HEADPHONE REVIEWS

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Jun 30, 2013 0 comments

The companies that have most benefitted from the headphone boom are the ones who are great at marketing but don't know much about audio engineering. (Yet.) Two of the hottest brands in the biz are Beats and Skullcandy, companies that didn't even exist when the iPod debuted.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Jun 18, 2013 0 comments

I’ve been searching a long time for a good noise-cancelling headphone priced around $100—something that might approach the performance of the $299 Bose QC-15 but at one-third the price.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jun 18, 2013 2 comments

Performance
Features
Comfort
Value
Price: $299 At a Glance: Sinfully comfy • Artfully balanced frequency response • Lavish build quality boasts aluminum trim and real leather

It wasn’t that long ago that Philips wasn’t the first name that would come to mind for audiophile headphones. Things picked up early last year when the company totally revamped its headphone lineup, and the Fidelio Series turned a lot of heads. Philips was in the big leagues and fully competitive with the majors.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Jun 17, 2013 0 comments

Noise-cancelling headphones shouldn't be so expensive. In most cases, the technology is simple: a couple of tiny microphones, a cheap amplifier chip, and a simple filter circuit.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: May 17, 2013 1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $200 At a Glance: Excellent isolation from the world outside • Bass so solid, you won’t miss your subwoofer • Modular construction

I’ve reviewed more than a hundred headphones, but the Sol Republic Master Tracks is the first to require some “assembly.” No worries; Slip the headband through the ear cups’ slots, plug in the cable, and you’re done. The whole operation takes about a minute.

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: May 17, 2013 0 comments

Two years ago, not a soul had heard of SOL Republic. Last summer, that all changed as everyone watching the Summer Olympics frantically googled to see what brand of headphones were seemingly permanently attached to swimmer Michael Phelps' head whenever he was out of the water. Overnight, SOL Republic went from "what's that?" to "must have." Can their latest design keep up with the hype?

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Brent Butterworth Posted: May 14, 2013 0 comments

"So this is a tuner headphone," our frequent West Coast listening panelist Will Huff commented when I showed him the Mad Dog Alpha. "Like tuner cars?" he suggested when he saw my quizzical look. "Like in Fast and Furious?" he asked when I gave him a shrug. Ah, finally I got it.

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Michael Berk Posted: May 14, 2013 0 comments

When Furutech launched their consumer-oriented Alpha Design Labs line in 2011 with the GT40 USB DAC/phono stage, it was clear that the company - which has long had a solid reputation among old-school audiophiles as a manufacturer of interconnects, power supply components, and connectors - was making a serious commitment t

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: May 13, 2013 0 comments
Onkyo is a well-respected, well-established name in the hi-fi industry. When they announced the release of the ES-HF300 headphone, it was surprising to realize that this is their first foray into headphones. While known more for their receivers and hardware, they have produced speakers in the past. It's amazing they shied away from the market for this long. If first impressions mean anything, the ES-HF300 is, well, impressive.
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Brent Butterworth Posted: May 12, 2013 0 comments

I'm not much of a businessman. (If I were, would I be writing audio reviews for a living?) Still, after years of experience in marketing and advertising, I can't help but admire a good business strategy. That's partly why I like the Harman Kardon NC.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: May 09, 2013 0 comments

It's not so easy to convert a headphone to Bluetooth. You've got to find space for the amplifier, processing circuitry, radio transceiver, and battery-and all that stuff taking up space inside the earpieces can change the sound a lot. Plus you kinda have to have a cabled mode, because you can't use Bluetooth on airplanes.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: May 08, 2013 0 comments

I've heard Skullcandy 'phones ranging from the well-balanced RocNation Aviator to the heavy-handed Hesh to the hard-driving Titan, an inconsistency that led me to guess that the company wasn't making a serious effort to voice its headphones.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: May 03, 2013 0 comments

When I’m asked to pick my favorite headphones for S&V’s Editor’s Choice awards, it’s always easy. I just make a list of the ones I kept using after the review was done—the ones I listened to even when I didn’t have to. After our test of affordable audiophile headphones last year, the headphone I kept on using afterward was the AudioTechnica ATH-AD900. It’s a big, comfortable, spacious-sounding, tonally neutral open-back headphone. Just the thing for streaming Internet radio for hours while I’m writing, or to use for an all-night-long Netflix binge.

That’s why I was so happy to find a successor to the ATH-AD900 at the January CES show. The ATH-AD900X has the same list price, pretty much the same specs, and similar looks.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Apr 17, 2013 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $199 At a Glance: Basic styling with solid build quality • Supremely comfortable to wear • Sounds swell with tablets and receivers

Universally loved audio products are rare, but you won’t find too many folks with a bad thing to say about the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 headphones (it has around 800 five-star and just nine one-star ratings on Amazon). The headphone consistently garners raves, but the mundane styling won’t cut it with folks craving the latest fashion statements from the likes of Beats by Dr. Dre, V-Moda, or Bowers & Wilkins. While the ATH-M50 is mostly made of plastic, it feels remarkably durable, and its two-year warranty offers double the length of coverage of most headphones, even higher-end models.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Apr 04, 2013 0 comments

As an Android fan, it's been frustrating to me to see how many audio accessories have been made for the iPhone, but almost none for my phone of choice. As a Samsung Galaxy S III owner, it's been even more frustrating, because the GS3 has sold more than 40 million units to date, with the GS4 coming in a couple of weeks to keep the trend going. Finally, though, someone's come up with an audio accessory for the GS3. Not some tacky little plastic dock, either. It's actually the coolest portable headphone amp I've ever seen: the V-Moda Vamp Verza.

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