Headphone Reviews

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Brent Butterworth  |  May 03, 2013  |  0 comments

When I’m asked to pick my favorite headphones for S&V’s Editor’s Choice awards, it’s always easy. I just make a list of the ones I kept using after the review was done—the ones I listened to even when I didn’t have to. After our test of affordable audiophile headphones last year, the headphone I kept on using afterward was the AudioTechnica ATH-AD900. It’s a big, comfortable, spacious-sounding, tonally neutral open-back headphone. Just the thing for streaming Internet radio for hours while I’m writing, or to use for an all-night-long Netflix binge.

That’s why I was so happy to find a successor to the ATH-AD900 at the January CES show. The ATH-AD900X has the same list price, pretty much the same specs, and similar looks.

Michael Berk  |  May 24, 2012  |  0 comments

When we got our hands on the latest iteration of Denon's flagship headphone, the AH-D7000, we had no idea it would be the end of the line for these spectacular wooden-cupped cans (and for the entire Dx000 series, at least as we know it today). Suffice it to say that however curious we are to learn what the Denon headphone design team has up its collective sleeve, we will be sad to see 'em go.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Aug 14, 2013  |  0 comments

Sennheiser has long been a fixture in the professional audio and high-end audiophile market. I’ve used my Sennheiser HD 595 and HD 600 Open Dynamic headphones for many applications - in the studio for reference monitoring, for sound quality consulting, and for audio forensics. When Sennheiser announced the Momentum series, I was instantly curious about these affordable, fashionable, and (somewhat) portable headphones. Would they live up to the brand’s reputation?

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.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Oct 26, 2012  |  0 comments

This summer I learned the hard way that a slightly open Ziploc baggie does not make an effective waterproof case for an iPod nano while cycling for 5 hours in the pouring rain. My beloved 5th generation iPod nano was rendered useless after soaking in water for hours. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I heard the announcement of the 7th generation nano and newly redesigned EarPods earphones. (Get it? Earphones+iPod=EarPod!)

Michael Berk  |  Dec 11, 2012  |  0 comments

Over the past several months I've repeatedly had goo poured into my ear canalsFor you, gentle readers - all in the interest of finding out whether custom in-ear monitors make as much sense for serious listeners as they do for musicians and sound engineers.

Brent Butterworth  |  Jan 27, 2012  |  0 comments

YOU’LL NEVER BE TEMPTED to take this headphone on the bus. The earpieces of Audio-Technica’s ATH-AD900 are huge, measuring about 4.5 inches in diameter and concealing a big 53mm driver. Unlike almost all other headphones, the ATH-AD900 does not have an adjustable band. Instead, it features a pair of spring-loaded, padded “wings” that support it on your head. The soft padding and big earcups made the ATH-AD900 super-comfortable for Howard, Joe, and me. But it felt droopy to Will, and Geoff found the feel of the wings on his bald pate intolerable after a few minutes.

Michael Berk  |  Mar 27, 2013  |  0 comments

As Brent Butterworth reminded everyone earlier in the week, subwoofer specialists Velodyne impressed us quite a bit last year with their first headphone effort, the in-ear vPulse.

Michael Berk  |  May 01, 2012  |  0 comments

Everybody wants better sound out of their headphones, but (and here's a shocker, I know) not everyone wants to own a lot of hardware to make that happen, especially if you want to take your show on the road every now and then. Whether budget-tightening precludes your investing in a portable listening rig to supplement your home setup or you're just a minimalist, you might just be in luck. Low-cost audio gear leaders FiiO and Alpha Design Labs (the personal audio wing of high-end connector kings Furutech) have each introduced some impressive do-it-all devices that just might cover all of your digital listening needs.

Brent Butterworth  |  Aug 04, 2013  |  0 comments

Has there ever been a headphone brand so controversial as Beats? It's undeniably popular; just walk around any downtown or airport in any industrialized country and you're almost sure to see a set. Yet audio enthusiasts-including the ones at Sound & Vision-often deride Beats' sound quality.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jun 28, 2012  |  0 comments

When Bell'O announced that they were getting into the audio business, I fully expected them to come out with a line of speakers that matched some of their home theater furniture.

Michael Berk  |  Oct 11, 2012  |  0 comments

We've talked a fair amount in this space lately about how much of a difference a headphone amplifier can make in your portable listening. Whether it's correcting for out-of-whack output impedance or simply providing more juice for difficult-to-drive cans (here's looking at you, on-the-go planar magnetic fans), you can get a better experience for surprisingly little money, with a wide range of pocketable amplifiers on the market right now, ready to interface with your iDevices, Androids, and other portable media devices. Here we look at two interesting and affordable newish devices: the latest miniature amp from FiiO, the E02i, or "Rocky," and the latest incarnation of DigiZoid's unique ZO2.

Brent Butterworth  |  Nov 25, 2012  |  0 comments

I bet your average dude on the street can’t name a single audio company that’s not in the headphone biz now. For an audiophile, it’s easier. As I look around my listening room, I see lots of them: AudioControl, Canare, Hsu Research, Krell, Rotel, Sunfire, and Sonus Faber, none of which have (yet) entered the personal audio field. But that’s changing. The Pro-Ject RM-1.3 turntable sitting atop my audio rack now shares its brand with two headphones, the $129 Hear It One and the $79 Hear It Two.

Brent Butterworth  |  Dec 14, 2011  |  0 comments

After hearing the enthusiastic sales pitch from SOL Republic, one of the latest of many new entrants into the headphone biz, I was disappointed when I heard the company's first model, the Tracks $99 on-ear. While the Tracks is beautifully made and incredibly comfortable for an on-ear model, its extremely bass-heavy balance made me feel like I was locked in the trunk of a Honda Civic with two 12-inch woofers and the complete works of Deadmau5 cranked way up.

When I received the company's first in-ear monitor (IEM), the $99 Amps HD, I wondered if the company would be able to achieve the blend of design and sound quality it originally promised - or if it'd be another well-crafted but sonically intolerable product.

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.

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