HEADPHONE REVIEWS

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Oct 21, 2013 3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Euro design
Real lambskin ear pads
Oodles of detail and resolution
Minus
Not vegan friendly

THE VERDICT
A beautifully balanced headphone that’s beautiful to look at.

Bang & Olufsen isn’t just another high-end audio company. Far from it. The Danish firm started making TVs in 1952, and their 1970s turntables were the best looking of the era. I’m not alone in admiring the industrial design; the Museum of Modern Art in NYC has 18 B&O products in its permanent collection. B&O is no Johnny come lately to headphones, either; they’ve been making outstanding ones as far back as the late 1970s!

Filed under
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Oct 04, 2016 0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $129

AT A GLANCE
Plus
So beautiful, it’s in the Museum of Modern Art!
Spacious sounding, especially for on-ear headphones
Ultra-light design
Minus
Doesn’t fold flat for storage

THE VERDICT
The Bang & Olufsen Form 2i may be pushing 30 something years old, but it’s stuck around because it still looks and feels great!

No doubt about it, the Bang & Olufsen Form 2i are remarkable headphones in a number of ways. Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen set up shop in 1925 in Struer, Denmark, and the company went on to make more than its share of iconic speakers, amplifiers, etc. But my interest in B&O first sparked in the late 1970s when B&O turntables and electronics were among the most astonishingly beautiful and technologically advanced products on the scene. The company has remained on the forefront of industrial design and technology.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jun 23, 2014 0 comments
On the heels of Apple’s buyout of Beats, it’s unfair to expect Beats to suddenly stop production of anything that isn’t Apple white. The newly designed Beats by Dr. Dre Solo2 headphone actually comes in a rainbow of colors, including, umm, white. This is a revision of the original Solo headphone. While I was unboxing, I wondered, did Beats dial back the pounding bass that plagued the first generation of their headphone lineup?

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Aug 25, 2014 0 comments
Look around you - wires are so passé. If you’re in the gym and your earphones are connected to your phone or iPod, you might as well trade in your Crossfit membership for a circa-1989 Step aerobics class. How can you complete your WOD with a tangle of wires getting in the way? The new Powerbeats2 in-ear earphone from Beats By Dr. Dre is Bluetooth 4.0 compatible, and other than the snag-free wire connecting the left and right side, it’s completely wireless. You couldn’t connect it to your iPhone with a wire even if you wanted to - plus and negatives to that situation to follow.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Mar 06, 2017 0 comments
When Apple chose to remove the headphone jack from their latest iPhones, many people (myself included) freaked out. Would I forever be forced into listening to a downgraded Bluetooth signal? Luckily, BEEM United came quickly to the rescue with the BeMe D200 wired headphone with a Lightning jack.

Filed under
Steve Guttenberg Posted: 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.

Filed under
Brent Butterworth Posted: Jan 27, 2012 0 comments

THE ONLY MAJOR MANUFACTURER I know of that makes the same headphone in different impedances, Beyerdynamic offers the DT-990 in a 32-ohm version for use with portable devices, a 250-ohm version for average home gear, and a 600-ohm version for high-end headphone amps. We requested the 32-ohm version because the other headphones tested here run in that range and because we figured most S+V readers would at least occasionally want to plug straight into a smartphone or a computer.

Filed under
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Mar 28, 2017 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Designed in Germany
Titanium earpieces
Neutral sound balance
Minus
Wish they were a little cheaper

THE VERDICT
At first listen, the Beyerdynamic iDX 200 iE’s charms may not be immediately obvious, but over time you’ll start to realize how good they are.

When you listen to as many headphones as I do, you start to notice trends. The first and most obvious one is bass, and there’s usually too much of it. Next, headphones look and feel so similar, you start to think most of them, but especially in-ear headphones, are all made in the same factory in China. That may or may not be true, and yes, the Beyerdynamic iDX 200 iE is Chinese made, but it was designed by Beyerdynamic’s engineers in Germany.

Filed under
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jun 09, 2016 0 comments

Performance
Features
Comfort
Value
PRICE $1,099

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Concise, clear sound
Five-year warranty
Minus
High-impedance design limits portable use

THE VERDICT
Beyerdynamic reboots and refines their flagship T1—and significantly improves its sound quality.

The Beyerdynamic T1 (2nd Generation) over-the-ear headphone may look nearly identical to the original T1 that debuted in 2009, but trust me on this: The two headphones sound very different. The first thing I noticed is that the new T1 has meatier, bigger, punchier bass, and the treble is sweeter, clearer, and more refined. It’s much more than a reboot.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Jan 25, 2016 1 comments
Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, the giant behind the Fender Stratocaster, has just announced a new product line: in-ear monitors from the legendary guitar manufacturer. There will be five models when the products hit the shelves in March. However, it’s the history of these products that is the most interesting.

Filed under
Steve Guttenberg Posted: 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.

Filed under
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Feb 09, 2015 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
The best noise-canceler, period!
Headphones can play after batteries are drained
Light and very comfortable
Minus
Sound quality isn’t stellar

THE VERDICT
The QC25 widens Bose's significant lead in noise-canceling technology, though it trails some other competitive headphones on sound quality.

The QuietComfort 25 (QC25) is the latest model to join Bose’s massively popular noise-canceling headphone lineup; it replaces the QuietComfort 15, the best noise-canceling headphone I’ve heard, till now.

Filed under
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Mar 17, 2017 2 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $899

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Sumptuous build quality
Best Bowers & Wilkins headphone yet
Comes with an Apple Lightning cable
Minus
Brown is the only color

THE VERDICT
With the P9 Signature, Bowers & Wilkins enters the higher echelons of the crowded audiophile headphone market with a real contender.

Unlike nearly every other speaker company that jumped into the headphone market with a complete line, Bowers & Wilkins has released just one (or two) headphones at a time. The P5 on-ear was first out of the gate in 2010; then the C5 in-ear and P3 on-ear; the Series 2 versions of those headphones followed; next came the over-the-ear P7; more recently the wireless P5 and P7; and now the all-new flagship P9 Signature. Thanks to the slow and steady approach, the sound for all of B&W’s headphones has been consistently chocolatey-rich. The P9 Signature is similar, but the sound is more evolved.

Filed under
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Apr 08, 2015 2 comments

Performance
Features
Comfort
Value
PRICE $180

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Bright and clear sound
All-new 9.2mm drivers
Bowers & Wilkins design flair
Minus
The C5 S2’s cable may rub against your ears

THE VERDICT
Bowers & Wilkins’ engineers revised and tweaked C5 Series 2 in-ear headphone sounds better than ever.

I doubt the original Bowers & Wilkins C5 that debuted in 2011 was ever confused for any other headphone. I loved its sharply angled, cylindrical aluminum earpieces and looped cables: They marked the C5 as a true original. The new C5 Series 2 doesn’t look much different. The biggest change is one you can’t see: The 9.2mm drivers are all new. The headphones’ silicone ear tips now provide a snugger fit, and the old silver/gray cable has been replaced with a black one. The new inline mic/remote has a better tactile feel. You can take calls on Androids and iPhones, but the remote only works with iPhones. Bowers & Wilkins’ headphone carry cases are classier than most, and the suede-like one that comes with the C5 S2 looks sharp.

Filed under
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Apr 11, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Comfort
Value
PRICE $400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Bowers & Wilkins’ first over-the-ear headphone
Unique styling
Lavish build quality
Minus
Not quite as graceful looking as B&W’s onear models

THE VERDICT
The Bowers & Wilkins P7 continues B&W’s evolution as a world-class headphone manufacturer.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen quite a few speaker companies dip their toes into the headphone market, with inconsistent results. Sure, it’s easy to slap your logo on a pair of generic headphones, but Bowers & Wilkins didn’t do that. Their elegant design sense was immediately apparent with their very first headphone—the P5—and the sound was what you’d expect from Bowers & Wilkins. No wonder that headphone attracted a sizable cognoscenti following and turned on countless newbies to the glories of audiophile headphone sound.

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