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(2014) Headphones and Related

JBL Synchros E50BTPrice: $149.95

Website: www.jbl.com

Rad said: The JBL Synchros E50BTs are excellent commuter headphones. They sound terrific, they’re extremely simple to operate, and they can be used wirelessly via a Bluetooth connection, or wired with a cable connection. They look stylish, fit securely on the head and ears, and though they have no noise-reduction circuitry, they block a huge amount of exterior noise.

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The gist: Just another good set of headphones at a respectable price.

NuForce Primo 8Price: $499

Website: www.nuforce.com

Brent said: The NuForce Primo 8s are flat-out great earphones. Yeah, $499 is a lot to pay for in-ears when you can get quite a nice set for $150 or so. But I think anyone who cares about audio will appreciate the Primo 8s’ practically perfect bass, ultraclear midrange, uncolored treble, and -- most of all -- awesome sense of space.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: With these expensive earphones, the sound supports the price.

Alpha Design Labs A1Price: $599

Website: www.adl-av.com

Hans said: The A1 headphone amplifier-DAC is pretty much faultless in terms of sound quality; add in its flexibility and DSD capabilities, and I could happily live with one for a long while.

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The gist: Stylish, full-featured, great-sounding headphone amp.

Alpha Design Labs EH008Price: $239

Website: www.adl-av.com

Hans said: On the whole, the EH008s sounded nearly full-range, with a wealth of resolution easily audible down to all but the very lowest registers, and with low-frequency information doled out in responsibly ample portions.

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The gist: Competitive with the better earphones out there.

Oppo Digital HA-1Price: $1199

Website: www.oppodigital.com

Uday said: The HA-1 functioned beautifully in all of the roles I asked it to play in my system, and its sound quality was first rate. Its build quality is fantastic, it’s very user friendly, and it works as advertised. If you’re looking for a one-box headphone amp, preamp, and DAC, your search should begin and end here.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: Oppo seems to only make winners, and the HA-1 is no exception.

Brainwavz S5Price: $129.50

Website: www.yourbrainwavz.com

Brent said: If you like a little extra treble, and if you want to hear every last detail in all of your music, the S5 is one of the few earphone models I’ve heard -- actually, it’s the only one I can think of -- that can do detail without downsides.

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The gist: Detail monsters.

Samsung Level InPrice: $149.99

Website: www.samsung.com

Brent said: I’m impressed at the overall quality and design of the Level Ins. However, these earphones’ lower-treble peak spoils them for me. That’s disappointing -- I suspect that the Level Ins may be only a tweak away from greatness.

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The gist: One potentially fatal flaw.

Oppo Digital PM-1Price: $1099

Website: www.oppodigital.com

S. Andrea said: Oppo Digital’s first headphone model proves itself a strong competitor in the very demanding premium-headphone segment. The PM-1s’ warm balance pairs wonderfully with voices, offers enough extension to capture the essence of all manner of instruments, and grants an enjoyable listening experience with almost any recording. Their bass reaches authoritatively into the bottom octave and can deliver a firm punch, but always remains clear and controlled.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: Well-built, stylish, and great sounding.

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