Muse: Product review competiton

Product Review of XYZ Active Noise cancelling Headphones

The packaging and Box: The Headphones arrived in pleasant looking package and it was well protected in the retail package. The Box has a picture of what is inside . It also details the specs of the ANC headphone, and more technical information and the contents of the box are mentioned as well
First impressions:
Once you open the package you will find the headphones, the carry case, some warranty information and the Basic user guide. Additionally you will find a charging cable( USB C here) , and the 3.5mm audio cable in case you need to go wired or in cases where you run out of charge.

First lets start with the positives:

  1. Extremely comfortable around your head, the Ear muffs are perfect, and sit comfortably as the materials are soft
  2. Sound Quality: I am really impressed and happy with this aspect the most. You get a good balance of the BASS , but the lows are heard as well giving you a great listening experience.
  3. Build: Well made, will not break or give away easily.
  4. Pairing: Works every time, After you pair the first time, no issues at all. Every time you turn on Bluetooth and power on the headset, it connects right away.
  5. Charging: Since the headphones support fast charge, an hour of charge and it will last about 8 hours of ANC usuage. It takes about 3 hours to go from 0-100% and then it lasts about a full day of use. So long flights are pretty well covered here.
  6. Audio and Video sync: Tried with Netflix, and Youtube no lag of audio with the Video.
  7. Calls: I did not ask the other person if they could know that I was on a headphone, since they did not complain I assume that they could hear me well. I had no issues with audio quality on a call.
  8. Now comes the not so strong aspect: ANC. This needs quite a bit of refinement. Now I understand why the 300$ ones do ANC so well. But then you are paying just 20% of the cost for these, so for 60$ I would say I would gladly have these, and that’s why its a thumbs up from my side.
    Why the great rating : That because in the noisy office environment these hold out pretty well and are able to cut out the AC noise, the constant typing on the keyboard, or someone munching on their snacks.

SteelSeries Siberia 800: Exceptional Features and Compatibility with Exceptional Sound

Well, “exceptional sound” when compared to most gaming headsets on the market…


The picture above is from an old product listing on carousel.com. The rest of the pictures in this review are property of Tom’s Hardware. I’m currently out of town and can’t take my own pictures before the deadline. To see more photos and see their review, check here: https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/steelseries-siberia-800-gaming-headset,5419.html

TL;DR This headset is king if you need to use it with multiple devices. Along with good compatibility, it also has good sound (for a gaming headset). Mic quality leaves a bit to be desired though.

So why the Siberia 800?

To be honest they weren’t my first choice. I needed something to replace my Skullcandy PLYR 1 headset, and it had to be relatively compatible with a variety of sources. I also wanted something wireless. I first tried the Astro A50s but returned them within two weeks. They were the most comfortable things to ever grace my ears, but the sound quality was so muffled… I couldn’t take it.

Needing something that played nicely with PC + PS4 + X1 disqualified a lot of options. After watching and reading some reviews I went with the SteelSeries Siberia 800.

What’s in the box?

Cables. Over half a dozen cables. Just look at this beautiful mess of cables…

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As you can imagine, most of them plug into the wireless receiver. The inputs on the back of the receiver are clearly labeled for easy use. The front of the receiver has a nice OLED screen that you can use to navigate inputs and levels.

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Noice. What about those cans?

Construction is solid. After two and a half years they’re still holding up as good as they did on Day 1. The battery powering the headset lasts for an adequate amount of time, and you get two of them in the box so you can constantly keep one charged and ready to swap.

Sound is pleasant. They aren’t euphoric or anything, with this being a gaming headset and all, but listen to music is a good experience. Balanced mids and highs with tight bass. It’s not a truly flat sound but it’s close enough for my tastes at least.

I can’t recall if this headset is advertised as noise isolating, but it does a good job at doing that. I never really the roar of my struggling PC while gaming.

Comfort is rather subjective, but I’ve found these comfortable for a few hours of gaming. It’s a bit of a tight fit, so it won’t slide off of your head easily. But not uncomfortably tight. Earcup design is over-ear, just the way I like it.

It’s not all cotton candy and unicorns though.

If there’s anything that’s disappointing about this headset it’s the mic quality. The mic is acceptable, but it’s very quiet and the voice quality is average at best. It has noticeable muddling noise like you would expect from a headset that’s a fraction of the cost of the Siberia 800.

And on topic of that cost: this product will put you back a good $250 or more. A pretty ridiculous cost, but if you want a quality wireless gaming headset with a lot of features you’ll be paying about this much.

So is this treasure or trash?

If you want a gaming headset with rich features and a lot of compatibility, it’s hard to go wrong with the SteelSeries Siberia 800s (I believe the current version is now called SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless). But at $250 it’ll put a nice dent in your wallet, and the mic quality will leave a lot to be desired if they haven’t changed it since 2017. But I’m primarily a solo gamer so the mic quality hasn’t given me many issues, and I enjoy the product very much.

10 Likes

Audeze EL-8 Open Back review

When looking at headphones there is a large number of things to consider. Power needed, Sound quality, Ease of use. The Audeze EL-8 Open Back does an excellent job taking all of these into account but still has a number of compromises.

Design and packaging

Well made and elegant are the first two words that come to mind when seeing and interacting with the EL-8 for the first time. The metal construction provides a very premium feel which is then complemented by the soft and plush leather of the ear cups and headband. The look is finished off with a touch of wood around the ear cups that pulls the whole headphone to a new level. Unfortunately the packaging, while very nice, does not have the same premium feel as the headphones do. However the packaging is well designed and is sure to keep the product safe. One issue that is design related is the use of a proprietary connection type to the headphone. The connector looks like a scaled up lightning cable, unfortunately it is not reversible and can only be put into the headphones in one direction. This cable also means that custom cables are a bit harder to find than typical connector types.

Included in the box

-3.5 to EL-8 connector cable

-3.5 to EL-8 connector cable with media controls

-Headphones

-Carrying bag

-Certificate of authenticity

-User manual and Warranty information

Sound quality

The sound quality of the EL-8 is fantastic but with some caveats. The main caveat is that to get the headphones to sound their best they need a fair amount of power to really shine. However they sounded pretty good on most of the sources I tested them on: Galaxy s9, IFI xDSD, Ipad Pro, Alienware M15, Astell & Kern Kann. On my phone and ipad I had to turn the headphones up quite far to get them to a volume that was able to overpower some of the sound in a room. These headphones are also lacking a bit in the mid range when I listened on The A&K Kann I created an EQ to account for this and it helped quite a bit, but that should not be the solution to listening. When comparing these to the Shure SRH 1840 and Fostex T50rp mkIII they had a unique sound that set them apart in terms of openness and sound stage but they were unable to produce the same bass impact as the 1840’s. However they were able to out do the T50rp’s but with a bit more punch on the lows and more extension on the highs where the T50rp’s beat them was in the mid range. One major disadvantage to the sound quality of the open back EL-8’s is the almost complete lack of noise Isolation this made listening in a noisy room a bit difficult as I would have to increase the volume of the headphones over a comfortable listening volume.

Comfort

The EL-8’s were very comfortable after a short break in, the clamping pressure was a bit too high out of the box but this was remedied by just using them for a few hours after that I was able to wear them for a number of hours continuously due to their light weight, they also did not get warm like my V-Moda crossfades and Audeze Mobius do over long listening sessions. Overall the size was not an issue while wearing the headphones but they became a bit unwieldy when I put them around my neck while talking to a co-worker.

Final Thoughts

At $700-$800 new when they came out a number of years ago I am not sure these stand up to some of the other lower priced headphones mentioned above but at the lower $400 if you can find them on sale or $250 refurbished they are a worthy addition to a collection but they would not be the only pair of headphones I would own.

4 Likes

Surface headphones review:

Yeah I like them. Could be better, idk.

1 Like

Koss KPH30i

I’ll start off by describing the sound of the KPH30i worn with the default stock pads. The KPH30i has an overall cozy, warm tilt favoring lower frequencies, with a slight rise in the mid treble followed by a high-frequency rolloff. Midbass is boosted to give the headphones a nice kick, paired with a fairly thick lower midrange. Vocals are somewhat distant and recessed. Resolution is what I’d consider average, if not a bit fuzzy all around.

In comparison to most $29.99 headphones on the market, the Koss KPH30i really has a well-tuned, likable signature that many will enjoy. However, its resolution seems to be on par for the price as far as budget audiophile headphones go.

BASS

When it comes to bringing the boom, the KPH30i’s bass is no slouch for an open-backed headphone. There’s quite a bit of it actually, primarily emphasized in the midbass region. Subbass is not too shabby in depth, though it does lack physical rumble in the lowest registers. Midbass is boosted, with the occasional bleeding into the lower midrange. The KPH30i does not have the cleanest bass response, with a smoother-than-ideal texturing and lingering decay. It’s not actually that bad though, and not even close to a dealbreaker at the $30 price point. It has a considerable amount of weight and will satisfy many listeners who want a bit of emphasis in the low end (though quantity will likely fall short of typical basshead preferences).

tl;dr: Subbass is good for an open-backed headphone, but not very physical. Midbass is boosted, and a bit boomy, bleeding into the lower midrange at times. Texturing is a bit lacking. Should work well for many modern genres, including hip-hop / electronic / pop.

MIDRANGE

The KPH30i’s midrange is on the thicker side of things, carrying momentum from the midbass emphasis into the lower midrange. Male vocals are full and immediate with a sense of body; female vocals are a little more resonant than I would naturally expect, though it does have a unique charm to it. Timbre sounds to be mostly good and not too far off what I’d consider great, though vocals sometimes sound a little dull and lacking in upper harmonics. It’s a bit distant in presentation, namely due to some gentle recession in the upper midrange. Presence makes a comeback however, giving the midrange a good albeit sometimes aggressive sense of ‘bite’ at the top end following into the lower treble. The upper midrange recession gives the overall sound a slightly artificial sense of space, though details feel somewhat lost / smeared in the mix. This increased distance between the performer and listener contrasts a bit strangely with the narrow staging of the KPH30i.

tl;dr: Midrange is on the thicker side of things, lending male vocals an edge and female vocals extra body. Vocals sound pretty good overall, but the upper midrange is recessed resulting in a ‘distant’ presentation.

TREBLE

The treble of the KPH30i peaks in the lower treble following the presence boost, but is gentle for the most part. It’s slightly dim up top, not very particular in emphasizing sparkle or airiness. Though it won’t go surprising or wowing listeners with a fancy holographic or crystalline top-end, it does well in the sense that it is completely inoffensive. It’s not overly dark, nor is it ever what I’d consider bright or peaky. It’s smooth, decently extended, and completely capable of safely reproducing almost any genre you throw at it. Once again the KPH30i doesn’t show a particularly strong suit in detail retrieval here, sounding a bit soft and smoothed over.

tl;dr: Treble is smooth and laid-back. The KPH30i probably will not offend anyone by being too bright or sibilant, but I can see some would prefer more treble energy. Good for those sensitive to high frequencies.

Yaxi Pads for Koss PortaPro

Yaxi pads, in my opinion, change the sound by a nose. From what I can hear, I’d say that bass is slightly decreased as a whole — subbass rumble is a touch weaker, but midbass bloat is also notably more tame and controlled. This is a win in my books. The midrange also sounds a hair more natural. Lower mids are a bit less weighted, upper midrange remains quite recessed, but the conflicting ‘distant’ presentation feels more natural as the soundstage is expanded to feel more appropriate. The presence peak is brought down, so vocals lose a bit of immediate top-end clarity.

The pads are squishier and more forgiving of ear cartilage, so it’s more comfortable as well. Of course, it still doesn’t compare to an over-ear headphone; I still find myself having to take breaks from wearing these every now and then. While the stock pads had me wincing in as little as half hour, the Yaxi pads allow me to go on without it being an issue.

In addition … just as I thought the Koss KPH30i couldn’t get any ‘cuter’, these blue / red pads really add to the retro 90’s-toy vibe I already got from them.

tl;dr: In the end, the Yaxi pads don’t bring out any more detail, but make minor shifts in tonality to smooth out peaks and some bumps. It allows me to turn up the volume a bit, producing a nice and big sound. Guilty pleasure. I do lose a tad bit of clarity as a tradeoff, but the comfort and aesthetic gains make it a worthwhile trade.

CONCLUSION

You’d be hard-pressed to find another headphone tuned nearly as well for this price (bar the KSC75, which I prefer), given Koss’s long-running experience and reputation for value. For $29.99, I think it’s a nice sounding headphone, though my preferences lean towards the KSC75’s greater resolution and less distant midrange. But for walking the dog, I’d rather not wear the KSC75s outside — for that reason, the KPH30i will most certainly have its use cases. It pushes a certain aesthetic that I know many will love, and comes with a smooth and enjoyable sound to boot.

This is a headphone that many consumers and audiophiles alike would enjoy, at a very affordable price. Though I would consider it lacking in resolution / detail, the KPH30i is quite charming and cozy to listen to. Let me paint a picture here. I’m sure some of you may have seen those YouTube mixes of lo-fi hip-hop, where a girl sits in a sweater studying, flipping through the pages of her notebook over and over for all eternity? To me, that little animation gives a sense of warmth, comfort, and relaxation — that’s what I’d say the KPH30i sounds like … minus the comfort. With the volume turned up, I’d wager the tiny KPH30i can produce some big sound.

10 Likes

AKG K7xx headphones and Centrance Dacport Slim DAC/Amp, both crowdfunded via Massdrop audiophile community:

Overall: Headphones that you won’t take off when at work and won’t take with you when you’re away. A dedicated DAC/Amp that is ultra-portable but will drain your laptop battery before you get home. Despite the contrasting attributes they make a remarkable combination when paired to a plugged in computer.

Both products were commissioned by crowdfunding specialists Massdrop. The headphones were the first to be commissioned for their 2.5m audiophile subscribers, while the Dacport Slim was a one-off special commission from recording/ playback specialists Centrance.

Intro. Of all the different schools of design, one of the most interesting is the Russian TRIZ model. This reflects their belief that all design is about the balancing of conflicting principles. A bicycle seat, for instance, must be both small and comfortable, while a smartphone must be both powerful and energy efficient. Cheap audiophile noise cancelling headphones involve a double contradiction. The process of understanding how and where something will be used, then making choices and choosing components, is what this review is about.

Crowdsourced audio products – the pros. Subscribers interested in the Muse headphones will immediately understand the advantages of being on the inside track for a special commission. Benefits include huge price savings and special tweaks to improve overall performance.

This is certainly the case with AKG’s K7xx product. As with the Muse headphones, the 2017 K7xx benefitted from taking an existing design as their starting point – AKG’s 2013 era K702 model which originally retailed at $350. By switching the manufacturing from Austria to China, and using plastic rather than metal in places, they were eventually able to reduce the price to $200.

In addition, Massdrop requested a few tweaks to the speaker drivers to take account of real world feedback from owners of the more expensive K702s. This resulted in AKG adding 3db to the bass driver, a move which was intended to compensate for an earlier acoustic shortfall. These headphones are not intended to colour the sound in the way that Beats, Bose and others do - they are reference headphones that happen to be very well suited to the task of critical consumer listening.

Massdrop delivered similar benefits with the Dacport Slim. Their challenge to Centrance was to take their renowned Dacport product, up the musical resolution to 24/96 and drop the price by two thirds, from $300 to $99. The resultant Dacport Slim is smaller than a cigarette lighter, powered by the USB audio source and works with PCs, Macs and Linux out of the box.

Additionally, Massdrop asked both manufacturers to work together to ensure that each product played to the other’s strengths. So anyone owning the two got headphones tuned by Quincy Jones to sound the way Thriller did when he was in studio recording it. These were then paired with a DAC/Amp designed to optimise the performance of the cans. The $299 expenditure delivered a sound not normally obtainable for less than $800. Very Eve, one might say! The parallels even continued with incorporation of an individual number on the first edition of the headphones.

The cons. The K7xx’s look almost identical to their more expensive predecessors. They have a premium all leather headband, exceptionally comfortable and temperature-neutral memory foam ear pads and a super-responsive two layer diaphragm. At 235g they provide a frequency response of 10-39,800khz, 105db of sensitivity and a low impedance of 63ohms, which makes them compatible with phones and laptops. Yet they are also heavily reliant on quite brittle plastic components and casing as a way of reducing cost. The remarkably effective and comfortable auto-fit system is entirely reliant on four pieces of elastic cloth which, should they break, could render the headphones unusable. Snapping one of the plastic head supports by twisting or dropping the headphones would also render them unusable. So the inclusion of premium internal components comes at the price of portability and robustness.

The Dacport Slim is a remarkable product, offering a Class A, cap-free signal path, zero jitter, 109db of dynamic range and less than 0.003% total harmonic distortion. This translates into crystal clear sound and separation of instruments with a generally equitable frequency response curve. All this is wrapped up in a tiny, 72g unit that also incorporates a very accurate rotary, analogue volume control and two gain settings that means it can support everything from earbuds to Beyerdynamic ohm-monsters. However, the trade-off for size is heat. Cleverly, its aluminium case doubles up as the heat sync, but boy does it get warm to the touch! And all that heat is the result of very heavy power consumption.

Paradox one. These are premium headphones aimed at mid-range purchasers. This raises the first contradiction. Premium headphones are intentionally large – the 80mm speakers and head supports will make you look like a Cyberman as soon as you put them on. However, that sheer visibility demands a private man cave or a wealth displaying visual aesthetic such as walnut trim that simply cannot be provided for the price. Despite the marketing, the look and the size mean that you’re not going to see these being used by many people on the move.

Paradox two. These are low power open-backed reference headphones with a 3.5mm jack as default (they come with a free gold plated up-converter). Open backed headphones only work in quiet environments, while 3.5mm jacks and low power headphones are associated with smartphones and laptops. So, even if they were being used on the move, they would be audible to the person sat in the next seat – and you are going to hear every word of their phone call. Moreover, if you plug them into a phone or a laptop you will be using reference headphones to listen to MP3s passed through a cheap onboard soundcard.

Paradox three. The Dacport Slim is designed to work with the headphones while also being portable, yet the headphones are explicitly not portable. Centrance will of course have had their eye on additional markets, but the product also draws a huge amount of power from its USB source, undermining its use case. Additionally, all that heat means it eventually becomes too hot to sit comfortably in a pocket. It is no surprise that Centrance eventually launched a successor product with a battery, albeit at three times the price.

Sound. As with most decent open back headphones, the K7xx present a wonderfully broad soundstage with no sense of the instruments being played inside or even near your head. They are capable of placing instruments very precisely in space and the drivers respond beautifully both to the sudden addition of specific frequencies (eg a snare drum) and the gradual filling of the spectrum (eg orchestras). However, all they can do is play the frequencies delivered to them so they are heavily dependent on the DAC and amp outputting the music. So what happens when they are paired with the Dacport Slim?

Consider the percussion in “So What”, the opening track of Miles Davis’s seminal Kind of Blue. The sound of a wooden stick gently tapping the inner part of a crash cymbal can only sound authentic if the diaphragm responds very quickly to each tap. Later, we come to the famous cymbal sound marking the end of the intro section. Here the same cymbal is hit hard on the outside, ringing true and for far longer than even regular listeners might expect. This is because most headphones in this price range emphasise the cymbal frequencies to a point where they sound like white noise.

Meanwhile, the bass, thanks to the 3db corrective boost, is tight and close and the attack is so precise that it sounds like it is being played for the first time. This is a hallmark of the headphones. The open back design allows the piano to occupy an ethereal space of its own while the brass sits far left. Each instrument oozes air.

Billy Eilish, one of the new wave of artists rejecting the loudness war in favour of wider dynamic range, actually sounds better on these headphones than on a good hifi. This is possibly due to the production assuming that the audience will listen on in-ear headphones that lack bass. While songs like Bad Guy and Xanny sound boomy on full-spectrum speakers, the K7xx experience is absolutely wonderful – the opening bass riff and accompanying “na na na na” of Bad Guy have a presence that sounds like Billie is with you and recording it live. The broken up drawl of “I don’t need a Xanny to feel better” pans from left to right, really challenging the cans to switch each element of the fragmented sound on and off, and they do so with aplomb.

Kate Bush’s recently remastered Kick Inside highlights the ‘blackness’ that good headphones wrap around a solo piano and voice, while long recordings such as the Goldberg Variations pass by without any sense of ear fatigue.

However, no review of these headphones would be complete without considering Thriller, since Quincy Jones produced it and helped shape the sound of the K7xx drivers. This is a real challenge for any headphone. Within a few seconds, the opening synth riff of Wanna Be Starting Something is joined by shuffling percussion, a funky guitar, a voice, brass, a choir and then Michael himself. Here, once again, the headphones deliver you right into the studio – the voice that mimics and accompanies the opening guitar riff sounds real, the brass sounds like humans are blowing into trumpets and the whole thing sounds like a street.

As reference headphones, they can disappoint for all the wrong reasons. Plugging the K7xx into a typical laptop reveals just how lifeless the sound is. They will sound better plugged into an Eve V with its upgraded headphone amp. They sound fantastic when the Dacport Slim is used to feed beautifully prepared source material to headphones that are optimised to play it. Overall, the experience is genuinely comparable to sitting at home in front of a quality hifi.

Paradox four. This brings us to the point of the review. Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones contain another paradox: all that tech has to be crammed into a small space, along with batteries, adding cost and weight while reducing space for audio components like the speakers. While the K7xx retails for $200, all of that cost is spent on the stage that comes after digital to analogue conversion and amplification. None of it is spent on wifi and all of the space is available for sound outputting. Meanwhile, the Dacport Slim is $99 dollars of DAC and amp.

Noise cancelling headphones are the shape they are because they have to be small enough to take on an airplane but large enough to contain batteries and fit over the ear. The size of the speaker is to some extent dictated by these other constraints. The advantage, if you’re on a long haul flight, is that they will help you fade out the noisy neighbours. But when you try to go to sleep the form factor means that you can’t lie on your side or even rest your head comfortably against a coat. Thus, to get to sleep you need earplugs or the patience of an angel. In such scenarios, I will always choose my foam padded Etymotic Research in ear headphones. These use foam to block out most of the outside noise while piping music and in-flight movies straight through the middle. I will happily accept a small reduction in overall sound quality in order to be able to sleep on my side or prop my head on a pillow.

Product testing the Muse headphones. The reason I am interested in testing the headphones is because I want to consider the many paradoxes that have been resolved in their design. How easy is it to use the headphones while travelling in mild to moderately noisy environments? What are the trade-offs between power, sonic accuracy and comfort? Have they gone too far down the road of satisfying user extremism (eg extreme noise cancelling) at the expense of the core purpose (engagement with human produced noise)?

With that in mind, I am interested in the decision to upgrade Cleer’s DAC and to incorporate Sony’s noise cancelling chip. Where does the Cleer go wrong? Can you really tell the difference between it and a classy competitor on a bus? I also want to quantify the user benefit of switching off one DAC in order to use another. I’d like to consider the trade-off between product content and wearer comfort. I would also like to consider how well they compare to alternative products that use external DACs, have a different form factor (eg in-ear) or are tuned in a different way (eg products by Bose).

I’ve enjoyed reading the other reviews and hope you like this one too. Thanks to @Helios for changing my status so I could post relevant links and pics.

12 Likes

Review: Sony ZBA-Z5 IEMs + PHA-2A amp.

TLDR:
Pros
= can maintain clarity with extra power (in excess of power rating)
= super comfortable with over-the-ear wiring and sized silicone tips
= bass mimics over-the-ear cans

Cons
= amp required for proper performance
= proprietary cable and input sizes

Alright. Right off the bat, these IEM’s can drink a lot more power than they are rated, and still maintain clarity. For that reason alone, most audiophiles should pick these up as their only IEM solution. Period.
And on’t be fooled by IEM’s with 4+ drivers. At the “in-ear” scale, only 3 drivers are really necessary for adequate soundstage and resolution. Anything more is just superficial; and if you believe otherwise, you’re kidding yourself (and I have some islands to sell you off the coast of Wakanda).

These are the first IEM’s I’ve tested that have fooled me into thinking I was testing a set of OTE cans. Seriously. They easily replicated that low-frequency “thump” that almost makes you feel like you’ve got 50mm drivers right next to your ears. In reality, nothing can replace large-scale woofers, drivers, and tweeters in a full-scale setup. But these IEM’s do a damn-good job of making me feel like I’m in the same room as all that gear (minus all the body vibration).

Everyone talks about “soundstage” like it’s a quantifiable experience. But your own ears’ ability to resolve independent instruments and distance is highly subjective. Honestly, these IEM’s wont come close to a pair of open-air OTE cans that are properly driven. However, if you want something that comes damn-near close, and easily fits in your pocket with a mini-amp… than you owe it to yourself to pick up a set of these Sony’s, and a compatible amp.

But remember… you have to commit to their 4.5mm proprietary jack size.

1 Like

This was a review for the closed back headphones in my collection

So, I plan for on picking out several songs, like 3 or so, and then giving impressions each headphone makes me think of. Is that alright, or would you like more? I’m thinking Mastermind by Mick Gordon, Mountains by Hans Zimmer, and Hotel California by The Eagles. Sound good? edit: I actually am going to add Floral Fury by Kristofer Maddigan to test the soundstage with the beginning drums. I’ve ordered these from worst to greatest, ignoring the closed backs because I’m not sure if people want me to expound on that.

SR60e

First off, I’d like to start with the SR60e. I hate the non-detachable cable on this headphone, it’s just big and bulky. The plastic on the sides looks and feels 3d printed, though the silver lettering on the side is a nice touch.

The starting strings in Mastermind come off as just a wave of sound. There’s not much detail to it, and that annoys me a little bit (though the individual ambient noises after that do sound quite nice). I broke my SHP9500S or else I would be testing these in the run-up as well, and I know for a fact they would crush these sonically. The chorus sounds so loud on these, even compared to the bombastic strings. As for the actual electronic, if you keep the volume levels low, it’s actually a pretty chill can. While it has NO bass, it can crunch a decent amount for the price. The driver isn’t as slow as I’d think it would for the price I paid ($80)

For Mountains, while the upper clocks had great definition, the lower pads and strings just sounded almost faded, like it was coming out of a radio 5 feet away. Lacked any semblance of detail. That’s one thing about these cans: they are great for solo instruments, but not great for complex pieces. The trumpets and church organ sound pretty great, pretty powerful, most likely because they solo in the treble region.At 2:10, the timpani just kinda goes away, simply because the headphone can’t register that low, I guess.

Hotel California sounds fantastic on these. While I can barely hear the bass, The soloing acoustic guitar sounds incredible. The vocals get a little shouty on the chorus though.

In Floral Fury, the drums sound maybe a quarter inch away from my head.

HD58X

The clamp on these is tight as a mo-fo, really giving me a bit of a headache tbh. Build quality is alright, hard plastic and a little flimsy at times but it’s not that bad.

Mastermind: Now THIS is how you do strings on a budget. So hard hitting, yet I can still pick out several various violins. For the chorus, the mid-bass is still pretty hard-hitting, and it has more detail that the SR60e.

Mountains: Again, just like the Grado’s, I think these handle single instruments very well, the plucked strings at 5’oclock sound pretty great during the build-up. I got a little tingly feeling when the chorus hit, and it’s a lot softer than on the Grados. These cans are really starting to grow on me.

The electric guitar really shines on these, as well as the vocals. The guitars actually have great definition, you can seemingly hear the fingers sliding along the distorted fretboard.

The soundstage is the same as the Grados in Floral Fury, the trumpets have maybe 5% more definition.

M560 (open)

The build quality on these is the best I’ve ever seen in a headphone, ever. All metal. Literally the whole thing. Stock pads suck though. The cable also went bad on me.

Goddam that string was loud. I mean, it had definition, but holy shit it’s loud. These are SIGNIFICANTLY better than the 58x’s I just listened to me. I can actually hear soundstage on these. These are quite treble heavy cans. Also, at 3:15 ish I hear weird bubbling-ish noises that I didn’t hear on the 58x’s. Cool!

On Mountains, the plucked strings have better imaging. I can pick out each individual plucked string in my head. The chorus sounds very great, and the timpani can be heard for the full register. I can ear the high organ part now as well.

Hotel California has the same performance as the 58X’s, except his voice is a bit sibilant.

Drums on Floral Fury sound about half an inch away from my head.

Closing up the cans just fully destroys any semblance of bass, and that’s really all.

K7XX

These cans are pretty lightweight, and the pads don’t touch my ears. However, The clamping force is still just a little bit much for me. Just barely. The plastic is light and of a nice quality.

Oh god the bass is already much more on these, the impact of Mick’s strings could actually be felt this time.While I’d say the M560’s have a slightly better treble than these, these have a more enjoyable FR.

For some reason Mountain’s didn’t have the same impact that the other cans had. I don’t know why, maybe the trumpets are a tad recessed?

Soundstage isn’t as wide as people make it out to be. It’s the same as the M560, it’s just more airy feeling.

PC363D (Open Sennheiser gaming headset)

These are like, the same as the 58X’s as far as build and comfort.

Mastermind just sounds so CHILL. Everything is so laid back, I love it. Treble has the most detail out of any of our cans combined.

For Mountains, for some reason no matter how loud I put it the sound never is fatiguing. These have a great FR.

Hotel California, just combine the two above songs. Great FR, fantastic acoustic guitar imaging and detail.

The soundstage is the same as the Grado’s.

3 Likes

OK, I wanted to have a cheap pair of IEM’s to hold me over until my UE900s’ arrive and decided to try out the following… Yinyoo Revonext QT2 2DD+1BA Hybrid In Ear Earphone. https://imgur.com/sg1PzjA

As usual with CHIFI’s… the cable leaves a lot to be desired (ie… the cable stinks) but works.

Now for sound… these REALLY have a v-shaped sound profile. The bass is nice, mids are a bit muddy, but the worst is the highs… they are piercing painful. The first time I tried them was a a moderate low volume and I had to stop after 20 seconds as my ears started to ring from the piercing high tones.

Now, all is not lost as I worked with them to figure out what they needed.

First, I replaced the base rubber tips with some foam comply tips. This helped to even the bass a bit but the highs were still too piercing. So next I decided to try an equalizer. I never needed an equalizer before on my work mac with my powerbeats3 earbuds so I had to do some looking around.

Eventually I settled on the free eqMac2 and after a bit of messing around while listening to my normal EDM music I found curve that seems to be good for these IEM’s. https://imgur.com/xEpKUBE

After a week of daily listening (at work) I have decided that for the price and played through an equalizer… these IEM’s are pretty nice… (once again, for the price).

I got these for just over the equivalent of $30USD (for those who were wondering).

Anyways… I am attaching some pics of the IEM’s and my current eq profile.

Please hit me up for any questions or suggestions as I am just starting to broaden (ie… grow) my headphone collection and am branching out from my current standard of sennheiser (still eagerly awaiting my massdrop sennheiser hd6xx which will arrive in another 2 months or so)

This product review is about the HTC boom sound earphones which is one of the best earphones I’ve used so far. It’s better than Samsung AKG tuned ones which gets included with the S series phone. It’s better than Apple Earpods and also Huawei’s honor flagship earphones. It has a great sounding towards natural hearing. It really fits for people actually really well, it actually has no problems related to falling off while running or exercising. Plus it’s really noise cancelling completely. What’s special about it is blending with the Dolby amplifier which HTC claims to have in its headphone Jack or the USB C Jack, it makes the sounding really good. Which is the case why I have reviewed it here in the first place.

1 Like

BATTLE! Sony 1000XM3 & Bose QC35ii vs. Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC

I recently got all three headphones so…


…I thought its time for a little showdown between the new Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC vs. the Sony WH-1000XM3 & Bose QC35s.

1. BUILD-QUALITY & COMFORT vs LAGOON

All headphones are made in china and therefore on a consumer level quality. The money here goes into the research and ANC tech rather than build-quality and materials.

1a. SONY 1000XM3

(+)

-lighter

-deeper pads

-on par in built quality

(-)

-lesser quality plastics

-less breathable pads - can get sweaty

1b. BOSE QC35ii

(+)

-lighter -> can be worn longer

-more comfortable airier pads.

-more robust headband mechanism

-on par in built quality

-more breathable pads

(-)

-lesser quality materials used, like cheaper lighter plastic

WINNER vs LAGOON: Bose QC35s wins on overall build quality & comfort. Both Sony & Bose headband mechanisms are more solid and look well put together. They do lose out on the quality of materials used, which are light and cheaper plastics. However this decision leads to an overall better comfort due to a lighter weight. Like the name suggests the overall comfort winner are the Bose QuietComfort 35 who beat both the Lagoon and Sony due to their deep and breathable pads.

2. ANC vs LAGOON

All three headphones are ANC headphones which are one of the main selling points for most people. How do Bose and Sony compete against the Lagoon?

1a. Sony 1000XM3

(+)

-almost no white noise with ANC turned on

-ANC is on another level

(-)

-Ambient sound control can lead to a notification

1b. Bose QC35ii

(+)

-less white noise with ANC turned on

-way better ANC

(-)

-none

WINNER vs LAGOON: The Sony 1000XM3 has the best noise cancelling it beats the Lagoon with ease and can just about beat the Bose QC35. Both Sony and Bose have almost no audible white noise, which the Lagoon has quite a lot of. Considering the Lagoon being the first generation it is okay. However, Beyerdynamic clearly has a way to go in their generation 2.0 if they wanna compete here.

3. SOFTWARE vs LAGOON

All three headphones come with a software with a variety of options and setting. To cut it short here, the overall software WINNER is Sony. It is the most feature-rich and easily beats the Lagoon Software, which at the moment does not work with sound personalisation, aptX and ANC on. This takes away the standalone feature from the Lagoon until we get an update.

4. SOUND QUALITY vs LAGOON

Can Sony or Bose rival the Lagoons sound quality?

1a. Sony 1000XM3

(+)

-bigger more spacious soundstage

-warmer overall tone

-better in certain genres like classic

-on par in pure sound fidelity

(-)

-too much sub and mid bass can lead to headaches (without EQ)

-less treble which results in a darker sound (without EQ)

-not neutral (without EQ)

1b. Bose QC35ii

(+)

-vocals sound more forward due to a more neutral sound signature.

(-)

-mid to high treble too uneven and splashy sounding.

-less audio fidelity and more artificial sounding.

-smaller soundstage.

CONCLUSION

I first bought the Lagoon ANC in the hopes of getting a pair of ANC headphones with great sound - surprise the Lagoon have the overall best sound with Sony as a very close 2nd (EQed).

However with the sound personalisation not working they get beaten in all other aspects by either Sony or Bose.

Sony is the only one which can rival the Lagoon in pure audio fidelity. When EQed outside the Sony app (not losing the high fidelity mode) the 1000XM3 are a strong contender for the overall win. The Bose are the comfort winner. They are clearly made to wear hours on end. No other headphones is this comfortable while having the most neutral sound signature of the three.

SONY: ANC and software/features winner

BEYERDYNAMIC: overall sound quality winner

BOSE: overall comfort and built-quality (except material quality) winner

To conclude I personally cannot recommend the Lagoon ANC in its current stage unless you only care about sound. However, even then for the current price you might wanna buy a non ANC headphone which likely beats the Lagoon in sound quality. Afterall these are ANC headphones.

My personal overall winner is the Bose since they are light and perfect for travel and long sessions. The Lagoon are too heavy on my head after awhile and with the lack of ANC power the sound alone cannot justify the price. The Sony are very close in sound quality with EQ, however they make my ears sweat after a short while. At the end if I want sound quality I listen to wired options like the Aeon Flow or 58x. ANC headphones still have a long way to go. Lets see what project Muse can achieve.

Thanks for reading and like always - this is just my opinion.

11 Likes

Review: Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC

Introduction:

My daily work commute is a boring affair. My only saving grace is that it gives me an hour to play on my phone, catching up on my YouTube feed (tech videos naturally!) and listen to music. My train is full of like minded commuters, each looking to absorb themselves in their own little world, shielded from the stresses of train delays, commuters that hadn’t washed properly and the thought of the work day to come…

For this purpose, I had been using a set of Trelab J1 (wired Bluetooth ear buds), but I really fancied dipping into the world of ANC Bluetooth headphones. What I didn’t fancy was the high prices.

After a ton of research, I decided that the only way to justify such a high price was to use my headphones not just for my commute, but also for the myriad of conference calls that were part of my work day. What became clear to me was that the headphones market was very clearly split between “social use” and “business use”. Sony, Bose, Beats, etc. played in the former and Plantronics, Jabra and Harman played in the latter. There wasn’t much overlap between the two worlds… a big missed opportunity in my opinion… though I have heard lately of a young upstart called Eve who is planning to change all that!

So what did I do?

I finally boiled my purchasing decision to a set of Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC. The UC stands for Unified Communications, which in summary means that it should be “enterprise grade”, perfect I thought for all my Skype calls. At the same time, these cans are also based on Plantronics’ Backbeat Pro “social use” headphones, so I was hoping for an enjoyable commute too.

With all this pre-amble out of the way, here’s my review:

Build Quality (7/10):

The unboxing experience was pretty average (again that Eve outfit I hear do it much better) with uninspiring packaging. In hand, they definitely feel on the heavy side, a Bose competitor they are not, however the materials have a premium feel with a combination of soft faux leather and alacantra. Everything is well screwed together with a decent level of flex without any creaking or looseness. The buttons aren’t the best though being very plasticky and the rotary dial was stiff to operate smoothly.

What was really nice was the drawstring carry bag. Initially I was worried about not having a solid hard case, but the benefit is that it moulds to fit my work bag really well. Also the soft case is lined with some beautiful artificial fur to protect the headphones, it was a pleasant surprise.

Comfort (5/10):

The extra weight was definitely noticeable. I never had neckache or anything like that, but you always knew you were wearing them and taking them off was like a relief. The level of breathability wasn’t great either. It wasn’t particularly warm outside but my ears did get warm after an hour’s use. I have a pretty big head, but fortunately the level of pinching at the sides was fine.

Audio Quality (4/10):

Ok, full disclosure I am no audiophile but I do know what I like and what I don’t. And in all honesty the sound profile here was pretty meh. Big meaty songs like Billy Eilish Bad Guy just didn’t stand out at all, with muddy bass, indistinct highs and god knows where the mids were. It became pretty clear to me immediately that the sound profile was better suited to the “enterprise use” customer. What that did mean was the YouTube tech reviews were perfectly passable, thought that is a pretty low hurdle. Audio latency was acceptable.

Mic Quality (9/10):

This was excellent. There are 2 noise cancelling laser directional microphones at play here and they do a great job. I would be in an open plan office with chatter going on all around me, and my work colleagues complemented the clarity of my voice and lack of background chatter. To be fair, this is Plantronics’ strength so one would expect nothing less. If I were to be nit-picky, recording my voice and listening back, there is a touch of “robot voice” going on which I would prefer was tuned out.

Conclusion (6/10):

I really wanted to love these. A multi-purpose set of cans that could do everything, but the old adage “jack of all trades and master of none” was truer than ever here. You won’t be unhappy, but you won’t be blown away either. For the price, these needed to be better so I ended up returning these and my search continues…

8 Likes

JBL LSR 305 Studio Monitor Speakers

Introduction
JBL have long been known for their exceptional speakers and audio devices, and these speakers are no exception. But are they worth their $300 (£200) price point? Or are the popular KRK Rokit 5s, a better option?

Build Quality
These speakers are solidly constructed, using hard plastic for the majority of the casing, and a softer material for the tweeter and woofer. This quality extends to the ports on the back, where high quality metals are used to ensure nothing will become damaged over time. The brushed metal JBL badge on the front of each of the speakers is also a nice touch. The only thing I could say against the build quality is that the tweeter is made of a very fragile material, and could be damaged if pressure is applied. However this is a very unlikely scenario, and the tweeter is protected by the waveguide contours of the speaker.

Features
Although the 305s aren’t the most feature rich, the ones that are included are useful.
Each speaker has individual volume controls and the ability to boost or reduce the lows and highs of the speaker by up to 2db (-2db). This is useful as it allows for fine tuning of the speakers to best fit your room. If for example, your speaker was placed up against a wall (which is not recommended due to the bass port being found on the back of the unit), the bass can become bloated, and using the EQ option to turn down the bass a touch can help mitigate this. In a similar fashion, if you require slightly more clarity then either reducing the bass or increasing the highs.
Overall the features of the speakers aren’t exceptional, but they are functional, and for the price point are more than reasonable.

Sound Quality
The JBL LSR 305s sound exceptionally good. Before I acquired these speakers I first purchased a pair of KRK Rokit 5s, after researching online. However upon listening to them I promptly returned them. They sounded veiled, overly bassy and in my opinion, did not sound anywhere near as good as I was told they would.
The next day I forked over the extra £50 for the 305s, and I can confidently say that was the best purchase decision I’ve made in quite some time.
Simply put, the 305s are stunning. The level of clarity that comes from these speakers is fantastic. Guitars sound natural, vocals soar, strings are presented in a natural sounding manner.
The main star of the show for these speakers though, is JBLs Waveguide technology. This technology shapes the speakers in a way that creates incredible soundstage and imaging. Listening to Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” fills the room with a full 180 degrees of instrumentation. I can pick out, to precise degrees, where each instrument is coming from. Before purchasing these speakers I had always been a fan of headphones, touting the ability to listen to music without disturbing others, and the privacy they offer the listener. But after trying out the 305s, I am fully converted to speakers for most home listening scenarios.
There’s nothing quite like having your room filled with music, rather than just your ears.
Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” bounces around the room, filling it with a guitar that sounds almost as natural as if I were to play my own guitar in the room whilst listening.
I realise this may sound hyperbolic, but it’s true.
Other recordings such as bass heavy productions like Rage Against The Machine’s self titled album hits hard on these speakers, but the bass is never overblown. In an audio world where the likes of “Beats” have taken over the mainstream, and blown out, intrusive bass holds our music ransom, these speakers are a breath of fresh air.
The speakers also excel at classical music, with 2Cello’s music sounding great, natural but exciting to listen to.
I have yet to find a genre that these speakers struggle with. Deadmau5’s “The Veldt” punches deep into you whilst maintaining the clarity and soundstage that I have become accustomed to hearing from these speakers.

One thing to note though, is that these speakers are intentionally flat sounding. That’s not to say they sound boring, quite the opposite, but they do not alter the sound in any way. So bass-heads these are not the speakers for you.
Another thing to note is that as they are studio monitors, they will not be forgiving with poorly recorded audio. Imagine Dragons’ music sounds pretty terrible, because it was horribly mixed and mastered. That isn’t the fault of the speakers, but it is something to consider, not everything will sound good on these. But if you are looking for speakers that accurately represent your music, and provide an incredible soundstage, for what is in my opinion, a fantastic price, then these are a fantastic option.

Conclusion

PROS: Great build quality, fantastic imaging and sound-stage, handles every genre well, low price.

CONS: Not overly bass heavy (though I wouldn’t personally consider this a con), unforgiving of poorly recorded music. Controls and switches on the back of the speakers can be awkward to reach.

Overall I would give these speakers 9/10, only losing the 1 point due to the lack of front controls.

Equipment used for review:
JBL LSR 305s.
SMSL SD793ii Amp/Dac,
Optical Audio cable to motherboard.
RCA to balanced speaker input.

7 Likes

This is my entry, I’ve also published it first on STEEM (https://steemit.com/review/@bengy/amzlife-wireless-neckband-review)… I’ve put a little notice of that on the bottom of that post to say that I’m the owner and putting it here as well!

EDIT: I’m not sure why the images aren’t showing though…

![](https://steemitimages.com/640x0/https://files.steempeak.com/file/steempeak/bengy/FCcpF4wI-IMG_20191018_192551.jpg)

I was wearing Wireless Neckbands for headphones long before it became a cool must-have fashion accessory… well, I guess the wireless part became the fashionable thing, and the neckphones idea remained a mark of extreme nerdity and lack of fashion style (or was that a studied uncaring?). I rocked my beloved LG HBS-900 Tone Infinim around with me all over the place for over 4 years… to the utter dismay of my wife! Until the day that loose connections within the neckband meant that the audio output was incredibly unreliable and finally died in the both earpieces.

So, it was with great sadness that I moved to Bose QC35 as my outdoor headphones… which were fine, but they were supposed to be my indoors headphones and not my walk around town looking cool earphones! Anyway, I persisted for half a year… and then finally I had had enough and starting shopping around for a pair of neckphones again.

I wasn’t prepared to spend too much on the headphones at this time, as I had recently made some pretty hefty personal purchases, so the guilt factor was pretty strong… so I finally settled on this strange Chinese AMZLIFE (not related to Amazon, but selling on Amazon!) neckphones which were priced pretty appealingly at around 50 euros!

![IMG_20191018_192619.jpg](https://files.steempeak.com/file/steempeak/bengy/e5kUxHdl-IMG_20191018_192619.jpg)

When it arrived, I wasn’t really expecting too much in the way of quality… just something that I could play podcasts whilst I was out and about… or while the girls at home were rocking out to Spotify next door and I wanted to opt-out out of the volume arms race! So, as you can see above, the tech specs of the neckphones were handily listed on the back of a non-descript packaging on the box. As with most of these off-brand Chinese imports… I would probably take these technical specifications with a hefty grain of salt… after all, they can quite often be somewhat different to reality!

![IMG_20191018_192738.jpg](https://files.steempeak.com/file/steempeak/bengy/7XO7Ebu6-IMG_20191018_192738.jpg)

Unpacking revealed the neckphones, along with a spare sizes and replacements for the earbuds and a USB A to micro connector. So, pretty minimal inclusions… but that was to be expected for a pretty budget purchase!

The headphones are really quite flexible… I’m not sure if that is going to be a good or bad thing in the long run. It does allow it to be stuffed into a bag quite easily without snapping… but the extreme flexibility of the central portion leads me to wonder if it will survive long-term wear and tear.

One thing that is missing in comparison to the LG HBS-900 is the retractable earpieces… in the end, it is a mixed blessing. I have a feeling that the retracting mechanism was what eventually pulled out a connection in the LG neckphones, but it was oh so handy just to press a button and have them snap away rather than hanging out all the time. The adjustable length was also a huge bonus! However, no point complaining… these AMZLIFE versions just don’t have them. They do have a nice thick cable that is a good length, enough to reach easily from neck to ear (however, I don’t have a giant neck to ear distance… so it might be something to keep in mind if you know if you have a very long head!). Unfortunately, as I tend to do things with only one earpiece in the ear, it does mean that the other ear piece is hanging awkwardly… sometimes dangerously hanging over cooking…

![IMG_20191023_132947.jpg](https://files.steempeak.com/file/steempeak/bengy/gyVFtaef-IMG_20191023_132947.jpg)

The earpieces are quite comfortable and sit firmly in the ear (at least for me, different sizes of inserts are provided) and they have a magnetic back to keep them tidy when not in use. Simple in-line controls are also included on the right hand cable.

Bluetooth pairing was simple and easy, with no hassles. There is no app that I know of, so there may be difficulty in updating any firmware or tweaking frequency response…

Now, the most interesting thing was how far audio speakers for earpieces has progressed since the LG Tone Infinim lauched about 5 years ago. With the LG, it was one of the best audio neckbands (and earpieces) around at the time… however, I was always a bit disappointed with the clarity and depth of sound (especially on the bass end)… and this is speaking as a professional musician, for podcasts it wasn’t so bad but for music it really was quite terrible in comparison to a proper set of cans or speakers.

Fast forward 5 years… and this AMZLIFE neckband produces a much higher quality of audio in clarity and depth (and bass!) for a much cheaper price point! The upwards march of technology is something amazing to experience! Of course, it isn’t quite on par with pricier headphones from Audio Technica, Bose or Sennheiser… but for that sort of quality, you are paying a significant premium for it.

Music sounds pretty decent (Classical, Jazz, Punk and Ska) with a decent enough soundscape and depth. Speech Podcasts are more than adequate with the talking being crisp and clear with a greater depth in comparison to the original LG neckphones. These are now my daily headphones on the road and walking around, good enough audio quality headset. As far as that mission goes… these are the perfect fit!

![IMG_20191023_132958.jpg](https://files.steempeak.com/file/steempeak/bengy/9Fb4yaZ5-IMG_20191023_132958.jpg)

There is a built in Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), but I’ve not really found it to be that useful. It works, but it isn’t anything to write home about. Personally, I’ve been turning it off and leaving it off… to get more battery life! Speaking of battery life, there have been no complaints there, several days of constant use without charging… this is the perfect travelling companion.

Phone calls have been a bit mixed, with the quality sometimes coming through and other times not (for the receiving end, there was never any problem for audio on my end). That said, this would when the headset would be under a scarf and a jacket… so, it was situations where the LG equivalent would also struggle.

![IMG_20191023_133011.jpg](https://files.steempeak.com/file/steempeak/bengy/ZEZjHqOy-IMG_20191023_133011.jpg)

USB micro… no C… ah well, that is what you pay for… but seriously, how much more would that have cost?

Verdict

If you are looking for a cheap and decent sounding neckphones to listen to podcasts (and some music background listening) and you aren’t scared of looking like an idiot with a electronic neckband, then the AMZLIFE Neckphones are potentially right up your alley. Good sound at a hugely affordable price point… it can’t compare to the heavy hitters in the audio space, but it is also roughly 5-10 times cheaper!

PLUS

  • must have fashion accessory!
  • cheap and decent sound quality!
  • decent battery life.

MINUS

  • don’t kid yourself, it is a nerd look!
  • who are AMZLIFE?
  • Flimsy construction.
  • ANC is relatively weak.
  • no app to assist with firmware updates/frequency tweaking
3 Likes

Taken from my review on Amazon for Hieha’s True Wireless Earbuds (model B6). I also had photos in the review but I don’t have them at the moment to upload here.

— Pros —
Lightweight.
Excellent trebles and highs.
Bluetooth 5.0 EDR with Apt-X.
Wireless charging.

— Cons —
Touch buttons needs some force to register presses.
Bass is not particularly strong.

— Devices Tested On —
Apple iPhone 6S (iOS 12.4.1)
Asus Custom Desktop (Windows 10 Pro 1908)

— Thoughts —
The fit is tight for small ears. Should fit better for bigger ears.
Bass is deep but not outstanding. Treble stays clean and audio doesn’t clip at higher volume.
No ANC, but probably not needed due to the physical design and how it smug it fits in the ear.
Wireless charging case is a bonus.
A slight issue is the touch buttons are a tad unsensitive, which isn’t all that bad, but may bother some people.

One feature that would be great to have is an adjustable ANC to allow outside sounds to come in while still hearing music (similar to Human Inc.'s Blend mode).

Overall, this is an excellent choice for those who wants mid-range priced wireless earbuds that won’t fall off during exercise.

1 Like

Life’s experience is attributed to multiple things, however, none as important as the 5 senses. These 5 senses allow us to feel the fur on an otter back, see the reflection of the moon, smell the apple pie that was just made or even taste the apple pie itself; however, by far one of the most important senses is the sense of hearing. So why do we reward our taste buds with a steak or feel the satisfying sensation of fur, but not reward our eyes with good earbuds as well.

Hyphen has brought that sense of satisfaction in many ways so that I can really reward my ears with truly wireless earbuds that look good, sound good, feel good, and also fit well.

Connectivity

As a start up company that was founded in Switzerland, there are perfections and imperfections. One of the first things that I toggled with was the Bluetooth connectivity. The biggest down side of the Hyphens was the connectivity. The initial setup of Bluetooth was OK. However, every time I take out both to use, there is a lag on the connect of the right. This is due to the way they designed the connectivity on both earbuds. The right and left earbuds have their own individual pairing system meaning that the right one can be paired with one device while the left with another. When using both, the left one acts as the main Bluetooth device that connects with the phone, and the right one connects Bluetooth oddly to the left one to act as a pair. This function poses as a good and bad ability. The good side is that a replacement unit of a defect one can be paired easily with the other pair, but the bad side is that a lot of bugs come up in the connecting process.

Design

The design aspect of the Hyphen was one of the better aspects. The minimal design and light weight body created a comfortable feeling when placed in the ear. In addition, the matte finish made is less prone to scratches and also stains. Unlike other earbuds that have this form factor, the Hyphens had a easy and tight fit which complimented my experience with working out and sports. The Hyphen comes with 3 replaceable ear tips; one memory foam (the one I prefer since it fits nicely with the individual ear shape) and two rubber ear tips with different sizes.

Charging

It is 2019 and many or most people would want USB-C, however, that is not the case for the Hyphen. Unfortunately, the case is charged by Micro-USB. However, with this con, there came a pro which was that the case had wireless charging. On top of that, the company itself, Rolling Square, made a wireless charging pad which matches and compliments the carrying case when it is not in use.

Sound Quality

Sound is beautiful because it can bring out many moods and emotions. What makes sound even better is when it is heard with good quality. The Hyphens contain a 4mm driver, yet its audio performance is over the top. The lows have a deep and rich base with no vibrations of the earbud at all, and the highs have a clear and unwavered sound allowing the audio clarity to be delightful compared to other earbuds. With the built in sound isolation, sound is push through beautifully with less to none sounds from the outside to disturb your session with Mozart or your jam with Hozier.

Overall, the Hyphen delivers a perfect audio experience with great audio quality, design, and charging solution, I would personally recommend these earbuds to anyone that wants good audio quality for a not so steep price. With a similar form factor and better quality than Air pods, I think this is the next step for truly wireless earbuds. Shhhhhh, did I mention they were water resistant (IPX 5) and come in the colors white, black, and gray?

4 Likes

Logitech Z537 Speakers
SX425
Saying that this product lived up to my expectations would be an understatement. I have been using this system for almost a year now and it still sound flawlessly. The speakers are small enough to be on my desk and don’t take too much space when I’m doing schoolwork. They sound amazingly and their golden accents just seals the deal for me in terms of look. The cable that connects them to the main piece are more than 6 foot long which makes it easy to place them anywhere on a normal sized desk and still be able to reach the main bass. Being on this topic, let’s talk about the bass. It. Is. So. Good. There, I’ve said it. It sounds awesomely and adds this insane touch that you never knew you needed to any song you would listen to or game you would play. It cannot be compared to a system without a bass. All the cables are connected to it, and only a single cable goes from it to the audio input, which makes cable management that much easier. It also is small enough to fit under a desk without really noticing it. There also is a small potentiometer behind it to control the bass power, just in case you want more ‘’punch’’ or if someone on the other side of the wall is complaining. But, if you want to control the volume of the entire thing, you should do it using the desk button, a rotating knob with the purpose of changing the volume extremely smoothly and with precision. It is equipped with non-slip material under it, so you don’t make it go flying when raging, a power switch and a Bluetooth button. Yes, you read that right, Bluetooth. This amazing piece of technology is also equipped with Bluetooth, which means you can hook pretty much anything up to it to listen to music. It also has a light indicator showing the power state of the system and when it is pairing via Bluetooth. The only downside that I found using this equipment is that the smallest movement when touching the audio cable makes a loud ‘’crunching’’ noise. In conclusion, for the price of around $120 USD, you can have this amazing piece of tech to make listening to anything just that much more enjoyable.

TL;DR : Desk speakers: 10, Bass: 10, Audio control: 10, equipped with Bluetooth. Downsides: 1. Final grade: 9.8, or 10/10 would recommend.

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This is a review I wrote for Massdrop Plus Universal IEMs:

Before the Massdrop+, I primarily used a set of RHA T20i IEMs and occasionally used a pair of Beats headphones.

I didn’t have a good first impression unboxing the Massdrop+. The packaging was no frills, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I expected a little more from a $300 purchase. I was a little worried holding the Massdrop+ in my hands for the first time because they are light as a feather compared to the point where they felt cheap. The wire that comes with the Massdrop+ looks and feels nice but the mircrophonics are pretty bad without clipping it to your shirt. Unfortunately a shirt clip isn’t included, so I used the clip from my T20i’s.

Thankfully, that’s pretty much where the negatives end. The light weight of the Massdrop+ that I wasn’t used to quickly changed from a con to a pro. I find the Massdrop+ to be a lot more comfortable to wear and a lot less likely to fall out due to their weight compared to my T20i’s.

The clarity and soundstage of the Massdrop+ is superb. I was really surprised at how much clearer the Massdrop+ is. The T20i’s I’m used to have great clarity, but while auditioning several songs with both IEMs, subtleties in the audio that I had to pay close attention to pick out in the T20i’s simply presented themselves with the Massdrop+.

The superb clarity can actually be a gift and a curse though. I listen to music primarily from Tidal (HiFi or Master quality), but I happened to play an episode of Rick and Morty on Netflix with the Massdrop+ on and it was terribly obvious I was listening to compressed audio. If things sound really bad, I encourage you to experiment with your audio chain including the audio source.

I did have some concerns with the audio quality at first, but in the end it just didn’t pair well with the Audirect Beam DAC I was listening through. It made the mids sound muddy. Plugging it into my iPhone through the dongle or directly into my iMac or Macbook gave it a sound much closer to the reference sound that I prefer.

I just received an Audeze Cipher lightning cable and am pretty pleased with how the Massdrop+ sounds through its DAC. It’s great because it can be EQ’d with the Audeze app and the settings get written to the DSP.

For anyone interested in using the Audeze cable with the Massdrop+, it’s important to know that it may not physically fit without slight modification. I had to file down the sides of thr plastic part that the pins are connected to in order for it to fit into the Massdrop+, so if you end up ordering a Cipher cable, it may be a good idea to make sure you have a jewelers/hobby file to modify the cable as needed.

Overall I’m really happy with the Massdrop+. It’s expensive, but worth it. Quality is heavily influenced by the DAC and the audio source, and that, to me, says that the Massdrop+ does its job brining out the best (or worst) in the audio chain.

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When i write a review i very much have in consideration their price. As an example i will the 1200€ ZMF Aeolus. If they cost half (like they should), i would have been very much appreciative of their quality. I am much more “lenient” with lower priced gear.

Two examples of SBAF/Zwame reviews (in english and portuguese respectively), ZMF AEOLUS and Verum 1 headphones:

VERUM 1

What started as a “a thread for kicks” ended up turning into a serious Kickstarter project. A young Ukrainian entrepreneur sent prototypes to several SBAF members and the Verum were eventually born.

“At first sight”

The looks are not for everyone. They came roughly packaged (to save in postage and to keep the low price point) with a 3.5mm cable. The pads are made out of synthetic leather and are handmade.The headphones present themselves as being very robust, with the metal/leather headband, although the cups are made of plastic.

i.imgur. com /D2J76nU.jpg

Specifications:

Driver: 82 mm membrane made from 8 one mylar film
Impedance: 8 ohms
Sensitivity: 96 db
Weight: 470 grams

Setup (s):

JRiver Flac/ Spotify - EITR - Metrum Jade - DNA Sonett 2 - Aeolus/Verum
JRiver Flac/ Spotify - EITR - Metrum Jade - Cavalli Crimson - Aeolus/Verum

Músicas:

Bob Marley - Redemption Song
Bob Marley - One Love
Adele - One and Only
Sam Smith - Latch
Sam Smith - La la la
TK - Unravel (acoustic)
Mile Davis - So What
John Coltrane - My favourite things
Metallica - Wherever i may roam
Rihanna - Diamonds
Sia - Chandelier
Seinabo Say - Younger

Sonett 2 (Tube Amplifier)

I greatly appreciate the homogeneity of sound, regardless of the source or type of music. It’s more than being “neutral”, it’s because the Verum does so much right and almost anything wrong. They are musical and I really appreciate the fact that I can relax without having to grind my teeth after listening to parts of music that may be more shrill, which, for example, can happen with my HD800 SDR.

The bass is strong but loses a bit of extension (something I’ll mention again when talking about the Crimson experience). Even with this small loss, bass-wise, they are better than the HD600 in any and all forms.

A great pairing for sure.

With Crimson (Hybrid Amplifier)

Verum’s are very good with Sonett 2 but even better with Crimson.

One thing I can hear from the Crimson that I don’t hear from the Sonett is how I can hear the reverb from some instruments. Even in “less than usual” recordings such as “Unravel (Acoustic) by TK” the cello resonance is something I appreciate and can’t practically hear on the HD600, although the more hissing nature of the Verum is a bit pronounced. .

I can’t help thinking that even at lower volumes, I still hear some instruments or small musical nuances that almost disappear in the Sennheiser.

The bass is stronger, cleaner and there is more bass. This is something that made me set aside the HD800 SDR when they came.

The sound as a whole is intense.

Additional Comment: It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed rock as much as i do now with these on my head.

Pros:

Planar’s as they should be. Homogeneity (I am looking at you Audeze), and lots of it. I simply prefer them to something like…the LCD-2C Classic.
Bass extension.
Great headband with great weight distribution.
Imaging
Construction, being quite robust.

Cons:

They may look a bit bright with solid state amps.
Comfort. Small hot spot in my left ear below. It doesn’t bother me for long listening sessions but it’s there.
Pads are hand stitched and that reveals some inconsistency.
The aesthetic may not please everyone.
Although the cable is braided it is a little on the thin side.
A little more air and imaging would make them perfect.
My measurements

Scores

Treble: 7
Bass: 8,5
Mids: 7,5*
Imaging: 7,5*
Soundstage: 7-7,5*
Aesthetic: 4
Comfort: 7
Price/performance: 9




ZMF AEOLUS

“At first sight”

They are beautiful, the wooden construction with the golden grills stand out from the very first second. They are in the top 3 most beautiful Headphones I’ve ever seen.

The package includes:

Stock cable (6,3mm)
ZMF Pads
Extra grills in black
Lifetime warranty papers
Seahorse SE430 case

Specifications:

PET 300 ohm driver
RF: 10 Hz at 25 KHz.
Impedance: 300 Ohms.
Sensitivity: 99 dB / mW.
Weight 445gr

Setup (s):

JRiver Flac/ Spotify - EITR - Metrum Jade - DNA Sonett 2 - Aeolus/Verum
JRiver Flac/ Spotify - EITR - Metrum Jade - Cavalli Crimson - Aeolus/Verum

First impressions:

From the first moment I immediately felt that the “ZMF house sound” was not for me. I had that feeling with another model of the brand but by then I attributed it to the HP in particular and not to the “house sound”. I realize now that it really is their nature sound and you either will fall in love with them or they won’t be your cup of tea. I don’t like it, although I can appreciate its qualities, which, in all honesty, are quite a lot. The sound is “closed”, although these are considered “open” by ZMF standards and compared to their closed siblings which are the “Atticus”, it is still closed to me and too “in your face”. The sound seems to be coming directly 1 cm in front of me, and it’s not just the voices (which I almost want to tell the singer to take 5 steps back), it goes beyond that. I imagine that anyone who likes fast music (eg electronic) or who enjoys bass very much can truly love them but for me … no. The transitions and bass are a treat however, and present such spectacular extensions.

Once I changed the pads to Verite pads the sound got significantly better, I had never been as affected by pad swapping as with these HP, so that was a huge plus! The extreme condensation of sound disappeared and I could now appreciate this pair so much, much more.

Music:

Bob Marley - Turn your lights down low
Bob Marley - One Love
Adele - Rolling in the Deep
Adele - Make you feel my love
Daft Punk - Get Lucky
Sam Smith - Latch
Sam Smith - La la la
TK - Unravel (acoustic)
Kaliffa - Helt Seriöst
Mile Davis - So What
Duke Wellington - Take the A train
Metallica - Battery

With the DNA Sonett 2 (Tube Amplifier)

I didn’t like this pairing. I can understand the qualities of the sound presented but I can’t connect to the music. I don’t want to get into too many details because my impressions will seem more negative than they really are. These are hot headphones and don’t get along with hot amplifiers, it’s excessive.

Right now I think they will be better with Solid-States and Hybrids than with Tubes.

With Crimson (Hybrid Amplifier)

As I predicted this pairing is significantly better, I can appreciate the music and the numerous positive features of these headphones, although how the sound is presented remains a problem for me. No doubt I prefer them with SS or Hybrids. Great treble and great bass that, however, these often override vocals in some songs, which is not a very positive point for me. The attack of the transitions is spectacular.

In short everything is (almost) there, for those who like the signature.

Pros:

Length and quality of bass.
Imaging
Aesthetics (they do look like a work of art).
Mids
Full treble control.
Construction.
Great headband.
Well built pads.
Good weight distribution.
Zero fatigue.

Cons:

They are not a good pairing with warm amplifiers.
Weight … they are heavy.
Sound presentation / signature may not be for some.
Too much “in your face”, contributing to both the stage and the image.
Hot spots in both ears. Both play inside the Aeolus which translates into an unappreciated experience.
Original pads do not do justice to the products quality.

My measurements:

Scores(are subject to change over time due to comparison with other HP):

Treble: 8
Bass: 8.5-9
Mids: 7,5
Imaging: 6.5
Soundstage: 6.5
Aesthetics: 9
Comfort: 5
Price/performance: 6.5

If these were not 1200 € the scores would be higher.

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Welcome to my review and thanks for reading.

I have been lucky to pick up a pair of Bose SoundSport Free earbuds to finally step fully into the 21st century. I was not an early adopter of Bluetooth earbuds, mainly because very few higher-end brands were in the picture and if there were the price was out of my budget…

When they arrived I decided to get them thoroughly tested against all my other headphones I use for different purposes. Here’s the competition:

Shure E215 – daily driver for all my commuting, cycling, office work, walking the dog and most other general uses

Bang and Olufsen Play 2i – for when I wanted to give my ears a rest while commuting or working in the office

KRK KNS6400 – for music-making, light gaming, recording and sound design for video work

The sound testing was based on a specific pieces of music that I’m very familiar with and present all the different types of sound. I listened to:

Sasha Sloan – “Normal (stripped)”

Dennis Lloyd – “Nevermind”

League of Legends – “Piercing Light”

Hilary Hahn – Bach’s Partita No. 3 in E Major: I. Preludio

Tyler Bates – “Showtime, A-holes” (from Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2)

Metallica – “Master of Puppets” (from the “S&M” album)

Shinedown – “Devil”

AC/DC – “Back in Black”

I’ve listened to many more songs and classical pieces over the past week but these were used for head-to-head comparisons that I’ve conducted on one evening with each piece played on each of the headphones with a few minutes break between each play.

As all other contestants were wired I used a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 interface connected to a Microsoft Surface Book 2 with the Bose’s entrant connected to the laptop via Bluetooth.

For more real-world testing I used my Huawei P20Pro with wired headphones connected via included adapter and the Dolby Atmos switched off.

First things first - the SoundSports are fairly large and stick out of my ears making me look even more “peculiar”, but nothing too strange.

Connecting the Boses to the Android phone was quite simple – the Bose Connect app is clean and simple, the earbuds are found and synced quickly and notify you when they are connected and tell you what battery life you have left, which device I’s connected to and, if the last device is not available they’ll tell you what the next one they’ll attempt to connect to. Connecting to a Windows PC was simple too.

Usability – as I mentioned they are fairly large which allows for physical buttons to be placed on both buds. Right bud has a play/pause (skip with double-press and smart assistant with a long press) and volume. Left has a single button to control connecting and changing devices. As the buds a water resistant the buttons require quite a lot of pressure to click. They are ok for use bare-hand but wearing a running glove makes it almost impossible to press the middle button on the right bud. The microphone is ok for calls while walking but fails to cope with any more active situation. Google Assistant suffers from this too and commands just aren’t getting through but I might have slightly too high expectations of this feature.

The buds stay firmly in my ears and I don’t feel like I need to check them all the time.

Comparison – in terms of usability the closes competitor would be the Shure E215s. The long wire is certainly useful when on stage and used as IEMs but gets in the way a little too much, having to be put away inside a pocket or under a jacket. The isolation is much more thorough and it blocks pretty much all sounds right out. There is a lot of bass for the size when they are correctly inserted, the sound is clear and both the Focusrite interface and the phone have no problem driving them. They’re light and easy to use but do not have a microphone or controls of any kind. You can buy a wireless kit for them but they won’t be “truly wireless”.

In terms of design and “class” I compared them with the B&Os which still look great and are really comfortable. Unfortunately you can’t expect them to stay on your head if you move any faster than a leisurely walk. They are light and their sound is very comfortable too. They can’t achieve the same volume or isolation as they are completely open. The bass is lighter and mids are more pronounced but experience in quite enjoyable.

As a “reference” comparison I’ve used the KRKs that are targeted at more professional use and provide a flat response, good bass reproduction and slightly underlined top-mid section of the spectrum. They are by no means perfect but isolate me quite well. I would never walk out of the door with these on though. As I wear glasses these may get quite uncomfortable after a longer period but are much more comfortable than other studio headphones I used in the past.

The sound of the Bose buds is exactly what you’d expect from the Germans – clear, pleasing, not completely flat and accurate but with actual use in mind. The bass is there even if one of the buds slips out slightly. With Dolby Atoms off the natural response is very close to the Shures and doesn’t seem to lack in any area except for the bass being ever-so-slightly lighter. Volume and clarity is there and the fact they are very light (for what they pack inside) means you can use them for hours. Isolation is good but you can still hear a bit of the (mostly incredibly boring) conversations happening next to you. They stay in place on a bike or when running (and even when you are doing your signature, completely dad-like dance to this new song you’ve just found). The Bluetooth connection is stable and the buds stay in sync with each other. There is noticeable lag when watching videos both on Android and on the PC. Battery life really good with a full day easily attainable, especially as they come with a charge case. The case is well thought out too with battery indicator, magnetic mounts for the individual buds and reasonable footprint.

My original plan was to get the Sony WF-1000XM3 but I’ve eventually decided I don’t need the active noise cancelling (and the SoundSports were on sale…).

Verdict – definitely recommended if you’re an active person who appreciates good sound, quality, reliability, waterproofing and overall design, who doesn’t require noise cancelling and is not afraid to show up with their earbuds visibly protruding from their ears. If you want greater isolation or a more stylish look the Sony’s might be a better choice. Also – the upcoming Google Pixel Buds There are also more expensive and high-end options from B&O. At £159 these are not a bargain but a great upgrade if you’re only just switching to (fully) wireless and don’t want to lose sound quality (or rob the banana stand) and at this price point there is very little left to be desired.

Thanks for reading.

D

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