HEADPHONE REVIEWS

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Brent Butterworth  |  Jun 25, 2012  |  0 comments

If you’re sick of trying to choose among dozens of lookalike IEMs in the racks at electronics stores, you’ll find the C5 to be welcome relief. This IEM resembles nothing else on the market. The back of each titanium earpiece holds B&W’s Micro Porous Filter, a layer of hundreds of tiny steel balls that the company says works as a sonic diffuser.

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.

Geoffrey Morrison  |  Oct 05, 2011  |  0 comments

The success of Dr. Dre's Beats sent up a signal flare that alerted the rest of the celebrigentsia - who've realized that there's no safe money in music anymore - that there was cash to be had in them thar 'phones. They've since had at it in a big way, with everyone from Justin Bieber to Quincy Jones to the estates of Miles Davis and Bob Marley slapping their names on hardware.

But are any of these headphones any good? We set out to figure out which - if any - of these celebs deserve your hard-earned dollars. We called in a team of expert listeners to pick 'em apart, and then put each headphone through some rigorous lab testing to figure out what was really going on underneath those fancy designs.

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  |  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  |  Feb 24, 2013  |  0 comments

If you're wondering what kind of common thread we've found between two such obviously different headphones, stop wondering. They have nothing in common. Except three things:

1) They're both headphones
2) They both employ unusual engineering.
3) They've both been sitting around my office way too long.

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  |  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.

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.

Michael Berk  |  Jul 31, 2012  |  0 comments

When we last looked at Altec Lansing's headphone offerings, we checked out their affordable universal-fit balanced-armature IEM, the Muzx Ultra. But that's not all there is to the longstanding brand's headphone offerings. Late last year, the company went all-in with a premium headphone line, and we've had a chance to spend some time with them over the last few months.

Brent Butterworth  |  Dec 23, 2011  |  0 comments

After trying several Bluetooth headphones, I’m surprised this category hasn’t taken off yet. With Bluetooth, you’re unencumbered by pesky cables. You can leave your cell phone in your pocket, on a table, etc., and control volume and track forward/reverse wherever you roam, as long as you don’t stray further than 30 feet. And unlike almost all mic-equipped headphones, Bluetooth headphones work as well with Androids as they do with iPhones.

Brent Butterworth  |  Jan 28, 2013  |  0 comments

Even though I campaigned against California's Proposition 8, I have to confess that I can't quite get the whole product positioning and marketing of the Fanny Wang brand. The WangBud increases my confusion, although it intrigues me at the same time.

For its first in-ear headphone, Fanny Wang didn't just get some generic IEM and slap its logo on. It created a product unlike any other I've encountered: a headphone using dual dynamic drivers, with earpieces the size of the old iPod earbuds and oblong silicon tips like those supplied with most Bluetooth headsets.

Leslie Shapiro  |  May 13, 2013  |  0 comments
Onkyo is a well-respected, well-established name in the hi-fi industry. When they announced the release of the ES-HF300 headphone, it was surprising to realize that this is their first foray into headphones. While known more for their receivers and hardware, they have produced speakers in the past. It's amazing they shied away from the market for this long. If first impressions mean anything, the ES-HF300 is, well, impressive.
Brent Butterworth  |  Jul 29, 2012  |  0 comments

Even if you’re not an audiophile, you’ve seen the huge headphones many audiophiles wear. Most are open-back models, which allow the sound from the back of the speaker driver inside to escape, and which thus avoid the “boxy” sound that driver enclosures can create.

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.

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