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Wyred4Sound DAC-2 AND STI-500 Integrated Stereo Amplifier

Wyred4Sound DAC-2 AND STI-500 Review

Recently the external DAC has made a bit of a comeback in popularity. While they were once most commonly paired with a digital transport, now you're more likely to see them hooked up as part of a home media server. With disk space now cheap enough that anyone can keep their entire collection archived in a lossless format, and even keep a backup copy of it around, people are using their PC to serve up their audio collection. However, getting the most out of that lossless archive has been a challenge for many as most computer sound cards left much to be desired in the audio quality realm. In this review, we cover the Wyred4Sound DAC-2 and STI-500 Integrated Stereo Amplifier.

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Monster Turbine Pro Copper Professional In-Ear Speakers

fig-teaserRecently I reviewed Monster’s Turbine In-Ear Speaker, and my experience with that product made me curious about their professional line of similarly designed in-ear speakers. Enter the Monster Turbine Pro Copper, a more refined and ruggedly built version of the Turbines.

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Naim Audio DAC

Naim DAC

A Naim DAC. Oh how long we have waited. Naim Audio is hi-fi company with its own ideas. For years they held steadfastly to their claim that the only by keeping the spinning CD in the same box as the DAC could jitter be controlled and high fidelity playback be produced. While other hifi companies made similar claims most would relent at least occasionally and offer up a DAC or two.

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Bryston BDA-1 Digital to Analog Converter and Halide Design USB to SPDIF Bridge

Bryston BDA-1 Digital to Analog Converter and Halide Design USB to SPDIF Bridge

Digital to Analog converters (DACs) have been enjoying something of a renaissance in the past couple of years due to the widespread adoption of computer based music. Back before SACD, DVD-A and multichannel audio, DACs were the source component du jour for redbook CD. With the adoption of the new high-resolution formats, DACs fell out of favor, replaced by integrated universal disc players. Today, many people have gone to entirely computer based audio setups. The highest resolution digital audio available today does not come on a disc, but is available via download. This means DACs are back, and the Bryston BDA-1 is regarded as one of the best of the new breed of 24 bit 192 kHz DACs. Along with the Brytson BDA-1, we review the Halide Design USB to SPDIF Bridge.

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Neko Audio D100 Mk 2 Stereo DAC

Neko Audio D100 24 Bit Stereo DAC

DACs are taking over. I've been waiting for this day ever since the CD format came out because DACs provide an upgrade path. Upgrading is fun. And because DACs are cool. The conversion from digital to analog is of course crucial and for electrical engineers holds more than a little fascination as the music is (we hope) recreated from simple ones and zeroes. In this review, we take a look at the Neko Audio Mk 2 stereo DAC.

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Monster Turbine High Performance Ear Buds

Monster Turbine High Performance In-Ear Speaker Monster, long time suppliers of speaker cables, interconnects and power conditioning products, has recently entered into the portable audio market. They now offer a full range of products from the Dr. Dre branded Beats headphones all the way up to the professional Turbine Copper Pro ear buds. I had the pleasure of checking out their middle-of-the-line offering, the Monster Turbine High Performance ear buds. (Monster calls them "In-Ear Speaker".)

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NuForce Icon HDP USB DAC

NuForce Icon HDP

In the past couple of years, the market for DAC's with USB inputs has really taken off. As people move their whole music library over to a music server, and lossless and high resolution downloads of albums starts to become a reality, getting that audio from your PC to your stereo has become increasingly important. NuForce made a splash with their original Icon DAC, which featured a USB DAC, a couple analog inputs, a 12W amp for a stereo speaker setup, and a headphone output. They have come back and improved upon that by releasing the new HDP model.

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Logitech Squeezebox Touch Wireless Music Streamer

Logitech Squeezebox Touch

For a long time now, I've been wanting an easy solution to get music streaming all throughout my house. I've added a Network Attached Storage device (NAS) to allow me to keep all the music in one location that is always accessible, and I've tried out many different streaming solutions, from the Sony PS3 to various processors and receivers with DLNA access built in. Unfortunately, nothing to this point has been both powerful, and easy to use.

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Argentum Audio Cables: The Mythos Analog Interconnect, Argento Digital Interconnect, Aureus Speaker Cable, and Proteus Power Cable

Argentum Cabling

Sometime in ancient history, when snakes freely roamed the earth without fear that their oil would be disparaged, John Johnson asked me if I wanted to review the complete line of Ultralink/XLO Argentum audio cables. Since I thrive on comparisons, be they of cabling, amplifiers, or sopranos, I welcomed the assignment. (The Argentum power cable is not necessarily just for audio, but we include it as such here.)

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Burson HA-160 Headphone Amplifier

Burson HA-160 Headphone Amplifier

While headphone amps are not in every audio enthusiast’s system, they are still engineered with many of the same design choices as other more common components. One of the main choices to be made is whether to build a full featured but complicated component, or a simple, barebones component that has thrown all the nice but unnecessary features over the side. Burson Audio is an Australian company known for making the latter.

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HD Micromega AirStream Wireless DAC

HD Micromega AirStream

At this year's CES in Las Vegas, I had the opportunity to attend an event for an unusual little device being dubbed a "Wireless DAC." Upon arriving, I saw a box of the plainest kind, about the size of a CD player, with one blue LED in the center. After introductions and some chit chat, I did what any of us would do, looked at the back of the unit. The rear panel was about as plain as the front! A protruding half-circle piece I presumed to be the antenna, a couple of analog RCA outs, digital out, and power cable. That was it. What is this strange box and what is it doing at a high end audio show? Well, it's the HD Micromega AirStream WHi-Fi wireless DAC and it's at a high end audio show, because it delivers high end sound.

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