Cables & Accessory Reviews

Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 14, 2011 41 comments
Want to play music from your iPad or wirelessly stream through your iPad at 24 bit/96 kHz? Well you have to tether your iPad to your DAC with this dock and it's gonna cost you all of $29.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Jul 22, 2014 21 comments
Introduction
The 3 products under review all deal with common issues encountered in USB computer audio. Most USB DACs require a 5 volt line (VBUS) in the USB cable to supply power to the USB controller in one’s DAC. Unfortunately, this power line from the computer brings with it noise that can contaminate the audio data leading to degradation of the sound one hears from the DAC. The idea behind the Schiit Wyrd USB Decrapifier is that supplying clean power to your USB DAC, or better-quality USB port power management, can result in improvements in sound and performance. Schiit believes that glitches and dropouts can be prevented using the Wyred USB Decrapifier.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 19, 2015 4 comments
I Like Bluetooth
Audioengine makes a number of well-priced products that deliver their fair share of musical enjoyment. I favorably reviewed their A5+ speakers (see review) and we own two pairs of their original A2 speakers. Under inspection today is their B1 Bluetooth Music Receiver which adds Bluetooth connectivity to any hi-fi while also offering an internal DAC as well as a Toslink output if you already own a DAC you enjoy. What's the point of Bluetooth? Fun.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Nov 23, 2016 33 comments
Many computer audiophiles have been discovering that optimization of the operating system can lead to significant improvements in the sound of their music systems. I have previously reviewed Fidelizer Pro (see review); a program that I found made sonic improvements to the sound of music software utilizing the Windows Operating System. I have also reviewed the Playback Designs Syrah Server (see review) that employed a modified Windows 10 Pro that was stripped and configured so that it could only be used to play audio files and utilize network access.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Aug 30, 2012 58 comments
Cables Categorically Matter
Just try playing music through a hi-fi without cables. Nothing. Nada. Silence. Now try connecting your amplifier to speakers with twine. Again nothing. Nada. Silence. Cables matter in the most fundamental way because you have to use the right cable for the right job. But what about the notion that a choice between two of the exact same kind of cable, Ethernet cables for today's tale, can matter? That two different Ethernet cables can make your network-connected file-based music playback sound different? Preposterous? Pernicious pandering? Have I sold my soul or lost my mind? Have I peed on the sacred altar of Science?
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jul 30, 2015 14 comments
Moving Beyond The Bits
While some people still want to argue that "bits are bits" when it comes to digital data transmission, other people are looking at real-world solutions to real-world problems. I have a number of devices in for review that take aim at cleaning up our USB connections. While each offers a different approach and even a different set of solutions to more than one problem, the JitterBug is a USB filter. What is it filtering? The company states, "JitterBug’s dual-circuitry measurably reduces unwanted noise currents and parasitic resonances. It also reduces jitter and packet errors (in some cases, packet errors are completely eliminated)."
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Sep 30, 2013 192 comments
Expensive Ethernet Cables
I hemmed and hawed. I procrastinated. I averted, diverted, rescheduled, delayed, prolonged, and put off reviewing the AudioQuest Vodka and Diamond Ethernet Cables hoping that something would change. Namely, I was hoping someone would be able to tell me why, in no uncertain terms, they do in fact make a difference in the way my music sounds coming through my hi-fi. In many ways and for many reasons I wished they made no difference at all. I wish they were just some audiophile nonsense that I could plug in, listen to, unplug, and simply shrug at their utter ineffectualness. But that's just not how these things work.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jul 31, 2012 6 comments
Thanks to John Marks of Stereophile for the heads up on this tiny app-O-controversy. The Cardas Clarifier has been sold in CD-form through Ayre Acoustics as the "Irrational But Efficacious" CD ($20) and from Cardas in LP-form as the "Cardas Frequency Sweep Record" ($28) for years. Decades even. Now computer audiophiles can delight in the Cardas Clarifier App for iOS devices for just $0.99. That's right for under a buck you can purportedly degauss your gear and listen while you do it to what my ears sounds exactly like the sound my spaceship makes when it takes off.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jul 21, 2016 124 comments
I've been thinking about this for years. Literally. I've had any number of people ask, "Have you tried using a Fiber Media Converter?" And I always said, "No, but I plan to." Now I can say, "Why yes, I have tried this and it works wonders."
Steven Plaskin Posted: Apr 14, 2014 11 comments
The Overdrive USB DAC/Pre is the creation of engineer-designer Steve Nugent of Empirical Audio. Empirical Audio was formed in 1994 and initially concentrated on the sales of patented cable products designed by Steve Nugent. Steve’s background included a degree in Electrical Engineering with 25 years of digital design experience. His resume included work for the Intel Corp. where he served as a design-team lead in the development of the Pentium II processor. Steve has also been a passionate audiophile for over 39 years and this interest lead him into the modification of other manufacturer’s audio products in 2002. His modifications not only included DACs, but preamps, power amps and CD players / transports. The modification of numerous designs gave Steve a wonderful opportunity to see what sounded best in audio and DAC design. During this time, Steve developed the Off Ramp Turbo USB Converter; a device that offered a USB interface to digital products. In 2009, Empirical Audio ceased equipment modification and concentrated on original computer audio product design.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Sep 17, 2015 18 comments
"Listen, my children, and you shall hear", from Paul Revere’s Ride Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Captain Obvious says, In hi-fi, the only way to determine preference is to listen. We're going to talk about listening through two Ethernet devices, filters more or less, an "Audio Grade Switcher", and I'm also going to talk about three different Ethernet cables, all of which I own, to see if they make any difference in the mix.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Mar 24, 2016 14 comments
USB audio has become the most popular standard for computer audiophile DACs in recent years. Although most manufacturers have added circuits for isolation of computer noise as well as other methods of dealing with the shortcomings of USB audio, a number of innovative designers have come forward with accessories that they feel improve the audio performance of USB DACs. Gordon Rankin, John Swenson, and Thorsten Loesch are some of the best known designers to address the issues that degrade the performance of USB audio.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 24, 2012 3 comments
YouFi
iFi is an outgrowth of Abbington Music Research (AMR) "with trickle-down technology licensed from AMR and aimed primarily at the future, Computer Audio generation". We have two components under review from their Micro line—a USB DAC/Headphone amp and a USB power supply. For a combined price of $500, the iFi pair offers a lot of musical muscle for your money. The rest of the Micro line includes the iCan headphone amp ($249), and iPhono MM/MC phono preamp ($399).
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Aug 16, 2013 4 comments
iTube
The iFi iTube active tube buffer/preamplifier is actually more than that. The iTube includes two "active correction circuits" that are meant to improve your listening experience, just like the New Old Stock (NOS) General Electric 5670 tube that's hidden inside the iTube's aluminum shell. I suppose purists have already begun the cold sweats as thoughts of tampering with bit perfection outweighs the promise of greater enjoyment. But let's leave theory behind and see what the iTube delivers, sound wise.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 14, 2012 23 comments
iFi iUSBPower
My desktop setup has evolved into an iMac running Audirvana, the Audioquest Dragonfly USB DAC, AudioQuest Victoria cable, into the ADAM A3X powered speakers. I listen to this setup every day more and less and I enjoy it every time I listen to it. While it's not perfect, nothing is in hi-fi except enjoyment and as I said, this setup works in that regard for me. So why mess with enjoyment?

Pages