Hark! These Herald Headphones Sing
Editor's Note: Gary Krakow is an award-winning journalist whose columns help feed his personal passion for playing with gadgets of all types, shapes and sizes. Today we bring you part two of Gary's high-end holiday buying guide. Stay tuned to this space for more and click here for part one and here for part two.
There are many ways to make your portable music listening experience more enjoyable.
The first step is larger music files. You wouldn't settle for low-definition television -- why not high-definition audio too? The best sound comes from large WAV files (true CD quality). The problem with these uncompressed files is that you can't fit nearly as many tunes on your portable device.
The stuff you usually buy via the online music services is a compromise between near-CD sound quality and small file size. The smaller the files, the worse it sounds, but the more songs you can fit on your portable device.Some services give you a choice of small files or slightly larger ones with better-quality sound. It's still a compromise, but make sure you opt for those larger files whenever you can. The other way to get more from your music is to replace those "free" headphones that come with your player and buy a good pair. My favorite "portables" are actually among the least portable headphones on the market. The Stax SRM-001 Mk 2 has a long name and high price: $325. These portables reside at the bottom of Stax's headphone line -- the company also makes non-portable headphones that sell for as much as $3,900! The 001s come with a separate battery/AC-operated driver unit that supplies the proper voltages for the electrostatic elements inside (no woofers or tweeters). That means there's a separate small box to carry around in addition to your portable player and the earphones. Not the most portable solution around. On the other hand, the 001s are capable of providing some of the best-sounding portable music on the planet. Great bass, smooth midrange and extended highs. If you own a hard drive-based portable music player, you should try to audition the Stax to hear what your music really sounds like.
|Photo: Audioengine USA|
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