Archive for Reviews

Brainwavz M2 Review

bwm2main2 Brainwavz M2 ReviewWhile 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.

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Star Wars Lightsaber MP3 Player Review

P1030421bis 560x420 Star Wars Lightsaber MP3 Player Review

For many people, Star Wars is only 6 movies that came out in the cinema between 1977 and 2005. Actually, you should not forget that Star Wars it’s also an expanded universe, probably one of the biggest fictional universe ever invented by human being: there are books, comics, video games, TV series etc… Well it’s an almost limitless universe that goes far beyond the 6 famous movies. Generally there is no time for rest in the movies as the action is everywhere! But have you already wondered what the Jedi and Sith are doing once you turned off your DVD player? They do sport, they play parlour games, they organize droid fights, they chat on facebook, but they also sometimes get bored between two missions, just like you and me. Then it’s time to get out their lightsaber to listen to music. Indeed, what isn’t written in any encyclopedia is that Jedi and Sith generally have foresight and include a small mp3 player in the lightsaber when they design and make it.

A website is selling lightsaber mp3 players. At first that looked quite dubious since every lightsaber is supposed to be unique and built by its owner but finally I found their speech reassuring enough: “Generic MP3 players from fly-by-night operations in China cost about $2.70 each in bulk. Add an FM radio function and you might bump the price up by about $0.45 each. We don’t want those. We want Taito’s officially licensed Star Wars Light Saber Kei MP3 Player which isn’t generic. It’s specialized and looks like a light saber handle with nifty and ornate detailing. Won’t find that in a no-frills generic player.” Once you have read that, you’ll agree with me it’s impossible to resist buying one! Of course I got the one of Darth Vader. No that the lighsaber of Luke Skywalker (Darth Vader’s son for people living in another world) is ugly but the dark side of the Force is more attractive, isn’t it?

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Digizoid ZO Portable Subwoofer Review

dzzomain Digizoid ZO Portable Subwoofer ReviewDigizoid – or, digiZoid, as they write it – is a relatively young company from Arizona that specializes in sound enhancing techniques. Their patent-pending technology called Smartvector promises to improve several aspects of an audio signal originating from any source – be it from a portable MP3 player, be it in a recording studio used during mixing/mastering, be it while watching a movie on a home cinema setup, be it in a live DJ setup.

Since Digizoid are very secretive about their technology, it is easier to say what Smartvector is not: it is not a run-off-the-mill bass booster, it is not an EQ, it is not some psychoacoustic algorithm, it is not digital. Smartvector operates in the analog domain; it recovers the signal’s dynamic range, expands the spatiality (soundstage), and extends the low-frequency cutoff of a speaker/driver, making it deliver lower note extension than generally possible. I don’t know how they do it, but it doesn’t affect the THD (total harmonic distortion) of the signal, so they certainly don’t go the cheap route of harmonics enhancers/exciters.

Digizoid’s first commercial product utilizing Smartvector technology is the ZO, a portable amp, or “personal subwoofer”, as they call it. The ZO uses only a portion of Smartvector, named Lofreq. Unlike a still-theoretical Fullspec variant, affecting the whole audible frequency range, the ZO only operates on frequencies up to about 1 kHz.

Being a fan of natural sound reproduction – contrary to ‘neutral’ – I have to say that the ZO is the best thing I’ve heard so far in portable sound enhancements. Until now Cowon’s BBE and Mach3Bass have been the cream of the crop to my ears, as far as putting some excitement in ‘polite’ phones is concerned. The ZO however is the new king of crisp, precise, yet bassy sound, if you ask me.

Don’t be put off by the “personal subwoofer” slogan. The ZO is not some cheap boombox replacement for trunk rattlers. It is a very refined sounding tool to make audio more enjoyable – without damaging any part of it. Read on if it’s the thing for you.

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Sandisk Sansa Fuze+ Review

fuzeplusmain Sandisk Sansa Fuze+ Review

When it was time for SanDisk to update the Fuze, they dubbed it the Fuze+ rather than make it a completely new player- just as they did with the Sansa Clip+. While the Clip+ truly was a minor (but awesome) update though, you can stare at the Fuze and Fuze+ for hours without seeing the connection. Some of the “updates” are for the better, but others are not.

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Radius HP-TWF21 “W N°2” aka “DDM 2” Review

ddm2 main Radius HP TWF21 “W N°2” aka “DDM 2” ReviewRadius 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…

MEElectronics A151 Review

IMG 3159 f2 MEElectronics A151 Review

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…

Ecci PR401 Review

ecci pr401 main Ecci PR401 ReviewForum 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.

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Samsung YP-U6 Review

P1030165bis 560x420 Samsung YP U6 Review

Introduced in 2005 the famous U series has welcomed a new device end of 2010: the YP-U6 or U6. No surprise here as this series has always sold well. Indeed, many people do not want to spend much money on mp3 players and just need a small MP3 USB key, not a high-end Cowon DAP. But they may also be demanding on quality. Thus this review is the opportunity to check if the U6 is worth it and really better than the U5.

Please note this review is based on firmware 1.09. At the time you are reading it, a new firmware may have been released.

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Sennheiser MX 85 Sport Review

005 3 Sennheiser MX 85 Sport Review

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.

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KitSound KSDJ DJ Headphones Review

ksdj main1 KitSound KSDJ DJ Headphones ReviewKitsound, 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.

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