Over-Ear Open Headphones Reviews

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Tyll Hertsens  |  Mar 23, 2013  |  41 comments

It's warm and fuzzy, with a big bottom and a lively top.

No, it's not my girlfriend silly, it's the new Philips Fidelio X1. And while it may not be a mate for life, it's sure fun to have for a little fling.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Apr 12, 2011  |  22 comments
Back before the Sennheiser HD 800 broke the $1000 high-end headphone barrier and started a flurry of ground-breaking new reference cans, there were three staples for enthusiast searching for great sound: the Sennheiser HD 650 ($649.95 MSRP); the AKG K701 (now reincarnated as the Quincy Jones Q701; $399 MSRP); and the Beyerdynamic DT 880 ($313.95 MSRP). All three, in my mind, remain good value when properly chosen for your listening tastes. (HD 650 – warm and smooth, though somewhat lacking in detail; AKG K701 – articulate, but slightly hard; DT 880 – detailed with depth and air, but somewhat lacking weight through the mids.)

A rather cool and unusual feature of the Beyer DT 880 is that it is available in three different impedance values in order to give you better options in suiting them to your needs. I thought it would be fun to have a look at the three different versions, and evaluate their suitability to home, portable, and general use.

Read on for the techno-geekly details, but go ahead and skip to the summary if you just want the recommendations….

Tyll Hertsens  |  Dec 18, 2015  |  31 comments

The room was crazy loud at CES last year, but even through the cacophony the new dual-driver (dynamic/electret) Enigmacoustics Dharma had something special.

The question is how special?

Tyll Hertsens  |  Dec 04, 2017  |  12 comments
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!
Tyll Hertsens  |  Feb 03, 2018  |  12 comments
One of a nice handfull of $500ish planar magnetic headphones at the show, I was impressed with the Advanced Alpha at CanJam@RMAF last October. In my report I said:

Maybe it was just the show conditions, or maybe I was just in the right mood, but holy smoke these sounded really good to me on first listen. I've been wrong at shows before so don't take this as gospel, but I sure liked these Advanced planar magnetic cans.

Well, time to find out if we can trust my ears at shows.

Wes Phillips  |  Aug 19, 2006  |  3 comments
Oh mama, was I ever excited when I heard rumors of the existence of AKG's K 701! If you're among the audiophiles who sneer at those of us who like headphones, you're probably rolling your eyes and thinking I must lack a rich inner life.

But hold on there, Skippy—some of us use those cans in our prosumer studios, in recording sessions, and even in barn-burning late-night critical listening sessions where we employ ancillary equipment that would beggar your jaded high-end sensibilities. We're not talking about the three-buck, upchuck disposable 'phones your friendly flight attendant flogs before your in-flight main feature. We're talking about serious tools that can reveal a flea fart in a cathedral.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Jun 13, 2011  |  30 comments

According to a February 2011 NPD Group study, celebrity endorsements are extremely/very important to nearly 30 percent of consumers when deciding what headphones to buy. Moreover, there was a 75% increase in sales of headphones over $100 from 2009 to 2010 ... in a bad economy, no less. Headphones are a hopping commodity.

So sure, why not nab a big name like Quincy Jones and extend the life into an aging, but still very good headphone.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Feb 11, 2018  |  26 comments
It's deja vu all over again. Maybe Audeze decided to reverse the trend for ever more expensive headphones. Maybe they were just aware of so many people longing for the LCD2 of old. But whatever the reson, I do like seeing them breath new life into the more affordable end of the LCD line-up with their newly released LCD2 Classic.
Tyll Hertsens  |  Sep 25, 2011  |  68 comments

It's not often one get's to set-up $37,000+ worth of the world's best headphone gear on the dining room table. I should do a little comparative listening test and report my findings, methinks.

Wasn't easy to write with all the good music going on in my head, though.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Nov 06, 2015  |  27 comments

Mr. Speakers first fully in-house designed and manufactured headphone seems to deliver quite nicely in the top-of-the-line category.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Aug 16, 2011  |  4 comments

Kabeer - "I am located in UK, and I have some orthos. Im not sure if its very viable for me to get anything measured?"

Tyll - "I really can't spend too much money on this, so I've limited DIY Ortho testing to the U.S. to keep the shipping costs down. Sorry."

Kabeer - "Id really like to send my Aiwa to you to get measured. I think its pretty great :). Wualta wants to see their measurements too and has kindly offered to pay you the postage back to UK for them."

Tyll - "Okie Dokie. If Wualta wants to see the measurements, it must be good."

You see, while Wualta might be a crusty old curmudgeon, he's also one of the patron saints of Orthodynamic DIYers, and if he thinks something is worthwhile ... well, you just have to have a listen.

By golly, he's right on the mark again!

Tyll Hertsens  |  Jul 28, 2016  |  51 comments

THIS is what a $1000 headphone should be. Unapologetically masculine styling...and sexy; confidently strutting exquisite materials and build-quality; and delivering sound of a quality I've not heard before on any headphone. It walked in my office, swept all the headphones off my desk in one grand gesture, and said, "Here I am. Deal with it."

Tyll Hertsens  |  Dec 24, 2017  |  39 comments
Headphone manufacturers pay attention: If you want to build a high-end headphone, this is the way to do it.
Tyll Hertsens  |  May 22, 2011  |  25 comments

Just a year and a half ago I walked into the CanJam area of RMAF, and right smack-dab in the middle was Fang Bian, head of Head Direct and the HiFiMAN brand of headphone gadgetry. Fang always has something new going on; I wondered what it would be this time. He smiled, stood, and cheerfully greeted me, then pointed towards center-stage on one of his tables.

"Would you like to hear my new planar magnetic headphones?"

You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Mar 04, 2018  |  40 comments
Like pretty much all headphone makers, I've found HiFiMAN planar magnetic headphones a little hit and miss. Some have been a too bright and sizzly, some have not had the build quality I'd like to see at the price. On the other hand there have been some really nice surprises. The HE1000 had an uncannily pleasant, floating in the clouds, sonic character, and the HE-400S was dandy at a very affordable price. One thing has been very consistant though, the folks at HiFiMAN keep trying...and that's turning out to be a very good thing.

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