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  |  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.

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.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jun 14, 2012  |  0 comments

Anyone who's ever been out on a bike path or trail knows the hazard of approaching another runner who's wearing earphones. You know you should announce that you're passing them, but you know they can't hear you. As a cyclist, I always shout out "passing on your left" or even just a friendly "hello" to let someone know I'm behind them.

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  |  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.

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 23, 2012  |  0 comments

To most people, the only apparent differences among in-ear monitors (IEMs) are the logos on the sides. But there are two very different technologies used in IEMs.

Brent Butterworth  |  Dec 19, 2012  |  0 comments

From mixing boards to Blu-ray players to soundbars to saxophones, Yamaha makes just about everything audio. Which is why it’s surprising that in the one field that practically every audio company has piled into—headphones—Yamaha hasn’t done much in the last few years. The Pro 500 represents a re-entry of sorts, a flashy blue bombshell designed to attract both audiophiles and fashion-oriented “listeners.”

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.

Brent Butterworth  |  Nov 07, 2012  |  0 comments

I'm always surprised at headphone companies' efforts to make super-stylish in-ear monitors. 'Cause who's gonna stare into some stranger's ears on the subway? Personally, I'd never buy an IEM for its looks unless it had an image of Bandit on the side. But I have to admit Phiaton's new Moderna MS 200 looks pretty cool with its carbon fiber sides and red cables and accents.

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.

Brent Butterworth  |  May 12, 2013  |  0 comments

I'm not much of a businessman. (If I were, would I be writing audio reviews for a living?) Still, after years of experience in marketing and advertising, I can't help but admire a good business strategy. That's partly why I like the Harman Kardon NC.

Brent Butterworth  |  Jun 25, 2012  |  0 comments

When PSB’s Paul Barton recently called me to chat about headphone measurement, it soon became apparent that he’d read every scientific paper ever written about headphones. The first headphone to which Barton brings his ultra-scientific approach is the M4U 2, a noise-canceling model poised to go up against the likes of the Bose QC15.

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