Touting a number of advancements in both magnet and driver design; the HE1000s are the best sounding headphones that I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. They are the closest I have ever experienced to that "alive" feeling of music reproduction that I look for in speakers, from a headphone product.
The Head-Fi Meet took place on July 18, 2015, held at the DoubleTree Hotel, in Burlingame, California. For those not familiar with the Head-Fi group, they are companies and individuals (DIY) who manufacture or build (one person making his own by hand) headphone amplifiers, and companies who also market headphones. They are a very special group of people, with innovation and dedication to extreme high quality.
Sony continues to release lots of new products bearing the "HI-Res Audio" logo. This review focuses on three of these products - the Sony MDR-Z7 Headphones, the Sony PHA-3 battery powered DAC/headphone amp and the Kimber Kable MUC-B20BL1 balanced headphone cable.
OPPO, known for their very high quality universal players, including the latest OPPO BDP 105 Blu-ray player, has now ventured into another arena: headphones. Their first model, just released, is the OPPO PM-1, which is an over-the-ear design, using planar magnetic drivers. At a time when everyone seems to be offering headphones and/or earbuds as part of their product portfolio, only a handful really stand out as top notch performers. The PM-1 is destined to join that group. NOTE: INFO ON THE NEW OPPO PM-2 HEADPHONES IS POSTED AT THE END OF THIS REVIEW - APRIL 29, 2014.
The NAD HP50 is the latest headphone design from Paul Barton, founder of PSB, a sister company of NAD, and features a new trademarked concept called RoomFeel. RoomFeel attempts to recreate the sound of listening to high-end speakers in a room. Most listening rooms add a low frequency bump to the sound that is often not taken into account when designing headphones. A room gain compensation transfer function was developed to add a +3 dB per octave boost from 200Hz down to 50Hz in order to replicate the fuller, warmer sound of a room. Clearly a lot of time and engineering has gone into the development of these headphones, the only question is, did it pay off? Yes it most certainly did.
British maker RHA has been in the headphone game for some time, mostly focusing on the lower-end market. The MA750i is the company's first foray into a higher end model: coming it at a list price of $129.99, it enters a crowded space of $100-150 units and I was eager to see how they'd stack up.
Audeze has been a rising star in the headphone arena for several years, making their name with extremely high quality planar magnetic over-the-ear designs. Their latest model is the LCD-X, which touts a thinner diaphragm for improved transients.
The new Paradigm H15NC Noise-Cancelling Headphones are the latest foray into the lucrative headphone market and part of the Shift line of Paradigm products. They feature a noise isolating on-ear design along with active noise cancellation which utilizes a microphone paired with processing to analyze the noise around you and filter it out. Paradigm believes that sound quality trumps celebrity endorsement, and I couldn't agree more. Let's see if the H15NC headphones are up to snuff.
Ultimate Ears is one of the most well-known and respected names in the custom in-ear monitor (IEM) market (part of the general class: headphones). While historically custom IEMs were targeted at music and sound industry professionals, manufactures have more recently started marketing their monitors to audiophiles, recognizing that many of their attributes might be valued by this community as well. I recently had the opportunity to take a look at UE's entry level 4 Pro Custom IEM and am excited to pass along some thoughts.
Audio-Technica has been around for over 50 years making professional microphones, phono cartridges, and headphones. Given that it is nearly impossible to research audiophile headphones and not come across Audio-Technica in some fashion, I felt it imperative that I review a pair. Outside of brief, less than ideal listening at trade shows, the ATH-AD900X is the first headphone from Audio-Technica that I have used. In today's vast ocean of headphones, Audio-Technica's claim to fame is offering audiophile sound quality at an affordable price. The ATH-AD900X is the successor to the ATH-AD900 and unfortunately I haven't listened to the AD900 so this review will focus purely on the new ATH-AD900X. The only thing I will mention with regards to the model differences would be the subtle visual differences in the design. The open air cage that covers the back of the drivers is more spaced out on the newer AD900X, so much so in fact, that the insides are easily visible – a neat aspect. Also the logo and markings are in gold rather than the silver of the older model.
Onkyo, a long time player in home theater electronics, has set its sights on the personal audio market with the new ES-HF300 headphone. The ES-HF300 is a closed-back headphone design featuring two 40 mm titanium drivers, sub-chambers for optimized bass, and a rigid construction for optimal sound reproduction. With an MSRP of $179, Onkyo is aggressively targeting the rapidly growing market for premium headphones. Recent research by the NPD Group reveals a huge jump in sales of headphones over $100 and considering how many smartphones are in the hands of eager consumers, pricing a headphone correctly is an important key to its success. Of course, how a headphone looks and, most importantly, sounds are also keys to its success. Find out how the new Onkyo ES-HF300 headphones score in my review.
Sennheiser will always hold a special part of my heart as the HD580 my first audiophile headphone. I can still remember the soft velvety fabric of the earpads and the revelation that was quality music playback. Since then, I have experienced the sound of many other headphones, including the Sennheiser Momentum over-the-ear headphones, which are reviewed here.
HifiMAN headphones are well known around these parts in the Secrets community. A Headphone of the Year award will do that for you. In a possible effort to "spread the wealth" and grant access to their awesome headphones without breaking the bank, they've introduced the HE-300 over the ear headphones.