Category Archives: Headphone

Fiio BTR3 Review – Bluetooth Headphone Amp for converting wired into wireless headphones!

Welcome to my review of the Fiio BTR3 Bluetooth Headphone Amp adapter and USB DAC. The Fiio BTR3 retails for £61.99.

The Key Features

– integrated clip

– small size

– upgradeable firmware

– all available Bluetooth codecs supported

– good sound

– mic for calls

– voice assistant support

Video Review

Latest pricing on Amazon UK and more info click HERE.

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iFi Audio micro iDSD Black Label DAC Review – A Power Beast

Welcome to my review of the iFi Audio micro iDSD Black Label DAC. The iFi Audio micro iDSD BL labels retails for £599.

Key Features

– Burr Brown chipset plays high resolution music files natively, including Octa-DSD512, PCM768, and Double DXD
– Up to 10V, 4000mW of power
– Built-in iEMatch for sensitive in-ear monitors and Bit Perfect sound
– Portable with up to 12 hours of playback
– 1.5A SmartPower USB to charge your smart device
– 3D+ and XBass+
– AMR Global Master Timing femto-precision clock system upgraded for ‘super low’ phase-noise and jitter
– MQA support

Video Review

Conclusion

The iFi Audio micro iDSD BL is one hell of a DAC and amp that is able to drive any headphone to decent levels. As a desktop device it works extremely well, yet it can be used as a portable device that lasts 12 hours on battery. Highly recommended.

For more info and the latest pricing on Amazon UK, click HERE.

Meze Empyrean Headphones Review – One of the Best Headphones in the World!

Welcome to my review of the $2,999 Meze Empyrean Headphones.

Key Specifications & Features

– Drivers – Rinaro Isodynamic Hybrid Array
– Style – Open Circumaural
– Frequeny range – 4 – 110,000 Hz
– Impedance Ohms 31.6
– Nominal SPL 100 dB (1 mW/1kHz)
– Max SPL 130db

Some background behind the Meze Empyrean headphones and what makes them special. Meze Audio collaborated with Rinaro, and in doing so created lightest and most advanced planar magnetic drivers in the world.

The Empyrean Driver combines individual switchback and spiral-shaped voice coils. This unique shape allows sound to be targeted with more accuracy around the natural form of the ear. The frame is fiberglass infused ABS. The driver is a hybrid magnetic array, symmetrically placed on each side of the diaphragm, with neodymium magnets specifically arranged into a hybrid array to create efficient isodynamic magnetic field required for a uniform activation across the whole diaphragm surface.

The diaphragm is manufactured from a custom developed isotropic thermally stabilised polymer with a conductive layer. End result is an ultralight yet rigid diaphragm has been achieved. The switchback coil is more efficient at reproducing lower frequencies and is positioned in the upper part of the driver. The spiral coil is more efficient at reproducing middle-high frequencies and is positioned directly over the ear canal enabling more direct sound waves to enter the ear without any time delays. Total harmonic distortion (THD) measures under 0.1% in the whole frequency range. Upper-frequency limit of audio reproduction is a massive 110,000 Hz. They are also ultra efficient at 100db@1mw/1kHz , meaning you get the high performance without needing amplification.

They are also a patent pending isodynamic hybrid array driver, which is a world’s first in planar magnetic headphones.

The rest of the headphone comprises of anatomically designed ovate earcups and an anthropometric earpad design. The Isomagnetic ear cup attachment utilises the demagnetising field generated by the driver to hold the ear cup in place whilst also redirecting the magnetic field back into the driver and improving driver efficiency. Patented ferromagnetic plates channel the magnetic field back into the driver, increasing output.

The pressure distribution wings consist of a carbon fibre headband and leather headrest and is the most comfortable headphone I have ever worn. The main skeleton of the headphone is made from a single piece of sculpted aluminium, that takes 20 hours in a CNC machine. The entire headphone is hand assembled.

The testing process used amps from Audio GD, iFi Audio, Fiio BTR3 and a Honor View 20 smartphone. Tidal and tracks on my computer covering every genres were listened to. The main focus was with the following music –

– Orff Carmina Burana – Live from the Forbidden City – Shanghai Symphony Orchesta
– Diana Krall – Various
– Norah Jones – Varios
– Badflower – Ok I’n sick
– Bruce Springsteen – The Live Series
– Gary Clark – This Land

As mentioned before, the comfort of these headphones is off the charts. The most comfortable pair of headphones I have ever worn.

The sound experience. I am calling it an experience because that is exactly what the Meze Empyrean create. You sit back, forget you are wearing headphones and get absorbed into the music. Timing is phenomenal, fast, quick. The soundstage is large, precision placement of voices and instruments. Vocals sound inviting, dynamic and expressive. It didn’t matter what I chose, everything was a delight to hear. Mids and treble were delicate, not too forward either. There was no harshness in the treble. Bass was deep and dynamic and quick.

Opera is not a genre I listen to a lot, but the Carmina Burana was wondeful to listen to. In fact I had only planned to listen to the first track, but ended up listening to the entire album.

Another aspect of these headphones is just how easy they are to drive. Obviously, better amplification improves the overall performance, but with modest amps these still sounded excellent.

Video Review

Conclusion

The Meze Empyrean are in a class of their own. Not only are they one of the best headphones in the world, they are easy to drive, look magnificent, but they are so comfortable you could wear them for as long as you wanted. Verdict – just buy them!!

Useful Links

Meze Empyrean on Amazon UK
Meze Audio Website

Honor View 20 – Audio Review – Bluetooth, Loudspeaker and 3.5mm Headphones all tested

Welcome to my audio review of the Honor View 20.

My audio review will focus on the following aspects –

– Bluetooth quality and codecs

– Loudspeaker quality

– System Audio options

– 3.5mm headphone jack and recommended headphones to use

Don’t forget to check out my dedicated camera review and future posts on the Honor View 20.

Audio Review

Useful Links

Honor View 20 is currently on offer at Amazon, the 6gb and 8gb version, with a Honor Magic Watch included free of charge Amazon UK.

Best USB-C Headphones in 2019 – OnePlus Type-C Bullets vs Google Pixel USB-C Buds vs Soundmagic E11D

Welcome to my review of the best USB-C headphones in 2019. With the rapid loss of the 3.5mm headphone jack and at the same time more devices from phones, macbooks, chromebooks, laptops and more adopting USB C over the outgoing micro USB, my review covers the best affordable options.

The three headphones chose are –

1) Soundmagic E11D which retails at £60.

2) OnePlus Type-C Bullets which retail at £16.

3) Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds which retail at £30

All three have different qualities, build and strengths, however I do pick a winner.

Main Review

Useful Links

Soundmagic E11D on Amazon UK
Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds on Amazon UK
OnePlus Bullets Type-C on Amazon UK

Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless In-Ear Headphones – THE REVIEW – AirPods finally de-throned! + Comparisons with Bose, Jabra & Sony

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Welcome to my review of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless In-Ear Headphones. It has taken Sennheiser a while to release true wireless earphones, but finally they have and blown ALL the competition out of the water. The retail price is £279.

The earphones feature a brand new 7mm driver. The key focus on the earphones is the sound quality. And this is where Sennheiser have hit gold. But there is more to earphones than just the sound quality, so let’s take a look at the key features.

The Key Features/Specs

– Control your music, calls, volume and voice assistant simply through the touchpad technology built into both earbuds
– Transparent hearing mode keeps you aware of your surroundings, allowing you to easily listen and chat without having to remove your earbuds
– 4 hours of listening becomes 12 with the compact charging case that gives you two full extra charges
– durable, tough, splash resistant materials, IPX4 rated
– AAC and APT-X codecs, and APT-X Low Latency, SBC
– Bluetooth 5, class 1
– USB C for Charging
– 4 Hours battery plus 2 further charges via the case
– iOS and android Smart App
– MEMS microphones

The Sennheiser Momentum are also smart in ear headphones. Music pauses the second you remove an earbud, then starts again the second you put them back in. They also feature auto on/off. Place them back in the case, and they start charging. Sennheiser have clearly looked at how easy AirPods are to use and copied everything they did, and then added even more options. They also looked at all the other earphones from Bose, Sony, Jabra and more.

Another feature is transparent hearing mode keeps you aware of your surroundings, allowing you to easily listen and chat without having to remove your earbuds. High-quality noise pick up even in the noisiest environments, thanks to the two-mic beam technology and the MEMS microphones.

You can fine-tune your audio just the way you want to hear it through the integrated internal equaliser, by using the Sennheiser Smart Control App. The app also controls firmware updates.

So now let’s take a closer look at the earphones, talk more about the sound quality,pro and some of the cons,usability, comfort, noise cancellation, call quality and comparisons with other competitors including AirPods, Bose, Jabra and others.

Main Review

Conclusion

The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless in-ear headphones are simply the best true wireless earphones available. Period. Grab a pair on Amazon UK.

Lindy NC-60 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Review – A Budget King

Welcome to my review of the Lindy NC-60 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones review. What makes these headphones stand out is the budget pricing of around £53, along with all the accessories included.

Key Features

– Active Noise Cancellation technology delivers up to 85% reduction of ambient noise
– 40mm high output drivers with neodymium magnets
– Adjustable headband and soft cushioned earpads
– Rotatable earpieces for safe storage in the supplied, hard durable vinyl carry case
– Flexible 1.5m audio cable with 3.5mm jack, adapters for connecting to dual plug in-flight entertainment systems and hi-fi are also included
– Lindy’s 2 year warranty

Main Review

Conclusion

At this price point, Lindy have produced a good noise cancelling headphone that is comfortable to wear.

Latest pricing on Amazon UK

Focal Spark Wireless Earphones Review

Welcome to my review of the Focal Spark Wireless earphones. The Focal Spark Wireless earphones retail for £89.99.

Key Features

– Lightweight and comfortable
– Fastening system for sports use
– Available in Black, Silver & Rose Gold
– Exceptional performance / price ratio
– 3-button remote control with omnidirectional microphone – works with windows, android & iOS
– Bluetooth 4.1
– Impedance 16 ohms
– Sensitivity 103db
– Battery – up to 8 hours

Main Review

Conclusion

Focal have produced a lovely wireless earphone, using their hi-end audio pedigree.

Latest pricing on Amazon UK

Focal Clear Headphones Review – £1,400 of Audiophile Nirvana

Welcome to my review of the Focal Clear Headphones.

The Key Features

– Low Impedanceat 55 ohms so easier to drive
– 104db sensitivity
– Frequency – 5Hz to 28kHz
– Leather and microfibre perforated headband
– 20mm memory foam cushion with a perforated micro fibre fabric
– The ‘M’-shape Aluminum/Magnesium (patent pending) dome with a new copper voice coil

Music Tracks Used for Review

– Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton – Play the Blues Album , Careless Love – Epic, Moving, great separation

– Seasick Steve – You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks – husky voice sounded wonderful.

– Amy Winehouse – I heard Love is Blind – wonderful guitar strings, vocals, layering, hidden depths of the music.

– Katie Melua & Eva Cassidy – What a Wonderful World – awesome vocals and piano.

– Michael Buble – Cry me a River – scale and drama, excellent vocals and bass impact.

– Bastille , Bite Down – Great attack, moving.

– Audiomachine – The Lions Heart – impact, scale, bass, drama, superb performance.

– Philip Glass – Symphony no 8 (2005) – great soundstage, scale and drama. Excellent mids, treble and bass. Instruments clearly defined.

The Focal Clear headphones provides remarkable dynamics over the entire audio spectrum; bass that is always controlled, even at high volumes, and exemplary linearity in the high-end.

There appeared no sibilance or distortion with the Focal Clear headphones.

Video Review

Conclusion

Totally mesmerising to listen too. Focal have hit the perfect balance between detail and musical tone. My advice, book a world cruise and take these with you. Plus they come with a luxurious case, with high class finish, comfort, and decent accessories. Highly recommended.

Useful Links

Focal Headphones on Amazon UK
Focal Website

Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones Review + Comparisons with other headphones

Welcome to my review of the brand new Sony WH-1000XM3. In my review I am going to compare these to the older Sony WH-1000XM2 and Bose QC35ii. The Sony WH-1000XM3 retail for £329.

I will also document the differences between these new Sony headphones and the older version.

Key Features

– Industry leading noise cancellation so the music sounds even better
– Amazing battery life of 30 hours and super quick charging so you’re never without your headphones
– Improved design to make the 1000XM3’s even more comfortable and lightweight
– High resolution audio packed with technology and features to give truly authentic sound
– Even smarter technology to keep your hands free and give you total control with Google Assistant
– 30 hours battery life. 10 mins quick charge provides 5 hours battery life.
– New Sony QN1 processor
– 40mm driver unit, dome type (CCAW Voice coil)
– DSEE HX music upscaler software
– 3.5mm Stereo Mini Jack
– Frequency Response wired – 4Hz-40,000Hz
– Frequency Response via bluetooth 20Hz – 20,000Hz (44.1kHz Sampling) / 20Hz – 40,000Hz (LDAC 96kHz Sampling, 990kbps)
– Frequency Response via active operation 4Hz-40,000Hz, passive operation included.
– 3.5mm Headphone cable is 1.2m, OFC strands, gold-plated stereo mini plug

Review

Sony is back with an update to the Sony WH-1000XM2. On paper the updates don’t seem extensive, but in reality the new WH-1000XM3 blows it away.

Firstly, Sony has improved the earcups and headband. The earcups are larger and more comfortable. The headband has more padding over the head, although it does make the headphones look cheaper. However, removing the steel from the previous model reduces the weight by 40g. This makes a difference and improves the overall comfort.

But headphones are about sound quality and in the case of these Sony headphones, also the noise cancellation. This year Sony introduces a processor into the headphones. And Sony does not disapoint with these headphones.

This year Sony has introducsed a processor into the headphones, called the Sony QN1. The Sony QN1 processor boosts the range of frequencies from which noise-cancellation occurs. This allows control over the sounds you can block while listening to your music.

The QN1 processor has a 32-bit audio signal processing. Add this to the headphones 40mm driver with its Liquid Crystal Polymer diaphragm. This allows for handling heavy beats and at the same time can reproduce a full range of frequencies up to 40 kHz. Even if you don’t have high-resolution music, DSEE HX intelligently upscale compressed music files giving your music a clear, rich sound. Sony’s LDAC codec transmits approximately three times more data than conventional Bluetooth, which enable the high-resolution audio content. The 1000XM3 on-ear headphones are packed with technology to get the most out of your music.

The WH-1000XM3 also comes with a high res audio cable to provide an incredible a wired listening experience.

Other options on these headphones include smart settings by adaptive sound control to optimise listening settings automatically based on your listening behaviour and environment. This also allows customisable controls based on your own preferences. The equaliser option is available using the Sony headphone connect app (works with Android and iOS). The app also provides firmware updates.

Touch controls. The Sony WH-1000XM3 include touch controls. By placing your hand on the headphone housing, you can quickly communicate with the outside world, without having to take your headphones off or adjust the volume too and a quick double-tap enables hands-free calling. And now, with the google assistant, you have an ideal control and get access to even more information by using your voice.

For me the QN1 processor makes a large improvement to the sound and noise cancellation to the point that it makes the older Sony WH-1000XM2 sound dull! That’s crazy.

What’s in the Box

– Sony WH1000XM3 Headphones
– Plug Adaptor for In-flight usw
– Headphone cable (approx. 1.5m, OFC strands, gold-plated stereo mini plug)
– USB Cable C
– Carrying Case
– Operating Instructions

Review

Conclusion

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are truly an amazing headphone and a leap forward from their previous model. This is a must buy headphone!

Buy Sony WH-1000XM3 on Amazon UK
Buy previous model Sony WH-1000XM2 and saves some money via Amazon UK

Sony WH-1000XM3 vs Bose QC35II

Previous Headphone Reviews

Sony MDR-XB70BT Extra Bass In-Ear Bluetooth Headphones Review – Feel Your Music!

Welcome to my review of the Sony MDR-XB70BT Extra Bass In-Ear Bluetooth Headphones. I decided to look at something less audiophile in design, yet with tons of fun. After testing the Sony MDR-XB70BT I can say these are an absolute blast if you want deep bass that makes your sense/feel your music.

Key Features

– High-quality wireless freedom: Enjoy deep punchy bass while maintaining sound clarity across the spectrum
– Convenient neckband design: Slim and lightweight with music/calls controls in the band
– Hands-free calls: Clear voice with built in mic and HD Voice support
– 9 hours battery life. EXTRA BASS sound with deep, punchy low end
– Additional earbud sizes included for individual fit
– 12 mm (Dome Type) driver type
– 4 Hz-24,000 Hz Frequency Respone
– 9 hours battery, 2.5 hours to fully recharge

The Sony MDR-XB70BT normally retail for £75, although at time of writing this review there were on offer for £52. Worth checking out the current price as it does vary.

Video Review

Conclusion

Bass lovers will love these earphones. In fact, many more people might enjoy these too.

FYI. The next headphone to be reviewed next week is the new Sony flagship, the WH-1000XM3 with comparisons to the Bose QC35ii and the older WH-1000XM2. I also have some Hi-Fi audiophile headphones being reviewed soon too.

Pick up the Sony MDR-XB70BT on Amazon UK Click HERE.

1MORE Triple Drivers Earphones Review – THX Certified – Sound so powerful it’ll blow your mind!

Welcome to my review of the 1MORE Triple Driver earphone.

The Key Specifications

– Model – 1MORE Triple Driver IE E1001
– Impedance – 32 ohm
– Sensitivtiy – 99db
– Frequency Range – 20-40,000 Hz
– Cable – Enameled Copper Wire
– THX Certified
– 3 Drivers. 1 x dynamic driver and 2 x dual balanced armatures
– Patented “triple-layered” design in dynamic drivers with dual PET layers and inner aerospace metal layer for clear human voice
– Expertly tuned by four time Grammy winning sound engineer Luca Bignardi

The 1MORE Triple Driver earphone is made from an aluminium alloy, making them lightweight and comfortable. In the box there are 9 different sets of ear tips. 6 x silicone and 3 x foam, although the ones fitted by default worked great for me.

The earphones were the first THX certified earphones. The are also Hi-Res. They have won at least 12 media awards and recommendations and 17 international design awards over 4 years. That’s quite an impressive feat.

Opening the box, reveals a beautiful presentation. As we all know, presentation shows good attention to detail, but these are earphones, so sound is what ultimately matters. And OMG, the 1MORE Triple drivers delivery sound with authority and depth. I used these with an iPhone 6S, Samsung Galaxy S9, iPad Pro 10.5, Shanling MO and Shanling MO/Q5 combo. I listened to every genre and watched a few movies on Netflix using my Galaxy S9.

The 1MORE Triple drivers have lovely bass with good treble and mids. Being THX certified makes using these for movies ideal too. I listened to rock, jazz, classical, blues, dance and more with these earphones and just loved the presentation and quality. When I used them with even more powerful amplifcation the treble and mids were so clear.

Now have a look at my video review for more thoughts and a closer look.

Video Review

Conclusion

The 1MORE Triple driver earphone is highly recommended. It delivers satsiying sound across the entire spectrum and shows why the 3.5mm headphone jack will continue to live on. These have replaced all my existing wired earphones too!

Useful Links

Latest pricing on 1MORE Triple Driver Earphones on Amazon UK

SoundPEATS Q32 Truly Wireless Earphones Review that cost less than £50 & then compared vs AirPods & Bose & OnePlus Bullets Wireless

Welcome to my review of the SoundPEATS Q32 truly Wireless Earphones that retail for just £47.99!

The Key Features

• SoundPEATS lightweight wireless bluetooth headsets without the hassle of annoying wires ensure you a more comfortable way of listening.The whole chargings box together with the double earbuds only weighs 98.5g.

• Good sound and Bluetooth 5.0.

• Easily pairing the dual earphones together allows you to enjoy a stereo sound for the music. Mono connection is available too.

• Portable charging box provides 18-20 times full charges,which means this mini charging case can additionally supply up to 60 hours amusement time for the twin headsets.In every single charge, it can last for 3 hours talk time or 80 hours standby time.

The Review

In my review of the Soundpeats Q32 I also compare them to AirPods, Bose Truly Wireless Soundsport Earphones & OnePlus Bullets Wireless.

Useful Links

Soundpeats Q32 latest pricing on Amazon

Bose Soundsport Free Wireless Earphones Review vs AirPods, Sony WF-1000X, Optoma NuForce BE Free8 & More

Welcome to my review of the Bose Soundsport Free Wireless Earphones. These are Bose’s answer to Apple’s AirPods and all the other totally wireless earphones on the market.

Key Specifications

– Truly wireless for total freedom of movement
– Volume EQ adjustment for music sound clear and powerful
– Earbuds are sweat and weather resistant (with an IPX4 rating) and come with 3 different pairs of Stay Hear+ Sport tips (in sizes S/M/L) that provide a comfortable and secure fit
– Up to 5 hours of play time with each charge and an additional 10 hours with the charging case
– Track lost earbuds with the Bose Connect app’s “Find My Buds” feature
– Bose Connect app also updates the firmware

Conclusion

The Bose Soundsport Free Wireless earphones are excellent and recommended depending on where and with what device you’re using them with in terms of bluetooth capabilities.

Useful Links

Bose Soundsport Free Wireless earphones latest pricing on Amazon UK
Optoma NuForce BE Free8 Wireless Earphones latest pricing on Amazon UK

Optoma NuForce BE Free8 review
Sony WF-1000X review

Focal Elear Headphones Review – A Dream Pair of Headphones

The Focal Elear headphones cost around £800 and are an open back pair designed headphones. The Focal Elear feature many innovations from Focal.

For starters the Elear offers the world’s first, full range and fully open back loudspeaker, built-in to a pair of headphones. They are made from an Aluminum-Magnesium blend, in a formed shape, brand new “M” shape dome speaker. This new dome shape has originated from the research performed during the £3,500 Focal Utopia headphone. In fact the Elear also benefits from a lot of the R&D done on Utopia.

The acoustic quality and design of the Elear means that Focal menaced to avoid the use of any crossover or passive filtering process in order to achieve a frequency response from 5Hz to 23kHz.

So what does all this fancy tech mean. Quite simply the headphones virtually disappear and provide a truly unique high-fidelity audio experience. The headphones are also very comfortable too.

The Key Specifications

– Impedance 80 ohms
– SPL 104db
– Frequency Response – 5Hz to 23kHz
– Loudspeaker – 137⁄64“ (40mm) Aluminum-Magnesium “M” shape dome
– Weight – 450g

The Musical Experience

One word for these headphones. Incredible. And like nothing you have listened to before. The Focal Elear headphones are also relatively easy to drive but do need a separate amp for optimum performance. My LG V30 and even my Fiio Q1 mk2 were powerful enough to drive these. However, upping the ante to a £400 Audio-gd USB DAC/Amp and the bar gets raised again.

What makes the Elear so special to listen to? Everything appears as if its being performed in the room. The headphones disappear. Singers appear in front of you, instrument separation and soundstage is off the charts good. Bass is fast, deep and impactful. The experience is staggering. Every genre I tried was a new experience and rediscovering every song in my collection.

Video Review

Conclusion

In your lifetime you owe it to yourself to own a pair of these. Highly highly recommended.

Useful Links

Focal UK
Focal Headphones on Amazon UK