Headphone Reviews

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Brent Butterworth  |  May 28, 2012  |  0 comments

There are speaker companies better-known than B&W, but I doubt any has a more enviable reputation. B&Ws have been a fave of audiophiles and recording engineers for decades. But the best indicator of B&W’s rep would probably be a walk through an audio show in China, where you’ll see no other speaker brand so brazenly copied.

Nowadays, though, B&W seems focused on compact and portable products, such as its Zeppelin Air and P5 and C5 headphones. Can’t blame B&W for wanting to surf the market trends, but headphones, especially, are so different from speakers that a company’s expertise in one is little indicator of skill in the other.

All three of the products I just mentioned have received rave reviews, though. That praise gives us great hope for the P3, a smaller, more portable, $100-less-expensive version of the P5.

Brent Butterworth  |  Jul 23, 2012  |  0 comments

Audiofly is a cool new brand with a retro look. Its website is filled with pix of recent-vintage tattooed hipsters, but its IEMs have molded-plastic perf grilles reminiscent of the 1960s portable radios I grew up with.

Brent Butterworth  |  Oct 29, 2012  |  0 comments

Like wine, sushi, and plumbers, headphones can get a lot more expensive than most people realize. At Sound+Vision, we focus on under-$500 models. But when Dr. Fang Bian, the visionary entrepreneur behind the HiFiMan headphone company, asked if I’d like to try the company’s top-of-the-line, $1,299 HE-6 headphone and its new $1,599 EF-6 headphone amplifier, I thought it’d be a great chance to give our usual listening panel a sample of what only the most devoted and/or wealthy headphone aficionados usually get to hear.

Brent Butterworth  |  Dec 25, 2012  |  0 comments

To reviewers, accusations of bias are just part of the gig. Commenting readers have insisted we're biased against certain brands, biased against in-ear monitors, biased against headphones with lots of bass, biased against headphones with flat bass, even biased against headphones from non-California companies.

Brent Butterworth  |  Jan 27, 2012  |  0 comments

WHEN I FIRST SAW the Sennheiser HD598’s beige-and-brown color scheme, woodgrain accents, and air-cushioned headband, images of all sorts of 1970s products fl ooded through my head: Kustom guitar amps with “tuck and roll” covering, lacquered driftwood furniture, waterbeds, Roger Dean posters.

Brent Butterworth  |  May 08, 2013  |  0 comments

I've heard Skullcandy 'phones ranging from the well-balanced RocNation Aviator to the heavy-handed Hesh to the hard-driving Titan, an inconsistency that led me to guess that the company wasn't making a serious effort to voice its headphones.

Michael Berk  |  Jul 05, 2012  |  0 comments

Tivoli's staked out a secure place for itself on the bedside tables and desks of stylish folks worldwide, and now they've decided to bring their tasteful finishes and wooden accents to the category everybody's getting into these days - headphones.

Michael Berk  |  Oct 17, 2012  |  0 comments

We're not sure about you, but here at Sound+Vision we've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of V-Moda's M-100 since we first glimpsed it at the 2012 CES. It's been a long and interesting road for the company's latest full-sized, audiophile-friendly 'phone, with many changes stemming from the active input from the community of headphone enthusiasts at Head-Fi. And the Crossfade M-100 is finally here.

Geoffrey Morrison  |  Dec 17, 2012  |  1 comments

Noise cancelling and celebrity-endorsed headphones are two of the biggest categories in big headphones. You can thank Beats for that, I suppose. In one hand, I've got the MDR-1RNC which apparently are not endorsed by the Republican National Committee. At least, I don't think. They've got digital noise cancelling (the headphones, not the Republicans) and some great design and build quality.

In my other hand I've got the shiny MDR-X10's which are "unique and powerful headphones designed by Sony and Simon Cowell." Yeah, they're unique all right.

Six ears give a listen to create one verdict (Well, OK, technically two verdicts).

Brent Butterworth  |  Jan 27, 2012  |  0 comments

THE ONLY MAJOR MANUFACTURER I know of that makes the same headphone in different impedances, Beyerdynamic offers the DT-990 in a 32-ohm version for use with portable devices, a 250-ohm version for average home gear, and a 600-ohm version for high-end headphone amps. We requested the 32-ohm version because the other headphones tested here run in that range and because we figured most S+V readers would at least occasionally want to plug straight into a smartphone or a computer.

Brent Butterworth  |  Apr 04, 2013  |  0 comments

As an Android fan, it's been frustrating to me to see how many audio accessories have been made for the iPhone, but almost none for my phone of choice. As a Samsung Galaxy S III owner, it's been even more frustrating, because the GS3 has sold more than 40 million units to date, with the GS4 coming in a couple of weeks to keep the trend going. Finally, though, someone's come up with an audio accessory for the GS3. Not some tacky little plastic dock, either. It's actually the coolest portable headphone amp I've ever seen: the V-Moda Vamp Verza.

Brent Butterworth  |  May 14, 2012  |  0 comments

Thanks to Bose’s overwhelming success in the category, most of us now think of noise-cancelling headphones as products that cost about $300. I’m sure every other headphone company would like to thank Bose for that, even if none of them ever will. But there’s really no reason that a noise-cancelling headphone has to cost so much.

Brent Butterworth  |  Jun 25, 2012  |  0 comments

Some audiophiles consider Focal’s $180,000-per-pair Grande Utopia EM to be the world’s finest speaker. The Spirit One, Focal’s first headphone, weighs about 99.9% less and costs about 99.8% less. Yet its brushed aluminum metal parts, matte black soft-touch finishes, and detachable cord with a woven cover convey some of the Utopias’ high-end vibe.

Timothy J. Seppala  |  Aug 30, 2012  |  0 comments

When I reviewed the Astro A40 MLG edition headset and wireless mixamp late last year, my complaints were minor. Since then, they've become my go-to cans; I even use them for transcribing interviews. It's overkill, I know. I've used them exclusively for the past eight months because I haven't heard another gaming headset that sounds anywhere near as good. That is until I spent quality time with Astro's new model, the A50.

Brent Butterworth  |  Nov 28, 2012  |  0 comments

A couple of days ago, we listened to the $129 Pro-Ject Hear It One, the larger of two new headphones from the budget turntable specialists. Now we’ll listen to the Hear It Two, a $79 on-ear model that, frankly, looks more like something you’d buy at Target than something you’d buy at Needle Doctor.

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