Wednesday, March 18, 2015

2015 Annual Headphone Shootout Part 1: The Over The Ear Models

March Madness is in full swing.  And for you music fans out there, that means it is also time for our annual Headphone Shootout!  We have some amazing products from some awesome manufacturers this year, as usual.  MSRP's range from $100 to $1000.  And we will be dividing them into three categories:  Over the Ear, In the Ear, and Wireless.  With March Madness, the teams are seeded.  And there are times, when a low seeded teams shocks the world, playing better than expected, and takes out a higher seed team.  And the opposite is sometimes true as well: a high seed team doesn't perform up to expectations.  The same can be true in doing our annual shootout.  Instead of seeds, they are labeled with an MSRP.  And there are times when a headphone performs better than it's MSRP, and the opposite can also be true.  We'll be starting out this year's shootout with the over the ear models.  They will be followed by the IEM's, and wireless.  So , without any further waiting, let's get this party started!

We will start with AKG Y50. They are an over the ear design. The ear caps are fairly standard soft padded cups, as is the adjustable head band. But not so standard, especially with an MSRP of $100, are detachable cables, which is extremely rare feature at this price point.  They even have built-in remote in the cable to smartphone control.

Features and specs:
Driver
Closed-back headphones
Frequency Response
16Hz-24kHz
Maximum Input Power
100 mW
Input Impedance
32 ohms
Sensitivity
115 dB SPL/V
Cable
1.20 m
Cable
99.99% oxygen-free cable
Connector
Jack plug 3.5mm, hard gold-plated
Weight
190 g
Colour
Red



The AKG Y50 came in attractive packaging with a large clear plastic window so you can see the product. They are mostly made of plastic, with some metal in the headband. Quality of materials used in their construction was good, as was the fit and finish. The AKG Y50 was also easy to adjust, and were comfortable to wear. And I loved the fact that they have detachable cables. Also included were a carrying bag, manual,  airplane adapter, and 1/4“ adapter.

They also came with some nice functionality.  Their smaller on ear size also made them more compact and portable.  The earpads rotate and fold to help with that. And while they fit on the ear, the earpads are soft and comfortable for longer listening sessions.

When it came to listening, they performed very well.  Fresh Aire II: Going To Another Place, provided string instruments that were really crisp with good resolution.  Piano sounded very natural, the flute had good air.  And the kick drum had nice low end extension.  Steve Miller Band: Swingtown, had percussion and guitar that was crisp and clean, with natural sounding keyboard.  Vocals were smooth with some texture.  The bass guitar had nice extension as did the drums.  No Doubt: Hella Good yielded percussion that was crisp and bass was very deep and played with good authority. Vocals sounded natural. There is a lot of energy in the track and it came out very well.  Eric Bibb: Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down, guitar sounded clean with good resolution. Piano sounded fairly natural. Imaging was quite good, and they created a decent sized sound stage. Vocals were also natural sounding with good resolution.





Next up is the Marshall Major II. They are an on the ear design. Being an on the ear design, the ear cups are smaller, and the entire product is a bit more compact. The ear cups are sufficiently soft faux leather. The headband is easily adjustable MSRP is $120.  The cord is partially coiled for additional length, and also has built-in mic and remote for use with a smartphone.  You can even pick which earcup you want to plug the cable into.  Want to share your music with a friend?  They can plug into the other earcup!

Features and specs:

TRANSDUCER
40mm MOVING COIL DYNAMIC SPEAKER
IMPEDANCE
64 Ω
SENSITIVITY
100mV@1kHz = 99dB SPL
FREQUENCY RANGE
10Hz-20kHz

The Marshall Major II came in an attractive box. Opening the box revealed the well protected headphones. Materials used in the construction were mostly plastic with some metal. Quality of materials used were good. The fit and finish was also good. They seemed to be well made and extremely durable. Also included was a soft carry bag, ¼” adapter, and manual. My personal preference is over the ear design, but the Marshall Major II was easy to adjust, and they were also fairy comfortable to wear.   I really like the fact that the cables were also detachable, and part metal around critical areas around where the connections are.  It would sure take a lot more abuse than normal to get a short in these cables!  Now it's time see how they sound.

Fresh Aire II:  Going To Another Place, the crisp strings had nice dynamics, flute was smooth with air. Piano sounded fairly natural and the kick drum had a nice low extension with some authority.  Steve Miller Band: Swingtown, percussion and guitar was very crisp and clean. The keyboard sounded natural. Vocals were pleasantly smooth with good resolution. The drums had nice dynamics.  No Doubt: Hella Good, percussion was very crisp and dynamic. Bass played deep with sufficient authority. The vocals sounded natural.  Eric Bibb: Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down, guitar was fairly clean with good resolution. Piano was natural sounding. Imaging was good as was the soundstage. Vocals were very dynamic with good resolution.


  

The Creative Aurvana Live 2 is an over the ear headphone. They are marketed to the audiophile on a tight budget, with an $129 MSRP. The ear cups fold for easy storage. The drivers are made with bio-cellulose diaphragm for improved sound. They also feature a detachable cable with built-in mic and controls.

Features and specs:
·         
      Wearing StyleOver-the-Ear
·         Weight255g (9oz)
·         Adjustable HeadbandYes
·         ColorBlack Dark Chrome
Black Dark Red Chrome
·         Included Accessories1 travel pouch
1 detachable flat audio cable with inline microphone and a 1-button remote with volume adjustment, 2.5mm-to-3.5mm gold-plated 4-pole plug (1.2m)
·         Specifications
·         Product TypeWired Headset
·         Inline ControlYes
·         Volume ControlYes
·         Noise IsolationYes
·         Drivers40mm (1.57 inches) Neodymium magnet with composite Bio-Cellulose diaphragm
·         Frequency Response10Hz ~ 30KHz
·         Impedance32ohms
·         Sensitivity105dB/mW
·         Connector Type2.5mm-to-3.5mm gold-plated 4-pole plug
(Compatible with the latest smartphones and tablets supporting 3.5mm 4-pole connector (CTIA standard). Functions may vary among devices.)
·         Cable Length1.2m / 3.9ft
·         Cable StyleDetachable Oxygen-Free Copper flat cable, 1.2m
·         Microphone Specifications (*Headsets only)
·         Frequency Response100Hz ~ 10kHz
·         Sensitivity- 42dBV / Pa
·         DetachableYes

The Creative Aurvana Live 2 came in an attractive box with photos and specs of the product. The Aurvana Live 2 is mostly made of plastic with some metal. The ear cups are made of faux leather with memory foam padding. Quality of materials used is very good, as is the fit and finish. They are a well made product and using memory foam made for a comfortable fit. Also included is the soft carry case.  I loved the fact that the Creative Aurvana Live 2 uses detachable cables. So if you ever get a short in the cable, all you have to do is replace the cable! 

Fresh Aire II: Going To Another Place, strings were very crisp with better than expected resolution. Piano sounded very natural. Kick drum had real kick, with authority and nice low end extension. The flute had very nice air and was smooth. Steve Miller Band: Swingtown, percussion and guitar was very crisp and clean, kick drum and bass guitar had nice low end extension with authority. Vocals were smooth with good resolution.  No Doubt: Hella Good, percussion was very crisp and dynamic, with good resolution. The bass was deep with good impact and authority. Vocals were natural, smooth with nice texture. The track had a lot of energy and it came through very well!  Eric Bibb: Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down, the guitar had very good resolution. The piano was dynamic and sounded natural. Imaging was good as was the sound stage. Vocals were smooth and natural with good texture.


    

Fairly new to the headphone arena is Kingston with their HyperX Cloud II. They are a standard large over the ear design. Primarily focused as a gaming headphone, they can also do double duty for music. In fact the boom mic is also detachable to make them easier to use for music. For those of you that want to get your game on, the Kingston HyperX Cloud II will even let you do so in 7.1 simulated surround sound!  At an MSRP of only $149, they are a bargain!

Features and specs:
    • Advanced USB audio control box with built-in DSP sound card
    • Hi-Fi capable with 53mm drivers for supreme audio quality
    • Hardware-driven virtual 7.1 surround sound
    • Comfortable, 100% memory foam on headband and leatherette cushions
    • Pro-Gaming optimized with closed cup design for passive noise cancellation
    • Compatible – USB connectivity for PC & Mac. Stereo compatible with PS4, Xbox One1 and mobile
The Kingston HyperX Cloud II came shipped well protected. The box is well done with pictures of the product and its specs. Construction was mostly made of plastic with some metal. Although the quality of materials was very good. The fit and finish was also very good, as it was very well made product. Included were the owner’s manual, soft carry bag, multiple cables, detachable mic, as well as a pair of cloth ear pads.

I really liked the design of the Kingston HyperX Cloud II, which provides excellent functionality. They came with faux leather pads, but also come with cloth pads! So whichever is more comfortable to you, you are covered. There is a standard cord for listening to music. And if you are going to do some gaming, the mic can be plugged in, and there is the difference cable with a built-in toggle for surround sound.  They are comfortable for long music or gaming sessions.

Fresh Aire II: Going To Another Place, percussion was crisp, very clean, with good resolution. Piano sounded natural. Kick drum had nice low end extension and played with some authority. Flute was smooth with good air.  Steve Miller Band: Swingtown, provided excellent crispness in the percussion. Kick drum and bass guitar played with good depth, impact, and authority. Vocals were very natural and had nice texture.  No Doubt: Hella Good, percussion was very crisp and dynamic. Bass played deep with good authority, vocals were natural, smooth with good texture and resolution.  Eric Bibb: Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down, guitar was really clean with good resolution. Piano was dynamic and sounded very natural. Imaging was very good and they threw a nice wide sound stage. Vocals were smooth with very good resolution.



The Monster DNA 2.0 has proved to be a bit of an evolution in the way we can listen to our music. They are a fairly standard over the ear design, with folding ear cups for more portability. They are the brain child of Noel Lee, the Head Monster, and have been critically acclaimed to have the best overall sound among all genre. This is where they stand apart from everyone else, as they achieve this feat with their sound app, for iTunes.  Want to listen to 50 Cent, and listen to the way 50 Cent intended, just select the 50 Cent profile in the app.  With the Monster DNA Pro 2.0, you can listen to your music the way the artist intended, thanks to the "Pure Monster Sound Experience" app that is available in the iTunes app store.  And all of this can be yours for only $299.


Features and specs:

IN THE BOX
Stylish carrying case. Monster® cleaning cloth.

Pure Monster Sound®
You don't have to choose between deep bass and or crystal details,. DNA® headphones are tuned for a live full range music sonic experience. Pure Monster Sound—it’s just like being there.

Noise Isolation/No Batteries Needed
With an all- new design, Monster® DNA® Over-Ear headphones deliver live, studio quality sound with passive noise isolation without the need for batteries. Serve your music up Louder. More powerful,. d More dynamic and. Punchier visceral—and with deeper bass low end you can feel.

MusicShare™
DNA® headphones' dual MusicShare™ audio input jacks let you link your MusicShare™ headphones together and share the audio. Plug in and experience music and movies with your friends.

Pillow Soft Noise Isolation
The pillow-soft Advanced Noise Isolating cushions are comfortable and designed for hours extended wear, while keeping noise out and keeping your music from disturbing others.

The Monster DNA 2.0 came packaged in Monster style. The packaging is beautiful, with photos of the product and its specs and features.  Sliding off the sleeve and opening the box reveals an attractive pair of headphones in carbon fiber, and well protected. The materials used in construction are mostly plastic with some metal in the headband and hinges. Quality of materials as well as fit and finish is excellent. It is a quality product that feels solid and well made in the hand. They are also very comfortable for long listening sessions with the soft faux leather ear cup pads, and shape of the pads.  They looked really cool, especially in the carbon fiber color, and felt like a true premium product as Monster tends to make.  So naturally I couldn't wait to try them out!

Fresh Aire II: Going To A New Place, strings were extremely crisp and clean with nice dynamics. Piano sounded sufficiently natural. Flute sounded smooth with lots of air. Kick drum was dynamic, tight and had lots of kick with excellent extension and authority. I loved the amount of resolution and detail I could hear.  Steve Miller Band: Swingtown, percussion and guitar had excellent crispness and resolution, the kick drum and bass guitar played deep with excellent output. Vocals were very natural sounding with very good texture.  No Doubt: Hella Good, had excellent crispness and dynamics in the percussion. Bass provided in your chest impact and excellent depth and authority. Vocals were natural, smooth, with very good texture and resolution. The energy in the track was delivered in spades!  Eric Bibb: Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down, percussion was clean with good resolution. Bass was deep with good authority. Piano was very natural sounding and very dynamic. Imaging was very good and they threw a large soundstage. Vocals had excellent resolution and were very natural sounding.

The Monster DNA Pro 2.0's sounded amazing!  They handled these tracks I chose for this year's shootout with ease.  Before I realized what I was doing, I had already gone past those tracks and onto some of my other favorites, getting lost in the music.  And after all, isn't that the goal for what headphones are supposed to do?  Noel Lee nailed it with these!  And using the "Pure Monster Sound Experience" app added even more functionality, being able to customize the sound to who you are listening to.  And it sounded great!




When Blue decided to design a new headphone, they did so from the ground up! The headband, ear cups, and drivers…all designed from scratch. The headband has pivots to give an excellent fit, even with adjustable tension. The ear cups are ear shaped for a great fit. There is a built-in amp to power the drivers. And the drivers are premium, designed for the higher power provided by the amp.  MSRP is $349.

Features and specs:
  • Custom high-powered audiophile amplifier
  • 50mm, fiber-reinforced dynamic driver
  • Sealed over-ear design for superior isolation and feedback prevention
  • User-adjustable tension and suspension adapt to any head shape
    and size for a perfect fit
  • Racecar-inspired multi-jointed headband design keeps earcups parallel
    at all times for superior comfort and sound
  • All-analog amplifier performance modes: passive, active and enhanced bass
  • Powers on and off automatically when headphones are opened and closed
  • Rechargeable battery provides up to 12 hours of playtime; Mo-Fi continues to play music even when battery has no charge
Amplifier
  • Output power:240mW
  • THD+N:0.004%
  • Frequency response:15Hz-20kHz
  • SNR, self noise:> 105 dB
  • Noise:< 20 uV
  • Battery capacity:1020mAh
Drivers
  • Type and size:50mm, fiber-reinforced dynamic driver
  • Impedance:42 ohms
  • Frequency response:15Hz-20kHz
  • Enclosure details:Sealed enclosure with tuned damping materials
Headphones
  • Weight:466 g (16.44 oz)
  • Outer dimensions Closed:21cm x14cm x12cm (8.27" x 5.51" x 4.72")
  • Outer dimensions Open:18cm x 29cm x 12cm (7.09" x 11.42" x 4.72")
Included in the box:
  • Soft case with cable storage pocket
  • 1.2-meter audio cable with Apple iPhone/iPad controls
  • 3-meter audio cable
  • 1-meter USB charging cable
  • AC charging adaptor
  • 3.5mm to 1/4" TRS adaptor
  • Two-prong airplane connector
  • Registration and warranty information
  • User manual

The Blue Mo-Fi came shipped in a nice printed box with photos of the headphones, along with its features and specs. As with most headphones, materials used in the construction were mostly plastic, but did have more metal than most. Quality of materials used was excellent, as was the quality of construction. They felt very solid in hand, and very well built. Also, included were the owner’s manual, carry bag and airplane adapter. After trying them on, I am sold that the design worked. The shape of the ear cups fit very well, and was comfortable for long listening sessions. And the headband was easy to adjust.  

Fresh Aire II: Going To Another Place, strings were extremely crisp and clean. Piano sounded very natural. Flute was smooth, lots of air and resolution. Kick drum was tight, dynamic with lots of kick, and good low end extension. Resolution was phenomenal! Heard things I hadn’t noticed before. Had to pull out my $1400 custom Westone’s to compare!  Steve Miller Band: Swingtown, percussion and guitar was extremely crisp and clean with excellent detail. Keyboard sounded natural. The kick drum had excellent dynamics, impact, depth, and played with plenty of authority. Vocals were silky smooth with excellent texture. No Doubt: Hella Good, the percussion was extremely crisp and dynamic. Bass had excellent depth with good impact and authority. Vocals were smooth, natural, with excellent resolution. Stefani came through as she should…sexy!  Eric Bibb: Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down, guitar was crisp and clean with excellent resolution. Piano sounded natural with good detail and tone. Bass had very good depth and played with authority. Imaging was spot on, and they threw a nice soundstage. Vocals were extremely natural and sounded so real. I thought I was there with them, being able to hear the acoustics of the room. The female singer can really wail, and you can hear it all.

Using the built-in amp proved to be a nice feature.  There are three different setting: off, on, and on+.  The amp is analog, so there are no digital DSP or enhancements going on.  Off is passive, when the internal battery is low, or you are already listening thru a hi power source.  On turns on the built-in amp to give the drivers additional power to give the drivers the power they crave.  On+ gives a bass boost, for more low end umph for those looking for that sound.  The sound of using the amp was really good as well.  Even when cranking it, the sound was clean and undistorted, although a tad on the warm side with the mids.  The overall sound was amazing.  And I must admit, after listening to the tracks used for the review, I couldn't help keeping the music going with turning to additional favorite tracks.  I got goosebumps!


All of these over the ear models performed well.  The AKG Y50 sounded better that a $100 pair should.  The Marshall Major II sounded pretty close in aural performance, but added what appeared to be significant more durability.  The Creative Aurvana Live 2 sounded even better, with the bio-cellulose diaphragm seeming to do its job well.  And don't let the Kingston HyperX Cloud II gaming headphones fool you.  When it comes to music.....they've got their game ON!!  And that's good news for those gamers, which means not only will the games sound great, but they are ready for serious tunes as well.  The Monster DNA Pro 2.0 takes the game to a whole new level.  I can see how they can be considered as one of the best overall sounding over all genre......because I heard it!  And when you hear about their music app as part of the package, it is just more music to the ears.  And last but not least, the Blue Mo-Fi is what a headphone should be.  They feature a headband that can be completely adjusted to fit how you would like.  But it doesn't end there.  The drivers are designed to sound great on low power devices, but really sing when given the juice from the built-in amp.  

Based on their design, features, quality, and performance, the AKG Y50 and Marshall Major II has earned our Value Award.  The Creative Aurvana Live 2 has earned our Recommended Award.  Kingston's HyperX Cloud II have earned our Highly Recommended Award.  And last but not least, the Monster DNA Pro 2.0 and Blue Mo-Fi have earned our Editor's Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.akg.com, www.marshalheadphones.com, www.uscreative.com, www.kingston/us/hyperx.com, www.monstercable.com, www.mofiheadphones.com.








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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Kingston DDR4 SO-DIMMs Receive Validation for Upcoming Intel® Xeon® Processor D-1500 Product Family

Kingston DDR4 SO-DIMMs Receive Validation for Upcoming
Intel® Xeon® Processor D-1500 Product Family 

Fountain Valley, CA – March 9, 2015 -- Kingston Technology Company, Inc., the independent world leader in memory products, today announced its forthcoming 4GB and 8GB ValueRAM® 2133MHz DDR4 ECC SO-DIMMs have received Intel validation. The memory modules are validated for use on the upcoming Intel® Xeon® D-1500 Processor Family (formerly Broadwell-DE). A link to the validation page can be found here.
            The Xeon D-1500 SoC (System on Chip) Processor family is designed for microservers, networking and storage systems. Kingston’s DDR4 ECC SO-DIMMs offer the low power and high performance needed to support high-density systems as companies seek powerful, yet more energy- and space-efficient solutions that serve specific data center needs. The soon-to-be released DDR4 ECC SO-DIMMs will join previous Kingston DDR3 ECC SO-DIMMs that began shipping in mid-2013 for x86 and ARM-based processors and SoC designs.
            Kingston ValueRAM is backed by a lifetime warranty, free technical support and legendary Kingston reliability. For more information visit www.kingston.com.
Kingston DDR4 ECC SO-DIMMs
Part Number
Capacity and Features
KVR21SE15S8/4
4GB DDR4-2133 ECC SODIMM 1Rx8 1.2V
KVR21SE15D8/8
8GB DDR4-2133 ECC SODIMM 2Rx8 1.2V






Kingston can be found on:


About Kingston Technology Company, Inc.
Kingston Technology Company, Inc. is the world’s largest independent manufacturer of memory products. Kingston designs, manufactures and distributes memory products for desktops, laptops, servers, printers, and Flash memory products for PDAs, mobile phones, digital cameras, and MP3 players. Through its global network of subsidiaries and affiliates, Kingston has manufacturing facilities in California, Taiwan, China and sales representatives in the United States, Canada, Europe, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Australia, India, Taiwan, China, and Latin America. For more information, please call 800-337-8410 or visit www.kingston.com. 


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Friday, March 6, 2015

KICKER® Now Shipping L7™ Subwoofers and IQ-Series Amplifiers

KICKER® Now Shipping L7™ Subwoofers and IQ-Series Amplifiers
STILLWATER, USA – KICKER® has begun shipping specific models of L7™ Subwoofers and IQ-Series Amplifiers, products included as part of the illustrious Q-Class product launch that was unveiled inside the mobile-audio company’s booth during International CES. L7 and IQ join KICKER QS-Series Component Systems as the sole Q-Class products currently available to consumers at exclusive authorized dealers.
A list of independent, authorized KICKER dealers who will offer the prestigious products soon can be found on the company website, www.kicker.com. Q-Class products will not be available for purchase online.
L7 Subwoofer models currently available are the L7 8-inch 2- and 4-Ohm, the L7 10-inch 2- and 4-Ohm, and the L7 12-inch 2- and 4 Ohm. The IQ-Series Amplifier models available are the IQ1000.5 5-channel, the IQ500.4 4-channel, the IQ500.2 stereo, and the IQ500.1 mono.
Remaining models of L7 and IQ-Series, IQ Interface (IQI) and L7 Loaded Enclosures will ship during the second sales quarter.
The L7 Subwoofer has already captured the imaginations of 2015 CES Innovation Award judges, earning the honor during CES and solidifying itself as the crown jewel among industry subwoofers.
The IQ-Series, an impressive group of intelligent power amplifiers utilizing digital signal processing (DSP), is equipped with limitless flexibility in configuring easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI) software.  There’s also potential for wireless connectivity on a tablet or smartphone using the soon-to-be released IQI.  After purchasing an IQ-Series Amplifier, consumers can go online at www.kicker.com/tweeq to download the desktop TWEEQ™ application to their PC, where they can engage the GUI-based software and quick-start setup wizard to dial in extraordinary sound through their mobile system.
Consumers seeking information on the L7 Subwoofer, IQ-Series Amplifiers or the Q Class can find it at www.kicker.com.

KICKER Performance Audio products, a division of Stillwater Designs and Audio, Inc.®, are available for the mobile and home audio aftermarket at authorized retailers worldwide, and also as Original Equipment for automobile manufacturers. Consumers seeking more information on KICKER or Livin’ Loud® may call the Consumer Information Line at 1-800-256-5425 or visit the brand website at www.kicker.com. Follow KICKER socially at Facebook.com/kickeraudio, Twitter.com/kickeraudio, or Pinterest.com/kickeraudio.


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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Parasound Introduces New Halo Integrated Amplifier and DAC

Parasound Introduces New Halo Integrated Amplifier and DAC

Parasound's new 2.1-channel integrated amplifier has a high-resolution DSD DAC, MM/MC phono stage, balanced XLRs, analog bass management, home theater bypass, and 160-watts per channel of John Curl designed amplifier topology.

Halo_Integrated
Halo_Integrated
Click here or headline to view full on-line press release,
with listed features, specifications, and additional photos.
SAN FRANCISCO (3/2/15) — Parasound has begun dealer shipments of its new high-end 2.1-channel integrated amplifier and digital audio converter. The Parasound Halo Integrated Amplifier combines powerful John Curl designed amplifier topology with a sophisticated analog preamplifier and DAC making it capable of managing music sources ranging from vinyl records to the latest high-resolution DSD digital music files. The 160-watt per channel (240-watts @ 4 ohms) Halo Integrated Amplifier drives high-end loudspeakers with authority and accuracy, using the same Class A/AB circuits found in Parasound's renowned separate power amplifiers. These capabilities are further enhanced with a home-theater bypass function, 2.1-channel analog bass management, a dedicated high-current headphone amplifier, and state-of-the-art integration technologies.
The Parasound Halo Integrated Amplifier uses the latest ESS Sabre32 Reference DAC to decode a wide range of digital music files via optical, coaxial, and USB inputs. The asynchronous USB 2.0 input supports PCM up to 384 kHz/32-bit, native DSD256 and DoP DSD bit streams. The coax and optical inputs accept PCM up to 192 kHz/24-bit.
"Creating the Halo Integrated amp required Parasound to virtually redefine what a modern integrated amp should be," said Richard Schram, Parasound's president and founder, "It was a given that its sound quality had to match our acclaimed Halo separates. Thus, its analog preamp stage was taken verbatim from our popular P 5. Its power amp uses the same John Curl circuit topology and high current design that has made our A 23 and A 21 power amps perennial favorites. We went to great lengths to eliminate the power supply contamination that compromises the audio quality in some of the most expensive integrated amps. Finally, newly released parts from ESS enabled us to leap ahead with an all-new DAC, allowing the Halo Integrated to provide flawless reproduction of the highest resolution digital audio."
The Parasound Halo Integrated Amplifier uses the company's classic Class A/AB, DC-coupled topology with a J-FET input stage, MOSFET driver stage and high-current output stage with 12 rugged Sanken bipolar output transistors. With its oversized shielded toroid power transformer, 40,000 µF filter capacity and enormous heat sinks, the Halo Integrated has power to spare to drive high performance speakers to their fullest potential. Its adjustable low pass and high pass crossovers and front panel subwoofer level control allows for seamless subwoofer integration.
The Halo Integrated has a balanced XLR input and XLR L, R and Sub preamp outputs. There are five line-level inputs, record/fixed level output, and a low noise MM/MC phono input with three loading options. Its unique home-theater bypass input circuitry enables a surround sound receiver or processor to utilize the Halo Integrated's power amp to drive the left and right loudspeakers during surround sound listening while its subwoofer bypass inputs make it possible for subwoofer(s) to operate with surround sound and stereo listening.
The Parasound Halo Integrated Amplifier is currently available in black or silver finish with a suggested USA retail price of $2,495.
About Parasound — Founded in 1981, Parasound Products, Inc., is a privately owned U.S. company that specializes in providing affordable audio components to the critical listener. The company's ever-improving line of audio products has garnered a reputation for performance, value, and reliability. The highest quality standards are assured by Parasound's relationships with their Taiwan audio manufacturers that date back to 1982.
For more information, visit www.parasound.com or call 415-397-7100.
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