Category Archives: Headphone

iFi ZEN DAC v2 review

Welcome to my review of the iFi ZEN DAC v2 which retails for £159.

The Key Features

  • Compact Digital Analogue Converter for home audio, office, or desktop use
  • Connect via USB3.0 (USB2.0 compatible) input from your USB source such as a computer or Digital Audio Player (DAP). Output to headphones, active speakers, or amplifier with 6.3mm Unbalanced / 4.4mm Balanced / RCA connections
  • Hear familiar songs in a whole new light with rich detail and warm natural tones created by the Burr Brown True Native digital to analogue converter which can process any hi-res audio format up to PCM 384kHz/24 bit, DSD256, DXD 384kHz, and decodes MQA all without additional conversion so you can listen exactly as the artist intended.
  • Variable analogue volume control, PowerMatch adjustment for iEMs/On & Over Ears, and TrueBass to add bass to iEMs and a new and improve low jitter clock with >20dB improved performance, you can listen to your music with smoother, cleaner, playback.
  • New 16 core XMOS chip that now decodes MQA and runs DSD 256 on the same firmware. Original version had a 8 core XMOS chip and was a MQA renderer.
  • Military Grade Aluminium makes up a sturdy and sleek exterior.

Video Review

Conclusion

An exceptional DAC from iFi audio. Great clarity and detail with superb musicality. Brings your headphones to life. 9.8/10. Highly recommended.

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Best budget IEMs in 2021 for under £30 – KZ ZSN Pro X review

Welcome to my review of the KZ ZSN Pro X that retails for £20. Not all IEMs are created equal, but what do you get for just £20?

Key Features

  • KZ ZSN PRO X In Ear Headphone is an upgraded version of KZ ZSN PRO earphone. Soundstage and feelings are comprehensively improved, covering unit drivers, sound quality, cable material and appearance.
  • 1BA 1DD Hifi Earbud Headphone: Combined with redefined 10mm dual magnetic dynamic driver and 30095 high frequency balanced armature driver on this KZ ZSN PRO X earphone, tuned by professional acoustic team, the frequency response becomes wider and the human voice become richer and clearer.
  • Shining Metal and Resin Shell: The Unique sparkle of the Zinc Alloy metal is combined with resin, fashion and durable. The curved cavity follows the ergonomic design concept and fits the ear tightly and comfortably. With the elastic memory PU tube around the ear, it can be more firmly and freely.
  • Detachable C PIN 3.5mm Jack Earphone Cable: Detachable features provides more ways of combination with this KZ ZSN PRO X earphone at your different needs. 4 strands of 100 wires silver plated copper cable can effectively enhances the details resolution, the loss and distortion in signal transmission are reduced.

Video Review

Conclusion

For £20 the KZ ZSN Pro X is an astonishingly good value IEM that you just can’t go wrong with. Pleasing sound and easily driven from a portable device or smartphone. Recommended. 7.5/10.

THX Onyx review – THX AAA DAC/AMP Dongle that redefines sound quality!

Welcome to my review of the THX Onyx portable DAC amplifier equipped with THX AAA technology which retails for £199. 

So what’s is all the fuss about this dongle. THX AAA technology has been taking the audio scene by storm. It enables the world’s highest fidelity audio and maximum dynamic range, whilst still being able to drive power hungry, audio grade headphones with significant volume. 

In addition it features a MQA renderer supporting services that provide this from Tidal. This is direct rendering using the DAC. 

Key Features 

  • Headphones impedance range 22-1,000 ohms
  • Dynamic range 118db
  • Output power per channel at 22 ohms 180mW
  • THX AAA-78 technology 
  • MQA renderer 
  • ESS ES9281Pro DAC
  • Connect via USB or USB-c, android, iOS, Windows 10 or Mac. 
  • Compatible with mic / non mic headphones 
  • With iOS products, there is no call functionality 
  • Magnetic cable management 
  • CNC machined metal chassis 
  • THX standards included 

Video Review 

Conclusion 

OMG. What a killer dongle DAC. 9.8/10 

Useful Links

Jabra Elite 85t True Wireless Earphones review

Welcome to my review of the Jabra Elite 85t True Wireless Earphones. These retail for £219.

Key Features

  • Advanced Active Noise Cancellation gives you full sound control with an adjustable ANC slider combined with 6 built-in microphones for crystal clear calls
  • Powerful speakers combined with voice assistant: 12 mm speakers deliver clear audio with strong bass for an impressive music experience – Works with Amazon Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant
  • Up to 5.5 hours of battery time with ANC on, and up to a total of 25 hours with the charging case – Use without ANC for up to 31 hours with the case
  • ACompact size with three sizes of oval EarGels and pressure relief vents for maximum all-day comfort
  • In the box: Jabra Elite 85t earbuds, wireless charging case, USB-C charging cable, 3 sets of oval silicon eargels – Weight: Earbuds 7 g each, charging cradle 45.1 g – Colour: Titanium black
  • Product comes with a 2-year warranty – registration required
  • Wireless range: Up to 10 m
  • Charging time: 3 hours 
  • Wireless Charging time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • 5 minutes fast charge in charging case gives up to 1 hour of battery
  • Bluetooth 5.1 standard
  • IPX4 dust and water-resistant (earbuds only)
  • Wireless charging case – Qi Certified
  • AAC and SBC codecs

Video Review

Conclusion

The Jabra Elite 85t is the best true wireless earphones that I have used to date. Gold star recommendation 9.9/10.

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Edifier TWS1 Pro True Wireless Earphones review

Welcome to my review of the Edifier TWS1 Pro True Wireless earphones that retail for £49.

Key Features

  • Qualcomm® TrueWirelessTM Mirroring technology supports dynamic and seamless bud-to-bud role-swapping
  • Qualcomm® aptXTM Adaptive provides both lossless and low-latency transmission of audio*
  • Qualcomm® cVcTM 8.0 noise cancellation ensures clear phone calls • High-quality PU + titanium diaphragm delivers crystal-clear sound with punchy bass and rich details
  • Up to 12 hours continuous playback for earbuds per charge
  • 42 hours playtime with 40-minute quick charge of charging case
  • Volume control supported 

Video Review

Conclusion

The Edifier TWS1 Pro are a nonsense great sounding budget true wireless earphone that work and sound really well. Highly recommended 8.5/10.

Useful Links

Edifier TWS1 Pro True Wireless Bluetooth Earphones

HiFiMan HE400se Planar Magnetic Headphone Review

Welcome to my review of the HiFiMan HE400se Planar Magnetic headphones that retail for $150.

Key Features

  • Frequency response 20hz – 20hz
  • Impedance – 25ohms 
  • Sensitivity 91db
  • Weight 390g

The HiFiMan HE400se features a stealth magnet design that reduces wave diffraction turbulence and lowers distortion to barely audible levels. It is worth noting that the global model uses a silver copper cable.

Video Review

Conclusion

The HiFiMan HE400se represent astonishing value for a planar magnetic headphone. Dynamic and lively, highly recommended. 8/10.

Huawei Freebuds Studio Headphones review – Flagship Headphones from Huawei

 

Welcome to my review of the Huawei Freebuds Studio headphones which retail for £229.

Key Specs

  • Intelligent noise cancellation: with chipsets and sensors, the headphones offer hybrid active noise cancellation, attention mode and uplink noise cancellation during voice calls
  • Box contents: Huawei FreeBuds Studio, wireless ANC headphones with Bluetooth in graphite black, including case, charging cable USB-C, quick start guide, warranty card and safety information
  • Dynamic ANC: The multi-scene perception system, consisting of an IMU1 sensor and microphone system, automatically adjusts noise cancellation in different environments
  • Attention mode: Activate the ANC button in attention mode to allow ambient noise/set the “voice highlight” mode in the Al Life app to reduce noise
  • Noise cancelling for calls: the 4 outward facing microphones accurately pick up the sound from the direction of the voice – 2 inward microphones make voices more clearly audible
  • Dual Antenna: The headphones offer wide signal coverage with dual antenna design, even when the phone is in the bag or other disturbing environment
  • Low latency gaming mode: the algorithm for encoding wireless audio signals significantly reduces signal latency to provide a more intense gaming experience

The Huawei Freedbuds Studio are Huawei’s answer to Sony XM4’s and Apple AirPods Max headphones. In terms of comfort they do a great job. Sound quality is close to the Sony but not at Apple’s level. But like all headphones, the feature set on certain hardware is what can make or break these headphones in the eye of the purchaser. So watch my video review to find out more.

Video Review

Conclusion

The Huawei Freebuds Studio sound terrific and have excellent noise cancellation. To get the most from the feature set you really need a Huawei phone. They still work really well on android phones but there is no app available on iOS. Verdict 8/10.

Useful Links

More info & latest pricing on Huawei Freebuds Studio on Amazon – Click HERE.

 

AirPods Max review – 3 months later

Welcome to my review of the AirPods Max which retail for £549.

The Key Features

  • Apple-designed dynamic driver provides high-fidelity audio
  • Active Noise Cancellation blocks outside noise, so you can immerse yourself in music
  • Transparency mode for hearing and interacting with the world around you
  • Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking provides theater-like sound that surrounds you
  • Computational audio combines custom acoustic design with the Apple H1 chip and software for breakthrough listening experiences
  • Designed with a knit-mesh canopy and memory foam ear cushions for an exceptional fit

 

Video Review from Dec 2020

 

3 Months Later

So what is my view after using them for a longer period and have there been any new issues. In terms of ease of use, sound quality, movie experience and instant device switching etc, there are amazing. I still think these sound better than the Sony XM4, but to justify their extra cost, you must have a few pieces of Apple hardware to gain the benefit of all of their features. No surprises that Apple Music sound the best thru them as well.  I did have a blue colour originally but I not have space grey which I think is the more practical finish as it will show less dirt over time.  So some of the issues have been unexpected battery drain. This should be a firmware fix and maybe Apple can add a power off sequence too using the buttons as that would help. With three plus hours of continuous use, condensation build up starts to appear under the magnetic cups. This does evaporate. My advice is simply to check if using for a long period and wipe away or take some breaks.

 

Conclusion

My opinion still stands. If you are all in on Apple hardware, there is nothing quite like these. The best wireless headphone. 9.5/10.

 

Useful Links

Latest pricing on Amazon for the AirPods Max – click HERE.

Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch review – HiFi grade True Wireless Earphones!

Welcome to my review of the Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch earphones that retail for £129.

The Key Features 

  • Bluetooth 5, class 2
  • Triple core processor architecture
  • Qualcomm QCC3020 & Kalimba DSP
  • APT-x, AAC and SBC
  • Low latency
  • 7mm Graphene enhanced dynamic driver
  • 9 hours continuous battery life
  • 2 hours to charge from  0 to 100%
  • MEMS mics with cVc noise cancellation
  • Siri or Google Assistant
  • IPX4 – case and earphones
  • Each earbud weighs 5.4g

Within my video review I show you how to setup the headphones, all the companion apps features and settings, discuss the audio quality, the HiFi audio and call quality. Video latency is discussed as well as the fit and finish. Finally, I compare these to AirPods and AirPods Pro.

Video Review

Conclusion

A truly cracking set of true wireless earphones with an excellent companion app. Highly recommended 9/10.

Useful Links

Latest pricing and more info on the Melomania Touch on Amazon – click HERE.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless ANC Headphones REVIEW

Welcome to my review of the new Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless ANC headphones that retail for £349.

Key Features / Specs

– HEADPHONE TYPE – Closed, dynamic, 40mm driver, dome type (CCAW Voice coil)
– MAGNET Neodymium
– DIAPHRAGM Aluminum coated LCP
– FREQUENCY RESPONSE 4Hz-40,000Hz
– FREQUENCY RESPONSE (ACTIVE OPERATION) 4Hz-40,000Hz
– FREQUENCY RESPONSE(BLUETOOTH® COMMUNICATION) 20Hz – 20,000Hz (44.1kHz Sampling) / 20Hz – 40,000Hz (LDAC 96kHz Sampling, 990kbps)
– SENSITIVITIES (DB/MW) 105dB / mW (1kHz) (when connecting via the headphone cable with the unit turned on) , 101dB / mW (1kHz) (when connecting via the headphone cable with the unit turned off)
– CORD TYPE Single-sided (detachable)
– CORD LENGTH Headphone cable (approx. 1.2m, OFC strands, gold-plated stereo mini plug)
– PLUG – Gold-plated L-shaped stereo mini plug
– WEARING STYLE -Circumaural
– NFC – Yes
– DSEE EXTREME – Yes
– PASSIVE OPERATION – Yes
– BATTERY CHARGE TIME Approx. 3 Hours (Full charge)
– BATTERY CHARGE METHOD – USB
– BATTERY LIFE(CONTINUOUS MUSIC PLAYBACK TIME WITH INTERNAL MEMORY) – -Max. 30 hours(NC ON), Max. 38 hours(NC OFF)
– BATTERY LIFE(WAITING TIME) – Max. 30 hours(NC ON), Max. 200 hours(NC OFF)
– BLUETOOTH® VERSION – Version 5.0
– EFFECTIVE RANGE – Line of sight approx.30ft (10m)
– FREQUENCY RANGE – 2.4GHz band (2.4000GHz-2.4835GHz)
– PROFILE – A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
– SUPPORTED AUDIO FORMAT(S) – SBC, AAC, LDAC
– SUPPORTED CONTENT PROTECTION – SCMS-T
– NOISE CANCELING ON/OFF SWITCH – Yes
– PERSONAL NC OPTIMIZER – Yes
– ATMOSPHERIC PRESSURE OPTIMIZING – Yes
– AMBIENT SOUND MODE – Yes
– QUICK ATTENTION – Yes
– What’s In The Box – Carrying Case, Plug Adaptor for In-flight Use, Headphone cable (approx. 1.2m), USB Cable: Type-CTM (approx. 20 cm)

Video Review

Conclusion

Sony have delivered again with their new flagship wireless headphones. Highly recommended. 9/10

Useful Links

Latest pricing & more info on Sony WH-1000XM4’s on Amazon – Click HERE.