HEADPHONE REVIEWS

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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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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: 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Brent Butterworth Posted: Aug 08, 2012 0 comments

Pioneer’s gotta be a little PO’ed. The storied Japanese company has been making headphones for more than 50 years, yet it’s been overshadowed by upstart brands like Beats, HiFiMan, V-Moda, Phiaton, and others. But Pioneer’s fighting back with a freshly designed new line, in which the SE-MJ591 on-ear headphone is one of the top models.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Jun 25, 2012 0 comments

I’m happy to see Polk getting into one of the headphone world’s neglected nether realms: noise-canceling IEMs. The UltraFocus 6000 gives you the easy transportability of an IEM with the noise-canceling technology that’s popular on larger over-ear and on-ear models.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Nov 25, 2012 0 comments

I bet your average dude on the street can’t name a single audio company that’s not in the headphone biz now. For an audiophile, it’s easier. As I look around my listening room, I see lots of them: AudioControl, Canare, Hsu Research, Krell, Rotel, Sunfire, and Sonus Faber, none of which have (yet) entered the personal audio field. But that’s changing. The Pro-Ject RM-1.3 turntable sitting atop my audio rack now shares its brand with two headphones, the $129 Hear It One and the $79 Hear It Two.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Nov 28, 2012 0 comments

A couple of days ago, we listened to the $129 Pro-Ject Hear It One, the larger of two new headphones from the budget turntable specialists. Now we’ll listen to the Hear It Two, a $79 on-ear model that, frankly, looks more like something you’d buy at Target than something you’d buy at Needle Doctor.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Jun 25, 2012 0 comments

When PSB’s Paul Barton recently called me to chat about headphone measurement, it soon became apparent that he’d read every scientific paper ever written about headphones. The first headphone to which Barton brings his ultra-scientific approach is the M4U 2, a noise-canceling model poised to go up against the likes of the Bose QC15.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Aug 22, 2012 0 comments

“So when are you guys gonna do headphones?” I jokingly asked the staff of RBH Sound when I visited them at January’s CES show. A boutique speaker company, RBH focuses on the sort of relatively high-end products that independent dealers like to sell.

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