Hong Kong-based Zorloo headed to Indiegogo earlier this year to crowdfund some next generation earphones that integrated a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and headphone amp into the inline controller. By the time the campaign closed on February 22, the campaign had attracted over US$85,000, nearly four times the funding goal. Now, after a slight production delay, backers are starting to receive their Z:ero in-ear headphones and the company's Andy Ho sent Gizmag some to try out.
When a high-end audio maker announces a new product, a high price tag is almost guaranteed to accompany its release. Indeed, NuPrime Audio's amps, preamps, DACs and heaphone amps are usually found in the four figure range, but not its new uDSD. The high resolution digital-to-analog converter and headphone amp will retail for under two hundred bucks.
Though certainly convenient, listening to music through earphones plugged into a smartphone is not always a satisfying experience. Some music lovers, like myself, prefer to carry around a dedicated high quality audio player, while others who like to groove on the move might give the source audio a welcome boost by using a mini middleman like Cambridge Audio's DacMagic XS
. Either way, higher quality comes at the expense of increased pocket bulk. The folks at Hong Kong-based Zorloo claim that they've managed to shrink down a digital-to-analog converter, headphone amp and control board to dimensions small enough for integration into the inline playback/volume controller of the company's upcoming Z:ero earphones.
Though many mobile workstation users will "make do" with less-than-satisfying audio output from the notebook's built-in amplifier, high res audioholics will likely seek the help of an external DAC headphone amp. Where once you could expect to shell out quite a tidy sum for a quality sonic massager, there are now a good number of affordable devices on the market, from desktop bricks like the Sound Blaster X7
to pocket-friendly beasts like the DacMagic
. The creators of Miyo are promising world-class, studio quality sound in a small, portable and affordable package and believe their DAC to be a cut above the rest.
It's been another strong year for instrument innovation, making the task of choosing a top five quite a challenge. Though many excellent examples of envelope pushing have popped up on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo during 2014, including the Hammer Jammer
and Aalberg's Ekko and Aero
, we allowed those to fall gracefully to the cutting room floor in favor of tech that's available now. Join Gizmag as we take a look back at some of the top groove gadgets of the last 12 months.
If you like your audio equipment with a vintage feel, there's a whole host of devices
blending new technologies with an old-school aesthetic. Then again, if you're going to cast your mind back, while not go all the way back? Herein lies the thinking behind Korean metal art and design student Jina U's Soundbox Desk, a unique design that uses a phonograph-style horn to amplify the audio from your smart phone, without the need for electricity.
Back in August, a company best known for its studio vocal and instrument microphones and USB mics for mobile devices announced its first foray into the headphones market with the launch of Mo-Fi
. Blue's big and beautiful over-ear headphones promised mobile music lovers a high fidelity listening experience regardless of the source music device. I managed to snag a quick listen
at a busy IFA 2014 in Berlin last month and came away wanting more. My ears have now spent more hours than I care to admit surrounded by soft Mo-Fi foam cushions and I find myself reluctant to remove these rather impressive retro beasts.
Creative Technologies has combined its audio processing know-how with high end audiophile-grade components and specifications for a new addition to the Sound Blaster audio family that's been developed to wrap serious gamers in high resolution sonic goodness. The new X7 boasts more features than any Sound Blaster before it, including a built-in power amp, cross-platform connectivity and intelligent audio enhancement technologies.
With perhaps the exception of Mikey
, Blue's USB microphone offerings are designed to make a memorable style statement while going about their high resolution audio recording business. The company has moved up a gear for its first step into the world of personal audio throwers with a pair of headphones that have both steampunk/old world charm and futuristic appeal. The new Mo-Fi headphones
also feature a built-in amplifier, which promises to boost the source audio by up to six times while offering accurate reproduction. So do they deliver in performance as well as looks? Gizmag caught up with Blue for a listen at IFA 2014.
Toneheads will doubtless already be familiar with Thomas Blug. In 2004, Fender held a competition in Europe to find the regal ruler of its iconic Stratocaster to celebrate the guitar's 50th birthday. The German fret master took the crown, and has been known as the Strat King ever since. He's also known for his mammoth tone, something he's brought to the recently-revealed Amp1 in buckets. The 100 W signature boutique tube amp is also small enough to fit on a pedalboard or throw in a gigbag.