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Sonically, true wireless earphones are in the same place that passive earphones were ten years ago: all over the map. One reason passive earphones improved is that manufacturers embraced multidriver, hybrid designs, which let them combine the powerful bass of dynamic drivers with the detailed, natural-sounding mids and treble associated with balanced armatures. We’re starting to see the same thing now in true wireless designs. The first hybrid true wireless model I reviewed was the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro earphones, which combine an 11mm dynamic driver with a single balanced armature, although to rather mixed results. Now we have the Status Audio Between Pro earphones, which use a 10mm dynamic driver with two balanced armatures. The Between Pros are available through an Indiegogo offering at an “early bird price” of $99 and a list price of $169, with a projected ship date in April.

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Reviewers' ChoiceYou gotta admit that Audeze sticks to its guns. To the best of my memory, it’s the only major headphone manufacturer that uses planar-magnetic drivers exclusively. That wouldn’t be so impressive if the company only made headphones, but it makes planar-magnetic earphones, too. I gushed over the sound of the iSine 10 earphones, but to me they’re really kind of a shrunken version of Audeze’s open-back headphones. The new Euclid earphones ($1299 USD) are more dazzling, at least in concept—they’re closed-back earphones with an 18mm (roughly 11/16″) planar-magnetic driver. Yet they don’t look any larger—or any different, really—from typical high-end earphones. So these are something radically new for Audeze.

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We tend to think of Grado as a maker of high-end headphones (and phono cartridges), but for decades, the company has offered great-sounding, inexpensive models such as the $99 (all prices USD) SR80e open-back headphones, which often win comparison tests in mainstream publications. So I wasn’t too surprised to see Grado launch a true wireless model, the GT220 earphones. But while the GT220s ($259) are clearly aimed at a broader demographic than most of Grado’s products, they’re designed with the intent of delivering the same distinctive listening experience that Grado fans love—and that some headphone enthusiasts don’t love.

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The Shure Aonic 5 earphones succeed the SE535s, which were released a decade ago. How things have changed since then! The mechanics and acoustics of passive earphones haven’t really changed at all, but the way earphones are tuned sure has. Ten years ago, every company seemed to have a signature sound, or perhaps multiple signature sounds, because there was little or no agreement on what earphones should sound like. But now, with the Harman curve, we have a reference that many in the industry are gravitating toward, and to which new models are often compared. When I saw the press release for the Aonic 5s, and noted how similar they seemed to Shure’s past designs, I had to wonder if they would be more like the SE535s, or if the science of the last decade had influenced the sound.

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Reviewers' ChoiceThe Technics EAH-TZ700 earphones employ an unusual design that almost no one uses, and that’s for very good reason. From an engineering standpoint, it makes a lot of sense. But from a marketing standpoint . . . not so much.

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Reviewers' ChoiceTrue wireless earphones have practically taken over the mass-market headphone biz. But to this point, all of the true wireless earphones I can wholeheartedly endorse -- such as the EarFun Frees -- cost less than $100. The pricier models I’ve tried either haven’t offered a clear advantage in sound quality, or they presented ergonomic complications I couldn’t forgive. But I keep on trying more high-end, fully featured true wireless earphones in hopes of finding some I can rave about. This month’s contestant: the Technics EAH-AZ70W earphones ($249.99, all prices USD).

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