At the most subjective level, headphone amplifiers might make a pair of headphones sound louder at lower volume levels. More specifically, a headphone amplifier does much more to the physics of a headphone’s drivers than simply produce more sound. Most importantly, a headphone amplifier gives the drivers the power necessary to control its motions in a precise manner and thus increase the quality of a headphone’s sound reproduction.
Portable Headphone Amplifier Solutions
The AKG K240 MKII
For music lovers seeking to ditch the white buds, it is important that the headphones are adequately matched to an appropriately potent power source. Assuming the highest quality sound files, pairing a set of new AKG K240 MKII to a standard iPod would be much like filling a Formula One race car with standard unleaded fuel. While the AKG K240 MKII might perform better than standard Apple earbuds, the full potential of the AKG K240 MKII will not be fully reached without a portable amp such as the FiiO E11 to compensate for the lack of power from the iPod. The increase in sound fidelity and volume when a higher impedance headphone is properly powered is attributed to the fact the the headphones have enough current being fed to them to respond to the demands of the high and low frequencies in a timely and responsive way, reducing overall distortion.
Home and Studio Solutions
Headphone amplifiers in home and studio settings often serve a similar purpose as their portable counterparts, but in a slightly different way. For instance, most computers and home stereo systems feature sufficiently powerful sound cards to drive higher impedance headphones of up to approximately 250 Ohms. In the case of home and studio sound systems, power is not the issue; the issue is quality. Most often, the quality issue is characterized by an annoying hiss. A desktop amplifiercan function as an external sound card, bypassing the internal sound card of lower quality and delivering an equally powerful signal with added clarity.
Whether at Home or On the Road
A headphone amplifier can be a great step in the direction of high quality sound. While an amplifier alone cannot itself make listening better, with a proper set of headphones and quality sound files, you will be on your way to a listening experience that will make you fall in love with your music all over again.
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Roland is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary and Sonic Electronix couldn’t be happier for them! To help celebrate, we will soon be carrying a comprehensive line of Roland, Boss and Cakewalk pro audio gear. Roland was founded by Mr. Ikutaro Kakehashi in Osaka, Japan in April of 1972. Today, Roland has factories in the U.S., Italy, Japan and Taiwan. For any out there who might have just recently emerged from under a rock, Roland is one of the most ubiquitous and reputable names in professional audio equipment. From instruments like synthesizers, electronic drum sets and dance/DJ gear to amplifiers, guitar pedals and recording products, Roland will no doubt continue to expand its catalog throughout the professional audio world.
Where It All Began
Roland’s first product was the Roland Rhythm 77 (TR-77), a drum machine housed in a flat wooden case that had a stand for holding scorebooks. It was designed for rhythm accompaniment to organs, pianos, synths and such. It was one of a trio of drum machines (TR-33 & TR-55) with slightly different features between them. In 2011, Roland has unveiled products such as the BC-2 Combo Drive guitar pedal, a complete DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) known as Sonar X1, and the globally unique SPD-SX sampling pad among several others. Truly, each of these products could warrant a blog of their own, and maybe we’ll see one or some of those here someday as Sonic Electronix continues to grow.
Where It’s Going
We at Sonic Electronix are clearly taking our expansion into the professional audio realm very seriously with the addition of the Roland product line. We’re tirelessly working to get these products up and available on our site so that you can take advantage of Sonic’s great deals and integrate the Roland name into your life. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Life is what you make it.” With nary a shred of doubt, I think just about anyone reading this would agree that music can make life pretty spectacular. Between your enthusiasm for music and the legendary quality of the Roland name, the possibilities are infinite. Keep your eyes and ears open for more news on this topic, as we will soon be shouting it from the rooftops… and blogging about it from our cubicles, of course.
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By Gideon V. – Sonic Electronix Editor
Have you ever read the line that says “CEA-2006 compliant” on an amplifier’s features and thought to yourself, “I wonder what that means..”? CEA-2006 compliant is not just an advertising claim. If an amplifier is CEA-2006 compliant, that means that this amp has been tested by the Consumer Electronics Association to verify its ratings. By meeting the CEA 2006 standards, you can trust that the amplifier’s ratings are accurate. CEA 2006 tests the two most important amplifier ratings (and the two ratings that are the most likely to be fabricated): RMS Power (how loud it plays) and Signal-to-Noise ratio (how clearly it sounds). Both car amplifiers and car stereos undergo CEA 2006 testing in order to verify their external amp power rating. The CEA logo will appear on the boxes of products that meet the standards.
Are manufacturers required to submit their products to the CEA-2006 testing? Unfortunately, the answer is no. CEA-2006 testing is voluntary, so not all manufacturers send their products in for testing. Some manufacturers may overstate an amplifier’s power ratings to make it seem more powerful, and as a result, appear more valuable. This is why CEA-2006 testing is so important. In order to avoid buying amps with inflated power numbers, you should only believe the ratings of CEA tested products.
In order to make the testing uniform, CEA uses a standard that measures an amplifier’s RMS power and signal-to-noise ratio. This allows consumers to compare amplifiers across the industry. The consistency of the testing guarantees that all car amplifiers are measured equally, and most importantly, that they have accurate ratings. The CEA logo is officially licensed by the Consumer Electronics Association to guarantee that the product ratings comply with the CEA 2006 standard. Besides a CEA logo, CEA tested products mention CEA compliancy in the manual and on the manufacturer website. Avoid false marketing schemes and buy CEA tested products.
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By Chelsey P. – Sonic Electronix Writer
Kicker has always displayed a commitment to providing exceptional care and service, even after selling their products. Their latest promotion reflects their dedication to customer satisfaction, as they have decided to provide an additional one-year extended warranty with the purchase of a Kicker installation kit at the time of a Kicker amplifier purchase. They are so convinced that Kicker wiring kits will enhance both the lifespan and performance of your new amplifier that they are willing to offer an extended warranty with the purchase of a Kicker install kit. Kicker wants you to equip your system with their wiring products so that you can experience the best quality sound and reliability from their world class amplifiers. All you have to do is purchase one of their well-made install kits with a Kicker amplifier, and your gear will be backed by an additional one year warranty guarantee.
There are multiple installation power kits that can be used with your new amplifier. They can be paired with any of our 2008 ZX Kicker amplifiers with the correct gauge size.
Since we are Kicker authorized dealers, we are able to offer you this amazing deal. But be sure to act quickly, as this offer will only be available for a limited time. After you purchase the qualifying kit and amplifier, you will need to register them on the Kicker website with your original sales receipt and amp serial number. After you complete the registration process, the Kicker support team will be able to add an additional one year warranty credit to your account. Also, in the rare case that you experience any problems with the products, the Kicker customer support team will be more able to assist you with your specific product info on file.
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By Seth Wilde – Host of Sonic Electronix TV
Here at SonicElectronix.com, we strive to offer the best customer service possible. Part of customer service is having the knowledge to answer questions that customers have about products. In order to accomplish this, training sessions are held on a regular basis to augment the knowledge of the SonicElectronix.com staff. Recently, representatives from Kicker Car Audio came to our building to provide training on all of the Kicker products out there!
They began their training with a brief history of Kicker, explaining that it was started in 1980 when the founder Steve Irby developed the first full-range speaker box made specifically for the car. In 1986, Kicker released both the Competition woofer, known as the original small box woofer, and the Freeair woofer, which was designed specifically for free air applications. By 1992, Kicker introduced the first Kicker Solo Baric subwoofer. One year later they released their first fully regulated power supplies and amplifiers. Kicker continued devising innovative products and in 2000 the world’s first Kicker Solo-Baric L7 square subwoofer was released. As they developed more and more products, the Kicker technology advanced more and more. Such technology includes the unpiloted, stitched surrounds, extended pole pieces, T and L cut top plates, Inverted Structural Dome (I.S.D.), perimeter venting, and the S.P.A.I.R re-cone kit.
Before talking about their full line of subwoofers, they explained the principle of having a square subwoofer. Like many ingenious innovations, the principle behind the design is pretty simple. Square subwoofers provide the most cone area for the size of the speaker box baffle. On average, a square subwoofer has about 25% more cone area than a round subwoofer of the same size. More cone area means that the subwoofer is able to move more air and thus it will produce more bass.
After talking about some of the incredible technology that goes into making a Kicker sub, the Kicker representative began to talk in detail about each of their products. It was an unbelievably informative training session. They were able to answer every single question despite the fact that our representatives asked some pretty detailed questions! We learned about the three major square subwoofers: the Solo X, the L7, and the L5. These square woofers are created with unique specifications to maximize their performance. The Solo X is Kicker’s competition and extreme woofer. The Solo X includes a S.P.A.I.R. re-cone kit, which allows you to maintain and repair the cone throughout the lifetime of the sub. The L7 is the original square subwoofer and Kicker’s best selling square subwoofer. The L5 is Kicker’s most affordable square subwoofer and provides 70% the performance of the L7, but for a fraction of the price. Both the L5 and L7 subs are available in preloaded boxes that Kicker manufacturers specifically for these subs. They are finely tuned to the specs of the enclosed woofer and provide the best sound for that woofer.
Along with the square subs, we also learned about the round woofers. The Kicker CVX is the best performing round subwoofer and is essentially a round L7. New to the 2009 Kicker line-up is the Solo Classic, which produces the same amount of bass in only half of the space. Next we discussed the CVT subwoofers. The CVT line features subs in a variety of sizes, which makes it easy to find the proper fit for your install application. Then we learned about the Comp VR (CVR). The CVR is Kicker’s best performing “value” subwoofer. When enclosed in a ported box, the Kicker CVR is able to produce some big bass! Lastly we learned that the Kicker Comp is the industry leading subwoofer and bestseller. They are highly efficient subs with moderate power and big Kicker bass. The Kicker woofers use a SoloKon cone that is ultra strong and injection molded to enhance the sound of the woofers. With a Kicker subwoofer, loud bass is practically guaranteed!
After completing subwoofer training, we began to discuss the full line of Kicker speakers. At first we discussed the newest QS and RS speakers. The QS components are Kickers premium speaker system and use Kickers most advanced technology and engineering to create the ultimate sounding speaker. The crossover on the QS speakers use an asymmetrical design and a Zobel Impedance correction network to spread the response across the entire speakers; bandwidth. The crossover also integrates an Illuminated protection circuit, as well as Mylar caps and air core inductors. Judging from the demonstration, the QS speakers sound absolutely phenomenal. We were just getting started though. After learning about the QS speakers, we began to discuss the high-end RS series speakers. Apparently the RS speakers have been redesigned for 2009 and use a lot of the same technology and engineering as the QS. The main differences between the two are the materials and the crossover. The RS features a slightly simplified version of the QS crossover, but it still has all of the necessary features of a high-end speaker. Finally, we briefly talked about the KS and DS series speakers. We learned about the polyswitch tweeter protection on the KS speakers and the perfect OEM upgrade for the DS series speakers.
After discussing subs and speakers, we were ready to learn about amplifiers. This was one of the highlights of the training. We got to see the amplifiers inside and out. We learned what makes a Kicker amp a Kicker amp. The quality and precision that goes into each and every amplifier is second to none. We were most impressed with the thorough quality control involved in the production of ZX amplifiers. Each and every ZX amp is tested before it leaves the factory. The spec sheet that is included in each amp tells the tested RMS wattage of the amplifier and each one is underrated. This way, when a customer purchases a ZX amplifier, they are getting more than what they paid for!
After finishing the major categories, we moved to more specialized fields like marine technology. In fact, the Kicker power sports line includes but is not limited to marine series speakers, subs and amps. We learned that Kicker now refers to the marine series as the power sports series because these items are completely designed to withstand harsh conditions in general and not just in the boat. Power sport models are made to work perfectly on boats, jeeps, ATV’s, patios, in the backyard, and even zambonis! The Kicker Power Sports amplifiers, speakers, and subwoofers are perfect for any application that might require a more durable and protected item.
Next we learned about Kicker’s mobile audio products. The Kicker experts taught us all about the SoundGate iPod and Zune accessories. The Kicker CORE system is designed to provide playback of your iPod in your car. All of the cables are included, making it easy to get started. The CORE also provides 5V USB charging. These systems will allow playback from the iPod itself and can even connect and play video from the iPod! Next we discussed the SoundGate iO series, a new way to integrate your iPod and other audio source to your car via Bluetooth! The plug and play system allows for Bluetooth audio, handsfree communication, and music streaming. It is still in the development stages and has yet to be released, but it will be the ideal solution for adding Bluetooth and navigation voice guidance to vehicles that are not suitable for aftermarket in-dash head units. It would make an excellent addition to classic cars!
The last thing we were trained on was the home and portable line. This includes Kicker headphones and their iPod shelf systems. The headphones include high performance ear-buds and an active style “on-the-ear” headphone. The ear buds produce incredible acoustic sound quality given their slight dimensions. These headphones are perfect for the on-the-go listener. The active style headphones are made for those that live an active lifestyle and need a headphone that will stay on the head. Beyond that, we learned about iPod docking shelf systems such as the iK500. Based on the demonstration, this system provides iPod playback through loud and clear speakers that fill the entire room with music. For those that enjoy a Zune as opposed to the iPod, Kicker makes the ZK500, which is similar in features but designed to dock and play the Zune.
We here at SonicElectronix.com were impressed with the training seminar and we are blown away at the quality of Kicker products. The Kicker representatives were extremely knowledgeable and knew everything about their products. Kicker is definitely a high quality company that takes as much care of its products as they do their customers.
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