It's always tough to come back from vacation, especially on a Monday, which is already a day of dread in its own right. So much to catch up on. So. Much. E-MAIL. But, on this Monday, there is a bright spot, which is that I received plenty of compelling questions and comments for this column during my absence, and I appreciate every one of them. This week, I've decided to focus on a couple of relatively simple items because (a) my brain is still out of the office and (b) I think the simplest tidbits can be the … Read more
You have two grand to spend on a fantastic stereo system. Can your cash get you there? Yes, it can!
In this case, we're talking about a headphone-based system, but I will in the coming months cover speaker-based audiophile-grade systems for less than $3,000.
For the headphone system, I'm recommending the Woo Audio WA6 Special Edition vacuum tube headphone amplifier ($1,050) I reviewed in yesterday's blog, along with Grado RS-1 headphones ($695), and Oppo's DV-981HD SACD/DVD-Audio player ($229). All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail price.
Mind you, the Woo and Grado are … Read more
Would you buy a Ferrari for $1,050? OK, how about a $1,050 headphone amplifier?
The Woo Audio WA6 Special Edition headphone amp is built to Ferrari levels of quality and performance. Even before I listened to it, I knew it was going to be amazing.
It's a two-piece design. One chassis contains the power supply, the other is the amplifier proper. The pewter color, die-cast chassis parts are finished to a high standard, fully equal to $10,000 stereo amplifiers I've reviewed, but the WA6-SE is a good deal smaller than your average high-end amplifier. The two chassis together fill just 11.25 inches by 10.25 inches of shelf space.
The WA6-SE is a pure tube design, without a single semiconductor or integrated circuit in the entire amp. It's hand-crafted in New York's Queens borough, and there are no printed circuit boards; all wiring is point-to-point hand-soldered. Woo Audio builds each amp to order, so it can incorporate custom options and offer a wide range of upgraded parts. Current build time is about three to four weeks.
Woo Audio offers an extensive range of headphone amplifiers. Prices start at $470 for the Woo Audio 3; the top-of-the-line WA5 LE runs $2,400. When I heard the $585 WA6 amp a few months ago, I was knocked out by its sound. … Read more
Not too long ago, we did our first ever headphone prizefight, and it got me thinking about how headphones might be the most difficult product to be objective about during a review.
This observation was compounded by the recent parade of Ultimate Ears earphones that came across my desk. Although audio professionals, previous CNET reviewers, and many consumers have posted plenty of glowing praise for the company's products, I had a helluva time with all three sets of the headphones. They just did not fit me properly, ranging from mild discomfort with the Metro.fi 2 to supreme irritation … Read more
The third-generation iPod Nano is pretty and entertaining all on its own, but there are plenty of accessories out there to make it even more stylish, fun, and personal. The first step is to replace those stock Apple earbuds--they're not doing you any favors. A good place to start is with CNET's Best 5 headphones. Once your music is pumping through some comfortable, quality earphones, check out this roundup of skins, speakers, cases, and more, most of which are made specifically with the Nano in mind.
Sony Ericsson dropped a load of accessories to go with its new W902, W595, and W302 announced yesterday. The new products range from stereo wireless speakers to wired noise-canceling headsets. We give you the details below--or check Sony Ericsson's Web site for more specs. The accessories won't be available in most markets until the end of this year.
The MPS-100 portable speakers are an update to Sony Ericsson's earlier MPS-60 and MPS-70 speakers. Though they use a wired connection to your Walkman handset, the MPS-100 speakers have an appealing, compact design. They weigh just 4.8 ounces … Read more
Ultimate Ears has been a familiar name to musicians and other audio professionals for a decade, but in the past few years, the company has churned out a variety of headphones for several consumer lines that range in affordability. Earphones in its Metro.fi, Super.fi, and Triple.fi lines have gained a reasonable following with mainstream listeners, who have plenty of nice things to say about the company's products (see: Amazon.com).
The earbuds that have gained perhaps the most glowing praise are the Triple.fi 10s, a $400 pair that features three balanced armatures in each ear … Read more
Sometimes, a travel-friendly MP3 player just won't satisfy all of your portable entertainment needs. For those who watch tons of video on-the-go, a dedicated PVP with a capacious screen is a necessary investment. Find some of the longest-lasting options below. Also this week: get those iTunes purchases playing on both a Mac and a Windows machine.
Q: I am big fan of CNET--I think you guys give the best reviews for a wide range of products. Coming to the topic: I already own a 4GB Creative Zen and I really like the player--I bought it on your advice mainly. … Read more
So, you've managed to get your hands on one of the world's most popular MP3 players, the Apple iPod Shuffle. Accessorizing the littlest of iPods presents a special challenge because it doesn't share the same dock connector as its larger siblings. But that doesn't mean it should be left out in the cold, sad and caseless. To that end, I've rounded up a handful of that will work perfectly with both the second- and third-generation Shuffles. Check 'em out.