Headphone Reviews

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Mark Henninger  |  Jul 24, 2023  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Refined sound quality
Exceptional comfort
Top tier noise canceling
Small and discrete Long battery life
Minus
Cost more than AirPods Pro

THE VERDICT
Sony’s latest earbuds are state-of-the-art listening devices that deliver unparalleled comfort and noise-canceling capability in a truly wireless earbud style.

The new WF-1000XM5 ($299 MSRP) is the successor to the popular and highly regarded WF-1000XM4, true wireless earbuds that already had a reputation for some of the best noise canceling in the business. With the WF-1000XM5 Sony focused on improving performance while shrinking their size.

While there are seemingly an endless number of headphone Brands and models, Sony’s WF-1000 series stands as one of the most popular premium options. This is especially the case for Android users who are feature-limited when using AirPods Pro.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jul 19, 2023  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $69.95

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Budget price
ANC and Ambient modes
Memory Foam tips
Minus
No-frills packaging
Treble response lacks clarity
ANC could be stronger

THE VERDICT
The JVC HA-A25T ranks among the top budget True Wireless earbuds I've tried, performing well as practical earbuds for the gym or office and won’t cause heartbreak if you misplace one.

I will just come right out and admit this: I am an audio snob, perhaps brought on by my early childhood years listening to my dad’s Quad Electrostatic speakers or the 25 years spent in professional recording studios. I know good sound quality and I like it. So when I was handed a pair of $70 JVC Marshmallow HA-A25T Noise Canceling True Wireless Earbuds, I scoffed. Will they be able to overcome my bias?

Leslie Shapiro  |  Apr 26, 2023  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Reference-quality sound
Excellent connectivity options
Exceptional ANC

Minus
Annoying voice confirmation
Short On-Head detection setting
Audio disabled while charging

THE VERDICT
The first headphones from legendary audio specialist Mark Levinson, tuned precisely to the Harman Curve, the No. 5909 are both exceptional sounding and have excellent ANC properties.

They say money can’t buy happiness. Without a doubt, it can buy the $999 Mark Levinson No. 5909 headphones, and without a doubt, these make me happy. The Mark Levinson No. 5909 headphones are the first headphones from this elite division of Harman. These over-ear headphones feature adaptive Active Noise Cancellation, USB-C wired connections and wireless Bluetooth.

Mark Henninger  |  Mar 01, 2023  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Exceptional sound quality
Impeccable build
USB DAC
Unique style
Minus
Noise canceling lags Sony & Bose
Non-folding design

THE VERDICT
Both an engineering achievement and a work of industrial art, the Bathys are full-size, over-ear wireless ANC headphones designed to please picky listeners on the go. They offer owners a refined blend of style and substance.

Bathys, Focal’s first adaptive noise-canceling headphones, are instantly recognizable due to the company’s unique design sensibility. They come from a multi-year in-house development effort and incorporate the company’s signature M-shaped, 40mm aluminum-magnesium alloy drivers that are made by the company in France. Because the sound quality is so good, owning them is a fun experience that makes the higher price worthwhile.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Dec 14, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent sound quality
Beautiful fit and finish
Very good noise-cancellation algorithms
High-quality streaming codec
Minus
Expensive, and even more expensive for the James Bond special edition
Very snug fit might not be comfortable while wearing glasses
Increased bass boost in noise-cancellation mode

THE VERDICT
I tried, honestly, I did. I closed my eyes; I listened in the dark. However, try as I might, I could not separate the absolutely stunning fit and finish of the Bowers & Wilkins Px8 headphones from their sound quality. That initial feeling that this would be something special pervaded throughout my review experience. Bottom line: the Px8 sounds exactly as good as you would expect from something that looks and feels so luxurious.

There's a certain expectation when you pay up for a product. Buy a premium car, and you'll expect a certain feel, fit and finish to every aspect, from the dashboard to the tailpipe. Buy a luxury watch and every component—the links, clasp, and crown—feels deluxe. The Px8 gives you that instantaneous expectation of quality. The Bowers & Wilkins Px8 headphones are the newest flagship over-ear noise-canceling headphones, firmly placed at the top of their "reference" quality lineup. While the price is a gut-punching $699, the build and sound quality just might be worth it.

Mark Henninger  |  Sep 22, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $249

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Noticeably better active noise cancellation
Improved audio fidelity
Superior fit with four ear tip sizes
Adaptive Transparency
Personalized Spatial Audio for better immersive sound
Touch-sensitive control
Easier to find when misplaced
Minus
Requires an iPhone to set up
Touch controls occasionally fidgety
Spatial audio with head tracking sometimes lost track of my head
Uses a Lightning connector instead of USB C

THE VERDICT
Just like the originals, AirPods Pro 2nd Gen up the ante on what to expect from a pair of true wireless earbuds, including better fit, better sound quality, and superior active noise canceling capabilities.

AirPods and AirPods Pro together constitute the most successful line of wireless earbuds in the world. Now, after three years of wait, Apple offers the AirPods Pro 2nd Generation ($249). With a couple of weeks of hands-on experience, I can attest that the company’s newest true wireless flagship earbuds are a technological tour de force. They represent a sizeable upgrade over the originals, even if they look largely the same. When it comes to performance and features, it’s what’s inside the iconic white enclosures that counts, and the new model is packed with technology that takes the AirPods experience to a higher level.

Bob Ankosko  |  Jul 21, 2022  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Comfort
Value
PRICE $129

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Good overall sound quality
Dirac Virtuo improves and expands the sound
Super comfortable for long listening
Minus
App is glitchy

THE VERDICT
Dirac’s Virtuo processing makes the affordable and already good sounding Sudio E2 earbuds sound even better.

We get pitched on new "true wireless earbuds" every few days from brands we know and don't know. In a sea of sameness, or at least perceived sameness, it's a category that begs for differentiation so our ears perked up when Dirac, the Swedish company known for its high level of expertise in audio processing, reached out with an offer to review earbuds from Sudio, a Swedish brand we never heard of. Turns out the Sudio E2 earphones are among the first to include Dirac Virtuo, a new type of spatial processing that aims to create "an immersive sound experience with enhanced sound quality."

Leslie Shapiro  |  May 25, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $250

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Soundstage-widening Dirac Virtuo processing
Adjustable Ambient Sound mode
Smart Noise Cancellation
Solid build quality
Minus
Overly sensitive touch controls
Bass lacking in certain modes

THE VERDICT
Cleer's Alpha Noise Canceling headphones are a good-sounding, airplane-ready offering packed with enough features to make them a top value compared with similar models from Sony and Bose.

Cleer Audio's new Alpha headphones, the company's flagship wireless noise-canceling model, is jam-packed with extras to augment its very good overall sound quality. At $250, the Alpha isn't a budget offering, but its many advanced and customizable features make it worth the price. With everything from app-controlled ambient audio level adjustment to smart noise-cancellation and Dirac Virtuo processing, the Alpha is primed to take on any travel adventure.

Al Griffin  |  Mar 08, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $230

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great sound quality
Impressive noise cancellation
Compact form factor
Long battery life
Minus
Somewhat pricey compared to other true wireless earbud options

THE VERDICT
Technics’ AZ60 earbuds pack useful features plus advanced ergonomics, and they’re extremely easy on the ears when listening to music.

My first stereo system was a full-on Technics rig, right down to the turntable and cassette deck, so I've always harbored a fondness for the brand. And while the recent comeback of Technics to the hi-fi scene has had a decidedly high-end spin—its SU-R1000 Digital Integrated Amplifier costs $9,499—they've also branched out into accessible gear like wireless all-in-one speakers and headphones.

Stewart Wolpin  |  Oct 26, 2021  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $280

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Best-in-class sound reproduction
Sony 360 Reality Audio
Excellent noise canceling
Small buds and case
Long battery life
Minus
Requires deep ear tip insertion
Complicated app, noise canceling options
Doesn't block wind noise

THE VERDICT
The WF-1000XM4 is Sony's best-performing noise-canceling bud yet, with plenty of customizable and automatic features.

Sony's new flagship true wireless earbuds, the WF-1000XM4 ($280), provide best-in-class sound quality and noise-canceling, above-average single-charge battery life, a compact and pocket-friendly charging case, and a control app that offers abundant operational features and customization options. On top of all that, it has Sony's 360 Reality Audio capability for getting enveloping sound from select subscription music streaming services.

Stewart Wolpin  |  Jun 09, 2021  |  0 comments
What the world needs now is active noise-canceling (ANC) true wireless earbuds. ANC buds meet the needs of the moment by providing a way to boost audio quality during Zoom calls while simultaneously isolating us against intrusive environmental factors (remote-schooled kids, other work-from-home adults, etc.). And fortunately for us all, they are getting better-sounding, more feature-packed, and less expensive.
Daniel Kumin  |  Apr 07, 2021  |  1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Solid headphone-surround
Impressive Dolby Atmos, DTS:X effects
Long battery life
Minus
Substantial vocal tonality shifts
Uneven bass presentation

THE VERDICT
JVC’s Exofield XP-EXT1 delivers an impressive rendering of effects in immersive soundtracks, but it comes up short as an all- around wireless home theater headphones solution.

True surround sound from headphones has been an audio holy grail for decades, but with the ever-increasing power and value of digital signal processing, we're now getting closer to drinking from that particular chalice. JVC's latest effort is the XP-EXT1 Personal Home Theater System, a set of wireless over-the-ear cans with a slim processor/transmitter that uses the company's Exofield DSP processing to digitally rejigger surround-encoded soundtracks, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, for your in-head listening pleasure.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Mar 10, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $130

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Long battery life
Comfortable fit
Compatible with SonarWorks SoundID app
Minus
Complicated LED indicators
No track controls on touchpads
Sound quality reduction with ANC off

THE VERDICT
Affordable true wire- less earbuds that work with the SonarWorks SoundID app might seem too good to be true, but that’s exactly what you get with the Monolith M-TWE.

Monoprice is an affordable direct-to-consumer brand, and its Monolith product line features sophisticated A/V gear including speakers, amps, surround sound processors, and now the new Monolith M-TWE earbuds. The M-TWE touts aptX Bluetooth audio, active noise cancellation (with cVc Echo Cancelling and Noise Suppression for phone calls), and SonorWorks SoundID, a feature that lets you customize sound to your preference, all at a very budget-friendly $130.

Stewart Wolpin  |  Jun 10, 2020  |  1 comments
While isolation is a novel and challenging concept for many folks during these strange times, isolation from external sound is considered nirvana by music aficionados. Also, donning a pair of cans or buds and turning the music up to 11 can provide a temporary turn-on, tune-in, drop-out emotional escape for those stuck in a sheltered-in-place household where everyone is getting on each other's nerves.
Leslie Shapiro  |  Apr 14, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $329.95

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Solid build quality
Spacious imaging
Natural treble response
Minus
Bass could be smoother
Heavy
No inline controls on cable

THE VERDICT
With a unique wood-dome diaphragm, JVC’s HA-FW01 in-ear headphones deliver a clean sound that shines with acoustic music, particularly classical.

When our illustrious editor Al Griffin suggested that I review the JVC HA-FW01 in-ear headphones, he mentioned that they were "fancy." What could possibly be so fancy about headphones? As it turned out, the HA-FW01 has a gorgeous look, with a dark wood housing and rose-gold accents, but it's what's inside that really makes them fancy.

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