JDSLabs O2+ODAC for the discerning audiophile

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2013 - 05:50 PM |
Tagged: audio, JDSLabs, O2, ODAC, amp

If swappable op-amps, an Objective DAC for proper analog sound and a frequency range of 10hz - 19Khz not only makes sense to you but gets you a bit hot and bothered, JDSLabs has an interesting product for you.  Built around the open source Objective2 amplifier this pre-amp and DAC is designed to attempt to produce professional quality sound without the price tag attached to that level of gear.  The suggested price is $285 which might seem high for a headphone amp but is actually much less expensive than professional level kit.  TechPowerUp were very impressed with the quality of the sound and the tweaks possible to make to the DAC but thought that perhaps a bit more thought could have been put into the aesthetics of the device.

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"JDSLabs's O2+ODAC combination combines two designs by NwAvGuy with excellent build quality and a sturdy enclosure. The O2+ODAC sells at just $285 which, performance considered, is a bargain. We test whether this amplifier and DAC combination is really the giant slayer it is made out to be!"

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Audio Corner

Source: TechPowerUp

Corsair Acquires Simple Audio: Aggressive Expansion into New Markets

Subject: General Tech | February 11, 2013 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: streaming, Simple Audio, Roomplayer, networking, corsair, audio

Corsair sure does like to expand upon their product base.  The company was founded in 1994 and produced only memory for quite a few years.  The past five years have seen tremendous growth from the company in terms of SSDs, cases, power supplies, and high end cooling solutions.  Corsair also dabbled in sound with a line of successful speakers (though these have not been updated in some time).  Corsair is again making another move, but this time with an aime to deliver content around the entire house.

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The front of the Roomplayer II is rather bland, but it should hide itself well in nearly any decor.

Simple Audio is a Scottish based company (if it isn't Scottish it's crap!) that designs and sells multimedia streaming solutions.  The hardware is the Roomplayer 1 and Roomplayer II units which are high definition media players that are either amplified (forconnecting directly to speakers) or non-amplified to connect to current stereo and home theater systems.  Audio is broadcast to these units from iOS enabled devices or PC and Mac computers via software provided by Simple Audio.

Corsair has acquired Simple Audio in a multi-million dollar transaction, but we do not have exact numbers due to Corsair being a privately owned company.  From my understanding these products will still carry the Simple Audio name, but Corsair will be the parent company and will distribute the products throughout Asia and North America (two areas that Simple Audio currently does not support).

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The back of the Roomplayer I is much more interesting as it has a 50 watt amplifier built-in so it can power speakers independently.

The Roomplayer solutions are apparently quite easy to hook up and their output is very clean (supports up to 24 bit sound natively).  As the average consumer is becoming more and more comfortable with setting up a home network, this is an opportunity for both Corsair and Simple Audio to market these products in new regions where overall market penetration of networked home audio is still quite low.

Corsair is a very, very aggressive company when it comes to entering new markets.  Their power supplies and cases are perfect examples of how they tend to do business.  Corsair actually produces neither of those product lines, but instead relies on contract manufacturing to handle production.  What Corsair certainly appears to do well is specify these components very well and handle end product quality control.  There really are few overall complaints about Corsair and their products, and as a consumer I do hope that they have another good one on their hands.

The sales numbers will of course be key, and obviously Corsair feels comfortable enough with Simple Audio and their products to buy them up.  We are not certain when we expect to see the Simple Audio products on store shelves, but Corsair typically does not screw around.

Now we only have to wonder, "Who is next on Corsair's radar?"

Source: Corsair

Steelseries wants you to "Flux Yourself"

Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2013 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: audio, steelseries, Flux Luxury Edition, gaming headset

Apart from the questionable slogan and unique cord colour, the Flux does have quite a few positive features, such as 40mm drivers which have a frequency range of 18 – 28000 Hz.  The FluidFIT headband is also well designed, MadShrimps found them comfortable even after long usage while wearing glasses, something not all headsets can claim and while you will get warm under the leather ear cups they are not going to pinch or become uncomfortable.  One drawback was the inline microphone, if they did not place it carefully the rubbing of the microphone over clothing is transmitted and can muffle your voice.

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"The new Flux Luxury Edition Gaming Headset from SteelSeries was built for mobility in mind, comes with two separate connectivity cables, a carry pouch and interchangeable covers. The Flux is easy to adjust thanks to the FluidFIT headband and produces a high quality sound even in movies or games, even if it is marketed mainly for gaming purposes."

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Audio Corner

Source: MadShrimps

No, Creative's new sound card does not go over 9000

Subject: General Tech | January 29, 2013 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: Sound Blaster Z, Creative, audio

Why Creative chose the name Sound Blaster Z is unknown, but that is indeed the moniker attached to their new $120 PCIe sound card.  As you can see from the picture it is relatively small and will fit in many HTPC cases, plus it comes bundled with a microphone.  The software comes with quite a few options, from the Creative SBX "enhancements" to Scout mode which is designed to help gamers hear audio effects, you have a lot of control over playback and with Crystal Voice system you will get noise cancellation on the microphone.  TechPowerUp liked the features that this card offered but noticed that it came at a price, when running the driver takes up 80MB of RAM.

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"Creative's long awaited new line of sound cards is here. Today, we take a thorough look at the new entry-level model called "Sound Blaster Z". The sound card comes equipped with the new Sound Core processor and Creative even bundles it with a decent microphone."

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Audio Corner

Source: TechPowerUp

ASUS' new gaming headset tries to impress with both features and asking price

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2013 - 04:11 PM |
Tagged: audio, asus, Orion Pro, gaming headset

ASUS makes a lot of promises with their new Orion Pro gaming headset, not only do they claim to provide 7.1 surround sound but the suggested price is below $120.  The specifications look good, 50mm drivers and a 50Hz-50KHz response range but the surround sound is virtualized with the included Spitfire USB Audio Processor.  You can choose between three modes of sound but do not have the ability to really customize your experience which could be a problem if you are playing a game which only supports 5.1 surround.  Hardware Canucks put the headset on for a test drive and were suitably impressed by the performance, perhaps these might be a worthy addition for gamers who prefer headsets to speakers.

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"ASUS' new Orion Pro headset combines the versatility of a USB powered virtual 7.1 surround sound environment with the high quality aspect of an analog connection. All of this is offered in a unique package that doesn't require drivers to function properly but comes in at under $120."

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Audio Corner

Steelseries gives your ears the Flux

Subject: General Tech | November 26, 2012 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: audio, steelseries, Flux Luxury Edition, gaming headset

SteelSeries offers two types of its Flux headset, the original which comes with SND Sound Block earpads and the Luxury Edition with pleather earcups, a bright orange cable and a set of fancy earcup covers.  Apart from that both are powered by 40mm drivers and sport and omnidirectional microphone.  A foldable body and cords which can be completely disconnected make these headsets easily portable but don't sacrifice comfort according to Custom PC Review, though your ears will get warm quite quickly.  They were impressed with the quality of audio and only had some small complaints about the performance in certain situations, which is a good thing considering the non-Luxury Edition is selling for $120 on NewEgg.

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"The word “Flux” is derived from the Latin word “Fluxus”, which means “to flow”. So when SteelSeries sent us a box with the phrase “Flux yourself” printed on the front, we weren’t sure if it’s a compliment or an insult. Luckily, the box contained more than just random words – inside we found SteelSeries newest addition to their ever-growing audio line-up, the SteelSeries Flux Luxury Edition, for our review...."

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Audio Corner

A different kind of portable speaker

Subject: General Tech | November 16, 2012 - 01:16 PM |
Tagged: audio, portable speakers, resonance

The Paddytek Paddy Vibe BT Edition Resonance speaker is not a pair of desktop speakers, instead it is a single small but heavy speaker which uses the surface it is placed on as a resonance speaker.  The key to making the speaker sound better is to put it on a surface which can propagate the sounds waves, in R&B Mods testing it was a hardwood table which gave them the best fidelity.  It is powered by USB and can accept either a 3.5mm jack or Bluetooth input for audio reception which gives you some flexibility, especially if you have an adapter to plug it into mains power instead of your electronic device.  It may not be available in North America yet put it is worth keeping your eye out for similar devices.

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"With more and more smartphones being used as music players we see more portable speakers on the market. Paddytek, a swedish company, has created a portable speaker that can be ran with both a 3,5mm connector or Bluetooth. Their claim is that it uses resonance to supposedly create a high quality sound,. So lets take a look at what we can expect from this 50$ portable speaker!"

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Audio Corner

Cross Platform 5.1 sound from Mad Catz

Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2012 - 02:20 PM |
Tagged: audio, gaming headset, Mad Catz, TRITTON Pro 5.1, surround, 5.1 headset

Perhaps the most compelling reason to pick up Mad Catz's TRITTON Pro+ 5.1 headset is because it will provide you with 5.1 surround sound on both PC and consoles as they use multiple speakers as opposed to emulation software.  Along with the headset comes a physical audio decoder that allows you far more control than just changing the volume, there are delay settings, dynamic range controls and other options.  Just having all of these choices doesn't make this a great headset which is why Mad Shrimps unpackaged them for testing so head on over and see if the actual product is as good as the features imply.

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"The new, revised TRITTON Pro+ 5.1 Surround Headset from Mad Catz comes with a redesigned decoder box which features multiple options, one in-line remote for adjusting volumes on each channel, SVM, voice or Master Volume, but also a removable microphone. The shape of the headset has been also tweaked so now it is more comfortable and the cups can be rotated 90 degrees."

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Source: Mad Shrimps

Audio-Technica offers you the sweet sound of silence

Subject: General Tech | October 18, 2012 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: audio, audio-technica, ATH-ANC9 QuietPoint, noise cancellation

Audio-Technica's ATH-ANC9 QuietPoint headphones are definitely priced for audiophiles, most casual listeners are not willing to spend ~$300 on headphones whether they have active noise cancellation or not.  40mm drivers and a frequency response range of 10 - 25,000Hz give a hint towards the audio quality and there are three different noise cancellation settings for those who might sometimes want to be able to hear environmental sounds.  When [H]ard|OCP first looked at the headphones they were not sure as to how comfortable they would be after extended periods of time wearing them and were quite surprised that they were not bothered by extended usage at all.  Audio quality was superb, though [H] does point out that this might not be the best gaming headset, for that use you might be better looking to a headset which provides surround sound.  Those looking to enjoy audio without interruption from the outside world will like this product, if they are willing to pay the price.

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"Noise-cancelling headphones are very popular with frequent travelers and those who live or work in noisy environments. Audio-Technica's new ATH-ANC9 QuietPoint headphones supply you with three modes of operation that have impressed us to say the least. Now you can get on with grinding in peace."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

You aren't really stylin' unless your earbuds are made of wood

Subject: General Tech | September 28, 2012 - 04:09 PM |
Tagged: audio, rosewill, RHTS-11002, in-ear, rosewood

Rosewill's RHTS-11002 in-ear headphones are definitely designed for the high end market as the body of the earbuds is made of rosewood, with aluminium highlights and replaceable silicon tips.  TechPowerUp thought the sound quality to be similar to Sennheiser's CX300, good for casual listening while you are on the go but not as powerful or rich as you can get with full headphones or speakers.  They are currently $20 on NewEgg which makes them a rather sweet deal for anyone shopping for this style of headphones.

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"Rosewill's impressive product line-up also includes some very interesting headphones and in-ears. We will be taking a look at the RHTS-11002 Rosewood in-ears which features 10 mm dynamic drivers, and real rosewood ear cups!"

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Source: TechPowerUp