Headphone Reviews

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Geoffrey Morrison  |  Mar 31, 2012  |  0 comments

NOTHING in consumer electronics is more popular right now than headphones. Pick a price and you’ll find no fewer than a billion different offerings (source: Wikipedia). Recent surveys indicate that many consumers look for celebrity endorsements to decide what to buy. Because celebrities and corporations have one thing in common — desire for money — all the A-, B-, and C-list celebs have already paired up with major ’phone manufacturers.

These trends have not escaped the keen eyes of Dr. Loof Lirpa. After making trillions from the incredible Liberty Freedom 1776 A-FY tower speakers covered last year and proudly not paying taxes on any of it, Lirpa has turned his gaze on a whole new market.

Brent Butterworth  |  Jun 18, 2013  |  0 comments

I’ve been searching a long time for a good noise-cancelling headphone priced around $100—something that might approach the performance of the $299 Bose QC-15 but at one-third the price.

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.

Michael Berk  |  Nov 16, 2012  |  0 comments

Over the past few months, we've looked at a whole lot of gaming headsets, from affordable, entry-level models to the cream of the crop - and we've found worthwhile candidates for you at all price points. Even better, we've got three headsets to give away this week, from Skullcandy and Astro.

Geoffrey Morrison  |  Nov 07, 2011  |  0 comments

Expanding on our recent bout with celebrity-endorsed headphones, here we go one step further (back?) with a TV-show-endorsed headphone.

Maybe "endorsed" isn't the right word. "Branded" perhaps, which is more than appropriate given the subject matter of Showtime's vampire-themed soap opera.

Given that preamble, the V-MODA True Blood Maker headphones turn out to be something of a surprise.

Brent Butterworth  |  Mar 08, 2013  |  0 comments

Bluetooth's been a boon for headphones, 'cause lots of people love headphones but nobody loves cables. It hasn't taken off in the in-ear monitor market, though, 'cause almost all Bluetooth IEMs have a clunky module that holds the Bluetooth electronics and the amplifier-and nobody loves clunky modules.

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  |  Jun 25, 2012  |  0 comments

I’m happy to see Polk getting into one of the headphone world’s neglected nether realms: noise-canceling IEMs. The UltraFocus 6000 gives you the easy transportability of an IEM with the noise-canceling technology that’s popular on larger over-ear and on-ear models.

Geoffrey Morrison  |  Aug 18, 2012  |  1 comments

This is an article I never thought I’d write. I sold hi-fi (well, Circuit City’s version of “hi-fi”) within sight of The Mountain. I developed early an audiophile’s distain for the four-letter marketing juggernaut. When I began reviewing audio, I couldn’t imagine a situation where I’d review a Bose product. Certainly not something like the market-leading QuietComfort 15 noise-canceling headphone,  Not without heavy doses of irony, snark, and derision.

And yet, it is my fiduciary duty to give credit where credit is due.

So behold — not only my first review of a Bose product, but a positive one at that.

Brent Butterworth  |  Feb 05, 2013  |  0 comments

To most people, a high-end in-ear monitor costing hundreds of dollars doesn’t look much different from the $10 IEMs you buy at Walgreens. But usually, the difference is huge. Perfect example: the $199 Klipsch Image X7i.

Brent Butterworth  |  Feb 03, 2012  |  0 comments

At the CanJam section of last fall’s Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, a manufacturer said something that’s resonated with me ever since. “The fit is the sound,” he told me, referring to the fancy new tips included with his company’s in-ear monitors. With that simple statement he summed up the reason why different listeners can have such different opinions of headphones. With IEMs, unless the tips seal well and the sound tubes fit properly within your ear canal, you’ll get little or no bass, and your treble and midrange will be out of balance at best and grossly uneven at worst.

Perhaps 50 feet away in the same ballroom, Phonak — the world’s largest manufacturer of hearing aids — showed me a way they’d come up with to address the fit problem with IEMs. The company’s Perfect Fit system employs L-shaped earpieces designed to conform to the folds of your pinna, allowing the body of the earpiece to reach further and more consistently into your ear canal for a better fit.

Michael Berk  |  May 14, 2013  |  1 comments

When Furutech launched their consumer-oriented Alpha Design Labs line in 2011 with the GT40 USB DAC/phono stage, it was clear that the company - which has long had a solid reputation among old-school audiophiles as a manufacturer of interconnects, power supply components, and connectors - was making a serious commitment t

Brent Butterworth  |  Jun 25, 2012  |  0 comments

With so many companies slapping their brand on generic IEMS, what’s an easy way to tell who’s serious about sound? Look to the guys selling IEMs with balanced armatures. Most IEMs use dynamic drivers, tiny versions of the drivers in box speakers, but a balanced armature is more like a little motorized teeter-totter that drives a diaphragm.

Brent Butterworth  |  Aug 08, 2012  |  0 comments

Pioneer’s gotta be a little PO’ed. The storied Japanese company has been making headphones for more than 50 years, yet it’s been overshadowed by upstart brands like Beats, HiFiMan, V-Moda, Phiaton, and others. But Pioneer’s fighting back with a freshly designed new line, in which the SE-MJ591 on-ear headphone is one of the top models.

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