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.
Radius Co. Ltd. are from Japan, but unlike fellow countrymen such as Audio Technica or Denon, Radius mostly relies on rebranding Chinese OEM in-ear phones rather than creating original designs. Most of their products are found in the lower price segment, usually competing with fashion brands such as Skullcandy or JBuds.
This however changed when Radius introduced the HP-TWF11 “DDM” phone some time ago. They were priced at around $200 and featured a seldom seen construction that uses two dynamic drivers; a big one for bass and midrange next to the ear and a smaller one for treble behind it – hence the “DDM” nickname that stands for “Dual Driver Matrix”. While these DDM couldn’t quite compete with top-tier dynamic driver IEMs such as the JVC FX700 or Sennheiser IE8, they pulled off a gigantic in-your-face bass while still retaining some very nice stereo imaging, timbre, and good dynamic range.
Now Radius revised their DDM concept and released the HP-TWF21 “W N°2”. Compared to the old DDM, the new DDM2 (as I call them) have an infinitely better form factor, somewhat more tamed bass quantity, better clarity… and of course a somewhat higher price tag than the old ones.
Read on to find out more about them. Continue reading…
When Joe Daileda, VP of Sales & Marketing at MEElectronics contacted me to say they were sending their balanced armature fitted A151 IEMs to test I became very curious. I had already tested their M31s and M16s, finding them to be good contenders within their price range, but neither are driven by balanced armatures like the A151s.
So “who’s the king of the hill”? Depending on whom you are speaking with, what the flavor of the month is and which way the wind is blowing you will hear various responses; JH Audio, Ultimate Ears, Sennheiser, Shure, 1964 Ears, etc. All kidding aside, let me clarify the statement here; this is a review about a single armature universal IEM in the sub $100 target range that competes with rivals in the $175 and under price target. Not the brands I mentioned above – but I got your attention didn’t I?
Are the A151s the best universal IEMs on the market today? No, but if you have never listened to armature driven IEMs and your budget is in the aforementioned range you could be short changing yourself if you do not consider the MEElectronics A151s as one of your options.
With that thought in mind, read on to take a closer look at the A151 IEMs. Continue reading…
Forum member JxK generously loaned me his fresh pair of Ecci PR401 in-ear phones. There’s a bit of hubbub surrounding these phones at the moment – seemingly they’re quite the bang for the buck. Of course there are more than a few other good phones in that price range, so it’s always interesting to see how such underdogs rank in the grand scheme of things.
Ecci, like many other IEM retailers (Hippo, Fischer, Radius, MEElectronics, etc), rebrands Chinese OEM phones, and maybe adds a little custom tuning to the drivers. The PR401 are their top of the line model at the moment, they go for around $75.
I don’t know much more about the retailer, other than the brand was called “Storm” before changing their name to Ecci, and that they also sell portable headphone amps. Be that as it may, one Rebecca Black song says more than a thousand words, so let’s get on with their sonic evaluation.
Sennheiser is a name that is synonymous with audio gear. These guys make everything from high grade headphones, to studio quality microphones. So it should come as no surprise that they want to extend their reach into the athletic arena. They have had a couple of models out over the years. Personally, I (my wife as well) owned the neon green MX 75 Sport’s for several years, and have had nothing but high praise for them. About a year ago, they launched the MX 85′s that switched up from bright green, to a more subtle orange. Usually we try to keep our reviews current for our ABI’ers, but the new Sennheiser/Adidas line actually takes a step back. So let’s dive into these headphones and see what they’re all about.
Kitsound, a division of British mobile accessories distributor Kondor, mainly seem to rebrand inexpensive Chinese OEM/ODM audio products for portable and home use. They offer portable speakers, iPod speaker docks, USB chargers, and of course headphones.
Their KSDJ headphones – generally aimed at DJs, as the name aptly suggests – are a 100% clone/copy of the Sony MDR-V500DJ housing. I won’t hold that against them, many other phones use prefab housings as well. Foster Japan’s venerable Sennheiser CX300/Creative EP-630/AKG K324P/etc housing comes to mind… Be that as it may, the looks of phones are secondary to the drivers – and the KSDJ certainly use a different driver than the V500, 50mm vs. 40mm diameter.
Noticing quite a lot of favorable amateur/customer reviews, I got curious as to how the KSDJ really perform – especially since they go for a very low price, currently around £23 (ca. €26, $36) on Amazon UK.
Read on to find out what’s the deal with the KSDJ – not only in their price range, but in the grand scheme of things as well.
To continue the trend Andreas started with his Accessories post, here’s a quick reminder of some of the best in-ear phones we reviewed.
Forum member Pennhaven took the “Show off your DIY Cables” thread to the next level by showing off a pair of DIY ear warmer headphones. He made these from his Koss KSC-75 headphones and 180-brand ear warmers some time back. He recently followed up with a nice post with pictures and instructions. The finished version includes a detachable cord and is sown together nicely.
This is the kind of posts we love seeing in the forums, as we all have a special place in our hearts for DIY projects. Great job Pennhaven! To read the whole post look here, or to start from the very beginning of the long DIY cables thread look here.
One of the more difficult types of headphones to find on the market are ones for training and gym use. There are high end buds for analyzing music, and full size bass heavy cans for pumping out thundering levels of low end to leave your body shaking. But finding a good quality set of headphones to sound great, stay in place, and be durable for some light running or intense workout sessions is a chore. There simply aren’t many to choose from on the market. Enter the Yurbuds Ironman series earbuds. While I and most people here stay far away from “marketing” claims and endorsements, these had me intrigued. There wasn’t a big name behind them, and the focus was on the fit and comfort for grueling training sessions.
Can they keep up with a grueling training schedule, or do they fall flat like most others?
Ortofon Denmark is best known for being a seasoned manufacturer of cartridges and stylus tips for both DJ turntables and home hifi record players alike. Less known in Europe and America is that Ortofon’s Japanese daughter brand has quite the different gear line-up to offer for the Asian market. Not only does Ortofon Japan provide everything from amps to speakers for an upper class home hifi system, lately they also entered the portable audio market with two in-ear phones, first the e-Q7 and now the e-Q5.
While other brands often jump on the profitable IEM bandwagon with a “me too” attitude, adding yet another pair of generic phones to the unmanageable pile of models a customer has to wade through, Ortofon Japan sure entered this market in style. The e-Q7 and e-Q5 use neither dynamic drivers nor balanced armatures, as found in 99.9% of all other in-ear phones available. They use a newly developed technology instead, a hybrid of aforementioned transducer designs, a so-called “moving armature”, or “single pole armature”, manufactured by Yashima Electric. This kind of speaker features a diaphragm as in a traditional dynamic driver, but instead of being driven by a voice coil, it’s driven by a miniaturized armature ‘motor’. While regular balanced armatures rest between two magnetic poles, the Ortofon driver is surrounded by a single magnetic field, thus the “single pole” moniker.
Generally speaking, dynamic drivers are often said to have a more full-bodied, more substantial sound, with better soundstage – while armatures are said to have better precision and speed, yet are often thinner sounding (thus the reason for multi-armature IEMs with crossovers, to beef it up a bit).
Let’s see if Ortofon Japan managed to combine the best of both worlds in their moving armature equipped e-Q5. Continue reading…