Audio & Video

Svelte sound

Harman Kardon AE In-Ear Headphones

Is it hip to be square? For Harman Kardon it is. Using an atypical square aluminum alloy body, the Harman Kardon AE1 ($150) in-ear headphones reduce unwanted resonance as well as giving them a unique in-ear look. With a generous 16-20,000 Hz range and extended low-frequency reproduction, the AE delivers sound like a hot French...

Ignorance is bliss

Phiaton PS 20 NC Earphones

Noise canceling headphones bring sanity to an otherwise cacophonous world, but often at the price of cranial bulk. Phiaton’s PS 20 NC ($129) earphones erase that downside with a “half in-ear” design and proprietary “Noise Blocker” technology that removes 95% of ambient noise. Spec-wise, audio nuts will appreciate a frequency response of 15- 22,000-Hz which...

Hi-Fi Noon

Rotel 12 Series

Between Spotify and iTunes (Remastered) in the cloud, it’s fast becoming a disconnected world for the hi-fi holdout. So it’s good to see stalwart brands modernizing their wares for the times without forgetting their audio-centric roots. Rotel, if you’re not already familiar with them, has a storied history in disciplined audio, which marries British and...

If a tree falls in the woods while everyone's wearing noise cancelling headphones...

Tivoli Audio Radio Silenz Headphones

Stylish radio maker Tivoli Audio is now venturing into the headphone world. Forgive Tivoli Audio Radio Silenz ($160) headphones their ridiculous name; they are a nice addition to the ever growing noise canceling market. The ‘phones have all the normal fixins: active battery noise cancellation that can be switched on and off, high performance 40mm...

Cut cables, keep the beats

Pioneer XDJ-Aero Wireless DJ Controller

Slowly but surely, the DJ world winds up head bobbing to consumer audio trends. Pioneer’s newly minted XDJ-Aero Wireless DJ Controller ($1,399) is the first controller of its kind to support wireless streaming from phones, tablets, and laptops out of the box. If Wi-Fi isn’t available, the XDJ-Aero can also create its own wireless access...

Hear it the first time

Etymotic Music Pro 9-15 Noise-Reduction Ear Plugs

No one wants to be that “Huh? What’s that?” guy, but we’re not helping our ears much these days, what with brain-rocking headphones that just make you turn the dial to 10 and all those blasting (awesome) Black Keys concerts that can’t be missed. Etymotic Music Pro 9-15 ($400) ear plugs can at least make...

Cool Bean

Denon Cocoon

The high-end speaker dock pool, already swimming with the likes of the B&W Zeppelin, B&O BeoSound 8, and the Bose SoundDock 10, just got more crowded with Denon’s Cocoon diving in. The Cocoon, available in home or portable models, represents Denon’s late foray into the iDevice market — while they have fielded systems with docks,...

Pro sound, amateur setup

Aperion Audio Intimus 4T Summit Wireless System

The thought of cleanly wiring an audiophile-grade home theater system has deterred many a man-cave-pimper, until now. The Aperion Audio Intimus 4T Summit Wireless System ($2,999+) is so simple to set up, you don’t even need a receiver. Instead, each of the seven speakers and the subwoofer houses an individual digital receiver and dual amplifiers....

The schooldesk you always wanted

La Boite Laptop Desk & Hi-Fi Soundsystem

La Boite’s Laptop Desks & HiFi systems are a standing paradox of features and minimalism. They look like desks (because they are desks), but they’re also neatly packaged sound docks with high-quality speakers made exclusively for La Boite — a brand that knows a thing or two about high-end audio. The smaller LD-120 boasts a...

Smart as it sounds

Kickstarter: 1Q

And so the Kickstarter surge in craftsmanship continues. The latest proof: the 1Q ($119). Wrapped in a 3″ wood cube, the 1Q is an astonishingly efficient Bluetooth sound system with a hand-crafted cabinet that produces natural sound in a surprisingly wide 80Hz-20kHz frequency range. Its creator, David Laituri, is actually the man behind Vers Audio....

Appoint Guard

Bang & Olufsen Playmaker

You can always count on the high-end Danish audio maker to deliver products that hit every sense at ounce, and their latest offering, the Playmaker ($425) isn’t shy about being judged inside out. Designed to allow users to wirelessly connect with any Bang & Olufsen digital speakers, this audio bridge offers sound flexibility and quality...

Throne of Phones

Klutz Design CanCan

Perch your grail cans (the audio kind) on a home deserving of their stature with the Klutz Design CanCan ($555). Stratospherically priced, this stately, high-design throne offers up a tear-shaped stand that’s hand-crafted in Sweden from solid wood and mounted on a hand-polished aluminum base. With an inset cradle for securing your headphones and two...

Drummer (Oh) Boy

Roland TD-30KV Electronic Drums

Would you pay nearly $10,000 for one of the quietest drum kits in the world? Even if your upstairs neighbors won’t pitch in, the Roland TD-30KV could make it worth every penny. Representing the pinnacle of their V-Drum technology, the Roland RD-30KV represents over 10 years of technology pioneering. These are serious, professional instruments capable...

Sound, your way

Logitech Ultimate Ears Personal Reference Monitors

There are custom headphones and there are custom headphones. With Logitech’s Ultimate Ears Personal Reference Monitors ($1,999), the bar has officially been raised on what should be considered top-notch audio personalization. Not only can you decide on every detail right down to the a choice of four wood veneers, but the specific fit and sound...

Sound, barrier

Eclipse TD508 Mk3 Speakers

If these speaker look like they belong on the side of a jet fighter, then you haven’t heard anything yet. Despite their stratospheric look, the Eclipse TD508 Mk3 can faithfully mimic the sounds of terra-bound sonics using a proprietary Time Domain technology that ensures listeners are ensconced in the heart of a live performance —...

Sound it out loud

Aperion Aris Wireless Speaker

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. At least that’s what Da’Vinci said, and it still holds true today. What better way to show off your domestic affinity and audiophile prowess than with the Aperion Aris Wireless Speaker ($500). The Aris seamlessly integrates into your wireless, or wired home network to enable streaming music from any Windows...

As good as they sound

Pioneer SE-MJ591 Headphones

While shiny plastic finishes and big bass beats are the current calling card for a “good” set of cans, there is something to be said about the oft-understated audiophile approach. Pioneer’s just-introduced high-end headwear, the SE-MJ591 ($300), co-mingles a subtle matte finish with brushed aluminum accents and a spec sheet that will have heads bobbing....

Audio, squared.

NuForce Cube

The portable speaker has come along way since the rad boombox days of the ‘80s. They’ve gone from resting on your shoulder to fitting in your palm, and can now play tunes from virtually any audio source. Unfortunately, there’s one area where improvements have faltered — sound quality. The NuForce Cube ($119) is a stylish...

Headed Up

Denon AH-D7100 Artisan Headphones

Whether your music tastes run to Mahler, Parker, Bowie, or Phoenix, the right set of cans will make the experience more enjoyable. Initial reports suggest that Denon’s recently announced flagship AH-D7100 Artisan headphones are the best over ear offering to date from the lauded audio company — even surpassing the venerable AH-D7000s. Interestingly enough, the...

Everything is a remix. Remix everything.

Pioneer RMX-1000 Remix Station

If “crushing a playlist” is on your bucket list of things to do before you die, you might want to get your pen ready. The Pioneer RMX-1000 Remix Station ($999) is the tool du jour to craft your very own soundtrack-of-the-century. Multiple remixing functions empower DJs with complete control of their tracks, equipping them with...

Free Bass'n

Sonos Sub

Sonos’ Play:3 wireless HiFi speakers were a huge hit when they were first released in the middle of last year. Great sounding audio quality from a wireless product isn’t always guaranteed, but the Play:3 did the trick. The one the portable wonder did lack, however, was the added punch of top-drawer bass. Now with the...

Cut the cords, keep the sound quality.

Dynaudio XEO 5 Wireless Tower Speaker

As the anchor of the world’s first true wireless high end loudspeaker system, Dynaudio’s XEO 5 Towers ($4,500) break new ground. They’re designed to be used with virtually anything that plays music, including iPhones and iPads, and can be placed up 100 meters away from other audio components — perfect for those of you living...

Walk around with home theater sound

Velodyne vPulse In-Ear Headphones

High-end audio manufacturer Velodyne, known for making some of the best subwoofers on the market over the past few decades, is now bringing the bass even closer to your ears with the vPulse In-Ear Headphones ($90). As you’d expect, the vPulse’s provide incredible sound quality for the price thanks to 10 mm drivers encased in...

One amp to rule them all

Line6 POD HD

It seems even the roadie has been made nearly obsolete in the wake of digital technology. The Line6 POD has been a mainstay in studios and professional live rigs for years, but this latest version, the POD HD, may now convince even the stuffiest of tube-amp worshippers into packing away their giant and costly amplifiers...

Time to fire your stenographer

Phillips SpeechMike Air

Meet the great-great-grandson of the dictaphone — the SpeechMike Air ($500). Specifically designed to meet the enormous demands of document-intensive professionals, the Phillips dictation device is now cordless and packed with some amazing features.   The slick design and comfortable ergonomics complement the crystal clear recording quality and intuitive controls. While a typist isn’t included...

See right hear

Well Rounded Sound

Some of the best sounding speakers could use a pleasing aesthetic touch. A basic black box is nice and simple, but also a tad boring in the realm of desktop audio. If you have a desire for high fidelity and high-end looks, look no further than Well-Rounded Sound. Using full range drivers with 100 Hz...

Docking Statement

Jarre AeroPad Two Dock

There are docking stations and then there are docking statements. In a world wrought with crappy auxiliary plug-ins masquerading as “made for iPod” accessories, this would be the latter. No judgment here if you mistook the Jarre AeroPad Two Dock (~$920) for something out of Gattaca, but we think you’ll find that this device has...

Long live the clock radio

Geneva Sound System Model XS

The radio alarm clock business has never been a particularly sexy one, not counting, of course, the occasional technological breakthroughs in snooze technology (we set ours at 9 min). But Geneva is waking up the sleepy clock radio industry with the Geneva Sound System Model XS ($250), a slick ultra-compact bluetooth audio system and the...

Turning it up to 11 starts with 3

P3 Amplifiers

An all-tube, hand-wired P3 Guitar Amplifier ($650+) isn’t just a nostalgic replica designed to look liked a bad-ass amp from the golden age of rock. It’s built like one too, which means blasting out loud, clear tones, no matter how hard they’re driven or clumsily treated by a half-cocked roadie. Unlike frailer mass-produced amplifiers of...

Whipping your studio cans into shape

Schiit LYR Hybrid Headphone Amplifier

We covered Schiit’s audiophile grade products before, and now rejoice at the release of the extremely powerful LYR Headphone Amplifier. The LYR is a robust, tube-based amplifier with an incredible 6 watts of power, designed to satisfy the gluttonous needs of high impedance studio cans to unlock their full dynamic range. Just in case you...

Meze-merizing

Meze Classics Headphones

We’re not designers by trade, but we’re pretty sure there’s a rule that says the addition of wood only makes products more beautiful. The Meze Classics headphones are a perfect example, and lend credence to our lumber-loving design ethos. The Meze headphone line is the creation of award-winning industrial designer, Antonio Meze. Available in three...

Loud and Studious

Adam ARTist 5 Monitors

Ask any studio engineer worth his ponytail about Adam speakers, and they will tell you their monitors have populated some of the best recording facilities in the world for years. The reason for this is a passion for forward thinking design and revolutionary use of materials, such as carbon fiber diaphragms and ribbon transducers. While...

Dare to Stream

Logitech UE Air Speaker

Logitech has a new dog in the iOS speaker fight. Teaming up with Ultimate Ears — best known for the ubiquitous in-ear monitors you see worn by everyone from Bono to Bieber — the Logitech UE Air Speaker ($400) is a single-unit sound system whose engineers are out to prove that it has equal parts...

Sound Choice

Pioneer VSX-822-K Receiver

Pioneer’s 2011 VSX 1021-K was the first receiver to integrate AirPlay. The company’s latest crop of 2012 receivers continues to chase the cutting edge, bringing AirPlay to all but the lowest end of the lineup. While all of the four midrange models have their own appeal, the sweet spot in our opinion is the VSX-822-K...

Keep the Hi-fi, ditch the high price

Fiio E17 Alpen USB DAC Headphone Amplifier

Anyone on a budget looking to wade into the world of portable headphone hi-fi should take a good Pei Mei stare at Fiio. In the audio community, the upstart brand is known for providing unbeatable value, and their latest E17 Alpen USB DAC Headphone Amplifier ($140) is no exception. Boasting inputs for mini USB, AUX,...

Audio on another level

Breakthroughs: Dolby Surround Sound

Audio manufacturers started using the term “high fidelity” in the 1950s as a marketing technique to help grow consumer interest in home stereos. Thanks to the new buzz word and a concerted industry push, the consumer home audio world soon entered “The Golden Age of Hi-Fi” in the 1960s. It was during this boom when...

Size doesn't matter

Bowers & Wilkins Mini Theater

After six years diligently serving the needs of upper-crust home theater fans everywhere, Bowers & Wilkins has finally decided to retool their Mini Theater System. The new M-1 loudspeaker features all new drivers including a tweeter designed in-house, and the same Anti-Resonance Plug found in the brand’s higher-end PM1 bookshelf monitor. The speaker wire connections...

Take it to 11

DEQX HDP-Express

Adding this component to your home audio system can unveil new layers of realism to sounds and vastly improve your listening experience, even if you already own most expensive gear out there. How and why the DEQX HDP-Express ($1,950) works is a bit complicated, so we’ll spare you the lengthy audio lesson and stick with...

A touch more advanced

Parrot Zik Headphones by Philippe Starck

Headphones are the new status symbol in a world where everyone owns the exact same phone. So it’s not surprising that Parrot, maker of a wide range of random accessories for mobile devices including a remote controlled helicopter drone and the Asteroid car audio receiver, decided to enter the fray. Like the $1,500 Zikmu iPod...

Ready for the next 20 years

Koss Porta Pro KTC

Flash back to 1984. Prince still went by Prince and was ruling the music charts. Ralph put the macho in Macchio by laying the hurt on Cobra Kai. A former hollywood actor was just reaching the middle of his tenure in the oval office. And Koss introduced what would become one of the most iconic...

Forget one-size-fits-all

Sonomax Sculpted Eers Headphones

Typically, buying a set of custom molded earbuds from brands like Ultimate Ears (now a subsidiary of Logitech) or Etymotic can take months. That’s because consumers must first visit the Audiologist to have inner-ear molds made, which are then shipped to the headphone company for production. Sonomax’s Sculpture Eers Custom Molded Headphones ($199+) ship with...

Clear the mechanism

AKG K495NC Noise Cancelling Headphones

If there’s one thing that Bose does well, besides marketing, it’s noise cancelling headphones. They just work, even if they scream “I live for middle-management”. And despite efforts from some of our favorite brands, most of the offerings have been pretty lackluster. AKG aims to remedy that, including their former noise-cancelling headphones, with the all-new...

Audiophile AirPlay

CES 2012: Pioneer N-50 & N-30 Audiophile Networked Audio Players

Did you lust after Widealab’s Aurender S10 music server, only to have your heart crushed by its $6,800 price tag? Pioneer’s newly announced N-50 and N-30 streamers might be just the substitute for those with more humble budgets and who couldn’t care less about internal storage. The N-50 ($699) is the higher-end model and features...

Analogous

Samsung DA-E750 Vacuum Tube AirPlay Dock

It doesn’t take a sleuth to see that the analog stereo bandwagon is growing beyond its fringe enthusiast roots into a mainstream consumer request. But unlike their positively eyegasmic flat screens, we can’t recall a time we’ve ever clamored for a piece of Samsung audio gear, much less an iPod dock, but the Samsung DA-E750...