Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

ART USB MicroPre Phono/Line Preamp

ART USB MicroPre
ART quietly released the $99 USB MicroPre phono/line preamp in early 2005. Actually, the press release wasn't quiet at all. I still missed it. The MicroPre shares the same curvy case at their all-analog DJ PRE II. This model is intended to interface your turntable (or any other audio source) directly to your computer. It even has an S/PDIF digital input so you can gorge on digital sources, too.

No sound cards or audio interfaces are required – it outputs a digital signal over USB. You can use an external power adapter (preferred) or power the unit directly from the USB connector. The MicroPre includes a front panel gain knob and clipping light to fine-tune the input signal. Thoughtfully, they included a headphone jack so you can monitor the digital output – a perfect way to make sure your recordings don’t suffer from ugly digital clipping if you accidentally exceed the unit’s headroom.

I like the idea of these units as a way to transfer valuable record collections to a computer based audio library. Just remember that one of the wonderful things about vinyl is its smooth analog sound – for best results, hook your turntable up to a good amplifier/speaker combination and listen “the natural way.”

ART USB preamplifier/computer audio interface

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