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Reviewers' ChoiceI feel bad for the old guard of the headphone biz. They spent decades honing their expertise in acoustical tuning of headphones and earphones, only to find themselves competing with mega-companies that can afford to hire dozens, maybe hundreds, of code-slinging engineers to work their magic through digital signal processing. But Beyerdynamic is definitely not throwing in the towel—the Free Byrd true wireless earphones ($249, all prices USD) are a full-on assault on the Apples, Amazons, Sonys, and Samsungs of the world.

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Periodic Audio makes one of the most unusual lines of earphones in the audio biz. They all look basically the same; what distinguishes them—and provides the names for the products—is the material used in the diaphragms of the dynamic drivers. The company just released the third version of its earphone line, keeping the designations and the basic concepts, but employing a new material for the enclosure of the Mgv3 earphones ($199, all prices USD) and the other models in its line.

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I get pitches to review new true wireless earphones almost every day. Most seem like perfectly fine products, but there’s nothing special enough about them to warrant a review. The AXS Audio Professional Earbuds ($149, all prices USD) don’t look any different from most other true wireless earphones, but their pedigree got me interested. They’re made by a team who formerly led Riva Audio, which built some of the best Bluetooth speakers yet made.

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Reviewers' ChoiceThe TinHiFi T3 Plus earphones will be the last of the “Chi-Fi” models I’ll review for a while—and they’re in many ways the most interesting, because they’re the priciest of the bunch (typically $79.99 USD) and also the simplest, with just one 10mm dynamic driver per earpiece. This bare-bones design sets the T3 Pluses in stark contrast to earphones such as the CCA C10s, KZ x Crinacle CRNs, and NiceHCK DB3s, which are $30 to $50 less expensive yet have far more drivers—three per earpiece for the latter two, and five per earpiece for the C10s.

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Reviewers' ChoiceI first got excited about high-end audio in the hospital. I was on an IV for a week, and a fellow editor at Video magazine brought me copies of The Absolute Sound, Stereophile, and HiFi Heretic magazine. The first two I had a hard time relating to, but HiFi Heretic hooked me with its passion and its real-world attitude; the mag’s name referred to the founder’s rejection of the notion that you have to spend a fortune to get good sound. My recent reviews of affordable “Chi-Fi” earphones—the CCA C10s, KZ x Crinacle CRNs, and now the NiceHCK DB3s—have brought back some of that excitement I felt 30 years ago.

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Reviewers' ChoiceReviewing the CCA C10 earphones a few months ago led me down a rabbit hole—and I’m glad it did. The CCA C10s incorporate four balanced-armature drivers and one dynamic bass driver per earpiece, yet they cost just $40.99 (all prices USD). After I ordered those from Amazon, I noticed another “Chi-Fi” model that was perhaps even more appealing: the KZ x Crinacle CRN earphones. Initially known as the ZEX-Pro earphones, the $38.99 (and often lower on Amazon) CRNs incorporate a single balanced-armature tweeter, a 10mm dynamic driver for the bass, and an electret electrostatic driver (basically a miniaturized, permanently charged version of the giant panel drivers found in MartinLogan and Quad planar speakers) for the mids.

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Brent Butterworth 14 hours ago When Is the Amp Important?
@RyanThanks! Give the SoundStage editors 100% of the credit for the integrity and courage. I ...
Ryan 15 hours ago When Is the Amp Important?
Really appreciate your integrity and courage to write this, as this (accurate) message is counter ...
@Brent Butterworth
I looked at the overlaid curves in the graph that you attached. The Edifier S3 ...
@Brent Butterworthhey thanks, will be out on Dec 10?
Brent Butterworth 2 days ago When Is the Amp Important?
@gzostDescribing these things as "solved problems" is right on target.
gzost 3 days ago When Is the Amp Important?
Clearly stating that DACs and amps are a solved problem and that cables do not ...
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Can you compare with the Oppo PM-3s and THX Pandas?


I realize you may not have ...
Brent Butterworth 9 days ago Focal Utopia Headphones
@Bill SizerIt's not out of the question. But unfortunately, DCA usually arranges for about five reviews ...
Bill Sizer 13 days ago Focal Utopia Headphones
Nice, thorough review...much appreciated! Speaking of top-tier headphones, any chance you guys will be able ...