Realtek High Definition Audio Codec review

Realtek's free High Definition Audio Codec pack enables stereo digital audio at resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz, as well as 5.1-channel Dolby Digital audio. Though it's essentially a package of drivers, it installs like a Windows program and may require a reboot. Realtek HD Audio Codec is available in separate downloads for 32-bit or 64-bit Windows Vista, 7, and 8 systems with Realtek controllers.


Audiophile-quality digital audio: No matter the source, you'll get super-high-quality digital audio. We streamed audio at up to 320kbs from Spotify and other sources. Even MP3s sounded better.

Dolby HT4: Dolby … Read more

Star Apps: Semi Precious Weapons

It's been four long years since Semi Precious Weapons released "You Love You" (2010), the follow-up to its debut, "We Love You" (2008). The LA-based quartet is best known for supporting artists such as Lady Gaga and Kesha, and now it's back with "Aviation," whose kick-off single, "Aviation High," is in heavy rotation on alternative rock radio. The 12-track disc, produced by Grammy-winning, multiplatinum producer Tricky Stewart (Beyoncé, Rihanna, Frank Ocean) finds the band flying from its rock roots into more R&B and pop territory. Semi Precious … Read more

Neil Young's PonoMusic hits $2M on Kickstarter in one day

Well, that didn't take long. Less than 24 hours after legendary rocker Neil Young launched a Kickstarter page for his long-talked-about Pono music service, the campaign surpassed its goal of $800,000.

As of this writing, the PonoMusic Kickstarter campaign has more than $2 million in pledges from more than 6,200 backers.

One of the reasons this Kickstarter campaign blew through the roof is that music fans and sound aficionados are eagerly looking to get their hands on the Pono music player, or PonoPlayer. The player has been in development for years and will use the Free Lossless … Read more

The Germans get serious about making great in-ear headphones

InEar is a new name to me, but it's an established German maker of high-end headphones. ALO's Ken Ball contacted me a few months ago about trying out some InEars and he sent over two models, the StageDiver 2 and StageDiver 3.

They look similar to custom-molded in-ear monitors from Ultimate Ears and Westone, but the StageDivers are universal-fit models that come with silicone ear tips. The large earpieces rest on the folds of your outer ear, so the fit feels more secure than in-ears that stick out from your ears. Both InEar models have user replaceable cables, … Read more

Wide-open sound: AKG K812 headphones

Even before I listened to the AKG K812 headphones I knew they were pretty special. First, they're so incredibly comfortable that after a few minutes it was easy to forget I was wearing a world-class headphone. One reason for that is with the K812, you never feel like you're cut off from the outside world -- you can hear everything around you. Once I started listening to tunes, that spacious quality remained and stereo imaging was wider and more outside my head than what I get from other headphones. Closed-back designs are always 100 percent closed, but open-backs … Read more

Can Sony make a world-class headphone?

2014 isn't shaping up as a stellar year for Sony, the company is forecasting losses of $1.1 billion, but I think a serious effort to reestablish its stature as a leading headphone manufacturer might be a wise move. Sony currently offers a vast range of headphone models, but they don't have any truly great ones. With the ongoing boom in headphone sales, you have to wonder why Sony is sitting on the sidelines.

Back in the '70s, '80s, and '90s, Sony made some of the world's best headphones: the very affordable MDR-V6 and MDR-7506 are examples … Read more

10 must-see videos of the week

As the Sochi Winter Olympics officially kick off this week, we're checking out some of the same technology Olympic organizers are relying on to generate snow at a resort in Lake Tahoe. These automated snowmaking systems (some of which can even be operated from a mobile phone) are making it easier and more efficient to make snow when Mother Nature doesn't want to cooperate.

Prizefight is also back at it with an epic rematch between the Roku 3 and third-generation Apple TV. It's been a year since their previous duel and both Editors' Choice streaming boxes have … Read more

Teens expelled in keylogging of school computers

Eleven students apparently involved in a hacking scandal to change their grades were expelled this week from their high school in Newport Beach, Calif.

The Corona del Mar High School students were accused of using keyloggers to spy on their teachers' computer systems, infiltrate the network, and change their grades electronically.

Six of the students have left the district, and five have been transferred to other schools.

The students in question allegedly worked with a local tutor to learn how to hack into the school systems to change their grades and steal test papers.

According to the Los Angeles Times, … Read more

How small can a bona fide high-end headphone amplifier be?

Meridian Audio may be one of Britain's oldest high-end audio brands. It was founded in the late 1970s, but it was always exploring new technologies. It introduced the world's first high-end CD player in 1984, advanced the state of the art in self-powered speakers, and pioneered digital loudspeakers. The company also developed the lossless compression technology used in many Blu-ray Discs.

So when I heard Meridian was introducing a high-end headphone amplifier, I immediately requested a review sample. When the box arrived, I thought they had sent the wrong piece, it was too small to be a contender, … Read more

Devialet's stunningly beautiful amplifiers at CES 2014

I reviewed the first Devialet back in 2010, and that advanced tech amplifier, the D-Premier, rocked the audiophile world. At the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Devialet is showing its next generation amps. There's the new flagship Devialet 240, along with the more affordable Devialet 170 and Devialet 110, which can either be placed on a table or vertically mounted flat on a wall.

Catch CNET's complete coverage of CES 2014

High-resolution music streaming from computers, smart phones, or tablets using any format up to 24 bit/192 kHz digital is possible. Rear panel connectivity features … Read more