Headphone Reviews

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John Atkinson  |  Jun 21, 2016  |  4 comments
Life is too short to put up with poor-sounding headphones, I mused the other morning, during my 60-minute commute on the NYC subway. All around me, straphangers gripped smartphones and listened to multicolored Beats, noise-canceling Boses, white Apple earbuds, and, only rarely, Sennheisers and Grados.
John Atkinson  |  Jun 16, 2016  |  3 comments
When Pass Labs is mentioned, it's natural to think of its founder, iconic engineer Nelson Pass. But Nelson heads a team of engineers at the California company: Their XP-30 preamplifier, which I enthusiastically reviewed in April 2013, was designed by Wayne Colburn; and the subject of this review, the HPA-1 headphone amplifier, is the first Pass Labs product designed by Jam Somasundram, former director of engineering for Cary Audio. Somasundram joined Pass Labs in July 2013; he spent a year working on the HPA-1, which was shown at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, but not formally launched until the 2016 CES, at a hefty $3500.
Jon Iverson  |  May 25, 2016  |  5 comments
I first spied the Ayre Codex two Januarys ago, at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, and its scrappy proletarian vibe sure made it look different from any other Ayre creation. On learning that its price would be well under $2000, I was immediately curious what Charley Hansen and his gang—makers of the $3450 QB-9DSD USB digital-to-analog converter, plus a few five-figure amps and preamps—could create when cost is an object.
Tyll Hertsens  |  May 20, 2016  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

One of the things that, it seems to me, separates headphone enthusiasts from traditional audiophiles is an interest in good inexpensive stuff, or devices with unusual utility. Think Koss Porta Pros or the Riva Turbo X. The Porta Pro has been delivering excellent sound quality for its very low $49 price for decades and for decades headphone enthusiasts have been praising their worth. And when the Riva Turbo X Bluetooth speaker showed up at CanJam a year or so ago, headphone hobbyists embraced it immediately as a great sounding portable speaker. These are cool little gadgets, and it seems to me headphone enthusiasts are more than willing to have a good hard look at them....no matter the cost.

Jim Austin  |  May 19, 2016  |  3 comments
I was lying on a mattress on the floor of an empty apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Not as grim as it sounds—it's a nice apartment, and the mattress was new, and had just been delivered—but it was hot (no air-conditioning), and my family and my furniture were still in my condo up in Maine, and I was lonely. I needed some cheering up. Which is how I rationalized the decision to buy an Explorer2, Meridian Audio's tiny, inexpensive ($299) digital-to-analog converter.
Tyll Hertsens  |  May 06, 2016  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

First, how in the hell do you make a pair of headphones, distribute it to retailers, and have it shipped overnight to your house for $20!? I shake my head; how can this be? Well, the answer, of course, is economies of scale. And with 312,000,000 headphones sold world-wide annually, there's plenty of scale in that economy.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Apr 24, 2016  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

HiFiMAN touts this headphone as great for direct play from portable devices—and I'll agree, it does play very well directly from a tablet or phone. Pretty nice not to have the burden and expense of having to carry around a portable amp, but at $1800 it doesn't really seem like a more affordable solution. And then, it's an open headphone while most portable cans are sealed to get rid of environmental noise. So...this is a flagship headphone for use with portable devices indoors? I'm not sure what to think...let's work through the details.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Apr 15, 2016  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

On-ear portable headphones don't get a lot of love from headphone enthusiasts...that's about to change.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Apr 01, 2016  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

Not at all sure I'll succeed, but I'll try to find something bad to say about these headphones.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Mar 25, 2016  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

A technological tour de force. But sound quality is the question.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Mar 11, 2016  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

A beauty more than skin deep, the Caeden Linea No. 10 sounds as good as it looks.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Mar 06, 2016  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

They say it's all about the stories. Well here's another chapter for a venerable and storied headphone.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Feb 27, 2016  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

I'd love to meet a super-model with a good head on her shoulders. But being an old dude, I'll happily settle for the way-more-than-skin-deep beauty of the Meze 99 Classics.

Art Dudley  |  Feb 10, 2016  |  8 comments
In my sophomore year of high school, one of the greatest challenges my friends and I faced was the search for the perfect after-school hangout, perfect being defined as "having the least amount of adult supervision." Some of us lived in single-parent homes, but only one had a single parent for whom weekday surprise inspections were impossible, and that was Scott. So Scott's place—a downstairs apartment in a nice older house not far from school—got the nod.
Tyll Hertsens  |  Jan 30, 2016  |  0 comments
This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

In the end I think these are pretty good for a wireless headphone, but you're going to have to wade through a lot of mixed feelings from me to get there.

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