Last July Fourth I wrote a Be patriotic: Buy American made audio blog featuring lots of pricey gear, but this time out the focus is on budget audio made in the US. These products weren't just selected for their prices, I've heard or reviewed each one, so I know they are exceptional performers for the money. A lot of my picks are under $300!
I'll start with Grado Labs, they make phono cartridges and headphones in their Brooklyn facility. I've been there, and it's all old school, hands-on work, including their SR60e full-size, over-the-ear headphone which runs $79, £73, AU$119; the SR80e is $99, £94, AU$149!
Grado workers also hand-build the $75, £79, AU$110 Prestige Black2 cartridge in the same Brooklyn facility, and they offer 11 more Prestige cartridges all under $260.
U-Turn Orbit turntables are made in Woburn, MA, and prices start at $179, including the phono cartridge. Sorry, they're not readily available in the UK or Australia.
The pint-size Schiit Modi 2 USB digital audio converter will make your computer's music sound better than ever. It's also made in California and sells for $99, the souped up Modi 2 Uber runs $150, £150 and AU$279.
The Audeze iSine 10 planar magnetic in-ear headphone sounds like no other brand's in-ear headphone for two reasons: its open-back design lets you hear the world around you, and the driver is a planar magnetic design, based on the tech featured in Audeze's full-size headphones. The iSine 10 is made in California and sells for $399, £399 in the UK, and AU$549 in Australia
Magnepan MMGi panel speaker stands 48 inches high and is 14.5 inches wide, but it's just 1.25 inches thick. Magnepans differ from conventional speakers in the way they project sound into a room: whereas box speakers radiate sound forward, Magnepan ribbon driver panels radiate from the front and rear surfaces. They're made in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. The MMGi isn't readily available in the UK or Australia.
Prather's Tretina Unit holds up to 160 LPs, it's made of solid cherry, maple, or walnut hardwood, not medium density fiberboard. Tretina LP storage unit prices start at $315. Brit and Jason Prather design, build, finish, pack, and ship a wide range of LP storage racks from their home workshop in Sugarcreek, Ohio. Check with Prather about UK and Australia prices and shipping costs.
Designed and made in NYC this beauty will bring out the best in any full-size headphones' sound. The WA3 sells for $599, £471, AU$840.
The Schiit Mani phono preamplifier works with moving-magnet and moving-coil cartridges, it's made in California. It's shockingly good for $129, £140, AU$249.
To finish up, Tekton Mini Lore tower speakers, I reviewed the very similar M-Lore back in 2012. The Mini Lore is hand-crafted in Orem, Utah and boasts a 8-inch woofer and 1-inch silk dome tweeter. Tekton sells the Mini Lore direct for $710 a pair with free shipping in the US, they aren't available in the UK or Australia.