Best Open-Back Headphones under $500

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” Most serious listeners plug headphones like this into the headphone jack of a stereo receiver, or into a special amp designed just for headphones. The HE400S will likely sound better when used this way, but this model can deliver great sound even when plugged straight into a smartphone—a big plus. Most open-back headphones aren’t practical for portable use—they have low sensitivity, which means a smartphone or tablet may not be able to deliver adequate volume through the headphones even when cranked all the way up, and they let in too much sound from the world around you, but when you want to sit down at home for some focused music listening, they’re the best thing going.”


Analog Domain M75D integrated amplifier review


” This reveals interesting facts and the logic behind much needed power, especially with the modern dynamic speakers. Its not strange why there is a lack of musical flow that is essential for recreating the live musical experience. Summing all up logically refers to the discussion of to much power. Reality strikes. How can you jump five meters in a room that is only three meters high… This is a perfect analogy regarding to the proper power implementation.”


AcousticWerkes W300AR Hybrid Customs IEM Review

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” Well these are hybrid CIEM’s, and the dynamic driver takes care of the lows, to very good effect. You get very dynamic and full lows that are more articulate and fuller than most BA based CIEM’s at this price can deliver. They are also however very well controlled, steering clear of bloating and warming up the mids. The lows are fast and can keep up with most rock music, but are best suited to filling out the sound of acoustic and jazz, or even slower rock. They offer good punch and have very good body, they never sound flat or hollow. Bass guitars sound excellent, and the lows extend very deep. Quantity wise they won’t satisfy bass heads, but they have enough to satisfy and I would say they are slightly above neutral in presence and quantity, this is not a bad thing.”


Campfire Audio Lyra $750 Review

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“Another quality of fine IEMs is high efficiency. An IEM that can be driven easily from any mobile device, such as a cell phone or a dedicated audio player (DAP), is key for many buyers. When you’re forced to carry a bulky external amplifier simply to get decent volume from an IEM, you end up sacrificing a portion of the portability that makes IEMs so appealing. The Lyra was easily driven to just shy of painful levels from my iPhone 6 and had plenty of headroom when paired with an Astell & Kern AK100ii. No matter what source you’re pairing with the Lyra, you’ll have no issue setting the perfect listening level.”


PSB Speakers M4U 4 Headphone Review

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” I did the bulk of my listening with my iPod classic, before I stepped up to the latest version of FiiO’s high-resolution X5 music player ($350) to tap the M4U 4’s full potential. Dynamics and transparency improved, a lot, so with Aphex Twin’s Drukqs album, the seriously deep bass passages were more viscerally felt, and with Rob Wasserman’s Solo album, his acoustic bass’s dexterity and precision were no less astonishing. A hi-res FLAC of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album thrust Jeff Tweedy’s vocals forward in the mix, while the band’s densely textured and layered percussion focused further back in the soundstage. Compared with the Ultimate Ears UE900s in-ears, the M4U 4 came up a little short on resolution and treble clarity, but the M4U 4’s bass potency leaped ahead of the UE900s’.


Schiit Vali 2 amplifier

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” What could possibly be wrong with that? According to Schiit co-founder and the amplifier’s designer Jason Stoddard, quite a bit actually. For starters, one had to be tolerant of the subminiature tube’s possible microphonics; it didn’t play well with low impedance IEMs (that demand an amplifier with lower noise floor and of lower output impedance than the Vali’s 6.5 Ohms); no gain switching; no pre-amplifier outputs

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