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Audio Accessory Reviews

RBH EP2 Noise Isolating In-Ear Earphones

RBH EP2 Noise Isolating EarphonesRBH Sound is no newcomer to the audio market. They began in 1976 as an OEM manufacturer for companies including McIntosh, JBL, and Parasound. Since then, they have built up their own brand name; one of quality high-performance loudspeakers. Now they have started to produce their own line of earphones. The RBH EP2's, reviewed here, are in-ear earphones.

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Benchmark DAC2 HGC

Benchmark DAC2 HGCI think it's fair to refer to the Benchmark DAC2 HGC as a DAC since that is its official title, or a headphone amplifier but the owner's manual refers to it as a 'Reference Stereo Preamplifier'. Whatever you call it, this little box does a lot. I reviewed it mostly as a DAC but tried out the preamp and headphone functions as well.

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Onkyo ES-HF300 On-Ear Headphones

Onkyo ES-HF300 HeadphonesOnkyo, a long time player in home theater electronics, has set its sights on the personal audio market with the new ES-HF300 headphone. The ES-HF300 is a closed-back headphone design featuring two 40 mm titanium drivers, sub-chambers for optimized bass, and a rigid construction for optimal sound reproduction. With an MSRP of $179, Onkyo is aggressively targeting the rapidly growing market for premium headphones. Recent research by the NPD Group reveals a huge jump in sales of headphones over $100 and considering how many smartphones are in the hands of eager consumers, pricing a headphone correctly is an important key to its success. Of course, how a headphone looks and, most importantly, sounds are also keys to its success. Find out how the new Onkyo ES-HF300 headphones score in my review.

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Paradigm H15NC Noise-Cancelling On-Ear Headphones

Paradigm H15NC Noise-Cancelling HeadphonesThe new Paradigm H15NC Noise-Cancelling Headphones are the latest foray into the lucrative headphone market and part of the Shift line of Paradigm products. They feature a noise isolating on-ear design along with active noise cancellation which utilizes a microphone paired with processing to analyze the noise around you and filter it out. Paradigm believes that sound quality trumps celebrity endorsement, and I couldn't agree more. Let's see if the H15NC headphones are up to snuff.

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Audiolab M-DAC Digital to Analog Converter

Audiolab M-DAC Digital to Analog Converter

On its website, respected British manufacturer Audiolab proclaims the M-DAC is the follow-up to the 8000 DAC, introduced all the way back in 1992. I have gathered that DACs were quite popular in that era because CD players had not become all that good yet. With the market now awash in quality DACs, I guess it is safe to say we are in a DAC renaissance. Here, we review the Audiolab M-DAC, which, at $899, turns out to be an audio bargain.

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Ultimate Ears 4 Pro Custom In-Ear Headphones

Ultimate Ears 4 Pro Custom In Ear MonitorsUltimate Ears is one of the most well-known and respected names in the custom in-ear monitor (IEM) market (part of the general class: headphones). While historically custom IEMs were targeted at music and sound industry professionals, manufactures have more recently started marketing their monitors to audiophiles, recognizing that many of their attributes might be valued by this community as well. I recently had the opportunity to take a look at UE's entry level 4 Pro Custom IEM and am excited to pass along some thoughts.

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Sennheiser Momentum Over-the-Ear Headphones

Sennheiser MomentumSennheiser will always hold a special part of my heart as the HD580 my first audiophile headphone. I can still remember the soft velvety fabric of the earpads and the revelation that was quality music playback. Since then, I have experienced the sound of many other headphones, including the Sennheiser Momentum over-the-ear headphones, which are reviewed here.

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Control4 HC-250 System

Control4 HC-250 System

After years of reviewing home theater equipment I've managed to put together a nice setup downstairs. A 122" 2.40 screen, 5.1 sounds with a nice processor and amplifiers...

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Pioneer Elite N-50 Network Audio Player

Pioneer Elite N-50 Network Audio Player

Pioneer currently offers two network audio players in their Elite product line. Both models are best described as media streamers since they do not store music within the player's chassis but rather acquire music from external music servers or devices. The first model is the N-30, which offers the ability to stream high-resolution digital music via Apple's AirPlay or from DLNA-compatible servers. The second model and subject of this review is the N-50 that builds upon the functionality of the N-30 by adding an asynchronous USB DAC as well as optical and coaxial digital inputs so the N-50 can be used as an outboard D/A converter.

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Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X Over-the-Ear Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X Headphones

Audio-Technica has been around for over 50 years making professional microphones, phono cartridges, and headphones. Given that it is nearly impossible to research audiophile headphones and not come across Audio-Technica in some fashion, I felt it imperative that I review a pair. Outside of brief, less than ideal listening at trade shows, the ATH-AD900X is the first headphone from Audio-Technica that I have used. In today's vast ocean of headphones, Audio-Technica's claim to fame is offering audiophile sound quality at an affordable price. The ATH-AD900X is the successor to the ATH-AD900 and unfortunately I haven't listened to the AD900 so this review will focus purely on the new ATH-AD900X. The only thing I will mention with regards to the model differences would be the subtle visual differences in the design. The open air cage that covers the back of the drivers is more spaced out on the newer AD900X, so much so in fact, that the insides are easily visible – a neat aspect. Also the logo and markings are in gold rather than the silver of the older model.

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Anthem Room Correction (ARC) System - Part 2 - Including a Subwoofer

Anthem Room Correction ARC Part 2 - Including a SubwooferIn Part 1 of this series, we discussed the Anthem ARC (Anthem Room Correction) firmware that is present in their SSPs as well as the AVRs which have a  reduced filter bank size. By far, the most significant sonic issue for acoustic music when a subwoofer is deployed occurs around the crossover from the subwoofer to the main speaker. In Part 2 of this series, we take a look at Anthem's ARC (Anthem Room Correction) when adding a subwoofer to the system.

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