HEADPHONE REVIEWS

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Leslie Shapiro  |  Aug 20, 2018  |  0 comments
Next time you’re at a concert, look around. Want to know how to spot the audiophiles? They’re the ones with cotton balls and Kleenex sticking out of their ears. Anyone concerned with protecting their hearing knows how dangerous loud concerts and even movie theaters can be. Usually, the only options were earplugs that blocked frequencies unevenly, making it hard to understand lyrics and dialogue. Want to be a cool audiophile? Check out Decibullz Professional Filters, Earplugs, and Earphones.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Aug 06, 2018  |  0 comments
While everyone and their sister is coming out with wireless earphones (thank you, Apple), clearly there’s a need for companies to give themselves an edge in a very crowded marketplace. The new Edge Pulse earphone from Cleer clearly has an edge over the competition.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Jun 26, 2018  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $179

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Accurate sound, with a gentle bass bump
Best-in-class noise isolation
Two-year replacement warranty
Minus
Requires deep ear tip insertion

THE VERDICT
The Etymotic ER3XR delivers accurate, transparent sound at a very affordable price.

Have you noticed that most headphones, including plenty of models with audiophile aspirations, have pumped-up bass and highs? That intentionally less-than-accurate sound is likely due to their designers knowing that most people enjoy boosted bass and the extra “detail” of tipped-up treble. Etymotic is a company that doesn’t play by those rules, and its new ER3 Extended Response (ER3XR) is just the ticket for anyone who craves accurate sound from in-ear headphones.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jun 21, 2018  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $1,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Aluminum/magnesium diaphragms
Impeccable construction
Balanced presentation
Minus
Less than spacious imaging

THE VERDICT
Focal’s Clear headphones are admirably well-balanced performers with irreproachable build quality and a gorgeous look.

Is $1,499 a lot to pay for headphones? Well, how much is a lot? Only you can make the definitive decision about what is a good buy and what would be an undue burden on your checking account. Here’s how Focal thought through the problem. This formidable loudspeaker manufacturer gave its emergent headphone line its best shot in the Focal Utopia, a four-thousand-dollar product that we hailed with a five-star review. Its latest offering, the Focal Clear, borrows technology developed for the Utopia and cuts the price by more than half.

Leslie Shapiro  |  May 21, 2018  |  0 comments
Beem United is back with a wireless Bluetooth earphone that survives a massive workout on a single charge, while remaining comfortable and secure. For the price, it’s a decent option to grab on your way to the gym or your own pain cave home gym.

Steve Guttenberg  |  May 15, 2018  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Comfort
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Eighty percent thinner diaphragm
New HiFiMan aesthetic
Improved comfort
Minus
Can’t hush external noise

THE VERDICT
HiFiMan ups its game with Sundara’s new headband design that makes for a more comfortable fit and a new diaphragm that improves sound quality.

HiFiMan rocked my world back in 2009 with its revelatory HE-5 headphones. These were the first planar magnetic headphones I’d ever heard, and the sound was so clear and sweet, I’m pretty sure you’ll feel the same way about HiFiMan’s latest planar, the Sundara.

Steve Guttenberg  |  May 09, 2018  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Comfort
Value
PRICE $1,199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Solid machined wood earcups
Rich sound balance
Bio Dynamic drivers
Minus
So-so comfort over long sessions

THE VERDICT
At last, with the Heritage HP-3 there’s finally a Klipsch headphone founder Paul W. Klipsch would be proud of.

The Heritage HP-3 is a clean break from all of Klipsch’s previous full-sized headphones. Although Klipsch’s previous headphones were decent, I never felt they put the same passion into their headphones as their speakers. Maybe that’s why the HP-3 feels like a new beginning. Klipsch is finally going up against the big boys in the high-end audio headphone biz.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Mar 28, 2018  |  0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $249

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent isolation from external noise
Lightweight yet rugged design
Plentiful, but not overdone bass
Minus
Can sound too bright with harsh or overcompressed recordings

THE VERDICT
The Focal Listen delivers lots of detail and vitality, and the bass is to die for.

Focal is best known as France’s leading speaker manufacturer, but in 2016 they turned a corner and entered the fiercely competitive high-end headphone market with two extraordinary ’phones, the Elear and the deliriously great Utopia.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Mar 14, 2018  |  0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $2,695

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Designed and handcrafted in Brooklyn
Best-ever sounding Grado
Freewheeling dynamics
Minus
The non-removable and not very flexible cable

THE VERDICT
The Grado Labs PS2000e takes the classic Grado sound to new heights, but it won’t please everyone.

Grado headphones all have a sound, and they sound like Grados. They’re some of the most viscerally dynamic and lively headphones I’ve heard, and they’re so open and spacious, you never feel like the sound is confined to the space between your ears. The new flagship, the PS2000e, takes the Grado sound to new heights.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Feb 19, 2018  |  0 comments
Cable cutters are all the rage these days; even headphones have become completely and totally free from cables. The new X-Shock earphones from Soul Electronics are absolutely wireless, even for charging. For marathon listening sessions, the X-Shock has up to 60 hours of charging capabilities between the earphone and portable charging box.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Feb 13, 2018  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $2,495

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Extraordinary sound quality
Planar magnetic in-ear
Open-back design
Minus
Doesn’t block external noise

THE VERDICT
The Audeze LCDi4 sound like no other in-ear or full-size headphones. Audeze has once again radically changed the way we hear music.

I’m going to come right out and say it: The Audeze LCDi4 are hands down the best-sounding in-ear headphones I’ve heard. They’re the most transparent and open, have the flattest tonal balance, and the bass—OMG—is deeper and faster than any other in-ears on the planet...

Steve Guttenberg  |  Jan 23, 2018  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Most affordable ever three-way from the designer
Uber comfy
Vivacious sound
Minus
The voluptuous bass might be too much of a good thing

THE VERDICT
The Astell & Kern Michelle brings JH Audio headphone sound down to a new, more affordable price.

Sound & Vision readers probably know about Astell&Kern’s portable high-resolution digital audio players. But I’m guessing you’re less aware of Jerry Harvey Audio’s in-ear headphones, which have found favor not only with audiophiles, but also musicians and pro sound engineers who make up a sizeable percentage of Harvey’s customer base. The Michelle Limited in-ear headphones from Astell&Kern were designed by Jerry Harvey.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Jan 15, 2018  |  0 comments
CES is a crazy, hectic week of running around from press conference to manufacturer’s booths, meetings and deadlines. When Audio-Technica offered demos of their new ATH-ANC700BT QuietPoint noise-cancelling headphones along with a 15-minute professional massage, it was an irresistible treat, and the perfect way to wrap up the show.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Dec 13, 2017  |  2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Oval planar magnetic design
Easy to drive
Nice and comfy
Minus
Cable lacks phone mic or inline controls

THE VERDICT
Acoustic Research knocked one out of the park with the AR-H1 — it’s a real contender.

Acoustic Research has a long, proud history dating back to 1954 with the introduction of the AR1, the world’s first acoustic suspension speaker. But rather than run through a model-by-model inventory of their innovative speakers and the brilliant AR turntable, let’s fast-forward to 2018 where the AR's current owner is based in Hong Kong and they’re getting serious about making audiophile headphones. Witness the AR-H1, an ambitious reboot for the brand.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Dec 04, 2017  |  0 comments
Days are shorter, snow is on its way, and temperatures are plummeting. It’s getting cold and we’re all looking for ways to stay warm, without giving up our music. Sound Huggles are wireless Bluetooth headphones that double as comfy earmuffs. Okay, so I live in Florida and I’m still in shorts and flip-flops, but I know some of you are bundling up to head to work on frigid mornings or out for your evening jog. Wouldn’t a pair of toasty-warm, snuggly headphones make your ears happy?

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