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Reviews by: Currawong

The Shozy Zero IEMs are inexpensive, yet well-made and deliver a high quality sound at a very low price.

Posted

Pros: Well made, good sound and overall balance that works with a variety of genres. A lack of harshness or distortion at moderate levels. Price.

Cons: Rubbery cable gets tangled easily and is a bit noisy. Not so great at louder volumes.

  Some time ago I received a package in the mail inside of which was a small bag with a pair of IEMs and a note to burn them in for 100 hours with orchestral music. The IEMs turned out to have come from Charles at Shozy (and Cozoy), the maker of the Alien DAP.  Very small with wood and metal housings and in-built cable (which uses high-quality wire according to Charles from Shozy) their only negative is the rubbery outer sheath of the cable which makes it tangle easily and transmits a bit of noise.   The first time I listened to them, knowing nothing about them, I was very pleasantly surprised at the good, and fairly evenly-balanced sound, and general lack of any...
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The Soundaware M1 Analog and Pro are very pleasant to listen with, but are let down by lack of battery life, power and high output impedance.

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Pros: Great sound, button layout is intuitive, digital coax mode makes for a great transport.

Cons: Lower power, short battery life, high output impedance, compromised UI.

Video review (M1 Analog with beta firmware).   Danny from DITA Audio tipped me off that I should check out Soundaware's products so I contacted them and they provided me with a D100PRO music server and the M1 Esther "Analog" to test initially, the M1 Pro arriving sometime later as part of the review tour.   From the outside, the M1 looks fairly unremarkable, with something of "yet another Chinese DAP" aesthetic. While I didn't appreciate the design visually, the curved layout of the buttons came to be handy when pressing them in a pocket or in the dark. I hope, however, that they'll follow FiiO's lead with the X5II and update the design to make it look more modern.  ...
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The Sennheiser HD800 S brings a more pleasant sound signature in exchange for technical accuracy.

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Pros: Profoundly large soundstage. Accurate imaging. Fantastic comfort. Light weight. Easy to drive.

Cons: Stock cable is expensive and, IMO, degrades the sound. Ear pad and head pad materials are not very robust.

  As the first truly new high-end dynamic-driver headphones to hit the market in quite a few years, when Sennheiser's HD800 was introduced at CES on the 8th of January 2009, they caused a massive storm. Since the last truly high-end pair of dynamic driver headphones at this level had been, arguably, Sony's R10s (the Qualia 010 is another matter altogether) and the only equally expensive headphones available at the time were Ultrasone's Edition 9s, it became something of a  re-awakening of the high-end headphone market, which subsequently exploded with Audeze and HiFiMan's planar headphones.   Not only is the design technically fantastic, but the large cups and...
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The Campfire Audio Andromedas are spacious and detailed-sounding IEMs.

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Pros: Detailed, cohesive and spacious sound. High-quality litz cable included. Well made. Nice case included.

Cons: Some people may not like the memory wire and Shure-style connector. The unusual shape may not be comfortable for everyone.

Ken Ball from ALO Audio is a big fan of the outdoors. If you see an image of nature on the ALO Audio, and now Campfire Audio web site, it will have been one he took himself. So for his new venture into in-ear monitors it was only appropriate that they be named after features of the night sky.    While I did have a listen to his first three models of IEM at a previous Tokyo headphone festival, I wasn't so enamoured by the brightness of the Jupiters, which seemed too strong for my tastes. It wasn't until this year, when I heard the Andromedas for the first time, that I was really moved by the sound. I was moved not so much because of any particular feature of the sound, but...
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The Ausdom ANC7, while sounding OK and being comfortable, don't do a good job at noise cancellation.

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Pros: Light and comfortable. Sound quality is OK.

Cons: Almost no passive noise isolation. Noise cancellation barely works at all.

  I was contacted by Ausdom to ask if I was interested in reviewing their ANC7 wireless Bluetooth headphones. I'd been asked a few times to review these headphones, especially after I reviewed the Sony h.ear model, so the timing couldn't have been better     Like the M05s, the AN7s were initially attractive out of the box -- lightweight and seemingly fairly well-built with most of the outside surfaces having a rubberised texture. This texture should last a few years before it deteriorates which I think is OK on a pair of headphones at this price. The controls are fairly straight-forward, the buttons have bumps on them making it easy to feel for the control you want....
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The Meze 11 Neo IEMs are an incredible bargain, with sound quality normally found in much more expensive models.

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Pros: Well made with metal parts and nice cable. Excellent sound with fantastic bass and crisp treble. Tip rolling works well. Comply tips included.

Cons: Somewhat upper-mid forward with stock tips. Smartphone-only version. No "choker".

  When Anthony Meze revealed the 99 Classic full-sized headphones, he surprised everyone with their unique design and good sound. Not content to stop there, he turned his attention to IEMs, the result of which is the 11 series and the latest metal "Neo" version. Like the 99s, he sought both a classy design and good sound, and from my initial impressions has managed to pull of both. Out of the box they are elegant, from the aluminium earpieces, splitter and plug, to the translucent cable through which you can see the braided shield of the high-quality cable.   A small, round pouch is included in the box, along with Comply isolating foam tips and a cable clip. ...
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The Noontec Zoro II Wireless are a comfortable, light-weight, inexpensive and good-sounding pair of wireless headphones.

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Pros: Good sound both wireless and wired. Light weight. Fold neatly. APTx Bluetooth. Very comfortable and stylish.

Cons: Poor isolation. Not so good at loud volumes. No hard case.

Video review.   It all started some time ago with a message asking me if I’d like a free review sample of some headphones from a creatively off-beat name. I’d seen the name around Head-Fi and only guessed that they were inexpensive and may actually be half-decent, so I accepted. Later it turned out that they appeared to have given away quite a few pairs to people to review and that they were cheaper than expected. At under the $100 mark they were on the end of the scale that I usually ignored except when a handful of cheap-headphone-spotters would start arguing about over them in the forums.   The small box that arrived with a front revealing-flap did...
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The Woo Audio WA8 is a lovely-sounding single-unit transportable high-end rig.

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Pros: Warm yet detailed and spacious sound. Drives everything from high-end headphones to IEMs easily. Very well made. DAC is great.

Cons: Heavy for a portable device. Poor battery life.

  Until recently, one of the most daring things I'd seen on an amp was the large block of glass atop Woo Audio's WA7 Fireflies. The amp, a simple, yet good-sounding transformer-coupled tube amp performed, I reckon, above it's $999 price (ignoring the DAC), and gives an IKEA-like style to the world of headphone amps. That was until Jack Wu decided he was going to make a portable version.     WA8s at the 2016 SF meet at Wikia   Let's get the major bits out of the way first: It weighs 1.09 kg or 2.4 lbs. This is purely crazy. The weight isn't just from the battery, it's actually mostly from the case and the two transformers, as the WA8 is not a hybrid....
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MrSpeakers' Ether Flow makes an already great pair of headphones even better.

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Pros: Comfortable, not too heavy, Nitinol headband is great. Outstanding sound quality. Great cable.

Cons: Upgrade for existing owners must be done at the factory.

  I was lucky enough to be sitting with Dan Clarke in his office at the moment Jude's video about the original Ethers went live and my experiences with them before, and during CanJam SoCal 2015 lead me to buy the demo pair I'd taken home with me. Dan had bet his entire company on the product and subsequent Ether C headphones, his Foxtex-based models going into retirement. It thankfully paid off.    Not one to rest, for even a moment, Dan released V1.1, a simple update consisting of a piece of specially chosen foam. I forgot to grab that for my own pair, but thankfully didn't forget to grab a pair of the new Ether Flow at the San Francisco meet this year.  The name...
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Chord's DAVE is transcendental headphone listening in a single box.

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Pros: Amazing sound quality. Very good headphone drive. Measures outstandingly.

Cons: Very expensive. Generic remote control. Unattractive user interface.

When I was a child in the '80s, one of my neighbour's kids, a gloriously goofy-looking guy of the era, was always out on his driveway fixing his motorbikes, then later, his car, a vintage Ford V8. Amongst the memories of grease, gears and the like was his response to questions of how to fix any problem. "Use a bigger hammer" he'd say, jokingly, something anyone of that era who did their own mechanics can appreciate the humour of.    That expression stuck in my head since then, and came to mind once again listening with the Chord DAVE. With the many different, and seemingly conflicting approaches to digital music reproduction, the one problem that manufactures come up against...
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Head-Fi.org › Currawong › Reviews by Currawong