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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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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Michael Berk Posted: Oct 23, 2012 0 comments

In our roundup of $59 headphones, Urban Ears' Plattan won our testers over with its combination of solid performance, comfort, and minimalist style. The company's now introduced the Plattan's grown-up successor, the Urban Ears Zinken ($140), a more feature-packed model that shares styling cues with the older 'phone but is aimed squarely at DJs and the far larger market of folks who want to look like they spend their nights behind the wheels of steel.

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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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Michael Berk Posted: Mar 27, 2013 0 comments

As Brent Butterworth reminded everyone earlier in the week, subwoofer specialists Velodyne impressed us quite a bit last year with their first headphone effort, the in-ear vPulse.

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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: 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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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Nov 07, 2011 0 comments

Expanding on our recent bout with celebrity-endorsed headphones, here we go one step further (back?) with a TV-show-endorsed headphone.

Maybe "endorsed" isn't the right word. "Branded" perhaps, which is more than appropriate given the subject matter of Showtime's vampire-themed soap opera.

Given that preamble, the V-MODA True Blood Maker headphones turn out to be something of a surprise.

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Michael Berk Posted: Oct 09, 2012 0 comments

Kicker - there's a name that probably doesn't come to mind when you think headphones, but this being 2012, wouldn't you know that they'd be in the personal audio biz now too.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Jan 27, 2012 0 comments

ANY AUDIOPHILE CAN RECOGNIZE a pair of Grado headphones from 50 feet away. The distinctive, old-school leather band and earpieces mounted on sliding rods give them a World War II vibe. But audiophiles love them for their sound, not their looks.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 08, 2013 0 comments

Bluetooth's been a boon for headphones, 'cause lots of people love headphones but nobody loves cables. It hasn't taken off in the in-ear monitor market, though, 'cause almost all Bluetooth IEMs have a clunky module that holds the Bluetooth electronics and the amplifier-and nobody loves clunky modules.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Jun 25, 2012 0 comments

Some audiophiles consider Focal’s $180,000-per-pair Grande Utopia EM to be the world’s finest speaker. The Spirit One, Focal’s first headphone, weighs about 99.9% less and costs about 99.8% less. Yet its brushed aluminum metal parts, matte black soft-touch finishes, and detachable cord with a woven cover convey some of the Utopias’ high-end vibe.

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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.

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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: 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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