Tag: sound quality

Jambox Vs iClarityHD

We take two of the most competitive and popular Bluetooth speakers-and pit them against each other in an effort to determine which is the better option. Today’s match features the Aliph Jawbone Jambox against the Monster iClarityHD. Each device will be evaluated in 3 key categories including Hardware & Software, Construction & Interface, and Sound & Style. Each contender will be given a score from 1 to 5 in each category. The winner will be the device with the highest average score.

Round 1: Hardware & Software

In terms of hardware, both the Aliph Jabone Jambox and iClarity HD are fitted with 3.5mm inputs. The auxiliary 3.5mm allows users to connect virtually any device directly to either device. Moreover, both Bluetooth speakers are properly loaded with an accessible USB charging port for simple charging.

Yet one very clear difference between these Bluetooth speakers arises when we observe

the time of continuous play they can perform. On the one hand, the Jambox boasts of up to 10 hours of music while the iClarityHD is expected to bump for only 5 hours. Yet another hardware distinction comes to the fore when the iClarityHD noise cancelling microphone is compared to that of the Jambox. Of course, being one of the top Bluetooth headset manufacturers the Jambox mic is of superior quality and transmits your voice clearly.

One area in which the Jambox is clearly superior is in software.  Being fully compatible with the MyTalk platform, the Jambox can be loaded with various apps, upgrades, and features. Among its many benefits, the platform allows users to select different voices and offers the LiveAudio app which essentially calibrates the Jambox to deliver more “lifelike” performance.

Winner: For the most part, the Jambox and iClarityHD are equally matched. But the distinctive software features, extended battery life, and superior Bluetooth microphone give the Jambox a slight lead in this category.

Scores:

Jambox: 4

iClarityHD: 3

Round 2: Construction & Interface

Build quality is generally a good indicator of overall durability. If this is true, you can expect the Jambox to be around for a long time. Compared to the iClarityHD’s completely plastic construction, the Jambox features thick rubber caps on the top and bottom and a tough metallic body. The rubberized bottom of the Jambox prevent it from sliding around and keep it stable on uneven surfaces.

Pairing either devices with a Bluetooth compatible device is remarkably easy. Both speakers pair quickly and reliably with the push of a single button. Nonetheless, the Jambox wields a secret weapon–it can be paired with up to two Bluetooth enabled devices simultaneously, a feature enabled by the MyTalk platform.

In terms of navigation, both devices are simple to use and have clearly labeled controls. In another well fought category, the Jambox’s advantage is again very slight. The ability to pair to multiple devices is an impressive novelty that alone might not warrant a wind, but its the solid construction of the Jambox that really pushes it ahead of the iClarity HD. In this category, the iClarityHD delivers only the bare minimum.

Scores:

Jambox: 4

iClarity: 2

Round 3: Sound & Style

This category has a clear victor. Its virtually impossible to deny the superior styling of the Jambox. With its modernistic design approach, the Jambox’s simple lines and solid colors make it immediately attractive. Because its function is not immediately betrayed by its design, I have found that this immediately gets people asking about its function.

On the other hand, the Monster iClarityHD looks decent but does not have the same allure of the Jambox. Its function is straight forward and it looks a lot like an alarm clock (never a good association).

In terms of sound, the Jambox knocks the iClarityHD out again. While the iClarity is definitely a good option, with loud and clear reproduction, it does not match the or surpass that of the Jambox. One of the reasons for the superiority of the Jambox in the sound category is that it is fitted with a proprietary passive bass radiator which enhances the bass response of the Jambox and gives the sound greater depth and detail. Like in the preceding categories, the iClarityHD only delivers the bare minimum and while its sound certainly of acceptable quality it is not immediately impressive.

Scores:

Jambox: 4

iClarityHD: 2

Winner and Closing Comments

The Jambox consistently delivers excellent quality in every category we rated, making it the clear winner over the Monster iClarityHD. Of course, we do not rate these contenders on cost efficiency because the price tag of a device can often convince buyers to give up certain features in order to save a buck. While there is certainly nothing wrong with frugality, I feel it can be the source of bias. But in the interest of a balanced and fair evaluation, it must be said that the Moster iClarityHD is certainly a great value for the price point and while it may not stack-up against the Jambox spec-for-spec, it certainly makes it a much more viable option for a greater population.

However, if you are willing and able to spend the cash necessary to get your hands on a Jambox it will certainly be worth it.

Today’s winner by total average score:

Aliph Jawbone Jambox= 4

Monster iClarityHD= 2.33

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Do I Need a DAC? When and How to Choose a DAC

A common question that arises among music lovers looking to improve the sound quality of their set-up is the question of whether a Digital to Analog Converter (DAC, for short) is necessary and at what point a DAC becomes a useful component of either a speaker system or headphone rig. Before addressing the question of the necessity of a DAC, it is important to understand precisely what DACs are designed to do.

Function

The essential function of a DAC is to convert the digital signals that computers or portable players use to store music into an analog current that can be used by headphone transducers or speakers to create physical sound. As a matter of pure functionality, no player that stores music digitally can interact with analog components without some type of on-board DAC. Of course, to keep the overall price of machines and devices capable of digital music storage down, many manufacturers equip devices such as mp3 players, laptops, and desktops with sub-par DAC systems. These systems generally do only enough to convert binary into a current and do not stress distortion reduction and general sound quality leaving the music without dimension or depth.

Do I Need a DAC? When to Get a DAC?

The statement I am about to make may surprise some and completely offend others: no one ever needs a DAC. A dedicated DAC should be the final step in achieving the finest audio quality for your stereo system or headphone rig. No amount of specialization, flashy specs,

NuForce Signature Gold; No amount of gold or diamonds will save a poor source

or carefully selected DAC components will improve the sound quality of a poor source. Painfully compressed digital audio files such as MP3 and internet radio streams will always leave out the nuances serious listeners crave. Before a DAC should ever come into consideration, it is of greater priority that the audio file is of the best quality available and of the lowest compression.

Even before considering new headphones or speaker components, until the music files have achieved the highest possible level of quality it is premature to begin considering external DACs or amplifier DAC combinations.

Choosing a DAC

Assuming you have all your lossless files in line, decent set of headphones or speakers, and (in necessary cases) an amplifier, a DAC is something to consider as final step in improving you system. Like adding the finishing touches to a carefully crafted work of art, adding a

FiiO-E17, described as having a "neutral" signature

DAC to you system should feel like polishing an already impressive composition. An effective way to select a suitable DAC is to test one with the music it will be used to play. Because DACs feed decoded information to other systems within the unit that eventually travel to the listening device in an analog form, all DACs will have a unique sound signature. The sound signature is basically the amount of coloration, or sound imposed on the analog signal not inherent to the mix or engineering. While the most neutral reproduction is the most desirable, some individuals may find that DACs with “warmer” coloration are more suited to their tastes. At this point in the process, it is just a mater of selecting a DAC with a sound signature that suits your individual tastes and that most heightens your musical enjoyment.

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