Amazing sound for audiophiles
Pure Contour i200 Air
The Pure Contour i200 Air, which costs £199.99, is compatible with Apple’s AirPlay technology so will support wireless streaming from iOS devices as well as Macs and Windows-based PCs. It includes a dock for iOS devices, connects to networks via Wi-Fi or ethernet and is capable of producing 36W RMS.
“Some day we’ll wonder why we ever had to physically connect devices, and Apple AirPlay is leading that behavioural sea change,” said Colin Crawford, director of marketing at Pure. “There is nothing to beat the convenience of sitting back in your armchair to control your music collection with your iPad or iPhone, while the music itself is played beautifully and powerfully by the Contour Air i200.”
The Contour Air i200 is compatible with the Pure Lounge apps and the Pure Music on-demand music and internet radio service. www.pure.com
Griffin Technology has unveiled its new Twenty audio amplifier. The device uses Airport Express to allow connected speakers to play Apple Lossless-encoded music wirelessly from any AirPlay-enabled iOS device or Mac. It can be used with most speakers, and is called the Twenty because it’s rated at 20W per channel. A fibre-optic cable is included, which Griffin says will give out the best sound possible if connected to the Airport Express’s S/PIDF optical output. www.griffintechnology.com
For audiophiles with a spare $30,000 (about £19,500) this new iPod dock pumps out so much bass it’ll make your insides shake.
The iNuke from Behringer measures a massive 8ftx4ftx4ft, and weighs 400kg.
The iNuke has dual 18in subwoofers at 3,000W each. “You can run this thing off two 15A residential circuits,” said Costa Lakoumentas of Behringer.
To avoid blowing a fuse, when the iNuke is turned on it powers up the components in a sequence. There’s also a switch on the back of the unit to add 12 decibels of extra power.
Lakomentas said there are “a couple” of preorders for the massive unit, despite its high price. “For someone who has the space and is willing to invest, they get a sound system that is equivalent to the finest club or concert.”
For those not looking to spend the cash, Behringer has made a much smaller dock that retails for $99. www.behringer.com
Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12
Bang & Olufsen has announced a more affordable AirPlay wireless speaker than the Behringer. Reminiscent of an old Apple Mac G5, the aluminium Beolit 12 houses a pair of 2in tweeters and a 4in woofer. The Apple styling is far from coincidental, as the Beolit 12 is AirPlay-compatible.
The speaker can be either mains- or battery-powered. Expect to be able to enjoy your audio favourites for up to eight hours before you need to recharge; half that if you’re running AirPlay or cranking up the volume: it has a 120W Class D amplifier.
Ethernet and USB ports are included as alternative means of porting audio. The B&O Beoplay range will be sold in B&O shops and select Apple Stores.
The Beolit 12 is on preorder at some UK audio specialists and looks set to cost £599. Several colour options will be offered, while a leather carry strap makes it easy to transport. The Beolit name was originally used by Bang & Olufsen for its portable transistor radios in the 1960s. www.beoplay.com
Be nice to your ears
Skullcandy Mix Master
Skullcandy’s stand at CES 2012 was festooned with the company’s new DJ-focused Mix Master headphones, a set it worked with Mix Master Mike of the Beastie Boys to produce.
The audio quality – based on a technology which the company refers to as Supreme Sound – has been tweaked in an effort to improve bass, vocals and highs.
The cable is detachable, allowing you to replace only this bit if it degrades, and Skullcandy bundles the headphones with two cables: a DJ’s coiled cable and a straight cable with an inline mic and three-button remote that’s compatible with iOS.
There are ‘ambidextrous’ cable inputs – in other words, you can plug it in on either side of the headphones – and you can daisy-chain a second pair of headphones.
And if you’re DJing with one cup clapped to the side of your head? Skullcandy has built a switch into both cups of the headphones so that when it’s twisted around, the sound flips into mono and you don’t miss a beat.
We’re not sure what degree of involvement Mix Master Mike actually had in the design of the headphones. But this sort of lateral thinking sounds like what might happen if you got the people who were going to use a product to help design it.
The Mix Master set will retail for $249, or $349 in a vibrant design by the artist Andy Howell. They’ll be in the UK soon. uk.skullcandy.com
Scosche Realm RH656md
Scosche’s new Realm RH656md on-ears impressed us with a strong, rich bass – the headphones are based on 40mm drivers – and a comfortable fit. They’re also nicely light. The Realm RH656md will cost $129 in the US; Scosche weren’t able to tell us a UK price, but assured us the headphones will launch here about a week after their Stateside launch, and distributed through Computers Unlimited. www.scosche.com
Sennheiser HD 700
Sennheiser used CES 2012 to announce several additions to its line of high-end audiophile headphones. Leading the way at an audiophile-only €699 is the HD 700. (Although in fact that price represents something of a reduction compared to the top-end HD 800 headphones these are modelled on; these are their little brother.)
The HD 700 have an open, stainless-steel gauze design and an angled cup that’s designed to ensure a more realistic sound. The headband, meanwhile, is constructed from multi-layer steel and plastic, which we’re told reduces distortions in the sound you hear. The headphones have a 40mm Duofol transducer, and a frequency response of 10-42,000Hz.
Regardless of the theory, the HD 700 pair we tried were quite astonishingly warm, rich and realistic, not to mention wonderfully comfortable; but then, when you’re paying that sort of money you’d hope so. www.sennheiser.co.uk
Headphone maker Etymotic has a new range of earphones for children: the Ety-Kids line. We tested them out, and the odd thing is that they don’t noticeably reduce volume; we still found it painful to ramp it up to the maximum. But Etymotic insisted that even at this painful maximum volume, the earphones would be safe for a child to use for four hours per day.
The Ety-Kids earphones work by reducing sensitivity rather than electronically limiting the volume. And this means the sound quality isn’t degraded. There are two pairs available, the Ety-Kids 5 and the Ety-Kids 3, but the only difference is that the 3 has a three-button inline remote.
The Ety-Kids 5 are available now in the UK – Amazon has them for £44.20 (for Ripoff Britain-type comparison, the US price for these is $49). The Ety-Kids 3 are expected to launch in the UK in late January, and currently cost $79 in the US. www.etymotic.com