Decent looks, decent sound, decent connectivity - but, unfortunately, "decent" doesn't mean "great." With a name like Tango, you might expect dramatic, luscious sound quality from this iPod speaker. What we got from the Tango, however, was a mixed bag of audio results. The Tango has a pair of 2.5-inch midrange speakers, two 1-inch tweeters, and a 4-inch woofer at the bottom of the unit that faces down toward the surface that the speaker sits on. As you'd expect from a speaker with a sizable woofer, the bass from the Tango booms—but with cringe-inducing distortion, even after we turned down the bass. On rock tracks where the bass wasn't as prominent, the Tango did a decent job with midrange sounds, but opera songs lacked clarity.
The m100 earbuds are good for music. We like the m250 over-ear clip-ons for games. Music producers routinely sit around and bemoan the fact that as a result of the 44.1kHz sampling rate of CDs—and the rise of iPods and earbuds—a producer's efforts are wasted on sonically inept listeners. While this is not nearly as true as they'd like to believe, there are complicating factors: The places where we listen, and how and what we listen to, change almost from song to song, leaving manufacturers scrambling to be as many things to as many people as possible. Which brings us to the Pro|Tone m100 earbuds and the Pro|Tone m250 headphones, Razer's two lower-end offerings.
A good beginner’s mixer, with some room to grow. With an incredibly cheap entrance fee of $130, M-Audio’s Torq MixLab gives you the core tools you need to make mixes, sans vinyl records and turntables. The package includes the X-Session Pro USB MIDI hardware mixer and Torq LE, a paired-down version of M-Audio’s Torq DJ software.
Massive's main editing screen is a study in intuitive interface design, offering stellar internal signal routing options. With a name like Massive, you'd expect this software synthesizer to have an extremely expansive sonic presence. And that's exactly what this beauty delivers. Even though it's deep enough for the most devoted sound programmers, it's easy enough to use that you can start doing some serious damage right out of the gate.
The iKaraoke can connect to your stereo via cable, or transmit your voice to your FM radio over the airwaves. When you've been dumped, there's nothing quite as cathartic as belting out a rendition of "Love Hurts." In fact, we're pretty sure that's how some of the first-round contestants on American Idol got their start.
Restore the audio glory of digital music and video files that have been compressed. Creative's Xmod can put the sparkle back into compressed MP3 or AAC audio, as well as enhance the overall quality of movies, CDs, and any other audio content. Unfortunately, it can also introduce distortion when you least expect it.
Toast's DVD-burning options aren't nearly as comprehensive as iDVD's, but they're great for quick burns. Toast 8 Titanium nails all of our disc-burning needs with support for nearly every format and situation we can imagine, but it almost loses focus, including several utilities and features that you may not need. As multitalented as Toast is, we wish we could buy it with just its robust burning options.
Have a ball with your iPod. The typical four-sided speaker is so square. After spending some time with the iSphere and the Orb, we're comin' around to the round. And while the spherical shapes of the Orb and the iSphere may or may not match your home's décor, the form is excellent for a compact iPod speaker system.
This is Live 6's Session view, the interface which you use to mangle your audio files on the fly. During long-winded debates with your devoted-to-vinyl DJ friend, launch Ableton Live 6, load a few beats and some media clips, and start mixing. Then let DJ Luddite give it a try. The next challenge will be figuring out how to pry DJ Ozzy Oldschool away from your Mac.