Earphones Reviews

Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
ljokerl  |  Aug 12, 2014  |  34 comments

Priced at $15 in China and about $25 once it gets stateside, the Piston is notable for several reasons. First, it features a 3-button inline remote designed for use with Android devices, whereas most headsets on the US market use 3-button Apple iOS remotes that have limited functionality with other operating systems.

Second, the Piston does not look or feel like a $25 product. The design is extremely well thought-out. The compact acrylic box, for example, can double as a storage case while its paper sleeve unfolds into a user manual.

And then, seemingly to underline how much Xiaomi have thought about the first impression their product leaves on its user, the tray and earphones have a faint chocolate aroma, ticking off four of the five senses in total.

n_maher  |  Aug 01, 2014  |  42 comments
This story starts way back in 2004 when I first started getting into listening to music with headphones. At the time there was no such thing as a custom IEM and really, there were precious few choices in the IEM market period. Today there's a new IEM manufacturer around every corner but the custom market has exploded, with manufacturers both large and small providing options to suit just about every taste and budget.
ljokerl  |  May 29, 2014  |  17 comments

Philips' latest budget in-ear releases, the TX1 and TX2, do not bear the Fidelio badge but still indicate a trickling down of know-how from the higher-end Fidelio products.

Stephen Mejias  |  Mar 19, 2011  |  1 comments
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  |  Oct 06, 2011  |  24 comments

Editor's Note: This article was nearly complete when I read of Steve Jobs's death last night. I think the conclusions herein are telling of his passion for making "insanely great" products ... right down to the last detail.

A couple of weeks ago, Steve Guttenberg wrote an article on his Audiophiliac blog entitled, "The Worst-Sounding Audio Product." In it he "aimed [his] sights on the worst sounding product regularly used by millions of people:" the stock Apple iPod ear-bud headphones. There may be some truth in that, but he also said, "Apple is an amazingly innovative company, but it's incapable of selling a decent set of headphones under its own name."

With this, I'm going to have to disagree ...

ljokerl  |  Oct 28, 2013  |  37 comments

Once in a while, however, a solid entry-level product makes me think of how precariously balanced the whole Hi-Fi segment is.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Jul 18, 2011  |  6 comments

The rash of in-ear headphones over the past few years has produced an enormous amount of style over substance. All too often the bling on the outside is accompanied by horrifically bloated or screechy sound on the inside. Likewise, some makers are able to deliver great sound, but fall down in the looks and comfort department. Rare indeed is the in-ear headphone that is stylish, comfortable, and good sounding.

The Audéo PFE seems to have beaten the odds.

ljokerl  |  Jun 05, 2013  |  12 comments

It's not every year that a company as revered as Sennheiser releases a new flagship product, especially one that nudges four figures with its price tag, but last year saw the release of the $999.95 Sennheiser IE 800, along with AKG's K3003 and Ultrasone's IQ. The K3003 and IQ both utilize hybrid driver systems, combining balanced armature and dynamic drivers, along with appropriate crossovers, in their housings. The IE 800, however, utilizes a single dynamic driver, like all of Sennheiser's other earphones. This in itself is likely to elicit groans from some IEM enthusiasts but Axel Grell, the creator of the earphone and Sennheiser's Senior Acoustic Engineer, obviously felt no need to go beyond the dynamic driver for marketing or performance reasons.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Apr 21, 2011  |  7 comments

Whenever I can, I spend time on the back of this beast: a 2005 Yamaha FJR 1300 super sport touring bike. This baby eats continents. I once left Bozeman, Montana in the morning and slept in a cornfield in Iowa that night. I really dig long-distance travel --- the gradual and ever-changing scenery, weather, and geology punctuated with little towns and churches is mesmerizing. Nonetheless, I need my tunes to complete the experience, and it took me a good long while to find just the right headphones to accompany me on my journeys.

ljokerl  |  Apr 10, 2013  |  45 comments

In a recent reddit AMA Tyll mentioned that Philips offerings have surprised him the most in recent years. Listening to the new Fidelio earphones, I have to agree---Philips did a spectacularly good job with these two earphones.

Wes Phillips  |  Dec 29, 2007  |  0 comments
I first saw the Shure SE530 at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show, when it was dubbed the E500. The '500 shared the current product's three-armature driver technology and in-ear, sound-isolating, sleeve fitting scheme, but that early prototype seemed almost crude in comparison with the SE530.
ljokerl  |  Nov 19, 2012  |  23 comments

At the heart of the Ultimate Ears 900 are four balanced armature drivers with a three-way passive crossover. The design utilizes dual bass transducers and single drivers for the midrange and treble--a setup similar to that of the Westone 4 and many custom-fit earphones. Impressive as that may be, the UE 900 will need to provide a very compelling case for its performance in order to justify the $400 price tag.

John Atkinson  |  Sep 21, 2009  |  0 comments
I got early into personal stereos. I lost my driving license for a while in the mid-1970s—something about a stop sign and "failure to observe"—so I used to take the train to a regular bass-playing gig I had in Brighton, on England's south coast. Not only did I conclude that any audio magazine worth its cover price had to have enough meat in it to last the two-hour journey and back again, I also built myself an op-amp–based, battery-powered amplifier to drive a pair of RadioShack headphones. Desperate times called for desperate measures, and my only source was a mono cassette recorder. Inside-the-head mono is as mono desperately does, so once I got my license back, it was back to the car and stereo FM radio. It wasn't until a) I moved to New York City to become a strap-hanging commuter and b) bought a 2003-vintage 30GB iPod (which I still use) that music on the move again began to play a major role in my listening.
ljokerl  |  Sep 10, 2012  |  14 comments

Phonak PFE 232 ($599)
Swiss hearing aid manufacturer, Phonak, entered the earphone game in 2008 with the single driver Perfect Fit Earphone (PFE). The PFE became a hit with the enthusiast crowd for its balanced and accurate sound as well as its lightweight, ergonomic form factor. The single balanced armature driver was well-tuned and the PFE remains competitive today. Phonak even raised the price in 2010 to slot in a cheaper, more consumer-friendly model, dubbed the "Perfect Bass." It comes as no surprise, then, that although Phonak's new PFE 232 model is a "mere" dual BA, it is aimed square at the top of the universal IEM market with an ambitious $599 price tag.

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.

Pages

X