Headphone Reviews

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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  |  0 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  |  0 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.

Bob Ankosko  |  Dec 05, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $309

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Rich, detailed sound
Solid bass
Elegant fit and finish
Light and comfortable
Minus
A little pricey

THE VERDICT
The 99 Classics check all the right boxes: They’re light and comfortable, beautifully built, and sound great.

Endless fascination. That’s the best way to describe my recent obsession with the 50-year-old Beatles classic Abbey Road. I’ve listened to the album hundreds of times over the years on a variety of formats, starting with the original vinyl pressing, yet listening to Giles Martin’s tasteful and, ultimately, reverential remix is like hearing this magnificent collection of songs for the first time.

Of course, a good bit of the credit goes to Meze Audio’s stylish 99 Classics...

Bob Ankosko  |  Oct 22, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $180

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Smooth, detailed sound
Solid construction
Light weight
Comfortable
Minus
Sound can be somewhat muted

THE VERDICT
Charging becomes a secondary concern with Cleer’s Enduro 100 wireless headphones thanks to an insanely long battery life.

I’ve been listening on and off for six days and the tiny battery in Cleer’s Enduro 100 wireless headphones is still going strong. Impressive. No question, headphones that need frequent recharging are…well, annoying and intrude on the freedom that comes with wireless listening.

Bob Ankosko  |  Sep 23, 2019  |  1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $80 ($70 on amazon.com)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Satisfying sound
Effective noise canceling
Light weight and not overly bulky
Minus
Sound could be fuller
Some discomfort after an hour or so of listening

THE VERDICT
If you’re looking for wireless, noise-canceling headphones that won’t break the bank, the E9s provide satisfying sound with effective active noise canceling for 80 bucks (or less).

If you’ve never heard of Mixcder, you’re not alone. The company with the awkwardly spelled name — pronounced “mix-see-der” — has only been around for a few years. It’s based in California and specializes in super low-priced headphones sourced in China with a current lineup comprising 10 models, all wireless and ranging in price from $19 to $90 for a set of full-size wireless headphones with active noise canceling (ANC).

Stewart Wolpin  |  Sep 03, 2019  |  0 comments
We put eight noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones to the test to find out which are the best.
Leslie Shapiro  |  Aug 19, 2019  |  2 comments
Most headphones strive for a clean sound without any coloration or alteration of the source. The new AV50 noise-cancelling headphones from ZVOX feature AccuVoice technology that intentionally brightens up vocals and dialogue, adding clarity to movies and TV shows, while also reducing ambient noise. Headphones for an older or mildly hearing-impaired crowd? Why not?

Leslie Shapiro  |  Aug 05, 2019  |  0 comments
They say you get what you pay for. With budget audio products, that’s rarely a good thing. Finding a pair of true wireless earphones for under $50 is a rare thing, and finding ones with acceptable sound quality is even rarer. I had a chance to check out the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 53 earphones that retail for $45. Let’s see what just under fifty bucks gets you these days.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jul 01, 2019  |  0 comments
When you’re going truly wireless, your only option is to use Bluetooth, so it has to be the best quality that Bluetooth affords. The new Cleer Ally earphones use Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX, so for the moment, they're pretty much as good as it gets.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jun 17, 2019  |  0 comments
While researching noise-cancelling headphones, I kept reading comparison after comparison with the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones. Needless to say, I had to try out the Sony headphones on a trip and see for myself. Were they as good as other reviewers made them out to be? Will they become my new favorites? Here’s a hint: the hype is real.

Leslie Shapiro  |  May 20, 2019  |  0 comments
I’ve got an insanely long airplane trip coming up and, no surprise, my very first thought was, which noise-canceling headphones should I bring for the flight? Great news for me; Jabra just released the Elite 85h. Besides having a sound that competes with the best ANC headphones out there, they’re the only ones with enough battery life to last for my entire journey. Let’s see if they sound good enough to stay on my packing list.

Stewart Wolpin  |  Apr 10, 2019  |  2 comments
You may be excused if you thought that Apple's AirPods are the first and only so-called "true wireless" earphones—completely cordless in-ear "buds" that connect both with each other and to your smartphone via Bluetooth—since their distinctive white sticks seem to be protruding from hipster ears everywhere.

Fortunately, if you're not an iPhone owner, or a fan of the AirPods' distinctive look or not-necessarily one-size-fits-all fit, there is a growing number of other "true wireless" earbud choices. And in contrast with Apple's one-for-all approach, most AirPod alternatives address specific use cases, style preferences, and budgets.

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