluminum converter with line- and headphone-level 3.5mm output jacks and a USB input. The line-level output internally bypasses the headphone amp and volume control. Meridian is best known for its ultra-high-end digital converters that sell for thousands of dollars -- the Explorer is their … Read more
Eyeball a car magazine or two on a newsstand and there's a good chance you'll spot a 200-mile-per-hour dream machine gracing the cover. Why not? They're gorgeous weapons of speed, and they all sell for more than the price of your house. Supercar MSRP inflation shows no signs of letting up, all (three) of the $3.9 million, 750-horsepower Lamborghini Venenos are spoken for. Ferraris are priced somewhat more competitively; the legendary Italian maker will soon offer 499 editions of their $1.15 million carbon-fiber-bodied, hybrid V-12/electric LaFerrari, which has 963 horsepower and can reach 217 … Read more
I cover a lot of great-sounding gear on this blog, ranging from the $22 Lepai LP 2020A stereo integrated amplifier, $129 Pioneer SP-BS22-LR speakers, and the $650 Tekton M-Lore towers. This time I'm going all the way with a true state-of-the-art contender: the JBL Everest DD66000. It's the speaker equivalent of a fire-breathing Ferrari. I got the chance to spend quality time with a pair of these outrageously awesome speakers at EarsNova in New York last week for about an hour. Viva Audio tube amplifiers were driving the speakers, and the digital converter was by dCS Digital.
I … Read more
How loud is loud? I know loud when I hear it, but if you want a number, I'd say at home anything over 90 dB is getting up there, and might annoy neighbors in adjacent apartments, especially after 10 p.m. If you live in a house, 90+ dB would definitely disturb other family members not watching the movie or listening to music. Of course, the volume at concerts and movie theaters is much, much louder than most people would ever tolerate at home. Loud music, games, and home theater takes on an almost physical quality; you don't … Read more
Back in February I first posed the question, "Do separate components sound better than AV receivers?" when I checked out the Outlaw Audio 975 surround processor and 7125 power amp and compared their sound with a Denon AVR-1912 AV receiver. The Outlaws handily trumped the receiver.
I ran another comparison with the Denon, this time with the Emotiva UMC-200 seven-channel surround processor ($599) and UPA-500 five-channel amplifier ($399). If you just go by the numbers, the AVR-1912's 90 watts per channel might appear to be slightly ahead of the Emotiva UPA-500 amp, which has 80 watts per … Read more
The Fosgate Signature Headphone Amplifier is one of the very best-sounding amps I've ever used. It was designed by one of the greats, Jim Fosgate, a man who earned 18 audio related patents, founded a number of successful electronics companies -- oh, and he pioneered high-power car audio systems. He was also a big supporter of the very first home surround format -- quadraphonic -- in the early 1970s, and so committed to the format that even as quad was winding down, he designed the Fosgate Tate 101, arguably the finest quad processor of the era. Fosgate also created … Read more
Most of the headphones I've tested over the years weren't designed to have a neutral balance of bass, midrange, and treble frequencies. Manufacturers are well aware that most people like bass, and that buyers tend to favor one headphone over another based on how much bass it produces. I think that's obvious, but a recent study cited in Brent Butterworth's blog countered that assumption. "The Relationship between Perception and Measurement of Headphone Sound Quality," a paper by Sean Olive and Todd Welti presented at last October's Audio Engineering Society convention found that a … Read more
Desktop digital-to-analog converters keep getting better and better, and the Micromega MyDac is a fine example of the breed. The 24-bit/192-kHz MyDac has three digital inputs: coaxial, optical, and USB, all selectable via the thumb wheel control on the front panel. The stereo RCA analog outputs can feed either your powered speakers or power amp. I was pleased to see the MyDac has a built-in power supply, so it doesn't use a wall wart. Micromega will soon release a matching headphone amp, which I hope to review here with the MyDac. Available in black or white finishes, its … Read more
Music, or should I say most recorded music, is already free; you can get it whenever and wherever you want it and pay nothing.
I've bought thousands of CDs, SACDs, LPs, and a few hundred downloads. Of course, when I started buying music I didn't have too many "free" options, other than radio or taping friends' albums. Radio was a great way to discover new music, but once I heard something I really liked, I bought it. My $3.98 "Led Zeppelin II" LP was a great investment; I've played it hundreds of … Read more