If you’re anything like me, you like to have the best sound quality possible, whenever possible. This means doing simple things like tweaking the equalizer and getting better headphones to major undertakings like re-ripping your entire music library to Lossless encoding.
An often overlooked area in the pursuit for better sound quality is making sure all your player’s contacts and connectors are clean, especially since a pocket is sanctuary for dust, moisture, and other harmful debris. I have been asked why cleaning a headphone jack is important and I always give this example: if you have distortion (static, etc.) while playing music and have to either disconnect and then reconnect the headphones or turn the headphone jack to make it go away, then cleaning your headphone jack might help with this problem.
Luckily, cleaning a headphone jack is quick and easy. With a few simple steps you can be on your way to musical bliss. Continue reading…
I have been enjoying the MEElectronics (MEE) A151 IEMs now for around a year and they are still in great condition, performing as good as the day I received them. Recently Mr. Joe Daileda (VP of Sales & Marketing) from MEElectronics contacted me again, but now about testing their new balanced armature A161P in-ear monitor (IEM), which I quickly welcomed the opportunity. By the time of this writing I have been using the A161P IEMs for around 3 weeks and I’m ready to discuss them …
On first read I thought that the A161P would replace the A151 but according to Mr. Daileda, MEE has no plans to discontinue the A151. On another note, MEE has or is planning to discontinue the CC51 without current plans to replace it with another dynamic driver IEM. That said the A161P now becomes their flagship IEM.
Usually balanced armatures have better speed, accuracy, precision and detail versus dynamic drivers that are supposed to provide a fuller bodied sound signature. The A161P is MEE’s newest 2012 IEM release and their second introduction of a balanced armature driven IEM. In my opinion these should create quite a hullabaloo because the single balanced armature market keeps improving and the A161Ps do not disappoint.
With that thought in mind, read on to take a closer look at the A161P. Continue reading…
Forum member Jörgemeister took the time to write up a nice in-depth review of the near-full-sized closed-back V-Moda M80 headphones.
Hollywood-based V-Moda are known for usually taking a bit of a style-over-substance approach to headphone design, but with the M80 they obviously got the sound aspect right as well – next to the flashy design with changeable ear pad covers and removable cables.
While one of their first products, the V-Moda Vibe (which I reviewed ages ago – back when I was young, stupid, and slightly less caustic in my posts) sounded nice for the median quality available back in the days, they certainly had bad build quality and durability issues. With the M80 however it seems that V-Moda tackled that problem as well, delivering a well built and flexible phone with quality materials.
Sounds interesting? Check out Jörgemeister’s full V-Moda M80 review in the forums.
After being very positively surprised by the Soundmagic E10, it goes without saying that their slightly pricier brethren, the E30, should get the same review treatment as well. ‘Pricier’ here means a difference of a whopping five currency units – 35 vs. 40, either US dollars or Her Majesty’s pounds, depending on where you live.
The E10 and E30 actually look nothing alike, the former being an aluminum barrel-shaped IEM, the latter being a plastic over-the-ear fit one. However, once they’re in the ears, the Soundmagic family resemblance is easily spotted. Read on for an in-depth look at the E30, and a comparison to the earlier reviewed E10. Continue reading…
After taking a closer look at the Brainwavz Beta and M2, it’s time to review their current flagship product, the B2.
Contrary to other Brainwavz IEMs, the B2 doesn’t use a dynamic driver; they sport a dual balanced armature to create all those wonderful sounds – not just any armature at that, but the widely used Knowles TWFK, the same one found in the Jays q-Jays, Audio Technica ATH-CK10, Ultimate Ears UE700, or the Fischer Audio DBA-02 (which also use the same OEM design as the B2).
Read on to find out how the B2 fare in the sub-$200 price range of in-ear phones. Continue reading…
Those who read my Radius HP-TWF21 (aka. ‘DDM2′ aka ‘W n°2′) review know that I really like the lush, cinematic, larger-than-life sound of those IEMs. It turns out that Radius Japan didn’t actually develop/design those phones, but seemingly rebranded a Chinese OEM product, as is their usual modus operandi.
Be that as it may, these DDM2 sound exceptionally great to my ears – but their $250 price tag hurts quite a bit (especially considering their questionable build quality, the cheap materials used, and the fact that they have to be imported from Japan).
Enter American jack-of-all-trades retail chain Brookstone. Their ‘Clear Dual-Drive Earbuds’ go for $60 (or for $30-40 on eBay, if you’re lucky), and they are the same OEM design as the DDM2. They’re just a bit less tacky with silver accents instead of gold, and without cumbersome fabric-covered cable. Unfortunately they’re only available with an iPod/iPhone inline remote, there’s no standard non-headset version.
The big question of course is if they can match the glorious sound of the DDM2. Apparently they are somewhat differently tuned, after all. Over on the Head-Fi forums IEM-aficionado ClieOS mentioned that the Brookstones sound closer to the older DDM1 than to the DDM2. This is not a bad thing at all – the DDM1 sound great, they just have a rather awkward form factor. Getting a similar sound in the much more comfortable DDM2 housing might make the Brookstones worth the purchase – not to mention the price difference.
Via Head-Fi. Brookstone website.
Soundmagic (or SoundMAGIC, as they write it) is one of the older Chinese headphone brands that’s available on the international market – and one that I shamefully neglected to review for way too long.
Many of their products got high marks in reviews and are often recommended as inexpensive quality IEMs. Their PL30, priced at less than $30, feature a bass dial like the much pricier Sennheiser IE8, and their PL50 are among the least expensive balanced armature driver IEMs. Both of these have a big fan base and helped to build the reputation of Soundmagic as a manufacturer of good sounding gear for a fair price.
Well, I missed to review those two popular phones, but now I have their newly released E10 in my hands (or rather, ears), and I hope I can make up for my negligence towards the Soundmagic brand. Continue reading…
Our man in Hong Kong, forum member Lestatar, took photos of a local headphone store called Mingo’s and posted them in a forum thread.
Reactions from resident headphone nerds were unanimously jaw-dropping. Seems I have no other option than to pack my bags and move to Hong Kong, since I doubt I’ll ever see something like that locally – or in any other place on this planet, for that matter. I wonder if they allow overnight camping in the store. Then again, I’d never want to leave that store ever again, so that might be an issue.
The store has a website too, offering anything from $1 OEM phones to $2800 Ultrasone Edition 10 pimpmobiles. Check out Mingo’s (in Chinese). See Lestatar’s full-resolution photos after the jump (and don’t mind the Blackberry image quality – it’s certainly the content that counts). Continue reading…
Bowers & Wilkins will be releasing a new set of in ear models to complement their over the ear portable model, the P5s. The new model is the second set of headphones that the company has released, and they intend to capitalize on their success from the P5s. Bowers & Wilkins is known for producing high end home audio, reference, custom and studio monitor audio equipment.
The passive noise isolating C5s will feature a unique “secure loop design” which will actually forgo the more familiar over the ear cable for one that will loop around the inner ear loop. Surely it might take a little getting used to until they feel comfortable, but they intend for the new design to help keep the in ears securely in place. This “loop,” and a Tungsten tube will help keep the C5s weighted properly in the ears, according to B & W. Pricing has yet to be announced, but rumors point to a lower price point than the P5 model which retail (and street price) for $299.
Owning the P5s myself, I must say the new model should be a solid bet for portable entertainment. The P5s, while not a reference phone, have a very nice warm and balanced sound and are excellent for portable use. The build quality will surely be fantastic, as well as the quality of materials. But, until we get our hands on them, you never know. One nice thing with B & W which will hopefully continue is that they haven’t just thrown their logo on some cheap Chinese models. These are designed from the ground up by B & W, which is refreshing to see now-a-days.
[Bowers & Wilkins]
While MP4Nation’s Brainwavz Beta I reviewed some time ago were ok-ish sounding for their $30 price tag – but didn’t really exceed in any aspect over their similarly priced peers – Brainwavz now upped the ante with the introduction of the M2 in-ear phones.
The M2 are a bit more expensive than the aforementioned Betas, going for around $50, but to my ears they sound at least twice as good, so all is fine.
I am quite impressed by how far Brainwavz have climbed the audio quality ladder since the last time I tried some of their products. Read on to find out more about the M2.