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Reviewers' ChoiceThe 64 Audio U6t earphones really put today’s high-end audio scene in perspective—the company bills them as a “cost-effective” option, yet they’re priced at $1299 (all prices USD). Granted, these are complex earphones, with six balanced-armature drivers per earpiece, set into machined-aluminum chassis, but still, most people would be amazed if you told them you spent $1300 on earphones.

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I have long admired Bowers & Wilkins’ enthusiastic embrace of the new. The company is one of the best-known in high-end audio, and could easily keep its focus on ultra-expensive speakers. Instead, the company has usually been quick to embrace the latest trends—it was among the first to build such items as THX-certified home-theater systems, high-quality in-wall speakers, and iPod speaker docks. And in a field where innovation often inspires derision rather than praise, embracing the new takes a lot of guts. So while I’m a little surprised that Bowers & Wilkins is just now launching the P17 and P15 ($399 and $249 USD, respectively), its first true wireless earphones, about six years after the type debuted, I’d guess the company didn’t think the technology was ready yet.

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In my monthly column here on SoundStage! Solo, I’ve often hounded headphone companies to do something more creative than crank out yet another set of cookie-cutter cans that work perfectly fine but don’t deliver a real advance in sound quality, functionality, or convenience. For those manufacturers who might demand, “OK, give me an example,” I can point to the ISOtunes Free true wireless earphones ($109.99 USD). They were created by a company whose mission is to make “hearing protectors that don’t look or feel like hearing protectors.”

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Reviewers' ChoiceBack in 2019, I found something I’d been awaiting for years: the EarFun Free earphones, the first set of cheap true wireless earphones I really enjoyed. I ended up liking these $49.99 USD in-ears better than many $200 or $300 models I’d tested, because they had a natural-sounding tonal balance and a comfortable design. Now EarFun has introduced a new and supposedly improved version, the EarFun Free 2 earphones, at the same list price—but this model appears to be a completely new product.

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Lots of companies make speakers and headphones, but with most, it’s hard to see the connection between the two. That’s certainly not the case with the KEF Mu3 true wireless earphones, which are styled by Ross Lovegrove, the same guy who did KEF’s iconic, polished-metal Muon loudspeaker. The Mu3s have nothing in common with the Muon technically, but the products share a sleek, silvery style.

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I’m glad that the 64 Audio Nio earphones ($1699 USD) incorporating a whopping nine drivers per ear isn’t the most interesting thing about them. Because if it were, then I’d have to get all whooped up about nine drivers when I know that earphones with just one driver can achieve extraordinary sound. But I think the other technologies packed into the Nios are more worthy of attention.

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