HEADPHONE REVIEWS

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Steve Guttenberg  |  Jul 12, 2017  |  2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $200

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Truly innovative tech
Proprietary quad-driver design
Highly transparent sound
Great value
Minus
Cables aren’t user-replaceable

THE VERDICT
The 1More Quad Driver’s sound dazzles with its transparency, wide-open imaging, and nimble bass.

There’s something really special happening here. The 1More Quad Driver In-Ear is easily the most transparent, best-imaging headphone I’ve heard for $200. I’m not joking—before I knew the price, I assumed it was at least $300 or $400. Since there’s no outward indication of what makes the Quad Driver so outstanding, I was super eager to find out.

Chris Chiarella  |  Mar 31, 2006  |  0 comments
Who says you need speakers for discrete surround sound?

Listen To Believe (LTB) offers an assortment of discrete 5.1 headphone systems for just about every home theater or gaming scenario, depending upon your tastes and budget. Three transducers within their own independent speaker chambers are positioned inside each ear cup to render a true 5.1-channel experience, including dedicated delivery of center-channel and subwoofer information. Because they can work with both the optical and coaxial digital audio outputs of a source component, most headphone models can serve as a secondary audio solution, in addition to whatever speakers we might be using. Is the optical audio output from your DVD player already running to the receiver? No problem, since most DVD decks also offer a coaxial output. LTB's optical input also makes it a great match for PlayStation 2, Xbox, or Xbox 360.

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  |  Feb 29, 2016  |  1 comments
Bone conduction technology has been around for a while, even before Beethoven pressed his ear against a piano and clasped a rod in his teeth to hear his compositions. But AfterShokz is bringing it mainstream to the active community with the new Trekz Titanium (MSRP $130) wireless headset. While you might not think bone conduction is right for you, there are plenty of advantages of the technology, including situational awareness, that you might want to consider.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Aug 11, 2013  |  First Published: Aug 09, 2013  |  0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $449 At a Glance: Stellar build quality • Folds up into a compact bundle

AKG credits producer, recording artist, and DJ Tiësto (Tijs Michiel Verwest) with the sound tuning of the headphones that bear his name, and that’s cool, but I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that’s not necessarily a good thing. I haven’t been swayed by any celebrity ’phones, but I try to approach every review with an open mind, and by first judging their look and feel, the K267 Tiësto doesn’t give off any overt DJ vibes. As soon as I started listening, I relaxed. It didn’t sound like a DJ headphone; there’s no pumped-up bass or zippy highs. The K267 Tiësto sounds, above all, balanced, which puts this new AKG in the top ranks of audiophile headphones in its price class.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Mar 13, 2014  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Hand-crafted in Austria
Ear coddling comfort
User-replaceable cable
Minus
Expensive
Lacks mike or inline remote

THE VERDICT
The AKG K712 Pro’s winning combination of comfort, build quality, and superlative sound puts it in the top tier of headphones in its price class.

Headphone shoppers should never forget that sound quality should always be balanced with comfort. Sure, sound is the thing, but you’d be unwise to assume all headphones are equally comfy. I wish. The majority of full-size headphones on the market—including a lot of very expensive ones—can be a chore to wear for more than an hour or so. AKGs have no such problem; the company nailed big headphone comfort with their K701 that debuted in the U.S. in 2006, and this new model, the K712 Pro, looks and feels much the same (the less expensive K701 remains in the line). Both models feature similar drivers, but the K712 Pro’s two-layer Varimotion driver has been redesigned to increase bass output.

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.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Aug 18, 2015  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
High-resolution sound
Planar magnetic drivers
Made in the U.S.
Minus
Lacks mic and phone controls

THE VERDICT
The Audeze EL-8 may be the first planar magnetic headphone sensitive enough to come alive with portable music players.

I’ve reviewed a lot of headphones, but I’ve never encountered anything quite like the Audeze EL-8 before. It’s the first high-end planar magnetic headphone to come alive and sound fully transparent with portable music players. Now, sure, we’ve heard similar claims for other high-performance, full-size headphones; and yes, they play, but too much of the headphone’s potential is forfeited with portable devices. The EL-8 sounds scary good with my humble little iPod classic.

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  |  May 17, 2016  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $3,995

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Audeze ups their game, again!
Solid build quality
Made in Costa Mesa, California
Minus
They’re heavy!

THE VERDICT
You’ll know it when you hear it—there’s something very right, natural, and organic about the Audeze LCD-4’s sound.

The uber headphone field is getting mighty crowded—we have the Abyss AB-1266 ($5,495), Hifiman HE1000 ($2,999), Stax SR 009 ($3,999), Sennheiser Orpheus ($55,000!)—and now we have Audeze’s latest, the LCD-4 ($3,995). Talk about sticker shock! But let’s put those prices in perspective: All of them put together cost far less than a single Wilson Audio Alexandria XLF speaker, which sell for upwards of $200,000 per pair. So, as extreme as toptier headphone price tags have become, most are still within reach of a vastly larger group of enthusiasts than the very best high-end speakers. By that criterion, uber ’phones like the LCD-4 are comparatively affordable. Expensive, yes, but the best stuff always is.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Jun 20, 2014  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,799

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Bass to die for!
Rock-solid build quality
Advanced technology drivers
Minus
It’s crazy expensive!
They’re heavy!

THE VERDICT
Every now and then, a headphone comes along that truly advances the state of the art. Audeze LCD-XC is a game changer!

Even now, in the midst of an unprecedented boom market, American-made headphones are pretty rare. There’s Grado and Koss, but Audeze joined the fray just four years ago, when their LCD-2 debuted at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver. I was knocked out by its big and brawny sound; it was easily the most powerful headphone I’d ever heard.

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...

Lauren Dragan  |  Mar 19, 2016  |  First Published: Mar 18, 2016  |  2 comments
Over the last few years, Audeze, known for their acclaimed LCD series headphones, have expanded their lineups of entry level enthusiast-grade headphones. In 2015, they released the EL-8, a line of portable planar-magnetic over-ear headphones. This year at CES, Audeze announced the launch of not only their most affordable, but most wearable offering yet: the Sine; lightweight, closed-backed, on-ear, planar magnetic headphones. Additionally, the Sine are available with Cipher: a lightning cable with remote, mic, and, oh yeah... an integrated amp, DSP and DAC. Needless to say, I needed to get these on my noggin as soon as possible.
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.

Brent Butterworth  |  Jan 27, 2012  |  0 comments

YOU’LL NEVER BE TEMPTED to take this headphone on the bus. The earpieces of Audio-Technica’s ATH-AD900 are huge, measuring about 4.5 inches in diameter and concealing a big 53mm driver. Unlike almost all other headphones, the ATH-AD900 does not have an adjustable band. Instead, it features a pair of spring-loaded, padded “wings” that support it on your head. The soft padding and big earcups made the ATH-AD900 super-comfortable for Howard, Joe, and me. But it felt droopy to Will, and Geoff found the feel of the wings on his bald pate intolerable after a few minutes.

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