In this brave new world of Wi-Fi-driven audio, there is no understating the importance of a robust home Wi-Fi network, and in our move from northern Virginia to coastal Carolina we’ve met the issue of robustness head on. We’ve completely revamped and upgraded our Wi-Fi network, which now includes a dual-band range extender so that even the farthest reaches of our new house produce all four bars on the Wi-Fi signal strength indicator. As a precaution, I also put into effect Plan B and had every room in the house wired with Ethernet -- RJ45 ports with CAT5 cabling -- because, as good as Wi-Fi is, it can be maddeningly unpredictable. As it turned out, Plan B was essential to reviewing Bluesound’s Pulse Soundbar and Pulse Sub.
Tidal Force Wave 5 headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.
In the last several years, new headphone brands have seemed to emerge almost weekly. It used to be we reviewers would roll our eyes and ignore the latest press release touting a celebrity endorsement, or boasting of a headphone’s “Xtreem!” bass, or trying to lure us with flashy styling. We figured these mass-market products wouldn’t appeal to most of the people who read our reviews. Lately, though, we’ve seen more new brands focus on the audiophile segment. One is Tidal Force, which just launched its first headphone model: the Wave 5 ($299 USD).
Monoprice M1060 headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.
The audio industry is now seeing two clear, opposing, concurrent trends in product development: a race to the top and a race to the bottom. The race to the top is evident at any hi-fi show, where demos are dominated by amps and speakers priced in the mid-five figures. The race to the bottom can be found on the Internet, where high-value audio specialists fight to see who can most dramatically undercut audio’s storied brands. The Monoprice M1060 headphones ($299 USD) exemplify the latter trend.
“Schiit happens.” It’s not the sort of language usually found in an owner’s manual for a headphone amplifier like Schiit Audio’s Jotunheim ($399 USD). No, an owner’s manual is usually full of bland marketing copy, loosened rules of grammar, regulatory warnings, and stultifying technical detail. I almost never use them, and unless you’re a novice audiophile, neither should you. The folks at Schiit seem to agree. In the preface to their safety instructions, they state: “The following is required by the roughly 9,542 government agencies and regulations we have to comply with. If you have some common sense, they should seem pretty straightforward.” Who are these guys? I did some digging.
HiFiMan Susvara headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.
Trying to judge the HiFiMan Susvara headphones on the basis of only their performance and design is as hopeless as trying not to think of an elephant. Once you see the Susvaras’ $6000 USD price tag, there’s no way to banish from your mind this question: “How can a set of headphones be worth so much?”
Libratone Q Adapt On-Ear headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.
My acquaintances in the headphone business often blame the mediocre performance of most noise-canceling (NC) headphones on Bose, which I’m told holds patents on most of the best technologies and techniques. But as digital signal processing (DSP) chips keep shrinking and getting more powerful, we’re starting to see some headphones that approach the awesome noise-canceling powers of the Bose QC25s and QC35s while providing better sound quality, more features, and alternative form factors. Libratone’s Q Adapt on-ear headphones ($249 USD) are one of this new NC generation.
Brainwavz B200 earphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.
Reviewers should beware the influence of manufacturers’ marketing copy, but we’re human and fallible. So a press release promising that a new set of earphones is “tuned to produce a balanced and accurate sound signature, with little to no coloring in the sound” still piques my interest, even when I know manufacturers’ statements aren’t reliable indicators of their products’ performance. But the Brainwavz B200s ($199 USD) have a couple of things going for them that lend credence to the company’s claims.
1More Quad Driver earphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.
Headphone enthusiasts were surprised last year by the debut of the 1More brand. First, they were shocked by the low prices: 1More offered its Triple Driver hybrid balanced/dynamic earphones for just $99.99 USD, one-third the price most companies charge for such a product. Then they were surprised to find that the Triple Drivers included a generous suite of extras: six sizes of eartips in silicone and three in foam, plus a very nice and practical travel case. And they were stunned to hear how good the Triple Drivers sounded -- far better than all but a few earphones costing less than $200.
Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.
In 1966, John Bowers and his friend Roy Wilkins established B&W Electronics Ltd. -- the seed money had come from an elderly lady who’d been deeply impressed with Bowers’s knowledge of classical music and the quality of the speakers he’d built for her. The same year saw the development of B&W’s first loudspeaker, the P1. Now, 50 years later, Bowers & Wilkins has grown into one of the world’s best-known loudspeaker brands, with a huge variety of products and a distribution chain that spans the globe. Its 50th year saw the redesign of B&W’s flagship 800-series speakers, and the introduction of their first flagship headphones model: the subject of this review, the P9 Signature ($899.99 USD).
Audeze iSine10 earphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.
I’ve been reviewing headphones and earphones since 2008, but the Audeze iSine10s are the first I’ve encountered that create their own category. The iSine10s ($399 USD with Lightning and analog cables, $349 with analog cable only) differ from all other earphones not only in their sound, appearance, and the way they work, but even in the ways you’ll use them.