TNT-Audio was one of the first to extoll the virtues of a tiny
plastic-case 15w battery-powered stereo digital amp, saying its sound
rivaled expensive high-end amps from Naim and Mark Levinson. First
introduced with no fanfare two years ago, it is now the big buzz at
audio forums and the audio underground. One reviewer called it the most
amazing audio product in 25 years. The T-Amp was originally designed to
power some small cardboard NXT panel speakers to attach to laptops and
as a sort of “toy” amp. It employs the lowest-end chip from Tripath
Technology, has only a single mini input jack, primitive speaker
terminals and requires efficient speakers. Any 12v wall wart can be
used to bypass the battery operation. Some audio buffs are selling
$5000 amps because they feel the T-Amp sounds better. The underground
buzz has now boldly surfaced with a feature in the upcoming Forbes
magazine titled “Cheap Beats.” The unit’s manufacturer – Sonic Impact –
is not increasing production to meet the demand because they realize
anyone can get the Tripath chips and rush out a copy. But they are
planning a MK II version in a metal case with improved speaker
connectors for $139, as well as a later 50w version.
B.B. King Named Living Legend – Blues great B.B. King was
recently presented with a Living Legend medal from the Library of
Congress for his achievements as a musician and ambassador for the
blues. The awards began five years ago o honor Americans whose creative
contributions to American life have made them living legends. Other
recipients of the award have included Dave Brubeck, Harry Belafonte,
Benny Carter, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Leontyne Price and Pete Seeger.
Young People/Old Ears – The huge popularity of portable music
players and other gadgets such as cell phones which attach directly to
the ears, are contributing to serious hearing loss in younger people.
Purdue University’s Director of Clinical Education in Audiology reports
“It’s a different level of use than we’ve seen in the past…becoming
more of a full-day listening experience, as opposed to just when you’re
jogging.” Novak now sees too many younger people with “older ears on
younger bodies.” His research group has found a growing incidence
of what is called noise-induced hearing loss – the inability to hear
high frequencies, and occasional ear-ringing or trouble following
conversations when in noisy environments.
Hearing specialists are seeing more people in their 30s and 40s
suffering tinnitus – internal ringing, whooshing or buzzing sound in
the ears. Causes of hearing loss can include attending loud concerts
and clubs, using firearms or loud power tools, and even recreational
vehicles. Many people are wearing headphones not just to enjoy music
but to block out ambient noise on planes, buses, or just the street.
With rechargeable batteries in iPods and similar devices now lasting
longer, people are listening longer. A survey from Australia’s National
Acoustic Laboratories found that 25% of people using portable stereos
had daily noise exposures high enough to cause hearing damage. Experts
recommend standing away from speakers and using ear plugs for hearing
protection when using any loud machinery. The Hearing Education and
Awareness for Rockers group promotes hearing protection and hands out
ear plugs. The hope is to get people to wear ear plugs the same way
they wear their seat belts or bike helmets.
***Visit Dangerous Decibels – a Flash-powered web exhibit mounted by a partnership of Oregon educational groups to demonstrate dangerous levels of sound.