HEADPHONE REVIEWS

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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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Brent Butterworth Posted: Jan 04, 2012 0 comments

Mention noise-cancelling headphones and most people think of large, over-ear models like the Bose QC15. Comfy as those big cans can be, they’re waaaay too big to slip into a pocket or purse. But not all noise-cancelling headphones come in cases sized like jumbo donuts at the State Fair. In fact, a few manufacturers have added noise-cancelling technology to their in-ear monitors (IEMs), using a little “lump in the line” to house the needed electronics.

One might fairly ask, though: Do IEMs really need noise cancelling? After all, when used with tips that fit your ears properly, IEMs completely seal off your ear canals. However, IEMs do most of their noise-blocking at frequencies above 1 kHz. Below that, they’re not so effective at keeping the noise out.

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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!

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Oct 24, 2013 1 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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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 31, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Comfort
Value
PRICE $1,099

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Planar technology
Rich sound
Understated good looks
Minus
Voicing too rich for some
Crosses the $1K barrier

THE VERDICT
Oppo’s first headphone, the PM-1, uses a planar diaphragm to produce a luxuriously warm sound that becomes addicting on its own terms.

There once was a piano tuner named Opporknockity. A customer asked him to re-tune a piano he’d done the week before. “Sorry,” he replied, “Opporknockity only tunes once.” Luckily for consumers, Oppo Digital isn’t as stingy as Opporknockity. You can buy all the Oppo products you want.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 26, 2016 1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Planar diaphragms
Smooth, sweet, high-res sound
Long and short cables supplied
Minus
Not as airy as some competitive ’phones

THE VERDICT
Planar headphones don’t come cheap, but the Oppo PM-2 is a relatively affordable specimen that sounds beautiful with a variety of content and signal sources.

Planar magnetic headphones have potential advantages over conventional dynamic headphones. Their flat diaphragms have magnets evenly spread across them, driving the entire surface, as opposed to a single coil driving the center of a diaphragm. The result can be greater resolution and phase coherence. But that potential performance edge comes at a price. So headphone fans rejoiced when Oppo—which won positive reviews for its $1,099 PM-1—introduced the PM-2, with some of the same features, at a more affordable price of $699, followed by the even more affordable PM-3 ($399). I’ve been spending much of the past year or so listening to the PM-2.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jun 20, 2016 3 comments
Every week a new pair of wireless Bluetooth earphones seem to appear on my doorstep. Usually, I have to take a long, hard look to find anything noteworthy to make one pair stand out from the others. The newly updated NuForce BE6i earphones feature aptX technology for better playback quality and that, my friends, is noteworthy enough.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Sep 07, 2015 0 comments
When Optoma, a home-theater projector company, and NuForce, an audio company joined forces, I’ll admit it I was initially confused. NuForce made nice, niche audio products, and Optoma is mainly only doing projectors. What would their combined efforts produce? Light-emitting earbuds? Projectors with built-in speakers? But it actually makes sense; Optoma purchased NuForce to be able to provide both excellent video and audio to consumers, and they’ve kept the high quality that you would expect from NuForce. How do two new pairs of earphones, the NE750M and the NE800M from Optoma NuForce sound? Let’s find out.

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Lauren Dragan Posted: Jun 23, 2016 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent ANC
Decent Bluetooth sound (with ANC off)
Wireless charging
Minus
Inconsistent sound quality
App mandatory for major functions

THE VERDICT
While the Zik 3 has allure with fun features, it falls short on core functionality, especially against its price competition.

Since their first version, Parrot Zik headphones have been consistently beautiful to look at and have featured technology that is a nose ahead of the competition. It’s the combo of pretty and new that has made the Ziks the darlings of the tech-enthusiast set. Now in its third iteration, the new Zik 3 is packed with all sorts of bells and whistles. Some will be familiar to users of the Zik 2.0: touch-sensitive controls on a sleek-looking earcup, deeply customizable noise cancellation and EQ via an app, sensors that trigger a pause in the music when the headphones are removed. And some are new: wireless charging, USB audio, Apple Watch, and Android Wear compatibility.

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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.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: May 09, 2016 1 comments
Absolute power corrupts absolutely; lack of power is just freakin’ annoying. The new Plantronics BackBeat GO 3 is a wireless, sweatproof earbud that solves the lack of power problem in a unique and clever way. The carrying case has a built-in rechargeable battery that provides the power for up to two recharges, giving the Backbeat GO 3 an extra 13 hours of playback. That’s the kind of power a girl could get used to.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Aug 17, 2015 0 comments
Everything needs to be enhanced these days to stand out from the crowd—everyone needs a schtick. Potato chips need wacky truffle-oil flavoring, cars need a carbon fiber wrap, and well, most celebrities keep their plastic surgeons on speed-dial. Even headphones need a hook to make a splash in the over-saturated market. While the Plantronics BackBeat Sense wireless headphones look like ordinary headphones, they are packed with enhancements, including knowing when they’re on or off.
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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Dec 09, 2015 1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Two-way hybrid dual-driver design
User-replaceable cables
Two-year warranty
Minus
Resolution no match for all-armature in-ear designs

THE VERDICT
The PSB Speakers M4U 4 blocks a good amount of external noise, feels comfy, and sounds sweet. What’s not to like?

PSB Speakers’ Paul Barton is a quick learner. After decades designing his company’s speakers, he jumped into headphones with the PSB M4U 2 full-size, noise-canceling ’phones. The M4U 2 was hailed by critics and consumers alike, and his next design for NAD, the Viso HP50, was even better, Barton was clearly on a roll. Now, with the M4U 4, Barton may be the first celebrated speaker designer to ever tackle crafting an in-ear headphone.

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Lauren Dragan Posted: Feb 16, 2015 Published: Feb 15, 2015 0 comments
Editor’s Note: This review was first published on 1/31/15, based on what proved to be a defective sample, and revised on 2/15/15.

Speaker company RBH has expanded their headphone lineup with new Bluetooth in-ears, the EP-SB. Lightweight and sweat resistant, RBH want the EP-SB to be your go-to headphones for on-the-go and at the gym. I got my hands on one of the first pairs available (literally!), and put them through their paces. How did they hold up? Lace up your sneaks and meet me after the jump.

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Aug 27, 2012 0 comments

After seeing our initial  review of the Bell'O BDH650, Bell'O sent us a replacement, feeling that our review sample must have been a prototype. Yes, we've heard this kind of thing before, but the argument, in this case, did make sense (the 650 doesn't seem to have made it into Bell'O's final headphone lineup anyway). So we took another listen.

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