Schiit Audio Jotunheim DAC-Headphone Amplifier

July 2017

“Schiit happens.” It’s not the sort of language usually found in an owner’s manual for a headphone amplifier like Schiit Audio’s Jotunheim ($399 USD). No, an owner’s manual is usually full of bland marketing copy, loosened rules of grammar, regulatory warnings, and stultifying technical detail. I almost never use them, and unless you’re a novice audiophile, neither should you. The folks at Schiit seem to agree. In the preface to their safety instructions, they state: “The following is required by the roughly 9,542 government agencies and regulations we have to comply with. If you have some common sense, they should seem pretty straightforward.” Who are these guys? I did some digging.

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HiFiMan Susvara Headphones

HiFiMan Susvara headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

July 2017

Reviewers' ChoiceTrying to judge the HiFiMan Susvara headphones on the basis of only their performance and design is as hopeless as trying not to think of an elephant. Once you see the Susvaras’ $6000 USD price tag, there’s no way to banish from your mind this question: “How can a set of headphones be worth so much?”

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Libratone Q Adapt On-Ear Headphones

Libratone Q Adapt On-Ear headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

June 2017

My acquaintances in the headphone business often blame the mediocre performance of most noise-canceling (NC) headphones on Bose, which I’m told holds patents on most of the best technologies and techniques. But as digital signal processing (DSP) chips keep shrinking and getting more powerful, we’re starting to see some headphones that approach the awesome noise-canceling powers of the Bose QC25s and QC35s while providing better sound quality, more features, and alternative form factors. Libratone’s Q Adapt on-ear headphones ($249 USD) are one of this new NC generation.

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Brainwavz B200 Earphones

Brainwavz B200 earphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

May 2017

Reviewers should beware the influence of manufacturers’ marketing copy, but we’re human and fallible. So a press release promising that a new set of earphones is “tuned to produce a balanced and accurate sound signature, with little to no coloring in the sound” still piques my interest, even when I know manufacturers’ statements aren’t reliable indicators of their products’ performance. But the Brainwavz B200s ($199 USD) have a couple of things going for them that lend credence to the company’s claims.

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1More Quad Driver Earphones

1More Quad Driver earphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

April 2017

Reviewers' ChoiceHeadphone enthusiasts were surprised last year by the debut of the 1More brand. First, they were shocked by the low prices: 1More offered its Triple Driver hybrid balanced/dynamic earphones for just $99.99 USD, one-third the price most companies charge for such a product. Then they were surprised to find that the Triple Drivers included a generous suite of extras: six sizes of eartips in silicone and three in foam, plus a very nice and practical travel case. And they were stunned to hear how good the Triple Drivers sounded -- far better than all but a few earphones costing less than $200.

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Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature Headphones

Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

April 2017

Reviewers' ChoiceIn 1966, John Bowers and his friend Roy Wilkins established B&W Electronics Ltd. -- the seed money had come from an elderly lady who’d been deeply impressed with Bowers’s knowledge of classical music and the quality of the speakers he’d built for her. The same year saw the development of B&W’s first loudspeaker, the P1. Now, 50 years later, Bowers & Wilkins has grown into one of the world’s best-known loudspeaker brands, with a huge variety of products and a distribution chain that spans the globe. Its 50th year saw the redesign of B&W’s flagship 800-series speakers, and the introduction of their first flagship headphones model: the subject of this review, the P9 Signature ($899.99 USD).

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Audeze iSine10 Earphones

Audeze iSine10 earphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

March 2017

Reviewers' ChoiceI’ve been reviewing headphones and earphones since 2008, but the Audeze iSine10s are the first I’ve encountered that create their own category. The iSine10s ($399 USD with Lightning and analog cables, $349 with analog cable only) differ from all other earphones not only in their sound, appearance, and the way they work, but even in the ways you’ll use them.

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Blue Ella Headphones

Blue Ella headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

March 2017

Few companies have the technical chops or the commitment to get into the headphone biz the way Blue Microphones did a couple of years ago. Its first headphones, the Mo-Fis, combined a radically new design, a fresh technical twist, and superb sound quality. Blue’s new Ellas ($699 USD) replace the Mo-Fis’ conventional dynamic drivers with planar-magnetic panels, which have enjoyed renewed attention thanks to the recent efforts of such companies as Audeze and HiFiMan.

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Axiom Audio AxiomAir N3 Wi-Fi Loudspeaker

February 2017

Reviewers' ChoiceThe Canadian company Axiom Audio has established itself as a mainstream loudspeaker brand, and over the years has greatly expanded its product line to cover all facets of audio, including computer speakers, in-wall and in-ceiling and center speakers, omnidirectional speakers with sophisticated DSP modules, and power amplifiers. Now Axiom ventures into wireless speakers with the AxiomAir N3 ($799 USD). As with many of their other designs, Axiom’s take on this hotly competitive market segment is innovative and unique, promises better sound quality than typical Bluetooth speakers, and great value.

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Beyerdynamic Amiron Home Headphones

Beyerdynamic Amiron Home headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

January 2017

Reviewers' ChoiceThe Beyerdynamic Amiron Home headphones represent a welcome reaction against recent trends in high-end headphones. In my opinion, many high-end headphones focus on making a dramatic first impression rather than offering a pleasant experience over the long term. Many are heavy, which might not bother the listener in a quick demo but could make the ’phones exhausting to wear for an hour. Some use uncomfortably strong clamping force to achieve a firm seal around the ear. Many are unnaturally trebly, which, in the short term, gives the impression of extra detail and spaciousness but often proves fatiguing in longer listening sessions.

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