Regular readers of this blog will recognize the Schiit name, I've covered a number of their headphone amplifiers and digital converters over the past few years. The newest little Schiit, the vacuum tube Vali, looks exactly like the company's $99 solid-state amp, the Magni, but the internal electronics are completely different. As I listened to them both and switched back and forth they sounded similar. I listened more and the Vali sounded a wee bit sweeter and richer. Not as big a difference as I would have thought, but different enough.
As soon as I spotted the Aedle VK-1 headphones on the Web, I just had to check them out. That was early last year; e-mails were exchanged, and there were delays along the way, but now that I have them I'm happy to report they sound as good as they look. Aedle designs and manufactures the VK-1 in Paris, France.
I've had the VK-1 for a while; Aedle's founder Raphael Lebas was in NYC a few months ago and hand-delivered the headphones to me. He's a young guy, but totally focused on the job at hand. … Read more
The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest is held every October in Denver, and every year it's packed with the latest and greatest high-end audio goodies. High-end doesn't necessarily mean outrageously expensive, though; Schiit Audio was previewing its upcoming $119 Vali tube headphone amplifier, and I quickly auditioned Audioengine's soon-to-be-released $249/pair A2+ desktop speakers. I hope to get one of the first pairs in for review. Hifiman was showing prototypes of a sleek portable music player that comes with a set of the company's excellent in-ear headphones; the complete system price was $249.
Oppo, best known for … Read more
Right, the name attracts a certain amount of attention, but Schiit is no joke. The California-based company made its name with the very first product, the little Asgard headphone amp, which I enthusiastically reviewed on this blog back in 2010. Since then more Schiit headphone amps and digital converters won raves from me. This time out we're back to the Asgard, in its revised Asgard 2 format. The price is still $249.
The Micromega MyZic is the first headphone amp I've tested that's made in France. The amp shares its chassis and design with the Micromega My Series of components: a phono preamp, wireless streamer, and an integrated amplifier that will come out later this year. The MyZic's street price runs $269.
MyZic sounds like a bona-fide high-end component, but some buyers may quibble with the ABS plastic construction. It seems rugged enough, and it's certainly lightweight. Connectivity is limited to just the basics: a high quality Neutrik 6.3mm headphone jack on the front panel, and stereo … Read more
Desktop digital-to-analog converters keep getting better and better, and the Micromega MyDac is a fine example of the breed. The 24-bit/192-kHz MyDac has three digital inputs: coaxial, optical, and USB, all selectable via the thumb wheel control on the front panel. The stereo RCA analog outputs can feed either your powered speakers or power amp. I was pleased to see the MyDac has a built-in power supply, so it doesn't use a wall wart. Micromega will soon release a matching headphone amp, which I hope to review here with the MyDac. Available in black or white finishes, its … Read more
Schiit Audio's very first product, the Asgard headphone amplifier, left me shaken and stirred back in 2010. It sold for $249, looked and sounded amazing, and to top things off, it was made in the U.S. -- not just assembled here. Most of the Asgard's parts are sourced from U.S. companies.
The Asgard is still in company's product line, and it's still $249. But Schiit has grown since then, and now offers a full line of more expensive headphone amps and USB digital-to-analog converters (DACs) -- which is great. But the company's most recent offerings sell for just $99 each! The Magni headphone amp and the Modi DAC are also made in America, and they sound spectacular. … Read more
Red Wine Audio makes some of my all-time favorite headphone amplifiers, but they're pretty expensive. The Isabellina HPA LFP-V Edition, for example, runs $2,500; it was designed and built in Vinnie Rossi's small factory in Durham, Conn. The Isabellina is more than just a headphone amp, it features a spectacularly good digital-to-analog converter and a hybrid transistor/vacuum tube audio amplifier. While the amp can be run off an AC power outlet, it sounds best powered by its built-in 25.6 volt Lithium Iron Phosphate battery pack. The battery can play for up to 10 hours, and … Read more
I've written about Schiit's amazing headphone amps before, but their new Lyr is the company's first high-output headphone amplifier. It delivers up to 6 watts into 32 ohm headphones. If that sounds like overkill for most headphones I'd agree, but there are a few headphones that need more power to sound their best. That's where the Schiit Lyr ($449) comes into its own.
If you think a lot of audio has become far too complex, check out the Halide Design digital-to analog converters (DACs). They're plain black boxes, without even a single LED, display, control, button, or connector jack (the DACs come with permanently attached USB and RCA cables).
The elegant simplicity of the Halide Design DACs is a brilliant alternative to most of today's overly complex gear. They have just one function--zeros and ones go in at one end--and analog signals come out the other end. The little Halide black boxes are the best-sounding DACs I've heard on my … Read more