HEADPHONE REVIEWS

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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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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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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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Michael Berk Posted: Feb 05, 2013 0 comments

One of the most interesting success stories of the new wave of headphone audiophila is Audeze. The company, which specializes in planar magnetic headphones with wooden ear cups, luxurious appointments, and you're-got-to-hear-it-to-believe-it sonics. We got a chance recently to spend some time with their flagship, the LCD-3 ($1,945), a headphone that's become the top choice for many of today's personal audio enthusiasts. Obviously, we needed to hear why.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Jun 25, 2012 0 comments

These days, the headphone biz is hot. The speaker biz? Not as hot. So it’s no surprise that every major speaker company is either launching a headphone line or thinking about it. And why not? They’re experts in developing, manufacturing, and marketing audio products. How hard could it be for them to launch a line of headphones?

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Jun 30, 2013 0 comments

The companies that have most benefitted from the headphone boom are the ones who are great at marketing but don't know much about audio engineering. (Yet.) Two of the hottest brands in the biz are Beats and Skullcandy, companies that didn't even exist when the iPod debuted.

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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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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jun 28, 2012 0 comments

When Bell'O announced that they were getting into the audio business, I fully expected them to come out with a line of speakers that matched some of their home theater furniture.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Sep 07, 2011 0 comments

When I got the press release for the new InTune in-ear headphones from Fuse, it made me think: How is any particular genre of music supposed to sound? And does it already sound that way, or do you have to do something to it to make it sound like it’s supposed to?

The InTune headphones inspired this question because they’re available in four varieties, each tuned for a certain type of music: red for rap and hip-hop, orange for rock, blues and country; blue for jazz and classical; and green for pop and easy listening.

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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Dec 17, 2012 1 comments

Noise cancelling and celebrity-endorsed headphones are two of the biggest categories in big headphones. You can thank Beats for that, I suppose. In one hand, I've got the MDR-1RNC which apparently are not endorsed by the Republican National Committee. At least, I don't think. They've got digital noise cancelling (the headphones, not the Republicans) and some great design and build quality.

In my other hand I've got the shiny MDR-X10's which are "unique and powerful headphones designed by Sony and Simon Cowell." Yeah, they're unique all right.

Six ears give a listen to create one verdict (Well, OK, technically two verdicts).

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