Axiom Audio AxiomAir N3 Wi-Fi Loudspeaker

February 2017

Reviewers' ChoiceThe Canadian company Axiom Audio has established itself as a mainstream loudspeaker brand, and over the years has greatly expanded its product line to cover all facets of audio, including computer speakers, in-wall and in-ceiling and center speakers, omnidirectional speakers with sophisticated DSP modules, and power amplifiers. Now Axiom ventures into wireless speakers with the AxiomAir N3 ($799 USD). As with many of their other designs, Axiom’s take on this hotly competitive market segment is innovative and unique, promises better sound quality than typical Bluetooth speakers, and great value.

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Beyerdynamic Amiron Home Headphones

Beyerdynamic Amiron Home heaphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

January 2017

Reviewers' ChoiceThe Beyerdynamic Amiron Home headphones represent a welcome reaction against recent trends in high-end headphones. In my opinion, many high-end headphones focus on making a dramatic first impression rather than offering a pleasant experience over the long term. Many are heavy, which might not bother the listener in a quick demo but could make the ’phones exhausting to wear for an hour. Some use uncomfortably strong clamping force to achieve a firm seal around the ear. Many are unnaturally trebly, which, in the short term, gives the impression of extra detail and spaciousness but often proves fatiguing in longer listening sessions.

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Audiofly AF1120 Earphones

Audiofly AF1120 earphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

January 2017

Reviewers' ChoiceWe audiophiles think of ourselves as sophisticated, discerning consumers, but the “more is better” trend in earphones makes me wonder. In this case, “more” means more drivers. You can now buy earphones, such as 64 Audio’s A12s, with as many as 12 drivers per earpiece. Yet you can also buy high-end earphones, such as Sennheiser’s IE 800s, with just a single driver per ear. And, of course, you can get models in between, such as Audiofly’s six-driver AF1120 earphones ($699.99 USD).

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Audioengine B2 Bluetooth Speaker

December 2016

As our new house on the North Carolina coast was being built, one of the things Mrs. East and yrs trly decided was that this winter we weren’t going to shovel snow. If you’ve shoveled snow, you get this. If you haven’t, it’s like jail -- something you don’t want to experience. So what better way to adapt to coastal life than to rent a beach condo? One thing we’ve learned over many years of summer Carolina Beach rentals: Good luck getting one with anything close to acceptable audio. With good reason, seasonal landlords don’t trust renters with anything but the cheapest, most rudimentary audio and/or video gear.

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HiFiMan HE1000 V2 Headphones

HiFiMan HE1000 V2 headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

December 2016

Reviewers' ChoiceWhy are they reviewing these headphones again?

If you’re thinking that, I don’t blame you. At a glance, the HiFiMan HE1000 V2s look just like the HE1000s, and the original price of $2999 USD remains unchanged. Look closer, though, and you can see that the V2s are different in many ways. The HE1000s have been my reference for high-end headphone sound ever since I reviewed them in October 2015. I had to wonder why HiFiMan had changed them, and what effects those changes would have on their sound.

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Final Sonorous III Headphones

Final Sonorous III headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

November 2016

Final is a brand from Japan that specializes in exotic, high-end headphones decorated with lots of shiny metal bits. I’ve seen Final headphones at a few headphone shows, but otherwise have rarely encountered them. That’s true of a surprising number of small headphone companies, which seem to do most of their sales through the Internet. When I found out about the Sonorous III headphones, a closed-back design priced competitively at $399 USD, my curiosity was piqued.

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Beyerdynamic T 5 p Headphones

Beyerdynamic T 5 p headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

November 2016

Reviewers' ChoiceThe new, second-generation version of Beyerdynamic’s T 5 p headphones embodies three trends I’m happy to see. First is a new interest in closed-back, audiophile-oriented headphones. I generally prefer the open-back sound, but many audiophiles must listen while surrounded by the sounds of family members or office colleagues, and open-back models let all that noise through. Second is an apparent trend toward a more natural, less treble-heavy voicing in audiophile headphones, which I noted in my review of the Sennheiser HD 800 S ’phones. Third is a trend toward greater sensitivity in audiophile headphones, to make them more practical to use with smartphones and tablets.

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AudioQuest DragonFly Red and Black USB DAC-Headphone Amplifiers

October 2016

Compact, portable DACs that plug into a laptop’s USB port, extract up to 24-bit/96kHz digital audio using the jitter-eliminating asynchronous protocol, and provide amplified output for headphones and line-level output for preamps, are common enough these days. But in 2012, when AudioQuest introduced its first DragonFly DAC, the concept turned heads. The most attention-grabbing element was no doubt that the DragonFly was the size and shape of a USB memory stick. That such tiny hardware could make possible the playback of high-resolution audio through headphones -- not to mention a high-end audio system -- seemed nothing short of amazing.

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Oppo Digital Sonica Wi-Fi/Bluetooth Speaker

October 2016

Reviewers' ChoiceI’ve dreamed of wireless speakers for years. For one, I’ve always been owned by at least one cat, and, well, what you’ve heard is true: Curiosity can kill cats. I’ve had more than one sail through its first four or five years of life showing no interest in wires -- then, suddenly, the left channel starts to fry, and close inspection reveals a chewed wire. Fortunately, none of my feline friends has chewed anything carrying current heavy enough to kill.

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Audeze Sine Headphones

Audeze Sine headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

September 2016

Most new headphones are just permutations of past designs. Not the Audeze Sines. They’ve got two genuinely unusual, perhaps even unique, features. First, they’re an on-ear design with planar-magnetic drivers -- the first ever of this type, Audeze claims. Second, they’re available with analog and digital cables.

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