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Originally published on SoundStage! Xperience

Koss, one of the oldest manufacturers of hi-fi gear in the US, was founded in 1958 by John Koss. He believed that headphones could be used for something more than voice messages and monitoring on aircraft and ships, and premiered full-range stereo headphones to great success. Old-timers need no prodding to remember the company, and newcomers who’ve watched Mad Men might relate -- Koss is one of the real companies that Don Draper’s fictitious advertising agency works for. Many of the Koss models created decades ago are still being made.

With an eye to the future, Koss has now brought out the BT540i wireless Bluetooth headphones ($199.99 USD).

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Originally published on SoundStage! Xperience

Bowers & Wilkins P5 Series 2 measurements can be found by clicking this link.

Bowers & Wilkins continues to be one of the most popular manufacturers among audiophiles. Mere mention of the name makes me think of hi-fi icons like their Nautilus loudspeaker, and the Nautilus 801 and 802. These speakers were far ahead of their time for their build quality, materials used, and acoustical engineering. Somewhere along the way, B&W made the leap from a pure hi-fi firm to a premium audio company, likely with its introduction of the Zeppelin iPod dock. Since then they’ve moved from strength to strength, offering a variety of wireless speakers, as well as a full range of earphones and headphones. The subjects of discussion here, the P5 Series 2 headphones ($299 USD), are a perfect marriage of old-school hi-fi and class-leading industrial design.

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Originally published on SoundStage! Xperience

Reviewers' ChoiceEven as new models of commuter headphones continue to be released by the dozen, there seems to be a trend toward designing headphones that can serve many purposes. Audio-Technica’s ATH-MSR7 ($249.95 USD) is one of these models.

Out of the box

On the ATH-MSR7s’ cardboard box is a dramatic, larger-than-life photo of the left earcup. In the upper-right corner is the official gold-and-brown Hi-Res Audio emblem. On one side panel is printed information about the three detachable cables, on another the specifications are listed in tiny type, and on the back is an informative exploded diagram that shows all of the components of the ATH-MSR7s’ 45mm drivers and the technology used in making them. Inside are the headphones, wrapped in black fabric and nestled in a plastic mold. The cables and instructions come in a separate black box. A cheapish vinyl carrying bag is included.

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Originally published on SoundStage! Xperience

Oppo Digital PM-3 measurements can be found by clicking this link.

In just one year, Oppo Digital has become one of the biggest names in audiophile headphones. The new PM-3 closed-back headphones ($399 USD) follow on the impact Oppo made with its other models, the PM-1 ($1099) and PM-2 ($699). Not only is the PM-3 the least expensive model Oppo has made, it’s their first closed-back model, which opens it up to a much wider audience. Closed-back headphones provide some degree of isolation from sounds around you, so you get less noise and more music. I’d guess closed-back headphones outsell open-back models by 100 to 1.

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Originally published on SoundStage! Xperience

Torque Audio t402v measurements can be found by clicking this link.

It’s a good thing most headphones are relatively inexpensive, because they’re the riskiest purchase an audio enthusiast can make. Headphones vary greatly in tonal quality -- more than speakers do, at least according to my ears and my measurement gear. Listeners’ opinions of headphones also seem to vary more than do their opinions of gear in other audio categories. Yet it’s rare to be able to listen to headphones before you buy. Sometimes you can check them out at a headphone meet or hi-fi show, but for the most part you have to rely on reviews written by people who may or may not share your taste in music and/or sound.

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Originally published on SoundStage! Xperience

Most headphones look similar to other headphones, but Polk Audio’s Hinge Wireless on-ear model ($199.95 USD) is subtly different. Add to its looks good sound and easy use (for some), and you have headphones that are not just for the fashion conscious. Still, the Hinge Wireless has some problems . . .

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