Forza Audio Works is an up and coming cable manufacturer whose hardware is second to none. Forza has workmanship and quality control licked. Matthew, the man behind the brand is hard at work making pretty much every cable you would want.
Itâ€™s off to the races again. This time, ALO have suited up their youngest and most exciting audiophile offspring, The International. This amp features at 24/96kHz USB DAC, discrete analogue/digital sections, a powerful battery, extremely low noise floor, and the must-have feature of the decade: balanced input and output. With all that under the bonnet, you can be sure this youngster will turn heads as it swishes by.
Truly audiophiling an iPod touch is no mean feat. It takes no less than a Cypher Labs AlgoRhthym Solo DAC, and a VorzÃ¼ge or ALO Rx class headphone amp. Throw in some shielded interconnects and yourâ€™re done. But at what cost? The once slim touch is now a knobby and unholy hamburger of aluminium and winking LEDs. Personally, I’m tired of ordering sides with the main meal. The iBasso DX100 is a single-box solution that will outperform most if not all audio stacks without sacrificing much of what makes the iPod touch worthwhile.
And how pray tell were iBasso, an amplifier maker, able to retain most of what makes the iPod touch worthwhile? Android.
About two months ago, the particulars of the Sony PHA-1 were leaked to the internet. About the same time, I suffered the second of what would become three intense bouts with an active stomach ulcer. In my circles, both made news. Iâ€™d would have to set up endless appointments with doctors that would cancel trips, meals, would-be drunken stumbling along busy Japanese streets; more importantly, however, the world of high-end portable audio had hit the mainstream. Sony stepped into the ring.
After an evening of Ghostbusters, itâ€™s hard to want anything more than a date with the Sigourney Weaver of 1991. Keymaster? Thatâ€™s me. Hell yeah! But, returning to my desk, I am met by another comedy great – or the likeness of one. Indeed, Bender lives on in ALOâ€™s Pan Am, a wonderfully competent full-size headphone amplifier/USB DAC that just happens to, like Bender, enjoy galavanting around different spaces.
Audiophiles are already aware of Etymotic, the company that single-handedly invented the world of inner earphones. Their ER4 series revolutionised portable audio before you were born. I can think of no other name to which my silly bicycle hat is tipped to more often. God bless you Etymotic. Well, their rather well-known app collaboration with Essensy, Awareness, has finally made it to Android, too. Awareness allows you to hear what’s around you no matter that you’re plugged into some of the best noise-isolating earphones in the world. Etymotic have always been about hearing safety. Awareness uses the microphones in their hf3 and mc3 headsets to filter in the important stuff: announcements, safety alerts, etc., so that you can enjoy your music in safety.
Awareness has been available on iOS for a while, but it’s great to see Android getting some love (especially since I’ve become an iBasso DX100 owner). Evidently, you don’t have to be plugged into 4,1 Ice Cream Sandwich to use the functionality, either. (God knows you are damned lucky if you can get 4,1 working on your system.) Now, I don’t have either earphone to test Awareness in iOS or Android, but damn it, it doesn’t matter. Someone will. Enjoy your music in safety, people.
Press stuff after the jump
Last month, Musica Acoustics had me photograph their new MyST 1866, a portable DAC unit from MyCroft that Dimitri was very excited about. The lad is almost always lost for words about cool new things, so I patted him on the shoulder and took the unit to my office. I shot the thing. I turned it on and off. I listened to it. Then I emailed Dimitri and threatened a review.
Zip, ziiiip, wiiiiii, a mosquito. Chuka chuka chuka katakatatata, the Tsukuba Express plowing back to Akihabara. Click click click, my evil shoe-wearing neighbours on the eighth floor dancing up a spell. Summer’s heat amplifies each sound. So does after-work debauchery. So does Arcade Fire. And Markus Schulz’ Progression, Vibrasphere’s Lungs of Life, etc. and so on. Especially at the wee hours of 0:00 to 5:00. I get on fine after that. There goes my sleep. And whereas sometimes, screwing earphones into my ears helps me zone out and catch some zzz’s, screwing in the fabulous, new FitEar To Go! 334 zones me in, like never before. Hello Music!
It’s nice to meet you, I’m shigzeo, zombie.
Okay, apes, it’s time to toss bones to the firmament. It’s time to beat on your mates and rip sinews from the teeth of angry panthers. Evolution’s catching us up again. This time, however, it’s the Germans, not Americans, who are pressing us to the edge of the audiophile solar system. The eponymous VorzAMP has its sights and prices set high, and has been the cause of an infatuated uproar among Japanese audiophiles for quite a turn. I think you will agree with them that you don’t need a Discovery-sized headphone amp to blast off toward Jupiter. The lovely frÃ¤ulein, VorzAMP, is beautiful to hold, behold, and listen to.
There’s nothing wrong with cheap. I eat cheap. I wear cheap. I make cheap jokes. And for the longest time, Jaben shipped mainly cheap amps to my cohort: the masses, God bless ’em. But Jaben have gotten off that kick. They’ll ring the charity bells in another season. Today is the day of the Porta Tube+ valve headphone amp/DAC for your iPad/Mac, a delightful machine for bourgeois ears, and sound fit for a king.
The name of that kingdom? GoVibe.
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