Headphone Reviews

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Steve Guttenberg  |  May 15, 2018  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Comfort
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Eighty percent thinner diaphragm
New HiFiMan aesthetic
Improved comfort
Minus
Can’t hush external noise

THE VERDICT
HiFiMan ups its game with Sundara’s new headband design that makes for a more comfortable fit and a new diaphragm that improves sound quality.

HiFiMan rocked my world back in 2009 with its revelatory HE-5 headphones. These were the first planar magnetic headphones I’d ever heard, and the sound was so clear and sweet, I’m pretty sure you’ll feel the same way about HiFiMan’s latest planar, the Sundara.

Steve Guttenberg  |  May 09, 2018  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Comfort
Value
PRICE $1,199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Solid machined wood earcups
Rich sound balance
Bio Dynamic drivers
Minus
So-so comfort over long sessions

THE VERDICT
At last, with the Heritage HP-3 there’s finally a Klipsch headphone founder Paul W. Klipsch would be proud of.

The Heritage HP-3 is a clean break from all of Klipsch’s previous full-sized headphones. Although Klipsch’s previous headphones were decent, I never felt they put the same passion into their headphones as their speakers. Maybe that’s why the HP-3 feels like a new beginning. Klipsch is finally going up against the big boys in the high-end audio headphone biz.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Mar 28, 2018  |  0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $249

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent isolation from external noise
Lightweight yet rugged design
Plentiful, but not overdone bass
Minus
Can sound too bright with harsh or overcompressed recordings

THE VERDICT
The Focal Listen delivers lots of detail and vitality, and the bass is to die for.

Focal is best known as France’s leading speaker manufacturer, but in 2016 they turned a corner and entered the fiercely competitive high-end headphone market with two extraordinary ’phones, the Elear and the deliriously great Utopia.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Mar 14, 2018  |  0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $2,695

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Designed and handcrafted in Brooklyn
Best-ever sounding Grado
Freewheeling dynamics
Minus
The non-removable and not very flexible cable

THE VERDICT
The Grado Labs PS2000e takes the classic Grado sound to new heights, but it won’t please everyone.

Grado headphones all have a sound, and they sound like Grados. They’re some of the most viscerally dynamic and lively headphones I’ve heard, and they’re so open and spacious, you never feel like the sound is confined to the space between your ears. The new flagship, the PS2000e, takes the Grado sound to new heights.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Feb 19, 2018  |  0 comments
Cable cutters are all the rage these days; even headphones have become completely and totally free from cables. The new X-Shock earphones from Soul Electronics are absolutely wireless, even for charging. For marathon listening sessions, the X-Shock has up to 60 hours of charging capabilities between the earphone and portable charging box.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Feb 13, 2018  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $2,495

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Extraordinary sound quality
Planar magnetic in-ear
Open-back design
Minus
Doesn’t block external noise

THE VERDICT
The Audeze LCDi4 sound like no other in-ear or full-size headphones. Audeze has once again radically changed the way we hear music.

I’m going to come right out and say it: The Audeze LCDi4 are hands down the best-sounding in-ear headphones I’ve heard. They’re the most transparent and open, have the flattest tonal balance, and the bass—OMG—is deeper and faster than any other in-ears on the planet...

Steve Guttenberg  |  Jan 23, 2018  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Most affordable ever three-way from the designer
Uber comfy
Vivacious sound
Minus
The voluptuous bass might be too much of a good thing

THE VERDICT
The Astell & Kern Michelle brings JH Audio headphone sound down to a new, more affordable price.

Sound & Vision readers probably know about Astell&Kern’s portable high-resolution digital audio players. But I’m guessing you’re less aware of Jerry Harvey Audio’s in-ear headphones, which have found favor not only with audiophiles, but also musicians and pro sound engineers who make up a sizeable percentage of Harvey’s customer base. The Michelle Limited in-ear headphones from Astell&Kern were designed by Jerry Harvey.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jan 15, 2018  |  0 comments
CES is a crazy, hectic week of running around from press conference to manufacturer’s booths, meetings and deadlines. When Audio-Technica offered demos of their new ATH-ANC700BT QuietPoint noise-cancelling headphones along with a 15-minute professional massage, it was an irresistible treat, and the perfect way to wrap up the show.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Dec 13, 2017  |  2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Oval planar magnetic design
Easy to drive
Nice and comfy
Minus
Cable lacks phone mic or inline controls

THE VERDICT
Acoustic Research knocked one out of the park with the AR-H1 — it’s a real contender.

Acoustic Research has a long, proud history dating back to 1954 with the introduction of the AR1, the world’s first acoustic suspension speaker. But rather than run through a model-by-model inventory of their innovative speakers and the brilliant AR turntable, let’s fast-forward to 2018 where the AR's current owner is based in Hong Kong and they’re getting serious about making audiophile headphones. Witness the AR-H1, an ambitious reboot for the brand.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Dec 04, 2017  |  0 comments
Days are shorter, snow is on its way, and temperatures are plummeting. It’s getting cold and we’re all looking for ways to stay warm, without giving up our music. Sound Huggles are wireless Bluetooth headphones that double as comfy earmuffs. Okay, so I live in Florida and I’m still in shorts and flip-flops, but I know some of you are bundling up to head to work on frigid mornings or out for your evening jog. Wouldn’t a pair of toasty-warm, snuggly headphones make your ears happy?

Steve Guttenberg  |  Oct 31, 2017  |  0 comments
Ti In-Ear Headphones
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
Be In-Ear Headphones
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value

Mg In-Ear Headphone
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $99, $199, $299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clear sound, great bass
Five-year warranty
Now made in the U.S.
Minus
Tangle-prone cable
No phone controls

THE VERDICT
Periodic Audio’s three in-ear headphones—the Mg, Ti, and Be—may only differ in the driver material but sound more different than you might expect.

Periodic Audio is a brand-new company that launched with just three in-ear headphones, the Mg (Magnesium), the Ti (Titanium), and the Be (Beryllium), for $99, $199, and $299, respectively. The three headphones look nearly the same, differing only in the color of the earpiece end caps. The Mg and Ti are similar shades of silver, while the Be is gold. The three models’ 10mm drivers are all mechanically exactly the same but differ in their diaphragm materials—magnesium, titanium, and beryllium—so it made sense to look at all three models as a group.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Aug 31, 2017  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $799

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Closed-back, planar magnetic design
Made in San Diego, California
Beautifully balanced sound
Minus
Non-standard connectors on the earcups

THE VERDICT
The Aeon are a game changer for MrSpeakers. Their least expensive headphones might be their most accomplished design.

I meet a lot of audiophiles who flat out refuse to give headphones a chance. They go on about the headphones they bought in college when Michael Jackson released Thriller and won’t even try the new breed of ’phones. This one here, the MrSpeakers Aeon, might be the headphones that turn them around. The complete package—the sound, the shape, the smooth feel of the carbon fiber earcups, the luxuriously thick earpads, and best of all, the price—might win over even the most curmudgeonly of resistors.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Jul 26, 2017  |  0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Open-back, planar magnetic design
Solid build quality
Handsome look
Minus
Can sound bright

THE VERDICT
These Tidal Force headphones face stiff competition from other comparably priced planar magnetic designs.

Tidal Force is a brand spanking new headphone company, and at the time I started working on this review, the Wave 5 was their one and only set of headphones. They’re off to a good start; build quality is excellent, and the mostly metal design felt great in my hands.

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.

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