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(2018) Headphones and Related

Price: $249.99

Website: www.acousticresearch-hifi.com

Brent said: The industrial design is great, the sound is very good, and the ergonomics are excellent. I wish more of the products I review were this well executed.

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The gist: All the features you want and great sound too.

Price: $599.99

Website: www.acousticresearch-hifi.com

Brent said: What I love about them is that there’s nothing spectacular or exaggerated about their sound -- just as there’s nothing spectacular or exaggerated about the sound of a great violin, tenor saxophone, or singer. If you want something spectacular, that’s fine -- but if you want headphones you can enjoy day after day with all kinds of music, I strongly recommend the AR-H1s.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: One of an elite group according to Brent.

Price: $299.95

Website: www.akg.com

Rad said: The more I listened, the less I liked AKG’s N60 NC Wireless noise-canceling headphones.

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The gist: These pretty much sucked.

Price: $1999

Website: www.audio-technica.com

Brent said: I can’t imagine any audiophile or headphone enthusiast wouldn’t consider the ATH-ADX5000s sonically competitive with anything on the market up to at least $3000. If you’re looking for high-end open-back headphones, they’re a must-hear.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: Audio-Technica is back on the map.

Price: $499

Website: www.beoplay.com

Rad said: At $499, plus $99 for a decent case, the H9i headphones aren’t the best value in this category -- but if styling and NC are important to you, they offer some of the best of both.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: Quirky design offers good NC but not much else.

Price: $349

Website: www.base-audio.com

Brent said: They’re definitely for listeners who like their sound tilted slightly to the bright side, but the upside they deliver in clarity, spaciousness, and bass precision will be worth it for many audiophiles and headphone enthusiasts.

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The gist: A little extra treble is the thing here.

Price: $449

Website: www.beyerdynamic.de

Rad said: The Beyerdynamic Aventho Wirelesses are some of the best-sounding headphones I’ve ever heard. They reveal the nuances of all types of music, and have a cool retro look.

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The gist: Some functional issues, and the price is a little high, but the sound sure is good.

Price: $399

Website: www.bowers-wilkins.com

S. Andrea said: The Bowers & Wilkins PX headphones are a bit of a mixed bag. Whether or not you’ll be satisfied with them will likely come down to how much you value a neutral frequency response. With their noise canceling turned off, the PXes were at or near the top of their class for producing an enveloping soundscape with vivid images, but the midrange was just too recessed to sound natural with acoustic instruments.

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The gist: Not quite neutral, but meets many other expectations.

Price: $199

Website: www.campfireaudio.com

Brent said: I think the Comets will thrill and delight you, while presenting none of the inconveniences or annoyances that too often accompany audiophile products. And they’ll give you all of this at a price you’d expect to pay for good mass-market earphones.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: Just that little something extra at the price makes these a success.

Price: $299.99

Website: www.fidueusa.com

John said: The mids might sound forward to you, and they are, but they aren’t overly so and they’re supported with very high-quality (although not prominent) bass. If mids are your thing, the comfort of the Virgo will keep you in vocal bliss.

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The gist: Midrange-centric design for your best vocal recordings.

Price: $1500

Website: www.focal.com

Brent said: They sounded terrific, worked great with any kind of music, and exhibited no annoying flaws or colorations.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: No beryllium, but Focal sound quality nonetheless.

Price: $899

Website: www.focal.com

Brent said: There is an understandable desire among many audiophiles to enjoy world-class sound quality without the intrusion of environmental noises, and the Elegia headphones are clearly one of the best ways to do that. They do have a mid-forward sound, though, so they’re best for listeners who focus on the sound of voices and . . . well, pretty much any instrument other than bass.

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The gist: An bit light in the bass.

Price: $1799.99

Website: www.fostexinternational.com

Brent said: The TH909s strike a much better balance than most competitors, providing much more realistic bass levels without tilting toward excessive warmth and without losing detail.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: Brent still likes Fostex after all these years.

Price: $999

Website: www.hifiman.com

Brent said: These headphones will likely work great for some listeners, depending on their head shape, but if you’re looking for the big, spacious HiFiMan sound, I think you stand a better chance of getting what you want with one of the models that has swiveling earpieces.

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The gist: The fit was the problem.

Price: $399

Website: www.ifi-audio.com

Brent said: I think the xDSD is a great bargain for anyone who wants high-quality sound to go.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: Probably better than your phone for driving headphones.

Price: $1199

Website: www.klipsch.com

Brent said: If you want a great set of audiophile headphones you can easily carry with you and use with any source device you happen to have in your bag, the HP-3s, in my opinion, have no serious competition.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: The HP-3s are Klipsch’s best headphones ever.

Price: $269

Website: www.marshallheadphones.com

Rad said: The Marshall Mid A.N.C.s have a beautiful semi-retro look, are comfortable to wear for long periods, and their sound is great: even, tonally balanced, and focused throughout the audioband.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: Just what Rad was looking for at the price point.

Price: $99

Website: www.massdrop.com

Brent said: The Massdrop x NuForce EDC3s delivered the best sound I’ve heard for under $100 -- not just from earphones, but from any audio product I can think of.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: Best way to spend 100 bucks on audio.

Price: $149.99

Website: www.monoprice.com

Brent said: For someone stepping up from mass-market closed-back headphones, the M650s are a great choice, and a window into a level of audio fidelity they may not have realized even exists.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: The value quotient is off the charts.

Price: $399

Website: www.nadelectronics.com

S. Andrea said: The HP70s’ materials and build quality are a substantial step up from the HP50s’, and their sound is notably more solid and focused. Whether in passive mode, via Bluetooth, using noise canceling, or connected to a computer, the HP70s delivered a wealth of musical detail while remaining on the warm and comfortable side of neutral.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: Most feature-rich of NAD headphones.

Price: $399

Website: www.psbspeakers.com

Brent said: With so much competition, the M4U 8s aren’t the clear standout that the M4U 2s were in 2012 -- but if you find them comfortable and their bulk doesn’t bother you, they’re one of the best choices in their category.

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The gist: Barton still in the top tier with his headphone designs.

Price: $149

Website: www.psbspeakers.com

Brent said: Without question, the M4U TW1s sound smoother and more detailed than most dynamic-driver Bluetooth earphones, and their over-the-ear design makes them more accessible -- i.e., less weird-feeling -- than other true wireless earphones.

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The gist: Value-oriented design with a few quirks.

Price: AU$799.95

Website: www.sennheiser.com.au

Barry said: If you’re looking for an awesome-sounding and accurate set of headphones while, at the same time, wanting to retain the girth of your wallet you could just go ahead and stop at the HD 660 S.

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The gist: Natural and lifelike, but not for bassheads.

Price: AU$3499

Website: www.sennheiser.com.au

Peter said: The HD 820’s warm tonality and slightly more forgiving nature opens it up to a different kind of listener and broader programme material.

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The gist: Will be another popular offering in the Sennheiser 8XX series of headphones.

Price: $79

Website: www.sonarworks.com

Brent said: In most cases, Sonarworks’ True-Fi substantially improved the sound of the headphones I used it with.

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The gist: Make your headphones sound better with this software.

Price: $49.99

Website: www.tribitaudio.com

Brent said: If you want a cheap set of Bluetooth headphones to use in the office or on the bus or subway, these are a terrific choice.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: Good ergonomics and a slightly elevated treble.

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