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A Tale of Two Headphones from Canada by NAD VISO & Paradigm!

NAD Visio Headphones“Both of these Canadian companies have recently introduced quality headphone in-house designs for the audiophiile, at a price well above those of the junk that we associate with ex-rappers and tiny Chinese companies trying to cause premature deafness in young people all over the world. Thus, there is a somewhat Messianic quality about both of these products, and the cost of saving your ears (if not your soul), is perhaps higher than what many subway hangers-on might want to pay.”

AURALiC Taurus Headphone Amplifier & Analog Preamplifier and ARK MX+ 96 kHz Coaxial/USB DAC

Auralic Taurus Preamplifier and Headphone Amplifier “AURALiC is a Hong Kong-based company that has its own very specific, and special ideas about designing audio components. With ideals based around classic professional products, such as the famous and revered designs of Rupert Neve, the company sets high standards for itself.”

PSB M4U 2 Active Noise Cancelling Stereo Headphone System

PSB M4U 2 Active Noise Cancelling Stereo Headphone System“I’ve wondered for some years when Paul Barton would turn his keen speaker design sense in the direction of headphones, after having mastered the many facets of speaker engineering over a multi-decade career. Well, it’s finally happened, and has become something of an event, with new intelligence applied to what we in broadcasting used to refer to as “cans”. They’ve been called “ear speakers” and many less flattering names, especially those notable for their lack of comfort on the head in extended listening…”

CEntrance DACPort

Dacport - detail“Headphones are hot these days. And, like much of the rest of the high end, headphone prices have been smashing through one upper price threshold after another. It was not very long ago that a $1,000 pair of headphones was exceedingly rare, the purview of Stax and a scant few other esoteric models. These days, when shopping at the upper end of the spectrum anyway, a grand is more like the starting point, with plenty of models in the fifteen hundred and up range…”

JH Audio JH 13 Pro In Ear Headphones - The Best In Ear ‘Phones You Can Buy?

JH Audio JH 13 Pro In-Ear Headphones (Small)“I had been wanting to try a pair of custom in-ear headphones for some time, but when I started reading online about the JH Audio headphones, including not only some rave reviews but some background on their pro audio and aviation background (the Company is named for its founder, Jerry Harvey who not only founded Ultimate Ears [he left the company in 2007] but started developing stage monitors for musicians back in 1995 while mixing live shows for Van Halen, K.D. Lang, The Cult and many other bands…”

Phiaton PS 300 NC Noise Canceling On-Ear Headphones

Phiaton PS 300 NC Noise<br />
Canceling On-Ear Headphones“Reminiscent of Koss in its glory days, this new company is attempting to inhabit the high end of the headphone market at a time when the former headphone maker has gone way downmarket. Phiaton has also applied some serious engineering effort to the noise canceling design process as well. The PS 300 NC is not just a headphone, but a package that comes with a pair of proprietary rechargeable batteries (18-hour life cycle), and a charger that can use either USB or AC power, and in the latter case provides attachable plugs for different national power systems…”

Ultimate Ears Triple.fi 10 Pro In Ear Headphones

Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10 Pro In Ear Headphones (Single)“In all my years as an audiophile I’m hard pressed to think of a piece of equipment that has had the kind of effect on my daily life that the Ultimate Ears Triple.fi 10 Pro headphones have. Certainly the timing is right, as I find myself commuting between Toronto and New York every week, and through midtown Manhattan to and from work on foot every day. I’m probably logging somewhere in the neighbourhood of seven to ten hours a week on the iPod with these things right now, and I’m loving them…”

ERGO 2 Headphones - True Earspeakers!

Ergo 2 headphones

“The ERGO 2 is the middle model in the range, distinguished from the 1 by neodymium magnets, while the 3 AMT is a more elaborate and expensive Heil driver design that replaces the Jecklin Float electrostatic model. I’ve never been much of a proponent of electrostatic cans, the best in my experience being the short-lived Koss effort of a decade or more ago…”

Boostaroo Revolution Portable Headphone Amplifier

Boostaroo Revolution“Of the myriad accessories now available for portable music players, and specifically iPods, only a tiny fraction have anything to do with improving sound quality. If you want to hear more from your portable it pretty much comes down to headphones and headphone amplifiers. Designed to drive the cheesy white earbuds that come with the thing, the headphone amplifier in an Ipod isn’t quite up to the task of driving the more difficult loads presented by less sensitive, larger, sealed or open-back type cans like the big Sennheisers and AKGs…”

Ultimate Ears Super.fi 5 Pro In Ear Headphones

Xtreme Mac FS1 Headphones

“If only the other bleary-eyed, white-earbud-using subway riders knew how good I have it with headphones like these. Not only am I being spared the concerto for shrieking brakes and deafening track clatter by the Superfi’s 26 dB of isolation, I’m enjoying fantastic sound; Sound that, until recently, had absolutely no business coming from such tiny headphones…”

XtremeMac FS1 In Ear Headphones

Xtreme Mac FS1 Headphones

“Eighteen or twenty four months ago a comment to the effect that the Ipod accessory market was significantly larger than the market for the Ipod itself might elicit a laugh. Even a casual survey of the internet these days (just google “Ipod case” to see what I’m talking about) will demonstrate just how massive a product wave Apple has touched off, and just how much larger the accessory market is now…”

Shure E5C In Ear Headphones

Shure E5C Headphones

“Just in case you somehow hadn’t noticed, portable audio is hot. White hot. Ipod white. The Ipod has become the Sony Walkman of the 21st Century and gained a cachet and ubiquity in popular culture unrivalled perhaps by any piece of audio equipment ever invented. Ipods are now the object of enough consumer lust that they can actually be dangerous to their owners…”

Menttor 5.1 Surround Headphones

Menttor 5.1 Surround Headphones

“The Menttor is a plug-and-play 5.1 surround system, but here it is through headphones, and therefore may be of interest to many who like music, movies, or TV at hours when others in the home are sleeping. This quite large, but very light, headphone system, has 6 drivers, and the amplifier/DAC box, which is very small, has a Dolby Digital/DTS chip, and 6 channels of amplification…”

Grado Reference Series RS1 Stereo Headphones

Grado RS1 Stereo Headphones-- Click for Review

“I reviewed and ultimately acquired the Grado SR125 headphone almost two years ago (Smr 95), and have since used it in concert and session recordings for monitoring. The thing I’ve always liked about this phone is that it sounds more like speakers than any other I’ve heard in its timbral balance; other headphones tend to be rather bright and spitty by comparison…”


  Outside the Speakers

    Random Thoughts on the Music Mask
    NPR on Whether Audiophiles Still Exist
    Audiophile Grade Mics?
    CDs Sales Die, LP Sales Fly
    Some High End 'Phones from CES

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