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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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If you’re not interested in true wireless earphones, I can sympathize. The first true wireless earphones sounded cheap, felt clunky, ran barely long enough to play three albums, and often refused to connect to each other. But the latest generation of true wireless products, such as the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 earphones ($129.99 USD), can be radically superior: smaller, more reliable, and, in some cases, better sounding.

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There are precisely 3.74 zillion Chinese companies now trying to get in on the US headphone/earphone market. Many are selling earphones for less than $25 USD, which is why you don’t see them reviewed here. The Simgot EN700 Pros don’t fit that mold at all -- they list for the relatively high (and weirdly non-round) sum of $146. While the EN700 Pros have fairly large enclosures, and look like sophisticated earphones holding multiple drivers, each earpiece has just a single 10mm dynamic driver. What the EN700 Pros do have in common with less-expensive models from Chinese brands is that they’re sold almost entirely through Amazon. Also, they have a strange and seemingly inexplicable brand name.

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Apple lives in a whole different world than the rest of the headphone industry. The company shipped about 25 million units of the AirPods true wireless earphones in 2018, and it’s projected to sell double that number in 2019 and quadruple that number in 2021. Why should audiophiles care? For lots of reasons -- just one of which is that today’s best audio engineers will see those numbers and know they can make a lot more money (and find more interesting work) designing true wireless products than trying to do something fresh in the well-established, fast-shrinking world of passive headphones. That’s where the 1More E1026BT-I Stylish True Wireless earphones ($99.99 USD) come in.

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It’s hardly unusual when audio enthusiasts and writers reflexively reject new technology -- I’m sad to say it has become the reaction I expect. That’s why I was so surprised to see even some of the most reactionary audio writers embrace Sennheiser’s new Momentum True Wireless earphones ($299.95 USD).

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It’s difficult for audio companies to differentiate themselves, because there are so many of them and most of the good ideas have already been done. That’s why I so admire companies that find a different approach. One of those is Akoustyx, a new company I first encountered at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, and the manufacturer of the R-220 earphones ($199.99 USD) reviewed here. Instead of spinning stories of some specious sonic “secret sauce,” Akoustyx focuses on making sure its earphones fit properly in your ears and stay in place once you get them in.

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