Kanto’s YU2s seem to come from a time when speakers were solid, simple structures; proud temples to sound that said of their owners, Hey, I’m serious about music, and I know what I’m doing. Aesthetics were important, of course, but unquestioningly took a backseat to sound. Sound was king.
If you haven’t heard of Kanto before, that’s OK — the Canadian outfit just sprouted up in the Vancouver suburbs around five years ago. The YU2s are Kanto’s latest speakers, the smallest of their lineup of a half-dozen or so, and they’re designed to fit unobtrusively on a bookshelf or desk and play music from your computer or mobile device.
The YU2’s performance during our review, however, was nothing short of astonishing — and they could very capably substitute for larger speakers in a variety of roles.
The new Audiofly AF160. Somebody spent a looooong time setting this photo up.
Australian earphone-maker Audiofly was just a fledgling outfit with scarcely a handful of models and a shaky toehold in the earphone market when I first encountered a year ago at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. After I had a chance to spend some quality time with what was then the company’s flagship set, the fantastic AF78s, I was pretty certain that, if the company did eventually fail, it would be in spite of the brand’s quality — not because of it.
But they didn’t fail. Now here they are, a year after debuting at CES, with a trio of new, more expensive additions — all decadently equipped with multiple drivers and balanced armatures — that shove the AF78 into the middle of their lineup.
So far it’s been pretty consistent: Each time we review a set of Ultimate Ears ‘phones, the bar leaps up a few notches as our expectations regarding the outfit’s offerings rise. After reviewing the 350, 700, and especially the 600vi — which garnered a best-in-class verdict — we were expecting the TripleFi 10 ($400) to slay vampires and cure cancer.
Of Ultimate Ears’ more serious offerings — and by serious, I’m referring to UE’s armature-equipped models, which start at $100 — the TripleFi 10 is by far the most serious, with three drivers and a crossover in each ear, pro-level detachable leads, the thickest cable we’ve ever seen on an IEM, Comply foam tips (the best tips, period) and a sound signature that’ll have you madly running through your entire music catalog with a big, gleeful smile plastered all over your face.
What!? Neither Cult publication has ever reviewed Monster’s famed Turbine earphones, even though the IEMs have been hanging on Best Buy end caps for the last several years? Well, that’s an injustice we won’t let stand another day — after all, these are among the best recognized, and most iconic IEMs on the market.
The Turbine is the base model in Monster’s Turbine lineup; though with an MSRP of $180, “base model” seems like a relative term (the two higher models, the Pro Gold and the Pro Copper, are $300 and $400 respectively and are apparently better at reproducing a wider range than the plain-wrapper Turbines reviewed here).
The Zodiac DAC looks amazing, and costs more than your car
Oh man. €3,500 ($4,650) is a ridiculous amount to spend on an external digital-to-analog (DAC) for your iPad, but the Zodiac looks so sweet I’m still tempted. The top-of-the-line Zodiac Gold itself will only set you back €3,000 alone, but when purchased with the optional Voltikus power supply, you hit the bigger figure.