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A Tale of Two Headphones from Canada by NAD VISO & Paradigm!

NAD Visio Headphones“Both of these Canadian companies have recently introduced quality headphone in-house designs for the audiophiile, at a price well above those of the junk that we associate with ex-rappers and tiny Chinese companies trying to cause premature deafness in young people all over the world. Thus, there is a somewhat Messianic quality about both of these products, and the cost of saving your ears (if not your soul), is perhaps higher than what many subway hangers-on might want to pay.”

HRS M3X Platform Makes Life (or at least Listening) More Stable

HRS isolation platform “The M3X Isolation Base is available in four standard sizes, with three different load ranges to optimize component matching. Our review sample was 21 x 19 x 3″ (53.3 x 48.3 x 7.6 cm), optimized for a load of up to 52 lbs (23.5 KG), a couple of inches all around more than we actually needed. This was, in fact, better than it being too small…”

Audioquest DragonFly USB DAC

Audioquest DragonFly USB Dac“This is a product that may look a little like a Dragonfly, but one that soars more like a Dragon flying, as seen in various special-effects-heavy Hollywood films of late. It’s a friendly beast, too, easy to set up and use with any computer of today’s normal specs for USB digital audio output. It can be used with headphones, powered speakers or as your computer output into an audio system. I had mine going in 10 minutes through Windows 7 in my new Quad-core i7 laptop PC.

AURALiC Taurus Headphone Amplifier & Analog Preamplifier and ARK MX+ 96 kHz Coaxial/USB DAC

Auralic Taurus Preamplifier and Headphone Amplifier “AURALiC is a Hong Kong-based company that has its own very specific, and special ideas about designing audio components. With ideals based around classic professional products, such as the famous and revered designs of Rupert Neve, the company sets high standards for itself.”

PSB M4U 2 Active Noise Cancelling Stereo Headphone System

PSB M4U 2 Active Noise Cancelling Stereo Headphone System“I’ve wondered for some years when Paul Barton would turn his keen speaker design sense in the direction of headphones, after having mastered the many facets of speaker engineering over a multi-decade career. Well, it’s finally happened, and has become something of an event, with new intelligence applied to what we in broadcasting used to refer to as “cans”. They’ve been called “ear speakers” and many less flattering names, especially those notable for their lack of comfort on the head in extended listening…”

Samson ZOOM H2n(ext) Handy Digital Recorder - ZOOM Forges Ahead of the Pack…

Samson Zoom H2n“I’ve admired and owned ZOOM products for a few years now, both H4 and H2 passing through my studio and out into the field. Those reviews have already been published, and this Japanese company has now taken over its own worldwide distribution of its newest products…”

CEntrance DACPort

Dacport - detail“Headphones are hot these days. And, like much of the rest of the high end, headphone prices have been smashing through one upper price threshold after another. It was not very long ago that a $1,000 pair of headphones was exceedingly rare, the purview of Stax and a scant few other esoteric models. These days, when shopping at the upper end of the spectrum anyway, a grand is more like the starting point, with plenty of models in the fifteen hundred and up range…”

JH Audio JH 13 Pro In Ear Headphones - The Best In Ear ‘Phones You Can Buy?

JH Audio JH 13 Pro In-Ear Headphones (Small)“I had been wanting to try a pair of custom in-ear headphones for some time, but when I started reading online about the JH Audio headphones, including not only some rave reviews but some background on their pro audio and aviation background (the Company is named for its founder, Jerry Harvey who not only founded Ultimate Ears [he left the company in 2007] but started developing stage monitors for musicians back in 1995 while mixing live shows for Van Halen, K.D. Lang, The Cult and many other bands…”

Phiaton PS 300 NC Noise Canceling On-Ear Headphones

Phiaton PS 300 NC Noise<br />
Canceling On-Ear Headphones“Reminiscent of Koss in its glory days, this new company is attempting to inhabit the high end of the headphone market at a time when the former headphone maker has gone way downmarket. Phiaton has also applied some serious engineering effort to the noise canceling design process as well. The PS 300 NC is not just a headphone, but a package that comes with a pair of proprietary rechargeable batteries (18-hour life cycle), and a charger that can use either USB or AC power, and in the latter case provides attachable plugs for different national power systems…”

Tangent Quattro Mk II Internet/FM Radio

Tangent Quattro Internet Radio“In Canada these days, we see jurisdictional battles between on-air broadcasters and specialty-channel carriers like cable and satellite, with the traditional former crowd now screaming for carriage fees when their signals are re-broadcast on such services as Rogers cable or XpressVu and Star Choice satellite distribution systems. Of course, the cable and satellite folks claim they are doing the broadcasters a favour, and don’t want to ante up any dough at this time just because conventional broadcasting is suffering advertising losses because of the recession. Whatever happened to the truism that a TV (or radio) channel was a license to print money?”

Crystal Cable New Standard Certified 1.3B HDMI Cable

Crystal HDMI Cable - detailCrystal Cable was founded in 2004 with the aim of building audio cables from a special balanced formula of gold-infused silver that increases conductivity because of its extraordinary purity, 99.9999999% conductive metal. The driving force behind Crystal Cable is Gabi van der Kleij, a trained concert pianist, who has assembled some very innovative engineers to develop and manufacture the cable materials and do final construction. All their cables are wound using special techniques that employ, as well as the proprietary gold/silver alloy, such materials as Kapton and Teflon for insulation purposes…”

Antec A/V Cooler

Antec AV Cooler (Small)“This quite inexpensive accessory is a platform made of plastic and aluminum that draws air in at the back, and blows it out underneath. You can see the two fans on the bottom. The fans run at two speeds, 1200 rpm on Low and 1600 rpm in the High position. The unit weighs just over 4 pounds, and is almost 2″ high, and roughly 17″ x 14″ wide and deep, respectively. The fan noise level is said to be 22.45 dBA in Low and 28.7 dBA in High…”

Ultimate Ears Triple.fi 10 Pro In Ear Headphones

Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10 Pro In Ear Headphones (Single)“In all my years as an audiophile I’m hard pressed to think of a piece of equipment that has had the kind of effect on my daily life that the Ultimate Ears Triple.fi 10 Pro headphones have. Certainly the timing is right, as I find myself commuting between Toronto and New York every week, and through midtown Manhattan to and from work on foot every day. I’m probably logging somewhere in the neighbourhood of seven to ten hours a week on the iPod with these things right now, and I’m loving them…”

ERGO 2 Headphones - True Earspeakers!

Ergo 2 headphones

“The ERGO 2 is the middle model in the range, distinguished from the 1 by neodymium magnets, while the 3 AMT is a more elaborate and expensive Heil driver design that replaces the Jecklin Float electrostatic model. I’ve never been much of a proponent of electrostatic cans, the best in my experience being the short-lived Koss effort of a decade or more ago…”

Meridian F80 Portable A/V System - Hy Sarick Looks at what Happens when High End Audio Meets High End Auto

Meridian F80

“A combined CD and DVD player, AM/FM receiver and sound system in a single convenient unit.” So says the introduction to this remarkable little AV system. Remember the aptly named “Boombox”, which was to be seen perching on the shoulders of urban youth? These moulded plastic monstrosities were often played at levels which caused grief to nearby unwilling listeners, as well as causing permanent hearing damage to the carrier…”

Phono Accessories: Sonic Bliss Turntable Mat, High End Disc Stabilizer, HRS Analog Disk Record Clamp

HRS Record Clamp

“I was intrigued by the listing, and though there are many mats out there, most DJ slip types, this one looked interesting. Its technological hook seemed to be a crochet-like pattern that exposed at least as much air between the LP and platter as rubber, an integral part of the design of the RingMat I have used for close to 20 years. By providing this space, vinyl/stylus resonances and platter/motor noise are dissipated in the air, while the record is firmly supported…”

Boostaroo Revolution Portable Headphone Amplifier

Boostaroo Revolution“Of the myriad accessories now available for portable music players, and specifically iPods, only a tiny fraction have anything to do with improving sound quality. If you want to hear more from your portable it pretty much comes down to headphones and headphone amplifiers. Designed to drive the cheesy white earbuds that come with the thing, the headphone amplifier in an Ipod isn’t quite up to the task of driving the more difficult loads presented by less sensitive, larger, sealed or open-back type cans like the big Sennheisers and AKGs…”

Audio Limits Passive Controller

Audio Limits Passive Preamp“I discovered this product on eBay a couple of weeks back (late August 07), and was struck by its elegant simplicity. It’s a 4-input switcher, with a high quality potentiometer in a simple box, with long shafts on each rotary control to keep all contacts and point-to-point wiring at the rear near the high quality RCA ins and outs. Internal cabling is done with “24 AWG silver-plated copper wire with Teflon insulation”, according to the web site…”

OPTRIX CD/DVD Treatment Fluid

OPTRIX CD/DVD Treatment Fluid

“This will be a brief review of a small bottle, 2 fluid ounces or 60 milliliters in all, that coats optical discs to increase their readability by filling micro-scratches and improving reflectivity of the pitted surface. According to the white paper seen under the photo, “OPTRIX contains isopropyl alcohol, distilled water and optically optically active nonionic surfactants”, and has “antistatic properties”, is “chemically neutral and will not damage your CDs or Laser discs.”

HeadRoom Total BitHead Headphone Amp / USB DAC

HeadRoom Total BitHead

“If you do a lot of commuting, and/or like to use your computer listen to music at work, the folks at HeadRoom have your number. I myself fall into this group, and while my commute might vary quite a bit job to job (the film business is not for those who prize consistency and predictability) I listen to music at work as often as I can. A couple of years ago I reviewed the Echo Indigo laptop sound card, a device which will fit just about any laptop and offers two 1/8″ mini outputs to drive headphones or powered speakers…”


  Outside the Speakers

    Random Thoughts on the Music Mask
    NPR on Whether Audiophiles Still Exist
    Audiophile Grade Mics?
    CDs Sales Die, LP Sales Fly
    Some High End 'Phones from CES

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