HEADPHONE REVIEWS

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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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Posted: Dec 12, 2013 0 comments
All other headphones bow to these. All other headphones are NOTHING compared to these. These are, to put it simply, a collection of the greatest headphones on Earth.

One of them even looks like bacon.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 01, 2013 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE Vamp Verza, $598; Metallo case, $101

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Elegant two-piece add-on to enhance smartphone audio
More power, superior DACs
Sleek, serious metal construction
Minus
Makes phone heavy and bulky for your pocket
Metallo case a pricey add-on

THE VERDICT
V-Moda offers a stylish solution to turn your smartphone into the sonic titan you always dreamed it could be.

The Samsung Galaxy S III (a.k.a.GS3) was arguably last year’s second best-selling mobile phone, behind the iPhone 5, and the popularity of this non-Apple device—reportedly over 30 million units in consumers’ hands—in a sea of Android competitors speaks volumes. Smartphones do a lot, often serving as many folks’ primary media player, but they face the quandaries of all modern portable gear: Performance must contend with the realities of physical size and weight, as well as battery life. One such casualty is the diminutive digital-to-analog converter inside the phone, which turns the digital audio signals into analog audio that we can hear over headphones or the built-in speaker. As a GS3 user for the past 11 months, I have no major gripes about the onboard DAC (in this case built into the Qualcomm WCD9310 chip), but it is fair to say that it wasn’t selected only for audio quality, but perhaps partly because it’s tiny and it won’t overwhelm the phone’s battery.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Oct 24, 2013 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $179

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clean styling
Neutral and highly accurate sound
Looks more expensive than it is
Minus
Could have more headband padding

THE VERDICT
Onkyo’s debut outing in the headphone market is near perfect.

We are living in a golden age for headphones. New models and even types of headphones are announced, and a month or two later, there’s another deluge. The waves of entry-level, midrange, and high-end models never let up. But even in the midst of headphone mania, Onkyo’s ES-HF300 distinguishes itself on a number of counts. I’m happy to see that rather than take the shiny plastic design route, the ES-HF300 sports brushed, black anodized aluminum construction, and it looks thoroughly modern and yet classic.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Oct 21, 2013 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Euro design
Real lambskin ear pads
Oodles of detail and resolution
Minus
Not vegan friendly

THE VERDICT
A beautifully balanced headphone that’s beautiful to look at.

Bang & Olufsen isn’t just another high-end audio company. Far from it. The Danish firm started making TVs in 1952, and their 1970s turntables were the best looking of the era. I’m not alone in admiring the industrial design; the Museum of Modern Art in NYC has 18 B&O products in its permanent collection. B&O is no Johnny come lately to headphones, either; they’ve been making outstanding ones as far back as the late 1970s!

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Lauren Dragan Posted: Oct 17, 2013 0 comments
Let me start by saying, I know headphones. I have reviewed a lot, I own a lot, and my ears have endured a lot. Generally speaking, function comes before form in my recommendations. Do they sound good? Are they comfortable? How much do they cost?

Only after these questions are positively answered do I then I allow myself to get excited over how pretty they are. Rarely am I able to reach that glorious final stage. To be frank: most tech that focuses on form ends up lacking in function (I’m looking at you, Beats). But every once in a while, my inner geek gets her day, and today it’s thanks to the British company RHA’s 750i. Now, knowing the substance is there, just look at them. Sigh...Sexy, no?

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Oct 01, 2013 0 comments
Much to the dismay of audiophile old fogies, the audio scene has been overrun by punks and their celebrity endorsements. Everywhere you look (Dre, I’m looking at you) you see audio gear, headphones in particular, with a famous DJ or other artist name attached. Of course, even old fogies were young once, and now it’s another generation’s turn to discover how cool audio is.
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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Aug 14, 2013 0 comments

Sennheiser has long been a fixture in the professional audio and high-end audiophile market. I’ve used my Sennheiser HD 595 and HD 600 Open Dynamic headphones for many applications - in the studio for reference monitoring, for sound quality consulting, and for audio forensics. When Sennheiser announced the Momentum series, I was instantly curious about these affordable, fashionable, and (somewhat) portable headphones. Would they live up to the brand’s reputation?

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Aug 11, 2013 Published: Aug 09, 2013 0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $449 At a Glance: Stellar build quality • Folds up into a compact bundle

AKG credits producer, recording artist, and DJ Tiësto (Tijs Michiel Verwest) with the sound tuning of the headphones that bear his name, and that’s cool, but I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that’s not necessarily a good thing. I haven’t been swayed by any celebrity ’phones, but I try to approach every review with an open mind, and by first judging their look and feel, the K267 Tiësto doesn’t give off any overt DJ vibes. As soon as I started listening, I relaxed. It didn’t sound like a DJ headphone; there’s no pumped-up bass or zippy highs. The K267 Tiësto sounds, above all, balanced, which puts this new AKG in the top ranks of audiophile headphones in its price class.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Aug 10, 2013 0 comments
Headphones that let you share your music — or annoy the hell out of people.
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Brent Butterworth Posted: Aug 04, 2013 0 comments

Has there ever been a headphone brand so controversial as Beats? It's undeniably popular; just walk around any downtown or airport in any industrialized country and you're almost sure to see a set. Yet audio enthusiasts-including the ones at Sound & Vision-often deride Beats' sound quality.

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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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