Earphones Reviews

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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Dec 23, 2016 15 comments
"Dude, I just got off an airplane with this guy who had these cool insert headphones. He's a location sound recordist for movies and uses them for their isolation and good sound. I gave them a try...I need a pair badly! Do you know where I can get some Etymotic ER4 earphones?"
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ljokerl Posted: Oct 24, 2016 4 comments
Great sound quality is timeless, however, and the best earphones from that era often still sound very good today.

Enter the Audio-Technica ATH-IM02, a modern re-imagining of a dual-BA earphone, complete with a contemporary ergonomic form factor and an aggressive, value-focused price.

Tyll Hertsens Posted: May 20, 2016 12 comments
One of the things that, it seems to me, separates headphone enthusiasts from traditional audiophiles is an interest in good inexpensive stuff, or devices with unusual utility. Think Koss Porta Pros or the Riva Turbo X. The Porta Pro has been delivering excellent sound quality for its very low $49 price for decades and for decades headphone enthusiasts have been praising their worth. And when the Riva Turbo X Bluetooth speaker showed up at CanJam a year or so ago, headphone hobbyists embraced it immediately as a great sounding portable speaker. These are cool little gadgets, and it seems to me headphone enthusiasts are more than willing to have a good hard look at them....no matter the cost.
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ljokerl Posted: Mar 18, 2016 5 comments
Aurisonics Rockets raise the bar pretty much across the board. In addition to superb sound quality and comfort, they provide tank-like build quality with water resistance and 5-year warranty, plus bonkers noise isolation.
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ljokerl Posted: Jun 26, 2015 10 comments

...At the same show two years later, I came across Audiofly again. The company had a new range of in-ear monitors with ergonomic designs, interchangeable cables, and a variety of performance options with prices ranging from $150 to $550. The range-topping, quad-balanced armature AF180 model has taken quite a while to come to the USA, but it's finally here, and it is good.

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John Grandberg Posted: May 27, 2015 6 comments
A "new" custom IEM company that's been around for 30 years? Yeah, there's a story in there somewhere.
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n_maher Posted: Apr 08, 2015 7 comments
A short time after posting my budget CIEM article I was contacted by another manufacturer, Alclair, and asked if I was interested in trying their Reference CIEM which they thought would be a good fit for an addition to the article. As it just so happened, I had a spare set of ear impressions so I sent them on their way and a little while later received a brand new pair of CIEMs in return.
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ljokerl Posted: Nov 07, 2014 24 comments

The bread and butter of the Beats brand have always been the on-ear and over-ear models—the Solo and Studio. They were also the ones most criticisms focused on, but for me the biggest disappointment was actually the original Beats Tour in-ear, which was too harsh for a basshead earphone, yet too boomy for fans of brighter sound. It was never quite sure what it wanted to be, which made the $150 price tag difficult to swallow.

This is not the case with the new Beats Tour 2.0—while it did not impress me quite as much as the new Solo2 impressed Tyll earlier this year, it is a much more focused and purposeful earphone than the original model. The focus just happens to be on bass.

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John Grandberg Posted: Oct 27, 2014 10 comments

Noble Audio has been shaking things up in the world of custom in-ear monitors. I take two models for a spin and see if they really deserve all the attention they've been getting.

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ljokerl Posted: Aug 12, 2014 35 comments

Priced at $15 in China and about $25 once it gets stateside, the Piston is notable for several reasons. First, it features a 3-button inline remote designed for use with Android devices, whereas most headsets on the US market use 3-button Apple iOS remotes that have limited functionality with other operating systems.

Second, the Piston does not look or feel like a $25 product. The design is extremely well thought-out. The compact acrylic box, for example, can double as a storage case while its paper sleeve unfolds into a user manual.

And then, seemingly to underline how much Xiaomi have thought about the first impression their product leaves on its user, the tray and earphones have a faint chocolate aroma, ticking off four of the five senses in total.

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n_maher Posted: Aug 01, 2014 42 comments
This story starts way back in 2004 when I first started getting into listening to music with headphones. At the time there was no such thing as a custom IEM and really, there were precious few choices in the IEM market period. Today there's a new IEM manufacturer around every corner but the custom market has exploded, with manufacturers both large and small providing options to suit just about every taste and budget.
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ljokerl Posted: May 29, 2014 16 comments

Philips' latest budget in-ear releases, the TX1 and TX2, do not bear the Fidelio badge but still indicate a trickling down of know-how from the higher-end Fidelio products.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 19, 2011 1 comments
I haven’t had much luck with in-ear headphones.

Kelli’s Etymotic ER-6i earphones ($99) offered a well-balanced sound, with satisfying bass and natural highs, but I found them extremely uncomfortable and I had a difficult time getting them to fit properly in my ear canals. I liked Shure’s SE210 ($149.99) and SE115 ($139.99), but they felt large and heavy in my ears, and friends often balked at their prices. Don’t get me started about the V-MODA Remix Metal in-ears ($99.99); their highs were so pronounced and glaring and bass so completely absent, I wanted to run away from my music—never a good sign. (But I’ll take the blame here: I should’ve known what to expect from an earphone with the word “Metal” in its name. I have since steered clear of models designed to look like bullets, arrows, and jet engines or whose product literature uses the words “crisp,” “sharp,” or “edgy.”)

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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Oct 06, 2011 25 comments

Editor's Note: This article was nearly complete when I read of Steve Jobs's death last night. I think the conclusions herein are telling of his passion for making "insanely great" products ... right down to the last detail.

A couple of weeks ago, Steve Guttenberg wrote an article on his Audiophiliac blog entitled, "The Worst-Sounding Audio Product." In it he "aimed [his] sights on the worst sounding product regularly used by millions of people:" the stock Apple iPod ear-bud headphones. There may be some truth in that, but he also said, "Apple is an amazingly innovative company, but it's incapable of selling a decent set of headphones under its own name."

With this, I'm going to have to disagree ...

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ljokerl Posted: Oct 28, 2013 37 comments

Once in a while, however, a solid entry-level product makes me think of how precariously balanced the whole Hi-Fi segment is.

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