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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.

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.”

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…”

Trends Audio TA-10 Ver. 1.1 and XY DT-0118A Tripath Amplifiers

Trends TA-10 (Small)“These two little (easily handheld) amplifiers are recent successors in a category that has had budget-conscious audiophiles abuzz online for the past couple of years. Aaron reviewed the original Sonic Impact first-generation Tripath (T-AMP), and it is the most popular review we’ve ever published. There are now dozens of brand names from Hong Kong or South China using identical chipsets, the most recent being the Tripath TA2024, on which these two amps are based…”

Sanyo R227 Internet/FM Radio Plus

Sanyo Internet Radio“I used to listen to shortwave radio at the cottage on a nice little Panasonic portable, the supplied antenna strung around the cottage’s Douglas Fir beams. It was fun more than a few years back to tune into other cultures and their music and news. But along the way to this century something changed, even evolved, and the shortwave cultures became a babble of propaganda, Jesus, and jabberwocky…”

Axiom Audiobyte Desktop Speaker System

Axiom Audiobyte“Canadian loudspeaker manufacturer Axiom is the latest company to wade into the desktop audio fray, joining a few other established, high end audio players in the burgeoning computer audio market (see my recent review of the Dynaudio MC-15 desktop speakers). Like the recently reviewed Audioengine A2’s, the Audiobytes are very, very small (6.5 x 5.5 x 4 inches), appealing to those with limited desk space to cede to speakers…”

Dynaudio MC-15 Loudspeakers: The World’s Best Desktop Speakers?

Dynaudio MC-15 Desktop Loudspeakers (small)

“Dynaudio bravely saddles their new MC-15 powered speakers with the moniker “multimedia”, a term that, to many, conjures up images of the cheaply priced, and even more cheaply made, plastic boxes adjacent to most of the world’s computer monitors. To describe most multimedia speakers as awful is an understatement akin to suggesting that Germans like beer. The crafty Danes at Dynaudio, of course, know that speakers meant to be used with computers (and iPods, cell phones, gaming consoles etc.) need not suck…”

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…”

Audioengine 5 Powered Desktop Loudspeakers

Audioengine 5 Powered Speaker System

“Right out of the box the Audioengine 5 powered speaker system has a huge and very simple advantage over almost all the iPod “dock” type systems breeding like a shiny white fungus out there in the audio mainstream. It has two independent speakers. Real speakers. And, like any mini-monitor, they can be placed in such a way as to generate an actual stereo image…”

Sonic Impact Tripath Amplifier (T Amp)

Sonic Impact T Class Amplifier

“If you’re the kind of audiophile who keeps on top of all things related to reproduced music via the internet, then there’s a pretty good chance you’ve already heard about the Sonic Impact Class T Amp, which has recently become a hot topic of various forums, zines, newsgroups and other online text repositories dealing with audio gear…”

Desktop Speaker Showdown - Measurements

Genelec HT 208

“These three powered monitors were measured in our standard fashion, and all performed reasonably well, with good dispersion to 30 degrees off axis, and the required slight reticence in the midrange you need for a speaker you listen to at close quarters. I can see why Aaron was less enthusiastic about the Edifier, with its rolled-off treble and upper midrange. Though very flat through the range from 70 to 1000 Hz, it was about 7 dB down by 4 kHz, with little life above, and zilch sheen at the top…”

Echo Indigo Laptop Sound Card

PSB Platinum M2 Loudspeaker

“More than just a headphone jack (the Indigo actually has two 1/8″ gold plated mini jacks) the Echo Audio card is a D to A converter as well as a high quality analog output stage. It supports up to 24 bit, 96 kHz signals, uses a 100 Mhz Motorola DSP chip and has a nice, chunky analog volume control knob right on top. For those looking to use their notebook as a recorder, Echo also makes an Indigo with an analog input as well as a model aimed at DJs, featuring two independent stereo outputs.”

Swans T200A Active Speaker System

Genelec HT 208

“If the T200A is aimed at the professional/studio market it sure doesn’t look it. In contrast to the non-descript looking black boxes one often finds in studio environments, the T200A is a rather bold looking speaker. It features a triangular front baffle faced with a silver coloured aluminum plate. Two more triangular sections finished in shiny black piano lacquer slope back from the baffle and then stop about a third of the way into the speaker’s 27 cm depth. The rear section of the speaker consists of a more traditionally shaped box which is ported at rear…”

Genelec HT 208 Active Speaker System

Genelec HT 208

“The HT 208 is a two-way design featuring an 8″ mid/woofer (which, although the material is not specified, seems to be made of polypropylene) and a 1″ metal dome tweeter. The tweeter is mounted in what Genelec calls a Directivity Control Waveguide�. It’s basically metal plate which sets the tweeter a little deeper into the cabinet, creating a slight horn-loading effect. This not only squeezes more efficiency from the tweeter, the Genelec website notes that “the improved directivity control reduces the reflected sound at the listening position…”

Edifier R1900 Active Speaker System

Genelec HT 208

“At only $99.00 the Edifier R1900 is designed to compete at what is perhaps best described at the upper low end of the multimedia speaker world. It’s certainly a large step above the trashy plastic stuff, and styled to look like a semi-serious bookshelf speaker. From afar it may even look like one, but a close look reveals fit and finish befitting a bargain priced product, especially the vinyl “wood” covering the sides…”

Desktop Speaker Showdown - Introduction

Genelec HT 208

“As maligned as it is by many audiophiles, the compact disc made the idea of having a serious audio system at work truly practical. Audiophiles lucky enough to have a work environment which could accommodate a pair of bookshelf speakers and a little integrated amp or receiver (or, for some CEO/corner office types, much more elaborate setups) could increase quality of life on the job significantly with some well reproduced music to help the day fly by…”


  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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