Headphone Reviews

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Tyll Hertsens  |  Mar 27, 2011  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

Oh Nooooos!
I was at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year for my first face-to-face meetings with my new boss and his boss from Source Interlink Media about the InnerFidelity start-up, when out of the blue the boss's boss says, "Say, I've got a meeting with Skullcandy this afternoon, you should come."

Ruh roh.

We high-end headphone geeks don't take too kindly to headphones painted up with pink kitties and cartoon monkeys, so I try to opt out gracefully, "Aw, geez, I dunno, they're not really my thing. They're pretty and all, and Skullcandy is a very popular maker, but I think I'm more interested in the more serious and sound quality oriented brands."

*silence*

"You should come."

"Yes, boss..."

Stephen Mejias  |  Mar 21, 2011  |  3 comments
Thinksound ts02 in Black Chocolate finish.

I haven’t had much luck with in-ear headphones.

Kelli’s Etymotic ER-6i earphones ($99) offered a well-balanced sound, with satisfying bass and natural highs, but I found them extremely uncomfortable and I had a difficult time getting them to fit properly in my ear canals. I liked Shure’s SE210 ($149.99) and SE115 ($139.99), but they felt large and heavy in my ears, and friends often balked at their prices. Don’t get me started about the V-MODA Remix Metal in-ears ($99.99); their highs were so pronounced and glaring and bass so completely absent, I wanted to run away from my music—never a good sign. (But I’ll take the blame here: I should’ve known what to expect from an earphone with the word “Metal” in its name. I have since steered clear of models designed to look like bullets, arrows, and jet engines or whose product literature uses the words “crisp,” “sharp,” or “edgy.”)

Tyll Hertsens  |  Mar 21, 2011  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

Promises Kept
My first post was an exercise in getting all the bits-and-pieces together to create content. In many ways this is my first real post here ... and I want to keep a promise. For years I've said I would measure the effects of the various headphone pads on Grado headphones; well, I am very glad to say finally: here it is.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Mar 19, 2011  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

The Sennheiser PX 200-IIi (MSRP $149.95) is a general-purpose headset, ideally suited and convenient for kids, students, and casual home, office, and travel use. It’s light and small, very well built, and will easily survive unending rounds between backpack, computer desk, and kitchen junk drawer. Best of all, it packs neatly into a very small size with a unique folding design making it only slightly larger than a pair of sunglasses when stowed.

John Atkinson  |  Dec 27, 2010  |  0 comments
Headphone listening is hot these days, due not only to the ubiquity of the iPod as a music source but also because it is possible to get state-of-the-art headphone playback without having to have stupidly bottomless pockets. A plethora of affordable high-quality headphone amplifiers are available, and high-performance 'phones can be had for a few hundred dollars. Used with a computer or iPod to play uncompressed WAV or AIF files or losslessly compressed FLAC or Apple Lossless (ALAC) files, a headphone-based system can offer the audiophile on a budget seriously good sound.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Nov 29, 2010  |  2 comments
I remember my first experience with headphones. In 1960, I bought a set of Trimm dual 'phones (less than $5) and rewired them for stereo. The experience was remarkable for several reasons. First, it brought the sounds into my head—I was thrilled with the impact. Second, stereo effects, especially with Enoch Light's ping-pong LPs (eg, Provocative Percussion, Command RS800SD), were striking. Third, I could play them really loud without bothering others. Of course, they had no bass, brittle treble, distorted at high levels, and their wire headband and Bakelite earpieces were uncomfortable. My fascination with this gimmick quickly faded.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 07, 2010  |  First Published: Feb 07, 1994  |  0 comments
You'd probably be surprised to learn that headphones are the most common means for listening to music. No, I didn't get that from a book, but from personal observation. I'm referring here to personal portable stereo listening—the ubiquitous Jogman with which a whole generation has retreated into its own private world, isolated from traffic noise, muggers, and, at home, housemates or parents screaming "Turn it down!"
Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 30, 2010  |  First Published: Feb 02, 1994  |  0 comments
While headphone listening remains secondary to that of loudspeakers for most serious listeners, it's still an important alternative for many. And while good conventional headphones exist, electrostatics are usually considered first when the highest playback quality is required. As always, there are exceptions (Grado's headphones come immediately to mind), but most high-end headphones are electrostatic—such designs offer the benefits of electrostatic loudspeakers without their dynamic limitations. Last year I reviewed the Koss ESP/950 electrostatics (Vol.15 No.12), a remarkable set of headphones from the company that practically invented headphones for serious home listening. Here I listen to examples from two other companies, each known for its headphones since Pluto was a pup.
Wes Phillips  |  Aug 15, 2010  |  First Published: Aug 16, 2010  |  1 comments
Ah, how the times change. When I reviewed Etymotic Research's ER-4S in-ear headphones in the July 1995 Stereophile, they seemed expensive to me at $330, but well worth that seemingly high price: at the time, they were the best headphones I'd heard. Nowadays, with reference headphones costing well north of a kilobuck, the price of the ER-4S seems relatively reasonable.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 03, 2010  |  First Published: Dec 03, 1992  |  1 comments
Love 'em or hate 'em, headphones serve a purpose. My first headphones were Kosses, and they were perfect for use in a college dorm. While I've always owned a pair or more over the years, somehow they never became my primary mode of listening, except in situations where using loudspeakers at satisfying levels risked eviction, bodily harm, or both.
Jon Iverson  |  Jun 21, 2010  |  0 comments
YBA Design's new WD202 D/A processor and headphone amplifier showed up while I was turning the pages of Don and Jeff Breithaupt's Precious and Few: Pop Music of the Early '70s, recommended by John Marks in his October 2009 "Fifth Element" column. Each page drips with great examples of why the 1970s often wind up on the wrong end of the culture stick (the Osmonds, anyone? Terry Jacks?).
John Atkinson  |  Jun 14, 2010  |  0 comments
I have built up a large collection of CDs since the medium's launch more than a quarter century ago, along with a modest number of SACDs and a small number of DVD-As. But I find these days that, unless I'm getting down to some serious listening and can give the music my uninterrupted attention, I use iTunes to feed computer files to my high-end rig (footnote 1). I've mostly been using the superb-sounding combination of dCS Puccini U-Clock and Puccini player/DAC that I reviewed last December to take a USB feed from a Mac mini, but I've also been using the Bel Canto USB Link 24/96 and Stello U2 USB-S/PDIF converters, particularly for headphone listening, when I use one of those two format converters with a Benchmark DAC1 D/A headphone amplifier.
Jim Austin  |  May 03, 2010  |  0 comments
Here's a question for a Stereophile.com poll: What's the best hi-fi value of the last 15 years? I'd bet that, 16 years after its introduction, Grado Laboratories' SR60 headphones would get more than a few votes.
Stephen Mejias  |  Mar 18, 2010  |  0 comments
I was looking out the window. I was waiting for the plane to take off. I was wearing Monster Cable's Beats by Dr. Dre Studio headphones ($349.95). I was listening to Pens' burning, fuzzed-out, 27-minute onslaught, Hey Friend, What You Doing? (320kbps MP3; LP, De Stijl IND071). I was shouting with sudden shock and pain.
John Marks  |  Feb 26, 2010  |  0 comments
February is traditionally the month for music features, so I start this column with some recordings you really should hear. This year I had a greater-than-usual number of worthy candidates for "Records To Die For." Which discs got named as R2D4s and which got column coverage was, to quote the Iron Duke, a near-run thing.

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