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Sound: ********
Value: *******

Measurements can be found by clicking this link.

The M4U 8 ($399 USD) might be 2018’s most eagerly awaited new headphones -- PSB’s first new noise-canceling model since the launch of the M4U 2, in 2012. Six years after their release, the M4U 2s remain a benchmark for audiophiles and headphone enthusiasts who want noise-canceling (NC) headphones that sacrifice little or nothing in sound quality. On the opposite end of the NC headphone spectrum are the Bose QC25s: headphones that cancel noise spectacularly well and sound pretty good. While some NC headphones have since approached or matched the M4U 2s’ sound quality and the QC25s’ NC capability and portability, the two models remain the standards of their category.

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Originally published on SoundStage! Xperience

Bowers & Wilkins PX headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

These days, it seems as if every major loudspeaker manufacturer has gotten into the headphone market -- but the iconic British loudspeaker brand Bowers & Wilkins has already been at it for the better part of a decade. In 2010, Bowers & Wilkins introduced their P5 over-ear headphones, and since then they’ve released a new or updated model each year. We have reviewed and been impressed with many of these, and 2017’s P9 Signature headphones won Reviewers’ Choice and Product of the Year awards for their high qualities of sound, looks, and build. Bowers & Wilkins’ latest headphones are the PX over-ear model with active noise canceling and Bluetooth ($399 USD). Will it carry on the tradition of excellence?

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Originally published on SoundStage! Xperience

Klipsch Heritage HP-3 headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceIt was high time Klipsch created something like the Heritage HP-3 over-ear headphones. For years, the company has been exploiting its deep heritage with products that reflect the classic great looks and surprisingly tenacious design concepts of founder Paul W. Klipsch’s original horn loudspeakers. Yet in the mobile space, Klipsch has focused most of its efforts on tiny, balanced-armature earphones that can’t benefit much from the Klipsch cachet. To my delight, the HP-3s look like something Paul Klipsch himself might have designed back in the 1950s.

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Originally published on SoundStage! Xperience

Focal Clear headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceHeadphones are like loudspeakers in two important ways. First, both make sound. Second, in both categories, what was recently considered a super-high-end product is now touted as “midpriced” or “accessible.” Take, for example, Focal’s Clear open-back headphones. They’re priced at $1500 USD, which slots them between Focal’s first two high-end models, the Utopias ($4000) and the Elears ($1000). Sure, the Utopias are among the costliest headphones available today, but for most people, spending even $500 on headphones is unthinkable.

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Originally published on SoundStage! Xperience

AKG N60 NC Wireless headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

Noise-canceling headphones are greatly prized by commuters and frequent fliers, as they subdue engine noise and other intrusive sounds. Up until now, most noise-canceling (NC) headphones have been over-ear designs, to provide a better seal. But commuters also like headphones that are smaller and lighter and can be folded up into smaller packages. AKG has therefore decided to release on-ear models, wired and Bluetooth, that can be folded up yet provide enough NC to be viable. Their Bluetooth model, the N60 NC Wireless ($299.95 USD), provides wireless transmission backed up by a wired analog cable mode. Design-wise, AKG has achieved this goal, but I have some minor criticisms, and a major criticism of something that will be, for some, a deal breaker.

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Originally published on SoundStage! Xperience

Acoustic Research AR-H1 headphones measurements can be found by clicking this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceThe AR-H1 headphones are the last thing I expected from Acoustic Research. Audiophiles know AR as the pioneer of the acoustic-suspension loudspeaker, in 1952, and as the builder of widely varying yet generally quite good speakers created in the 1990s by teams that included such audio luminaries as NHT cofounders Chris Byrne and Ken Kantor, Infinity cofounder and current Artison CEO Cary Christie, and current James Loudspeaker CTO Mike Park. But for the last 15 years or so the AR brand has been applied mostly to accessories, such as inexpensive cables and Bluetooth speakers -- in fact, AR is currently owned by Voxx Accessories Corp. While it’s puzzling to see this once-revered, now-trashed brand name suddenly applied to high-end, planar-magnetic headphones, I have to admit that it gives me a bit of a warm feeling inside.

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