Review: Audioengine HD3 Powered Speakers Mar15

Review: Audioengine HD3 Powered Speakers

Introduction One of the very first pieces of audio gear that I wanted to upgrade when I was a wee lad were my computer speakers. My first set came with a Dell desktop system my parents bought me when I was a senior in high school to prepare for college. They were small, rectangular, and sounded terrible – zero bass or treble to speak of with a really muddy midrange. And I loved them. When they finally died I decided to up my game by buying a complete 5.1 surround system made by Sound Blaster. I don’t remember the exact model but the two front satellites were actually bigger than my Dell’s, with the center channel placed on...

Review: AudioQuest Dragonfly Red and Dragonfly Black Mar09

Review: AudioQuest Dragonfly Red and Dragonfly Black

Introduction The market for tiny, USB powered “dongle DACs” with built-in headphone amplifiers currently has a lot of entrants and is hotly contested, but this wasn’t the case back in 2012, when AudioQuest introduced their first portable USB DAC and headphone amp called the Dragonfly. AudioQuest got their start building audio cables back in 1980, and that’s still what they are most known for today, but the Dragonfly is hardly their first foray into the world outside of cables. In fact, only a few short years after the company’s founding, they released their first phono cartridge, called the AQ 404. They also sold several tonearm models for...

Review: Audeze iSINE 10/20 In-Ear Monitors Feb13

Review: Audeze iSINE 10/20 In-Ear Monitors

Introduction Over the last few years, Audeze has gotten a lot traction in the prosumer marketplace. It first started with the EL-8 series ($699), an open-back and closed headphone design that featured many of Audeze’s planar magnetic technologies all wrapped in a snazzy German designed package. Perhaps even more importantly though, the EL-8 also became the launching pad for the CIPHER, a 24-bit DAC with DSP Lightning cable that provides an end-to-end audiophile class solution for any iDevice. Then of course came the SINE ($449), the world’s first on-ear planar magnetic headphone and really the company’s first...

Review: iFi Audio’s Pro iCAN Headphone Amplifier Feb09

Review: iFi Audio’s Pro iCAN Headphone Amplifier

Introduction As I sure many of you are already acutely aware of, we’re big fans of iFi Audio. You see unlike a lot of vendors who treat their circuit designs as if they were highly classified secrets, iFi is very open and honest about all of their products. In fact, iFi is one of the few companies I know of that even freely shares high-resolution pictures of every circuit board they fabricate. Couple that with the fact that these Brits are very community focused, vetting feature and collecting feedback constantly, makes iFi, at least to our ears, one of the defacto leaders in the low- to mid-tier marketplace. So when iFi announced...

Review: iFi Audio USB iPurifier2 and DC iPurifier Dec26

Review: iFi Audio USB iPurifier2 and DC iPurifier

Introduction At the very tail end of my review of Sonore’s microRendu, I talked about testing two of iFi Audio’s iPurifier products with my own DIY music server. In this review I’m going to go into a lot more detail about exactly what they do and how they do it, but before I get to all of that, I want to talk about the two major traditional digital audio connection formats: AES/EBU, and the Sony/Philips Digital Interface, more commonly referred to as “S/PDIF.” Professional studios often need very long cables, and for that type of environment, the 110 Ohm, balanced AES/EBU format was created to connect digital devices without the worry of...

Review: Sonore microRendu Oct06

Review: Sonore microRendu

Introduction For the past several years, I’ve been listening to all of my digital music via a home built, PC based music server initially running the VortexBox operating system, and more recently, Daphile. My server is a near twin of the original Computer Audiophile “C.A.P.S.” design, with the only real differences boiling down to the aforementioned headless Linux operating systems in place of Windows and JRiver Media Center, and initially a PPA Studio USB output card (now an UpTone Regen) in place of Chris’ recommended SoTM USB card. The advantages of the CAPS server are many. The upfront cost compared to traditional commercial music...

Review: Henry Audio USB DAC 128 MKII Jul08

Review: Henry Audio USB DAC 128 MKII

Introduction Truth be told, the entry level, sub $300 desktop DAC market is not something I normally pay a lot of attention to. At this price level, engineers are usually so constrained by cost controls that there just isn’t a lot of room left to differentiate one product from another, especially when dealer margins and overhead have to be factored in. Most of these DACs just don’t offer enough of a sound quality benefit over products like the LH Geek Out or AudioQuest Dragonfly series to really be worth the sacrifice in portability. However, at Metal-Fi, we definitely have a soft spot in our otherwise black metal hearts for rule breakers...

Review: Audeze SINE and EL-8 Headphones Jul06

Review: Audeze SINE and EL-8 Headphones

Introduction When I recently reviewed Audeze’s new flagship, the LCD-4, I kinda, sorta knew that my review would mostly fall on deaf ears. I mean let’s all be honest now. Not too many people are in the market for a four thousand dollar pair of headphones – audiophile or not. And the truth is Audeze is quite aware of that fact too, which is why that’s not the only headphone they make. In fact, over the last few years, Audeze has introduced a number of products outside of their critically acclaimed LCD line. In 2015, Audeze introduced the EL-8, a planar magnetic that combined BMW Designworks aesthetics with their...

Audeze LCD-4 Headphones Apr06

Audeze LCD-4 Headphones

Introduction It has been a little over ten years since I listened to Rust In Peace in its entirety through Sennheiser’s much coveted Orpheus system. And since then, I have been spending the better part of the last decade trying to recapture that sound. If you haven’t heard of Sennheiser’s much revered Orpheus system, I’m not surprised. Only 300 were made back in the 90s, and each system cost approximately $16,000 dollars a pop, consisting of a pair of electrostatic headphones and matching tube amplifier. I was fortunate enough to listen to one at a local Head-Fi meet where I was given unfettered access to it for the...