John Seaber started JDS Labs in 2007 with the cMoyBB headphone amp, which is based on an open-source design. Seaber revamped the cMoy's power supply and volume control, added a DC power jack, and a special bass boost switch. The tiny amp sold well and got the company off the ground. The cMoyBB is still being made, in an Altoids tin box, and currently sells for $60. Seaber is 26 and has an electrical engineering degree from Missouri S&T University.
In-ear headphones, also known as IEMs (in-ear monitors), have become very popular in recent years, replacing the old-style earbuds. One of the annoyances with IEMs, however, is microphonics. Microphonics refers to the rustling and thumping noises you hear when you tap the cord or when the cord brushes up against something.
The old earbud style isn't susceptible to microphonics because it rests just inside your ear, whereas IEMs go in the ear canal. To reduce microphonics, some manufacturers have tried braided cords and other custom solutions. If your in-ear headphones didn't come with these modifications, there are a … Read more
Well, yesterday was kind of a train wreck, huh? Believe me that I get just as frustrated as you when a vendor suddenly jacks up the price on a product, as TigerDirect did yesterday on the Vizio sound bar. It's worse than a sellout, because it smacks of bait-and-switch tactics (even though the company's own promotional e-mail showed it at the higher price, so that accusation doesn't hold water).
Anyway, I still feel bad about it, which is why I'm giving you five -- count 'em, five -- deals today. Without further ado:
1. Wal-Mart has … Read more
I'm a lucky guy; audio companies keep asking me to check out their gear, and that's not a bad way to make a living. Before you get too jealous, I have to listen to a lot of crap to find the good stuff. There's a lot of shipping to and fro, and that's not a fun part of my work. Every now and then something really special arrives, and that makes it all worthwhile.
Val Kolton has a lot of ideas. I know him first as the man who runs V-Moda, but he's also a hotshot DJ. I met with him in NYC last week for a sneak preview of his brand-new Crossfade M-100 over-the-ear headphones. Kolton had just received the first production batch and hadn't actually listened to the completed headphones yet. I had the honor of listening first, even before the V-Man, and the M-100s totally knocked me out. It has a closed-back 'phone design, but the sound was remarkably open and spacious, a rare feat for a closed design. … Read more
A long, long time ago, way back in 2008, Monster's Beats by Dre line of headphones exposed young music listeners to better-quality sound. Ushering in a new premium, pro-sumer segment of the market, Beats combined a focus on audio quality with a fashion and design sensibility that numerous headphone companies are trying to capture today.
Sales of headphones priced over $100 have become the engine of growth in the audio market as a result, growing 65 percent (units) in the first half of 2012 and accounting for 43 percent of all headphone revenue, according to The NPD Group's Retail Tracking Service. Monster accounts for approximately half of the sales in this segment.
Of course, a large part of Beats' success is built on the name and image of Dr. Dre, and as such, has inspired numerous other musician-endorsed headphones. Offerings from Soul by Ludacris, Sync by 50 Cent, and House of Marley have proved to be notable entries into the market. The strategy clearly works. … Read more
If you've watched any "American Idol" the last couple of years, you've probably noticed a heavy dose of record impresario Jimmy Iovine's Beats headphones on the show -- from the hat that he always wears to the omnipresence of the product itself. It's awful in many ways, but that's what corporate sponsorship is all about. And it seems to be working as plenty of teenagers keep asking their parents for overpriced $300 headphones for their birthdays.
Well, Simon Cowell and Sony want in on the celebrity headphone action and have released the $299 … Read more
The Burson Soloist looks and feels like a scaled down high-end stereo power amplifier, but the Soloist is a headphone amp. The chassis is constructed from thick slabs of machined aluminum that dissipate the heat from the amp's Class-A electronics. The amp would appeal to Ferrari and Leica camera owners who appreciate no-holds-barred industrial design. The Soloist is the real deal.… Read more
It was just a few weeks ago when my buddy Tyll Hertsens was raving about Colin Shaw's Sicphones amplifier Kickstarter project. Hertsens never steers me wrong, so I contacted Shaw, and a few days later I received the amp. Hertsens was right. This design uses a newly available SemiSouth silicon carbide transistor, and the amp sounds amazing. If Shaw makes his Kickstarter goal he'll be able to sell amp kits for as little as $229, and assembled amps for $279! DIY-ers can spring for just $35 and get the Sicphones amplifier PC board, assembly instructions, and parts source … Read more
Logitech purchased the Ultimate Ears headphone line way back in 2008. Since then, slowly but surely, the UE logo has been creeping in as the upscale Logitech audio brand -- witness the UE AirPlay speaker from earlier this year.
As of today, the Logitech UE branding officially goes large with the introduction of seven new audio products. Among the new models are two mobile Bluetooth speakers, three new headphones with memory foam cushions, a noise-isolating in-earphone with four-armature speakers in each earpiece, and the next evolution of the Squeezebox Radio powered by Logitech UE's new mobile companion app.… Read more