HEADPHONE REVIEWS

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Steve Guttenberg  |  Jun 14, 2017  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $1,800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Hyper clarity
Lighter than most high- end headphones
Made in California
Minus
They’re expensive

THE VERDICT
The MrSpeakers Ether Flow headphones combine clarity with an effortless, non-fatiguing sound that ensures long-term satisfaction.

I’ve always been into headphones, starting with my longlost Sennheiser HD 414 in the early 1970s. I love ’phones, and they keep getting better and better, but I get a lot of pushback from audiophile pals who aren’t yet ready to take the plunge. When asked about what’s holding them back, they complain about comfort and sound that feels crammed inside their heads. Sure, but that was then. It’s time to listen to some of the best new ’phones to hear what’s happening now. Take the new MrSpeakers Ether Flow: It’s so open and spacious, the sound seems to come from around your head!

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jun 05, 2017  |  0 comments
These days, air travel just sucks. Seats are smaller, flights are overbooked, computer glitches cause massive delays, and whatever happened to in-flight meals? You’re lucky to get a tiny bag of pretzel crumbs. Whenever I travel, I always slip on a pair of headphones, and tune out the chaos. If there’s a baby screaming all flight long, I won’t hear it. So when AKG announced the N60NC Wireless, a new active noise-cancelling headphone with Bluetooth, I was all ears.

Steve Guttenberg  |  May 23, 2017  |  0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Brilliant styling
Built-in headphone amp
Click-on bass boost
Minus
Not super transparent

THE VERDICT
The Blue Sadie is one of the more unique headphones on the market. The look and feel are mighty impressive. The sound is up to snuff too!

Blue is known primarily as a high-end studio and consumer microphone manufacturer, but they broke into the headphone scene with their radically designed Mo-Fi back in 2014. I liked that headphone well enough, but it was heavy, and the sound balance struck me as a little too Beats inspired. Mo-Fi is history, but Blue’s new one goes by the name Sadie, and her sound is more in tune with audiophile tastes.

Leslie Shapiro  |  May 22, 2017  |  0 comments
Thanks to Apple, there’s a surge of Bluetooth headphones hitting the market. Apple users are practically forced to go wireless, and other users find it convenient to ditch the cords. However, besides the sound quality issue of going wireless, there is also a comfort factor. Because more electronics have to be jammed into earphones, most Bluetooth earbuds are heavy, making them uncomfortable for many users. Jam Audio’s Comfort Buds is a solution for those sensitive listeners. Is comfort worth the sacrifice in sound quality?

Leslie Shapiro  |  May 08, 2017  |  0 comments
Who doesn’t love staying up late and watching a guilty-pleasure movie while the rest of the household sleeps peacefully? The problem is that you can’t turn up the volume without fear of waking them or the neighbors. The Sennheiser Flex 5000 turns any headphone into a wireless option designed to let you watch TV using your favorite wired headphones. Plus it has features that help make TV audio clearer and enhances dialogue for better intelligibility.

Steve Guttenberg  |  May 04, 2017  |  0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Designed and made in Germany
Concise and clear sound
Extra comfy
Minus
Plastic earcups break the high-end spell

THE VERDICT
The Amiron Home’s open-back design delivers a rich, yet highly detailed sound and the extreme comfort Beyerdynamic’s headphones are known for.

Beyerdynamic is a pretty conservative company, and its sound hasn’t really changed all that much over the last decade. I started to sense something was up in 2015 when I reviewed the flagship T 1 second-generation headphone that took the brightness down a smidge. Now the smoothing trend continues with the Amiron Home open-back, over-the-ear headphone. The look is also fresher, and this headphone definitely has a warmer, sweeter sound than the model it replaces, the T 90. Beyerdynamic is onto something new, and I like it.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Apr 25, 2017  |  0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $649

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Made in Japan
Neutral sound balance
Two-year warranty
Minus
Cable isn’t user-replaceable

THE VERDICT
The Audio-Technica ATH-A2000Z somehow looks brand new and classic at the same time, and we could say the same about the sound.

The ATH-A2000Z is the top model from Audio-Technica’s Art Monitor Series, and its polished titanium earcups are a not-so-subtle hint about the headphone’s status in the company’s pecking order. It’s made in Japan, just like AudioTechnica’s very best headphones (such as the ATH-W5000). The company has been making ’phones since 1974.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Apr 11, 2017  |  1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
High-resolution sound
Planar magnetic drivers
Comes with Apple Lightning and standard cables
Minus
Little or no isolation from external noise

THE VERDICT
The Audeze iSine 10’s sound crushes the competition—it’s more dynamically alive, more spacious, and more transparent than any other in-ear headphone I’ve heard so far.

With the iSine 10, Audeze completely reinvented the in-ear headphone. I’m not exaggerating. While every other in-ear headphone uses dynamic or balanced armature drivers, the iSine 10 has planar magnetic drivers, the same thin-film driver technology Audeze uses with all of their on-, and very high-end over-the-ear headphones. The driver isn’t the only unique design feature, though. The iSine 10’s wild-looking earpieces are a good deal larger and designed in a completely different way than any other in-ear on the market.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Apr 05, 2017  |  1 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Six balanced armature drivers
Extreme comfort
Two-year warranty
Minus
They don’t look as expensive as they are

THE VERDICT
The Audiofly AF1120 is super comfortable and sounds effortlessly sweet and transparent.

Audiofly may be a new name to you and me, but they started making headphones in Australia in 2012. The headphone that initially got the ball rolling, the AF78, was a hybrid in-ear with dynamic and balanced armature drivers that gained a following with musicians. Audiophile attraction came a bit later.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Apr 03, 2017  |  0 comments
These days, it seems that listeners have no choice but to spend hundreds of dollars to get good quality Bluetooth headphones. The JBL E55BT (MSRP $150) has the sound of a $300+ headphone, with good performance and a wired option, all in a range of colors to suite any style.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Mar 28, 2017  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Designed in Germany
Titanium earpieces
Neutral sound balance
Minus
Wish they were a little cheaper

THE VERDICT
At first listen, the Beyerdynamic iDX 200 iE’s charms may not be immediately obvious, but over time you’ll start to realize how good they are.

When you listen to as many headphones as I do, you start to notice trends. The first and most obvious one is bass, and there’s usually too much of it. Next, headphones look and feel so similar, you start to think most of them, but especially in-ear headphones, are all made in the same factory in China. That may or may not be true, and yes, the Beyerdynamic iDX 200 iE is Chinese made, but it was designed by Beyerdynamic’s engineers in Germany.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Mar 23, 2017  |  2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Uber clarity
Titanium drivers
Made in Japan
Minus
Doesn’t fold for compact storage

THE VERDICT
The Final Sonorous III is in a class of its own because it doesn’t sound like anything else, and that’s a good thing.

The Final Audio Design Sonorous III showed up when I was in the midst of working on reviews of some very high-end, very expensive headphones. I usually try to avoid simultaneously working on reviews of products that would put one at a serious disadvantage. No problem this time: The Sonorous III held its own against the new HiFiMan HE1000 V2 ($2,999) and the AKG K872 ($1,495). I’m not saying the Sonorous III was in the same league as those two heavyweights, but I’ve never heard a mid-price dynamic driver headphone as transparent as the Sonorous III.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Mar 17, 2017  |  2 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $899

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Sumptuous build quality
Best Bowers & Wilkins headphone yet
Comes with an Apple Lightning cable
Minus
Brown is the only color

THE VERDICT
With the P9 Signature, Bowers & Wilkins enters the higher echelons of the crowded audiophile headphone market with a real contender.

Unlike nearly every other speaker company that jumped into the headphone market with a complete line, Bowers & Wilkins has released just one (or two) headphones at a time. The P5 on-ear was first out of the gate in 2010; then the C5 in-ear and P3 on-ear; the Series 2 versions of those headphones followed; next came the over-the-ear P7; more recently the wireless P5 and P7; and now the all-new flagship P9 Signature. Thanks to the slow and steady approach, the sound for all of B&W’s headphones has been consistently chocolatey-rich. The P9 Signature is similar, but the sound is more evolved.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Mar 07, 2017  |  3 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $2,300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Remarkably transparent
Fine, handmade build quality
Very, very comfortable
Minus
New-gen balanced cable may not fit current headphone amps/sources

THE VERDICT
$2,300

Sony has a long history of making reference-quality headphones, starting with the limited-edition MDR-R10. That was in 1989—and at $2,500, it was the most expensive headphone in the world. A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with an MDR-R10, and it was the most beautiful-sounding headphone I’d ever heard. No wonder the cognoscenti dubbed it the Stradivarius of headphones and scooped them all up years ago. MDR-R10s rarely come up for sale, but when they do, they go for at least $6,000!

Leslie Shapiro  |  Mar 06, 2017  |  0 comments
When Apple chose to remove the headphone jack from their latest iPhones, many people (myself included) freaked out. Would I forever be forced into listening to a downgraded Bluetooth signal? Luckily, BEEM United came quickly to the rescue with the BeMe D200 wired headphone with a Lightning jack.

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