Newest Updates - Quick View
- HiFiMan HE1000 Headphones
- Music Everywhere: Outdoor Tech. Tuis Bluetooth Headphones
- Blue Buddha: "Blue Buddha"; Dave Douglas Quintet: "Brazen Heart"
- Why Believing in Headphone Break-in Can Be Harmful
- Seeing the Stage: Eclipse's TD508MK3 Loudspeakers
- Cabasse Stream 1 Bluetooth Speaker
- The Most Promising (and Unexplored) Area in High-End Audio
- AudioQuest NightHawk Headphones
- Jason Isbell: "Something More Than Free"
- Paradigm Reference Signature S6 v.3 / C3 v.3 / ADP3 v.3 / Sub 1 / PBK Home-Theater Speaker System
- Paradigm Reference Signature S6 v.3 Loudspeakers
- Paradigm Reference MilleniaOne / Seismic 110 Home-Theater Speaker System
- Monitor Audio Silver RX6 / RX Centre / RXFX / RXW-12 Home-Theater Speaker System
- Anthony Gallo Acoustics Nucleus Reference 3.5 Loudspeakers
- Logitech Squeezebox Touch WiFi Music Player
- From "Home Theater & Sound" to "SoundStage! Xperience"
- Oppo Digital Does It Again: The BDP-93 Blu-ray Player
- Anthem MRX 700 A/V Receiver
- Velodyne Optimum-10 Subwoofer
My recent review of the AudioQuest NightHawk headphones, and a survey of open-back headphones priced below $500 got me thinking again about breaking in headphones and speakers. AudioQuest says the NightHawks require 150 hours of break-in. That’s not an uncommon assertion: HiFiMan, too, recommends 150 hours of break-in for its headphones. The idea that headphones and speakers require break-in is generally accepted among audiophiles and headphone enthusiasts. The practice may seem harmless, but I think it might influence buying decisions in unsuspected ways.
I’ve been a great admirer of Outdoor Tech.’s imagination and innovation in producing products unlike everyone else’s. They’ve done it again with the Tuis headphones ($129.95 USD), but this time their efforts have not been as successful.
HiFiMan HE1000 measurements can be found by clicking this link.
Try to build the ultimate loudspeaker and you’ll end up with something costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The ultimate pair of headphones, on the other hand, might cost less than a midpriced high-end stereo amplifier. We’ve recently seen attempts at creating the ultimate headphones, including such models as the Audeze LCD-3 ($1945 USD), the Abyss AB-1266 ($5495), and the resurgence of the classic Stax line, which tops out with the SR-009 ($4450). Now come the HiFiMan HE1000 headphones ($2999), from the company that did much to inspire the recent interest in high-end ’phones.
After spending a couple of quality months with Eclipse’s TD510ZMK2 speakers ($5990 USD per pair), I couldn’t help thinking how great they might work as desktop speakers. After all, they sounded best when aimed directly at my ears, to avoid the dreaded single-driver beaming, and few activities make it easer to maintain that type of position better than staring at a computer monitor. But there was one big problem. Despite their svelte, sexy looks, the TD510ZMK2s were just too big for a domestic desk.
Blue Buddha: Blue Buddha
Dave Douglas Quintet: Brazen Heart
Greenleaf Music 1044
I’m listening on the screened back porch downstairs -- we live out here during the summer -- to Nick Drake’s Five Leaves Left (MP3, Island) from Amazon’s Cloud, wirelessly streamed to my iPad courtesy our home Wi-Fi LAN and heard through an Urban Beatz UB-SPB80 wireless speaker on a Bluetooth feed from the iPad. The only wires in this transaction are the essential ones: the ISP feed via a coaxial cable to the Motorola Surfboard modem, and a CAT6 cable from that to the Apple AirPort router. What I’m listening to isn’t exactly hi-fi -- it’s about the fidelity of a good table radio a rung below, say, the Tivoli Model One -- but it’s monstrously convenient. (Amazon offers its Prime subscribers a terrific feature: When you buy certain CDs, an MP3 copy can be accessed by a proprietary app via the Cloud. Saves lugging CDs and/or FLAC files around on vacation . . . or downstairs.)
The Criterion Collection 274
Were it not for the notorious Hollywood blacklist, Night and the City (1950) might not have been made -- and surely not by veteran director Jules Dassin. Dassin had been in the Communist Party for a few years, but had resigned well before this. Nonetheless, he was outed, put on the list, and told to get to London as soon as possible to start filming Night and the City, beginning with the most important and expensive scenes so that 20th Century Fox would have enough financial investment to want to complete the project.
On a recent, 40-day road trip, I learned a lot about audio. Although my trip had audio-related elements -- meeting with reviewers, engineers, and enthusiasts in six US states and British Columbia, and attending a weeklong summer jazz camp -- the biggest revelations about audio came from six weeks of doing almost all of my listening through a car stereo system, to recordings sourced from my Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone, a few CDs, and whatever I could tune in on AM or FM.
My big revelation? That the audio industry is wasting a lot of time on things that don’t matter much, and overlooking a huge opportunity.
Koss, one of the oldest manufacturers of hi-fi gear in the US, was founded in 1958 by John Koss. He believed that headphones could be used for something more than voice messages and monitoring on aircraft and ships, and premiered full-range stereo headphones to great success. Old-timers need no prodding to remember the company, and newcomers who’ve watched Mad Men might relate -- Koss is one of the real companies that Don Draper’s fictitious advertising agency works for. Many of the Koss models created decades ago are still being made.
With an eye to the future, Koss has now brought out the BT540i wireless Bluetooth headphones ($199.99 USD).
AudioQuest Nighthawk measurements can be found by clicking this link.
I couldn’t even guess how many companies have gotten into the headphone business since 2010, but I doubt any has done it so boldly as has AudioQuest. Their NightHawks ($599 USD) are the result of a from-the-ground-up effort to improve headphone sound. In fact, so much about the NightHawks is radically different that I mention here only their most important features; if you want an in-depth explanation, AudioQuest has devoted to them an excellent microsite.