Cables & Accessory Reviews

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Michael Lavorgna  |  Jul 31, 2012
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.
Steven Plaskin  |  Jul 26, 2012
Meeting Tranquility
At the last CES, numerous visitors to the Synergistic Research room were commenting on a new base for computers and components that improved their sound when they were simply placed on the base. My curiosity was aroused with these reports. Could a computer’s sound that is fed to a DAC be significantly improved by simply placing the computer on a base? Given the number of audiophile tweaks that exist, I entered this testing with quite a bit of skepticism. After all, I have tried numerous stands including those from Symposium and Back Diamond Racing with limited success when used on my laptop. Toss in some Shakti stones and fancy footers with again, limited improvement, if any. But having previously met Ted Denney of Synergistic Research, I knew that he was not in the habit of exaggerating his products capabilities.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 19, 2012
I saw this handy little item in a pre-CES Press Release from OWC and thought, cool. While I did not see one in person at the show, I still think it's cool. The Newer Technology Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet ($27.99/ea) installs into any existing 16 cubic inch electrical box with a 15Amp circuit and its UL/CUL Listed (E339607) for use in United States & Canada.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Dec 14, 2011
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.
Michael Fremer  |  Nov 02, 2011
This pocket-size (5.6" by 2.2" by 1.4"), 9.5-oz, Bluetooth-enabled powered stereo speaker with “subwoofer” is guaranteed to blow your mind. Even the usually deaf gadget writers for mainstream publications—the guys who go gaga for Bose—sat up and took notice when they heard the original foxL a few years ago. The Soundmatters publicist waited for the Platinum version to be released before contacting me for a possible review. I’ll take that as a compliment.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 25, 2011
A computer is not optimized for the uninterrupted streaming of audio data. It has rapidly become established wisdom, therefore, that the optimal means of extracting audio data from a computer's USB port is to operate that port in what is called "asynchronous isochronous" mode. This lets the receiving device, such as a digital-to-analog converter (DAC), control the flow of data from the PC. In theory, asynchronous USB operation (not to be confused with the asynchronous sample-rate conversion used in some DACs) reduces jitter to unmeasurable levels, depending on the accuracy of the receiver's fixed-frequency oscillator, which is used to clock the data to the DAC. By contrast, in the alternative and almost ubiquitous USB operating mode, called "adaptive isochronous," while the sample rate of the output data, averaged over a longish period, will indeed be the specified 44.1 or 48kHz, there will be short-term fluctuations, or jitter, due to the oscillator having to change its frequency every millisecond to match the uncertain rate of data flow from the PC.
John Atkinson  |  Dec 23, 2010
The weekly Vote! Page is one of the most popular features of the Stereophile website, and the August 22 question, "Should Stereophile review more or fewer computer-audio products?", generated a record number of responses. No less than 88% of those responding asked for more coverage of products that allow a computer to be a legitimate source of music in a high-end context. Just 7% of readers wanted less coverage.
John Atkinson  |  May 24, 2010
As someone who wrestled endlessly with the nine-pin serial ports and the RS-232 protocol with which early PCs came fitted (footnote 1), I welcomed the Universal Serial Bus (USB) interface when I first encountered it a decade ago, on the original Apple iMac. Plug it in. Don't worry. Be happy. The computer peripherals work as they should, which was often not the case with RS-232. It was a given, therefore, that the then-new USB port would be seen as a natural means of exporting audio data from a PC (footnote 2), but the first generation of USB-connected audio devices offered disappointing performance.
John Atkinson  |  May 15, 2009
The speed with which audiophiles have adopted a computer of some sort as their primary source of recorded music might be thought breathtaking. But with the ubiquitous Apple iPod painlessly persuading people to get used to the idea of storing their music libraries on computer hard drives, the next logical step was to access those libraries in listening rooms as well as on the move. A few months back, I wrote a basic guide to the various strategies for getting the best sound from a computer: "Music Served: Extracting Music from your PC." Since then, Minnesota manufacturer Bel Canto Design has released a product that aims to simplify matters even further.