Asus Xonar U7 USB DAC + Headphone Amp – Asustek Computer has announced their compact Xonar U7 USB external audio processor and high-end headphone amp, offering 114dB SNR audio with USB convenience. It has Dolby Home Theater V4 support, a dedicated mic and volume controls and requires no separate power supply. It uses the Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC, offers 7.1-channel performance, and will handle up to 192K/24-bit HD audio. A switch selects between headphone output and speakers. A S/PDIF output means you can also hook it up to your home audio system. While slanted at computer gamers who prefer headphone use to speakers, it should appeal to others as well. A previous soundcard-only unit is $226 at Amazon, but pricing of the new standalone unit has not yet been announced.
Marantz SR Series of Home Theater Receivers – Three new network models have been introduced this month—all equipped with proprietary Marantz Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Module technology and current-feedback circuitry. Other upgrades include improved speaker terminals and enhanced, user-friendly setup and operational assistance, dual discrete HDMI matrix outputs and D-A conversion for multizone playback. The top of the three AVR upgrades from 7 to 9 channels of amplification and has Audyssey MultiEQ XT32 and Sub EGHT. All three models feature Apple’s Air Play, allowing users to stream their iTunes as well as music stored on their iPhone, iPad or iPad Touch. Plus streaming music from sources such as Pandora, Spotify and SiriusXM. All three also provide 4K Ultra HD scaling and pass-thru. SRPs are: SR5008—$899; SR6008—$1199; SR7008—$1999.
dbx-tv – is a technology from THAT Corporation designed for inclusion in HDTVs. It incorporates volume leveling, dynamic EQ, clipping prevention and other algorithms. You can hear a demo of the volume leveling portion at www.dbx-tv. Their Total Cal system will determine the optimum settings for the amps and speakers in a given model HDTV, and then encode those values into the model’s firmware. All those models thereafter will be optimized. The idea is to get the most out of an HDTV’s audio section, even if the owner foolishly expects to use only its built-in audio system.
Play LPs Without a Turntable! – Stokyo World offers their $100 Soundwagon, which is a miniaturized ‘70s-style VW bus which fits in your hand. It drives around the LP on a flat desk, tracking the groove with a stylus and playing the music—sort of. (It sounds terrible, of course.)
Obama Issues Orders Against Patent Trolls – President Obama has issued five executive orders and seven legislative suggestions aimed at controlling patent trolls who harass innovators with frivolous litigation. The actions are specifically taken against Patent Assertion Entities who have ruined some American businesses who have done nothing wrong.
Tivoli Offers Leather-Bound Portable Radios – Tivoli Audio has teamed with leather-goods maker Coach to offer limited-edition leather or lizard-wrapped version of their APL BT Bluetooth-equipped portable FM/AM radios. They come in four colors and are $348, except for the genuine lizard-wrapped model which is $1000.