Tuesday, October 9, 2018

ASUS Launches Intel Z390 Series Motherboards

-- ROG, ROG Strix, Prime, WS, and TUF Gaming series offer new performance enhancements, extensive connectivity options plus intelligent cooling and overclocking options --
Fremont, California (October 8, 2018) — Almost exactly one year after introducing six-core Coffee Lake processors alongside Z370 motherboards, Intel® is back with more cores, higher clocks and the new Z390 chipset. The new 9th Generation Intel Core™ processor family offers up to eight cores and 16 threads of parallel processing horsepower that’s perfect for content creation, heavy multitasking, and other demanding workloads. With clock speeds as high as 5GHz on the flagship Core i9-9900K, these new processors also raise the bar for gaming performance, especially if you’re streaming, recording, and chatting simultaneously.
ASUS is excited to support this new generation of Intel processors with a wide variety of new motherboards based on the Intel Z390 chipset. The collection is led by a diverse cast from the Republic of Gamers that elevates gaming and overclocking to new heights. ROG Strix offers more streamlined alternatives that include a mighty Mini-ITX model, while TUF Gaming focuses on the essentials to hit more affordable price points. Outside the gaming sphere, the Prime family serves up signature ASUS features in a professional package, and the WS sets the stage for serious workstations and prosumer builds.
There’s an ROG or ASUS Z390 motherboard for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned veteran who tunes to perfection, a hardcore gamer obsessed with performance, or a first-time builder seeking a seamless PC experience. For further details about our ROG lineup please visit ASUS ROG. Our buying guide with complete specifications, pricing and images for the entire lineup of Z390 motherboards is located at Edge Up ASUS.
ROG raises the bar for Z390 motherboards

Since its inception way back in 2006, the Republic of Gamers has set the standard for gaming and enthusiast motherboards. We created the category, and with each new generation our designers and engineers refine the formula in pursuit of faster performance, more customization, and a better overall gaming experience.
For Z390, the Maximus XI series embraces the dark side with blacked-out boards in multiple sizes and variations. It leads with the unparalleled Maximus XI Extreme for dream builds, which is followed by armour-clad near twins in Maximus XI Formula and Code. The Maximus XI Gene rethinks our approach to microATX, and the Maximus XI Hero strikes the right balance in three different flavors.
ROG Maximus XI Formula Motherboard 
Democratizing the republic with ROG Strix

ROG Strix fills the space below the Maximus series with more affordable options that retain the look and feel people have come to expect from the Republic of Gamers. These models keep must-have features for gaming and overclocking but are not as extreme as their ROG siblings. In the Z390 series, the Mini-ITX Strix Z390-I Gaming is joined by three full-sized ATX boards: the Strix Z390-E, Z390-F, and Z390-H Gaming.
Build a true battlestation with TUF Gaming

TUF offers a new direction for gaming hardware that combines builder-friendly features with battlestation-ready themes. Its unique aesthetic and focus on reliability and gaming essentials are shared by a growing collection of additional hardware we developed in-house, plus contributions from a broader TUF Gaming Alliance made up of industry titans that produce compatible parts. You can already buy matching memory, coolers, and power supplies along with a TUF Gaming case, and additional hardware is on the way.
The TUF Gaming Z390 series spreads across five different models that are ultimately very similar. You can choose between the TUF Z390-PRO Gaming and TUF Z390-PLUS Gaming for ATX along with the TUF Z390M-PRO Gaming for microATX, with WiFi-equipped versions thrown in for good measure.
WS and Prime do more than just gaming

The recent resurgence of PC gaming is partly responsible for the litany of gaming boards in our lineup, but desktops can do a lot more, especially with eight CPU cores at their disposal. Our WS and Prime motherboards are more businesslike in their approach, with an eye toward professionals and prosumers building powerful machines geared more for productivity instead of play. They also appeal to enthusiasts and even gamers who want many of the same features with an entirely different look.
The WS Z390 PRO loads up on expansion capacity for Coffee Lake workstations, while the Prime Z390-A hits the sweet spot ASUS aficionados expect with each new generation. Basic builds can get by with the Prime Z390-P and Z390M-PLUS.
ROG, ROG Strix, Prime, WS and TUF Gaming motherboards will be available for pre-order in select regions starting on October 8, 2018. Please contact your local ASUS representative for more information.
For further information, product images and specifics on the ROG, ROG Strix, Prime, WS and TUF Gaming motherboards, please check out our buyer’s guide at Edge Up ASUS. Additional images and in-depth overview of our ROG and ROG Strix motherboards is located at ASUS ROG.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Introducing the EVGA B360 Micro Gaming Motherboard


October 1st, 2018 – The EVGA B360 Micro Gaming is the discerning gamer's choice for building a powerfully affordable system. This motherboard eliminates frills and unneeded features, while still providing a solid platform capable of gaming, work, or study.

Packing tried and true features, without breaking the bank! Make the EVGA B360 Micro Gaming your next motherboard and enjoy modern performance and features for a budget-friendly price.

  • Chipset - Intel® B360 Express
  • Form Factor - mATX
  • 1x M.2 Key-E CNVi-Ready Slot For Wifi/Bluetooth
  • 1x M.2 Key-M 80mm PCIe/NVME Slot
  • 5x USB 2.0 (1x internal via front panel, 4x external)
  • 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (internal via front panel)
  • 4x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A (external)
  • Memory - 2x DIMM Dual-Channel DDR4 2667MHz (Up to 32GB)
  • SATA - 6x Native SATA 6Gb/s Ports
  • Ethernet - Intel® i219V Gigabit LAN (10/100/1000)
  • Audio - Realtek Audio (ALC888) + SV3H615 3D Headphone Amp
  • PCIe - 1 Slot x1, 1 Slot x4, 1 Slot x16

Special Features:
  • 8 Phase VRM
  • EVGA E-LEET X Tuning Utility™
  • SATA Ports Support Hot Plug
  • M.2 NVMe SSD Support
  • PCIe 3.0 Support For Low Power Consumption
  • 3x 4-Pin PWM Controlled Headers
  • 5.1 Channel HD Audio Support with EVGA Nu Audio
  • Trusted Platform Module
  • 150% Increase in CPU Gold Content

About EVGA  
EVGA is the #1 NVIDIA authorized partner in channel sales throughout North America and Latin America and a leading Power Supply Manufacturer. Based on the philosophy of intelligent innovation, market knowledge, and the real time operation, EVGA continues to identify the need in the market place and providing the solution to that need. By offering product differentiation, 24/7 tech support, a 90 day Step-Up program, and other customer focused programs, EVGA is a clear leader in all categories: etail, retail, distribution, and system integration. With headquarters in Brea, CA, EVGA’s global coverage includes EVGA GmbH in Munich, EVGA LATAM in Miami, and EVGA Hong Kong. For further information online about EVGA, visit: www.evga.com

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Legendary Klipschorn Gets Monumental Updates

INDIANAPOLIS, IND (September 19, 2018) — Klipsch®a tech-driven audio company, is pleased to announce that its legendary Klipschorn® speaker has received modern acoustic and cosmetic updates that further enhance the replication of a live music performance. The ultra-efficient Klipschorn was developed in 1946 by audio pioneer and company founder Paul W. Klipsch to enable people, for the first time ever, to experience the power, detail and emotion of a live performance at home. It is the only speaker in the world to be in continuous production for more than 70 years, and has remained relatively unchanged since its inception.

The new Klipschorn AK6 features a fully enclosed low frequency horn cabinet, offering more placement versatility in the listening room as the enclosure functions as a corner, delivering powerful bass performance and improved imaging. New 1” titanium tweeter and 90° x 40° Tractrix® horn extends the output of high frequencies beyond 20kHz. An updated passive network features premium grade AudioQuest® internal wiring.

Each Klipschorn continues to be designed and handcrafted in the USA. All-new real wood finishes options include natural cherry, satin black ash, and American Walnut to complement modern furniture. The Klipschorn loudspeakers are grain-matched using wood veneer panels from the same timber, resulting in a speaker pair that is indistinguishable from the other.

A retro-style silver luster grille cloth complements each wood veneer and features a nostalgic script “Klipschorn” cast zinc logo. The redesigned riser base, input panel, and cable management system ensure the cabinet’s clean lines.

The Klipschorn AK6 (U.S. MSRP $7,499 ea) speakers are available now at certified Klipsch Heritage retailers and at Klipsch.com. For more information on Klipschorn AK6, visit Klipsch.com.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

E.A.T Brings High-Performance Vinyl Playback Components to North American Market

E.A.T Brings High-Performance Vinyl Playback Components to North American Market

The Jo N05 moving coil cartridge, LPS dual linear power supply and Massive Weight are upgrade essentials for vinyl aficionados

(Lake Grove, NY) September 17th, 2018 – VANA, Ltd. (www.vanaltd.com), the North American distributor for fine audio products has announced the arrival of the European Audio Team (E.A.T) Jo N05 moving coil cartridge, the LPS dual linear power supply and the 800-gram Massive Weight. All three components have been engineered to help vinyl enthusiasts truly elevate the performance of their turntable.

Moving Coil Cartridge
The Jo N05 moving coil cartridge, acclaimed in recent reviews, is an ideal choice packaged with any high-performance turntable or as an upgrade or replacement cartridge. A proprietary design from E.A.T., the Jo N05 cartridge body (and stylus guard) are constructed of polyamide and are produced via an advanced manufacturing process called Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). This process results in a final structure that is virtually resonance-free and thus ideal for a phono cartridge assembly. The result is a very detailed, low distortion, natural and immersive musical presentation—the tonal signature that E.A.T. was targeting for this exceptional product. The Jo N05 features a nude stylus configuration. The E.A.T. Jo N05 moving coil cartridge is available now in an attractive limited edition Walnut demo box with an MSRP of $1395. Cartridge alone is MSRP $1295 and available in specially priced packages with E.A.T. turntables.  

Dual Linear Power Supply
The E.A.T. LPS is a single chassis solution offering dual voltage DC outputs for providing clean, stable power to many E.A.T. turntable models as well as the E-Glo S phono preamp. The LPS can simultaneously deliver both 15-volts and 18-volts via the 2.1mm, XLR 4-Pin, and 2.5mm cables that are included with the LPS. High quality bridge rectification is employed along with ultra-fast diodes and an 8800uF filtration bank to eliminate unwanted noise, and the LPS employs a fully discrete internal voltage regulator. This design results in very low noise and superior regulation, eliminating any chance of RFI interference reaching the audio path. The LPS increases speed stability on a turntable and lowers the noise floor on a phono preamp, supplying a smoother, more dynamic sound. The E.A.T. LPS is available now with either Macassar or Gloss Black end caps at an MSRP of $1295. The LPS is available in a packaged combo with the $2995 E-Glo S phono preamp at an astonishing MSRP of $3795, a savings of $495. 

Massive Weight
The 800-gram EAT Massive Record Weight delivers improved clarity at all frequencies and enhanced imaging characteristics. The E.A.T. Massive Weight is constructed from an alloy that resists unwanted resonances. The Massive Weight uses three rings of polymer compound, including where it makes contact with the LP record, similar to that deployed by E.A.T. in their turntable suspensions. The E.A.T. Massive Weight is available now with an MSRP of $195.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Image Dynamincs ID10 Ultra Low Frequency Car Subwoofer Review

When it comes to trucks, crew cabs and extended/king cabs are getting really popular. The days of single cabs are not gone, but they are few and far between. If you want extra bass, you’re limited by the space you have under the rear seat. While many will give you enough space where a true shallow mount won’t be required, you also won’t be able to get a high power sub with a huge magnet under the back seat. For those of you in this boat, you want a fairly shallow mounting sub that can still handle a decent amount of power and play sufficiently loud and deep. This desire is also had by many non-truck owners, as compact vehicles also do not have much trunk space. Up for review is the Image Dynamics ID10.

Features and specs:
Imp 2/8 ohms:                         Nominal Resistance
Re  1.8/7.2 ohms                     DC Resistance
Fs  23.2Hz                               Resonant frequency
Qes  .387                                 Electrical "Q"
Qms  3.714                              Mechanical "Q"
Qts  .35                                   Total "Q"
Vas  2.43 cuft (69 liters)         Equivalent volume
Xmax  17.0mm                       One way linear
Sd  350 cm2                            Cone area
Spl  86.5db                              Sensitivity
Pwr  250rms/450max              Power Handling

I love the design of the Image Dynamics ID10. At only 5.12” mounting depth, it is shallow enough to work in most applications. As a 10 inch driver you can get away with using it in a smaller enclosure with as little as 0.40 cubic airspace! Rated at only 250 watts RMS, it also doesn’t take a lot off power to push them. So a small sub amp that can be mounted under the front seat would work. Also, the sub channel on all 5 channel amps will be able to push it as well.

The best part I think is its frequency response. Image Dynamics actually calls it an Ultra Low Frequency Transducer. I was actually shocked by it’s specs! Most 10’s in a ported enclosure can be tuned to the low 30’s in a fairly large enclosure, or in the 40’s in a sealed enclosure. But in a 1.14 cu ft ported enclosure it will go down to 32hz, or 23hz at -3 db in car! And a 0.40 cu ft sealed will get down to 21hz in Car!! That is seriously low. While most bass is in the 50hz range, what this means that you won’t miss any of your music, no matter what style of music you listen to.

The Image Dynamics ID10 came in a nice looking color printed box, with images and specs of the subwoofer. And given it’s specs, it is definitely a subwoofer! I really liked the power range chart on the box. While it’s rated to 250 watts RMS, it looks like if you keep it under 400 watts of clean power you’ll be ok, according to the chart.

Opening the box revealed a well protected subwoofer held in custom cut out cardboard. While this is Image Dynamics entry level subwoofer, it is still Image Dynamics. This is not a entry level driver. The basket is stamped steal, but it does have some great features, like the push style terminals, sewn-in tinsel leads, poly/mica cone and santoprene surrounds. Aside from not having a cast basket, the rest of it does not look entry level. And at it’s power rating, the stamped basket works just fine.

This Image Dynamics ID10 has me very excited. As a musician, I listen to all music types, including classical. So low bass output is important to me. I like to get as close to 20 hz output as possible. That is extremely difficult, especially for a 10 inch driver. I haven’t found any other 10 inch driver with as shallow of a mounting as the ID10, that will play that deep. So we are really excited to review the Image dynamics ID10. For you truck owners, the back seat is a perfect place for a pair of ID’s. So we are reviewing a pair of ID10’s.

When it comes to performance, ported will play louder than sealed. It also tends to play deeper. But ported doesn’t have that dynamic tight impact that you get with sealed. So the Image Dynamics ID10 in a sealed enclosure will give you the dynamic tight bass, and also give you the ultra deep base. And reviewing two subs, should give the output of a single ported subwoofer. So let’s now see how they perform.

I started things out on our test bench with some sine waves.  We used a sealed enclosure with .82cu ft per sub.  Even without any cabin gain, we had some great output, especially at its recommended 250-350 watts RMS.  We pushed things just a tad and fed 400 watts RMS to each sub.  And on the bench we measured frequency response down to 20hz at -3db, with output up to 108db measured at about 1 meter.  For a 10 inch driver in a sealed enclosure....very impressive!  Now it's time for the music.

I turned things real deep right out of the gate with Also Sprach Zarathustra.  This is the popular track from 2001 A Space Odyssey.  The low rumble at the beginning of the  track was really clean, well sustained, and the cone was well controlled by the motor.  And it played not only really really deep, but also played with very good authority.

Next up was New Order: Blue Monday.  As expected from a sealed enclosure, the quick beats at the very beginning was very quick, clean without skipping a beat, or having a hint of muddiness.  They also were nice and tight with very good impact.  Next the beats got some added depth, and the ID10's continued to impress with the low end extending.  The bass was still nice and clean, and played loud with good authority.

Now it was time for another great bass track, Katy Perry: Dark Horse.  Here the bass was even deeper.  Yet the ID10's played really clean, with very deep extension, and smooth bass.  And they hit really hard. 

Last but not least was one of my all-time old school favorites, Techmaster PB: Activate, and Time To Jam. These tracks can cause fits due to the deep base and high output.  As we expected, the Image Dynamic ID10's continued to impress.  Beats were quick, clean, and not a hint of muddiness.  The beats not only were really deep, but they hit hard and played with very good authority. It's just the kind of quality bass that I love to hear.

I had to keep reminding myself that I was only pushing 400 watts to each subwoofer.  Of course it did not have the kind of bone rattling output that a massive power handling sub, like the 1000 watt RMS IDMAX10.  But they still played better than expected for the power they were given.  Output however is only part of the equation.  Sound quality is also important, and Image Dynamics has you covered here as well.  Not only did they play loud for the power given, they were also very musical as well!  And that's probably the best compliment you can give a sub.  Based on their design, features, quality, and performance, the Image Dynamics ID10 has earned our Highly Recommended Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.imagedynamics.net.  

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Monday, September 3, 2018

Massive Audio Boom 88 Powered 8 Inch Car Subwoofer Review

I love car stereo. And I’m a bit of a bass head. I grow up using dual 12’s in my car. Not only did my whole car shake, but people heard me coming down the street. I have since converted to 10’s. I no longer want people to hear me coming, or know what I have. But that much bass isn’t for most people. Factory car stereo systems have come a long way. But they still don’t have much bass.

For many, they may think that extra bass, more than what came with the factory radio is not needed. I agree that a ton of bass isn’t for everyone. But look at it this way; imagine going to a movie theater to watch a movie, and the subwoofers were not working. The whole experience would be lacking. Bass does add to the experience. For those who don’t need or want a lot of bass, but want to add to your music enjoyment. There is a simple solution. Enter the Massive Audio Boom 88.

Features and specs:
  • 8" driver
  • 4 Ohm 400 Watts Max Power
  • 200w x 1 RMS
  • 0 - 12dB @50Hz
  • 250mVrms ~9mVrms
  • 50Hz~150Hz @-3dB
  • Class A/B Built-In Amplifier
  • Built-In OEM Hi Level Inputs
  • Heavy Duty Aluminum Heatsink
  • Hi-Fi Capactior Filters for Cleaner Sound Reproduction
  • Variable Low Pass Crossover: 50Hz ~ 150Hz @ -3dB
  • Ground Loop Isolator
  • Reverse Voltage & Over Voltage 5 Way Protection
  • 13.4" x 9.8" x 2.8"
The Massive Audio Boom 88 came in a nice black box with features and specs printed on the box. Opening the box revealed a well protected subwoofer sitting well protected in custom cut out Styrofoam. Pulling out the Massive Audio Boom 88, I was very impressed. Materials used in the construction was mostly aluminum with some plastic on the controls. Quality of materials used as well as the quality of construction is very good. And it felt very solid in hand. Also included is the owners manual, mounting screws and bass remote.

I love the design of the Massive Audio Boom 88. All of the connections and controls are on one side, the all aluminum design is well made. With the built-in OEM Hi-level inputs, it's simple to splice into your factory wires if you don't want to have to deal with the RCA's. And I love the brushed aluminum top plate. The sides are ribbed for cooling and the woofer is top facing. And with a power rating of 200 watts RMS, 400 watts max. That’s a good amount of power for an 8 inch sub. It has the makings for great performance. Let’s see how it actually sounds.

AC/DC Back in Black: Kick drum had nice low end extension and a very nice punch. It played nice and deep, with good authority.

New Order-Blue Monday : The beats really shined! In the intro, they were very quick, hit like a hammer, and were both dynamic and really crisp and clean with great pitch definition, and spot on with out missing any beats or any signs of muddiness. The following beats really extended the depth, and still played really clean and with lots of authority and impact.

Techmaster PB – Activate: the bass here pushed it ot it’s limits, but it still preformed well. Bass beats were extended, played very deep, but still played with good authority and just a little bit of muddiness. This track is brutal on standard subwoofers, but the Massive Audio Boom 88 hung in there and played nice output and depth, moreso than I expected.

I must say I was more impressed with the Massive Audio Boom 88. I’ve never been interested in the small under seat powered sub. I knew I would want more. But Massive Audio takes that design…massive! The Massive Audio Boom 88 performed much better than expected. It filled the vehicle with nice low end extension. It wasn’t bone rattling, but it did the job. For someone like me, it’s perfect to put in the family car, so I can enjoy some bass when driving that vehicle. My wife, also a musician, loves it. It provides some nice low end bass, but isn’t too much. If this is how you like your bass, go now. The price is currently only $100 on Amazon! It would be a good deal at $200. Based on it’s design, features, quality and performance, the Massive Audio Boom 88 has earned our Highly Recommended Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.massiveaudio.com. Reference gear used: Kenwood Reference Series DDX9905S, Audio Control DM-810 Processor, JL Audio 6 channel amp,  German Maestro 3-way component speaker system. And I think Ferris Bueller said it best after the end credit of that movie; “You’re still here? ..... Go.” For only $100, go, and buy it now! Here's the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FC599BB.

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Audio Enhancers NTX165 2004-2018 Nissan Titan Dual 10 Inch Subwoofer Enclosure Review

Pick-up trucks are getting more and more popular it seems. And I can understand why. They do provide a lot of functionality with the truck bed. And with crew cabs or extended/King cabs, you get the seating capacities of cars. But with no trunk, those bass lovers are limited to under the back seat for your subwoofer. The key is finding an enclosure designed for your truck; that will also maximize the space available to give maximum airspace for your subs. Enter Audio Enhancers with their NXT165.

Features and specs:
♦Dual 10" Subwoofer Box
*Will Not Hold a 12" Subwoofer
♦Down Firing Enclosure
♦Platinum Spring Loaded Terminal
♦100% American-made GREEN enclosure
Installation: Fits under rear seat. Will not interfere with the use of the back seat.
Front H
Rear H
10 3/4"
8 1/2"
6 3/4"


The Audio Enhancers NXT165 came in a standard brown cardboard box. Being an enclosure, there was no padding. It is a pretty durable enclosure. Taking it out of the box showed a well made enclosure. Only one corner was just slightly damaged due to shipping, being squished a little, maybe due to being dropped, but it was fine. Materials used in the construction was 5/8” MDF, carpet, glue, paint and long staples. Quality of materials used was very good, as well as the fit and finish. It was a well made enclosure.

Being the son of a cabinet maker, I have received some education on woodworking. Upon inspecting the enclosure, I was able to see that it was well made, the wood cuts were precision cuts. Assembly was done with both glue and long staples, to ensure a tight seal for a sealed enclosure. The carpet was well done with perfect coverage and clean cuts. The platinum spring terminals are also of premium quality.

All of the measurements were…mostly correct. The woofer cut-outs were correct, as were the front and rear heights. The depth however per specs was 10 3/4 “, but was actually 11 3/4”. The vehicle used is a 2017 Nissan Titan King Cab 4x4. I can’t speak for the previous years before the redesign, but it fit even though it ended up being 1 inch deeper. I was able to slide it back a tad, so it still didn’t stick out from under the seat. So it still works for my vehicle, no problem. I spoke to the manufacturer, and confirmed that it was a typo, and the 11 3/4" is corrected.  So it made sense that it still fit under the seat.

The specs also show a driver mounding depth of 6 3/4 “. The front is taller then the back. So while the front is 7” deep, the rear is only 5 5/8” deep. The middle of the cut out was right at 6 ¼”. So depending on the size of your driver’s magnet, the enclosure could handle up to a 6 1/8”, maybe 5 ¾: if it has a wide magnet.  Seeing that the front of the seat was taller than the rear of the seat, I was glad to see that Audio Enhancers included the front height and rear height of the enclosure, that way I could make sure it would fit. Other manufacturers didn't do that, so there was no way to make sure it would fit before it was received.  The Audio Enhancers NTX165 had the most airspace of boxes for the Nissan Titan that I could find, and it also gave specific front and rear measurements so you know it will fit. If you are looking for a subwoofer system for your Titan, I would get the box first, and then find a sub to fit.

I loved the down firing design. I would have preferred to see the end wood pieces extend down to function as legs, but the included 4 rubber feet work, and give a 1 ¼” clearance for the woofer mount and excursion. But with the flexibility of the truck floors carpet, I would suggest you also use speaker grills. The feet push the carpet down, but the carpet can come back up. The good news is Audio Enhancers also offers a 10” speaker grill model BBAR10, which would work perfectly. And it can be found for around only $20.

The Audio Enhancers NTX165 is a great subwoofer box. It’s well made of great quality components. A couple of the measurements were a little off, but it still fit great under the rear seat of my 2017 Nissan Titan King Cab 4x4. And it still sat completely under my rear seat. I also loved the fact that it is a 100% American made green enclosure. And they have a larger air space per driver than other competitors that I've seen. Being able to find it online for under $200, including shipping is a bargain. Based on their design, features, quality and performance, they have earned our Highly Recommended Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.AudioEnhancers.com.

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Westone Elite Series ES80 Custom In Ear Monitor Review

Westone has been doing audio products for over 50 years. All of this experience has provided some extensive know how in creating excellent products. The best of which is their Elite Series. They have a new eight driver IEM design, and their best of the best is the custom version which is their new flagship model, the Westone ES80. MSRP starts at $1,899, before any customization.  After customization the review model came to $2,187. 

Features and specs:
·         Westone Custom-Fit Technology
Fully custom earpieces are cast, sculpted, and polished by hand from actual impressions of your ears, resulting in the best fit and acoustic seal possible.
·         Balanced Armature
Westone’s proprietary balanced-armature drivers provide enhanced sonic detail and frequency range that extends well beyond typical in-ear solutions.
·         Flex Canal
This body temperature reactive material provides increased comfort and acoustic seal.
·         Cold Pour Acrylic
Earpiece shells are cold-poured in acrylic for a thicker, more robust acoustic enclosure. This process increases durability and provides a more luxurious appearance.
·         Deep Open Bore
The Deep Open Bore design provides a smoother transition between the monitor mix and the ambient sound and also increases comfort and acoustic seal.
·         Precise Acoustic Symmetry
Left and right earpiece responses are matched to an extraordinarily tight +/-2 dB tolerance.
·         Replaceable MMCX Audio™ Cable
Durable, supple, light-weight cable features low resistance and minimal cable noise.
·         Designed and Hand-crafted in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
All of Westone’s products are meticulously assembled by a staff of dedicated artisans and lab technicians.
·         Sensitivity: 111 dB @ 1 mW

·         Frequency Response: 5 Hz - 22 kHz      
·         Impedance: 80 ohms  
·         Passive Noise Attenuation: Over 25dB  
·         Driver: Eight, Balanced-Armature Drivers, with a 3-way Crossover     
·         Cable: Replaceable MMCX Audio ™ Cable, 52”/128 cm    
·         In the Box: Monitor Vault III, desiccant, cleaning cloth, cleaning tool, Oto-Ease™, Owner’s Manual, and 2-year warranty          

·         Warranty: 2-year warrany.

The Westone ES80 came shipped in an excellent water resistant plastic case. On the front of the case is a custom printed label with the Westone logo, my name, serial number, and manufacture date. Opening the case showed off the excellent Westone E580’s sitting in cut-out foam molding. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some metal. Quality of materials used was excellent, as was the fit and finish. It’s their top of the line product and it shows. Also included was the owner’s manual, a cloth carry case, cleaning tool, a tube of oto-ease, a microfiber cleaning cloth, and an extra cable. 

I love the design of the new Westone ES80. The body is made of hard acrylic for durability, and the bottom section that actually goes into the ear cable is actually a silicone, so it got a little softer as it warms up, to give you more comfort and a better seal. The tuning has also changed to a more audiophile neutral sound. And there’s something about having custom IEM’s that are made custom fit to your ears. It is just so cool. It reminds me of the scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, where he’s talking about the Ferrari. I think Ferris said it best, “It is so choice.  If you have means, I highly recommend it.” The same is true of the Westone ES80.
Ordering the Westone ES80 was simple. There are tons of options in styles, colors and face plates. I opted for the silver, and pacifica face plate. The silver looks like pieces of silver in the body, and the pacificalooks like a shell. Very cool looking. Once you decide on the look, you print out your design, and find an audiologist. Westone has an extensive list that they work with. Print out your design, pay for it, and bring your design sheet with you to the audiologist, who will ship your design to Westone along with the ear impressions. And Westone’s website also walks you through the whole process. Once they are built in Westone’s facility in Colorado, they get shipped to you. Now let’s see how they sound.

Eric Bibb: Why are People Like That-Vocals were so silky smooth like honey, and the texture and timbre are excellent. Piano sounded very natural. Bass had excellent depth and played with excellent authority. Percussion was crisp and clean with excellent impact. And dynamics that had to be heard to be believed. Harmonica also so clean with excellent dynamics. Soundstage had good depth and really wide.  Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue-Clarinet was silky smooth with excellent resolution to hear the woodiness of the reed and tonguing technique. Piano was extremely natural sounding, very dynamic, provided excellent low level harmonics. Bassoon had excellent midbass extension and texture. Brass was smooth, extremely dynamic without being edgy, and not too brassy. Imaging was spot on, and the soundstage was both deep and wide.  Earth, Wind and Fire; Let’s Groove-Vocals were as smooth as a Dove chocolate bar, with excellent resolution of the texture and timbre. I felt like I was right there in the recording studio. The realism was just bananas. Bass was good and full, with great impact and authority. Percussion was crisp and clean with good dynamics. Claps were also crisp and very dynamic. Imaging was spot on. Soundstage was deep and very wide.  Katy Perry; Dark Horse-Vocals were so silky smooth, with excellent resolution of the texture and timbre. Bass was very deep, really clean, and hit like a sledge hammer with excellent output. Claps were also really crisp and dynamic.

Just when I thought the sound couldn’t get any better from a pair of in ear monitors, it did with the Westone Elite Series ES80. Using eight drivers, four of which are for the highs, I would have expected the sound to be overly bright. But the sound is actually neutral, and the realism and resolution is bananas!! It has to be heard to be believed! Based on their design features, quality, and performance, the Westone Elite Series ES80 has earned our Editor's Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.westone.com.

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