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Paul Ridden

Computers Review

Review: ZuperDAC makes hi-res thumb-sized

With a few notable exceptions, you'd be forgiven for thinking that laptop audio circuitry is something of a manufacturing afterthought, with decisions on such things made at the very end of the design process when there's very little money left in the pot. Plugging a pair of top drawer headphones into a notebook's (often cheap and cheerful) audio out jack can therefore be a little disappointing, leading many music lovers to look to the USB ports for help. Though some USB digital-to-analog converters and headphone amps can be a good deal bigger than the laptop they're connected to, and have a suitably large price tag to match, smaller options are available. The successfully-crowdfunded ZuperDAC from Zorloo, for example, is about the size of a USB thumb drive and supports audio file resolutions right up to 24-bit/192 kHz. We've spent the last few weeks diving into our hi-res FLAC and WAV vault for some lossless easy listening.Read More

Music

Guitar Triller gives new meaning to hammer-ons

Said to have been inspired by the sight of Steve Vai pulling away a whammy bar from his Ibanez guitar and whacking the strings for some odd solo madness, the Guitar Triller offers players a different way to attack a stringed instrument. It looks like something you might use to assemble flat-packed furniture, but can help bring a hammered dulcimer vibe to a bass guitar, give shredders some new ways to speed-pick or add some expressive tap and scrape power play to ukes.Read More

Music

IK sounds out fingerpickers with the iRig Acoustic

For a good long while now, IK Multimedia has been helping to satisfy the mobile noodling needs of electric git-fiddlers with a succession of instrument interfaces that bridge the gap between a smart device hosting digital effects and amp simulations and a plank of wood, some pickups and a few strands of tensioned steel. Now the company is taking aim at dreadnought picker types with the iRig Acoustic, which is billed as the first acoustic guitar mobile microphone/interface specifically made for acoustic guitars and ukuleles, and one that's claimed to rival pro-grade studio microphones.Read More

Wearables

Revols earphones deliver a custom-fit in 60 seconds

Though a very few mobile music lovers will be lucky enough to own some perfect fit off-the-shelf earphones, for the rest of us, fallout is a frustratingly frequent problem. If you've got lots of time and patience, and a rather large budget, you could take a trip to an audiologist, get your ears scanned and then order a pair of in-ear headphones molded to precisely fit your ear canals. A startup running a Kickstarter campaign says that it's come up with a quicker, cheaper and simpler way. You just stick a Revols earpiece in each ear, wiggle it about and push it around until it feels snug and then hit "start" on a companion app running on a Bluetooth-paired smartphone ... and a minute later you've got yourself some custom-fit earphones.Read More

Music

Nitro e-drums pack a professional punch without breaking the bank

Whether for private practice or full-on live performance, electronic drum kits offer a number of benefits over their traditional counterparts. They don't take up most of the room in the band's van, players can call on many different percussion sounds, and they're pretty neighbor-friendly when not cabled up to a PA system. But they can be just as pricey as a non-digital setup. The latest eight piece e-drum kit from Alesis promises responsive play backed up by professional features for a budget-friendly ticket price.Read More

Wearables

V-Moda taps sporty audiophiles for Zn in-ear headphones

For its first in-ear headphones in four years, V-Moda is offering a heady mix of toughness, good looks and the promise of great sound. Zn is, of course, the symbol for zinc, which V-Moda says has a "unique hardness and resonance nature to deliver a balanced sound." Each dynamic driver is wrapped in solid yet lightweight zinc alloy housing, and the limited edition Zn in-ears boast a signature that's been fine-tuned to appeal to the modern and mobile audiophile. The earphones also come with detachable ear hooks reported capable of keeping them in place no matter the physical demands of the sport-loving, high resolution music lover.Read More

Robotics

Compressorhead rocks the crowd to find new robot band member

In rock music, there's something quite captivating and magical about a power trio. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Nirvana, Cream, ZZ Top, Living Colour ... oh wait, that last one is a four piece. And that's just what the folks behind the robotic rock group Compressorhead are now aiming for. The Berlin-based "heavy metal" bot band has turned to Kickstarter in its search for a new lead singer.Read More

VR

Lytro brings Light Field tech to virtual reality

When camera maker Lytro launched in 2011, it offered snappers something a little different – the ability to shift focus after a photo has been taken. If you wanted light field video, however, you were out of luck. The company has now rectified that with the Immerge system, a four component platform that's billed as the industry's first end-to end hardware, software and related services solution for the production of professional-grade cinematic VR content.Read More

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