Headphone Reviews

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Steve Guttenberg  |  Aug 11, 2013  |  First Published: Aug 09, 2013  |  0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $449 At a Glance: Stellar build quality • Folds up into a compact bundle

AKG credits producer, recording artist, and DJ Tiësto (Tijs Michiel Verwest) with the sound tuning of the headphones that bear his name, and that’s cool, but I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that’s not necessarily a good thing. I haven’t been swayed by any celebrity ’phones, but I try to approach every review with an open mind, and by first judging their look and feel, the K267 Tiësto doesn’t give off any overt DJ vibes. As soon as I started listening, I relaxed. It didn’t sound like a DJ headphone; there’s no pumped-up bass or zippy highs. The K267 Tiësto sounds, above all, balanced, which puts this new AKG in the top ranks of audiophile headphones in its price class.

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.

Steve Guttenberg  |  May 17, 2013  |  1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $200 At a Glance: Excellent isolation from the world outside • Bass so solid, you won’t miss your subwoofer • Modular construction

I’ve reviewed more than a hundred headphones, but the Sol Republic Master Tracks is the first to require some “assembly.” No worries; Slip the headband through the ear cups’ slots, plug in the cable, and you’re done. The whole operation takes about a minute.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Apr 17, 2013  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $199 At a Glance: Basic styling with solid build quality • Supremely comfortable to wear • Sounds swell with tablets and receivers

Universally loved audio products are rare, but you won’t find too many folks with a bad thing to say about the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 headphones (it has around 800 five-star and just nine one-star ratings on Amazon). The headphone consistently garners raves, but the mundane styling won’t cut it with folks craving the latest fashion statements from the likes of Beats by Dr. Dre, V-Moda, or Bowers & Wilkins. While the ATH-M50 is mostly made of plastic, it feels remarkably durable, and its two-year warranty offers double the length of coverage of most headphones, even higher-end models.

Brent Butterworth  |  Mar 12, 2013  |  0 comments
When testing headphones with multiple listeners—our standard practice at S+V—I've learned that perceptions of a headphone's tonal balance can differ among listeners. Of course, individual taste in sound varies, too.
Chris Chiarella  |  Mar 31, 2006  |  0 comments
Who says you need speakers for discrete surround sound?

Listen To Believe (LTB) offers an assortment of discrete 5.1 headphone systems for just about every home theater or gaming scenario, depending upon your tastes and budget. Three transducers within their own independent speaker chambers are positioned inside each ear cup to render a true 5.1-channel experience, including dedicated delivery of center-channel and subwoofer information. Because they can work with both the optical and coaxial digital audio outputs of a source component, most headphone models can serve as a secondary audio solution, in addition to whatever speakers we might be using. Is the optical audio output from your DVD player already running to the receiver? No problem, since most DVD decks also offer a coaxial output. LTB's optical input also makes it a great match for PlayStation 2, Xbox, or Xbox 360.

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.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Nov 18, 2005  |  0 comments
One of the most mortifying moments of my life came when I realized I’d lost my Sony MDR-NC10 noise-canceling earbuds. Well, I didn’t exactly lose them—what I lost was one of the rubber earpieces. I was ransacking the front pockets of my Levis in the men’s room of the Dallas airport and the friction of dragging out the earbuds must have dislodged the precious morsel of rubber. That effectively exiled the MDR-NC10 to my useless-gear drawer. Living without them was so impossible that I broke down and bought the successor model, the MDR-NC11.
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.

Brent Butterworth  |  Aug 22, 2012  |  0 comments

“So when are you guys gonna do headphones?” I jokingly asked the staff of RBH Sound when I visited them at January’s CES show. A boutique speaker company, RBH focuses on the sort of relatively high-end products that independent dealers like to sell.

Geoffrey Morrison  |  Nov 19, 2012  |  0 comments

I'm skeptical of any audio product with a fancy design. In my experience, the more trendy or attractive a product is, the worse the performance. Maybe this prejudice comes from a place of subconscious competition, given that I'm so trendy and attractive.

So I approached the Parrot Zik with caution, not least because I found out that "Design by Starck" was not a misspelling and had nothing to do with Ned or even Robb (What about Tony? - Ed.).

But turns out, zee Ziks are zuper.

Brent Butterworth  |  Dec 09, 2011  |  0 comments

When we heard about the Sync by 50 headphones from SMS Audio, our hearts soared. We hoped that company founder and hip-hop star 50 Cent — or Fiddy, or Fif, or Cent, or Curtis, or whatever the hip-hop cognoscenti are calling him this week — would tap his fabled entrepreneurial skills and no-nonsense business attitude to create the world’s first hip-hop headphones that don’t at least kinda suck.

Geoffrey Morrison  |  Mar 11, 2013  |  0 comments

Star Wars headphones! Star Wars headphones! Star. Wars. Headphones. STARWARSHEADPHONES. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "OMG WTF this is the most amazing thing ever!"

Wait, it gets better. They're only $22!

And you're not going to believe this, but sound actually comes out of them. I KNOW. And wouldn't it really be something if these greatestheadphonesofalltime actually sounded good too?

Well, yes, that would have been something.

Brent Butterworth  |  Mar 21, 2012  |  0 comments

We haven’t made any secret of our general disdain for headphones endorsed by hip-hop artists. Not that we have anything against hip-hop artists, nor is there any good reason why hip-hop ’phones should sound bad.  It’s just that many of them do.

In last year’s celebrity headphone test, we didn’t dig the Soul by Ludacris SL300WB at all, and had a mixed reaction to the Beats Pro and Skullcandy Roc Nation Aviator. But our not-unpleasant experience with the Sync by 50 SMS-WS got us thinking that maybe someone in the hip-hop world was starting to understand that while crazy, bass-heavy tonal balances may be initially impressive, they’re not something most of us want to live with on a day-to-day basis.

Next up in the battle of the rapperphones is the $275 WeSC Chambers by RZA.

Brent Butterworth  |  Jun 17, 2013  |  0 comments

Noise-cancelling headphones shouldn't be so expensive. In most cases, the technology is simple: a couple of tiny microphones, a cheap amplifier chip, and a simple filter circuit.

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