They look similar to custom-molded in-ear monitors from Ultimate Ears and Westone, but the StageDivers are universal-fit models that come with silicone ear tips. The large earpieces rest on the folds of your outer ear, so the fit feels more secure than in-ears that stick out from your ears. Both InEar models have user replaceable cables, … Read more
I get a lot of reader emails seeking recommendations for headphones, and sometimes they'll ask about two very different types of designs. For example, "What should I buy, Sennheiser's on-ear Momentum or the AKG K 712 'phones?" In that case there's no obvious "better" headphone, because they are two radically different types of headphones. The Sennheiser is an on-ear, closed-back design, and the AKG K 712 is a much larger over-the-ear, open-back headphone. It's like asking "What's better, a Ford F-150 Raptor truck or a Porsche 911 Turbo sports car? … Read more
As soon as I spotted the Aedle VK-1 headphones on the Web, I just had to check them out. That was early last year; e-mails were exchanged, and there were delays along the way, but now that I have them I'm happy to report they sound as good as they look. Aedle designs and manufactures the VK-1 in Paris, France.
I've had the VK-1 for a while; Aedle's founder Raphael Lebas was in NYC a few months ago and hand-delivered the headphones to me. He's a young guy, but totally focused on the job at hand. … Read more
Sennheiser makes a lot of headphone models, and it can be a bit confusing to make sense of the lineup. Some models are close cousins, and then it's even tougher to keep track of them all. Take the Sennheiser HD-25 Aluminum ($330), the 25th anniversary edition of the classic HD-25 headphone. Then again, the HD-25 Aluminum looks like a twin of the Sennheiser Amperior ($349), and to keep things interesting Sennheiser just introduced another very similar model, the HD 26 Pro ($320). I don't have an on-ear Sennheiser Momentum ($200) in house to compare, but I know it … Read more
Earplugs are the best way to protect your hearing in loud environments, but sometimes they do their job too well. They muddle the sound, so music sounds dull, or you can't understand people talking around you. I've used earplugs for decades; my first set was custom-molded to my ears, and while they were highly effective, the hard plastic plugs were uncomfortable to wear for extended periods of time. So I moved onto inexpensive, but comfy foam plugs that quelled the noise almost as well, but they totally muffled the sound. Foam earplugs can be frustrating to use at … Read more
It's easy to understand why there's so much confusion surrounding the differences between earbud and in-ear headphones. The two designs are sometimes referred to interchangeably, but they are two very different types of headphones. Earbuds rest on the outer concha ridge of the ear, located in the center of your outer ear. In-ear or ear-canal headphones are placed inside the ear canal, sealing the listener off from environmental noise.
We're living in the golden age of headphone design. Never before has there been such a vast assortment of exceptional headphones available in every price class. I was totally knocked out by the terrific Koss KTX Pro 1, on sale for just $10 right now, and at the other end of the scale we have the best headphones I've heard, the $5,495 Abyss AB-1266. Slotted between those two I found lots of jewels, including Shure's radically innovative SE846 in-ear headphone. The NAD HP50 over-the-ear headphone beat out Sennheiser's and Bowers & Wilkins' similarly priced models.
The Abyss AB-1266 is a full-size (and more) design; it's huge and heavy, but I find it super-comfortable to wear for hours at a time. The secret? The AB 1266's ear pad barely touch my ears, and the sound is a giant leap better than anything I've had home. With good recordings, you feel like you're in the room with the band; no other headphone can come close to producing that level of realism. The AB 1266 is The Audiophiliac's Full-Size Headphone of the Year. Abyss' Joe Skubinski and his son Eric developed the AB-1266's planar magnetic drivers from the ground up over a period of nearly five years. … Read more
When I first set eyes on the Koss KTX Pro 1 headphones I wasn't expecting much. The silver plastic on-ear has an all-too-generic look, but as soon as I started listening the sound had my full attention; they were very decent! Most cheap on-ears sound claustrophobic and pinched, but the KTX Pro 1's sound was big and spacious. The 60-ohm design is exceptionally comfortable, and the foam ear pads exert minimal pressure, so you can wear these things for hours without fatigue setting in. Like all budget headphones the KTX Pro 1's cable lacks an inline mic … Read more
The House of Marley Liberate headphones don't look or feel like any other $100 pair. Most are flimsy plastic things, while the Liberate's metal, wood, hemp cloth, and vinyl construction gives it the feel of a more expensive design. The Liberate features 40mm drivers and an unusually flexible cable with an iPhone/iPad-compatible mic and inline controls. The headband isn't hinged and the earcups don't fold flat, but the upside to those design choices is the Liberate will probably withstand rough treatment better than most hinged models. Then again, the Liberate's cable isn't user-replaceable, … Read more
Like anyone who regularly reviews headphones, I've noticed that the majority of them have no unique features or qualities. So for example, it's rare to find headphones in the T 51 P's price class that aren't made in China, but this little $289 Beyerdynamic is made in Germany. The lightweight, 174 gram, mostly metal design doesn't have a hinged headband, but the ear cups fold flat for easy storage in the supplied, beautifully designed carry case. The headphone lacks a mic or inline controls, marking it as a design intended for the serious audiophile who … Read more