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Lauren Dragan

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Lauren Dragan Posted: Aug 29, 2014 0 comments
Blue may be the last major microphone company to take the plunge into the headphone business, but they’ll tell you this was a conscious choice. Known for solid mic products with funky designs, Blue says they didn’t want to release just standard-issue headphones. One glance at the design of Mo-Fi, and you’ll see that in the quest for individuality they succeeded. Mo-Fi are simultaneously retro and modern looking with a unique hinged headband and adjustable tension knob. They also feature a built-in 240mW amp that the folks at Blue say is specifically matched to the drivers. For folks like me, who just can’t bear the idea of having to carry around one more thing, not needing a separate headphone amp is a welcome addition. Sounds great on paper. But how successful are Mo-Fi in practice?
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Lauren Dragan Posted: Aug 22, 2014 0 comments
Rock stars, producers, and the audio elite have long been the target demographic for the custom in-ear monitor. Personalized, individually crafted, and generally prohibitively expensive, purchasing a set has often been out of reach for most audio hobbyists. But now two companies, Normal and OwnPhones are looking to cater to the custom-curious with affordable 3D printed in-ear headphones. Will the advent of of the printed earbud change in-ear headphones for good?

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Lauren Dragan Posted: Jul 16, 2014 0 comments
Last week we talked about The Distortion of Sound, the new documentary concerning the gradual decline in audio quality that plagues the music current music industry. If you haven’t watched it yet (it’s free, incidentally) you really owe it to yourself to take the half an hour, and to share with a less-tech-savvy friend. For those of you who can’t stream a video right now, the gist is this: music fans are getting deprived of the ability to hear the full quality of the music they’re downloading, streaming, and YouTube-ing. Initially, the desire for convenience of carrying a small device necessitated the severe compression of music files, but as tech has advanced beyond that point, the quality of the music we’re hearing hasn’t. In fact, since the CD, the clarity and authenticity or recordings has largely decreased. Buy the best headphones, speakers, you name it, and they’re all worthless if the audio you’re playing isn’t high quality. Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park is a vocalist, songwriter, guitarist and keyboardist, as well as producer, and was one of the many members of the music and recording industry who participated in The Distortion of Sound. I sat down with him before the documentary premiere to talk about the state of the music industry, how he listens to music, and what it was like to record an album analog.
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Lauren Dragan Posted: Jul 11, 2014 6 comments
We live in an amazing time, music-wise. For the first time in history, we can hear virtually any artist, living or deceased, perform for us on a whim, within seconds.

For perspective: if you lived in 1580, to even hear a professional musician you’d need to be a member of a royal court, or a very wealthy household like the Medici family. Fast forward two hundred years, and in 1780 you’d still need to travel great distances at great expense to hear Mozart play. In another two hundred years, 1980, hearing your favorite music meant a trip to the store, purchasing an album (if it was in stock!) and then carrying that album around when you wanted to listen. For four hundred years, access to music took money, effort, and determination.

Yet here we are now, a few clicks away from the stuff of riches and royalty. While on our couch, no less! One would think, at this pinnacle of technological accomplishment, that the recordings we enjoy would be of increasing quality. The better the technology gets, the better the sound, right? Nope.

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Lauren Dragan Posted: Jun 13, 2014 0 comments
Master and Dynamic are relatively new in the headphone community, but they sure know how to leave a memorable first impression. Due out later this month, the MH40 are retro-modern without trying too hard; that effortless kind of organic cool that you know probably took countless hours to design, but look as easy and sexy as bed head on a rock star. The chassis is crafted of durable goods: forged aluminum with stainless steel accents, and the headband and earcups have calfskin leather on the outside, lambskin on the inside. (Sorry, fellow vegans… maybe one day they’ll make a protein leather version just for us.) So, after a good lovesick sigh over the design came the moment of truth: was the beauty skin deep?

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Lauren Dragan Posted: Jun 05, 2014 0 comments
This week, I’m going to take a little break from obsessing/drooling over the latest tech in order to discuss something serious with you, and tell you what you can do to help. (It’s as easy as checking your electronics junk drawer, I promise!) I hope you’ll stay with me, but if do-goodery isn’t your thing, stop back next week, and I’m sure to have something new and electrical that makes un noises.
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Geoffrey Morrison Lauren Dragan Posted: May 16, 2014 8 comments
Monster has launched a new line of sports headphones. The lead image on their site (shown above in case they change it) is… confusing, at best.

What, exactly, are they selling here?

Is this just a poor choice of marketing imagery, or something else?

Lauren and Geoff decide to ponder the finer points of Monster’s new headphone marketing.

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Lauren Dragan Posted: May 02, 2014 Published: May 01, 2014 0 comments
On-Ear headphones are making a comeback. Once banished to the 80s with the foamy-coated walkman-style ‘phones, the audiophile set are once again embracing the power of the tiny cans. I’ll admit, at first blush I didn’t get it. Over-ears, in-ears? They made sense to me. Over ears with their full, lush soundstage for home and studio, and in-ears for portability… those were my two needs fulfilled. So where do on-ears fit into the picture? Answer: In Goldilocks territory. For those who hate that stuffed in-ear feeling, but don’t want to be stuck sporting full-sized and possibly heavy over-ear headphones while out and about, on-ears can be a really great option. And the market has caught up, with some great higher end options. I’ve written already about the V-Moda XS, and now Beyerdynamic have a brand new offering out this week, the T 51 i. Are these baby Beyers a good fit?

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Lauren Dragan Posted: Apr 24, 2014 0 comments
If you’re like me, you can’t get any kind of workout done without music. A driving beat helps to regulate breathing, encourages you to keep up the pace, and energizes you when you’re ready to call it quits. But sometimes the toughest part of working out isn’t my burning muscles, it’s getting the right pair of headphones that sound good, stay put, and deliver my tunes. There’s a lot out of offerings there these days, and Jabra is entering the fray with their first Bluetooth sport headphone, the Rox. But do they have the fortitude to go the distance?
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Lauren Dragan Posted: Apr 10, 2014 0 comments
The latest release from V-MODA, the XS are designed to be on-the-go headphones for the person who dislikes in-ears. They’re ultra-compact on-ears, and V-MODA have streamlined the shape of the earcups and headband to lay as close to the skull as possible. You have to give V-MODA credit: they are impressively small. The included case is barely taller than an iPhone. The XS are hinged and collapse down to about 4.5”x 5”x 2.5”. But are they more than just teeny tiny?

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