Headphone Reviews

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Herb Reichert  |  Jul 18, 2017  |  16 comments
Recently, a friend played me a masterpiece: Ike & Tina Turner's River Deep—Mountain High, arranged by Jack Nitzsche and produced by Phil Spector (LP, A&M SP 4178). It sounded terrible: murky, distant, with badly booming bass. Even before the first track was over, we both laughed and called it a night.

Nevertheless, I went home obsessed with Tina's inspired singing and Spector's infamous Wall of Sound production.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Jun 30, 2017  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

Oh baby...don't read this if you've got $800 bucks in your wallet and a yen for some good sealed headphones.

John Atkinson  |  Jun 20, 2017  |  14 comments
For digital playback, in recent months I've been breathing some rarefied air, pricewise. In December 2016, I reviewed dCS's Rossini Player and Clock, followed in May 2017 by Meridian's Ultra DAC, and in June by Chord's DAVE DAC. The Rossini Player costs $28,499 without the Clock, the Meridian $23,000, and though the DAVE is less expensive than either at $10,588, that's still a fair chunk of change. Even PS Audio's PerfectWave DirectStream DAC, which I bought following Art Dudley's review in September 2014, costs $6899 with the Network Bridge II, which hardly counts as "affordable."
Tyll Hertsens  |  Jun 05, 2017  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

Twenty five years ago when I started HeadRoom and built the first commercially available portable headphone amplifier I said to myself, "The day Sony decides to enter the fray with a portable headphone amp my mission will be complete." That happened a few years ago and I've found it quite entertaining to watch this humungous consumer electronics company try to snuggle into our tiny headphone enthusiast niche.

Tyll Hertsens  |  May 26, 2017  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

About a year and a half ago, SCOTTeVEST sent me a jacket to be included in the 2015 Holiday Gift Guide. I liked what I saw and included it. But for a product like this, the proof is in the wearing...the long-time wearing. I figured I'd use it for a while before giving it a real thumbs-up.

Herb Reichert  |  May 23, 2017  |  8 comments
As much as I delight in pagan dreams of sweetly perfumed garden nymphs, I'm embarrassed to admit that my mind also drifts in pleasant reveries whenever I hear the words research and development in the same sentence. I am by nature a greasy gearhead. The idea of taking well-considered steps of engineering to analyze and possibly improve the operation of any electrical or mechanical system never fails to get my imaginative juices flowing. This is why I've spent decades fascinated by perfectionist audio: I like watching and participating in its edgy, eccentric evolution.
Tyll Hertsens  |  May 23, 2017  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

One hell of a story here. Interesting roots in a buncha places. I'm going to power through it with pics and links if you're interested in a deeper dive. Here we go!

Tyll Hertsens  |  May 08, 2017  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

Dag nab it! I got so busy last week with the Focal Utopia measurements that I neglected to get the new Massdrop Noble X measured and listened to for a quick report before the drop. Sorry about that.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Apr 21, 2017  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

To my eyes, the Atticus is one half of a two part experiment by Zach Mehrbach, Founder and CEO of ZMF Headphones. His past has been dominated by the venerable, but in my opinion underperforming, Fostex T50RP planar magnetic driver. I guess Zach sees his future with a more modern—though more common—dynamic driver. It seems to me he's designed these latest two headphones as an experiment to find out just how good a headphone he can build using two different types of dynamic driver: the Atticus with a TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) diaphragm driver; and the Eikon with its bio-cellulose cone and rubber surround.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Apr 18, 2017  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

On the one hand you have Sony, Sennheiser, AKG, and the like mounting big bucks R&D efforts to grab at the various brass rings in the headphone world; and on the other hand you have a guy like Zach Mehrbach, Founder, CEO, and Chief Cook and Bottle-Washer at ZMF Headphones, who's artisanal approach is less mental and measurement, and more heart and art...lots more.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Apr 07, 2017  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

A first look at this new headphone from Meze...what a difference a pad makes.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Apr 05, 2017  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

Wow, these headphones are bee-you-tee-full! Not at all in a flashy way at all—they're understated; elegant; shapely. It's as if someone drew the perfect idealized headphone, and then Sony brought it to life.

Sam Tellig, John Atkinson  |  Apr 04, 2017  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2014  |  2 comments
Before he left Stereophile for AudioQuest at the end of March 2014, Stephen Meijas asked Thinksound to send me the On1 closed-back heaphones. He thought I might like them.

Cool beans, Stephen. I do. These are among the nicest 'phones I've come across lately. List price is $299.99, but the street price—sometimes directly from Thinksound—is usually $249.99. You save an imaginary $50. That's $50 of your savings that you can share with me in Bitcoins.

Herb Reichert  |  Mar 30, 2017  |  37 comments
Some of our readers seem to believe that the essence of high-quality audio is disclosed primarily by science, and not by dreamy, bodice-ripping adventures that take place on plush carpets behind closed doors. Perhaps they're right. Unfortunately, I have had no personal experiences that confirm that hypothesis.
Tyll Hertsens  |  Mar 13, 2017  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

Oh my! What an extraordinary headphone. The N90Q represents the first real effort to deliver seriously good sound quality using DSP corrections. It's my feeling that in the long run this type of headphone may eventually be able to deliver a superior subjective listening experience compared with passive headphones of the same price. On the other hand, I also have a little saying, "The first one is usually the worst one." Seems to me the proper perspective here is that the N90Q will be a good indicator of where we're starting on the road to DSP headphones, and how far they're likely to take us in the future. Let's get to it!

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