If there ever was an argument for valves in audio, it no more evident than at home. A large, heavy, and hot valve power amp is an item of luxury. But if you ain’t got the home, or you just prefer to augment your collection with a good headphone set up, your source (surprisingly, even an iPod) and a good valve headphone amp are a match made in heaven. Why? Valves aren’t about performance – they are about sound. Woo Audio has been churning out quality amp after quality amp, each with one thing in common: milky smooth valves and a lot of power. Their WA3 is a great valve amp at a very good price point which puts the fuzzy wuzzies into your best records.
Continue on to the Woo Audio WA3 headphone amp review.
If you aren’t ready to take the wild walk on the DIY side, but still want to really get down and dirty with tweakable headphone amps, there are a very few options available to you. One of them is to experiment McGuyver style with cotton, fish, cookies, and an oiled grouse to achieve a truly experimental sound. But if lock picking DIY isn’t your thing, there are only a few choices on the market. Some such as Graham Slee, Firestone, iBasso, etc., offer headphone amps with user-replaceable op-amps and slightly modifiable circuits, but no one outdoes MST, a one-man operation out of Akihabara Japan. MST’ FiQuest project is as ground-up tweakable a design as is possible in a pre-fabbed design. In a way, it is the audio evangelist among portable amps.
Feel free to discuss the FiQuest in our forums.
If someone told me that a dual-driver earphone would catch my ear, I’d have yawned a juicy mess of contempt into their face. If, however, that person first mentioned that the dual-driver wasn’t just another ba-ba balanced armature earphone, I’d have kept my spit and contempt to myself. Sonority may be have been damned in naming Radius’ new HP-TWF11R dual-dynamic driver earphone, but the Japanese company surely show that they’ve what it takes to make an earphone sound great. Feel free to discuss the Radius HP-TWF11R in our forums.
Thanks to Apple’s reticence to include USB ports or memory card slots in the iPad, THIS is making news.
The Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit, which has just gone on sale for an even 29$, makes brilliant use of the iPad’s number 1 feature: mobile OSX. The operating system isn’t just a touch-friendly app-mongering front end, it supports low-level instructions as well. Specifically, the iPad Camera Connection Kit can connect to USB audio and professional interfaces.
Noise-isolating earphones are hitting mainstream, and that’s a good thing. Apple and nearly every other digital audio manufacturer in the world distribute their phones and digital devices with open earbuds that not only sound crap, but that ruin ears on short order. The volume of an earphone has to rise 8-9 decibels above ambient noise to be heard. To be enjoyed, however, music has to be punched much louder. Using open earphones on the bus, in the tube, or about town is the perfect recipe for destroying your hearing.
Last year, Etymotics introduced custom-fit ear pieces for their popular line of noise-isolating earphones and headsets, but other companies offer custom-fit ear pieces for a variety of earphones.
Ever been so enamoured by a new gadget that you take it to bed wrapped in your favourite dainties? I have. My lecherous fingers have caressed many pieces of technology, late into the night. But until now, they’ve been trained on MD players and really high tech shoes and my iPod touch 2G. I’ve tickled the ACS’ T1, an earphone whose quality belies its silicon shell, far into the dark night. Its sultry curves, great bone structure, and whip-strong cable cry to be handled in a Wash-like ‘manly fashion’.
For all photos and discussion of this ACS T1 Review, head to our forums.
Let’s get one thing straight here: mid-priced inner earphones are really starting to put out like their more sexy/pricey colleagues. They’ve bass, mids, and treble now rather than just bass and some, like the Sherwood SE-777, are just great all-round bargains. For 80$ the SE-777 isn’t cheap, but it sounds great, looks great, and has a pleasant surprise for DIY enthusiasts! Feel free to discuss this review of the Sherwood SE-777 in our forums.
Final Audio, maker of the both the world’s most expensive 2-speaker system and production earphones have released a new earphone, the single balanced armature FI-BA-SS. Like the Final Audio FI-DC1601SS, it is both housed in solid stainless steel and incorporates a custom Final Audio-designed speaker. The FI-BA-SS incorporates Balanced Air Movement (BAM) technology to control unwanted vibrations – whether or not such technology is necessary in a balanced armature design however, is debatable. Whatever the case, FAD’s new earphone is set to make a splash. At 20g per earphone, it certainly should. As a product of the adventurist Final Audio Design, the FI-BA-SS debuts at the ultra-high price point of ¥98,000, or over US 1000$.
If you can’t get enough of sleek, solid steel, then get ready to plop down your dosh at places like e-earphone which sell the newest FAD. It will be available in the middle of this month.
More piccies and info after the gap:
If you like headphones, you are probably aware that perfect fit makes perfect sound. Earphone tips make a huge difference, especially when you tend to enjoy music or games on your iDevice for hours a day, or really care about sound. I tend to prefer foam tips because they are comfortable and safely isolate my music from the background. Unfortunately, many foam tips muck up the sound with boomy bass and midrange smear. Tips which don’t get nasty themselves: waxy and greasy after a few weeks of use. Monster’s Supertips foam tips are excellent tips for all but the narrowest-mouthed of earphones, and even those, with a few tweaks, can be made to work peachy.
Continue to our forums for the rest of the Monster Supertips review.
The iPad is only one vowel from the mother of modern multimedia, the iPod. Tweets about iPad and music keep popping up, audio company executives keep pestering me to get one, and otherwise, I’m curious; there has to be something in the convenience of a device 4x the size of an iPod touch. Who knows, the iPad could be as dirty sounding as its nomenclature, but it could well be the next mono-speaker-toting-boombox! It’s Apple’s baby, so expect it to work with headsets and the best earphones/headphones out there, not to mention the rich boneyard of audio accessories such as line out docks and microphones. In 2005, Apple dog-eared a new page: they brought in gapless playback with the iPod 5G. Then, in 2007, they dropped DRM-crippled iTunes music, and in 2008, their iPod line went audiophile with excellent earphone performance reminiscent of the original iPod shuffle, but without all the hiss. No other company has come so far and done so much for portable audio quality while keeping their big mouths shut about all their achievements. Everyone else trumpets typical dross: advanced engine sound FFX13/dual DAC/340 decibels signal to noise ratio/Class A.
Inquisitive rant continued after the gap: