Headphone Reviews

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Herb Reichert  |  Sep 30, 2020  |  4 comments
"Future generations will be able to condense into the brief space of twenty minutes the tone pictures of a lifetime—five minutes of childish prattle, five moments embalming the last feeble utterances from the death-bed. Will this not seem like holding veritable communion with immortality?"—Berliner Gramophone Company ca 1877
Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 03, 2020  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1995  |  0 comments
In February 1994, when I reviewed the pricey ($12,900 with amplifier) Sennheiser Orpheus headphone system—HE 90 headphones and HEV 90 D/A processor/amplifier—I commented that the company had a similar, but less expensive, alternative available: the HE 60 headphones combined with the HEV 70 amplifier. At the headphone end, the HE 60s aren't so different from the HE 90s furnished with the Orpheus system. Both are extremely lightweight and supremely comfortable—even for long listening sessions (I logged up to four hours without a break on the HE 60s). In fact, the less-expensive HE 60s are about 100gm—4 ounces—lighter than the HE 90s.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 09, 2020  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1995  |  0 comments
Ah, yes, headphones again. The market for super–high-end headphones must be small, but manufacturers nevertheless keep introducing new designs. At least two manufacturers—Stax and Sennheiser—seem to have carved out a big chunk of this market for themselves, and are currently slugging it out with their respective takes on the best that electrostatic headphones have to offer.
Herb Reichert  |  Jul 02, 2020  |  30 comments
Today is March 22, 2020. Outside my door, the plague is gaining intensity. People are wearing masks and rubber gloves. But outside the window by my desk, there is a Callery pear tree, and every day its blossoms are becoming more intensely white. Each day its brightness (measured in units of luminous flux) increases noticeably. The optical radiance of its zillion-petal whiteness illuminates the whole garden.
J. Gordon Holt, Bill Sommerwerck  |  Jun 09, 2020  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1963  |  11 comments
Almost a dead-ringer for the early-model Sharpe HA-10, Koss's PRO-4 ($45) is readily distinguishable by a large knurled protuberance sticking out of the lower part of the right-hand phone. This, in case you've wondered, is a mounting for a "boom-type" lip microphone, for use in speech labs and for communication purposes. (Sharpe and Permoflux also provide facilities for attaching a lip-mike.)
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 02, 2020  |  11 comments
Almost a year ago, a headphone pal loaned me the Zach Mehrbach–designed ZMF Auteur LTD headphones. He said, "Herb, see if you like these." I took them home and right away thought, Wow, these headphones really disappear!

Nothing about their sound attracted my attention. The only thing I noticed, casually, was how relaxed and unbelievably transparent they were.

Herb Reichert  |  Jan 08, 2020  |  31 comments
Tell me now: When you're there in the scene, watching Lord Voldemort chase Han Solo through the Cave of the Klan Bear, how often do you notice that the sounds you're experiencing are being pumped at you from five black-painted room boundaries, while the flickering-light images approach from only one? Moreover, in a parallel, more quotidian reality, you're sitting upright in your seat, noisily chomping popcorn while absorbing—and processing—massive amounts of sensory data: Did you ever consider the sensual, mechanical, and psychological complexity of a moment like this, and how fundamentally unnatural it is?
Herb Reichert  |  Dec 04, 2019  |  9 comments
My current romance with audiophile-quality headphones began in earnest with the appearance, about 10 years ago, of Audeze's LCD-2 planar-magnetic headphones—these predated the company's patented Fazor elements, said to guide the sound around the transducers' magnet structures—and Schiit Audio's original Asgard headphone amplifier. Together, these groundbreaking products rekindled my interest by making headphone listening into something new and exciting—something less distorted, more dynamic, denser, and more intensely lifelike than what I was getting from my speakers on the floor. Best of all, I could listen while lying in bed with my eyes closed.
Herb Reichert  |  May 23, 2019  |  3 comments
Every time I review a digital-to-analog converter, my memory drifts to the spring of 1983, when the first Compact Discs arrived at Tower Records in New York City. They appeared in the opera section. Sitting next to big, thick boxed sets of opera LPs, these new discs looked truly compact. A few months later, boxed sets of popular opera LPs, in almost untouched condition, began selling in the Tower Annex for $1/disc.
Ken Micallef  |  May 17, 2019  |  1 comments
I have on hand a number of pairs of headphones. And I admit that I've lusted after the heavenly sounding, medieval-looking Abyss AB-1266 Phi headphones, and considered the MrSpeakers Aeon closed-back headphones. (I prefer the isolation from outside sounds provided by closed-back 'phones.) But from the moments I saw—and then heard—Meze Audio's 99 Classics, with their graceful style, balanced sound, and natural wood-grained glory, they had me.
Ken Micallef  |  Mar 29, 2019  |  32 comments
I first met Pro-Ject Audio Systems' founder and president, Heinz Lichtenegger, in 2016, at the US launch of the Austrian company's The Classic turntable. His passion for all things hi-fi was so intense I thought his head might explode. Gleeful in his mission to bring high-end audio to the people at less than typical high-end prices, Lichtenegger and Pro-Ject can fairly claim bragging rights for their entry-level Debut Carbon (DC) ($460 and up), one of the world's best-selling turntables.
John Atkinson  |  Mar 05, 2019  |  2 comments
It used to be on my commute that I'd see my fellow subway riders listening to music on their iPods with headphones from Beats, Bose, Sennheiser, Sony—and even, occasionally, from Grado. These days, however, iPhones and Android smartphones are ubiquitous, and while I still sometimes see a pair of Beats, many travelers now wear Bluetooth-connected Apple AirPods. I haven't bought a pair of AirPods, so I don't know how they sound, but at $159, I suspect they don't compete with "legitimate" headphones. Even so, I wondered if convenience trumps sound quality when it comes to listening on the move.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 26, 2019  |  4 comments
In November 2016, I reviewed Shure's KSE1500 electrostatic in-ear headphone system, which featured a D/A amplifier with both analog and USB inputs that drove in-ear headphones with unique electrostatic diaphragms. At $2999, the KSE1500 was and is pricey, and recently Shure introduced a less-expensive electrostatic headphone system, the KSE1200SYS ($1999), with the same amplifier and earpieces but just an analog input.
Herb Reichert  |  May 31, 2018  |  9 comments
Brooklyn, 1979: Fridays were fierce. After a week of doing construction, I would gobble Wild Turkey at the Spring Lounge, then fall asleep on the F train with a fold of cash and a Sony Walkman stuffed in a chest pocket of my paint-spattered Belstaff Trialmaster jacket. Usually I missed my York Street stop by only a few stations, but occasionally I'd wake up at sunrise on Saturday at the last stop: Coney Island. I didn't mind. It was restorative to shuffle the deserted boardwalk, listening to the Ramones' Road to Ruin or Television's Marquee Moon.
Bob Katz  |  Apr 05, 2018  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

Nelson Pass's Lab has produced an impeccable headphone amplifier with more than enough power, that's quiet, solid, and very clean. Several other reviewers have reflected on this excellent amplifier, but I want to weigh in with my unique sonic perspective and also measurements of its performance.

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