Headphone Reviews

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Leslie Shapiro  |  Jun 15, 2015  |  0 comments
Choice is good. My laptop can convert to a tablet. My hiking pants convert to shorts. My car converts to a stargazing roadster. And my Torque t402v on-ear headphones convert to over-ear headphones. Even better than that—the sound converts from balanced headphones to bass-heavy beasts.
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.

Geoffrey Morrison  |  Jun 21, 2016  |  2 comments
Ever browse Amazon late at night? Like, really late at night? Maybe you’re bored. Maybe you need a new pair of socks, and you go down a rabbit hole. Maybe you’ve downed a fifth of Crown Royal Maple whisky because it’s Tuesday in the middle of February and you’ve broken your leg in two places and the Vicodin is finally kicking in, and OMG, I need a vacuum-tube headphone amp! Just an example. Whatever.
Darren Ankosko  |  Jun 30, 2015  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $70

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Comfortable in and out of the water
Impressive sound while swimming (with some limitations)
1-year warranty
Minus
So-so sound above water

THE VERDICT
The Swimbuds Sport headphone gets the job done in the water but falls somewhat short in its quest to provide a high-quality, multi-sport solution.

I was pleasantly surprised when my audition of the Swimbuds Sport Waterproof headphone began with a familiar voice. After discarding multiple plastic baggies and opening the mesh pouch and zipper case, I was greeted by a card with an access code for a downloadable 30-minute swim workout guided by Rebecca Soni. Her staggering career accomplishments—including eight world records and, for Team U.S.A. at the Olympics, three gold medals and three silver—were severely understated here with a title that read: Olympic Medalist. I trained with Rebecca at the Scarlet Aquatics Club in New Jersey from the late 1990s through 2005, and so welcomed the excuse to pick up the phone and call an old friend.

Geoffrey Morrison  |  Nov 07, 2011  |  0 comments

Expanding on our recent bout with celebrity-endorsed headphones, here we go one step further (back?) with a TV-show-endorsed headphone.

Maybe "endorsed" isn't the right word. "Branded" perhaps, which is more than appropriate given the subject matter of Showtime's vampire-themed soap opera.

Given that preamble, the V-MODA True Blood Maker headphones turn out to be something of a surprise.

Chris Chiarella  |  Nov 01, 2013  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE Vamp Verza, $598; Metallo case, $101

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Elegant two-piece add-on to enhance smartphone audio
More power, superior DACs
Sleek, serious metal construction
Minus
Makes phone heavy and bulky for your pocket
Metallo case a pricey add-on

THE VERDICT
V-Moda offers a stylish solution to turn your smartphone into the sonic titan you always dreamed it could be.

The Samsung Galaxy S III (a.k.a.GS3) was arguably last year’s second best-selling mobile phone, behind the iPhone 5, and the popularity of this non-Apple device—reportedly over 30 million units in consumers’ hands—in a sea of Android competitors speaks volumes. Smartphones do a lot, often serving as many folks’ primary media player, but they face the quandaries of all modern portable gear: Performance must contend with the realities of physical size and weight, as well as battery life. One such casualty is the diminutive digital-to-analog converter inside the phone, which turns the digital audio signals into analog audio that we can hear over headphones or the built-in speaker. As a GS3 user for the past 11 months, I have no major gripes about the onboard DAC (in this case built into the Qualcomm WCD9310 chip), but it is fair to say that it wasn’t selected only for audio quality, but perhaps partly because it’s tiny and it won’t overwhelm the phone’s battery.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Nov 06, 2014  |  2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Wowie-zowie style
Nearly indestructible
High-impact sound
Minus
Over-40 crowd might feel awkward wearing something as hip as the XS

THE VERDICT
With the XS, V-Moda somehow made a bassy headphone even an audiophile could love.

Val Kolton started V-Moda ten years ago, but I didn’t meet the man until 2011. I thought he was their sales guy; he definitely didn’t look like an owner of an audio company, at least not like any I’ve met before. He’s a young, skinny, rock-star type, decked out in black leather and long, jet-black hair. Get him started, and Kolton will talk a mile a minute about music and headphones, but then again, so do I.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Dec 07, 2015  |  2 comments
V-MODA is forcing me back to high school chemistry and I don’t like it one bit. I guess most people probably know that Zn stands for zinc without having to break out a periodic table, and the properties of zinc are great for making acoustic devices. The new Zn in-ear monitors are the first in-ears released by V-MODA in four years, and they’re aiming for the modern audiophile with a blend of features that balance convenience and luxury.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jul 25, 2016  |  1 comments
Music mogul Will.i.am has produced a new earphone, the "EPs.", inspired by the look of vinyl, launching exclusively online at Apple.com and in select Apple stores. At a time when “Made in China” might not seem all that cool, the EPs proudly boast that they were designed in Los Angeles, and produced in China, with glamour shots of the factory included. They also boast that they’re for the dope. We’ll see about that. With rumors swirling around that Apple might be eliminating the headphone port on the next gen of iPhones, is it any wonder they’re the exclusive retailers of these wireless earphones?

Mark Fleischmann  |  Oct 24, 2014  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699 ($899 as reviewed)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Warm, tubey sound
Headphone impedance switch
New York born and bred
Minus
No DAC
Too polite for some headphones

THE VERDICT
Woo Audio’s WA6 is a Class A headphone amp whose glowing tubes are voiced to warm up any headphones.

The glow of vacuum tubes has fascinated me all my life. When I was a kid, my parents bought a Magnavox console TV with a built-in phonograph and AM/FM radio, the early-1960s equivalent of a home theater system with all the trimmings. It stood on 18-inch legs, and I loved to crawl under it, lying on my back to stare up into the orange glow of the tubes. My first few audio systems were solid state, but a cadre of die-hard audiophiliacs never really gave up on tubes. Now they’ve also wiggled back into my life and onto my desk, where the Woo Audio WA6 headphone amplifier sits, with three glowing obelisks keeping the retro audio flame alive.

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.

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