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Audio Accessory Reviews

Theta Generation VIII Series 2 Digital-to-Analog Converter/Preamp

Final Theta Generation VIII Series 2 Digital-to-Analog Converter/Preamp

Many moons ago, in March 2003, Secrets published one of the first reviews of Theta's then state-of-the-art two-channel DAC/preamp, the Generation VIII (aka Gen. VIII). Close to six years later, after umpteen advances in digital chip technology, Theta has released a significant, Series 2 upgrade to the original Gen. VIII. The upgrade, which can either be easily installed at home or purchased as part of a new unit, renders such significant improvements to the sound as to demand a new review.

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Denon AH-NC732 Noise Canceling Headphones

Denon AH-NC732 Noise Canceling HeadphonesI suppose in this iPod generation we shouldn’t be surprised by the explosion of new headphone options. Breaking it down, there are 3 types of headphones really: in-ear, on-ear and over-ear. In-ear offers the best solution for portability while over-ear is typically large and cumbersome and generally provides the best reproduction and comfort, it is usually reserved for the audiophile or studio engineer. On-ear however may offer the best of both worlds, especially if they travel easily, offer comfort, clean fidelity and outside noise cancellation - hence the new AH-NC732 from Denon.

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Audioengine AW1 Wireless Music Transmitter/Receiver

audio-engine-w1-wireless-adapter-teaser.jpgSo there you have it – how I solved my yearly summer outdoors music problem with a terrific economical device from Audioengine, the AW1. I hate to sound like an advertisement, but order one, give it a try, and send it back if you don’t agree with me that it’s a flexible, high quality, and very useful product.

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Squeezebox Duet Wireless Music Streamer

squeezebox-duet-teaser.jpgUPDATED November 16, 2009 - We have all noticed the proliferation of media servers on the market over the past several years. The problem is, they are quite expensive, usually in the thousands of dollars, and some in the tens of thousands. Well, finally, there are some products that will let you play your music in any of those rooms you want, by ripping your CDs to a music directory on your PC and using a wireless "Streamer" in the room where you want to listen to them. There are several music streamers on the market, including Squeezebox, which has several models. Their newest entry is the Squeezebox Duet, which is the subject of this review.

Please take a particular look at the end of the review where I updated my opinion about this product on November 16, 2009.

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Nordost Thor Power Distribution Center

nordost-thor-power-distribution-center-teaser.jpgNordost's new power distribution center is called the Thor. In my system, it took music reproduction to an entirely different level. Within minutes, I felt that everything I had heard before was merely play-acting. What changed? Images that had previously floated in their correct little spaces in that classic, somewhat disembodied “audiophile way” now seemed to hold together in a far more realistic manner. They weren’t simply arranged or staged; they belonged together.

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Electric Bamboo AC Line Purifier

electric-bamboo-10-08-fig-1a-thumb.jpgThe gloves were off, and the gauntlet thrown. On May 26, 2008, Jim Pierce of Amazing Audio sent me (Jason Serinus) a major challenge via e-mail.

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Wireworld Eclipse 5 and Silver Eclipse 5 Audio Cables

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Wireworld's Eclipse 52 cable line is an example of definitive electrical engineering and physics principles applied to conduction in the world of audio. Specifically, their cables are based on the Heaviside condition. Read on to see an explanation.

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Torus RM-10 Power Conditioner, Isolation, and Protection Unit

Torus RM-10Torus Power makes as wide an array of isolation transformers as I have ever encountered. The 100 amp version (RM-100) would be a great addition for supplying isolated AC to an entire home theater in custom install situations, but a small one like the RM-10 is useful especially for digital sources and projectors, the total power of which does not exceed 10 amperes.

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Benchmark DAC1 USB

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My initial review of the DAC1 Digital-to-Analog Converter appeared in these pages toward the end of 2003. As I wrote at that time, Allen Burdick of Benchmark Media explained that the DAC1, then retailing for $850, was designed with the recording engineer in mind. Since then, the DAC1 has continued to make waves in the audiophile community. Benchmark Media has responded accordingly, embracing the home entertainment market by significantly upgrading the unit's performance while keeping the cost of the basic unit under $1000.

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Meridian F80 Compact System - Radio/CD/DVD Player

meridian-f-80-radio-teaser.jpgI really don't know what else to say here. The F80 is a very simple, very elegant, and fantastic way to play incredible sounding music from your favorite FM stations as well as CDs and iPod, all from an enclosure not much larger than a shoebox.

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Zektor CVS4 4x1 Component Video Switcher Used as 5.1 Analog Audio Switcher

zektor-switcher-figure-1-small.jpgThe Zektor CVS4 4 x 1 Component Video Switcher can be used to switch 5.1 analog audio from two or more DVD players to your SSP or receiver, so you can listen to the new high definition audio soundtracks from HD DVD and Blu-ray movie discs.

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