The way I see it, high-end audio is all about the pursuit of excellence, and Audeze headphones exemplify that philosophy. Now sure, most headphone manufacturers try to make the best products they can, but mass-market brands have to satisfy a broad range of tastes, load on features like Bluetooth and phone controls that don't enhance sound quality, and design their products within real-world price constraints. Audeze engineers focus on doing whatever it takes to make the world's best-sounding headphones, and the results speak for themselves.
There's no denying the Beats by Dre Studio's success, and how it so radically changed the headphone landscape. No other headphone manufacturer could have imagined that it could sell millions of $300 headphones to non-audiophiles. Before Beats those buyers were content with cheap and utterly disposable headphones, headphones that all too often would stop working in a few months, get thrown away, and get replaced with another set of cheap headphones. Of course, those cheap headphones sounded pretty bad, so moving up to the Studio meant the sound was a revelation! Bass, dynamics, and treble detailing were so … Read more
When I first reviewed the 1964 Ears V6 custom in-ear headphones earlier this year I not only loved the sound, I got the distinct feeling the company tries harder to please its customers than other custom in-ear makers. For example, 1964 Ears V6-Stage headphones are sold with a longer warranty (two years) and lower prices than the flagship models from more established high-end headphone competitors. 1964 Ears doesn't make universal-fit in-ear headphones, all of their designs are custom-molded to your ears for the best possible fit and maximum isolation from external noise. The headphones are hand-crafted by 1964 Ears … Read more
I've heard a lot of, but far from most of the world's best headphone amps, but even in that heady territory the Auralic Taurus MKII shines. I've used a wide range of my very best headphones, in-ears and full-size, and they're all sounding better than I've heard them before.
The $6,475 Mal Valve amp is right up there, but it's been a few months since I heard it, and I never had it at home so my experience was more limited. I had the luxury of living with the Taurus MKII for weeks, … Read more
Elegantly designed, affordable products are marvels of our age, but then there are the extreme, defiantly outrageous ones designed to thrill. Take the new 640-horsepower Dodge SRT Viper GTS: this $120,000 supercar looks like a venomous snake with wheels and can propel its owner to insanely fast speeds, but the car probably won't be of much practical use as a grocery hauler or picking up the kids from soccer practice. The Abyss AB-1266 is the SRT Viper GTS of headphones. It's a no-holds-barred attempt to build the best-sounding headphone on the planet.
The mostly metal design is … Read more
I've heard most of the world's best headphones, but somehow missed the Sony MDR-R10. Only 2,000 were made. Production started in 1989, and at $2,500 a pair, it was the most expensive headphone in the world. The headphone cognoscenti scooped them all up years ago, and right now MDR-R10s rarely come up for sale. When they do, they usually go for more than $6,000!
The MDR-R10's 50mm "Bio-Cellulose Dome Diaphragms" are credited with producing the headphones' superclear treble and oh-so supple bass. The headphone also sported real lambskin-covered ear pads, and the … Read more
The Fostex TH600 full-size headphones' sound is downright addicting. They take you inside the sound of a recording like few other headphones can. Unfortunately, Fostex's U.S. distribution of its high-end headphones is very limited (it's a Japanese company), but Fostex dealer Moon Audio was kind enough to send over a sample pair of TH600 headphones ($1,299) fitted with an extra-cost Black Dragon V2 cable. Fostex also offers much less expensive models, including the $129 T50RP, but the company mostly caters to the pro sound market.
The TH600 has large 50mm drivers, matched with an unusually powerful … Read more
Some audiophiles swear that cables can make or break the sound of their hi-fis, while others poo-poo the idea and use the cheapest hardware store wires. The debates have raged for years, but the only way to really know for sure is to try a set of high-end cables in your system. When I sold hi-fis for a living, I convinced a lot of reluctant customers to buy a set of cables, with the promise I'd refund their money if they didn't hear a difference. The majority of them kept the cables; even some of the most skeptical … Read more
I've reviewed my share of portable headphone amplifiers, but ALO's new Rx-MK3B just might be the best on a number of counts. First, the amp is compact, just about the same size as an iPhone, but twice as thick. ALO invested two years of engineering and development time in the Rx-3B, and makes it in the U.S.
The Cypher Labs AlgoRhythm Solo is a portable digital-to-analog converter designed only for use with iPhones, iPads, and iPods, but it won't work with computers (it's not a USB DAC). There are precious few portable DACs that can … Read more
I've written about the Audeze LCD-2 headphones in this blog before, but now I'm going to cover the LCD-3 model, Audeze's best headphones. At first glance the two don't look all that different, but the LCD-3s sport real zebrawood earcups and have thicker and softer real lambskin leather cushions to coddle your ears. This is a fairly heavy (550-gram) set of headphones, but they're comfortable to wear for hours at a time. Details of why the LCD-2s and LCD-3s sound different aren't forthcoming from Audeze, other than the drivers, which use similar technology, are … Read more