Headphone Reviews

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Mark Fleischmann  |  Apr 26, 2016  |  1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Planar diaphragms
Smooth, sweet, high-res sound
Long and short cables supplied
Minus
Not as airy as some competitive ’phones

THE VERDICT
Planar headphones don’t come cheap, but the Oppo PM-2 is a relatively affordable specimen that sounds beautiful with a variety of content and signal sources.

Planar magnetic headphones have potential advantages over conventional dynamic headphones. Their flat diaphragms have magnets evenly spread across them, driving the entire surface, as opposed to a single coil driving the center of a diaphragm. The result can be greater resolution and phase coherence. But that potential performance edge comes at a price. So headphone fans rejoiced when Oppo—which won positive reviews for its $1,099 PM-1—introduced the PM-2, with some of the same features, at a more affordable price of $699, followed by the even more affordable PM-3 ($399). I’ve been spending much of the past year or so listening to the PM-2.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jun 20, 2016  |  0 comments
Every week a new pair of wireless Bluetooth earphones seem to appear on my doorstep. Usually, I have to take a long, hard look to find anything noteworthy to make one pair stand out from the others. The newly updated NuForce BE6i earphones feature aptX technology for better playback quality and that, my friends, is noteworthy enough.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Sep 07, 2015  |  0 comments
When Optoma, a home-theater projector company, and NuForce, an audio company joined forces, I’ll admit it I was initially confused. NuForce made nice, niche audio products, and Optoma is mainly only doing projectors. What would their combined efforts produce? Light-emitting earbuds? Projectors with built-in speakers? But it actually makes sense; Optoma purchased NuForce to be able to provide both excellent video and audio to consumers, and they’ve kept the high quality that you would expect from NuForce. How do two new pairs of earphones, the NE750M and the NE800M from Optoma NuForce sound? Let’s find out.

Lauren Dragan  |  Jun 23, 2016  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent ANC
Decent Bluetooth sound (with ANC off)
Wireless charging
Minus
Inconsistent sound quality
App mandatory for major functions

THE VERDICT
While the Zik 3 has allure with fun features, it falls short on core functionality, especially against its price competition.

Since their first version, Parrot Zik headphones have been consistently beautiful to look at and have featured technology that is a nose ahead of the competition. It’s the combo of pretty and new that has made the Ziks the darlings of the tech-enthusiast set. Now in its third iteration, the new Zik 3 is packed with all sorts of bells and whistles. Some will be familiar to users of the Zik 2.0: touch-sensitive controls on a sleek-looking earcup, deeply customizable noise cancellation and EQ via an app, sensors that trigger a pause in the music when the headphones are removed. And some are new: wireless charging, USB audio, Apple Watch, and Android Wear compatibility.

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  |  Jun 18, 2013  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Comfort
Value
Price: $299 At a Glance: Sinfully comfy • Artfully balanced frequency response • Lavish build quality boasts aluminum trim and real leather

It wasn’t that long ago that Philips wasn’t the first name that would come to mind for audiophile headphones. Things picked up early last year when the company totally revamped its headphone lineup, and the Fidelio Series turned a lot of heads. Philips was in the big leagues and fully competitive with the majors.

Leslie Shapiro  |  May 09, 2016  |  1 comments
Absolute power corrupts absolutely; lack of power is just freakin’ annoying. The new Plantronics BackBeat GO 3 is a wireless, sweatproof earbud that solves the lack of power problem in a unique and clever way. The carrying case has a built-in rechargeable battery that provides the power for up to two recharges, giving the Backbeat GO 3 an extra 13 hours of playback. That’s the kind of power a girl could get used to.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Aug 17, 2015  |  0 comments
Everything needs to be enhanced these days to stand out from the crowd—everyone needs a schtick. Potato chips need wacky truffle-oil flavoring, cars need a carbon fiber wrap, and well, most celebrities keep their plastic surgeons on speed-dial. Even headphones need a hook to make a splash in the over-saturated market. While the Plantronics BackBeat Sense wireless headphones look like ordinary headphones, they are packed with enhancements, including knowing when they’re on or off.
Steve Guttenberg  |  Dec 09, 2015  |  1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Two-way hybrid dual-driver design
User-replaceable cables
Two-year warranty
Minus
Resolution no match for all-armature in-ear designs

THE VERDICT
The PSB Speakers M4U 4 blocks a good amount of external noise, feels comfy, and sounds sweet. What’s not to like?

PSB Speakers’ Paul Barton is a quick learner. After decades designing his company’s speakers, he jumped into headphones with the PSB M4U 2 full-size, noise-canceling ’phones. The M4U 2 was hailed by critics and consumers alike, and his next design for NAD, the Viso HP50, was even better, Barton was clearly on a roll. Now, with the M4U 4, Barton may be the first celebrated speaker designer to ever tackle crafting an in-ear headphone.

Lauren Dragan  |  Feb 16, 2015  |  First Published: Feb 15, 2015  |  0 comments
Editor’s Note: This review was first published on 1/31/15, based on what proved to be a defective sample, and revised on 2/15/15.

Speaker company RBH has expanded their headphone lineup with new Bluetooth in-ears, the EP-SB. Lightweight and sweat resistant, RBH want the EP-SB to be your go-to headphones for on-the-go and at the gym. I got my hands on one of the first pairs available (literally!), and put them through their paces. How did they hold up? Lace up your sneaks and meet me after the jump.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Aug 27, 2012  |  0 comments

After seeing our initial  review of the Bell'O BDH650, Bell'O sent us a replacement, feeling that our review sample must have been a prototype. Yes, we've heard this kind of thing before, but the argument, in this case, did make sense (the 650 doesn't seem to have made it into Bell'O's final headphone lineup anyway). So we took another listen.

Brent Butterworth  |  Mar 27, 2013  |  0 comments

The 808 headphones prove I'm way hipper than any of our West Coast headphone testing panel, who range from 10 to almost 20 years younger than me. "You can tell from the name it's targeted to hip-hop fans," I told them.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jun 14, 2012  |  0 comments

Anyone who's ever been out on a bike path or trail knows the hazard of approaching another runner who's wearing earphones. You know you should announce that you're passing them, but you know they can't hear you. As a cyclist, I always shout out "passing on your left" or even just a friendly "hello" to let someone know I'm behind them.

Brent Butterworth  |  Mar 09, 2012  |  0 comments

I love the form factor of on-ear, or "supra-aural" headphones — the kind where the ear pads press against your ears’ pinnae instead of surrounding them —  because they usually fit easily into my laptop computer case. But I’ve had a problem finding a model comfortable enough to wear for more than an hour. What’s more, I’ve found no on-ears whose performance compares to that of a good over-ear (or circumaural) headphone — until now.

Brent Butterworth  |  Jul 23, 2012  |  0 comments

The $1,299 K3003 seems as if it were designed to be the official IEM of the one-percenters. One look at the stainless-steel earpieces tells you it’s something exclusive and different. It’s different inside, too, with two balanced armatures instead of just one. As one might expect from a $1,299 IEM, it comes with a snazzy and unique leather case, although the case is relatively bulky.

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