Periodic Nickel Headphone Amplifier Review

Periodic Nickel Headphone Amplifier

Headphone amplifiers are a difficult product to make interesting. If they’re working right, they should be forgettable – they should amplify an audio signal without adding distortion or coloration. Any purist will agree – the goal is “wire and gain,” and nothing else. Still, can be difficult to justify the price of these audiophile devices, so many companies add complexity

Emotiva PA-1 Speaker Amplifier Review

Emotiva PA-1 Speaker Amplifier

Late last year, we reviewed the Schiit Vidar, a reasonably-priced speaker amplifer with some high-end features: a cool outer shell, lots of power, and in balanced monoblock mode. Unfortunately, running a monoblock Vidar setup brought it out of “budget” territory. This week, we’re reviewing a new monoblock-only amplifier from enthusiast favorite Emotiva. It’s simple and – as speaker amps go

Netgear Orbi Voice Review

Netgear Orbi Voice Picture 3

It wasn’t long ago that networking devices were ugly and arcane, hidden in closets and set up just by IT professionals. About five years ago, routers like Netgear’s Nighthawk emerged as devices to be kept on the desktop and configured as part of a performance PC build. These routers were certainly more attractive than their predecessors but were clearly aimed

Nektech 90W USB-C Wall Charger

Nektech 90W USB-C Wall Charger 1

Apple’s high-output USB-C wall chargers are the fastest way to charge MacBooks and iOS devices, but they’re also expensive (especially for the 87W model), and don’t even include the Lightning or Thunderbolt cables needed to use them. Nekteck sent us an alternative — their USB-IF Certified USB-C wall charger with up to 90 watts of power delivery, which sells for

Review: Shure RMCE-BT2 Bluetooth Audio Cable

Review: Shure RMCE-BT2 Bluetooth Audio Cable 5

2018 has been a great year for product refreshes. In the past few months, we’ve seen companies like Hifiman and Fiio update their existing products with new features and refinements, and today we’re looking at another interesting product refresh from Shure — the RMCE-BT2, a Bluetooth audio cable for IEMs. Though the BT2 sounds great and its updates to this

Review: Fiio BTR1K Bluetooth Headphone Adapter

Review: Fiio BTR1K Bluetooth Headphone Adapter 10

Just over a year ago, we reviewed Fiio’s BTR1, a $50 Bluetooth adapter for wired headphones. At the time, the idea of a competent Bluetooth adapter felt fresh — many were still reeling from the removal of the iPhone’s headphone jack, and wired Lightning adapter options were few and underwhelming. The BTR1 was Fiio’s first entry into this market; we

Review: Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT

Review: Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT 14

The Jeep Wrangler started as a true utility vehicle — its simple body panels and spartan interior reflected that it was designed for people that valued off-road capability over on-road luxury. Over the years, however, the truck changed — it’s now available with modern appointments like power windows, heated seats, and touchscreen navigation. What was once a purpose-built tool has

Review: iFi xCAN Headphone Amplifier

Review: iFi xCAN Headphone Amplifier 19

Earlier this year, we reviewed a unique headphone amplifier from a unique company — the iFi micro iDSD Black Label — that wowed us with as a portable DAC and amplifier with desktop-class power output. In that review, we couldn’t help but remark about the dizzying array of proprietary features (“XBassII,” “3D++,” “IEMatch,” etc) and iFi’s equally overwhelming website. This

Review: Hifiman HE6se Planar Magnetic Headphones

Review: Hifiman HE6se Planar Magnetic Headphones 25

We’ve never rated a product A+. On our “How We Rate Products” page, we explain that this is because no product is — or has yet been — perfect. Even the best products usually have some flaw or other factor that necessarily limits our recommendation, even if it’s nothing more than a prohibitive price. We have, however, celebrated companies that

Review: Pangea Audio Headphone Hanger

Review: Pangea Audio Headphone Hanger 32

There comes a time in every headphone enthusiast’s life when they find themselves shopping for banana hangers. Expensive fullsize headphones can’t be left on a desk — they need to be protected when not in use. The search usually begins with beautiful galley-quality stands made of exotic woods, from which the enthusiast will inevitably retreat once they see the price.

Review: Optoma Nuforce BE Live2 In-Ear Headphones

Review: Optoma Nuforce BE Live2 In-Ear Headphones 35

This summer, we reviewed Optoma’s Nuforce Be Sport4 and loved it for being the first headphone we’d yet seen to really replace our previous favorite sport headphones. This week, Optoma is back with a new entry in their line of wireless lifestyle headphones, the Be Live2. Though these affordable IEMs have a unique, modern look, listening to them reminded us

Review: Fiio M9 Portable High-Resolution Audio Player

Review: Fiio M9 Portable High-Resolution Audio Player 39

In September, we reviewed Fiio’s M3K, an ultra-budget digital audio player that we thought was a good value, despite its minimalist feature set. This week, Fiio continues its rapid-fire release streak with a new DAP on the opposite end of the spectrum — the more expensive but feature-packed M9. Though this player has some shortcomings that are, most likely, cost-saving

Review: Edifier S2000 Pro Bookshelf Speakers

Review: Edifier S2000 Pro Bookshelf Speakers 47

Earlier this year, we tried Edifier’s S880DB active speakers. Though we loved their look and versatility, we couldn’t ignore the fact that a slightly bigger midrange driver would have helped their limited bass extension. As if in direct response, Edifier next sent us another set of powered speakers that seemed likely to scratch that low-end itch — the higher-end S2000

Review: Fiio FH5 Quad Driver Hybrid In-Ear Monitors

Review: Fiio FH5 Quad Driver Hybrid In-Ear Monitors 53

Fiio has had a bunch of IEMs available for years now, though they didn’t exactly make a splash at the start — Fiio’s core competency, after all, has historically been in portable amps, DACs, and DAPs. However, we have seen a string of increasingly interesting IEMs from them in the past year, with the likes of the FH1 and F9

Hifiman releases new and refreshed lineup of high-end headphones

Hifiman releases new and refreshed lineup of high-end headphones 58

Usually we can depend on audiophile companies to release new gear on some kind of schedule — it gives us time to keep up. Not so with Hifiman, apparently — we’ve received a veritable storm of press releases about new and refreshed headphones They’ve been busy. First up is the Jade II, electrostatic headphone featuring ultra-thin “nanotech” drivers and aluminum

Review: Fiio M3K Portable High-Resolution Lossless Music Player

Review: Fiio M3K Portable High-Resolution Lossless Music Player 63

The first word on Fiio’s web page for their new M3K dedicated audio player is “affordable.” Usually, citing low price as a flagship feature would be a bad sign — you might expect a cheap plastic device with lackluster specs and basic components. Luckily, this isn’t the case with the M3K. Though there are compromises in its design, the M3K

Review: Fluance Signature Series HiFi Two-Way Bookshelf Surround Sound Speakers

Review: Fluance Signature Series HiFi Two-Way Bookshelf Surround Sound Speakers 68

Fluance has been putting out one impressive speaker after another these days. We last reviewed their Ai40 powered speakers and found them to be excellent, especially at their relatively low price. The latest to come across our desk is the Signature Series HiFi Two-Way Bookshelf Surround Sound Speaker. Though the name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and they are

Review: FiiO BTR3 Bluetooth Headphone Adapter

Review: FiiO BTR3 Bluetooth Headphone Adapter 71

Like it or not, Bluetooth is here to stay and fast becoming the primary method of audio delivery for mobile devices. Soon after the headphone apocalypse, a few companies offered solutions for those of us not quite ready to give up our wired cans. About a year ago, Fiio impressed us with its excellent BTR1 Bluetooth audio receiver, though many

Review: Cleer Flow Wireless Hybrid Noise Canceling Headphone

Review: Cleer Flow Wireless Hybrid Noise Canceling Headphone 75

In the past few years, well over a hundred headphones have come across our desk. In that time, something unexpected has happened — we’ve started to see more similarities between headphones than differences. Sometimes it’s mimicry, sometimes rebranding; in any case, it’s clear not every company starts with a blank page when designing a new headphone. There’s nothing wrong with

Review: Edifier S880DB Bookshelf Speakers

Review: Edifier S880DB Bookshelf Speakers 81

Edifier — whose name we assume comes from the word “edify”, or “to improve someone morally or intellectually” — has a wide offering of speakers and other audio gear, but are best known for their bookshelf and desktop speakers. For our first review of Edifier’s desktop speakers, the company sent us their new active, Hi-Res certified bookshelf set, the S880DB.

Review: Optoma NuForce BE Sport4 Graphene Hi-Res Wireless Sports Bluetooth Earphones

Review: Optoma NuForce BE Sport4 Graphene Hi-Res Wireless Sports Bluetooth Earphones 87

Of all the headphones we review, for our workouts we have always gone back to our trusty sweat-proof Jaybird Bluebuds X. Our pair was long since discontinued, lacked the most recent Bluetooth technology, and its battery was showing signs of age, but when you have something that works, it’s hard to put it away. Imagine our dismay when, after four

Review: Clear Edge Pulse Wireless Heart Rate Monitor Headphone

Review: Clear Edge Pulse Wireless Heart Rate Monitor Headphone 92

Heart rate training is an essential part of many athletes’ workout routines. We’ve seen a few companies integrate heart rate measurements into their devices, with varying results. Though other wearables like the Apple Watch can also read and track heart rate data, watches might not be well suited for every type of workout. Cleer’s new Edge Pulse is the latest

Review: Fluance Ai40 Powered 5” Bookshelf Speakers

Review: Fluance Ai40 Powered 5” Bookshelf Speakers 97

A few months ago, we wrote about one of the craziest speaker systems we’ve ever reviewed — the Fluance Fi70. Once we got that 90-pound, six-driver Bluetooth behemoth into our apartment — somehow, without injuring ourselves — we were impressed not only by its room-shaking bass, but also its stylish finish. This week, we’re looking at Fluance’s new, much more

Review: Hifiman Ananda On-Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones

Review: Hifiman Ananda On-Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones 102

You never forget your first. We’ve owned and reviewed a lot of headphones over the years — some good, some bad, some expensive, some cheap — but there are very few to which we have an emotional connection. The Hifiman HE500, an open-back planar magnetic headphone originally released in 2011 for $899, was our first true audiophile headphone. It is