Some audiophiles swear that cables can make or break the sound of their hi-fis, while others poo-poo the idea and use the cheapest hardware store wires. The debates have raged for years, but the only way to really know for sure is to try a set of high-end cables in your system. When I sold hi-fis for a living, I convinced a lot of reluctant customers to buy a set of cables, with the promise I'd refund their money if they didn't hear a difference. The majority of them kept the cables; even some of the most skeptical … Read more
The Wilson Alexia speakers and Dan D'Agostino electronics in the Innovative Audio room at the New York Audio Show stopped me in my tracks. I heard a lot of great gear at the show, but the sound in that room was closer -- a lot closer -- to the sound of the real thing than anything else. The system had a "this is happening now" quality that takes you back to the recording session, proof that cutting edge high-end gear is getting better all the time. Yes, ubergear prices are in the stratosphere, but there were plenty … 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
News Corp. might be known for its range of news outlets, but the company today has unveiled a tablet as well.
At the SXSWedu event in Austin, Texas, today, Amplify, the recently launched education arm of News Corp., unveiled a new tablet. Appropriately named the Amplify Tablet, the device will run on Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) and come with a 10-inch display. The device, which is running on the Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core CPU, is designed for children in grades kindergarten through 12 and comes bundled with all kinds of Amplify software designed to improve the learning experience.
According … Read more
Now that I've spent the past week using Able Planet's newly released behind-the-ear "personal sound amplifier," I've learned that I don't hear as well as I like to think. Everything sounds crisper and perkier with the device.
Of course, that isn't necessarily what I want in every environment. I'll spare you the details, but you don't really need to amplify sound when you're going to the bathroom. Nor should crossing your legs in corduroys or pulling a slice of bread out of the plastic bread bag feel so... tingly. With the rather clumsily named PS1600BTE, sometimes the smallest background noises become so bright that it's downright distracting.
In the intended noisier environments, however, these amplifiers feel like magic, even to someone who likes to think she's got stellar hearing. What's interesting is that it wasn't until I removed the device from each ear that I realized how much duller and more jumbled the sounds in noisy environments were. The PS1600BTE is like icing on a cake I didn't know existed.… Read more
Alex Chorine built his very first amplifier when he was 15, and one amp led to the next. He kept building amps for friends and friends of friends. This was in the Soviet Union, where there was no established high-end audio industry. Chorine went on to earn an electrical engineering degree from the Moscow Institute of Technology, and started working with TVs, but audio was his passion. He took on side projects building guitar and bass amplifiers and pro sound systems. He modified European VCRs to work with Russian TVs. He came to the U.S. in 1992, and a … Read more
I recently put together a new sound system for my living room. With a couple of chunky bookshelf speakers on tall stands, it hardly blends into the vintage expedition decor of the space. I should have held out for a Transparent Speaker.
The Transparent Speaker is a Kickstarter project that looks a bit like a cross between a sound system and a fish tank. It puts all the audio components you need in a glass case. This helps it blend into its surroundings, like an audio system version of a chameleon. … Read more
CES is almost here, but it's important to keep in mind that the biggest consolidated electronics show of the year is often a mixed indicator of the year's actual tech trends. Case in point: consider CES 2010, where "big" products included smartbooks and Cell TVs, but the major wave of Android phones and the iPad were nowhere to be found.
Frankly, I was a little disappointed when I first unboxed the new ALO Pan Am tube headphone amp. It looked so cute and tiny; how could it possibly deliver the goods? The dainty 4.6-inch-by-3.8-inch footprint makes it easy to place anywhere. The amp's rear end houses three inputs: stereo RCA and 3.5mm analog inputs and a USB connection. The built-in digital-to-analog converter accommodates up to 24-bit/96-kHz audio. The amp is available in anodized silver or black finishes.
I started listening with my trusty Grado RS-1 headphones and loved the clarity. The Pan Am has the … Read more
Smartphone batteries may soon last twice as long -- if an MIT spinoff's power amplifier technology lives up to its promise.
The power amplifier is one of the most power-hungry pieces of hardware in a phone. It converts electricity into radio signals and consumes power in two basic modes: standby and output signal for sending out digital data. Such a chip wastes more than 65 percent of its energy, according to a report in the MIT Technology Review, and the only way to make it more efficient is by reducing the power used in standby. … Read more