Hifiman Ananda-BT Bluetooth Headphones $999 Review

January 28, 2020 § Leave a comment

“The Ananda-BT gives you everything you expect from a world class pair of open back planar magnetic headphones with none of the drawbacks, no cables, and no headphone amp or DAC to worry about, you simply connect them via Bluetooth and start enjoying your music in all its high resolution glory. A molded plastic carrying case and USB mic are included for portability, phone calls, and gaming.

The Ananda-BT aren’t finicky, pray at the audiophile altar headphones, they go where you go! You’ll quickly fall in love their fabulous sound, untethered freedom of movement, and absence of sacrifices. I’ve used them for critical listening (god I hate that term), danced around my living room listening to Billie Eilish, made a fabulous red sauce streaming Pavarotti, and drifted off to a peaceful late night slumber with Windham Hill. These aren’t your father’s headphones, they’re easy breezy carefree sonic showstoppers you’ll be fighting to get back from your significant other. Recommended without reservation.”

Audeze LCD-1 Review

January 20, 2020 § Leave a comment


” do detect what I hear as a bit of a dip at 6kHz and again at just under 8kHz, but the treble is remarkably even up into the highest musically-useful frequencies. The very slightly-relaxed presence region doesn’t dip below the treble shelf, and this plays a big part in helping the treble sound very clear without sending things out of wack. Upper midrange/lower treble dips can sometimes make the higher treble sound too bright by comparison, but the evenness of the treble on the LCD-1 doesn’t have this issue. The slight dips I detected at 6kHz and other treble frequencies may help with with the simultaneous feeling of clarity and relaxedness of the LCD-1. The detail of this presentation is very good, though I can see some trebleheads craving a slightly brighter one just to feel they’re getting a last scooch of detail. I personally prefer a more even treble, and the LCD-1 delivers that in spades. The slightly relaxed upper midrange I mentioned also helps this feeling of simultaneous clarity and warmth.”

Focal Stellia Headphones Review

January 13, 2020 § Leave a comment


“Moving on to a different genre, I played another CD rip, this time of Fritz Reiner’s 1957 recording of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition with the Chicago Symphony.  Often large dynamic orchestral recordings can easily reveal the weaknesses of headphones and speakers. With the Stellia’ I was left mostly impressed. Once again these headphones reveal a lot of detail, but they accomplish what many fail to do, keeping the detail clear while rendering loud and climactic passages.  Sometimes, when listening to big orchestral “hits”, the listener often is drowned in a “boomy” quality that blurs individual instruments and timbres. Percussion sounds very life like through the Stellia, particularly the crash cymbals. Low strings had a very open and resonant air around them. The soundstage was clear, but a bit on the close side for my taste.  I often felt like I was listening from the conductor’s podium rather than from the audience. Switching things up, I disconnected from the Arche amplifier and instead ran the Stellia unbalanced from the headphone jack on my McIntosh preamp. Listening to a few tracks over again, I did notice and ever so slight loss of refinement and details in the upper register, but also a tad more warmth and body throughout the range. I will chalk this up to difference in the amplifiers individual sonic signatures rather than any serious difference in how these headphones react to different amplification.


January 9, 2020 § Leave a comment


“From Auris Audio’s flagship amplifier the Headonia, you in single ended mode get a very wide, dynamic and spacious sound. Delivery is tight and fast and musically neutral. Body is good from top to bottom and the stereo imaging is extremely good. Some might even find it and the separation too precise. When switching to balanced mode you get an even more spacious presentation but the imaging and separation feel even more real and natural. In balanced mode you lose a bit of body in bass and mids, but you get wonderful extension in both in bass and treble, but more so in the high end. The overall timbre is sublime, especially in the mids. Layering is excellent in both single ended as well as in balanced mode, but I prefer the more natural presentation of the Thror in balanced, even though the bass punch and impact is more present in single ended mode. In balanced, you get a more flat curve presentation, but a really good, precise and musical one. Thror and the Headonia have really good synergy and that’s maybe somewhat surprising as I found Odin to sound too forward on this amplifier.”

Audio Technica ATH-WP900 Portable Headphone Review

January 8, 2020 § Leave a comment

Audeze LCD-1 Review

January 5, 2020 § Leave a comment


Comfort on the LCD-1 is good, it’s probably the lightest Audeze headphone I’ve yet encountered. Combined with the soft memory foam ear pads and headband, it makes for a pretty lightweight and comfortable listen. My ears are on the smaller side, and I had no problem with the size of the ear cups, though if you have larger or more horizontally-inclined ears, you may find them a bit compact. I do get a bit of discomfort from the top of the headband after particularly long listening sessions, but since the headphones aren’t particularly heavy I would characterize this discomfort as manageable and minor compared to some of the truly hefty full-size headphones I’ve used this year. Overall, the comfort is what I would describe as totally adequate. On to the part you really want to hear about though – the sound.”

Warwick Acoustics APERIO Electrostatic Headphone System $24,000 Review

January 1, 2020 § Leave a comment


Spaciousness and soundstaging? Oh my, yes. I got a glimpse of what the Aperio could do when I put on an old and well-loved audio chestnut, the title track from Andreas Vollenweider’s Caverna Magica [Savoy, 16/44.1]. “Caverna Magica” has long been famous for the way it produces enchanting 3D soundstages through most audio systems, but through the Aperio system I found there was suddenly not just a little but a lot more magic in the “Magica.” In fact, the Aperio took the song’s 3D presentation to a whole new level, creating a huge, resonant, cave-like environment, which Vollenwieder’s sumptuous-sounding harp filled beautifully. My point is that whenever there are useful spatial cues in music, the Aperio will find them and put them to great use.

I like to try to offer critical commentary where appropriate, but there really is nothing I can fault in the Aperio’s sonic performance. The only drawback I encountered—and it is one common to most electrostatic headphone systems I have heard—is that if I moved my head suddenly while listening, pressure levels within the earcups would change momentarily, causing a soft “clicking sound” from the diaphragms. Apart from that, the Aperio listening experience was an unalloyed joy.

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