It’s not going away. No matter how hard we dig in our heels. Computers and high end audio are getting together. It won’t be a full on audiophile love affair for some time, but audiophiles are beginning to enjoy the benefits of their computers and want some of their high end tastes down in the bits.
The following list contains ten products that will give USB and wireless fans a chance to hear their recordings in somewhat better sound than the garden variety MP3 player and laptop allow.
In no particular order. Information is from the company websites.
Neuhaus Laboratories T-2 Amplifier
Times have changed, and most people have music on computers instead of CDs. CDs are already becoming an obsolete music format. You may have had the experience of connecting speakers to your laptop computer to listen to music and hearing how terrible the sound quality is. It doesn’t matter how expensive the speakers are; they simply won’t sound good, because computers are not meant to deliver superior sound quality. The sound cards on most computers are terrible. But now, neuhaus laboratories has developed the integrated vacuum tube T-2 Amplifier to bring quality Hi Fi audiophile sound to laptops and desktop computers.
The NuForce® Icon™ is an audiophile-grade Integrated Desktop Audio Amplifier featuring two 12-watt outputs, a 3.5-mm stereo input for connection to an iPod or other portable device, a USB cable for operation with a PC or Mac, and standard RCA inputs for employing the Icon as the heart of a conventional audio system. For the headphone enthusiast, the Icon also offers a high-performance headphone output. Of particular interest to the computer user, the Icon¡’s line-out functions as a PC or Mac USB-to-analog audio converter or can also be used as a connection to a subwoofer.
Bel Canto USB Link 24/96
The USB Link 24/96, the must-have component for computer hard disc music systems. The USB Link 24/96 converts a computer-derived USB input of up to 24 bits and 96kHz to SPDIF and outputs the signal on a 75 ohm BNC. The USB Link 24/96 includes a Stereovox XV2 BNC/BNC cable with RCA adaptor to feed your audiophile DAC of choice Significantly improves the sound of your 16-bit 44.1 kHz music files as well!
Chord Chordette Gem
The Chordette Gem is the first in a new range of lower cost products designed to integrate within any existing HiFi system. The Gem has a unique Bluetooth Audio receiver technolgy to allow the transfer of music from a Bluetooth enabled phone, PDA or personal computer. The addition of a USB port also allows direct streaming of audio from a PC.
Peachtree Audio Nova
Most digital music is etched and hard. Mp3 files are almost unlistenable and through your computers sound card, even wav files are not much better. However, if you take these files, transfer them digitally to an on board digital to analog converter, run that signal through a “tube” preamp and power it with a high-current amplifier, the results are amazing! This is what you can do with a Peachtree Audio with a simple one cable hook-up. Now all the time, effort and money you’ve spent ripping CD’s and downloading music is rewarded with truly incredible sound. Although our company is a big believer in lossless encoding, even compressed MP3 files sound very close to the original CD when played through our “New Millennium” integrated amplifiers.
Olive 4 Hi-Fi Music Server
Store all your CDs in hi-fi digital. In fact, you can store up to 6,000 CDs and hear each one in true hi-fi quality. That’s because your music comes to you uncompromised by typical MP3-style compression. You hear it all!
Jaybird Gear SB1 Sportsband Bluetooth headphones
In addition to crystal clear stereo sound the Sportband includes an integrated microphone with Clear Voice Capture® technology for phone calls ensuring your voice comes through crisp and clear. Music from your iPod or other device pauses while you take a call, resumes when you’re done. The Sportsband also works with VoIP applications like Skype. The JayBird Bluetooth Headphones offer full music and call controls including play, plause, forward, back track, answer/reject/redial call, power, pairing and volume controls.
The HRT Music Streamer +
The Music Streamer + is a ultra high performance music interface that allows a computer and a home entertain- ment system to become perfect partners. With its unique topology, the Music Streamer+ provides a completely isolated path between the computer and audio system. No more audio contamination by the computer; your music will always sound its best. There are no external power supplies to worry about because the Music Streamer+ derives its power from the USB buss while completely regenerating power for all its internal circuitry using a sophisticated set of proprietary circuits.
NuForce Icon U-Dac
The NuForce uDAC is a high-performance USB Digital Audio Converter (DAC) that connects your personal computer’s audio with your home stereo, desktop sound system, or headphones. The quality and versatility of the uDAC’s performance belies its diminutive size. With its extensive power supply, filtering capabilities and charge-pump circuit as a foundation, the uDAC processes incoming data via a USB audio receiver. A D/A converter chip then translates the data to a two-volt analog signal. The NuForce uDAC¡¯s performance equals or exceeds that of a great many audiophile CD players. The unit¡¯s exemplary flexibility ¨C¨C analog RCA, digital coaxial, and high-performance headphone outputs ¨C¨C is bound to satisfy the needs of the most critical music lover.
Wavelength Cosecant USB DAC v3
The Cosecant v3 connects the USB controller to a DAC module connector. The USB firmware to run that dac module resides there so each module has it’s own developed code. The output of the module connector is sent directly to the 6GM8/ECC86 dual triode output tube which drives the transformer coupled output. The Cosecant has an external power supply with IEC connector to isolate the power from the DAC and it’s audio transformers. The Cosecant is also available with an optional volume control if you want to control your entire system from the computer output.
Disclaimer: Audiophilia advertiser NuForce has two products on this list.