LATEST ADDITIONS

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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Nov 21, 2014 19 comments

Many years ago, I sat at a table with about eight audiophile gear reviewers and asked the question, "Is the fidelity of reproduction directly related to one's ability to experience the art of music?" There was a pregnant moment of silence—you could almost hear the grinding of gears in their heads—and then answer, unanimously, was, "No."

One wonders then, if the gear isn't directly coupled to the appreciation of music, why review gear at all?

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Jan Meier Tyll Hertsens Posted: Nov 18, 2014 35 comments
Dr. Jan Meier, of Meier Audio, recently submitted this article for me to consider publishing. He and I have had many a discussion, and quite a few disagreements, about the nature and effects of amplifier output impedance over the years. While I still have some concerns with his view brought to light here (I'll intersperse some of my comments in italics through the course of the article), I have moved away from the simple view that lower output impedance is always better. The following article does a lot to show a bit more sophisticated view of factors involved, and I thought it would be useful for InnerFidelity readers.
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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Nov 15, 2014 12 comments

I first heard of this project coming along about a year ago when I chatted with Skylar Gray (AudioQuest's chief designer on the project) at CES. I also got a personal guided tour of the NightHawk in it's most current iteration at the time a month ago at CanJam@RMAF. Astonishing then, and now, is how much innovation Skylar has managed to pack into this new headphone design. Much of it is mentioned on their NightHawk launch site, but I thought I'd take a few moments to relay my understanding of some of these design features. So, open another tab to their site and I'll talk you through what I know, and what I'd like to know more about, regarding this very interesting headphone.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Nov 13, 2014 251 comments
Register to win a pair of Vanatoo Transparent One Speakers (MSRP $499.00) we are giving away.

According to the company:

"The Vanatoo Transparent One powered speakers set a new price/performance benchmark in the audiophile world. They produce unexpectedly great sound quality (honest, tight bass down to 48Hz!) from small bookshelf speakers that give you a lot of flexibility in how you use them. They are equally at home as a desktop audio system, a music streaming solution for a room where you want music but not stacks of equipment, or as a compact system you take with you on your weekend getaways."

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. Click on the picture above for details on how to enter.

Tyll Hertsens Posted: Nov 12, 2014 23 comments
It must be going on 5 or 6 years now that I've been recommending the Bose Quiet Comfort 15 as the best noise canceling headphone. Time after time when comparing the QC15 with newcomers to the field, they either slayed the competition with their ability to isolate from outside noise, or with their competent sound...usually both.

Then last year at about this time, Bose introduced their Quiet Comfort 20, a shallow insertion in-ear noise canceling model. I thought it was awesome. The shallow fit is remarkably comfortable—similar to just gently putting your finger against your ear canal—and their ability to isolate astonishing. When recently I heard that Bose was about to introduce a new over-ear model to replace the QC15 I emailed my contact at Bose immediately—when it comes to noise canceling headphones, Bose is the maker to keep an ear on. They did not disappoint.

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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Nov 11, 2014 56 comments

Sure, I think InnerFidelity's "Wall of Fame" is an excellent resource for finding good headphones. I wouldn't work on it if I didn't. But, it's not the only resource around that I consider good.

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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Nov 10, 2014 11 comments

As regular readers will know, I'm of the belief that we're going to see headphones getting smarter and smarter. (See here, here, and here.) Smart headphones will offer some astonishing benefits: blind people will be able to walk around with voice cues seemingly coming from outside their head identifying their surroundings; you'll be able to walk around in foreign countries and be able to have signs written in foreign languages read to you; and you'll be able to watch movies on your iPad with convincing out-of-head localization of surround encoded material, amongst many other things.

It's also very likely that we'll have various biometric sensors (pulse, temperature, perspiration, and even brainwaves) in smart headphones that help us monitor exercise and our physical health.

But there will also be an ever-increasing ability to use these sensors to track behaviors. Eye-tracking and image recognition technologies can, for example, tell how often you stare at attractive women...and what part of their bodies you're looking at. Imagine your wife having access to data from that app!

Well, researchers at the University of Montreal have begun to use virtual reality techniques to monitor sex offender impulses to gain a better understanding of patient psychology and treatment progress. (Read full article here.) In the past patients were able to game the system too easily and make identifying desease attributes and tracking progress very difficult. This new technique gives clinicians a much clearer picture symptoms and treatment progress. Projecting into the future somewhat, I can imagine a time when sex offenders have to wear something like a Google Glass to track and report behaviors real-time.

So, it occurs to me that in the not too distant future our headphones and smartphones are going to know more about us than we do. They'll know what excites us, when we feel depressed, when we need to eat...and how much. I'm not sure becoming reliant upon technology in order to be aware of my physical and mental needs is such a good idea. Shouldn't we be developing those skills internally? And, donning my tin-foil hat for a moment, will the NSA be farming this sort of data for an entirely new dimension of monitoring we, the people?

What do you think?

Is Virtual Reality to Monitor Psychological Health a Good Idea?
ljokerl Posted: Nov 07, 2014 22 comments

The bread and butter of the Beats brand have always been the on-ear and over-ear models—the Solo and Studio. They were also the ones most criticisms focused on, but for me the biggest disappointment was actually the original Beats Tour in-ear, which was too harsh for a basshead earphone, yet too boomy for fans of brighter sound. It was never quite sure what it wanted to be, which made the $150 price tag difficult to swallow.

This is not the case with the new Beats Tour 2.0—while it did not impress me quite as much as the new Solo2 impressed Tyll earlier this year, it is a much more focused and purposeful earphone than the original model. The focus just happens to be on bass.

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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Nov 06, 2014 7 comments

It's been five years since the last stand-alone, Head-Fi.org CanJam...and I miss them.

The L.A. crew have been working hard the last few years, and their regional meet has become an amazingly strong event. So strong in fact, that Jude has come to see L.A. this spring as the perfect re-entry point of CanJam to its roots as a Head-Fi.org stand-alone community event.

Woot!

Skylab Posted: Nov 03, 2014 17 comments
My previous review here on InnerFidelity was a large black box with a forest of vacuum tubes rising up from its surface, and nary a digital function to be found. Almost diametrically opposed to that, the Oppo HA-1 ($1199) took up residence immediately thereafter in my review cue—gleaming silver, LCD display, remote control, and as modern an integrated DAC/Headphone amp as one could imagine. And yet at the risk of spoiling the surprise, or lack thereof, I will tell you that the Oppo is also outstanding, and represents somewhat of a bargain.

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