Headphone Reviews

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Herb Reichert  |  Aug 30, 2022  |  12 comments
I have a peephole in the door to my first-floor apartment. It looks down a straight hall to a glass wall framing the front door of my building. For 13 years, its job has been to let me see who is ringing my buzzer and who is making a racket in the hall.
Herb Reichert  |  Jun 28, 2022  |  4 comments
I am an artist by trade. Saws and brushes and cameras are some of the tools I use. The aesthetic quality of the things I make is determined not by my skill with tools but by the dynamic relationships I establish among space, color, tone, and shape.

Of those elements, shapes are the most important because they are the first thing a viewer notices and the chief vehicles for transmitting sentiment and artistic intent. Stylized shapes, like those in popular art, may induce superficial responses in the viewer. Taut, Euclidian shapes suggest their author is of a higher mind; the Parthenon and Pantheon exemplify this type of shape making.

Herb Reichert  |  Mar 02, 2022  |  7 comments
A month ago, I ran into my Russian neighbor in the hall. As usual, he asked me what I was reviewing. (Vladimir likes to come over and listen, then find fault with everything I play.) When I told Vlad I had Stax's new top-of-the-line earspeaker, the SR-X9000, he lit up and exclaimed, "I need to hear it," adding that he has been a lifelong Stax fanatic and owns at least five different models, "dating way back."
John Atkinson  |  Feb 21, 2022  |  0 comments
One reason Stereophile publishes a FollowUp is when the original review leaves an issue unresolved or where further thoughts would be useful. Such was the case with the magazine's March 2022 issue, which had followup reviews on the iFi ZEN CAN headphone amplifier and ZEN DAC Signature V2 D/A processor ($599/pair). the Pro-Ject Phono Box RS2 phono preamplifier ($1999), and the Canton Reference 7K loudspeaker ($6995/pair).
John Atkinson  |  Feb 04, 2022  |  19 comments
There are words that, for reasons I can't fathom, I cannot stand. One such is "dongle." So when Bluebird Music's PR rep emailed me to ask if I would be interested in reviewing a new dongle from Chinese company Questyle Audio, I shuddered. But I must admit that "dongle" rolls off the tongue a lot more readily than "portable USB D/A headphone amplifier." I put aside my grammatical quibble and agreed to a review.
Herb Reichert  |  Feb 01, 2022  |  8 comments
I'm deep into audio power amplifiers because they remind me of race car engines. Both power sources are wildly inefficient, converting only a small percentage of their stored energy into work while dissipating the rest as heat and vibration. Mainly though, I love how race car engines sound. How they shake the air. Just like amps and speakers.
Julie Mullins  |  Dec 31, 2021  |  17 comments
It had been a while since I'd done any serious, critical listening through headphones. That changed when Editor Jim Austin asked if I wanted to review the iFi Audio ZEN Signature Set ($599). Figuring I could use more Zen in my life, I agreed.

UK-based iFi Audio, which operates under the auspices of the Abbington Global Group, has released several compact products in its ZEN series: DACs, headphone amps, a Bluetooth receiver, and a network streamer.

Herb Reichert  |  Dec 23, 2021  |  11 comments
At noon on a cloudless, ridiculously bright 97° day, John Atkinson and I auditioned Audeze's new-but-not-yet-released CRBN electrostatic headphones. The audition took place at a sneak preview hosted by Audeze's principal, Sankar Thiagasamudram, in a sleeping room at New York's hipster-chic Ace Hotel on 29th Street and Broadway.
Herb Reichert  |  Oct 06, 2021  |  5 comments
Today is Monday. Since Saturday, I have changed the amplifier driving my Falcon Gold Badge LS3/5a speakers three times—from the Parasound Halo A21+ (250Wpc into 8 ohms) to the Pass Labs XA25 (>25Wpc into 8 ohms) to the Elekit TU-8600S (9Wpc into 8 ohms). Now I am listening to the Falcons via the just-arrived RAAL-requisite HSA-1b headphone and speaker amplifier. This unusual, made-in-Serbia amp is priced at $4500. It's specified to produce 10Wpc into 8 ohms, 20Wpc into 4 ohms, 40Wpc into 2 ohms, and 55Wpc into 1 ohm, these values from the loudspeaker output
Herb Reichert  |  Aug 24, 2021  |  24 comments
One summer afternoon in Brooklyn, after a sweaty too-long day doing construction, I stumbled upon a hi-fi shop I'd never noticed before. I thought, hmmm, I bet they have air conditioning.

Inside, the air was only marginally cooler, but before I could leave, an excessively happy salesman introduced himself. After a bit of low-level chit-chat, he asked me if I was into British audio. I told him I "Never heard of it."

John Atkinson  |  May 24, 2021  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2021  |  1 comments
The June 2021 issue of Stereophile included followup reviews of two recommended components, both which deserved further investigation of what they had to offer: the dCS Bartók D/A processor and the Schiit Audio Sol turntable.
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 21, 2021  |  12 comments
In Schiit's words: "Measurements, schmeasurements! If you want measurements, we got measurements: the Magni Heresy's got you covered. But if you're ready to have some fun with something completely different, Vali 2+ is for you. Enjoy tube sound without tons of noise, play with different tubes without having to get a second mortgage for a matched quad, and see what this whole tube thing is all about!"
John Atkinson  |  Feb 15, 2021  |  5 comments
When Stereophile publishes a followup review in the print magazine, we add it as a "child page" to the website reprint of the original coverage. We have recently done so with three significant products: the Magico M2 loudspeaker, the Linear Tube Audio Z10e tubed headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, and the Okto Research dac8 PRO multichannel D/A processor.
Herb Reichert  |  Jan 26, 2021  |  27 comments
What I categorize as mainstream, dealer-based, fancy-pants streamers and big-speakers audio is actually only the gold-plated tip of a gigantic asteroid-like monolith that extends (underground) from New York to Hong Kong, from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica.
Herb Reichert  |  Jan 20, 2021  |  33 comments
I am certain the quality of life I live is determined by two factors: who and what I give my attentions to, and my ability to observe all that I encounter with an open mind. This approach to living has served me well—especially during this review of the Benchmark Media Systems HPA4 headphone amplifier ($2999).

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