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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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Originally published on SoundStage! Xperience

Reviewers' ChoiceThis reviewer is never so happy as when he’s blown away by a real bargain. I expected little when I first put on Monoprice’s 10585 Bluetooth headphones ($89.50 USD). Then I began to gush. “Whaaattt!?” “Oh, my!” Other complimentary exclamations followed . . .

Unpacking and contents

The Monoprice 10585s come in an attractive, low-key, quality looking outer sleeve. Lift that off to reveal a sturdy, black, cigar-box-quality case with a hinged lid secured by a magnetic clasp. Flip this open to find the headphones and accessories, protected by a clear plastic cover. It’s all simple, neat, and attractive. Also included are a USB-to-USB Micro charging cable, a 3.5mm stereo audio cable, a quick-start instruction manual, and a drawstring storage pouch of black plastic.

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Originally published on SoundStage! Xperience

Oppo Digital PM-2 measurements can be found by clicking this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceLuxury has never much appealed to me. The word can mean an indulgence, something inessential. Both latter terms are anathema to me, which is probably why my audio-reviewing beat has largely been gear that scores highly on the scale of performance per dollar spent. S. Andrea Sundaram recently reviewed Oppo Digital’s PM-1 headphones ($1099 USD), and was so taken with them that they ended up being named a SoundStage! Product of the Year. Andrea not only has discerning ears; he’s a fastidious critic. When it was suggested that I review Oppo’s PM-2, a model for which nearly identical sound quality is claimed (provided the synthetic earpads are used for both models) for a price $400 lower ($699), I jumped.

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