After recovering from a Christmas day celebration that had way more 'party' in it than ought be, I spent a few days listening to the headphones on the Wall of Fame Over-ear Open page with an ear out for readjustments. Basically, the Focal Clear has reset the bar. From now on I expect tonal balance from a $1000+ headphone. If it doesn't have it, it ain't going up on the WoF anymore. Here's what I done did and why.
Headphone manufacturers pay attention: If you want to build a high-end headphone, this is the way to do it.
May I have a drumroll, please! Here is the expanded amplifier measurement chart, presenting the essential measurements in a way that consumers can actually use, without forcing them to become engineers. At first it appears to be a daunting looking chart, but consumers will be presented with only a few of these measurements.
For now it's sufficient to state that the Sennheiser HD 600 and HD 650 are probably the most highly regarded enthusiast headphone in the world, and I highly recommend both. The HD 650 is a bit too warm sounding for me (just a bit), and the HD 600 is my favorite of the two. Let's see if the HD 660 S can continue the legend!
Oh man! Lots more stuff showing up on the stoop. Worry not, the Sennheiser HD 660 S review will be up by weeks end, but I figured you'd want to see the measurements for a couple more soon-to-be-reviewed headphones: the Klipsch Heritage HP-3 and the Focal Clear.
Not long ago I wrote enthusiastically about the Bose SoundWear Companion neck-worn speaker. It was my first experience with such a device and it was, and continues to be, a very pleasant one. Way better than I expected. So, I figured I should look into some of the other options for this new type of device. JBL was kind enough to send me their Soundgear—a $100 less expensive alternative to the Bose. Having experience only one other device of this type, it's probably best just to compare and contrast the JBL directly with the Bose for this review.
So today we'll pick up on this principle and briefly compare the sound qualities of six very different headphone amplifiers, concentrating on their headroom, impact, perceived loudness, detail, and depth. Then, in the next episode, I'll try to make sense of the listening and see if there is any correlation between what we measure and what we hear. Don't expect a miracle—listening versus measurements is an ongoing debate, but in Episode 22 I promise to reveal some tantalizing clues!
And BOOM! Acoustic Research, a brand long recognised amongst audio enthusiasts, shows up with their new planar magnetic AR-H1 at CanJam at RMAF 2017. Color me surprised!
In the midst of reviewing the new Acoustic Research AR-H1 I found myself feeling the need to compare it to other open headphones newly relevant to the price point. *doorbell rings* Sweet! Sennheiser's new HD 660 S on the stoop.
When Jana Dagdagan, Stereophile's Editorial Coordinator, told me she was planning a trip out to Bozeman to shoot videos we had a long conversation about what kinds of things we could shoot. One of her ideas was a Q&A session. I thought that was a cool idea and we started brainstorming questions. O.M.G. She thought of some doozies. Some of then I just flat out said, "No way, I'm not going to answer that." Fortunately she managed to convince me to leave most of them in.
These specifications confuse consumers, who would be forced to use logarithms and equations to answer the basic questions. We need to make headphone sensitivity and amplifier level specs more user-friendly, useable, interchangeable and effective. So I think it's high time to ditch both sensitivity approaches, and we can do better than both Sennheiser and the IEC if we start thinking outside the box!
'Tis the season! Noodling around for some gift ideas for the audio lover in your life? InnerFidelity writers did a little noodling for you and are happy to present you our "2017 InnerFidelity Gift Guide." Enjoy!
Just bumped into this patent from Microsoft for an ultra-thin 3.5mm headphone jack. Basically it uses elastic panels to allow the jack to expand around the plug as it's inserted. Actually seems like a good idea to me as it may give a little and prevent strain induced failure of the jack. Maybe there's hope for 3.5mm jacks on future smartphones. Look, I have no desire to get all schmoopy about the it often used to be called. When I worked as an audio repair technician at a Santa Cruz stereo store, the most common failure of Walkmans was the jack itself—followed closely by sand in the's a beach town. Anybody out there who never had a 3.5mm jack go bad on them? *crickets* None the less, I have a hard time thinking of a world without a 3.5mm TRS plug. The installed base is huge. My iPhone7 has pissed me off numerous times when I didn't have the jack adapter handy. OTOH, wireless headphones are outselling wired ones. I'm conflicted; I really wonder what's going to happen. What do you think? New Life for the 3.5mm Jack? Nobody will pay Microsoft the royalties. Wireless will kill it. Gone in 10 years. Get over it. 45% (5 votes) It'll exist in cheap stuff, and expensive stuff with improved mechanics. But it'll be wireless as far as...
I'll admit feeling the MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Closed look a bit alien to my eyes when first I saw it. Now that it's been on my desk for a few months I find it quite appealing. Not so much for it's looks—don't get me wrong, I quite like the look—but more because I've come to appreciate the comfort of them. No surprises when the Aeon Flow Open showed up...they were right at home on my head. Good thing too, they'll be spending a lot of time there.
There's no shortage of choice for quality headphone amps. Whether your budget is $249 or $5,000, or somewhere in between, you should be able to find an amp that satisfies your requirements. The same goes for D/A converters. The little Grace Design SDAC is killer at only $79 while high-end DACs routinely go for many thousands of dollars. Preamps? Same story. As a more "traditional" hi-fi component, there's a seemingly endless supply of designs out there. A surprisingly large number of brands sport prices you might typically associate with a new luxury car. On the other end, Schiit's Saga does a bang-up job at $349. Yes, there are more options than ever for building a system using separate components for each function. Yet things don't often go as well when using integrated devices.
About this time last year I reviewed the then new Sennheiser PXC 550 BTNC over-ear, noise canceling headphones in hopes that someone would manage to unseat the Bose Quiet Comfort 35. Didn't happen. The Sennheiser had some great features, but in the end it was just too bright for me. Recently I got a few more Sennheiser wireless noise cancelers and I found they too seemed overly bright. Now I consider Sennheiser the world's best headphone manufacturer. They've got a lot of experience under their belt, so when I hear a batch of Sennheisers, from differing product lines, that all seem too bright and have a quite similar measured response, I've got to question myself. Maybe they know something that I don't.
Gotta say, it feels kind funny swinging my doors wide open and letting everyone into my home. I try to keep it mostly business here. But I've often thought you guys would enjoy some of the gadgets I've built. Make sure you stay 'til the end so you can see the back country camper I'm building from a FedEx truck. I'm particularly proud of Putt, my step van.
To say I looked at the Bose SoundWear Companion Speaker with a great deal of skepticism when I first saw one in the Bose kiosk at Denver International Airpot after RMAF is a serious understatement. Boy was I in for a surprise!
A couple of months ago, out of the clear blue, I was approached by the folks at Listen Inc. to see if I was interested in having an equipment sponsor for my headphone measurement program. After a few moments of stunned silence I said, "Um, sure, let's talk about it."
Chatting with Jana and listing out the review process really drove home just how complicated and how many discrete steps are involved. You'll notice I look down a lot in the video. It took about three pages of single line notes to detail all the steps in proper order.