amplifiers

NuForce Icon uDAC2 and Icon2 make USB DACs stylish

NuForce Icon uDAC2 and Icon2 make USB DACs stylish

Perhaps its just our desire to anthropomorphise gadgets, but we can't help thinking that NuForce's new Icon uDAC2 USB portable DAC looks a whole lot like a big nosed man looking somewhat surprised.  No matter; the important thing is the bag-friendly size (just 21 x 42 x 68 mm and 87g) and decent specs for a USB-bus powered DAC: 110dB, total harmonic distortion of -95dB and a SN ratio of 98dB.

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Orb PC audio system pairs tiny speakers & audiophile amp

Orb PC audio system pairs tiny speakers & audiophile amp

Home entertainment manufacturer Orb have been producing their hand-crafted, bubble-like speakers since 2002, but the company have just got around to pushing out a system intended for computer use.  Equally at home as a stereo (or 2.1) TV speaker system (or pumping out music from your iPhone), the system pairs two Orb Mod1 or Mod2 speakers with a compact 15W Class T Amplifier by OPI Audio.

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Pass Labs X260.5 Power Amp promises even less distortion

Pass Labs X260.5 Power Amp promises even less distortion

It can be hard getting your product to stand out at CES, so one good way of doing so is pretending it's January 7th and pushing out a press release prematurely.  Pass Labs are bringing their new X260.5 Power Amplifier to the show, a 260W mono-block amp which boasts the company's Super-Symmetry circuit that - as far as we can tell - promises to more accurately synchronize a stereo pair of the units.

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Fiio E1 iPod headphone amp spotted

Fiio E1 iPod headphone amp spotted

There's a compact band of loyal headphone-amp users who swear by the audio-tastic qualities of some external amplification, so it comes as no great surprise that manufacturer Fiio are attempting to jump onto the iPod gravy-train.  The Fiio E1 plugs directly into the docking connector of an iPod or iPhone and not only offers in-line remote controls but the sort of headphone boost that can drive high-end cans or simply help more mainstream models shine.

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Knoll Systems GSZ67 and GSZ44 eco-friendly multiroom amps

Knoll Systems GSZ67 and GSZ44 eco-friendly multiroom amps

The "earth friendly" juggernaut continues, with even high-end home automation specialists feeling the need to slap some green on their spec sheets.  You'd find it pretty hard to fault the range of amps and control panels from Knoll Systems generally, but if the one factor stopping you was concern for the livelihood of the Crested Grebe then their new GSZ44 and GSZ67 controller-amplifiers should salve your conscience.

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Crestron Procise PSPHD 7.3 surround sound processor previewed

Crestron Procise PSPHD 7.3 surround sound processor previewed

Details are more than scarce right now, but whole-house A/V specialists Crestron have been showing off their latest surround-sound processor that promises what CEO and founder George Feldstein describes as "the absolutely latest killer surround sound processor and equalization."  The Crestron Procise PSPHD 7.3 surround sound system with video processor incorporates a 400W-per-channel amp and two "giant" transformers.

In a demonstration for Electronic House, a Crestron engineer played classic track "Hotel California" through the Procise PSPHD and a $50 set of Radio Shack speakers, enough for article author Julie Jacobson to be "in heaven".  When they switched to "real" speakers the audio reportedly "made the guitars come to life."

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WooAudio WES Electrostatic AMP reviewed: superlative sound

WooAudio WES Electrostatic AMP reviewed: superlative sound

So far, most of the headphone amplifiers that have graced these pages have been portable, budget items; the same very definitely can't be said for this brushed-steel behemoth, the WooAudio WES Electrostatic Headphone Amp and, dangling insouciantly next to it, Stax's SR-008 Mk2 Electrostatic headphones.  According to audiophile reviewer Steve Guttenberg, you're looking at "state of the art sound for a tiny fraction of the cost of a system built around speakers."

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