I've written about the Audeze LCD-2 headphones in this blog before, but now I'm going to cover the LCD-3 model, Audeze's best headphones. At first glance the two don't look all that different, but the LCD-3s sport real zebrawood earcups and have thicker and softer real lambskin leather cushions to coddle your ears. This is a fairly heavy (550-gram) set of headphones, but they're comfortable to wear for hours at a time. Details of why the LCD-2s and LCD-3s sound different aren't forthcoming from Audeze, other than the drivers, which use similar technology, are … Read more
British audiophile brand Arcam appears to be making a greater effort to go mainstream these days with products such as the Arcam rCube iPhone dock and now, an entry-level USB DAC/headphone amplifier (amp) combo.
Meant as a smaller (and cheaper) alternative to the rDac digital-to-analog converter, this model only has a single USB input, with an asynchronous DAC. Audiophiles tend to prefer asynchronous USB inputs on DACs for the more consistent audio quality they're supposed to provide as the device creates the clock signals and not the (sometimes ancient) USB controller.… Read more
Red Wine Audio makes some of my all-time favorite headphone amplifiers, but they're pretty expensive. The Isabellina HPA LFP-V Edition, for example, runs $2,500; it was designed and built in Vinnie Rossi's small factory in Durham, Conn. The Isabellina is more than just a headphone amp, it features a spectacularly good digital-to-analog converter and a hybrid transistor/vacuum tube audio amplifier. While the amp can be run off an AC power outlet, it sounds best powered by its built-in 25.6 volt Lithium Iron Phosphate battery pack. The battery can play for up to 10 hours, and … Read more
I've written about Schiit's amazing headphone amps before, but their new Lyr is the company's first high-output headphone amplifier. It delivers up to 6 watts into 32 ohm headphones. If that sounds like overkill for most headphones I'd agree, but there are a few headphones that need more power to sound their best. That's where the Schiit Lyr ($449) comes into its own.
I recently raved about Emotiva's Airmotiv 4 powered speakers, but if you already have a nice pair of speakers and need a great affordable amp, the company's Mini-X a-100 deserves an audition. Emotiva calls the Mini-X a-100 a "Super Flex" amp, which I assume means it's super flexible. You can run it with a CD player, computer, iPod, or as a "second zone" amp in a multiroom system, a rear surround speaker amp, or just a basic amp for a small hi-fi.
The Mini-X a-100 looks like a smaller version of one of … Read more
Ever since digital technology took over in guitar amps, a lot of people have spent a lot of time trying to eke an analog tone out of modern tech.
The quest for good old-fashioned tube tone has been fairly successful, but let's get down to what's really important: retro good looks. … Read more
No doubt about it, Nuforce makes audiophile products that don't conform to the old paradigms. Take a look at the Dia digital integrated amplifier. It's downright tiny, accepts only digital sources like CD, DVD, or Blu-ray players, or an Apple TV, flat-screen TV, game, or cable box. How tiny is the Dia? Just 6 inches by 4.5 inches by 1 inch; and man that's really small. It has one RCA coaxial and two Toslink optical digital inputs. The onboard digital-to analog converter accepts up to 192kHz/24-bit sources, and the analog switching stereo 24 watt per … Read more
It seems like every time I write about a USB digital-to-analog converter or portable headphone amplifier I get a slew of reader e-mails requesting a review of one of Fiio's low-cost/high-performance audio components.
Pricing may be solidly in the affordable range, but don't for a second conclude Fiio's components aren't beautifully designed little gems.… Read more
You counted right, the Amped Wireless R10000G router has four zeros in its name.
Those digits are intended to indicate that the router is able to offer Wi-Fi coverage for an area of 10,000 square feet, about 10 times that of a good-size apartment.
In my testing, it indeed offered really long range.… Read more
Audioengine is one of my favorite brands. For me it all started with their petite A2 speakers ($199/pair), and then I gushed over their P4 speakers ($249/pair). But Audioengine isn't the sort of company that reinvents its line every year or two. No, they invest a lot of time into designing great products, and then let them be. The A2 and P4 are still in the line, and are still stellar.