headphone amplifier

Small Wonder

Meridian Explorer Headphone DAC/Amplifier

Terms like all-metal enclosure, analog, and hand-made may conjure up thoughts of exorbitant price tags -- most often you'd be right -- but Meridian proves that occasionally pigs do fly. The British audio stalwart, known for stratospheric priced speakers and components, has unveiled the Meridian Explorer ($299), a pocket-sized USB DAC and headphone amplifier, and we got to try it out.

Turn on the tube(s)

Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies

Looking more like a miniature robot monolith than audio componentry, the WOO Audio WA7 Fireflies ($999) is a convenient (ideal) solution to poor desktop sound. As both a high-grade vacuum tube headphone/speaker amplifier and a state-of-the-art USB digital to analog converter, the Fireflies puts everything serious audiophiles crave in a 5-inch cube.