With mobile devices now being the hub of many people’s digital music collections a reliable and high quality way to wirelessly transmit that music to a hi-fi or home theatre system is something to consider. Bluetooth is an obvious option but there are a couple of stumbling blocks. Firstly Bluetooth transmission can make audio files sound really crummy and secondly most Hi-Fis, powered speakers and HTS rigs don’t have a Bluetooth radio. If you have deep pockets Arcam has an answer to both those problems.
Fancy one-box iPad docks are all well and good but if you are like me and your master music library sits on your laptop and you spend more time listening to your tunes while typing away on your keyboard than while doing just about anything else then it makes sense to pay some attention to your PC’s audio setup. It’s with this in mind that British audio specialist Mission Audio is launching its new WS100 PC wireless speakers.
Multi-room wireless audio is without a shadow of a doubt a very convenient thing to have but it is also rather expensive. Sonos for example make some lovely boxes that will radiate your music collection throughout your home in superb quality but you do need rather deep pockets. Wireless music player and DAB radio wallahs Pure are now offering a more cost effective solution aimed at those of us who buy our home furnishings at Ikea rather than Harrods.
The Humax DTR-1000 heralds the arrival albeit nearly two years late of YouView (or Project Canvas as it was previously known) a multi-broadcaster initiative designed to give people using Freeview the same sort of unified viewing experience of combined catch-up and live TV that Virgin and Sky customers get from their subscription services but without the wallet-lightening monthly payment.
Some people will look at you as though you have taken leave of your senses when you tell them you’ve spent more than twice as much on a surround sound system as you have on a new telly but they’d be quite wrong. The eye and the imagination can make up for visual failings but the ears only pass on what’s hitting them. If you really want a cinema experience and have around four grand to spend I’d suggest splitting it 2:1 in favour of the audio. And the sound system I have in mind is Jamo’s new THX Ultra 2 certified D600.
People will tell you that the day of the personal media player or PMP is over, that from the iPod Touch to the latest Sony Walkmans they are a dying breed, all but killed off by the rise of the smartphone. But it’s not quite that simple. What I have here is the new Z2 from Korean audio specialists Cowon. If you want one it will set you back £250 which I grant you is a lot, but as we shall see it sounds better than just about any other portable media player or phone, will play each and every format and codec known to man and comes with 32GB of storage. If you want a phone with that sort of space of your audio and video files you are looking at paying out almost twice as much.
One of the most common tech questions I get asked by friends is “What’s the best good, huge but affordable smart telly?” Previously that was a hard one to answer there being so many options but now Samsung has simplified things by launching a 46 inch connected LED TV which if you hunt around can be picked up for less than £600 which isn’t at all bad for an all-singing, all-dancing monster TV.
Smart TVs are all well and good, but if you are one of the millions who already has a perfectly good HD telly in the lounge do you really need to splash another £600 just to move from dumb to smart? In a word no because Sony has you covered with a handy little box that will set you back less than £100 and will turn any TV it’s hooked up to into one that’s as smart as a button and that does everything a new top-end connected Bravia TV will do. And don’t forget Sony’s Bravias are some of the best clever tellys about.
Valves in an iPod dock? And one made by Samsung rather than handcrafted by a firm of British audiophiles in a small light industrial unit in deepest Shropshire? Strangely the answer to both questions is yes. And those are not even the two most important features of the new DA-E750. It also has a unique combined Apple/MicroUSB dock, is better connected than Henry Kissinger and must be one of the most beautiful bits of domestic Hi-Fi that I’ve laid eyes on in many a year.
Pure’s Contour range of iPod docks has been around for a while now but the 200i Air is the first to feature Apple's lossless AirPlay technology which means as well as simply docking your iPhone, iPod or iPad you can stream your music over your WiFi network from any iOS device or from any PC or Mac running iTunes. And thanks to a dedicated Pure app that you can download free from the App Store it has quite a few other tricks up its sleeve. Of course this does mean it’s aimed squarely at iDevice and iTunes users, so if you're not one of those you can probably stop reading right about now.
Apple’s iDevices have a lot going for them, not least convenience but when it comes to sound quality it’s a different matter thanks to Apple’s use of DACs - Digital to Analogue Converters - that at best can only be described as adequate. A cheap and nasty DAC can result in a shallow, brittle and generally tiresome sound. A good DAC can have the opposite effect, making even a grotty 128k lossless audio file sound almost CD-like.