ALO Audio’s The International headphone amp/USB DAC in review

ALO The International BW

It’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.

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音茶楽 Flat4-楓 Ocharaku Flat4-KAEDE earphone in review

Ocharaku FLAT4-Kaede-iso

I have a hunch that Mr. Yamagishi, the former Sony headphone and speaker designer behind Ocharaku was drinking tea before he ever sipped into the idea of the Tornado Equaliser. That singular technology has since revolutionised the upgrade earphone market among price-conscious portable audiophiles in Japan. And with the introduction of Flat-4 SUI – and TE’s successor, TEE – in 2011, the technology has found itself in a new, better pot. Twin Equalised Elements (TEE) is the new leaf that Mr. Yamagishi turned over to create SUI and now KAEDE. If you’re interested in a few different views of KAEDE, check out Ω image’s KAEDE post.

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ALO The National headphone amplifier in review – a new class

Handsome and powerful - and compact

After having created perfection in the Rx, ALO are free to experiment. Their first experiment, The Continental, is quite a hit, especially as it packs valves under the bonnet for a truly classical sort of listen. But as ALO explain, the use of limited valves means that the Continental has a shorter time on this planet. Enter The National, an amp that they reckon is the answer to the Continental. I can tell you right now: The National is a single box that can fill the void of both portable and living room headphone amp.

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Beyerdynamic T50p Manufaktur hitting the IFA; sporting sexy new leather

Beyerdynamic have been kicking out new products at what amounts to breakneck speed. Their new flagship 32Ω ultraportable headphone, T50p, was released last year has quickly developed a strong following among music lovers. At the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) Berlin, from September 2-7 of this year, Beyer will unveil the T50p Manufaktur, a customisable version of the T50p featuring hot colours and new materials. Their studio and professional line have offered Manufaktur options for years. (I’ve owned two Manufaktur DT880 headphones in my tenure as a music lover can say that without a doubt, Manufaktur is the way to go if you’ve got the wonga.)

No one has done this before; the T50p Manufaktur will be the first truly customisable headphone for portable music lovers. Now, I’m not holding my breath that Beyer will allow customers to choose Ω options, especially as the T50p is specifically targeted at portable music lovers who need sensitivity and isolation to hear the great Tesla acoustics.

Update: The standard T50p starts has an MSRP of 349$ US. The T50p Manufaktur will start at 420$ US.

Pics and press release after the gap:

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hippo box+ headphone amp in review – petty in pink

Just slightly bigger than iBasso’s fabulous T3, hippo audio’s second self-branded portable headphone amp is a diminutive, but well-punctuated statement product. iBasso’s effects-be-damned neutral sound is damned in return as the box+ sways the portable audiophile with ‘rich’ sound, the sort made possible only through a Butterworth low pass filter: the sort of sound that has made Head-Direct’s Hifiman series famous.

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Nocs NS200 headset in Review – Deep ear action

Nocs, a Swedish company out of… Sweden, have left a tasty impression in my ears this winter with the NS200 headset. While not flashy, the NS200 scores with lively sound and good headset implementation that impresses this Toucher with great audio performance, and a tasty remote control.

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Westone 4 earphones in Review

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.

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Sensaphonics j-phonics earphone in review

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?

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Jays t-Jays THREE earphones in Review – satisfaction is slim!

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.

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