HEADPHONE REVIEWS

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Jul 29, 2012 0 comments

Even if you’re not an audiophile, you’ve seen the huge headphones many audiophiles wear. Most are open-back models, which allow the sound from the back of the speaker driver inside to escape, and which thus avoid the “boxy” sound that driver enclosures can create.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: May 03, 2013 0 comments

When I’m asked to pick my favorite headphones for S&V’s Editor’s Choice awards, it’s always easy. I just make a list of the ones I kept using after the review was done—the ones I listened to even when I didn’t have to. After our test of affordable audiophile headphones last year, the headphone I kept on using afterward was the AudioTechnica ATH-AD900. It’s a big, comfortable, spacious-sounding, tonally neutral open-back headphone. Just the thing for streaming Internet radio for hours while I’m writing, or to use for an all-night-long Netflix binge.

That’s why I was so happy to find a successor to the ATH-AD900 at the January CES show. The ATH-AD900X has the same list price, pretty much the same specs, and similar looks.

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jun 14, 2012 0 comments

Anyone who's ever been out on a bike path or trail knows the hazard of approaching another runner who's wearing earphones. You know you should announce that you're passing them, but you know they can't hear you. As a cyclist, I always shout out "passing on your left" or even just a friendly "hello" to let someone know I'm behind them.

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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: May 12, 2013 0 comments

I'm not much of a businessman. (If I were, would I be writing audio reviews for a living?) Still, after years of experience in marketing and advertising, I can't help but admire a good business strategy. That's partly why I like the Harman Kardon NC.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Jul 23, 2012 0 comments

To most people, the only apparent differences among in-ear monitors (IEMs) are the logos on the sides. But there are two very different technologies used in IEMs.

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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: May 24, 2012 0 comments

When we got our hands on the latest iteration of Denon's flagship headphone, the AH-D7000, we had no idea it would be the end of the line for these spectacular wooden-cupped cans (and for the entire Dx000 series, at least as we know it today). Suffice it to say that however curious we are to learn what the Denon headphone design team has up its collective sleeve, we will be sad to see 'em go.

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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: 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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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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