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Audio Accessory Reviews

Gefen HDMI Detective Plus

Gefen HDMI Detective Plus I caught the HTPC bug sometime back and went about building one after receiving component recommendations from Sandy Bird, one of our Senior Editors. The installation went smoothly. Then, one day I encountered an issue I had not seen before. Switching the source input from the HTPC to some other source, such as my DVR, and then back to the HTPC would sometimes give a small 800x600 window centered on the display. The output was no longer 1080p, the resolution I started out with.


Centronics DHCT5 Cat 5 HDMI Extender

centronics-dhct5-hdmi-extender-teaser For those of us who need to get a high definition program that is stored or being broadcast from a satellite or cable receiver in one room to an HDTV in another room that may be at the other end of the house, simply using a long HDMI cable won't work due to signal loss. However, several manufacturers are now producing HDMI extenders that use Cat 5 (or Cat 6 if you like) cable. Some that I took a look at but chose not to review needed two Cat 5 cables, so I waited. Now, Centronics offers an extender that requires only one Cat 5 cable and will send 1080p up to 100 feet from the source to your HDTV. You plug a short HDMI cable from your satellite box into the Centronics transmitter and another short HDMI cable into the receiver and HDTV at the other end. Custom installers take note: You will want to have a couple of these in your van when you start on a project.


Ultrasone Pro 900 Over-the-Ear Headphones

Ultrasone Pro 900 HeadphonesRecently, I have started to put more of a focus on using headphones in my office instead of speakers. I enjoy listening to music while working, but my cubicle neighbors don't necessarily appreciate the same type of music that I prefer. When a pair of  Ultrasone Pro 900 headphones became available for review, I obtained them to see how they would work in my setup and how they compare to my current reference headphones, the AKG K701's.


Monster PowerNet 200 and 300 Kits for Audio and Video Streaming Through Your House AC Wiring

Monster PowerNet Kit Two years ago, there wasn't a single device in my home theater that required an internet connection. Speed ahead to today, however, and my home theater now needs more internet connections than the rest of my household. Two BD Live Blu-ray Players, a DLNA Receiver, a PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, Tivo HD, and a plasma with Internet Widgets all want to be online for either content downloads, media streaming, firmware upgrades, or more, and many of these require a lot of bandwidth to work well. Monster Cable's PowerNet 200 and 300 packages allow you to connect your music and video server to your hi-fi system in another part of the house by using the household AC wiring.


Benchmark ADC1 USB Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC)

Benchmark ADC1 USB

The pro-audio company Benchmark has a firm foothold in the audiophile world with their digital to analog converter/headphone amp the DAC1 and DAC1 USB. These have been universally well reviewed, including here at Secrets, and I've been able to listen to them myself, and I concur with the positive reports.


NextGen Twister 360 Degree HDMI Connector

twister-hdmi-360-teaser For those of us who use A/V equipment with HDMI jacks, we all have experienced issues with the cable being forced to bend at stressful angles to go to the next piece of equipment in the signal path. NextGen has solved this difficulty with the Twister, which is an HDMI jack and plug, connected together using a 3600 ball joint.


Sennheiser HD 238 Precision High Resolution Stereo Headphones

Sennheiser HD 238 Precision High Resolution Stereo HeadphonesLet me start this review by getting a few things clear: I am not, or was not anyway, what I would consider a true audiophile. I also am not (or was not) much of a headphone user. All this changed when I got the chance to spend a couple months with the Sennheiser HD 238 Stereo Headphones. Have you ever had a toy or product that just made you giddy every time you got to use it, and you ended up loosing track of time because it was so enjoyable? The HD 238s have been that for me.


Sennheiser HD-800 Headphones

Sennheiser HD-800 Headphones 2009 is a good time to be a headphone fan. The supply of high-end headphones is exploding. At the head of the pack is the new Sennheiser HD-800. This is a cost-no-object assault on the state of the art in headphone listening. They are more than twice as expensive as Sennheiser’s previous top of the line, the HD-650.


The Synergistic Research ACOUSTIC ART Real-Time Analogue Room Treatment

ACOUSTIC ART SYSTEMVibratron, Gravitron, Magnetron, and Bass Station: the sci-fi names alone are enough to raise eyebrows. But when you add in the fantastic appearance of the resonating bowls, and the claims that they can tune your listening room and ameliorate most commonly encountered speaker-room interactions, it’s hard not to think that someone is either toying with you or daring you to entertain a new paradigm of acoustic science.


PS Audio Power Plant Premier Power Regenerator

PS Audio Power Plant Premier Power RegeneratorThe PS Audio Power Plant Premier (PPP), the company’s latest version of the Power Plant P300 that company head Paul McGowan first introduced in 1997, is a true power regenerator. The PPP takes "dirty" and variable AC power from the wall socket, converts it to DC voltage, and then regenerates a new AC sine wave signal at 120 volts. It also serves as a surge protector and all-around power distribution system.


Cambridge Audio DacMagic


Cambridge Audio has come up with a product that has wowed everyone: the DacMagic. For $479, you get a DAC that is fully differential (a stereo DAC on each of the two channels), upsampling to 24/192, very low specified distortion, and selectable output filters. Does it perform as claimed? Read our review to see for yourself.