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Audio Accessory Reviews

Velodyne vPulse In-Ear Headphones (Earbuds)

Velodyne vPulse In-Ear Headphones (Earbuds)With the prevalence of portable music players to the point that you must be from Mars if you don't own one, there is a huge aftermarket for high quality earphones (headphones is the category, with over-the-ear headphones, on-ear-headphones, in-ear headphones, in-ear-earphones, and in-ear earbuds being the specific type of headphone one is referring to). Velodyne, renown manufacturer of subwoofers, not to be left out of this trend, has released a set of in-ear headphones called the vPulse....and best of all, they sound like Velodyne all the way . . . a.k.a. very, very good.


Rein Audio X-DAC with USB Input

Rein Audio X-DAC with USB InputUSB DACs are hot items now because you can play music from your computer through them and into a set of headphones or to your main hi-fi rig. Some of these DACs only have a USB input, (no S/PDIF inputs) because their main purpose is for use with a computer. Of course, all computers come with audio ciruitry on the motherboard, and if you have a sound card installed in one of the PC card slots, it may very well have an S/PDIF output. However, their quality is often questionable due to the typically low cost of the sound card. Rein Audio, a German manufacturer, makes the X-DAC, which is a 24/192 DAC with both coaxial and Toslink optical S/PDIF inputs, but also, it has a USB input (24/96) to be used with your computer, giving you better sound quality than you would get from your computer's audio circuit.


WireWorld Gold Starlight 6 Digital Interconnects, Eclipse 6 Interconnects, Platinum Eclipse 6 Interconnects, and Eclipse 6 Speaker Cables


WireWorld makes A/V cables at many price levels, including some that are very, very expensive. While at CES 2011, I spoke with David Salz about his designs, and I was intrigued enough to request some for review. What I received were cables that showed some of the best bench test results I have ever seen in A/V cables. Needless to say, I was very pleased. They are expensive, but life is a bitch when you love quality.


Bryston 10B-SUB Active Stereo Crossover Network

bryston-10b-sub-crossover-teaserIf you have a home theater system where your bass management isn't as flexible as you would like it to be, an outboard crossover network could solve your problems.


Howard Leight Noise-Blocking Stereo Earmuffs

sync-earmuffs-teaserMost of us use portable players at least now and then to listen to our music, using earbuds. But what if there is a lot of ambient noise, such as on an airplane, or if you are in a Starbucks enjoying a refreshment while you are using your laptop, or if you are playing in a band and want to hear not only your own instrument (in my case, it is the drums), but the other musicians and a click track, while the audience is nearly as loud as you are? Noise-reducing over-the-ear headphones are the answer, and the unit reviewed here, the Howard Leight Sync Noise-Blocking Stereo Earmuffs are an inexpensive and very effective solution.


Sony HMZ-T1 Self-Contained Virtual Reality 3D Viewing Glasses: First Look

Impressions of Sony HMZ-T1


Comects Neptune 4 x 2 HDMI Matrix Switcher

comects-neptune-4x2-hdmi-switcher-teaser Comects is a Hong Kong-based company that makes A/V accessories, including switchers. We have reviewed a few of their products, and at this point, I had stopped reviewing HDMI switchers because most receivers and processors have HDMI input switching built-in. However, the Comects Neptune 4x2 HDMI switcher is unique, in that it has four inputs and two outputs, and you can route any of the four inputs to either of the two outputs, simultaneously (meaning that it is called a "matrix" switcher). So, for example, if you have a satellite box, Blu-ray player, and media server in your home theater, and you also have an HDTV in an adjacent room, you can route the Blu-ray player to the receiver (which forwards the video to your HDTV or projector) in your home theater, while the satellite box or media server is routed to the HDTV in the adjacent room.


Marc Audio Premium Line RCA Interconnects


Marc Audio started its business of marketing quality audio cables in its on-line store only two years ago. They did not have all of their products available at the time of launch, so we reviewed what they had, as they became available. These included the Reference Line and the Signature Line. The Reference Line is their most expensive cable, but at $870/meter-pair for the RCA interconnects, they are not all that pricey compared to many other cables out there. The Signatures are their mid-priced cables ($549/meter-pair for RCA interconnects). Now, Marc Audio has introduced the Premium Line, which is their least expensive line of cables, at $158/meter-pair. Their construction quality - and more importantly - their performance, belie their very reasonable price, and I think they are one of the best values in cables out there.


NuForce NE-700X Earbuds

nuforce-ne-700x-earbuds-teaserNuForce is a small company that has recently become quite visible due to their special editions of the venerable OPPO Universal Players. But, they also make their own products, including DACs and earbuds. The latter, namely the NuForce NE-700X earbuds, are reviewed here. They are inexpensive, fit in the ear canal in the most comfortable way I have ever experienced, and have low distortion. The price? $65.


CEntrance DACMini USB DAC

CEntrance DACMini

CEntrance is a Chicago based company with engineering in the US and Moscow, Russia, design in Holland, and manufacturing facilities in Asia but final assembly in the US . Let's just say 'multi-national'. They got their start in pro audio making microphone/guitar pre-amps with analog to digital converters, the MicPort Pro and AxePort Pro in amazingly small packages. Designed to plug inline on the microphone or guitar cord with a USB output (the units are powered by the USB connection) they provide the smallest possible recording studio, enabling musicians to plug a microphone or guitar 'directly' into a computer as if they were plugging into tape deck. Here, we review the CEntrance DACMini.


Marc Audio Red Line (Signature) and Black Line (Reference) RCA Interconnects and Red Line Speaker Cables


Marc Audio - Update:  Black Line RCA Interconnects - The Reference Line.

Marc Audio is another new audio cable manufacturer that has just set up shop in October. I received a sample of their first product, an RCA interconnect that is going to be their mid-level line of audio cables, called the Red Line (as of June, 2011, they renamed them as the Signature Line). I thought it might just be more of the same. But, it turned out this one is different, and it is not even their top model. For one thing, it is totally a USA product.