Recently, I Hanseled my way around CES 2011 looking for a place to sit. On my quest to find a comfy chair, I managed to lose myself under a pile of crumby marketing handouts, and half naked girls dancing to show off the features of a … wired router. Amid crappy tablets and massage chairs, I also managed to find Sonomax‘s booth and discover what I think is the coolest thing to come out of CES: 4-minute custom earphones. Originally, my mate said this Canadian company were batting with a custom earphone that is fully cured in 20 hours and sets in 4 minutes. Hmmm, I thought, that reminds me of SoundCage, a company that made a 20-minute custom a few years ago, and that is also from Canada. Well, it turns out that the SoundCage I discovered whilst getting impressions for the Sleek Audio CT6, and Sonomax are either good mates, or better bedfellows.
Feel free to discuss Sonomax products in our forums.
Whether it’s Metallica, DJ Tiesto, Iggy Pop, Melody Gardot, or Aphex Twin belting around the spinning innards of your cassette player, it’s gonna sound fab from the Westone 4, and it’s not just that new product sheen either. No, it’s the fact that Westone nailed everything in this, the first universal earphone fitted with four speakers per side – a mean feat in any respectable dictionary.
Discuss the Westone 4 in our forums.
Who would have thought that Sensaphonics, the stodgiest custom earphone maker on the planet, would go universal? I didn’t, and I bet that Sensaphonics USA probably didn’t either. Nope, the j-phonics is a 100% Japanese product; it begins and ends in the land of the rising sun. Cool as that may be, cooler still is the fact that its guts are brilliantly tooled, reminding me of the excellently balanced Prophonics 2X-s custom monitor. But, rather than coming wrapped in medicinal silicon, the j-phonics comes packed in cute, coloured polycarbonate shells, new internal laminatation, and a new low[er] price.
Feel free to discuss the j-phonics in our forums?
The t-Jays THREE is more Sennheiser than Sennheiser’s former flagship dynamic headphone, the HD650. If you like rich and smooth dark, you’ll fall in love with the t-Jays. Jays have three of them to tailor to your ear and your wallet. TMA has THREE for the skillet today. If you dig low profile, neutral, and modular, again, Jays are the only horse in town and the t-Jays THREE is quite a ride.
Firstly, I’m not dead. Now with that out of the way:
What do you get when you combine the audiophile heart of the iPhone with a juiced-up ad-hoc power supply? Or, perhaps I should ask it this way: what made VentureCraft, maker of car-mounted cameras and creative telegrams, shoot for the moon and create an audiophile iPhone battery jacket? My guess is a pioneer spirit. VentureCraft are the first company to build such a combination. As off-beat as the GoDAP battery jacket and headphone amp combo unit may sound for a company like VentureCraft, it is certainly worth the raised eyebrows and facepalms. It’s just so ingenious and geekily disturbing that it’s worth a perfectly long review!
Feel free to discuss VentureCraft’s GoDAP in our forums.
Firestone Audio have been making steady strides in desktop audio. To complement this year’s long, hot summer, they pushed out two hot amps: the Rubby power amp and the Libby headphone amplifier. Why they are such big news here at TMA is that both mains-powered amps also feature great USB/Optical/Coax and analogue audio inputs. If you can put two and two together, you’ve probably figured out that this means hi-res audio from the iPad through the Camera Connection Kit (CCK). Recently, I`ve forgone the whole computer thing in favour of just this combination. Still, both amps work great with computers, with external DAC`s, and with other Hifi gear. Nevertheless, TMA will keep the iPad slant in this review, but show just what can be done with these two desktop amps.
If Final Audio Design were in charge of the world’s marketing, everything from cars to cakes would glisten with the magicalest of molecules. The clearest timber would resonate in plastic pencils and cooking pots. Flowers would reflect the warmth of a thousand suns. Thankfully, however, Final Audio Design cook up wonderful audio equipment like the 1601 series earphone and today’s FI-BA-SB and FI-BA-A1. With these new models, Final Audio took a new approach, creating practical listening devices for the busy, but discerning audiophile.
Feel free to discuss the FI-BA-SB and FI-BA-A1 earphones in our forums. And if you’re in the mood, contact Musica Acoustics to purchase the FI-BA-SB or FI-BA-A1. Musica Acoustics also stock a lot of other very good earphones.
Sunrise’s three earbuds are a hit here at TouchMyApps, their inner earphone, the SW-Xcape, is bound to be the one to turn the most heads. Why? Well, it’s an isolating earphone, capable of dulling the sound of crying babies, loud airplane engines, and your snoring spouse. Fortunately, it also sounds very good, augmenting Sunrise’ newly-minted fun, full house sound. If you like a good, full bass and this time, a pretty focused treble, you’ll love the Xcape.
Feel free to discuss the Xcape in our forums.
Thanks to the truly rubbish glut of pack-in earphones from Apple, Cowon, Sansa, et al., earbuds have got a bad rep. The truth is that there are many good earbuds. Sennheiser’s MX series has been a low-priced, high-value hit for years, and YUIN’s OK and PK series is even better. Even the Apple iBuds, though not really ergonomic, economic, or well built, can sound good. The newly-minted Sunrise, a Vietnamese company who’ve been OEM manufacturing for years, have debuted the following: AS-Miss (entry level), AS-Feeling (audiophile level), and AS-Charm (high end), which are perfect companions for music lovers who can’t bear the feel of slimy inner earphones, but still want good sound.
Any headline from boutique audio house, Final Audio Design, is news at TouchMyApps. Recently, their first balanced armature series headphone, the Final Audio FA-BA-SS hit the market to some good reviews, but with a price around USD 1000$ and sold in very limited numbers, this flagship earphone didn’t have a chance to capture the market before selling out. The two new models, FA-BA-A1 and FA-BA-SB (ostensibly in aluminium and brass), however, are sold at the much more reasonable prices of 300$ and 400$. Final Audio look to be following Monster and Jays’ lead by introducing a flat tangle-free cable for the FA-BA-SB. A more traditional cable will adorn the FA-BA-A1 earphone.
Currently, both models are sold out across Japan, but FAD are accepting pre-orders for the next batch. If you are scared about ordering from Japan, don’t be. There are a couple of reliable options. One is Seyo Shop, an exporter of fine Japanese headphones and camera equipment. Their prices are usually excellent. Currently they don’t carry Final Audio.
Preliminary review impressions of the FA-BA-A1 are up at TMA’s Forums. For more pictures and product spec, jump the gap: