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World’s best headphones converge in NYC jamboree

The Audiophiliac samples a bevy of uber headphones and comes away with an even greater appreciation of the art of headphone design.

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Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
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1 of 16 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Meze Audio Empyrean

The CanJam headphone extravaganza returned to NYC this past weekend (Feb. 17-18) at the New York Marriot Marquis hotel in lovely Times Square, where the best of the best headphones were truly an ear opening experience. 

For starters take a gander at Meze Audio's upcoming Empyrean planar magnetic headphone. My first impression of the preproduction headphone was extremely natural and effortless sound. Look for an Audiophiliac review in the coming months. Price has not yet been set.

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2 of 16 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

1More Triple Driver Over Ear

I've loved 1More's in-ear headphones, so I was super curious about their new Triple Driver over-the-ear model. It's really good for $250, £130. My review is in the works. 

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3 of 16 Final Audio

Final Audio D8000

Wow, that's my one word review of this new model from Final Audio. Can't wait to try this one at home. The D8000 sells for $3,799, £2,999.

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4 of 16 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

ZMF Auteur

That's ZMF's Zach Mehrbach with his open-back, hand-crafted Auteur headphones ($1,599). Its unbound sound is a feast for your ears. 

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5 of 16 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Woo Audio 3ES headphone amplifier

Woo Audio 3ES is a fully balanced electrostatic headphone amplifier and preamplifier. The driver tubes are 6SN7s, power tubes are 300Bs, and a rectifier is a 5U4G tube. The standard version will be $7,999, an Elite Edition will be available for $15,999.

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6 of 16 Abyss

Abyss Diana

The planar magnetic Abyss' Diana on-ear headphones ($2,995, £3,450) radical look is matched by its stunning sonics. And yes, a review is in the works.

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7 of 16 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Sony Z1R

The Z1R is Sony's flagship 'phone is truly a world class design for sound and comfort, it's $2,299, £1,850.

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8 of 16 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Campfire Audio Cascade

Campfire Audio's new Cascade portable headphone ($799), modeled here by Campfire's Ken Ball. I had a quick audition and liked what I heard. Look for an Audiophiliac review in the coming months. 

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9 of 16 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Cayin HA-300 tube headphone amplifier

It's gorgeous, beautifully built, and sounds like everything you'd want in a high-end 300B tube amplifier. Priced at $3,999, the HA-300 looks like a lot of amp for the money when shipping commences in March.

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10 of 16 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Sennheiser HD 820

Sennheiser's HD 800 has long been hailed as one of the greatest headphones on the market, but since it's an open-back design it can't hush external noise. The HD 820 is a new closed-back version, and it's $2,399, £1,999.

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11 of 16 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Hifiman Shangri-La Jr

This upcoming $8,000 electrostatic tube amplifier and headphone system delivers extraordinary transparency and musicality. This is another one I can't wait to hear at home. 

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12 of 16 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Mytek Manhattan II

The Mytek Manhattan II isn't just a world class digital converter, it's a superb headphone amplifier too ($5,995/£4,995). That's an Audeze LCD-XC headphone sitting on the Manhattan II.

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13 of 16 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Viva Audio Egoista 845 headphone amplifier

Oh boy, this ravishing, made in Italy tube behemoth is something else again! It's $12,000.

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14 of 16 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Hifiman Sundara

With this $499 headphone Hifiman upped its game, it's a planar magnetic design with an 80 percent thinner, more responsive diaphragm. Sundara is also more comfortable than the outgoing HE400S model. Sound and build quality are also improved.

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15 of 16 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Wells Audio Headtrip headphone amplifier

It looks rather pedestrian for a high-end headphone amp, but the sound was flat out astonishing. The Headtrip sells for $7,000.

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16 of 16 CanJam

CanJams span the globe

The NYC CanJam 2018 is history, but CanJams span the globe, they're coming up in Singapore, March 24-25; Los Angeles, April 7-8; London, July 21-22; Boulder, CO, October 5-7; and Shanghai, November 3-4. 

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