At CES the AudioQuest team was having an absolute ball demonstrating their new extended family of “Made for iPod” 30-pin iDevice connector-to-USB cables, showing—quite decisively I might add—that high quality iPod cables to make a difference you can easily hear and enjoy. Trust on on this one: you don’t need to have “golden ears” to appreciate the differences these cables make; all you need is a pulse and the standard-issue hearing apparatus you were born with.
I took an opportunity to briefly audition the complete range of AQ iPod cables, starting with the high-purity copper wire-based entry-level Forest cable ($29 for a ¾ meter cable), and then working my way up—model by model—to the top-of-the-line, pure silver wire-based Diamond cable ($549 for ¾ meter cable), which is fitted with AQ’s signature, battery-powered dielectric biasing system (DBS) module. At each step along the way, the sound kept getting smoother, more refined, and more three-dimensional. The cool part, however, was that even the entry-level Forest model handily outperformed box-stock Apple iPod cables by substantial margins.
Also on demonstration was AQ’s new family of high-performance HDMI cables. Some pundits will tell you that, in theory, HDMI cables more or less can’t make significant sonic differences, but I think there may be more factors at work that those pundits understand. All I can say is that, if you listen to AQ’s various grades of HDMI cables with open ears and an open mind, I think you’ll find that they, too, make for worthwhile differences you can readily hear and enjoy.
Many of us at Playback regard Beyerdynamic’s flagship T1 Tesla as one of the best, if not the best, dynamic driver-equipped headphones on today’s market. The only catch, as is so often the case with top-tier gear, is that the T1 Tesla (at $1295) is priced beyond reach for some enthusiasts. That’s what makes the German firm’s new-for-CES T70 headphone ($560) such a welcome addition to the product line.
Perhaps the easiest way to understand the T70 is to picture it as a “T1 junior” that sells for less than half the price of its illustrious big brother. Actually, the T70 is offered in two versions: the standard 250 Ohm T70, which Beyerdynamic regards as the “audiophile” model, and the 32 Ohm T70p, which Beyerdynamic considers the easier-to-drive “portable” model. Both sell for $560. If you look at the driver photo that accompanies this article, you’ll see that the T70 driver is much beefier than a standard dynamic headphone driver—in part because it borrows much (though not all) of the elaborate magnet structure of the T1, though the T70 driver does have a noticeably lighter frame than the T1. Still, the good news is that the T70 should give listeners a substantial taste of what T1 technology is all about, yet at a much more manageable price point.
Finally, note that Beyerdynamic was showing its affordable DTX-101 iE earphones ($89) at CES, samples of which we were able to obtain with an eye toward doing a future Playback review.