I've used an iPod Classic as my on-the-go music player for years, while I was waiting for something better. Sure, Astell & Kern has two perfectly fine players, the $699 AK100 and the $1,299 AK120, but FiiO smashed the high-resolution music player price barrier with the X3, which lists for $299, but which sells for $200 on Amazon and most other online retail sites.
This past Wednesday, at the Time Warner Building in New York, Sony Electronics demonstrated a renewed interest in high-resolution audio. The company had a full slate of high-resolution hardware on display, and promised review samples would be coming our way in the near future. The initiative includes a commitment to make high-resolution audio "a more convenient, compelling, and cost-effective listening experience for digital music enthusiasts everywhere. To support this, select Sony products will come preinstalled with high-resolution tracks from Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment."
The flagship high-resolution audio model, the HAP-Z1ES ($1,999) … Read more
I visited Stereo Buyers' Brooklyn headquarters to get a first-hand look at their gear. Located in Red Hook, the facility was flooded by Hurricane Sandy last summer, and most of the inventory was literally underwater. Stereo Buyers' Adam Wexler did his best to prepare before the storm hit, but his best line in recalling the disaster was, "I bet you didn't know that Wilson Audio Watt/Puppy 5 speakers (that weigh over 100 pounds) can float, but they can. It was crazy and depressing; the financial losses were a bummer." He didn't have flood insurance, but … Read more
This blog is all about finding great-sounding audio products, in every price range. In June I reported on the best-sounding headphone I've ever heard, the Abyss AB-1266, but not long after that I was knocked out by Sony's MDR-V6, and now I'm auditioning these surprisingly decent $15 Audio Technica ATH-CLR100 in-ear headphones.
Introduced earlier this year, this all-plastic design is incredibly light, just 3.4 grams. It has 8.5mm drivers, sports small, medium, and large silicone eartips, and the headphone comes with a round plastic case. Amazon sells it for around $12, and even with that … Read more
The "Spinal Tap" reference to the volume control that goes to "11" notwithstanding, there's a lot of confusion surrounding volume controls. There shouldn't be; the volume control setting has nothing to do with how loud an amp can play. Some folks mistakenly think that if you don't have to turn the knob up very far from the minimum setting to achieve high volume, that "proves" it's a powerful amp. No, not at all; the maximum volume level of any amp is determined not by how far you turn the knob, … Read more
The new Zoom H6 Handy Recorder jams a lot of technology and features into a surprisingly compact device, and it sounds great. The H6 was designed for musicians, sound professionals, journalists, and videographers, but I'm sure there's a smattering of audiophiles who would really enjoy using this thing. I spent a few days recording street musicians performing in various parks around NYC, and one feature immediately stood out, the interchangeable microphone modules that plug into the top of the recorder. The H6 carries a retail price of $399, and that price includes two mic modules, X-Y, and MS (… Read more
I've heard a lot of, but far from most of the world's best headphone amps, but even in that heady territory the Auralic Taurus MKII shines. I've used a wide range of my very best headphones, in-ears and full-size, and they're all sounding better than I've heard them before.
The $6,475 Mal Valve amp is right up there, but it's been a few months since I heard it, and I never had it at home so my experience was more limited. I had the luxury of living with the Taurus MKII for weeks, … Read more
Last month I asked readers to submit essays for my "You can be the Audiophiliac for a day" contest. I received a lot of thought-provoking pieces, and I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to write. You guys are a smart bunch, but there can be only one winner, and I selected John O.'s "Chasing the Ultimate Sound System." His perceptive examination of the audiophile quest for great sound will reverberate with a lot of folks. The only thing I'd like to add is that the only person you need to … Read more
The GoldenEar Technology Triton Seven is, as we audiophiles like to say, "transparent" -- it sounds like an open window to the sound of music. That's always the goal for high-end speakers, but only the very best ones take you all the way there.
The Triton Seven's slender cabinet leaves no doubt: this is a thoroughly modern design. The swept-back, nonparallel-sided cabinets, and high-gloss black accents are distinctive; I'm sure the Triton Seven will never be mistaken for just another big-box tower.
The Triton Seven's front, sides, and rear are covered with a wrap-around … Read more
Meridian is a legendary British company; I think of it as the Mercedes-Benz of audio, and the gear is priced accordingly. Meridian's engineering was always ahead of the pack, and it was the very first to market a high-end CD player in 1985. The company developed the original high-resolution lossless compression technology, MLP, that debuted in DVD-Audio players, and is now used in Dolby TrueHD-encoded Blu-ray discs.