Muse: Product review competiton

reviewcompetition

Hi everyone!

Last week’s announcement about using out manufacturing partner’s consumer product as a starting point for Muse received a largely positive response. So now it’s time to take the first steps down this new path!

If you want to keep up to date with future steps, be sure to subscribe to our crowd-development newsletter!.

Prior decisions

Even though we’re taking a new approach, the work we’ve done so far has not been in vain. We’ve already done a lot of testing in-office, including with the Cleer Flow II and rough prototypes that were based on our requests from the manufacturer. So even though we have a new starting point, the goal is still the same: we want to build an amazing set of cans that incorporates as much community feedback as possible.

Since we can’t wait to present some of the fun we have in mind, we’ll keep recapping these specs to a minimum. But you can click below if you want to a recap of the target specifications that have been decided so far!

:clipboard: :white_check_mark:

Click here to see the target specifications that we've come up with so far!
feature/specification our intention
chipset model Qualcomm QCC5124
AMP Maxim Integrated MAX97220A
DSP Sony CDX3782
drive units 2x ø40mm Ironless Driver
diaphragm material Natural fiber material
magnet material GrandSun magnet for their proprietary solution
Bluetooth v 5.0
Crossfeed Yes
Bluetooth profile A2DP / AVRCP / HFP / HSP
Google Fast Pair Yes
Multipoint Bluetooth Yes
supported formats aptX, aptX HD, apt X Adaptive AAC, cVc
NFC Yes
charging port USB Type-C
charging power TBD
audio port 3.5mm minijack
passive mode (playback with cable when no battery) Yes (full bypass)
frequency range 20Hz – 20kHz
total harmonic distortion < 1%
Hi-Res certification possible, TBD
THX certification possible, TBD
ANC (active noise canceling) Yes
ANC level XX dB
ambience mode Yes
battery capacity 720mAh
standby battery life 1000h
music playback battery life, ANC off TBD
music playback battery life, ANC on TBD
touch operation TBD
smart sensor TBD
noise canceling microphones Yes (4x)
calling microphone 4x
smart assistant Google Assistant
show battery level on smartphone Yes
smartphone app TBD (will need to be developed)
user-replaceable earpads TBD
foldable design Yes
color TBD
weight target: < 270g
water resistant No

Testing and feedback

We have our work cut out for us, redesigning the electronics to incorporate all of the above. But if we are going to re-use some of the Flow II’s components, we’ll need to test them and decide which parts meet our expectations and which parts have to go. And that’s where you come in!

We can only test so much passing the Flow II around the office. We need more hands-, eyes-, and ears-on experiences to base our decisions on. So we’re sending out Cleer Flow II’s to community members for testing and feedback!

With about 7 500 accounts on this forum we obviously can’t send a pair of cans to everyone, so we’re holding a contest to see who here is best at giving feedback.

The rules

If you think you have what it takes to thoroughly test the Flow II and if you think you can clearly put your findings into words, then here’s what you can do to become one of the testers:

  1. Write a review of an audio product.
    Headphones, speakers, amplifiers, and the like are all fair game! Focus on the things that you think are important. It can be as long or short as you want, but I don’t think we need to explain that just “I tried these headphones. They suck.” is not likely to win…
  2. Post your review as a reply in this topic.
    It needs to be posted before 23:59 CEST on Friday the 25th of October 2019, at which time this topic will be locked and no more submissions will be accepted.

The winners

Winners will be picked in two ways: 5 winners will be chosen by Eve, and 5 will be chosen by the community.

Every community member can help by hitting the :blue_heart: Like button on the reviews they like! Voting this way will be available through noon CEST on Monday the 28th of October 2019 at which time the likes will be tallied. We know it’s easy to vote early and never return, but please return the weekend after the contest closes to add likes to late entries. That way they have a fair shot at winning!

If we receive a very large number of entries, we may increase the amount of winners accordingly. If we feel someone is abusing these fairly simple rules or goes against the spirit of the competition we may decided to exclude them from participation. Play fair!

Non-participants

Please only post a reply if you’re entering a review. Other posts will be removed to keep this contest topic clean. If you want to express how awesome a review is, do it with your Like button!

Good luck everyone!

14 Likes

Phaiser BHS-530 Bluetooth Headphones

Connection: 99% of the time it’s free of disconnections. This may be due to my phone I do know that if I position my phone in my pocket screen out-facing and charging port facing up it seems to not disconnect.

Noise Isolation: This particular set of buds doesn’t have active noise cancellation but relies on the Comply bud inserts. I would say it is good at keeping out a noisy environment while music is playing. In between songs though I can here the grunts and moans of those around me in the gym.

Volume Level: I feel the level is adequate for my needs, however it does not allow me to really jam. When a song comes on that I really want to up it another level, I can’t. It has no distortion though I believe due to this fact.

Controls: The charging port (which is very hard to open if you have no fingernails) is too close to the volume up button to discern difference by just feeling.

Battery Life: I go to the gym 1.5 hours at a time 3x a week usually and charge it maybe once a week, I have never heard “warning low battery” or anything of the sorts, IDK what it would even say if the battery was low.

Comfort: The slight upward angle makes these uncomfortable at times. If you twist/tilt them so the angle points up slightly more it makes for better sound, but the plastic sleeve that wraps around the back of your head connecting the two sides hits the back of your neck/head forcing the buds back down. I have considered using really hot water to bend the form of them to aim upwards a bit more to avoid this.

Overall: For the low cost, they provide what I need to rock out while I workout.

I would recommend for this purpose, but for more than 1.5 hours at a time use I would look elsewhere.

Travis

2 Likes

I have a pair of sennheiser over the ear wireless noise cancelling headphones that I previously reviewed for Best Buy that are one of my “must bring” travel accessories.

I got a pair of Sennheiser HD1 M2 headphones in spring of 2018. These headphones clearly demonstrate the quality of the build with contrast stitch leather headband and extremely comfortable ear-cups. Unlike other noise cancelling models (Sony, Bose) I haven’t been bothered by that ear pressure pain that can accompany sustained use.

When I first got them the battery could last literally around the world on international flights, including 14 hour stretches of continued use without charge. I also have enjoyed the sound quality, which I’ve found a little more nuanced and less “bass-y” then Sony. They are indispensable for my work travel including planes and trains, as well as when I’m mowing the lawn on the weekends. I’ve walked through New York and London with these on and felt as if I’m the only one in the city, which while amazing can also be alarming.

I’ve used CapTune to play with my equalizer however it doesn’t seem to work across devices, so I’m stuck with default when connected to anything besides my personal phone where I downloaded the app.

They are not without their drawbacks though – while I like them more than competitive Bose and Sony models they cost several hundred dollars more. After 18 months of on and off use the battery has seriously degraded – from international trips on a single charge to just barely making it through 2 hours of yard work. A final note, I would really like it if you had better control over the noise cancelling - being able to turn it off when I want to keep my wits about me (see walking in the city above) seems necessary. I would also like to be able to turn noise cancelling on when taking a call, it shuts it off when in phone call mode which can be hard when you’re say in a busy terminal.

Overall these are still my Gold Standard on which I will measure all future headphones and something I always make sure I pack when I need to head out on a business trip. I look forward to challenging their throne with the Muse!

4 Likes

the isport monster achieves had great sound quality battery life and ergonomics with sufficent noise reduction not enough so you miss whats going on around you but thats not there purpose they also stay in your ears while running with relative ease

Starting at $269.99 USD

Android tablets have arguably been a middling endeavor for both manufacturers and app developers as both seem to be in a perpetual waiting game for consumer adoption.

Tablet makers seem to be waiting on developers to create noteworthy experiences for the form factor while developers are waiting on hardware makers to sell a singular mass adopted piece of kit to prove the interest in the category and both are waiting on Google to give ample support in Android operating system to make it competitive platform against the market king, the iPad, and nobody is budging.

Which makes Lenovo’s Smart Tab P10 and interesting proposition.

When reviewing the P10, I found myself, on several occasions, reminiscing about the first Surface Pro usage I had. The same sort of awkward cudgeling that was presented when using the Surface Pro back in 2013 sorta shows up when using the P10, and the same sort of promise that glimmered in the Surface Pro’s future, I believe is also present with the P10.

The Basics

The Lenovo Smart Tab P10 is billed by the company as the “family tablet experience,” to which I disagree. The entire configuration run by Amazon’s Alexa assistant is user agnostic for the most part, but the tablet itself is very user-profile dependant out of the box.

Also, don’t make any mistakes during the account set up, because you’ll be forced to reset the device to get the right one. The P10 comes in a rather premium package sporting a 10.1 FHD LCD panel and glass back housing bounded 4GB of LPDDR3 memory, a 64GB hard drive, Snapdragon 450 processor all powered by Android O.

Other specs include a less than impressive 5MP front-facing camera and 8MP rear shooter as well as a questionable glass on glass build with fingerprint reader and 4 front facing speakers pumping out Dolby Atmos supported sound. I suppose the more impressive engineering is in the dock itself that houses two-three watt full range tweeters that pump out relatively balanced sound at mid to low sounds, all wrapped in a premium fabric material.

The fit and finish of the product is premium, to say the least, but put in a home with two children under the age of three, polished designs can be a detriment, especially those clad in glass.

This is all to say, that for $269.99 or $319.49 for the model I reviewed, you’re still getting a decent set up and cost savings vs a separate tablet and home hub.

How it runs

On its surface, the P10 is a tablet that docks into a speaker to become a home hub akin to a Google Home Hub, Amazon Echo Show or Amazon Echo Spot. Similar to the paradigm of pure consumption tablet versus faux tablet, mini laptop, the P10 is fighting an uphill battle of its own choosing.

Arguably, what makes devices such as Google’s Home Hub and the Echo Show desired choices are their ability to hone in and focus on a singular set of uses cases. Much like iPad in early iterations, the Echo Show and Home Hub excel at being background tools designed with a specific set of solutions accomplished in relatively subtle ways.

The Smart Tab P10 is large and demands more attention due in part to its screen real estate. I found during my testing that I spent more time looking at the screen to see if the embedded Amazon Alexa assistant was picking up verbal commands than I normally do with my Google Home or Invoke.

I believe that’s due in large part in the way the recognition is implemented on Smart Tab. Instead of an audible indicator, the bottom of the screen lights up to let users know the device is engaged in voice recognition, which means the P10 needs to be in a spot easily identified visually for people who find themselves speaking into the void often.

Once you get on a verbal accord with the Smart Tab, it functions much like its competitors. I was able to find recipes, cooking instructions, pull up YouTube videos, play songs and albums from Amazon music as well as get news and weather updates daily.

A potentially overlooked feature of the P10 is its function as a hi-res video monitor. In a home with two children in desperate need of sleep training, having a 10.1″ FHD screen with supported sound to view a room has been a godsend.

When docked the unit works and responds with rather snappy speed, but when separated, Lenovo’s decision to go with a Snapdragon 450 processor arguably hampers the overall experience. As a tablet, the P10 is sluggish and awkward to navigate. With cameras and fingerprint readers in odd places when in portrait mode, a glass back that forced me to continually reposition my hand for grip, perhaps, most importantly, there were wi-fi and Bluetooth issues that sprung up regularly.

With the Smart Tab having a Bluetooth enabled dock, I thought I’d be able to engage with Alexa on tablet and have the resulting communications pumped through to the much better sounding speaker dock. That was not the case.

Music, videos and voice request seemed to be locked to the tablet when not connected to the dock, which begs the question of what is the purpose of adding Bluetooth to it. Future PromiseThe Smart Tab P10 is, by most accounts, a 2-in-1 device that serves as an Amazon Echo Show refinement and a Samsung Galaxy Tab alternative in a pinch.

Its strengths reside in its dual value proposition for customers and its weakness also linger in its clunky implementation. The P10 is a slave to dual masters in Amazon Alexa’s voice assistant and the Google assistant when undocked.

Neither play particularly well with one another and result in odd disjointed experiences such as calling on Alexa to pull up a YouTube video but being forced to unlock the device and have Google complete the request using Google assistant.

The disjointed user experience puts the onus on the user to remember request limitations based on the configuration at the time. With that being said, the idea a tablet can gain a second life by way of docks is a future I’m all set for. The notion that the tablet, which arguably spends much of its time in a house, can now convert into a hub equipped with all the entertainment trimmings, is something I think more tablet and dock makers should be investing in.

While smart hubs such as the Echo Show or Google Home hub seek the refinement of a dedicated single-use-case device, Lenovo’s ambitions 2-in-1 Smart Tab P10 is something I find truly consumer-friendly. The P10 arguably is attempting to do what the Surface Pro did for computing, and that’s force users to re-evaluate their devices and what’s truly important to their tasks.

Having a laptop, tablet, and the phone seemed like a no brainer for many until they were presented with a laptop in the form of a tablet and could save money and space by actually evaluating their devices.

I believe the Smart Tab has all the makings of a truly useful device but is hampered by its current implementation, partly due to dueling assistants, odd and unrefined 2-in-1 related usage, and the software limitations of Android O on a Snapdragon 450.

2 Likes

Havit Bluetooth earpiece (discontinued) - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ISLVWA4

TLDR -
Conclusion: All in all, this device is great bang for your buck if you’re mainly listening to music or podcasts/audiobooks, but if you’re wanting quality conversation and noise cancellation, you’ll probably have to pony up a little more than the $17 price tag on this headset.

Pros: Total Price ($16.99). Battery life of 4 days (300mAh battery), second ear bud.

Cons: Noise cancellation for phone calls needs work, volume could be louder, fragility

I’ve used the havit Bluetooth earpiece: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ISLVWA4 from 2014-19. I’ve bought 5 of them over the course of those 5 years, but that’s more attributable to my heavy, consistent use and how hard I am on the earpiece. The main thing that I love about this headset is the battery life. A lot of newer devices have switched over to charging cases, but that just adds one more thing to carry around or lose as well as another item that can break and thus make your purchase unusable. When new, this device would play podcasts in my ear, answer phone calls, and provide hands-free calling from 8am-8pm for about 4 days straight. My current one is about a year old and it lasts for 8 hours consistently when charged. As cheap as it is, I’ve still spent less then I would on a similar Plantronics/LG headset that would have been replaced at least one in that same time period.

Another perk that I don’t use as frequently, is the micro-usb earbud that you can use for your other ear to get stereo sound. The controls all make sense, long press the main button for voice-assistance/dialing, short press for play/pause, volume controls on top(right ear), bottom(left ear). The device’s range easily does line of sight of 30 ft so you can walk away from your phone without interruption. If line of sight is blocked, especially by your body with the Bluetooth on your ear and your phone in your pocket, you may have some intermittent audio issues. I found it best to put my phone in the pocket on the side I was wearing it.

In the course of the 5 different ones I’ve owned, I have had a couple damaged from water through being washed or falling in a pool thanks to one of my kids, but normal wear and tear of being worn all day long has not been an issue.

I have had complaints from people I’m on a call with of hearing voices and noise as clear as a bell from other speakers who were 20 feet away. This did start to bother me in crowded areas and I would switch off of Bluetooth to take these calls. I believe the great battery life may have a lot to do with how little processing is done for noise cancellation as that can be a pretty processor intensive process. It provided me with some major annoyance during phone calls, but the ear piece also allowed me to answer my phone quickly with a finger press without having to take my phone out of my pocket.

5 Likes

Another great product by Eve Tech

I use these headphones heavily since a week now. And here are a few points I find important to share.

The overall build quality is really good. The headphones are really comfortable to wear, even for a long period of time. It fits good on the ears, and feels cozy.

I do like the sound that these headphones are offering. The highs, mids and lows are really well balanced, and even when playing music loud there is no distortion. I have been able to play several types of music (jazz, classic, hip hop…) and the headphones handled Evey one of them well. Only when listening to some classical songs I sometimes had the feeling, that they couldn’t give back the way the instruments should sound.

The battery lifetime is good, even though it could have been a little bit more. Although the low battery warning comes a little bit to late for me, one hour of listening after it would be nice. Ten minutes is a bit to short.

I am really satisfied, and recommend these headphones to everyone that don’t have the feeling that they have to buy over expensive white headphones that cannot even keep the music in the owners ears.

For my entry I am reviewing the Bose Soundsport True Wireless Headphones.

I own a lot of headphones, none of them are truly expensive, as I use them when I travel, and when I run/walk at night so I don’t want something that if I lose it, I will be unable to replace it quickly. I have tried many different types of headphones, including AudioTechnica ANC9 wired headsets with noise cancelling, Beats Powerbeats blue tooth headsets, and a couple of smaller companies such as Cre8 and Mobvoi. There are some other choices but the reason none of the worked well for me was sound quality, and the ability to wear them for long periods of time. The Bose Truly Wireless headsets did that pretty well. They state they have a five hour battery life, and they come with a charging case that will give you 3 additional charges. This is about right, I have not had to try them out on a long cross Atlantic flight at this time, but they work from Minneapolis to Houston, without needing a charge. They come with an app that makes pairing it to the phone pretty easy, and will give you some minor adjustments to audio. If you are already using a good hi-res player that has an EQ this won’t be much help. In the box, you get three different sized ear tips, and trying each one out, I found that the small ones fit best. I haven’t had it fall out on me. These aren’t noise cancelling, which isn’t great, but in my office which has a 50-60 db, and they still isolate enough that I don’t notice them when I am wearing them. Their case is huge by modern standards, compared to air pods, or the B&O E8 case it is about double the size. Sound quality, is typical BOSE. It is heavy mids and base, though it doesn’t completely drown out high end. I listen to mostly podcasts, when walking, and use them for video when travelling, but groups like Death Cab for Cutie sound pretty clean on songs like I will possess your Heart. I listened to a little of a remastered John Coltrane album and the cymbals in A Love Supreme were not drowned out so you don’t have to have the volume cranked all the way up to hear them in a fairly noisy room. These headphones don’t have touch capability but actual buttons for volume adjustment, track skip, and pause. I took a few calls, and on quiet suburban streets, the quality was pretty good, and folks had no trouble hearing me on the other end. They don’t have noise isolation that an over ear headset would have, and do not have noise cancelling, however they still isolate you enough from the outside world that you have to be careful when walking around with them, but they fit well enough that they won’t fall out, if you trip and fall over. Their range from the source seems to be around 30 feet or about two rooms away. I have a 2400 square foot house and have not had any drop from them when the phone is on the charger, and I am one or two rooms away. I recommend these at the price I paid for them was around $199.

I hope to be chosen as I am looking for a good set of over the ear cans, and I like your design asthetic. Thanks

3 Likes

Wireless Playbar:

Overall:
I really like the warmth and depth of the sound coming from this speaker. The design makes that the equipment is no outspoken part of the interior, but it fits in like a glove :wink: .

Build Quality:
The Playbar isn’t looking really durable, because for the biggest part, it is covered in thin fabric. Surprisingly the Playbar feels very sound and stable. You can almost weigh the quality of the bar as it heavier then it looks.

Connection:
This soundbar only uses WiFi which has pro’s and con’s. A Pro-side is that the soundbar isn’t reliant on what’s happening on your phone or other device. You can select a playlist or digital radio station in the app and it plays on afterwards, where a Bluetooth connection would fail when you get called or when the device is out of range. A Con-side is that the availability of sources is determined by the brand itself. This makes that it isn’t as easy in usage as for example a Bluetooth speaker that you connect to any device.

The speaker contains an adapter for wifi ac and n signal on both 2.4 and 5 Ghz, which let you have a stable WiFi connection at all time.

Sound Quality:
When playing through this speaker, you will notice that the speaker has a really warm and full sound. It has a good base which doesn’t flaunt at higher volumes.

Expandability:
The Playbar is a part of a wide variety of speakers which could be added easily to a so called room. The connection between the speaker is seamless and there is no delay between them…

4 Likes

HyperX Cloud II Review

The HyperX Cloud II gaming headset has been considered one of the best mid-range headset choices, and although it has now been replaced by the HyperX Cloud Alpha, regular sales at around $60 make it a great choice and one of the best headsets at that price.

It can be used either by the 3.5mm jack or by the USB sound card that it includes. The sound card features mic and headset volume control, including mute, and it also features a virtual 7.1 Surround Sound option.

Packaging

The headset comes in a common retail box detailing all of its features.

Once you open the box you will find a nice looking, solid case with the headset and all the accessories inside.

Inside the case, you will see that all the items come neatly protected with foam.

Inside you will find the headset, the detachable microphone, a pair of extra earpads, the USB sound card, a plane adapter, and a nice travel bag.

Setup and Software

The HyperX Cloud II does not use any software so the setup is extremely easy as it is just plug and play.

It works with every platform either by connecting it through the 3.5mm jack to devices like phones, tablets, and console controllers or through the USB sound card.

Comfort and Quality

The headset is very comfortable, one of the best ones I have tried, and can be worn for hours without feeling any type of discomfort. The earpads are a good size and will not bother even people with large ears.

As mentioned before, the headset includes two pairs of earpads, one pair is synthetic leather, and the other is velour. The two give the headset a slightly different sound but after testing both for some time I preferred the “leather” earpads and noticed that they are a little better at isolating sound.

It uses high-quality materials and has a very solid feel without being heavy. It has an adjustable headband and has a braided, non-removable 1-meter cable.

The sound card is made of plastic and has a clip on the bottom, as mentioned before, it has volume controls for both the headphones and the mic and also has a mute switch for the microphone. It has a button to turn on the surround sound and lights up when it is activated, It also features a braided cable with a length of 2 meters.

Sound Quality

The HyperX Cloud II has decent sound quality, possibly the best in its price range, it has a relatively neutral sound with a medium increase in bass like most gaming headsets.

When using the sound card I noticed an increase in volume compared to the headphone jack, although that will depend on your computer.

The surround sound feature is virtualized so it doesn’t sound even close to a true 7.1 channel setup :unamused:, although I noticed an increased soundstage and volume when using that feature.

The microphone is good compared to other headsets in its price range, and sounds clear when placed close to your mouth, although the volume decreases substantially when moved away from your mouth. It comes with a small pop filter that can be removed.

Conclusion

The HyperX Cloud II is a great choice and is commonly on sale at around $60 , although it is no longer worth it to buy it at full price since it has been replaced by the Cloud Alpha.

It is one of the most comfortable headsets and has the best sound quality in its the price range.

Note: While these is a good gaming headset it will not have as good audio quality as a professional headset of the same price.

(All pictures where taken by me)

17 Likes

So, my review will be about the (in audiophile circles legendary) SONY MH-755.

Introduction

Small, but packing a big punch? The Sony MH-755 reached a near legendary status in the audiophile community. Searching the MH-755 or their brothers the MH-750 on amazon.com does not yield any trustworthy results. And you’ve never been able to (officially) buy these wired IEMs (In-Ear Monitors) on their own. Instead they come bundled with a variety of Sony bluetooth dongles - namely the SBH-24 / SBH-56. They are not mentioned in the product-page of the 40€ / 55€ receiver the come bundled with, but yet they receive a review?!

Yes they do. Their sound is rumored to be insanely good for pack-in-earphones and fakes are sold throughout ebay and other sites. Very few legit sellers for these exist - and there they cost… 6$.

This will be a review of the legendary Sony MH-755 - an IEM you can buy for 6$.

Packaging Contents

No matter where your MH-755’s are included in, they’ll always come with the same accessories. The MH-755 themselves (mostly available in white - the black variant is much rarer and nigh impossible to get a legit pair of) and 3 pairs of silicone tips in size S, M and L (for the white pair they come in either turquoise, orange and pink).
And else their is… nothing included. Well, just what you’d expect from 6$ earbuds.

Average - so 3/5 points here.

Build Quality & Cable Length

The MH-755 are very small IEMs - after all they’re just measuring 1cm in diameter and are 2cm long. Now for 6$ you’d think Sony would skimp on build-quality with these, but unless you stepped on them or tried to crush them with a hammer I don’t think you could - they’re rock solid and after a month of usage they look just like they were new.
The cable feels nice, but is a bit thin. Now here is where you realize that these IEMs were always intended to be paired/shipped with a bluetooth receiver, because this is where Sony cut down on the cost. The length of the cable for the left earbud is 50cm. The right earbud is a tad longer with 70cm, which is still insanely short. No connecting them to your phone and sliding that in your pocket for sure.

Slightly Above Average here due to the build quality being amazing but the short cable deducting a bunch - 3.5 / 5

Comfort & Wearing Style

Now, I’ve never been too much of a fan of IEMs. Most IEMs use the so called ‘400’ size for their nozzle (the part of the IEM you put your tips over) and the MH-755 are no exception. Now, with most IEMs in that size my ears hurt within minutes, but the MH-755 are different. Their nozzle is not as long as other IEMs and as such does not hurt my ears when I wear them. In addition the tip of the tips is flat and not rounded like with many other IEMs which might also help their comfort.
Due to the MH-755 being small IEMs you can wear them straight down like most IEMs or you can guide the cable behind your ears - both styles work just fine and you can wear them however you want.

Being able to wear IEMs for pretty much for hours straight and not even have a little bit of pain and doing the same thing again the next day? 5 / 5 in this department.

Sound Quality

Now, here comes the killer - do the MH-755 hold up in terms of sound quality? I’ve connected them to my JDS Labs Atom AMP that is connected to a FiiO E10K DAC - with each costing 100$ you’d think would be pretty much overkill for these small IEMs but is it really?

In this section I’ll go through a bunch of different songs and give my impression on how they sound on the MH-755.

First up we’ll go to Low Roar’s " I’ll keep coming ".
The song starts up with the infamous clicking that I love to use to test how ‘spacy’ a headphone sounds. And it was pretty impressive for an IEM. It did feel not too spacious, more like a small room you’re sitting in but honestly much more spacy than my Shure SE-100. With the vocals kicking in and multiple singers of different heights singing over each other we can also hear how well the MH-755 handles that. It’s reasonable, the bass is loosing a bit of power and the treble is taken down a notch but still impressive for an IEM.

Next up we’re having a song I love to test how well highs (treble) and small details (not as loud sounds) are handled - Planetes by EGOIST.
And what can I say - the vocals are clean similar as you’d expect to hear live. The small details are a bit lost in the MH-755, namely the morse-code during the refrain but overall you can still hear them well & clearly more than most other IEMs can handle - especially given the price of the MH-755.

And to wrap up with something that covers the base and bass - Rip & Tear from the DOOM (2016) soundtrack by Mick Gordon.
The bass with the MH-755 is punchy and forward, but the bass itself is missing in power does not feel as hard hitting as with a over-ear headphone. This is due to the build-size of the MH-755 which due to being an IEM can only use it’s comparatively small 9.2mm driver to move air while bigger headphones can use 40mm drivers or more to let bass hit you eardrums. Overall it’s not as bass-heavy as other IEMs but honestly, this is a good thing with the MH-755. On most other IEMs the bass overpowers the guitar-riffs in the Mids due to the bass being boosted but here I feel Mick Gordons composition can truely shine.

So, for sound I’m really impressed - given the size and price of those small buds. They could still need a bit of polish in terms of resolution & power so that will pull them down a half a point - 4.5 / 5.

Portability & Usability

I don’t want to miss to point out the portability of these small IEMs - because they are portable. They’re my regular soundsource, connected to a FiiO µBTR and pretty much everywhere where I connect them I have to turn down the volume as they’re easy to drive & can reach listenable levels easily. While being sensive is good to listening, it also has the downside of being susceptible to a bit of white noise when the source is not properly grounded. This is a bit of white-noise similar to old CRT-TVs back in the day when you switched to a channel that had no program on it ;).
For portability - I can fit them in my palm and have never had any issue transporting them - so more portable than that would be pretty much impossible I assume.

Conclusion

The MH-755 deliver stunning sound quality for their small size and especially price. Honestly, given the choice between them and most 300$ IEMs and not knowing how much they are I’d instantly believe that they’d be just as expensive as 300$ IEMs.

But sound quality is not all - you’ll have to live with a pretty short cable, or can just mod them following any of multiple great guides to be able to connect any MMCX cable.

While they only scored 11 / 15 points overall for a price of 6$, I’d say you owe it to yourself to at least try these - you might be blown away how these 6$ IEMs can hold up compared to others that cost literally 100-times more.

20 Likes

I am going to talk about my favorite cans I’ve owned to date, the ZMF Aeolus

When you first get a new pair of headphones in your hands, obviously the first thing you notice is the look and the feel. These handmade, wooden headphones are absolutely stunning, especially the beautiful grilles (although not quite as beautiful as the ZMF Verite’s). The leather, wood, and solid build material give them a premium feel. In your hand they feel heavy (and they are!) but once you put them it’s hard to notice. I’ve worn them for hours long study sessions with no issues whatsoever. The band does a great job distributing the weight and the perforated lambskin earpads feel like clouds sitting on my ears.

Now let’s talk about the most important part, how they sound!

Overview

First and foremost, these headphones can handle anything I toss at them. I’ll go into more details on the variety of songs I tested out, but they shine in all aspects, and even respond well to EQ. Here is a brief list of the songs I use to analyze all of my headphones and what I look for in them.

  1. Tadow - Masego & FKJ: this song has a little bit of everything, from deep subbass to trumpets, to a synth and everything in between. I want to see how headphones can respond to this wide variety of frequencies overlaid on each other.

  2. Crazy - Daniela Andrade: this is honestly the song that convinced me to buy these headphones. Good test of the headphones mids and handling of a haunting female vocal.

  3. This is America - Childish Gambino: I’m a big hip hop guy so this song has the added benefit of testing out imaging and soundstage as well as a deep, rumbling bassline.

  4. Quelqu’un m’a dit - Carla Bruni - I don’t know what the heck she’s saying in this song but it is a beautiful song. Most importantly it is great for testing soundstage and imaging. With the right headphones, you can really tell where everyone in the band is located as the song goes on.

Bass

This is always an area of concern for me regarding open back headphones. Often times open backs either just don’t have the room to bounce these frequencies around or they are intentionally trying to remain extremely neutral. Well, most of the time I want to enjoy my music and not analyze it, so I want there to be good bass impact. Boy do these headphones deliver! They are comparable to most closed backs I’ve tried. In fact I give them an edge over most since the bass never gets muddied. You feel the rumble in This Is America but it doesn’t flood the mids. In Tadow, the bass line really has some funkiness brought to life by these.

Mids

This is honestly where the Aeolus shine and stand apart from the crowd. I was testing Daniela Andrade’s Crazy on a variety of headphones one day. The Stax electrostats sounded lifeless, as did the HD800. The Abyss AB-1266 just sounded cold. The focal Utopias we’re fine but didn’t stand out in any particular manner. However, when I threw this song on with the Aeolus, my mouth literally dropped when her vocals came in. It was honestly like listening to a completely different song, they gave her so much warmth and completely blew me away. You’ll notice a common theme on any Aeolus review you’ll see, the reviewer just can’t shut up about the mids and I now know why.

Highs

Treble/sibilance is an area where I can be quite sensitive. Some of the analytical headphones seem to emphasize the treble in their efforts to keep everything else neutral. I find this to often be harsh. Some of the more bass heavy closed backs I have tried have either had horrible sibilance or were so dark you couldn’t hear some of the finer details of certain songs. These headphones strike a beautiful balance where they still retrieve many of the details in the upper frequencies without killing my ears the second the trumpet or synth come in in Tadow.

Soundstage/Imaging

I’ll be honest here and say that the king of soundstage, the HD800, does of course beat these in soundstage. However, these cans are no slouch in this department! Carla Bruni’s song starts with her band mate plucking away to her back right for a few seconds before her voice is centered as if you are in front of the mic singing. You then hear another band mate pick up the guitar to her back left, next to them is the violinist, etc etc. if you close your eyes you can really feel as if you’re standing right there in the middle of the band and is an awesome experience.

Cons

These are obviously not a portable headphone due to their size, requiring an amp to perform at their peak, and only ending in either 1/4” or XLR jacks. However, if you are getting these headphones, you’re getting them to use in the comfort of your home and get lost in the music during long listening sessions, not to throw in your carry on or backpack.

TL;DR

The ZMF Aeolus excel in every category I find to be most important when evaluating headphones and can handle a wide variety of genres. And, to reiterate, they are truly beautiful pieces of handmade craftsmanship that I encourage everyone who is serious about stepping up their headphone game to find a way to give them a test drive.

10 Likes

Hi, I’m Sam; I am a third year Business Marketing student, and I am also seeking a certification in Audio Production. The product that I would like to review today is the Audio-Technica M50-X studio monitor headphones.

Audio-Technica has been well known in the audio industry for several decades, and their M-series of studio monitor headphones are well-renowned. This specific model is an upgraded version of the original M50 headphone, which stood as a staple in recording studios for many years. The key aspect that has been upgraded from the old model is the addition of removable and replaceable cables.

In the box, I received three different cables for my headphones, each with a different intent: the first is a 1-meter straight cable, designed for the average consumer who wants to listen to music at home; the second is a 3-meter straight cable, with more reach that the fist but usable for many of the same applications; the third cable included is a 1-meter coiled cable that stretches to 3 meters in length, ideal for studio musicians and audio engineers.

These headphones are designed with an over-ear style, so the quality of the ear-cups matters. The exterior of the ear-cups is made of sturdy plastic, with a metal ring around an etched design of the company logo. The interior is made of leather with a cloth interior. I have found them to be comfortable over extended periods of time, up to 5 to 6 hours on end. Each ear-cup swivels 90 degrees either direction from center, allowing for one-eared monitoring. The entire headset folds for easy storage and comes with its own leather carrying pouch, features which have come in handy more times than I initially thought before I bought them. The headband is made of metal and plastic, but thankfully it does not feel cheaply made. The entire headband is lined with leather, adding a sense of class to the construction. I have a rather large head in general, but the headband accommodates for that with a large range of flexibility.

The sound quality that these headphones have is second to none. The frequency response range is extremely wide in comparison to other headphones in the same category. The accuracy of each tone in the respective treble, bass, and mid-range, is spot-on. This is all thanks to the 45-mm diameter drivers in each ear-cup. The technical specs can be found online, but in short these headphones are powerful enough to be used without a separate amp. This is both good news to musicians and casual listeners. The bass is obvious and percussive, with a range lower than I have been able to hear with much larger and bulkier headsets. The mid-range often gets ignored with headphones, but with the M50-X the mid-range is rich and full, expressing clear vocals in all songs and audiobooks. The treble is not shrill, as I have experienced with several brands of earbuds, but is rather calm in comparison, giving the listener all of the important details.

The best feature of these headphones is that, due to they are designed as studio monitor headphones, they are tuned extremely flat. This means that there are as few spikes in the sound production, from the lowest to the highest tone they can produce, giving the listener an extremely realistic representation of the original audio track. Some people prefer to have a unique EQ to all of their music, and that is still an option within any device. These headphones are not active noise-cancelling headphones, which may also come as a dealbreaker to many, but the intent behind these headphones was sound-first approach to design. They do, however, feature passive noise-isolating, which blocks out most of the sounds around me when I am wearing them. There is some noise-leakage when playing music at high volumes, for example, when my iPhone or PC is playing music above 75%. This is fairly common among headphones, and in my opinion, is comparatively forgiving considering other models that leak sound at much lower volumes.

The price of these headphones direct from the manufacturer is $150. For that price, you would be hard-pressed to find a set of headphones this technically advanced and this acoustically beautiful. A pair of Beats will knock you down $200 easily, while Bose and Sennheiser are not far behind. While these headphones may not have Bluetooth or a dedicated battery, they are well worth the price for the plethora of features you do get.

I would recommend these to anyone looking for a pair of fantastic-sounding headphones, and I have recommended them to several friends and musicians.

9 Likes

Bl\uedio Bluetooth earphones. I bought these to use with my computer, but having the console under the desk, the Bluetooth connection is often really choppy. I have used them with my Samsung TV, and sitting about 8 feet from the TV, the sound is great. You can connect to the PC using the USB connector, but that defeats the Bluetooth feature.

AirPods: A Music Fan’s Perspective

Despite some of my pre-conceived notions and resentment, I bought a pair of AirPods about a month ago. My expectations were under control. I knew that they wouldn’t sound amazing, and I knew that they would leak outside noise by design. I didn’t expect them to blow me away. However, I didn’t really expect AirPods to give me a slightly different perspective of how to enjoy music. Let me explain:

The best pair of headphones I own are Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. They’re good. It’s been over five years since I bought it, and I’ve enjoyed them a lot. And when I’m working on my YouTube videos, or in a long car ride or flight, I always use them. But the struggle with them were that they’re wired, and they’re big, making them not my #1 option as a daily driver for when I’m on the go. So, to compliment the quality of ATH-M50x, I decided to invest in portability and convenience with AirPods.

The first thing that strikes is how small the charging case is. It’s easily one of the smallest out in the market. Smaller than Galaxy Buds; pretty much half the size of Apple’s own PowerBeats Pro. Build quality is typical Apple; that is to say that it’s good. That petite size extends to the AirPods themselves.

AirPods connect seamlessly to my iPhone and Mac. This is one of the biggest selling points of AirPods to Apple device users. Especially for those who own multiple Apple products, it’s a huge boon. I don’t have to hit disconnect from my phone to connect to my computer. I just select connect from my computer. This kind of intuitiveness is only found on AirPods, and other Apple wireless headphones with the W1/H1 chip embedded.

AirPods don’t isolate outside noise by design. This means that in noise environments, AirPods let that noise in, which isn’t nice. But that does come with the advantage of safety. Instead of a honking car being blocked out, you hear it. And from that perspective, AirPods do make it safer for the pedestrians using them. AirPods’ open design also come with concerns regarding the fit. I don’t have any problems. Because they just rest around the inside of my ears, they’re very comfortable. But people with bigger ears may find it insecure.

Lots of people think that AirPods sound bad. I’m gonna say that they don’t. They don’t sound bad at all. Are they $200 not bad? No. But AirPods, to me, have delivered a consistently balanced sound signature, perhaps complemented by the open design of them. Loud bass or volume don’t determine the sound quality of an audio product. If you’re looking for those two things only, AirPods are obviously not for you. But if you want a pair of wireless earphones with pretty decent sound that can handle a nice variety of genres, AirPods are better than you think. And when it comes to call quality, AirPods pretty much slay the competition.

My rather unscientific battery test consisted of me just listening to them in a long car ride. From a full charge, the AirPods dropped to 60% after two hours. That’s in line with Apple’s estimate of 5 hours. While that’s not amazing, even in the realm of true wireless headphones, considering the size, I’m not complaining too bad.

So far I’ve been been very complementary to AirPods. But there are things I definitely don’t like. I still wish there was an option for either a more in-ear design, or active noise cancellation, which could be coming to a 3rd-generation AirPods. I don’t like the glossy finish on the charging case, which picks up micro scratches like a toddler grips a mother’s hand. I don’t like that it charges over Lightning instead of USB-C, but I almost never use it because of wireless charging. And even though it’s an Apple product, I wish it was more platform agnostic. If you use AirPods with an Android phone, you’re losing out on several features, such as the ability to change the double-tap action.

Speaking of, AirPods only have a double-tap for its gesture control. Instead of a touch surface, AirPods use built-in accelerometers to detect movement when the user double taps. It’s pretty reliable, without being too sensitive. And because my 2nd-generation model supports Hey Siri, I’ve been able to assign each AirPod to the action I want without too much compromise.

Here’s another weakness of AirPods: Siri. Siri, as we know, lags behind Google Assistant or Alexa. For purely rudimentary voice controls, such as play/pause, last and next song, and call, Siri is fine. But if you really want a voice-enabled computer in your ears, maybe consider something with Google Assistant instead.

So, here’s my outline of things I like and dislike about AirPods. Overall, I’m happy. They’re no $200 pair of headphones just considering the sound quality. But the features and sheer convenience of AirPods make $200 more justifiable for me.

And that convenience is the kind of different perspective of listening to music AirPods gave. It’s not about sheer sound quality. It’s about having music almost anywhere and almost anytime. There will always be people who’ll value listening to music at the highest quality possible, or the way how the artist intended. And while I do definitely value music quality, AirPods are not just about that. It’s a super-compact pair of earphones with decent sound, great call quality, and most importantly, convenience and the peace-of-mind that you have your music wherever you go. And for that, I don’t have any regrets paying up for it. It was worth it for me, but it doesn’t mean that it’s worth it for you as well.

8 Likes

Arctis 5 Review

The headset is wired and not wireless, it has a headphone jack adapter included. They do fit nicely with some customisation, the usb dongle is very annoying and dont stay in very well. It has been stuck in my chair multiple times, but that is probably just me, great sound for the value and is very popular, atleast in my friend group. — Made by Smashyalts

AKG K240 Studio - The best thing to accidentally land on my desk.

“Accidentally?” I hear you ask. Well yes. My current go-to pair of cans was left to me by a friend heading overseas. With their unassuming if vaguely tacky exterior, I originally didn’t think much of them and left them to my kid to use.

One day, in search of a pair of open cans to pair with a microphone and not completely isolate myself from the world, I may or may not of stolen these back. I connected them to my Soundblaster E5 external amp using my favored settings from my HD650s, and went to work.

Woah

This pairing is incredibly impressive given the $56 dollar current list price I’m seeing these for on Amazon. The sound stage separates instruments nicely, retaining a good directionality that’s quite useful for my favored pastime of video games. My aural diet consists of a variety of music, and these generally render it in a faithful manner, while not being particularly standout nor deficient in any particular category. They compare favorably in bass to my Sennheiser Game Zero’s, which is a closed headset utilizing the HD595 driver. The bass is fairly tight and relatively deep without getting too out of control when driven hard. Mids and highs are decent… honestly I’d say “great” given the price point.

Quick side note: These are considered “vented” by AKG… I’m calling them semi-open for the purposes of this review as they are relatively transparent to external sound in a way similar to fully open cans.

I run a slight bass enhancement on my E5, so I imagine to get similar performance on your rig, you’ll probably have to do the same. They aren’t hard to drive, coming in around where the 650s do.

One huge downside of these cans straight from the factory is the terrible stock padding. The plasticky, hard ear pads are a toss-out immediately after you open the package. I’m using a pair of pads originally for an M50, so if you have any headphone in this size their pads will probably work and the replacement is not difficult. Clamping force is decent on my admittedly XXL-sized head, without being fatiguing.

One thing of particular note is the excellent detachable cable on these. It resembles a small XLR plug with a similar retention mechanism that has solid action. It’s single sided, which may or may not be your preference.

All in all one hell of a buy for the going price and I’d recommend these and a detachable mic (like the Antlion ModMic, which is my go-to for this) to any one looking for an excellent, relatively cheap headset. For around 110$ (56$ for these, 50 for the Antlion, probably cheaper if you look around) you can have something that competes with some of the best headsets on the market.

The Good:

  • Excellent positional audio with great placement
  • Solid sound across the spectrum.
  • Better than expected bass for the “Vented” semi-open configuration.
  • Excellent detachable cable.

The Bad

  • Terrible stock pads… seriously, just toss them.

The Meh

  • Looks, these would have looked cutting edge in the early 90s.
  • The cable is rubberized instead of braided, which isn’t my preference.

Scoring: I don’t grade-by-numbers. Everyone has different wants/needs/preferences. I can recommend these heartily because the price/sound quality factor is very high. They may not be what you’re looking for if the bads and the mehs are big turn off for you.

5 Likes

Review for Sony WF-1000XM3:

Sony almost defined perfection with these earbuds. They check off nearly all the boxes: Small stylish design for the buds and charger/storage case; decent battery life; and exquisite noise cancellation. The sound quality is among the best I have heard used, with excellent and customizable bass. The mids and highs are equally balanced and clear. I am a real audiophile, and I own just about every pair of high-end earbuds and earphones on the market today. These earbuds easily dominate the current market with two exceptions: 1) noise cancellation; and 2) call clarity. First, the noise cancellation is easily the best for wireless earphones, but it differs from Sony’s high-end earphones or other competitor’s full earphone (cans). However, in a small form factor some of this is expected. Buds are never going to seal like over-the-ear headphones. The noise cancellation filters out about 90% of background noise, but it is still there. The background noise is most prominent when you are not playing music, so you cannot use these to medicate or tune out background noise; it works best with music to override the remaining background noise. However, one of my favorite features, which I have not found on any other earbud/earphone, is Sony’s auto adapt noise cancellation feature. The earbuds listen to outside sound and automatically adjust the level of noise cancellation. For example, the earbuds correctly switched from transit mode while I was on the train to walking when I got off the train. This is a spectacular feature for commuters using different transportation. I had maximum noise cancellation on the train, but when I was in traffic I could hear the cars and nearby noises. The adapt feature works correctly about 98% of the time. The second main area where these earbuds need improvement is their calling feature. The earbuds are unfortunately useless when making a telephone call. While I heard callers loud and clear, people consistently could never hear me – even in quiet rooms. I hope Sony will correct this issue with a firmware update. This lack of telephone clarity prevents these earbuds from being the commuter’s ultimate earbuds. Sony did a great job with the phone app, which is rare among even the best audio companies. Often the app is a huge downfall. The app has a variety of custom equalizers, plus the ability to set and customize your own. It expertly controls the features of the earbuds, including the level of noise cancellation and auto adapt function.

1 Like

Sony wx-1000xm3

These headphones have some impressive noise cancellation as well as sound. Sony has put in a lot of work to make these headphones surpass their predecessor.

In terms of fit they cup around the ears and rest on the head like a glove. Long term use provides minimal discomfort. The material used in the cushion is premium.

They support both Bluetooth as well as a wired functionally so if the impressive 30 hour battery life isn’t enough don’t worry, they have you covered.

The sound is the premium Sony sound we have all come to know and love. Competing head to head with Bose the sound comes out crystal clear, the bass is full, but not overwhelming, and in conjunction with the noise cancellation it makes a personal music heaven.

Does the quality all around justify the price? Definitely. Are they reccomended? 100% Sony has outdone themselves in every aspect with these headphones. Audiofiles and casual consumers alike will love these headphones.

Asus Cerberus headphones: The cheap getaway

These headphones will set you back about 40€ in Europe and they’re a pretty good choice if you don’t have a fortune to spend on headphones but want something better than 20$ eBay headphones. They come in black or white (both variants having red accents), they have 60mm neodymium drivers with a 32 ohm impedance, two microphones, an inline volume control and a microphone mute switch. The driver frequency ranges from 20-20000Hz, however, the question is, how does this sound?

The sound isn’t something you could compare to expensive audiophile headphones either, but incredibly good for the price. The 60mm drivers sure do deliver a punch and the headphones are already nicely tuned from the factory, needing 0 adjustment for my taste, however they do sound a bit flatter than I would wish when plugged into a weak source, such as my phone, however, with a dac, they sound really good. Surround sound is fine with Windows Sonic for headphones, however, I’ve heard better. Then, there’s also noise dampening which is mediocre at best because I can still hear what people around talk about, but if it’s just a noisy upstairs neighbor, they’ll do the job.

One thing that makes these headphones visibly poor is the microphone, or better said, microphones. There’s two of them, one is detachable (but you’ll rather use it all the time) and one on the inline controls. Both have horrible audio quality. The detachable microphone is the better one out of the two, that is without the pop cap which you should just throw away, because it doesn’t do much aside from making your voice sound muffled. The detachable microphone is fine for skype calls with your grandma and an occasional voice chat, but I’d recommend against using it if you plan on podcasting or streaming, because it’s just so bad. The inline microphone is just good enough to answer your mom’s phone call while you’re on your daily commute and that’s it.

Now onto the build quality, definitely the thing that makes me recommend these. I really hate the headband design with two “straws” holding the entire thing together due to me being paranoid that the headphones might get damaged if I put them in my bag, however, I was very pleasantly surprised to see how durable these are (it’s been a full year of carrying them in my cramped bag and they’re still in perfect condition!). The cups have fake leather padding that’s very soft and incredibly comfortable, however I find the headband to be a bit too heavy for my head shape, making the headphones a bit uncomfortable to use when doing a 12h gaming marathon. The braided cable is a nice addition, however it’s far too stiff and is a really big turnoff, especially because of the general length of it. The box includes an adapter to older “Nokia” connectors and an adapter to a combo jack if you don’t have one on your computer that also doubles as an extension for the short headphone cable.

Now, the real world review; would I recommend these?
They’re a really good pair of headphones for sure, however, there’s a few flaws like a pretty short cable, especially if you plan to use it connected into your desktop computer, however, there is an included extension that fixes this issue. A bigger issue is the braided cable, which is really way too stiff for a cable (they haven’t bent out of the way they came in the box), but it does pay off because the cable hasn’t gotten damaged despite the numerous times I rolled my chair over this poor cable. So, YES, I recommend these headphones if you’re a heavy commuter looking for a single pair of headphones that you can wear on your bus, put into your bag and not need to care much about having them in there, but if you’re looking for something better-sounding to use at home, I’d recommend the Logitech G430 headphones, however, the Cerberus pair is definitely something worth buying.

3 Likes