Outside Portland city limits, nobody expects a block of wood with a horn sticking out of it to fall under “audio equipment” but in the epicenter of the American handcraft renaissance, different rules apply. A chunk of Northwest Alder wood lined with a Pendleton blanket and fitted with a Bison horn becomes a “passive amplifier.”
As powerful as it may be, your phone is not built to deliver pro-quality audio. The Vamp Verza can fix that by turning your smartphone into a mobile soundsystem. It’s the first product ever that combines an audiophile-quality 150mW Hi-Fi amp, dual DACs, a 2200mAh battery, & docking metal case for Samsung Galaxy S III, S IV, & iPhone 5.
Urbanears is an upstart Swedish audio brand known for making headphones in cool monochromatic colors. Now they’re offering up the pocket-sized Slussen for you iPhone DJs. It’s a splitter that plugs into a headphone jack. Speakers plug into one jack while your headphones go in the other. Free software allows you to cue up the next song while playing music.
Nine different hi-fi speakers are wedged into the nearly 36-inch wide Playbar, a new wireless soundsystem from Sonos. If you like clean, understated design & also want “live concert” sound in your living room, this is your rig.
Listening to music in headphones played off iTunes on your laptop is a C-minus grade audio experience unless you have something like this pocket-sized USB DAC from Meridian. It turns those flattened out digital files into the full-range masterpieces they’re supposed to be.
Nature can be pretty boring, so to add a sizzling soundtrack to dull stuff like backpacking, skiing, whitewater rafting, & rockclimbing (sarcasm), Braven has created a wireless, water-resistant palm-size speaker with a 12-hour playtime built to endure the elements.
The Bass Egg sends sound waves and vibrations from its base down into whatever object it’s sitting on, using that object as the vehicle for delivering deep bass sound. Put it on a table, desk, dashboard, pretty much anything, and it thumps.
There are lots of choices in portable speaker systems. Few offer the full-range sound quality and battery life of the new JBL Charge. It features a 2X 5-watt speaker set-up with a high capacity 12-hour Li-ion battery, Bluetooth streaming, and a built-in bass port. The speaker’s built-in USB port also allows you to recharge your portable devices in a pinch.
New-York based Woo Audio, known for products that strike an impressive balance between design & technology, has done it again with the release of their WA7 headphone amp. Powered by 2 vacuum tubes and sporting a built-in 32-bit/192kHz USB DAC, it’ll make the music in your headphones louder, warmer, and clearer, like you’re hearing it live.
This is what a boombox looks like in 2013. It’s loaded: 8 multidirectional speakers, analog VU meters, FM radio, Bluetooth, karaoke & PA capability, and inputs for headphones, HDMI, USB, and a mic. It’s got an Apple dock, it’s loud and it weighs 27 pounds.