Headphone Reviews

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Steve Guttenberg  |  Sep 29, 2015  |  1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $2,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Luxurious design
Extraordinarily spacious sound
Advanced nano-thin planar magnetic drivers
Minus
A big, definitely not-so-portable headphone
Crazy expensive

THE VERDICT
The HiFiman HE1000 is pricey, but it sounds so clear and open other headphones sound dull and drab by comparison.

What? $2,999 for headphones? Can they be worth it? Yes, and yes. It’s not just that the Hifiman HE1000 sounds more transparent, spacious, and dynamic than other headphones: With the HE1000, music arrives more intact—there’s more there there.

The Hifiman HE1000’s open quality makes you realize not all open-back headphones sound equally open. You don’t have to be an engineer to understand why: Just look at the HE1000 ear cups’ thin horizontal blades that minimize reflections to a remarkable degree and expose most of the back surface of the diaphragm to the air.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Jun 19, 2014  |  First Published: Jun 18, 2014  |  1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Super tiny and lightweight
Accurate and transparent
Wide-open soundstage
Minus
Lacks microphone and phone controls

THE VERDICT
Hifiman's uber-comfortable RE-600 offers superb transparency and accurate tonal balance.

Even when I heard one of Hifiman's very first headphones, I had no doubt it was fully competitive with the best AKG, Beyerdynamic, Grado, Koss, and Sennheiser had to offer. That was back in 2006, and the Tianjin, China-based company's headphones have only gotten better over the years. They're all proprietary designs, engineered and manufactured by Hifiman.
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.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Dec 08, 2014  |  0 comments
Jabra has introduced a wireless Bluetooth headset designed to take workouts to a whole new level of efficiency. They’ve introduced the Jabra Sport Pulse, the world’s first Bluetooth earbuds with a built-in heart-rate monitor. Crazy? I think not. Anyone who’s at all interested in fitness knows that the most effective way to monitor your workout is to track your heart rate. Check out the Orange Theory craze if you don’t believe me, or just look at the treadmills and elliptical machines at most gyms. Heart rate monitoring is an essential part of a safe, effective workout, and Jabra has nailed it. The heart rate monitor is built right into the left earpiece of the Sport Pulse, so finally, you can toss that unsightly, sweaty, uncomfortable heart rate strap.

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?

Lauren Dragan  |  Mar 13, 2014  |  0 comments
Ah, Bluetooth. The desire to cut the cord has led to a market flooded with a dozen new wireless headphone options in the last few months. The latest to enter the fray is JBL, with their Synchros S400BT: a touch sensor controlling, LED glowing, aptX encoding, Bluetooth 3.0 stereo over-ear headphone. With all those bells and whistles, I just had to give them a try. How would they measure up?
Steve Guttenberg  |  Aug 29, 2014  |  First Published: Aug 28, 2014  |  0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $40

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Lotsa bass
Comfortable lightweight design
Low price
Minus
Maybe a little too much bass

THE VERDICT
The JVC HA-FR301 isn't an accurate-sounding headphone, and fashion conscious buyers may turn up their noses at the design, but these inexpensive in-ears are a lot of fun to listen to.

Emphasized, or should I say pronounced bass is a guilty pleasure a lot of headphone loving audiophiles rarely admit to indulging in. Funny, almost all headphones, including a fair share of high-end models, have elevated bass, so what we're talking about here is a matter of degree. JVC's HA-FR301 is designed for bass fanatics who can't get enough low-end punch. Indeed, JVC markets them as part of its Xtreme Xplosives headphone line up; that pretty much says it all. But while most bassy headphones suffer from muffled highs and a missing-in-action midrange, the HA-FR301 isn't lacking in detail, not by a long shot.

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.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 23, 2006  |  0 comments
Flying is brutal. And the cramped seat and substandard food aren't the only things that do you in. Noise is the unseen enemy. You may think you can merely adjust to it and ignore it—but that is physically impossible. Jet-turbine noise gives your eardrums and the other delicate parts of your inner ear a beating, and that messes up both your hearing and your sense of balance. That's why you often feel disoriented after a long flight. The wise traveler is therefore one who carries a good set of noise-canceling headphones or earbuds.
Steve Guttenberg  |  May 03, 2016  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $250

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Smooth, highly detailed sound
Svelte good looks
User-replaceable cables
Minus
Headband padding is too thin

I really wasn’t expecting this. While I liked KEF’s original M500 headphone when it arrived in 2013, I can’t say I was ever smitten by the sound. But the new M400 was quite the opposite: I loved it from the get-go and immediately connected with it. The newer model is a smidgen less expensive, and it features a cleaner design and deftly executed, mostly aluminum construction, deliciously ample ear pads, and a rich tonal balance.

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  |  Jun 26, 2015  |  1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $150

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Big on comfort
Lifetime warranty
Timbrally rich
Minus
Lacks mic and phone controls

THE VERDICT
The Koss Pro4s doesn’t sound like your daddy’s Koss, not by a long shot. It’s the best new Koss in ages.

Koss was founded in 1958, so it’s as old-school American hi-fi as you can get, and I’d bet lots of older audiophiles have fond memories of their Pro4AA headphones from back in the day. Koss still makes that headphone, and sound-wise, it’s about as subtle as a 1970 Chevelle SS 396 muscle car. As for this new Pro4S, it’s closer to a new Camaro—the sound is far more refined. The sharply sculpted, cast-aluminum ear cups are the first clues; the handsome design has a contemporary look and feel.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Jul 08, 2015  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
UE’s tip-fitting system ensures a perfect fit
User-replaceable cables
Sweet, nicely detailed sound
Minus
Premium pricing

THE VERDICT
The Ultimate Ears UE900s look, feel, and sound right, they’re big on transparency, without shortchanging body and soul.

I was in for a big surprise when I opened the Ultimate Ears UE900s box. The headphone not only comes with a generous selection of sizes and types of ear tips, UE’s color-coded, systematic fitting process makes it easier than ever to achieve the perfect fit. This ensures maximum isolation from external noise and the full bass potential of the UE900s.

Chris Chiarella  |  Sep 30, 2005  |  0 comments
5.1 for your head.

After more years writing about sound technology than I care to count, I've had two revelations of note: A full 5.1-channel speaker system is too much for some people, while, for many of those same folks, traditional stereo just isn't enough. With content—movies and games—growing ever more sophisticated, we need adequate gear on which to enjoy it. However, not everyone has the space, the budget, or even the basic technical know-how to wire five speakers and a subwoofer.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Oct 25, 2016  |  0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $309

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Handsome design
Extraordinary build quality
Rich sound
Minus
Doesn’t fold for compact storage

THE VERDICT
It’s easy to be distracted by the Meze 99 Classics’ good looks, but they’re also great-sounding headphones.

Call me shallow, but I fell deeply in love with the Meze Classics 99 headphones even before I heard them. Those precision carved, hand-finished, solid wood earcups, stainless steel headband, self-adjusting headband strap, and sumptuous earpads all lend a luxury feel to the design, though the price is solidly affordable. No other headphones near the price look and feel like the 99 Classics.

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