HEADPHONE REVIEWS

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Dec 19, 2012 0 comments

From mixing boards to Blu-ray players to soundbars to saxophones, Yamaha makes just about everything audio. Which is why it’s surprising that in the one field that practically every audio company has piled into—headphones—Yamaha hasn’t done much in the last few years. The Pro 500 represents a re-entry of sorts, a flashy blue bombshell designed to attract both audiophiles and fashion-oriented “listeners.”

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Michael Berk Posted: Oct 31, 2012 0 comments

Scottish headphone manufacturer RHA hasn't had much of a stateside presence, but this week marks their arrival in Apple stores, with the MA450i in-ear ($49.95) and SA950i on-ear ($59.95) set to appeal to budget-minded consumers looking to accessorize their iDevices. And appeal they may.

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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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Brent Butterworth Posted: Jan 27, 2012 0 comments

WHEN I FIRST SAW the Sennheiser HD598’s beige-and-brown color scheme, woodgrain accents, and air-cushioned headband, images of all sorts of 1970s products fl ooded through my head: Kustom guitar amps with “tuck and roll” covering, lacquered driftwood furniture, waterbeds, Roger Dean posters.

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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.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jan 20, 2014 1 comments
The new Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear headphone takes everything I loved about the original Momentum over-ear headphone and puts it in a smaller, infinitely more stylish and affordable package. Coming in a range of colors, and at a lower price, this headphone retains the sound quality and voice of the original but makes it more accessible to more people.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: May 26, 2014 0 comments
Everywhere you turn, new ways to support causes and ideas have been created. Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding is inescapable. Friends just used Honeyfund to let wedding guests finance their honeymoon. Perhaps more philanthropically, another friend is getting help with medical payments through GiveForward.com. My bicycle rides are logged onto the Plus3 website that, through corporate sponsors, donates money to charities based on how many miles I ride. (I’ve personally raised almost $700 and burned 1.4 million calories; that’s a lot of M&Ms.) It seems that new ways to raise money for a cause are being created daily. Enter ShareBrand.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jan 14, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $1,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Four balanced armature drivers
Customizable frequency response
User-replaceable cables
Minus
Not as good at isolating outside noise as custom in-ears

THE VERDICT
The SE846 combines state-of-the-art engineering with great musicality.

You guys know Shure; it’s best known as a microphone manufacturer, but millions of vinyl lovers have had long-term affairs with Shure’s phono cartridges. The company jumped into the earphone market in 1997 and focused on pro users—musicians and sound engineers—but audiophiles quickly got the word. Microphones, cartridges, and earphones have one thing in common: They’re all “transducers.” Microphones convert sound into electrical signals; cartridges convert groove wiggles into electrical signals; earphones convert electrical signals back into sound. The all-new SE846 reference-grade earphone was in development for four years.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jul 09, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Real carbon-fiber ear cups
Really hushes external noise
Really, really comfortable
Minus
Lacks mike and phone controls
Doesn't fold for compact storage

THE VERDICT
Shure's rich-sounding, full-size headphone flatters a wide range of music genres.

First impressions count for a lot. This is especially true for headphones, because, unlike other types of audio gear, you wear headphones. When you first try a pair on, do they feel good, or do they hurt? How do they feel in your hands? From the get-go, I knew Shure's engineers struck just the right balance of rugged build quality and elegant design with the new SRH1540 over-the-ear headphone. I could have written this review after just a few minutes into my first encounter, but I just kept listening to the SRH1540 and loved it more and more. It looks, feels, and sounds right.
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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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Brent Butterworth Posted: Dec 14, 2011 0 comments

After hearing the enthusiastic sales pitch from SOL Republic, one of the latest of many new entrants into the headphone biz, I was disappointed when I heard the company's first model, the Tracks $99 on-ear. While the Tracks is beautifully made and incredibly comfortable for an on-ear model, its extremely bass-heavy balance made me feel like I was locked in the trunk of a Honda Civic with two 12-inch woofers and the complete works of Deadmau5 cranked way up.

When I received the company's first in-ear monitor (IEM), the $99 Amps HD, I wondered if the company would be able to achieve the blend of design and sound quality it originally promised - or if it'd be another well-crafted but sonically intolerable product.

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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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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 20, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Sweet mids, solid bass
Super comfortable
Sporty look
Minus
Reticent highs
Plastic construction

THE VERDICT
These full-size headphones are comfortable, sweet sounding, and suitable for portable signal sources.

Some companies jump into the now-trendy headphone category on a wing and a prayer. Sony, on the other hand, is the steward of Sony Music and the master of numerous audio product categories, including a long history in headphones. So a set of midpriced ’phones from Sony raises high hopes. With the MDR-1R, they are largely fulfilled. I like these headphones, not because they’re perfect, but because they feel right.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 18, 2005 0 comments
One of the most mortifying moments of my life came when I realized I’d lost my Sony MDR-NC10 noise-canceling earbuds. Well, I didn’t exactly lose them—what I lost was one of the rubber earpieces. I was ransacking the front pockets of my Levis in the men’s room of the Dallas airport and the friction of dragging out the earbuds must have dislodged the precious morsel of rubber. That effectively exiled the MDR-NC10 to my useless-gear drawer. Living without them was so impossible that I broke down and bought the successor model, the MDR-NC11.
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Brent Butterworth Posted: Jan 27, 2012 0 comments

BEING THE ONLY CLOSED-BACK headphone pair in this bunch gave the Sony MDR-Z1000 a potential advantage and disadvantage. The advantage, we assumed, would be that the MDR-Z1000 would have more robust bass than the open-back models. The disadvantage, we assumed, would be that it wouldn’t sound as, well, open — i.e., spacious — as the open-back models.

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