All of the best sounding in-ear headphones I've tested over the years have been custom-molded to my ears models. Prices vary, but the $399 UE-4 was the least expensive, and most of the top-of-the-line models are more than $1,000. Those prices don't include the fee the audiologist charges to make molds of your ear canals, and the fees add $100 to the price of the headphones. Customs ensure a perfect fit, and the best isolation from external noise. Plus they can't fall out of your ears,
The great thing about headphones is that you can, with a bit of effort, find great-sounding models in every price range. True, the best expensive models definitely sound better, but my picks for the cheapest ones are still pretty awesome. In fact, the $89 Velodyne vPulse headphones are the ones I regularly used long after I wrote the review! There was something about the sound of the vPulse that had me coming back for more. I cover audiophile, in-ear, full-size, wireless, and noise-canceling headphones, and prices run from dirt-cheap to insanely expensive.
It's impossible to keep up with all of the new headphones crowding the market, but great-sounding headphones are still pretty rare. The Noontec Zoro is the rarest of the rare, an audiophile-oriented design that's affordably priced.
The headband and earcups' high gloss finish conform to the fashion of our times, and the headphone's build quality is good for the money. The hinged steel headband allows the headphone to fold up and fit inside the included soft carry case, and the user-replaceable headphone cable is tangle-free and plugs into the left earcup. Both ends of the 48-inch long, … Read more
I haven't covered too many inexpensive earphones in this blog, mostly because I prioritize sound quality, and precious few under-$50 models cut it. The RHA MA450 really stands out in this crowded market, not just because it actually sounds pretty decent; the look and feel are outstanding and RHA sells the MA450 with a three-year warranty. Reid and Heath Acoustics products are designed at its research and development center in Glasgow, Scotland.
Build quality and features are exceptional for a $50 pair of in-ear headphones; the MA450 has machined aluminum earpieces, 10mm drivers, seven pairs of silicone eartips, … Read more
Since in-ear headphones sit in or near the ear canal, they don't interact with the pinna, the bends and curves of the outer ear that direct sound to the ear canal. The pinna also serves as an acoustic filter, enhancing the frequency range of human speech, and it also supplies directional cues, so we can localize where sound is coming from. That's how our ears and brains process sound in real life, but in-ear headphones don't interact with the pinna, so they can't sound as realistic as full-size headphones or speakers. In-ears can still sound great, … Read more
I was shaken and stirred by the Bowers & Wilkins P5 on-ear headphones back in 2010. It set a new standard for sumptuous sound and build quality for very small, on-ear headphones. Designed with portable music players and phones in mind, the P5 was definitely a step up from most ear buds, and the sound was easy to listen to over the long haul. The P5 ($300) is still around, but B & W recently introduced a similar, but less expensive model, the P3 ($200).
When I unboxed the new one I decided to first judge it without directly comparing … Read more
It was probably 10 years ago when I heard my first custom headphones, and I couldn't get over the sound. It was an Ultimate Ears UE-5 model, and the level of detail was so much better than any previous headphones I'd tried. The custom earpieces' superior noise-isolation dividends were also part of the appeal, because as the background noise level goes down, the apparent detail goes up. With less environmental noise overpowering the subtle/quiet details in the music, I could listen at lower volume levels. Once you've experienced what custom-molded headphones can do, it's hard … Read more
Head-Fi is a national headphone club, and I went to the local meeting in Babylon, N.Y., last Saturday.
The vibe was friendly, and it was great to hear Head-Fi members' home-built gear, but there were a few surprises popping up from the headphone and electronics manufacturers in attendance.
Logitech Ultimate Ears' Personal Reference Monitor in-ear headphones feature a new twist on custom-molded-to-your-ears headphone design. Lots of brands now make custom in-ear headphones, and Logitech's have been among my favorites for years, but the upcoming Personal Reference Monitor takes the personalization to the next level. Once your ear canals' &… Read more
Today's episode of The 404 is a valuable resource for anyone obsessed with headphones -- classic audiophiles, young audiophiliacs, musicians, producers, and casual listeners will all benefit from Steve Guttenberg's knowledge, and he brought a friend! Tyll Hertsens is largely credited for creating the first portable headphone amp and currently the editor-in-chief of InnerFidelity.
With Tyll's help, we'll run through the differences between on-ear and in-ear headphones, give credit to two companies responsible for introducing high-quality headphones to the next generation of audiophiles, and we'll even spend a little time dissecting the criteria for what makes a headphone "sound good."… Read more
I wrote a very favorable review of the Velodyne vPulse in-ear headphones a few months ago, but for one reason or another I'm still listening to the vPulse. Not exclusively, I listen to my own headphones and headphones I'm reviewing, of course, but there's something about the vPulse that still draws me in.
Part of the appeal is comfort; it's exceptional in that regard, and most of my vPulse listening time is on the New York subway. At home the vPulse has too much bass, but the quality of the bass is so good I don'… Read more