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Research shows that listeners’ opinions of headphones don’t vary as much as many audio publications would have you believe -- so voicing headphones to conform to the response most listeners prefer in blind tests is a pretty sure bet. But as anyone who’s ever conducted a blind test of speakers or headphones can tell you, people’s opinions about sound do differ substantially. So it wouldn’t be a crazy idea to make the sound of your headphones variable, to accommodate different listener tastes. That’s exactly what Simgot has done with the EK3 earphones ($359.99 USD) -- and they’ve done it in a way that makes it far easier to experiment with different sounds.

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As a longtime reviewer who’s on all sorts of press lists, I get dozens of pitches every month to review headphones. Sometimes I wake up to find three or four new pitches in my e-mail -- with more likely to come later in the day. I confess the sheer volume of pitches sometimes makes me a little too eager to delete them, and that’s what I did when I got an e-mail about Ausounds, a company that launched in August. Fortunately, I stumbled upon them at the 2019 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, and that’s where I saw the AU-Flex ANC earphones.

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Many people think that performance tuning is the toughest part of being an audio manufacturer, but I’d wager if you polled 100 product managers, they’d say that deciding on looks and features is a lot tougher. After all, everyone likes good sound, but not everyone likes red. With the MX Pro series -- of which the MX4 Pros are the top model -- MEE Audio decided to let you decide.

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When a boutique, audiophile-oriented headphone company like HiFiMan releases true wireless earphones, you know it’s a thing. And it’s a thing for very good reason. When the design is right, people love the convenience and comfort of being able to enjoy their music and podcasts with just a couple of little earpieces -- and no cables, headband, etc., to get in the way when you’re moving from machine to machine at the gym. With the TWS600 earphones ($199 USD), HiFiMan seeks to deliver that convenience to audiophiles and headphone enthusiasts.

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I’ve gotten so used to reviewing complex multi-driver earphones with exotic shapes that the Periodic Audio Carbon earphones ($399 USD) seem like a throwback to the innocent early days of the headphone boom, when almost every earphone was nothing more than a single dynamic driver in a simple, cylindrical enclosure. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with a single dynamic driver -- in fact, some of the priciest earphones you can buy, such as the Campfire Audio Atlases ($1299) and Sennheiser IE800s ($999), use just a single dynamic driver per ear.

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It’s easy to talk about bringing manufacturing back to the U.S., but the difficulties of building cost-competitive products here often overwhelm those who try. Campfire Audio proves it is possible. Take the new Campfire IO earphones. They resemble the company’s higher-end models, and like most elite earphones, they come with a beautiful case and lots of different tips. Yet they’re made in Portland, Oregon, and they sell for just $299 USD -- not cheap for earphones, but less than people often pay for mass-market brands such as Bose and Beats.

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Latest Comments

Brent Butterworth 1 days ago Beyerdynamic T5 (3rd Generation) Headphones
@Joel LeeGood question. According to Beyerdynamic:
1) Both plates on the earcup look entirely different
2) The new ...
1 image(s)
How do you know you have the 3rd Edition if the cups only say T5?

Joel ...
Brent Butterworth 15 days ago Where Are We At With The Harman Curve?
@SianaIt's absolutely possible to do that. It's called measuring in phons, which is a unit ...
But when I’m in a car and it’s pretty quiet I don’t experience eardrum suck. ...
This is a super-geeky article! Loved it!