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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.

TASCAM DR-680 High Resolution Digital Recorder

Tascam DR-680 Multitrack Digital Recorder“The key positive info about this recorder is that it will record 6 tracks at 96/24 resolution, and 2 at 192/24, if you’re feeling especially hair-shirt purist. This high resolution capability for 6 was what sold me on this machine. It’s just about the same size as my Edirol R-4 (now shakin’ in Shanghai, thanks to eBay), which served me well for a few years, but more versatile, not locked to a 40 GB hard disc, and allowing up to 32 GB SDHC cards, which I mainly used for outdoor recording at the cottage, along with a couple of 16 GB cards…”

NAD C 446 Digital Media Tuner: NAD Goes Media Mad!

NAD C446 Digital Media Tuner“Digital audio in its many variations seems to yield new categories of product constantly, this new product from NAD a case in point. It will snoop for music files in your computer via its wired or wireless networks, receive AM and FM broadcasts, and search the internet for transmissions of all sorts, from faraway radio stations to specific podcasts, and send all of these directly to your high end audio system via 24-bit/192-kHz DACs (caveat coming) via RCA jacks, or by direct digital feed (Toslink). It also has a Data Port for your MP3 player when you add the appropriate dock and cable.”

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…”

Samson ZOOM H2 Handy Digital Recorder

Zoom H2 CU Small

“As far as audio performance is concerned, let’s start at the microphone preamps, first, with the internal 4-microphone array. Now that the SD card slot is at the far end of the recorder from the mikes, the low-level whine of the H4 is gone, and the preamps are dead quiet; I can hardly wait to get to the island and set it on the rock at night to pick up distant loons. In combination with the built-in electret capsules this recording array is easily the quietest electret system I’ve heard yet, and matches my Shure VP-88 stereo condenser mike in this regard…”

Tascam HD-P2 Portable Stereo Recorder

Tascam HD-P2“The TASCAM HDP2 represents the future of location recording in as cogent and well-thought out a way as I have seen. It’s simple, elegant, and affordable, but also versatile. The main selling point is the ability to record in stereo from 44.1 to 192 kHz sampling rates at 16 or 24 bits using line or microphone inputs onto solid state media: flash cards or microdrives. These capabilities bring to it a whole new set of possibilities and operational options…”

Samson ZOOM H4 Handy Recorder

zoom-h4“This “handy” little unit does so many things that any review will have to be selective, and I will concentrate on its stereo portable uses, as well as its non-portable ones, leaving the admittedly limited multichannel capabilities for a followup, or perhaps another reviewer. My interest in it, which made me purchase one, is the portable recording capability, especially in high resolution digital…”

Sonos Digital Music System

Sonos Wireless Music System

“The real jewel of the system is the remote, or as Sonos calls it, the Controller. Ipod owners will be immediately comfortable with the Controller, the 3.5 inch full color screen and scroll wheel menu system making it feel very much like a large Ipod turned on its side.”

Roku SoundBridge M2000 Network Music Player

Roku Labs M2000 Network Music Player

“Like the Creative Soundblaster Wireless Music system the SoundBridge is a digital link between your audio system and your computer, designed to stream audio files over a home network. Unlike the Soundblaster the SoundBridge can do this wirelessly or via Ethernet connection and features a large display right on its face instead of on the remote…”

Creative Sound Blaster Wireless Music

Creative Sound Blaster Wireless Music

“This is the kind of product you’re likely to start hearing more and more about in the coming years as computers make greater inroads into home audio. If it hadn’t been clear already, the success of Apple’s Ipod and Itunes player/music store have driven home an unmistakable trend: Commercial music is not going to be bound to a physical carrier forever, and there is already a large and growing group of people listening to their music as files on computers and portables instead of on little silver discs…”

Aiwa CDC MP3 Car Player

Aiwa CDC-MP3

“My last column wasn’t particularly “pro MP3.” In case you missed it, I was voicing concerns about the limited sound quality of digital music on the internet, as compressed digital file based music is poised to be the next major audio format. However, what doesn’t sound quite good enough for the home system can be plenty decent in the car, as I’ve discovered first hand…”

RCA Lyra Portable MP3 Player

RCA Lyra

“Like most of the first wave of MP3 players to hit the market, the RCA Lyra is a very compact portable device, smaller than most cell phones, aimed at dethroning the discman style CD player from portable supremacy. Whereas some portables, like Creative Labs’ Nomad, use computer style hard drives for file storage, the Lyra falls into the smaller, less expensive category of players using small, removable chip based memory cards…”

Audio ReQuest ARQ-1 Home MP3 Player

Audio ReQuest ARQ-1

“While a myriad of MP3 players have been unleashed on the market in the past year, the Audio ReQuest ARQ-1 distinguishes itself as the only one designed exclusively as a home audio component. This could mark the genesis of a significant new product category, and an important test of whether consumers are ready to embrace MP3s in a domestic environment…”


  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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