I often get e-mail from readers asking about what audio equipment I use. While I’m not an audiophile, I do listen to music on decent equipment, in my office (I have a DAC and amp, with bookshelf speakers, connected to my Mac), in my living room, and when I use headphones.
While I like listening to music with headphones, I do realize that it is, in some ways, artificial to listen with them. Instruments that are off to one side sound much further away from the center of the soundscape than when you listen to a stereo. I like the effect of having the music “in my head,” but for some types of music, and some recordings, this isn’t ideal. This is the case with some symphony recordings, and some recordings of string quartets, where the instruments are separated too much. Generally, rock and jazz sound fine with headphones, but with any kind of music, good headphones are unforgiving. It’s much easier to hear any weaknesses in a recording when listening with headphones. Nevertheless, I do use headphones often. Here are the five headphones I use.
Listening on the go
When I’m out walking, I want light, comfortable headphones, but I don’t want to scrimp too much on sound quality. I don’t like earbuds, and I especially dislike in-ear headphones. For years I used Sennheiser’s PX 100, a light, foldable headphone, but one with excellent sound. Last year, these headphones died, and I bought a newer model, the Sennheiser PX 100-IIi. This is essentially the same as the PX 100, but it has an inline volume control and mic. This means that if I’m walking, and listening to music on my iPhone, I can take a call without removing the headphones. For other uses, the volume control and play/pause button make it a bit easier to listen to music. The sound quality of this headphone is surprisingly good, though don’t expect a lot of bass from this headphone. (Though these have been supplanted for mobile listening by the Philips Bluetooth headphones I discuss below. I now mainly use these to talk on my phone when I’m home.)
Blocking out noise
There are times when I want to listen outdoors and not hear the sounds around me. This was a particular problem last year, when there was construction next to the house I was living in. Having moved since then, there is, at times, a bit of street noise around my new home. So sometimes I like to sit outside and listen to music, and I want to hear just the music. Following a recommendation from my Macworld colleague Dan Frakes, I bought Audio Technica’s ATH-ANC7B, a noise-canceling headphone. While this suffers from the problems inherent in this type of headphone – the sound is good but not great, and wearing them makes your ears warm – they do offer good enough sound that I am not disappointed. I could have spent twice as much and gotten Bose noise-canceling headphones, but I didn’t want to, as I don’t use them enough to make it worthwhile. I find the Audio Technicas to be quite good, and certainly good enough for my use.
Finally, I have a set of full-sized headphones for “serious” listening. I used to have a Sennheiser HD-580, an excellent headphone at an affordable price, but after about 15 years, they started sounding a bit dull. So I asked around, and my friend Doug Adams, of Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes, recommended Beyerdynamic’s DT 990. I bought them from Amazon so I could return them if I didn’t like them – I don’t have a local store that sells headphones of this type – but I quickly realized that this was the kind of sound I like. The bass isn’t overdone, the treble is clear, and the definition is subtle and balanced. These are open headphones, so you don’t want to use these if you’re listening to music with other people around you. The foam rings are soft and plush, and the headband is comfortable. I can wear these for hours and not get tired, which isn’t always the case with full-sized headphones. Oh, and I got the 32 ohm version, so I can use them with my iPods, as well as with my stereo.
Following comments to this article – both posted below and by e-mail – I decided to try out Sony’s MDR-V6 monitor headphones. These are available at around $75, and were recommended by both casual listeners and people I know who work in the music industry. These are interesting headphones. They are closed, and offer a bit of passive noise reduction. They are light and comfortable, and the earpieces fold up, making them easily portable. And they have a coiled cord, which can get less tangled than a long, straight cord. As far as listening, I’ve only had them for a short time, and they are very bright, very clear headphones. The bass response is limited, but this could be because they aren’t broken in yet. But the resolution and spaciousness of the sound is excellent. While I prefer the warmth of the Beyerdynamics, especially for classical music, these Sonys sound great with music that has energy. This is an excellent sub-$100 headphone.
I’d been looking for a Bluetooth headset for a while, and tried a Sennheiser, MM 400 model. I was very disappointed. The sound was terrible, and they were very uncomfortable, so I returned it. Then I came across this Philips SHB9100/28 Bluetooth Stereo Headset, and I think I’ve found the right one. It’s light, and very comfortable, with large ear pads that cover my ears entirely. This means that they provide some passive noise reduction, so if you’re in the street, listening to music, you won’t hear the cars as much. They’re obviously not noise-canceling headphones, but they do a good job of reducing chatter. The sound is excellent. The bass is sufficient for a small headphone, and the stereo separation is excellent, with clear midrange and treble. They also come with a cable, so you can use them as wired headphones if the charge runs out. The charge with a USB cable, and are rated to last about 8 hours (though I’ve always charged them before they run out).
There are many brands of headphones I would like to try, notably Grado and Stax. As I said above, I don’t have any stores where I live where I can hear these headphones, so I’ll have to wait until I visit a larger city and find a good audio store. (These brands are not widely sold.)
If you’re curious about the different types of headphones, see this TechHive infographic that explains the differences.
If you have any favorite headphones, feel free to mention them in the comments.
Posted: 12/5/2012 by kirk | Filed under: music Tags: audio equipment, headphones, music | 14 Comments »
Available from Amazon.com | Amazon UK | Amazon FR
As a music lover, and especially as a reviewer for MusicWeb International, I am confronted with a number of different types of optical discs. CDs and DVDs are, of course, the most common, and have been around for a long time. But in the past couple of years, Blu-Ray discs have come into the market, and they are especially desirable for recordings of classical music concerts or operas.
But even CDs offer a variety of formats. In addition to regular CDs – which follow the “Red Book” standard – there are SACDs, and these come in two types: either in stereo or with multi-channel sound, and they are at a much higher resolution than standard CDs. While most SACDs sold today are hybrid – featuring a CD layer and an SACD layer – there are still some that are not. In addition to offering more channels or higher resolution, SACDs also offer much greater capacity, potentially providing a playing time that exceeds CDs.
Another format is the HDCD standard, which is not widely used. However, I have dozens of HDCD discs, because one of my favorite rock bands, Grateful Dead, issues all their recordings in this format. HDCD claims to offer better resolution than standard CDs, yet these discs are compatible with standard CD players.
There is one last form of “hybrid” disc: the DVD-A, or DVD-audio disc. This is a DVD, just like one used for a movie, but where there is little or no video. (There are generally only menus and/or still images.) The advantage of using DVD-A is longer playing time – up to several hours – and higher resolution files in stereo or multi-track.
When it comes to DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, there are also audio formats that need to be decoded, such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
So, with all these formats of optical discs, it can be very useful to have a device that can play them all. This is the case with the Cambridge Audio 651BD, which handles all of the above formats, including 3D Blu-Ray discs.
Posted: 5/12/2012 by kirk | Filed under: music Tags: audio equipment, digital music | No Comments »
I hadn’t owned a CD player in a long time, having digitized all of my music so I can stream it to my stereo. As for movies, I previously had a standard, consumer-grade DVD player, not really thinking that there would be that much of a difference. I wasn’t that concerned about SACD or HDCD – even though I have dozens of the latter discs, playing them as standard CDs is fine with me. However, after Cambridge Audio sent me a 651BD, I changed the way I look at all of these pieces of plastic.
First, I had long thought that there wasn’t much of a difference between the video playback of an average DVD player compared to better devices. My last DVD player was a Sony that cost about €100 when I bought it a few years ago. (Similar players seem to run about €75 today, though you can get others much cheaper.) However, when I started watching movies, concerts, operas and TV series with the 651BD I was very surprised by the quality of the image. It is much sharper, and much more fluid, especially when there is rapid movement. I don’t pretend to know much about video (I’m an audio guy), but I’m pretty sure this has to do with what Cambridge Audio calls “motion adaptive noise reduction.” Not only do fast-moving films look better, but I noticed much cleaner video when watching older TV series on the 651BD, those shot in 4:3, with much lower quality than today’s techniques. One series in particular that I had been watching on my Sony DVD player had interlacing artifacts which, on the 651BD, were imperceptible.
But what about the sound? If you’re going to spend this much for a disc player, you probably want to play both movies and music. This player uses a Cirrus Logic CS4382A 8-channel, 24-bit, 192 kHz DAC to provide excellent sound; the device outputs both stereo and multi-channel, up to 7.1. As I said earlier, all of my music is digitized, but with the 651BD, I’ve been finding myself listening to CDs anew. The sound is richer with this device than my previous DVD player (which had, let’s be honest, mediocre sound), and the act of listening to a CD has become enjoyable again. I should add that I got this player shortly after getting a new pair of Focal Chorus 806v speakers, so my sound system overall has improved, but when I added the 651BD, before changing the speakers, there was a clear increase in CD playback quality.
I don’t do multi-channel; I really don’t see the need to spend what it costs to have the full 5.1 or 7.1 setup with decent speakers, so I only listen to stereo with the 651BD, and can’t judge its multi-channel playback. (It’s worth noting that since the 651BD does all the necessary audio and video decoding, it may allow you to play discs that your AV receiver might not be able to decode, if it is not recent enough.)
As far as usability is concerned, the 651BD has everything I need: two HDMI outputs, 7.1 RCA outputs, as well as SPDIF coaxial and Toslink optical digital outputs. (It also offers component video and composite video for those with older TVs.) It starts up very quickly – some Blu-Ray players can take a long time to get ready to play a disc – and is very quiet. The remote control included with the 651BD can take some getting used to; there are a lot of buttons, and I find that not all of them are in what I would consider logical locations. Also, if you’re watching a movie in an otherwise dark room, and forget which buttons pause, skip tracks or fast-forward, it’s hard to tell from looking at the remote. I got used to it, but not after making mistakes for a few weeks.
When you play audio discs, the 651BD sends a video signal to your TV, which contains a simple background screen, but also shows the current track number, time (elapsed and total) and the format of the disc (CD, SACD or HDCD). When playing SACDs, there is also text displaying showing the artist, title and track name. (I don’t have many SACDs, so I don’t know if this is available on all of them.) You probably won’t want to leave this on, but if you’d rather navigate by looking at this screen instead of the small LED display on the device, it can be practical to turn the TV on and off when needed.
This is not a cheap player: it goes for $800 in the US, £500 in the UK, and around €900 in France, where I live – but if you compare what it offers with other devices, it stands up well. The only comparable players that can handle all these formats – notably SACD and HDCD – seem to be Oppo’s players, such as their BDP-93, which costs about the same. One non-negligible advantage to the Oppo is its availability as a multi-zone player, which the 651BD does not offer. If you buy discs from regions other than your own, this could be a deciding factor. The 651BD lets you play back some digital files, if you connect a hard drive or USB thumb drive to a port on the front of the device, but it doesn’t support as many formats as the Oppo. (And USB devices must be formatted as FAT, FAT32 or NTFS, which means that storage devices formatted for Macs won’t work.)
Interestingly, the documentation and specs for the 651BD don’t say that you can stream audio and video files over a network – if you connect the player via Ethernet – but this is possible. The interface for selecting files is a bit clunky, and the device takes a while to buffer video, but it is possible to do this. (I have another video player connected to my TV which starts playback of files on a server immediately.) While the documentation says that the 651BD supports many formats – MPEG2, MPEG2 HD, MPEG4, MPEG4 AVC, VC-1, XviD, VCD, AVCHD, MPEG ISO, AVI, VOB, MKV (4.1), JPEG, JPEG HD – I found some files that it wouldn’t play, which my other video player handles with no problems. It can also play some music files. It plays MP3s with no problem, and, while it recognizes FLAC files, when I try to play them they don’t play; the interface shows me that they are playing, but they just remain at 0:00. The device does not, however, even recognize AAC files, which is unfortunate.
Ideally, I’d like to see the 651BD offer the ability to play audio streamed using Apple’s AirPlay protocol; that would make it a perfect device for all of my listening. (The Oppo players don’t do AirPlay streaming either.) But since I can stream to an AppleTV, this isn’t a deal-breaker. Its network playback should be more explicit, and it should be able to play more files. It would just be nice to have full convergence of all the audio and video that I use in one device.
One other things that I spotted somewhat accidentally. I have a handful of region 1 DVDs (I live in France, which is region 2), and I popped one in the 651BD one night, and was somewhat surprised to find that it played. Apparently, Cambridge Audio cannot promote the fact that this is a multi-region DVD player; it is not, however, a multi-region Blu-Ray player.
The Cambridge Audio 651BD is, for me, nearly perfect. I’d like multi-region playback and better streamed audio and video playback, but I can live without these. The capabilities of this player, the quality of the sound and video, and its flexibility make this an excellent choice if you want to move up from a standard CD and/or Blu-Ray player. And if, like me, you want to play every format of optical disc you have, then the 651BD is for you.
I’ve been following Cambridge Audio’s products since I reviewed the company’s original DacMagic for Macworld, back in 2010. The company has been kind enough to provide me samples of some of their devices, and I recently received a DacMagic 100, their newest DAC.
The DacMagic 100 is similar in concept to the original DacMagic, but is much smaller: it is 46 x 106 x 130mm (1.8 x 4.1 x 5.1″). To put that in perspective, it’s a bit smaller (length by width) than an Apple Magic Trackpad. It has four inputs: three digital inputs (two S/P DIF and one Toslink), and one USB input. So connecting this device to a Mac, you can either use a Toslink cable (this is a digital audio cable; all current Macs have headphone jacks which double as Toslink jacks) or a standard USB cable.
The front of the device has a power-on button, a source selector, and a display showing the incoming sample rate. One difference between the original DacMagic and the DacMagic 100 is that the new device goes up to 192 kHz; the original only supported up to 96 kHz. To be fair, most people won’t need this increased sample rate, as the majority of high-resolution music files sold are at 96 kHz, but some may want to use this, especially if they work with computers in a recording studio.
Output goes over standard RCA jacks. The original DacMagic (and the more recent DacMagic Plus) also have XLR outputs, which most people outside of recording studios won’t need.
So, the procedure is simple. In my case, using the Toslink connection, I run a Toslink cable from my Mac mini’s headphone jack to the DacMagic 100; it then connects to my amplifier. As with the DacMagic I had before, there is a noticeable improvement in detail, clarity and soundspace.
An external DAC replaces the internal chip in a computer or other device. While Macs have decent DACs, they are not designed for playing audio at high quality. Using an external device overrides the internal DAC in a computer, greatly improving the sound quality. You can also use a DAC such as this between a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray player and your amplifier, to improve the sound of discs you play. There is a noticeable difference between the sound of an average DVD/Blu-Ray player and that of the same device with its audio running through a DAC>
The DacMagic 100 is not cheap. It is currently selling for $369 on Amazon.com. But it is an excellent device, offering great sound, and with four inputs, is flexible enough to serve either for a computer-based music system, or a more complete home entertainment system with multiple devices running through it. (For example, a DVD player, Apple TV and game console.)
Posted: 4/5/2012 by kirk | Filed under: music Tags: audio equipment | 3 Comments »
When I got a Cambridge Audio DacMagic about two years ago (see my Macworld article about it) I was immediately impressed by how it improved the quality of the music I listened to from iTunes. Even with compressed music, it gives better detail and spaciousness. While I am not an audiophile, the DacMagic is certainly a worthy addition to my stereo.
I just noticed that Cambridge Audio has released a new version of the device, the DacMagic Plus. (Apparently this was released a couple of months ago; I just saw a mention of it in a classical music magazine.) This improves on the original by adding a headphone jack and volume control, allowing it to be used on its own as a headphone amp, which is very practical. In addition, it has a digital pre-amp, so it can be used with active speakers, and it has a Bluetooth receiver so you can stream music from Bluetooth devices.
I would have liked to see AirPlay compatibility, for streaming from iTunes, but you can always stream to, say, an Apple TV connected to the DacMagic Plus via a Toslink cable. However, with only two digital inputs, this may be limiting for some.
For me, though, the big advantage would be using it as a headphone amp, when I want to listen to headphones. The device is compact enough that I could put it on my desk, rather than next to my amp which is on a shelf a few feet from my desk chair, making headphone cable paths a bit easier to use. (I use my DacMagic for my office stereo.)
Unfortunately, it is more expensive than the original DacMagic: it lists at $679, but is available from Amazon.com for $599; the original DacMagic sold for around $429. But the addition of the headphone amp and jack make it a very useful product.
If you’ve never tried a DAC – digital-audio converter – you might be surprised to hear how much of a difference it can make, especially if you play music from your computer. (If you have, say, a high-end CD player, the difference will be much less obvious.) If you want a device to add detail and clarity to your sound, do check out the DacMagic Plus.
Posted: 2/6/2012 by kirk | Filed under: music Tags: audio equipment | 4 Comments »
If you follow this blog and my articles on Macworld, you know that I’m a serious music buff. My iTunes library is nearing the 80,000 mark, and I listen to music several hours a day. My musical touchstones include The Grateful Dead, Franz Schubert, The Durutti Column, Johann Sebastian Bach, Bill Evans, progressive rock from the 1970s, post-punk bands such as Joy Division and The Cure, Charles Ives, Brian Eno, Bob Dylan and much more.
A recent article I wrote for Macworld, How to find and play high-resolution audio on the Mac, elicited a number of comments and reader e-mails. Many people suggested that my ambivalence regarding these high-quality files was due to my not having an appropriate stereo. I do have decent equipment in my home-office, where I do most of my music listening: a Cambridge Audio Sonata 30 amplifier, a Cambridge Audio DacMagic digital-to-analog converter, and bookshelf speakers from the same company. Overall, I’m very pleased with this system, which offers what I consider to be good sound at an affordable price. The DAC might be overkill for some, but I find the difference between listening to music with and without the DAC to be very obvious. (See my Macworld review of the DacMagic). I don’t have a CD player, because I rip all my CDs, but I’ve actually been thinking of adding one to my system to listen to some music on CD – I have a lot of CDs I haven’t ripped yet, and I review classical CDs for MusicWeb International, and sometimes it’s easier to listen to CDs on their own without ripping them, if I don’t want to add them to my iTunes library. (My iMac’s optical drive is a bit noisy.)
I also like to listen to music with headphones; I recently wrote about the headphones that I use.
But I’m more interested in music than sound. People have told me that I should spend several thousand dollars for a good stereo system, and, while I appreciate good quality sound – when I added the DacMagic to my system, I was stunned by the difference – I just don’t see the need to spend that much.
It’s difficult for me to shop for stereo equipment: I live in a village in the French Alps, and any city that would have a good store for such equipment is a 3-hour drive. I could buy online, but I don’t plan to spend that kind of money without listening first. I have also been very disappointed by recent changes in stereo amplifiers, at least AV amps. The model I have in the living room – a middle-of-the-line Sony – is becoming quickly obsolete. It doesn’t handle HDMI correctly – I have to plug in audio separately. It doesn’t handle all new audio codecs used on Blu-Ray discs. And it simply doesn’t have enough connectors. (Even my TV set, which only has three HDMI jacks, has one too few for my needs.)
Audiophiles may want to spend as much as I did for my car on a sound system. And the problem is that often they think that anyone who doesn’t spend that kind of money doesn’t appreciate good sound. As I said above, music is more important to me than sound. Sound counts, but I would never become as obsessed as some people, who end up buying dubious products that improve the quality of their sound systems by minute increments, and very often through a placebo effect.
In addition, a lot of my listening is what I could call passive listening. As I write this article, I’m listening to a string quartet by Franz Schubert. This is not entirely background music; I have the ability to listen and think at the same time. And, when I pause, is search of words, the music often carries me away. But actively listening to music is something I do less often. By this I mean sitting and listening to the music while doing nothing else. When I do this, it’s often outdoors, as I watch the mountains grow, or contemplate the clouds floating in the sky. And, for this type of listening, I use headphones.
There are plenty of reasons to buy a better stereo system, but there’s no guarantee that spending twice as much would lead to any noticeable improvement in sound. In the past, I’ve visited stereo dealers and listened to equipment in rooms designed for listening; I don’t have such a room, and anything I bought would not sound as good as it did in the store. I have very good headphones, yet, as much as I enjoy listening to music on headphones, there’s something artificial about it. When you attend a concert, the music comes from in front of you, not from the sides. Recordings are mastered for listening via speakers, not headphones. If there’s too much separation, the music sounds slightly odd. (In fact, today I was listening to some arias from Bach cantatas from a smart playlist that picks from the many cantata recordings I have, and when I got to one from Helmut Rilling’s set with Hänssler, it was terrible; the lead violin was way off to the left, the continuo to the right, and the sound terribly unbalanced.)
In any case, I’m curious to know how much my readers have spent on their stereos. I’d also welcome recommendations for a better set of headphones. I’d be willing to spend a few hundred dollars for something really good. Any thoughts?
Posted: 8/19/2011 by kirk | Filed under: music, Tools & Techniques Tags: audio equipment, music | 20 Comments »
Buy from Amazon.com | Amazon UK | Amazon FR
I don’t travel much, so I’ve never needed noise-canceling headphones before. But recently I had a need for them: there is construction right next to my home, and it should last for several long months. In addition, there’s a small stream next to my house, and it is, at times, noisy enough that I can’t listen to music outside with normal headphones.
To this end, I looked at what was available, and asked some colleagues (notably my Macworld colleague and headphone specialist Dan Frakes) for some advice. Many people recommend Bose’s QuietComfort headphones, but they’re a pricey $300 (actually much more here in France), roughly twice as much as the Audio Technicas I bought.
So, how do they sound? Pretty good, actually. The noise canceling is efficient and works well even without listening to music. When I just want silence as they backhoe is digging outside, they cover most of the noise. When I listen to music, the soundstage is good, with decent detail, but they are a bit bass-heavy and treble-weak. I don’t like using EQ on an iPod, but when I’ve got them plugged into my stereo, I alter the bass and treble settings.
These headphones come in a practical carry case, have cables that unplug from the headphones using a standard jack, and come with two such cables. They’re light, not too hot to wear, but they’re not very big. I have large ears, and they just barely fit, pushing my earlobes a bit upwards, but not to the point of discomfort.
I’ve not tried any other models, but can compare them with other headphones I have. They don’t have the best possible sound, but they do what they are designed for, and are affordable. So, if you want something that is an alternative to the pricier Bose models, you should try this one out.
Posted: 7/7/2011 by kirk | Filed under: iPod & iTunes, music, Tools & Techniques Tags: audio equipment, headphones, music | No Comments »
I find the whole home theater thing a huge frustration. The number of cables I have to use to connect a blu-ray player, an Apple TV and a satellite TV box is astounding. The amount of time I had to spend to set everything up and getting it working correctly is also far more than it takes to set up a new computer. But I’m getting increasingly confused. Something happened recently, and I can’t figure out what is going on.
I bought a blu-ray player for my son’s birthday in October. It was a Sony, and there was a promotion through which I sent in a proof of purchase and got three free movies on blu-ray. Nothing extraordinary, but one of them (Gran Torino) was a movie that I had wanted to see. I’ve noticed since that, with all three movies, I can only get stereo sound; I don’t get any kind of surround sound. The movies have sound in either Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD, and, as far as I can tell from my documentation, my blu-ray player (bought a year ago) supports these formats. However, it seems that they only support the multi-channel audio through HDMI.
My amp – also a Sony – doesn’t seem to work with audio coming over HDMI, so I have everything going in digitally via co-axial cable or Toslink. Because of this, if I understand correctly, I can only get stereo sound with blu-ray disks. (My amp does seem to recognize that it’s getting 6 channels, displaying, for example, “DTS 3/2.1″ on its LCD when the sound starts.) Does this mean that my amp – about three years old – is already obsolete? I’m certainly not going to buy any more blu-ray discs if I only get stereo sound; the picture quality is better than DVD, but not by that much (here in France, DVDs are 576 px, compared to 480 in the US).
What irks me most, though, is that these new patented sound formats are forcing people to upgrade their equipment to be able to use new media. All DVDs have options between stereo and 5.1 sound; why don’t these blu-ray discs offer another 5.1 sound format that is compatible with older devices? Also, as I look at new Sony AV amps, I see that not all of them support these “HD” formats, and one has to go to a fairly high price to get such support.
I’m quite confused. Why are blu-rays being sold that provide an inferior sound experience? I only have a few – a box set of Band of Brothers, which has 5.1 sound that I can here, some classical music DVDs, which all have 5.1 sound options that work for me, and these three new ones that I got for free.
If anyone could help me better understand why I’m not able to get decent sound, I’d appreciate it.
Follow-up: After a few hours searching, I came across a forum post discussing a solution to the same problem. I reset the sound fields on my amp (whatever that means), and it is now playing the 5.1 track. In another forum, I saw the following:
If a disc has a TrueHD track it has to also contain a DD 5.1 track too. This can be either visible on the menus or hidden so it looks like there isn’t one. Either way the player will simply use the DD 5.1 track for legacy outputs, it doesn’t down-convert.
So apparently there is backwards compatibility, even though it’s not clearly indicated on the discs’ boxes.
Here are the devices I have. Should anyone search via Google for the same issue, this might help them find a solution. The blu-ray player is a Sony BDP-S360, and the amp is a Sony HT-DDW890.
Posted: 12/12/2010 by kirk | Filed under: Tools & Techniques Tags: audio equipment, rants | 10 Comments »
Around $200; Buy from Amazon.com
You wouldn’t think it by looking at this small radio with a built-in speaker, but it’s got a huge sound. The Tivoli Audio iPAL, or Portable Audio Laboratory, surprises by the richness and full range of its output. Designed initially as a radio, it comes with a mini-din jack so you can plug in an iPod or other portable music player, and it pumps out sound that’ll make you think twice. For the iPAL has only one speaker. But this speaker is so good that you won’t notice the difference. After all, if you have two speakers and they’re too close together, you won’t really hear the stereo separation. So Tivoli Audio decided to go for a single speaker with high-quality sound and amplification.
But it gets better. The iPAL is rechargeable, weather-resistant, and its case is rubberized. While you can use it on your deck or near a pool, I’d hesitate about using it in the rainâ€”I’d hesitate even more about having my iPod out in the rain. But you won’t have to worry about the occasional splash or those first drops of rain at a picnic.
The iPAL shines in its powerful, rich bass, an area where most small speakers suffer. Unlike a boom-box with artificial bass enhancement, the iPAL’s bass is realistic and even, without the common booming that you hear in cheaper units. For many uses, whether at home, in the office or outdoors, the PAL is a great way to listen to your music. It’s got a built-in AM/FM radio, with a very accurate tuner, so when you’re tired of listening to music, or want to catch that Yankee game, you can do so.
Another way to use the iPal is as an external speaker when listening to audiobooks. A lot of people who are fans of digital audiobooks use iPods or other devices to listen on the move, but want some sort of external speaker for listening at home, on their deck, or in the park. With the iPal being slightly bass-heavy, it actually works perfectly for voice recordings, and, while a bit expensive, may be the perfect speaker for audiobooks.
Posted: 10/14/2007 by kirk | Filed under: iPod & iTunes Tags: audio equipment | 2 Comments »