Fang Bien is a longtime friend in the headphone world, and a prolific developer of headphone product. His line of planar magnetic headphones has caught the attention of enthusiasts, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the HE-500 in particular. I was happy to round the corner and spy the HiFiMAN booth.
You know, being as brutally honest as I am in my product evaluations can be pretty uncomfortable sometimes. I've recently measured the Polk Ultrafit line and was pretty disappointed. I know the engineers there have been watching my measurements, so it was with no small measure of trepidation that I walked up to their booth.
Sony is the battle ship ... the elephant in the room ... the world's largest headphone maker. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes. With the tremendously fast moving headphone world and the likelihood they were lulled to sleep by their lion's market share, they're now facing a war on all fronts to keep their piece of the pie in the face of hoards of hungry headphone makers producing all manner of specialty product for everyone from cowboys to kids, and hairdressers to hipsters.
I think it's interesting their response is to go back to basics and develop their ability to manufacture a critical component.
Due to my recent and ebullient praise for the Roc Nation Aviator and Mix Master headphones, some viewers of my YouTube channel have begun to call me a Skullcandy fanboi. Sorry, they sound good, and Skullcandy is working hard on making better sounding headphones. Good on 'em, I say. If that makes me a fanboi, so be it.
Let's have a look at their third shot at great sound.
All I had to go on was a vague remembrance of a PR agent who came from Montana, and a spot blotted out on my CES floor show map indicating the location of the California Headphone Company. I was met by a small gaggle of fresh-faced farm girls in baseball hats (or ladies so costumed), the rear end of an old Ford pick-up, and Britt's cheery voice saying, "Oh, hi Tyll! So glad you came to see us."
I left the Sennheiser booth and tuned the corner. There it was, the SMS by 50 Cent. The little behemoth of the rapper can world. My eyes scanned the cavernous booth, and to my mind only one word occurred ...
I think the Sennheiser HD 800 is technically the world's best headphone. The Sennheiser HD 650 is a classic, a favorite of mine, and a very worthy can at its price. But there's over a thousand bucks separating the two. I've been curiously awaiting the day Sennheiser engineered something (because with them it's always engineered) to fit between the two.