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Reviewers' ChoiceI’d kind of sworn off reviewing Monoprice products on SoundStage! Solo for a while, because I’ve reviewed so many lately -- three headphones, one set of earphones, and two headphone amps. It’s been hard to resist because the company just keeps upping the ante, getting into pricier models and embracing advanced technologies at a staggering rate. And when I recently had the chance to hear four new models, and run some quick measurements of them, I found one that I just couldn’t resist reviewing -- the Monoprice Monolith M1570 headphones ($599.99, all prices USD).

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Reviewers' ChoiceOver the last decade, Dan Clark Audio (formerly MrSpeakers) has grown from a company that sold modded Fostex products to one of the most respected names in high-end headphones. But when I interviewed Clark for my March column, I realized I hadn’t reviewed any of his headphones since the Mad Dog Alphas, a Fostex-based model from 2012. I decided to correct that oversight by checking out the Æon Flow 2 Closed headphones ($899.99, all prices USD), a recent model to which an interesting new option has just been added.

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A headphone enthusiast would likely pose a couple of questions when first confronting the Andover Audio PM-50s: Who’s Andover Audio? And what do they know about headphones? To answer the first question, it’s a Boston-area company founded by ex-Cambridge SoundWorks employees. Cambridge SoundWorks was a hyper-innovative speaker company founded in the mid-1980s by the legendary audio pioneer Henry Kloss. (Nowadays it’s a brand applied mostly to inexpensive Bluetooth speakers.) Andover Audio makes only a few products, and they’re rather idiosyncratic -- such as a sound system that slips under a turntable -- and the company continues the classic, quasi-Scandinavian styling of Kloss’s best-loved products.

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From the Meze Empyreans to the AKG K371s, I’ve found a few sets of headphones that inspired no significant complaints from me. But I’ve never found a set of noise-canceling headphones I couldn’t complain about. Either the noise canceling was weak, or they exhibited too much eardrum suck, or they didn’t sound particularly good, or they were too bulky for travel. But there’s always hope! This month, it comes in the form of the Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. headphones ($319.99, all prices USD).

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The Drop + THX Pandas are radically different from any other headphones I’ve ever reviewed. According to Drop, while the company’s worked for five years with numerous brands to create headphones tailored to the desires of Drop’s audiophile community, the Pandas ($399.99 USD) are the first headphones whose design is based entirely on suggestions from the community. So in theory, at least, they represent not some company’s idea of what audiophiles want, but precisely what audiophiles want.

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Reviewers' ChoiceMy e-mail’s easy to find, so I hear from readers often. To my surprise, the most demanding ones are not audiophiles interested in getting the best sound, but business travelers looking for a set of headphones that can keep them happy through a transoceanic flight. They want effective noise canceling, great sound, and comfort that lasts for hours -- and some of them have bought every top-of-the-line noise-canceling model in search of the best. That’s just the customer DALI is targeting with the IO-6 headphones ($499 USD).

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