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Bass Pro

Low Innovations: In-Depth with Mercedes-Benz FrontBass

It doesn’t feel like that long ago when adding aftermarket amplifiers, separates, and elephantine subwoofers (remember the Bazooka?) seemed like the right thing to do to your car. We’ve come a long way since then; and when we checked in with the families and friends at the office, not one could even recall the last…

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Boom Barrel

Joey Roth Subwoofer

Joey Roth’s desktop speakers ($495) made a splash with both the audio and design set thanks to their ceramic construction and striking silhouette. Now he’s released a matching companion subwoofer ($695+), expanding the system’s frequency response down to 40Hz. Just like the speakers, the Joey Roth subwoofer is crafted from simple, refined materials including stainless…

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Putting off aires

McIntosh McAire

While iDevices flipped the consumer audio industry ass over tea kettle in a brush of a click wheel, the audiophile world stubbornly weathered the storm for years, hoping the digital compression nightmare might just vanish away in time. The introduction of the McIntosh McAire hints that convenience is gaining ground with the stuffy, stubborn niche…

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Match your mix

Bad Habits Made to Order DJ Consoles

Portability should be the first priority for any working DJ, but for the rare few who prefer to worship beats in anonymity and seclusion (or have enough cash for a second setup), Bad Habits Made to Order DJ Consoles ($1,374) are as good a temple as any. Each custom console is inspired by the set…

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Digging for gold

Hunting eBay: Home Audio & Hi-Fi

For our second Hunting eBay post I’ve focused in on hi-fi. A personal soft-spot, my eBay watch list is often teeming with everything from iconic vintage audio listings to mystic hi-fi relics. There isn’t as much glory or panache in an excellent piece from the ’70s as there is an equally aged watch, but the…

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American Beauty

VPI Traveler Turntable

The world of the audiophile isn’t normally for the light of wallet, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t values to be had. VPI industries got its start 35 years ago as a record player component and accessories company, first making weights, then isolation bases and then record cleaning machines — all for incredible values. Inevitably,…

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Canned Goods

Roundup: Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $250

The headphone market is packed tighter than Chris Farley in a navy blazer, thanks in part to the explosion of digital music — salud, iTunes, Spotify and The Pirate Bay — not to mention the business savvy of a few enterprising rhyme spitters (what up Dre?). Lucky for you, we’ve scoured the headphone market in…

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For the record

Jico Kanade Record Cleaner

Vinyl is on a comeback, in many ways because it replaces the tangible elements of music collecting that the iPod killed in the blink of an eye. The Jico Kanade Record Cleaner ($88) is a beautiful companion accessory for keeping your records pristine. Each unique cleaner is meticulously hand built by expert artisans from the…

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A better music box

Apogee Quartet

The Apogee Quartet ($1,295) is a USB audio interface that provides Macs and their parent’s-basement-squatting masters with studio-grade chops. Connection-wise, four combo XLR and 1/4” analog inputs — complete with world-class mic preamps capable of capturing click-free transitions from a vast gain range of 0-75dB — and eight digital inputs can accomodate a burgeoning boy…

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Spin it all

Pioneer CDJ-2000nexus

Pioneer’s newest CDJ-2000nexus flagship gets everything right but the name — and we’re not referring to the potential confusion with Android products. That’s because the newly integrated Wifi compatibility allows the pro turntable to play everything from streaming music on computers, iPhones, iPods, and iPads to USB thumb drives, SD memory cards, and yes, even…

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Sonic boom

KEF X300A

Look around at today’s computers and you’ll see exactly where companies are putting their money. Better-than-high-def screens with touch-sensitivity, ThunderBolt this and that, blisteringly fast graphics cards — it’s all about the visuals. And while we’re not ones to complain about amazing picture quality, it does get pretty difficult to enjoy lightning without any thunder,…

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Hot mic

Apogee MiC

For the price of a one-way ticket to Boston, the Apogee MiC ($199) is a studio quality microphone that’s built specifically to play well with Apple recording software. With an all-metal construction, the large diaphragm studio condenser comes with a built-in mic pre, and 44.1/48 kHz, 24-bit analog-to-digital conversion. What this means is that you’ll…

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Cantastic

Sony MDR-1 Headphones

Sony just announced their MDR-1 line of high-end ear-thumpers that combine gorgeous retro styling with serious audio chops and advanced connectivity. The top-of-the-line cans are available in three different models, all of which boast 40mm neodymium drivers with an impressive response range of 4Hz-80kHz. While the basic MDR-1Rs stick to traditional wires, the Bluetooth equipped…

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Domestic Archive of Records

Symbol LP Storage Cabinets

There’s nothing quite like the sound of a record whisking as it spins, but while we need not wax poetic about the nostalgia of needle to vinyl, the other part of what makes records so satisfying is, well, the actual record. More importantly, the sacred process of stashing them away into storage like the Symbol…

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Wi(reless)-Fi

Audyssey Wireless Speakers

Looking back on the past twenty years, we’ve made some pretty big strides when it comes to consumer technologies. But with all these advancements, why are we still listening to music through the same speaker wire our dads used? Up until now, the only way to get decent sound quality was through being hardwired; yes,…

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Outside the box

Yamaha YHT-697

We’ve never been big fans of packaged home theater setups. They tend to be a mishmash of clunky, subpar components that do little to warrant their price points — no matter how low. The Yamaha YHT-697 ($750) does its best to shake the HTIB stereotype thanks to some serious future proof features, normally reserved for…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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,…

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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….

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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…

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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….

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…