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HEADPHONE REVIEWS

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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: Feb 05, 2013 0 comments

To most people, a high-end in-ear monitor costing hundreds of dollars doesn’t look much different from the $10 IEMs you buy at Walgreens. But usually, the difference is huge. Perfect example: the $199 Klipsch Image X7i.

Filed under
Michael Berk Posted: Feb 12, 2013 0 comments
When Logitech acquired the Ultimate Ears headphone brand in 2008, longtime fans had their doubts about what the consumer electronics megacompany would do with the high-end in-ear specialists.
Filed under
Brent Butterworth Posted: Nov 12, 2012 0 comments

We’ve learned one thing from our past investigations into the new wave of headphones made by speaker companies: Headphone engineering has little in common with speaker engineering. Because the physics of headphones are so different from the physics of speakers — and because few, if any, speaker companies actually build their own headphones — it’s rare for a company’s headphones to mirror the sonic character of its speakers.

Tougher still for MartinLogan, which built its brand on 5-foot-tall electrostatic speakers.

Filed under
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.

Filed under
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.

Filed under
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.

Filed under
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.
Filed under
Brent Butterworth Posted: Jun 25, 2012 0 comments

Paradigm tunes its IEMs to match the sound of its different speaker lines. The E3m is the top-of-the-line model, thus it is said to match the company’s top-of-the-line Signature Series speakers. The midpriced E2m matches Paradigm’s Studio Series speakers, and the low-priced E1 matches the Monitor Series 7 speakers.

Filed under
Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Nov 19, 2012 0 comments

I'm skeptical of any audio product with a fancy design. In my experience, the more trendy or attractive a product is, the worse the performance. Maybe this prejudice comes from a place of subconscious competition, given that I'm so trendy and attractive.

So I approached the Parrot Zik with caution, not least because I found out that "Design by Starck" was not a misspelling and had nothing to do with Ned or even Robb (What about Tony? - Ed.).

But turns out, zee Ziks are zuper.

Filed under
Brent Butterworth Posted: Nov 07, 2012 0 comments

I'm always surprised at headphone companies' efforts to make super-stylish in-ear monitors. 'Cause who's gonna stare into some stranger's ears on the subway? Personally, I'd never buy an IEM for its looks unless it had an image of Bandit on the side. But I have to admit Phiaton's new Moderna MS 200 looks pretty cool with its carbon fiber sides and red cables and accents.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Dec 23, 2011 0 comments

After trying several Bluetooth headphones, I’m surprised this category hasn’t taken off yet. With Bluetooth, you’re unencumbered by pesky cables. You can leave your cell phone in your pocket, on a table, etc., and control volume and track forward/reverse wherever you roam, as long as you don’t stray further than 30 feet. And unlike almost all mic-equipped headphones, Bluetooth headphones work as well with Androids as they do with iPhones.

Filed under
Brent Butterworth Posted: Aug 12, 2012 0 comments

Gadget freaks can drive themselves crazy waiting for the perfect product. Whether it's a smartphone, an A/V receiver, or a laptop, it seems there's always at least one missing feature that you really, really need.

Filed under
Brent Butterworth Posted: Apr 30, 2012 0 comments

Philips has been making headphones for decades, but the company hasn't been a prominent presence in the market for a long time. Now that headphones have gotten hot, the brand's re-emerging with all-new models.

Filed under
Brent Butterworth Posted: Feb 03, 2012 0 comments

At the CanJam section of last fall’s Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, a manufacturer said something that’s resonated with me ever since. “The fit is the sound,” he told me, referring to the fancy new tips included with his company’s in-ear monitors. With that simple statement he summed up the reason why different listeners can have such different opinions of headphones. With IEMs, unless the tips seal well and the sound tubes fit properly within your ear canal, you’ll get little or no bass, and your treble and midrange will be out of balance at best and grossly uneven at worst.

Perhaps 50 feet away in the same ballroom, Phonak — the world’s largest manufacturer of hearing aids — showed me a way they’d come up with to address the fit problem with IEMs. The company’s Perfect Fit system employs L-shaped earpieces designed to conform to the folds of your pinna, allowing the body of the earpiece to reach further and more consistently into your ear canal for a better fit.

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