Q: I saw your recent article about the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+ earbuds and am very interested. I had planned on buying the $149.99 Technics EAH-AZ40 earbuds, but getting the $139.95 Cambridge earphones for $59.95 strikes me as too good a deal to pass up. I don't want this to be all about the money, though — I just want to make the right choice. Do you think I would hear a big difference between them?
A: Both models have excellent sound quality, with excellent reviews from both the technology press and users. Comparative sound quality is more a matter of different sonic character than one being better than the other.
The Melomania 1+ just plain sounds good, which is a hallmark of British audio products in general. The advanced amplification modules create sound that is natural, musical and listenable, with a very long battery life of nine hours. The Technics are incredibly precise and provide sound that has a very clean and defined character, with excellent bass and a bit less warmth than Cambridge Audio.
Both products have apps, but with Technics you get a few more features and controls. For example, the EAH-AZ40 has six microphones, voice enhancement for making phone calls clear and wind noise reduction. The ambient noise mode allows you to have conversations and hear what is going on around you while you are listening to music. For this reason, I recommended these earphones for runners.
At under $60 with free shipping, it's hard to go wrong with the Melomania 1+, and it is the kind of deal we rarely see. I would buy them at that price while they are still available. You always can get the EAH-AZ40 later. Then you can use the EAH-AZ40 when the features such as the ambient mode and wind reduction are what you need, or perhaps their sonic character complements the evening's musical selection. To check out both products, go to cambridgeaudio.com and technics.com.
How to digitize
Q: I have an Audio Technica turntable with a USB output and a Dell PC. What do I need to digitize vinyl?
A: At a bare minimum, you need a USB cable and software. The turntable probably came with the USB cable, and there are several software options for PCs. I recommend that you start with Alpine VinylStudio. You can download a free trial version at alpinesoft.co.uk, and if you like it, you can purchase the base version for $29.95 and the Pro version for $49.95. It is available for both Windows and Mac computers.
I also recommend that you get an external hard drive of at least 2TB specifically for music. Format it, then set the software to record to folders on the hard drive. It will keep it organized and accessible for use with other computers that you might own in the future. And by limiting it to music files, you minimize the chance of the files getting corrupted or lost.