Tag: headphones

Read More

Grado GS1000e

After Grado Labs shipped to me the GS1000e headphones, but before they arrived, I realized my mistake. Big sound comes in matching size. So used to the Brooklyn-based company’s signature on-ear designs, I somehow overlooked that the pricey Statement Series audiophile cans are over-ear and overly large. It’s all about the earcups and pads. The RS1e, which I previously owned and sold, measure 17 x 8 x 19 cm (6.69 x 3.15 x 7.48 inches). The GS1000e: 23.11 x 8.89 x 23.88 cm (9.1 x 3.5 x 9.4 inches). As I feared, the Grados look enormous on my head, unbecoming. But, Hell, I accept the indignity of a big slab of iPhone against my face—why fuss?

Size isn’t the only difference from other Grados. I don’t hear the classic audio signature, but something else. Something better. Out of the box, with no burn-in, sound is smooth, expansive, and detailed. Well-rounded. Finely balanced. The open-air, over-ear styling truly is circumaural, spreading soundstage in placement you can close your eyes and see. Feel. There is an audio authenticity unlike any other headphones ever to touch (or cover) my ears—and that’s with less than 10 hours use. Cans like these improve with age; burn-in is everything.

BTW, I used the Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR lens to shoot the Featured Image, which I considerably edited to remove some of the yellowish tint from the Jan. 25, 2017 evening capture (8:26 p.m. PST). Vitals: f/4, ISO 5000, 1/60 sec, 35mm.

Read More

Master & Dynamic MW50 Review

Headphone manufacturers must make deliberate audio signature decisions when crafting cans. Some shops, like GradoLabs, adopt a house sound. Relative newcomer Master & Dynamic‘s design ethic seeks to equally please eyes and ears. As such, its flagship wired headphones (MH40) and wireless (MW60) share similar industrial design. Aluminum, lambskin, leather, and stainless steel combine in rugged style that evokes aviators of a bygone era. The newer MW50 Bluetooth headphones strongly resemble the other two, but they’re tuned for younger listeners on the move.

M&D’s earlier cans are over-ear—meaning they cover the lobes, while the MW50 rest on them. The headphones are smaller and lighter than either the MH40 or MW60, but with most of the overall benefits of the latter, including excellent wireless reception. On-ear headphones can be uncomfortable to wear and leak in too much ambient noise. The MW50 push past both typical limitations, which, honestly, surprises me. I personally don’t find the design to be as attractive as the over-the-ear cans. It’s about the earcups, which function matters more, however. The lambskin-covered ear pads are immensely comfortable, and the MW50 arguably are better all-around-wear than their siblings. I would take them outdoors on a walk, for example.  

Read More

Master & Dynamic Unleashes MW50 Wireless Cans

I am a big fan of on-ear headphones, which attitude bucks the noise-cancellation trend. The design is a nice compromise between over-ear and open-back styles—the latter of which can present the best soundstage. Cans that rest on the ears, rather than cover them, tend to be lighter and confer airier, more natural sound. However, they also leak noise both ways, which makes them less appealing for commuter trains or air travel.

Since I reviewed MW60 Wireless last week, I simply must point out that Master & Dynamic launched MW50 on-ear Bluetooth headphones today. Yes, I plan to review them in the near future. The company says the Fifty is one-third lighter than the Sixty, while adhering to the same, retro-design ethic and modern materials—aluminum, lambskin, leather, and stainless steel. 

Read More

Master & Dynamic MW60 Review

For Christmas 2015, I bought myself a new pair of Bluetooth headphones. After trying several sets, I settled on Master & Dynamic MW60, which were a fantastic choice then and are still my top recommendation nearly a year later. The wireless cans replaced my beloved Grado RS1e—no small feat.

Read no further and buy the M&D cans, if wireless listening is priority—and should be if using iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, which lack 3.5 mm jack. Authentic audio, spacious soundstage, and full fidelity (without over-punchy bass) make the MW60 the gold standard for Bluetooth cans. 

Read More

Grado RS1e Review

Yesterday I sold my beloved Grado RS1e headphones, which get my highest recommendation. Parting ways, time is long overdue for a review, even if post-mortem. I let go the cans mainly because my lifestyle changed. Being tethered by wires is too confining; I listen to music more on the move now. As such, fine-fidelity Bluetooth cans—Master & Dynamic MW60—give great sound with more flexibility and mobility.

I purchased the RS1e direct from manufacturer Grado Labs in late July 2014, soon after release. Grado is a family-owned/run Brooklyn, New York-based business that opened in 1953 offering turntable cartridges. In 1990, the company starting selling headphones, which are hand-crafted and tested for the distinctive, sound signature that defines them. Founder Joseph Grado passed away in February 2015 at age 90. 

Read More

MH40 Exhibitionism Edition

If you’re headed to London, or live there, the Rolling Stones have a new exhibit (opened last week) at the Saatchi Gallery. Exhibitionism will be there until early September. After which, the gala moves on to 11 other cities, including New York and Paris. Adults can expect to pay £22 (more than US $30, depending on exchange rate that day). VIP tix are £60.

The memorabilia-filled exhibit is meant to be a nostalgic look at the iconic, aging rock band, which youngest member is (cough, cough) 66. But Exhibitionism is as much about selling collectibles, one of which I can’t resist calling attention to: “special edition” MH40 headphones. I reviewed the standard set, which sound exactly the same, on March 29th. 

Read More

Look What Happened to My Grados

My beloved wired headphones quite literally fell apart the other day. I’m aghast, because these cans are treated lovingly; never rough-housed. I don’t exaggerate explaining that the left earcup fell off the the headband’s metal strip. I couldn’t understand what happened, initially. I can slip the thing back together, but the fit’s imperfect.

I used my birthday money and sales of some other gear to buy the Grado Labs RS1e in July 2014. The open-air design and 50mm driver deliver fantastic soundstage that is best of class at almost any price. They look good, too, or mine did until the earcup separation maneuver. I still use them but will contact Grado about a fix. Replacement? Absolutely not! They’re broken in, and I am accustomed to their sound. Repair is good.

Read More

Master & Dynamic MH40 are Great Cans

Newcomer is the only way to describe Master & Dynamic, which on Dec. 31, 2015 completed its first full year of revenue. Young or not, its audio gear is vintage and refined. Wanna see? You can find the MH40 headphones, which look like something World War II bomber pilots would wear, inside any Apple Store. Distribution partnership of that caliber from a near start-up says much about M&D earphones and headphones—design, price, and sound.

The signature sound is full, which is atypical in a market where booming bass ranks among headphone buyers’ top priorities. But for those listeners who delight in the faintest tap of the symbol, warmest treble, and deep lows that reveal details rather than thump, thump, Master & Dynamic delivers. For Christmas I bought the company’s MW60 wireless headphones, which I will review soon. Today’s topic is the MH40, which are wired. 

Read More

The Pricey and the Priceless

Christmas came early this month, with the acquisition of Google Pixel C tablet and Master & Dynamic MW60 wireless headphones. So Santa rightfully pulled only a few items from the sack—and they are more than I deserved. The pricey: Sunglass clips for my spectacles and Hard Graft Atelier Hang Camera Strap (pictured) for my Fujifilm X-T1. Priceless; Necklace made by my wife.

The strap is in some respects more than the X-T1 needs, being such a compact, mirrorless camera. But the accessory commands more respect, hangs the Fuji better around my back, and easily pulls up for hand carrying. A last-minute purchase, Hard Graft shipped from United Kingdom on December 22nd for Christmas Eve delivery. I must thank DHL for calling that day to ensure someone would be home and by ringing allowing me to provide the apartment complex gate code. 

Read More

Six Headphones for Christmas

As Christmas comes closer, it’s time to think about rewarding your ears, or someone else’s, with exceptional audio experience—headphones that I would ask Santa to bring for myself or deliver to another. If big, booming bass is your thing, read no further. Buy Beats, Sony, or another brand boasting barreling lows that shake your skull as well as eardrums.

My picks deliver broader audio range, each with warmer mids and highs and amazing detail, depending somewhat on the source of your content. Highly compressed AAC or MP3 tracks lack lots, but these cans will get a little more fidelity from them. CD or lossless source might change how you listen to music forever. 

Read More

Painful Parting

Last night, I returned to Amazon the Sennheiser Momentum 2 wireless headphones received on Nov.8, 2015. The retailer promises full refund. My ears ache from using them, even with the volume low. The problem is bass response, which is too intense for my aged ears. At the same time, I removed the Grado Labs RS1e from Craigslist. I will keep the wired cans.

I let go the Bluetooth set reluctantly. I like the design, construction, materials, and controls. Wireless connects easily and provides ample volume. But bass booms, and the devices on which I listen have limited graphic equalizer or none at all. 

Read More

Flickr a Day 317: ‘Jacky’

Are you feeling lucky? We come to our third Friday the 13th in 2015 (there is but one next year). The other two were in February and March on Days 44 and 72. Good photographers make their own luck, as Teymur Madjderey did the last time there was Friday 13th in November, 2009, while traveling in southern Germany (he lives in Cologne, which is his hometown).

“This was taken in a very nice hotel in Karlsruhe”, he says, “in  the Hotel Der Blaue Reiter. Gotta get back there at some point and discover the other great rooms they have”. Our runner-up better shows off the room. Teymur used the same model for both photos. He shot self-titled “Jacky” using Nikon D3 and 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 400, 1/200 sec, 29mm.