HEADPHONE REVIEWS

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Steve Guttenberg  |  Jul 20, 2017  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Handmade in Germany
Stunning good looks
Best-in-class sound
Minus
Tangle-prone cable

THE VERDICT
The Beyerdynamic Xelento Remotes look, feel, and sound like a true luxury design.

It’s a stunningly beautiful design: The Beyerdynamic Xelento Remotes are most definitely a looker. Better yet, their ergonomically balanced design made for a perfect fit in the concha of my ears; these are some of the most comfortable in-ears I’ve ever worn. As for the sound, it was spectacular!

Steve Guttenberg  |  Jul 12, 2017  |  2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $200

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Truly innovative tech
Proprietary quad-driver design
Highly transparent sound
Great value
Minus
Cables aren’t user-replaceable

THE VERDICT
The 1More Quad Driver’s sound dazzles with its transparency, wide-open imaging, and nimble bass.

There’s something really special happening here. The 1More Quad Driver In-Ear is easily the most transparent, best-imaging headphone I’ve heard for $200. I’m not joking—before I knew the price, I assumed it was at least $300 or $400. Since there’s no outward indication of what makes the Quad Driver so outstanding, I was super eager to find out.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jul 10, 2017  |  0 comments
I worry when I see any product claiming to have audiophile sound. As if any company is going to advertise their new headphones with tone-deaf, mediocre sound? How about I-don’t-give-a-crap sound? Let’s just say that I start off a bit skeptical when I read claims like that, especially from a company who is a relative newcomer to the market. After some quality listening time with the new Zipbuds 26, I’m cutting them some slack. These earphones sound really good. Claim away.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jul 07, 2017  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $3,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Beryllium diaphragm
Rock-star cosmetics
Fine-tuned highs and timbre
Minus
Expensive

THE VERDICT
Focal’s Utopia headphones are a bleeding-edge statement from a pedigreed loudspeaker manufacturer that has made the most of its speaker-designing experience.

When I look back on all the dumb things I did as a kid, surely one of the dumbest was pitching rocks and dirt balls at a wasp nest. With each impact, a cloud of wasps rose from the nest. It was mesmerizing—until one of us got stung. Reviewing Focal’s Utopia headphones isn’t at all stupid, but I suspect the results are going to be similar: a cloud of wasps, maybe a sting. Some readers will look askance at $3,999 headphones, especially since the things I have on hand for comparison cost a fraction of that. I don’t often breathe such rarefied air.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Jun 29, 2017  |  1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $49

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great sound on the cheap!
Triple driver design
Nice and comfy
Minus
Ho-hum looks

THE VERDICT
The Monoprice TripleXXX’s sound quality definitely ups the ante for budget-priced in-ear headphones.

The Monoprice TripleXXX may be the most affordable headphone I’ve ever reviewed for Sound & Vision, but I took it seriously. So much so, it was my go-to headphone for NYC subway rides for weeks, even when I wasn’t in reviewing mode and just listening to the TripleXXX for fun. That says a lot about these headphones, so don’t let the low price throw you. These little guys sound plenty good enough for audiophiles looking for a set of budget-priced travel headphones.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Jun 14, 2017  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $1,800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Hyper clarity
Lighter than most high- end headphones
Made in California
Minus
They’re expensive

THE VERDICT
The MrSpeakers Ether Flow headphones combine clarity with an effortless, non-fatiguing sound that ensures long-term satisfaction.

I’ve always been into headphones, starting with my longlost Sennheiser HD 414 in the early 1970s. I love ’phones, and they keep getting better and better, but I get a lot of pushback from audiophile pals who aren’t yet ready to take the plunge. When asked about what’s holding them back, they complain about comfort and sound that feels crammed inside their heads. Sure, but that was then. It’s time to listen to some of the best new ’phones to hear what’s happening now. Take the new MrSpeakers Ether Flow: It’s so open and spacious, the sound seems to come from around your head!

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jun 05, 2017  |  0 comments
These days, air travel just sucks. Seats are smaller, flights are overbooked, computer glitches cause massive delays, and whatever happened to in-flight meals? You’re lucky to get a tiny bag of pretzel crumbs. Whenever I travel, I always slip on a pair of headphones, and tune out the chaos. If there’s a baby screaming all flight long, I won’t hear it. So when AKG announced the N60NC Wireless, a new active noise-cancelling headphone with Bluetooth, I was all ears.

Steve Guttenberg  |  May 23, 2017  |  0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Brilliant styling
Built-in headphone amp
Click-on bass boost
Minus
Not super transparent

THE VERDICT
The Blue Sadie is one of the more unique headphones on the market. The look and feel are mighty impressive. The sound is up to snuff too!

Blue is known primarily as a high-end studio and consumer microphone manufacturer, but they broke into the headphone scene with their radically designed Mo-Fi back in 2014. I liked that headphone well enough, but it was heavy, and the sound balance struck me as a little too Beats inspired. Mo-Fi is history, but Blue’s new one goes by the name Sadie, and her sound is more in tune with audiophile tastes.

Leslie Shapiro  |  May 22, 2017  |  0 comments
Thanks to Apple, there’s a surge of Bluetooth headphones hitting the market. Apple users are practically forced to go wireless, and other users find it convenient to ditch the cords. However, besides the sound quality issue of going wireless, there is also a comfort factor. Because more electronics have to be jammed into earphones, most Bluetooth earbuds are heavy, making them uncomfortable for many users. Jam Audio’s Comfort Buds is a solution for those sensitive listeners. Is comfort worth the sacrifice in sound quality?

Leslie Shapiro  |  May 08, 2017  |  0 comments
Who doesn’t love staying up late and watching a guilty-pleasure movie while the rest of the household sleeps peacefully? The problem is that you can’t turn up the volume without fear of waking them or the neighbors. The Sennheiser Flex 5000 turns any headphone into a wireless option designed to let you watch TV using your favorite wired headphones. Plus it has features that help make TV audio clearer and enhances dialogue for better intelligibility.

Steve Guttenberg  |  May 04, 2017  |  0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Designed and made in Germany
Concise and clear sound
Extra comfy
Minus
Plastic earcups break the high-end spell

THE VERDICT
The Amiron Home’s open-back design delivers a rich, yet highly detailed sound and the extreme comfort Beyerdynamic’s headphones are known for.

Beyerdynamic is a pretty conservative company, and its sound hasn’t really changed all that much over the last decade. I started to sense something was up in 2015 when I reviewed the flagship T 1 second-generation headphone that took the brightness down a smidge. Now the smoothing trend continues with the Amiron Home open-back, over-the-ear headphone. The look is also fresher, and this headphone definitely has a warmer, sweeter sound than the model it replaces, the T 90. Beyerdynamic is onto something new, and I like it.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Apr 25, 2017  |  0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $649

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Made in Japan
Neutral sound balance
Two-year warranty
Minus
Cable isn’t user-replaceable

THE VERDICT
The Audio-Technica ATH-A2000Z somehow looks brand new and classic at the same time, and we could say the same about the sound.

The ATH-A2000Z is the top model from Audio-Technica’s Art Monitor Series, and its polished titanium earcups are a not-so-subtle hint about the headphone’s status in the company’s pecking order. It’s made in Japan, just like AudioTechnica’s very best headphones (such as the ATH-W5000). The company has been making ’phones since 1974.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Apr 11, 2017  |  1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
High-resolution sound
Planar magnetic drivers
Comes with Apple Lightning and standard cables
Minus
Little or no isolation from external noise

THE VERDICT
The Audeze iSine 10’s sound crushes the competition—it’s more dynamically alive, more spacious, and more transparent than any other in-ear headphone I’ve heard so far.

With the iSine 10, Audeze completely reinvented the in-ear headphone. I’m not exaggerating. While every other in-ear headphone uses dynamic or balanced armature drivers, the iSine 10 has planar magnetic drivers, the same thin-film driver technology Audeze uses with all of their on-, and very high-end over-the-ear headphones. The driver isn’t the only unique design feature, though. The iSine 10’s wild-looking earpieces are a good deal larger and designed in a completely different way than any other in-ear on the market.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Apr 05, 2017  |  1 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Six balanced armature drivers
Extreme comfort
Two-year warranty
Minus
They don’t look as expensive as they are

THE VERDICT
The Audiofly AF1120 is super comfortable and sounds effortlessly sweet and transparent.

Audiofly may be a new name to you and me, but they started making headphones in Australia in 2012. The headphone that initially got the ball rolling, the AF78, was a hybrid in-ear with dynamic and balanced armature drivers that gained a following with musicians. Audiophile attraction came a bit later.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Apr 03, 2017  |  0 comments
These days, it seems that listeners have no choice but to spend hundreds of dollars to get good quality Bluetooth headphones. The JBL E55BT (MSRP $150) has the sound of a $300+ headphone, with good performance and a wired option, all in a range of colors to suite any style.

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