JBL's new Everest line of headphones features around-ear, on-ear, and in-ear styles that are billed as combining up-market audio technology, ergonomics and wireless connectivity. We recently got hold of a pair of the flagship Everest 700 Elite model and hit play to see what they could do.
With a few notable exceptions, you'd be forgiven for thinking that laptop audio circuitry is something of a manufacturing afterthought, with decisions on such things made at the very end of the design process when there's very little money left in the pot. Plugging a pair of top drawer headphones into a notebook's (often cheap and cheerful) audio out jack can therefore be a little disappointing, leading many music lovers to look to the USB ports for help. Though some USB digital-to-analog converters and headphone amps can be a good deal bigger than the laptop they're connected to, and have a suitably large price tag to match, smaller options are available. The successfully-crowdfunded ZuperDAC from Zorloo, for example, is about the size of a USB thumb drive and supports audio file resolutions right up to 24-bit/192 kHz. We've spent the last few weeks diving into our hi-res FLAC and WAV vault for some lossless easy listening.
Master & Dynamic has been drawing attention in the personal audio market as of late, combining quality audio with sharp design. We were recently sent a pre-production review unit of its latest MW60 Wireless Over Ear Headphones to check out ... inside of a high-quality aluminum travel case from Zero Halliburton, no less.
When it comes to streaming music through wireless headphones or earbuds, Bluetooth's functional range may not let you roam as freely as you'd like. The MW60 headphones from Master & Dynamic address that problem via wireless antennas that are designed to reach four times farther than the industry standard.
Nearly 25 years ago Sennheiser introduced its Orpheus headphones, which were widely considered at the time to be at the leading edge of headphone design and quality – they cost US$16,000. For the last 10 years, engineers at Sennheiser have been trying to improve upon that original design and they've now produced a successor. The company claims the new Orpheus are the "best headphones in the world" – and they come at an even higher price tag of around €50,000 (US$55,100).
We were mighty impressed by the Mo-Fi headphones from Blue Microphones when we reviewed them last year, but they were a little weighty and quite expensive. Today the company has revealed the Lola headphones, which feature the same 50 mm custom drivers, "ear-shaped" pads and multi-jointed headband as the Mo-Fi, but are lighter and cheaper. They are lacking in one important area though.
Earlier this month, Bang & Olufsen revealed a monstrous 90th anniversary wireless speaker called the BeoLab 90 costing US$40,000 and capable of throwing out 8,200 watts via 18 drivers. The company has now followed this with something a whole lot cheaper, a good deal smaller and a touch more personal. B&O says that the BeoPlay H7 premium over-ear headphones offer users gesture-based touch control of music playback and will deliver its Signature Sound whether the wearer opts to listen over Bluetooth or via the supplied cable.
Many companies have leaped gleefully into the choppy, Bluetooth-tinted waters of personal wireless listening, but Bowers & Wilkins has made a more measured entry. Citing advancements in Bluetooth technology, namely the aptX standard, the British firm has felt compelled to join the party, rolling out a wireless version of its highly rated P5 Series 2 headphones. After spending some time with the plush leather pads pressed against our ears, we've got some thoughts on how they stack up, and we feel devotees of the company's high-end equipment won't be disappointed with its decision to cut the cord.
Personal music players have liberated us from the home hi-fi system and made music mobile. But there is a downside, particularly for younger listeners. According to the World Health Organization, over a billion young music lovers risk hearing loss by exposing themselves to unsafe volume levels when grooving on the move or having a good time at noisy bars and sporting events. The Aegis Pro headphones from 16-year-old Kingsley Cheng are designed to ensure that audio output never strays above a safe level, while also promising optimum sonic quality.
While basic earbuds will get the job done, many eventually choose to upgrade their audio with something that both looks and sounds better. If you happen to have an appreciation for precision-machining and fine material, the latest from Master & Dynamic may catch your fancy. The ME05 earphones feature 8-mm Neodymium drivers encased in a solid brass body with a hand-finished shine.