HEADPHONE REVIEWS

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jun 20, 2014 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,799

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Bass to die for!
Rock-solid build quality
Advanced technology drivers
Minus
It’s crazy expensive!
They’re heavy!

THE VERDICT
Every now and then, a headphone comes along that truly advances the state of the art. Audeze LCD-XC is a game changer!

Even now, in the midst of an unprecedented boom market, American-made headphones are pretty rare. There’s Grado and Koss, but Audeze joined the fray just four years ago, when their LCD-2 debuted at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver. I was knocked out by its big and brawny sound; it was easily the most powerful headphone I’d ever heard.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jun 19, 2014 Published: Jun 18, 2014 1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Super tiny and lightweight
Accurate and transparent
Wide-open soundstage
Minus
Lacks microphone and phone controls

THE VERDICT
Hifiman's uber-comfortable RE-600 offers superb transparency and accurate tonal balance.

Even when I heard one of Hifiman's very first headphones, I had no doubt it was fully competitive with the best AKG, Beyerdynamic, Grado, Koss, and Sennheiser had to offer. That was back in 2006, and the Tianjin, China-based company's headphones have only gotten better over the years. They're all proprietary designs, engineered and manufactured by Hifiman.
Leslie Shapiro Posted: May 26, 2014 0 comments
Everywhere you turn, new ways to support causes and ideas have been created. Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding is inescapable. Friends just used Honeyfund to let wedding guests finance their honeymoon. Perhaps more philanthropically, another friend is getting help with medical payments through GiveForward.com. My bicycle rides are logged onto the Plus3 website that, through corporate sponsors, donates money to charities based on how many miles I ride. (I’ve personally raised almost $700 and burned 1.4 million calories; that’s a lot of M&Ms.) It seems that new ways to raise money for a cause are being created daily. Enter ShareBrand.

Filed under
Steve Guttenberg Posted: May 07, 2014 1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb sound
Elegant good looks
Comfy to wear for long trips
Minus
Non-hinged headband doesn’t collapse for compact storage

THE VERDICT
NAD’s first headphone scores high on every front—style, sound, comfort, and value.

This was an easy review to write; the NAD Viso HP50 sounds as smooth as silk, with excellent detail retrieval, a big soundstage, and bass with the perfect balance of speed and low-end oomph. As a long-term NAD fan, I wasn’t surprised. The company has always made fuss-free, great-sounding, affordable gear; why would the Viso HP50 be any different?

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Lauren Dragan Posted: Apr 24, 2014 0 comments
If you’re like me, you can’t get any kind of workout done without music. A driving beat helps to regulate breathing, encourages you to keep up the pace, and energizes you when you’re ready to call it quits. But sometimes the toughest part of working out isn’t my burning muscles, it’s getting the right pair of headphones that sound good, stay put, and deliver my tunes. There’s a lot out of offerings there these days, and Jabra is entering the fray with their first Bluetooth sport headphone, the Rox. But do they have the fortitude to go the distance?
Leslie Shapiro Posted: Apr 14, 2014 0 comments
As someone whose life seems to revolve around the outdoors, I’m all ears whenever I hear about a new “active” piece of electronics gear. The new BlueAnt PUMP HD wireless waterproof sportbud promised to deliver audiophile-grade performance in a rugged, IP67-waterproof rated Bluetooth-compatible package.As soon as it arrived, I charged it up and hit my favorite bike trail.

Filed under
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Apr 11, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Comfort
Value
PRICE $400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Bowers & Wilkins’ first over-the-ear headphone
Unique styling
Lavish build quality
Minus
Not quite as graceful looking as B&W’s onear models

THE VERDICT
The Bowers & Wilkins P7 continues B&W’s evolution as a world-class headphone manufacturer.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen quite a few speaker companies dip their toes into the headphone market, with inconsistent results. Sure, it’s easy to slap your logo on a pair of generic headphones, but Bowers & Wilkins didn’t do that. Their elegant design sense was immediately apparent with their very first headphone—the P5—and the sound was what you’d expect from Bowers & Wilkins. No wonder that headphone attracted a sizable cognoscenti following and turned on countless newbies to the glories of audiophile headphone sound.

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Lauren Dragan Posted: Apr 10, 2014 0 comments
The latest release from V-MODA, the XS are designed to be on-the-go headphones for the person who dislikes in-ears. They’re ultra-compact on-ears, and V-MODA have streamlined the shape of the earcups and headband to lay as close to the skull as possible. You have to give V-MODA credit: they are impressively small. The included case is barely taller than an iPhone. The XS are hinged and collapse down to about 4.5”x 5”x 2.5”. But are they more than just teeny tiny?
Filed under
Lauren Dragan Posted: Mar 13, 2014 0 comments
Ah, Bluetooth. The desire to cut the cord has led to a market flooded with a dozen new wireless headphone options in the last few months. The latest to enter the fray is JBL, with their Synchros S400BT: a touch sensor controlling, LED glowing, aptX encoding, Bluetooth 3.0 stereo over-ear headphone. With all those bells and whistles, I just had to give them a try. How would they measure up?
Filed under
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Mar 13, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Hand-crafted in Austria
Ear coddling comfort
User-replaceable cable
Minus
Expensive
Lacks mike or inline remote

THE VERDICT
The AKG K712 Pro’s winning combination of comfort, build quality, and superlative sound puts it in the top tier of headphones in its price class.

Headphone shoppers should never forget that sound quality should always be balanced with comfort. Sure, sound is the thing, but you’d be unwise to assume all headphones are equally comfy. I wish. The majority of full-size headphones on the market—including a lot of very expensive ones—can be a chore to wear for more than an hour or so. AKGs have no such problem; the company nailed big headphone comfort with their K701 that debuted in the U.S. in 2006, and this new model, the K712 Pro, looks and feels much the same (the less expensive K701 remains in the line). Both models feature similar drivers, but the K712 Pro’s two-layer Varimotion driver has been redesigned to increase bass output.

Filed under
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 20, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Sweet mids, solid bass
Super comfortable
Sporty look
Minus
Reticent highs
Plastic construction

THE VERDICT
These full-size headphones are comfortable, sweet sounding, and suitable for portable signal sources.

Some companies jump into the now-trendy headphone category on a wing and a prayer. Sony, on the other hand, is the steward of Sony Music and the master of numerous audio product categories, including a long history in headphones. So a set of midpriced ’phones from Sony raises high hopes. With the MDR-1R, they are largely fulfilled. I like these headphones, not because they’re perfect, but because they feel right.

Filed under
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Feb 04, 2014 0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $150

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Dynamic and balanced armature drivers
All-metal earpieces
Tangle-free, flat cable
Minus
Zippy highs
May not suit audiophile tastes

THE VERDICT
The Om Audio InEarPeace may stray too far from neutrality for some, but it’s definitely not boring!

Om Audio is the recent brainchild of a select group of consumer electronics, audio, and technology professionals, including former staff members from Dolby, Velodyne, and Gracenote. While Om’s InEarPeace in-ear monitor looks pretty standard, it features a rather unusual two-way driver complement, with a 10mm bass driver and a midrange/tweeter balanced armature driver in each all-metal earpiece. Nice!

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jan 20, 2014 1 comments
The new Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear headphone takes everything I loved about the original Momentum over-ear headphone and puts it in a smaller, infinitely more stylish and affordable package. Coming in a range of colors, and at a lower price, this headphone retains the sound quality and voice of the original but makes it more accessible to more people.

Filed under
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jan 14, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $1,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Four balanced armature drivers
Customizable frequency response
User-replaceable cables
Minus
Not as good at isolating outside noise as custom in-ears

THE VERDICT
The SE846 combines state-of-the-art engineering with great musicality.

You guys know Shure; it’s best known as a microphone manufacturer, but millions of vinyl lovers have had long-term affairs with Shure’s phono cartridges. The company jumped into the earphone market in 1997 and focused on pro users—musicians and sound engineers—but audiophiles quickly got the word. Microphones, cartridges, and earphones have one thing in common: They’re all “transducers.” Microphones convert sound into electrical signals; cartridges convert groove wiggles into electrical signals; earphones convert electrical signals back into sound. The all-new SE846 reference-grade earphone was in development for four years.

Filed under
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Dec 24, 2013 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $1,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Best-in-class sound
Minus
Bass sounds more full than accurate

THE VERDICT
One of the best-sounding in-ear headphones to come along in a long time. The IE 800 is a game changer.

I’ve heard most of the world’s best in-ear headphones, and frankly, those custom-molded models fitted to my ear canal from the likes of JH Audio, Ultimate Ears, and Westone regularly trump the universal-fit models. So before I popped on the Sennheiser IE 800, a universal-fit earphone, I wondered if the sound would justify its $1,000 MSRP. I shouldn’t have worried; the IE 800 is a game changer.

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