TouchMyApps » On-Ear http://www.touchmyapps.com All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Mon, 21 Jul 2014 18:44:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.3 Beyerdynamic T50p Manufaktur hitting the IFA; sporting sexy new leather http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/07/28/beyerdynamic-t50p-manufaktur-hitting-the-ifa-sporting-sexy-new-leathers/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/07/28/beyerdynamic-t50p-manufaktur-hitting-the-ifa-sporting-sexy-new-leathers/#comments Thu, 28 Jul 2011 12:42:40 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=55486 Beyerdynamic have been kicking out new products at what amounts to breakneck speed. Their new flagship 32Ω ultraportable headphone, T50p, was released last year has quickly developed a strong following among music lovers. At the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) Berlin, from September 2-7 of this year, Beyer will unveil the T50p Manufaktur, a customisable version of the … Read more]]>

Beyerdynamic have been kicking out new products at what amounts to breakneck speed. Their new flagship 32Ω ultraportable headphone, T50p, was released last year has quickly developed a strong following among music lovers. At the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) Berlin, from September 2-7 of this year, Beyer will unveil the T50p Manufaktur, a customisable version of the T50p featuring hot colours and new materials. Their studio and professional line have offered Manufaktur options for years. (I’ve owned two Manufaktur DT880 headphones in my tenure as a music lover can say that without a doubt, Manufaktur is the way to go if you’ve got the wonga.)

No one has done this before; the T50p Manufaktur will be the first truly customisable headphone for portable music lovers. Now, I’m not holding my breath that Beyer will allow customers to choose Ω options, especially as the T50p is specifically targeted at portable music lovers who need sensitivity and isolation to hear the great Tesla acoustics.

Update: The standard T50p starts has an MSRP of 349$ US. The T50p Manufaktur will start at 420$ US.

Pics and press release after the gap:

Specifications
Transmission type Wired
Headphone design (operating principle) Closed
Headphone impedance 32 ohms
Headphone frequency response 10 Hz – 23,000 Hz
Nominal sound pressure level 107 dB
Construction Supraaural (on-ear)
Cable & plug Straight connecting cable with mini-jack plug (3.5 mm) & ¼“ adapter (6.35 mm)
Net weight without packaging 174 g

Press Release

Farmingdale, NY, July 2011: What do the glove-like softness of buckskin, elegant stainless steel and the exclusive natural material of Nanai have in common? Combined they become headphones that touch all the senses. Both the look and the feel of the new T 50 p Manufaktur from beyerdynamic are unique. So unique that each model is one of a kind: the Heilbronn-based audio specialist produces the mobile headphones customized to customer order in the in-house headphone manufacturing plant.

In the process, there is a wide selection of colour and material combinations to choose from. Ear cups in trendy colours from cream-white to mauve and brown to olive green can be combined with leather covers on the headbands and the ear conches. Perforated buckskin, for example, is a reminder of times when automobile drivers still wore racing gloves and lends the headphones a charming retro-look. Those who like it more extravagant choose the salmon leather model: the exclusive material Nanai is also used in the fashion industry and stands out due to its characteristic structure. Its production was developed centuries ago by the East Siberian Nanai people and until today works in harmony with nature: salmon leather is 100 percent chromium-free tanned and free from allergens.

As of September, sound aesthetes can configure and order their desired models online (http://www.beyerdynamic.com/manufaktur). The tried-and-true Tesla Technology from beyerdynamic ensures acoustic quality. With its high level of efficiency, it even helps low-output MP3 players such as the iPhone or iPad achieve higher volumes and an amazing richness of details. There’s a good reason why the T 50 p series version was honoured with the sought-after EISA Award last year as European mobile headphones of the year 2010/2011. Like these headphones, the Manufaktur version is also manufactured by hand in Heilbronn. The T 50 p Manufaktur is “Made in Germany” to the core.

The T 50 p Manufaktur headphones will be displayed for the first time at the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) in Berlin from 2 to 7 September 2011, Hall 1.2, Stand 115.

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Yuin G2A headphone in Review – Light, affordable, audiophile http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/11/17/yuin-g2a-headphone-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/11/17/yuin-g2a-headphone-in-review/#comments Tue, 17 Nov 2009 08:09:20 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=23230 If Head-Direct’s RE series is a benchmark for how far Chinese-made headphones have come, Yuin, another great Chinese manufacturer, should be considered the standard by which even Head-Direct’s products are compared. Back in 2006, the Yuin PK1 startled the audio community not only with its high price, but excellent sound. In 2009, the tradition continues … Read more]]>

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If Head-Direct’s RE series is a benchmark for how far Chinese-made headphones have come, Yuin, another great Chinese manufacturer, should be considered the standard by which even Head-Direct’s products are compared. Back in 2006, the Yuin PK1 startled the audio community not only with its high price, but excellent sound. In 2009, the tradition continues with the excellent G-series of clip-on headphones which start at 49$. The G2A isn’t cheap by an realistic definition of the word, but I will sum up why it simply rocks the house and will keep listeners coming back for more for a long, foreseeable future.

Specifications:
Impedance: 60 Ohm (±3 ohms)
Sensitivity: 110dB (± 2)
Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
Cable: 120cm, straight 3.5mm gold-plated plug
Accessories: Spare foam pads

Fit and Package
Packaging often gets tossed; it is unneeded, plastic, garbage that deserves to be thrashed to pieces when opened. Well, a few Chinese companies have cooked up a good packaging recipe: high-quality cardboard boxes which not only protect the headphones, but are a breeze to open. Yuin are one of those companies. The G2A comes firmly mounted in pressure-moulded sponge with two extra ear-pads and a tiny, nearly illegible spec/guarantee sheet. Personally, I am keeping the box; it is sturdy and acts as a great holding drawer for the G2A when they are out of use on my desk. While sparse, the accessories are completely par for the course, even when compared to the more expensive v-Jays.

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The good news doesn’t end there, but is stifled: The G2A are clip-on headphones. This category is and either/or genre of headphones which you will either love or hate. Here are the reasons: firstly, clip-ons don’t fit as snugly as head-band toting headphones. Depending on the shape of your head and ears, they may stay firm, or they may bounce all over your ears. Unfortunately, I fall into the latter category because God created me with smaller than average ears. And, to make matters worse, the ear-hooks are 100% plastic, so fit issues can’t be eradicated by simply bending the hooks. Still, the G2A isn’t uncomfortable, it’s just okay. And like the v-Jays, the ear pads swivel on fulcrums so that even the most strangely angled of ears can enjoy full sound.

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Build Quality and Cable
Strange at this price point, Yuin have opted for hot-looking aluminium, not the plastic which adorns nearly every headphone below 100$. Even Ultrasone’s Zino and the excellent v-Jays come in some flavour of plastic. Leave it to the Chinese to up the ante, eh? The brushed aluminium is beautiful and adds an unexpected touch of class to this 49$ headphone which is always welcome, but in turn, has its own failings. Aluminium is a bit heavier than other lightweight materials, and because it is a soft metal, it will scratch. In keeping with the oxymoronic parade of quizzical comments, there is more to lament in the ear-hooks than just fit. The plastic is brittle and comes in hard-angles – both which negatively affect the headphone’s durability. Fortunately, nearly any cheapo airline headphone band should snap off to work with the G2A, allowing you to take Yuin’s otherwise fine headphone to new heights (yes, a pun).

Moving down the line, we find an energetic, cheap cable. Yuin make great-sounding earphones, but they still haven’t figured out where to invest a few more dollars to make a truly perfect headphone. The rubbery affair is noisy, lacks melted stress-reliefs, sports a straight-angle headphone jack, and in general, is an unfortunate choice for what is otherwise, an excellent headphone. The upside is that if you know anyone who has a halfway steady hand an a solder kit, you can do better with just about any 3rd-party cable. Still, no matter how underwhelming, the G2A cable isn’t subject to body-oil induced rot or crystalisation. It also well-insulated against channel leakage from left to right.

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Sound
If the Yuin G2A looks good for the price, it sounds even better – trust me. I can already see nitpickers bringing out ticker boards, critically scratching the left side of their papers under the heading: ‘bass quantity’. The truth is that the G2A isn’t a bassy headphone, but it has no lack of of quality or control in any frequency. Still, for users who value more, it might be better to consider options such as the v-Jays or even the Ultrasone Zino.

Low Frequencies
But overall, there is little if anything to fault with the G2A. Immediately, the headphone presents itself crisply in all frequencies, but its bass, while smooth and detailed, is rolled off in its lowest registers. In terms of quantity, the mid range stands 4-5 decibels louder in across the board, but despite its drop off, the G2A’s bass notes are great. They don’t hang on too long, nor shut up shop before closing time. This presentation is great for female vocal genres, classical, electronic music, and surprisingly, trance.

Indeed, because low frequencies are not heavy-handed and remain smear-free, they lend themselves very well to fast, punchy genres whose complicated textures can confuse certain headphones. Since the G2A is free from bloom at normal listening volumes, it simply rocks for trance, as long as you aren’t looking for sheer head-pounding bass. As volume goes up, bass response also increases, but I won’t recommend listening very loudly. Firstly, it is bad for your ears, and secondly, the bass eventually will rattle the manifold. An amplifier doesn’t really eek out more bass response from the G2A, but it does help a portable achieve lower distortion levels.

Mid Frequencies
Where bass is tight, but ultimately subdued, the midrange is this Yuin’s strong point. Most vocals and the biggest lot of instruments exist largely in the midrange, and thank God they do – the G2A is a beautiful performer. It retains the quick response and recovery time like its low frequency playback, but stuns with beautiful vocals and deft inistruments. What I am hearing is not a 49$ headphone. Actually, the G2A sounds better than the v-Jays for vocals and a variety of mid-strung instruments simply because its presentation is more dynamic in comparison to its bass.

The two are also more or less comparable in terms of space and detail. The v-Jays no doubt is a more powerful, well-made product, but both lack a little space. The G2A isn’t crowded or inarticulate, but a lot of the music from the back of the driver rebounds from the plastic manifold and the aluminium back plate back into the ear. Surprisingly, nothing is congested, but the sense of space which I really appreciate with a lot of music is somewhat stunted.

Still, the midrange is dynamic and a great fit for most musical genres. For the price, there may not be a better clip-on headphone.

High Frequencies
I will have to continue with the praise here. The Yuin is great in just about every way. It is well-extended despite softening at its extremities; it is free of grain, fatigue and sibilance. For these reasons, music which relies heavily on treble effects is simply a spot-on listen. I have been enjoying The Orb with the G2A more than I should have for the price and again, trance is nigh on perfect. It is needless to say that high frequencies stay within the lines, retain the G2A’s crisp edges, and great attack and decay.

If I were to criticise any thing, it would be that at loud volumes, the mid range jumps up with regards to treble response, covering over some of the more delicate instruments, but then again, listening at loud volumes is not recommended with any headphone anyway.

Soundstage and Separation
As mentioned above, the closed/semi closed design of the G2A has its drawbacks. Instruments never mash up against each other, but they don’t have much room to draw their own, individual breaths. Not all closed headphones are like this: my Ultrasone DJ1Pro is airy, dynamic and spacious. The G2A isn’t a spacey headphone, but it does throw music to the back and slightly forward from the ears, but overall, like the v-Jays, it keeps music right at the transducers.

Again, the G2A is a very dynamic headphone – you won’t have a hard time discerning instruments or frequencies; this fact makes a great presentation for this headphone.
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Sound in a Nutshell
The G2A is a fun listen by all accounts: with good bass, a forward mis section and smooth highs, it simply sings with most music. Add at 60 ohms and 110db sensitivity, it can be powered for a engaging listen at any volume level. In terms of audio performance alone, it is almost in a league all its own. Its only real problem is that it isn’t a spacious listen in comparison to a few competitors. The v-Jays which also come on swivel cups are slightly better, but both rely heavily on their dynamics to carry a sense of space rather than following through with properly vented rear ports. Still, for 49$, the G2A is stunning by all accounts and fortunately for many portable players, doesn’t reveal too much background hiss.

I set the iPod touch’s volume slider at about 40-50% for modern, dynamically compressed music, and for other music, anywhere from 50-70%. Apart from volume, the G2A doesn’t over stress the iPod touch, suffering the player to lose only a small bite of very low bass while maintaining high levels of channel separation, good distortion figures, and well-extended treble.

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Out and About with the G2A
Like the v-Jays and Zino, this headphone is at least semi-open, meaning that your music will leak out and the environment will leak in. The G2A like the above mentioned headphones was not designed to block noise, it was designed to sound good and work in a variety of controlled situations. Well, it does, as long as you don’t stray too close to loud environments such as the underground, buses, and crowded streets. It is best in a room, or used while exercising indoors, away from the wind.

The G2A probably blocks around 5-10 decibels of noise at best. Saying that, where it was intended to be used: away from heavy noise, it is great. But if you are daring, it will work at loud volume levels outside. Keep in mind of course, that it is detrimental to your hearing to turn the volume up loud enough to overcome traffic and people on the street. At extremely loud listening levels, it also distorts slightly, causing the manifold to vibrate uncontrollably. Also, despite its feather-weight, the cable has a mind of its own. Since the ear-hooks cannot be bent to fasten the earphones securely, the G2A may struggle slightly to stay on the head when there is too much movement. Adding to that, the cable splits about 30 cm below the earpieces, making it a hazard which will catch on lose pieces of clothing and passersby. I prefer to twist the cables so that they open about 15 cm below the earpieces to alleviate the danger of losing my headphones to someone’s bulky many-pocketed rucksack (there is a story there). Finally, microphonics arent’ too much a problem, but measure in worse than the v-Jays.

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Conclusion
From packing to product, the G2A is impressive. It sounds lovely, has great looks, and in general, works flawlessly. No one should expect a 49$ headphone to sound so dynamic, controlled, and tight. But the G2A does and it is. In fact, its mids better the more expensive v-Jays and Zino, but it loses out in terms of impact and space. Nothing is perfect. While only slightly recessed at both extremes, both bass and treble should satisfy demanding listeners who want the best bang for the buck. But the G2A fails in one important area: fit. Both its ear hooks and strangely designed cable contribute to the only downfalls of this truly incredible headphone which I reckon will be up for an editor’s choice this year (hint hint).

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App Summary
Title: G2A Developer: Yuin
Price: $49.99
  • Excellent sound
  • Tight transients, great attack and decay
  • Good looks!
  • Great, small, eco-friendly package
  • compact
  • Poor cable design (y-split, energetic)
  • Fit will not work with everyone

Hot damn! Headphones really are a rockin’ way to enjoy music, right? Feel free to explore TMA’s headphone oubliette.
v-Jays in Review – Jerry Harvey JH13Pro in Review — Victor/JVC FX500 in Review — Shure SE530 in Review — Ultrasone Zino Headphones in Review

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Jays v-Jays Headphones in Review – when Koss met Grado… http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/11/02/jays-v-jays-headphones-in-review-when-koss-met-grado/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/11/02/jays-v-jays-headphones-in-review-when-koss-met-grado/#comments Mon, 02 Nov 2009 18:49:13 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=22561 The Koss Porta Pro — which recently saw its 25th anniversary — has spawned look-a-likes, sound-a-likes, and a slew of pragmatic wannabes which can be as easily stowed and toted. Love it or hate it, the Porta Pro has left a deep imprint on the portable audio community for years and will probably continue to … Read more]]>

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The Koss Porta Pro — which recently saw its 25th anniversary — has spawned look-a-likes, sound-a-likes, and a slew of pragmatic wannabes which can be as easily stowed and toted. Love it or hate it, the Porta Pro has left a deep imprint on the portable audio community for years and will probably continue to do so. Incidentally, whenever I strap the caboose of my brain into a new headphone, I mentally compare it with my rusty old Koss. Jays’ v-Jays, though dressed in simple plastic and fitted into seen-it-before ear pads, has become a landmark headphone which surpasses many erstwhile favourites, including the stodgy Koss Porta Pro.

Specifications
Driver Type: 40 mm Mylar Speaker, Open, Dynamic
Sensitivity: 98 dB SPL @ 1 kHz
Impedance: 24 Ohm @ 1 kHz
Frequency Response: 25 Hz – 20 000 Hz
Headphones Weight: 59 grams (2.08 oz)
Cord Type: TPE coated copper wire
Length: 60 cm (24 in)
Diameter: 3 mm/2 mm, 
Plug: Straight, Gold-Plated Stereo Mini-Plug 3.5 mm (1/8 in),
 Extension Cord 70 cm (27.5 in),

Fit and Package
Over-the-ear headphones are in general, hassle free: no fiddling with seal, losing flanges, and they suffer fewer cable breakages. The downside, of course, is that if you don’t dress like MC Hammer, the headphone will not fit in a pantaloon pocket. Pretty sure most shirt pockets, too, will suffer an ostentatious bulge. Perhaps for this reason, the v-Jays are a decidedly in-between design; neither do they collapse all the way, nor do they come well-dressed in a tote bag or box. But don’t worry, things only look up from here.

Gone are the finger-cutting moulded plastic-package days of the q-Jays, d-Jays, etc.; the v-Jays can be opened without the need for surgical utensils, nor a doctor’s permission. Simply unfold and pull to enjoy. Accessories are limited but commonsensical: extra earpads, and in typical Jays’ fashion, an extension cable. This time however, even when connected, the combined length of both cables isn’t unwieldy. Jays reckon that the 60cm cable is a great length for working out with your iPod pragmatically strapped to a glistening shoulder. Good on them. And, it is obvious that the Swedish company thought about sweat: the sponge earpads can be carefully washed, and if ripped and destroyed, come with identical companions which will gladly suffer the same fate.

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While the Ultrasone Zino lacks swivelling earcups, the v-Jays is a perfect match for any shaped head because the earphones gently rotate on their fulcrums. And for both large and small heads, the v-Jays is a good stretcher: the arms extend outward from the headband a long way to accommodate a massive Shrek-sized noggin, or conversely, (and in my case), the pea-brained Donkey. The only fit issue some may have with the v-Jays is what I will deem, headphone pinch. While not a vice-like clamping force, the v-Jays enjoys the head it sits on, enthusiastically grabbing ears, making sure that both they, and it, don’t mistake who is in control.

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Build Quality and Cable
Typically, Jays’ headphones are well-built, though they have suffered cable hiccups in the past. I am told however, that those issues are behind the company, and after visiting a few distributors who handle after service repairs, I am almost certain that Jays have indeed overcome their former negligence. As a reviewer and a hopelessly lost headphone geek, I couldn’t be happier with the v-Jays. This time, the Swedes seem to have covered all the bases.

At times, I pull, pry and prod a bit here and there and to my utter satisfaction, the v-Jays are mostly solid. The generally failure-prone hinges can handle pretty gross amounts of pressure, though I would not suggest using them for back exercises. The ear speakers snap in and out with a bit of pressure – just don’t forget which is which, or you may have to learn to read lyrics from right to left. While still on the topic, one of the most admirable touches Jays added is a sweat absorbing layer along the underside of the headband which does a good job of hiding your nastiness. Again, the ear cushions are removable and if you are very careful, washable.

One of the best features of the v-Jays is it s cable which succeeds in almost every scrutable area. It is strong, perfectly relieved along all its connections, resistant to body sweat and oils and while slightly microphonic, doesn’t rip through your music with every wayward brush of fabric. What isn’t publicised is the excellent internal pin arrangement inside the female portion of the extension cable. Unlike most companies, Jays utilise more many pins to ensure the long life of the cable; if one, two, or even three break, the cable will still output sound. Most companies install only one pin per channel.

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Without the extension, it is perfect for plugging into an arm-mounted digital audio player, and when attaching the extension, is the perfect length for both pocket and/or purse use. Even the straight plug which is often a liability, has enough flexibility and strength to shield both the plug and jack, but given that users ostensibly will be listening to the v-Jays with with portables, it is unfortunate that the v-Jays do not come with a right-angle plug for protection of both player and headphone investments. Also, the cable lacks external bumpers/anchors from the speaker arms. Still, v-Jays’ construction quality is head and shoulders above any competing headphone and even stands tall against much more expensive headphones.

Sound
While naturally a subjective matter, sound is the meat and potatoes of 3rd-party headphones; if they don’t match up to, or exceed their competitors, no manner of excellent engineering is going make them worthwhile. I won’t go on the record saying that the v-Jays is the best sounding headphone on the planet, but it is a fine-sounding product which favours the low end without tossing too much of the other goodies out the window.

One thing to note: like the Ultrasone Zino, the v-Jays is not designed to trap the music inside your scull. Its open design allows music out and other noises in. Thus, if you are looking for an earphone to use on the bus or train, you will have to look elsewhere, unless you like to annoy those around you and break your ears 40 years early.

Low frequencies
Let’s get the bump on folks! This headphone kicks out great, volumnous bass which accents everything from electronic to jazz with border-guard authority. And while there are better-sounding headphones out there, few if any can balance the musical and build qualities as well. Jays specify a lower boundary of 25Hz, which the headphone can stoop down to, but not with the fluidity of a 14-year old Chinese acrobat; 50Hz and below is steeply attenuated, almost to the point inaudibility when compared to other low frequencies. For instance, Markus Schultz’ Mainstage, a song whose rumbling intro is a personal benchmark for real-world bass performance, lacks the familiar rumble until the melody picks up with more typical driving trance beats.

However, light portable headphones into which category the v-Jays fall aren’t usually stellar performers; they belt out bass, and in their own sense of balance, either a strong high or mid range, but there is always something lacking. Often, competing headphones sacrifice clarity for brute force. Though the v-Jays doesn’t blaze out sub-bass, it spouts a fibrous, hefty bass which is well-suited to almost any musical genre. Massive Attack is killer, but so too are violins, guitar, and drums: each of which are natural and moving. In general, control is quite good, but decay at around 70-100Hz isn’t superb and with soft music, howl faintly between notes. Rhythm is excellent even in complicated electronic music, and at least at the insistence of the respectable iPod touch 2G, remain clearly defined and smear-free.

Like the Zino, there is no bloom or loss of focus; the v-Jays low frequencies are great, if somewhat anxious. What I mean is that the v-Jays performs up to my expectations, but without the typical steroid-enhanced, glistening duff duff of even the legendary Koss Porta Pro. Bass is a very realistic, pleasing sound with just the right kick in the pants.

Mid Frequencies
In the often graceless ~100$ category of folding headphones, the v-Jays has a touch of reserved midrange class. Full-sounding and powerful, instruments aren’t hot, nor over-poised – they don’t seep into other frequencies and blur the lows and highs. Clear and succinct, yet subtly strong, the v-Jays is a good performer for pop, rock, trance, jazz, etc.. Considering that the box says, ‘Heavy Bass Speaker’, I am surprised by how well the mids stand out in relation to an active bass.

In fact, in this class of headphone, the v-Jays is among the best I have heard and supports a mid-range which suffers only slightly when compared to low frequencies. For reference, the midrange of the v-Jays is more natural sounding than the somewhat thin and reedy Ultrasone Zino midrange. It is also more dynamic, but lacks the same sense of space and detail. Where the v-Jays trump the Ultrasone is vocals – voices are close enough to centre focus that the lusty voices of Madeleine Peyroux and Dianna Krall are great listens. Even when spinning faster, more complicated music into the mix, things don’t go astray in the midrange.

Despite the praise, the mid range is recessed, albeit not distractingly so. Vocal music fans won’t miss out on detail or emotion, but the midrange never rises too far out of the bass, and will compete with the slightly understated high frequencies for space.

High Frequencies
It goes without saying that each headphone has sonic weakness and I had expected that highs would be Jays’. I was wrong. The v-Jays is a well-rounded headphone where highs are sharp, clean, and stay within the lines. Fans of crashing cymbals, whiny strings, and clanky industrial effects should find reason to rejoice in the sibilance-free v-Jays. What they won’t find, however, is silky, stray decays.

The v-Jays hit 20 000 Hz, though it shows up late, and nearly empty-handed. Though it is at the utter extreme of its frequency range, this headphone seems to collapse upon reaching the top – it has nothing else left to give. The Zino, on the other hand, not only extends further, but at the same 20 000 klicks, is shoutier. Still, unless you are a bat, you won’t miss much, especially when modern albums have been engineered with more volume, less dynamics, and the ultra-friendly internet phenomenon: compression. Of course, extension is only one part of the equation. In real-world listening, the v-Jays isn’t a dark headphone, but it isn’t overly bright. Its fast attack and decay mean fewer sibilant diversions and nearly no upper stress or smear.

I am a fan of the oft’ maligned BeyerDynamic DT880. That beauty isn’t the analogue of any portable headphone, but its wonderful high frequency goes to Everest and back, and according to some, causes a few avalanches on the way. Despite my love for that headphone’s sometimes splashy highs, the steeply attenuated highs of the v-Jays are in no way annoying. There is nothing dark, veiled, or boring about Jays’ new headphone – it simply doesn’t have the lungs to annoy anyone.

Soundstage and Instrument Separation
This last aspect is perhaps the most difficult to gauge since it relies on a headphone’s dynamics, positioning, and a few other magical items. But nevertheless, I can make personal judgements. The v-Jays has no weak spots in its sound; its dynamic contrast between bass and midrange is very good, and even treble, while slightly understated, is among the top-tier for this style of headphone. However, it isn’t airy, wide, nor linearly extended very far from front to back or from side to side. Music pops into being at your ears, and won’t pretend to go out the back door, nor make a run for it up front. Instruments are clearly defined and well-placed in a tribute to Grado, but just like the legendary American manufacturer, will put you closer to the stage rather than in the crowd. Of course, it is all personal – some people prefer a ‘wider’ sound and others, don’t.

Sound in a Nutshell
On that note, the v-Jays is an interesting headphone which collates the abilities of many different colleagues. It is bassy, but not overpowering; has good instrument separation, but maintains an intimate sound stage; and finally, both its mids and highs are good, but fall slightly out of favour in comparison to the bass. For enjoying music on my bed, or at work, I would reach to the v-Jays more than I would the Ultrasone Zino, but when watching movies, or playing games, the Zino’s uniquely dynamic contrast between bass and treble is simply stunning.

Users of the PortaPro should feel at home with the v-Jays which are in every audible way, an upgrade. For a headphone whose box advertises ‘Heavy Bass Speaker’, the v-Jays do everything so well and even tack on a controlled, dynamic bass and midrange to the mix. Did I expect something so good? No, but that is why I am grinning so widely.

As you can see from the RMAA tests, the v-Jays doesn’t over-stress the iPod touch 2G, though it does load down its ability to separate channels. Still, the results are good for both the iPod’s ability to maintain a good frequency response and other general audio performance specs.

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Out and about with the v-Jays
The v-Jays is a not circumaural headphone; it is open and will let music escape out and environmental noise will filter in with ease. Wind, cars, kids, gossip: the whole gamut will join in an unholy uproar which will only cause you to bump up the volume of your iPod or amp. Don’t – it is dangerous to your ears and annoying to your fellow (and murderous) bus passengers. If, however, you are at a gym, or bobbing down a quiet jogging path, the v-Jays is a reasonable companion. It sits firmly on your ears, isn’t prone to sliding down, and can take a half-assed beating. But, it isn’t a the out-doorsy type which wanders in and out of your dreams…

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Conclusion
Grab ‘em! The v-Jays is priced attractively enough that it warrants a buy. Is it the best-sounding headphone in the world? No, but for the price, it is certainly among the very best in a competitive class, and considering the market, one of the most balanced hardware releases. If you like bass, the v-Jays will satisfy unless your tastes drop to subwoofer levels, or you prefer less lean and more flab. Mid and high frequencies are also very good and only slightly recessed in comparison; indeed, the v-Jays may be one of the most realistic listens in the sub 100$ market. It is also made better than most of its competitors, giving it an edge or two on offerings from Sennheiser, Koss, and Ultrasone. What it lacks is a carrying case – an item which would make this headphone one of the easiest kisses at TMA. As it is, the v-Jays is too strong a contender to sit happily with its many peers in the Grab category, but it perfect. Good on ya Jays!

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App Summary
Title: v-Jays Developer: Jays
Price: 60-95$
  • Great construction
  • Safe packaging
  • Great sound quality
  • Light and comfortable
  • No carrying case?

Hot damn! Headphones really are a rockin’ way to enjoy music, right? Feel free to explore TMA’s headphone oubliette.
Jerry Harvey JH13Pro in ReviewVictor/JVC FX500 in ReviewShure SE530 in ReviewUltrasone Zino Headphones in Review

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Ultrasone Zino Headphones in Review – shiny from top to bottom http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/08/30/ultrasone-zino-headphones-in-review-shiny-from-top-to-bottom/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/08/30/ultrasone-zino-headphones-in-review-shiny-from-top-to-bottom/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2009 17:52:35 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=18968 In high Ultrasone tradition, the Zino, is a stylish, somewhat gaudy headphone, but unlike most of the headphone manufacturer’s line, it is aimed at the on-the-go market. This over-the-ear headphone features the company’s patented S-Logic technology which directs sound to your outer ear before driving inward toward your ear canal, delivering a very large, open … Read more]]>

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In high Ultrasone tradition, the Zino, is a stylish, somewhat gaudy headphone, but unlike most of the headphone manufacturer’s line, it is aimed at the on-the-go market. This over-the-ear headphone features the company’s patented S-Logic technology which directs sound to your outer ear before driving inward toward your ear canal, delivering a very large, open sound stage which simply smashes the competition for sheer width. Ultrasone are also famous for the inclusion of ULE (ultra low emissions) which shields your ear from magnetic energy.

If Ultrasone don’t ring a bell, let me drop a hint: the Edition 7, 8, and 9 which are considered to be among the best headphones in the world, are the technological ground on which the Zino stands.

Specifications
Principle: Dynamic
Design: Semi-Closed Supra Aural
Impedance: 35 Ohm
Driver size: 40 mm Gold plated
Magnet: NdFeB
Frequency range: 25 – 25,000 Hz
SPL: 101dB
Weight (excl. cord): 84g
Cord length: 1,2m (OFC Cable)
3.5mm gold plated slim-plug

Fit and Package
Over-the-ear headphones come in several different styles into which the Zino fits the class called Supra Aural – a headphone which rests directly on the ear. Others famous headphones in this class are the Sennheiser PX100, 200 and Koss Porta Pro and KSC line. Often, this type of headphone is mounted on swivels to rest in parallel lines to each ear, but the Zino’s ear earphones are non-adjustable and remain parallel to each other. Fortunately, the Zino is comfortable; its synthetic fibres are non abrasive and the headband is light on the head, even for long listening sessions. Speaking of which, you will have to have a pretty big noggin be pinched by the Zino which stretches and extends well for both big and little heads.

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It is easy to stow the Zino when not in use. The included semi-hard sided tote case is excellent and fits the Zino like a glove. The headphone itself folds easily by collapsing around two fulcrums, making the phone a great stow-and-tow option. As to package design, the Zino comes in an overly-large, cumbersome cardboard box. The upside is that Ultrasone didn’t melt its plastic moulds into finger-cutting seams, and it is quite easy to attack the box to get to what really matters.

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Cable and Build Quality
There is no mistaking the Zino; shiny from arms to ear pads and logo, this portable phone is a show off. As if to say, “looks aren’t everything”, Ultrasone augmented the Zino with solid construction. Each arm is moulded from one solid piece of plastic and is supported on the inside by tightly fitting adjustment arms which extend and retract with satisfying clicks. Atop the arms, the headband thins out in a soft, flexible bridge which clasps the its arms via Torx screw fasteners. Overall, the headphone portion of the Zino’s construction is quite well constructed and should last a long time with the proper treatment.

However, a problem the Zino faces is its use of non user-replaceable ear pads. Their synthetic fibres are sweatier than traditional foam pads and aren’t a great companion to physical exercise where things become sticky and icky rather quickly. The only other problem I foresee from is the Torx screw mounts which aren’t reinforced by metal axle supports nor washers. Again, with proper treatment, this portion of the Zino shouldn’t create trouble, but there is the chance that with some misplaced pressure, the metal screws will strip the plastic arms.

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The Zino looks and feels great; its cable is strong, thick, and grippy, and its tote-case is a great piece of insurance that adds value to the package. As a plus, walking around with the Zino is mostly a joy – the slightly energetic cable won’t bounce too much, and to joy! microphonics are very low indeed. Even headphones suffer from microphonics, an acute problem in my Ultrasone DJ1Pro, but the Zino is brilliant. Of course, there is very little isolation, so noise from your surroundings will leak in as much as your music will leak out to your environment.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a hint of proper stress relief on the cable except a small bumpered rubber sheath which wraps around the cable at the base of the headphone cup. It however, is not much protection for the very flexible cable and instead of providing pliable support, is hard, causing the cable to bend unnecessarily. Adding to this, the Zino’s headphone jack is a long, narrow affair which is liable to cause stress both on the headphone plug and your DAP’s headphone jack.

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Sound
Rather than doing an album-by-album comparison, I will mention that the Zino went through the following genres: classical, rock, heavy metal, trance, progressive, hip-hop, folk, and jazz. A few others sneaked in from time to time, but no more than 10 minutes at a time.

Before getting too far, I will preview my conclusion by saying that the Zino sounds great straight from an iPod touch, shuffle, Nano, Sony 828, or any of those when connected to an amp. In other words, from any DAP, this headphone is lovely. Nearly any decently powered DAP should drive these headphones to pretty scary volumes with goodly amounts of bass. Without an amp, the Zino will not reach ear-splitting volume levels, but it has no problem outputting bass and a spacious soundstage even when powered by the feeblest of DAP’s.

Lows
The Zino presents extremely clear audio in both low and high frequencies and there is gobs of detail retrieved no matter the genre of music you listen to. For instance, Madeleine Peyroux’s Careless Love has loads of slow and rhythmic bass which offers up nuances like fingers gently brushing strings: details which are lost on bloomy phones. Nothing is overly warm; rather, the Zino favours the vibratory range of 30-70Hz. In every genres, bass remains similarly detailed, layered and unobtrusive – avoiding the splashy confusion where low frequencies blend into the lower midrange. Yet, my description begs for more; there is a lot of power behind the 40mm gold-plated drivers which is evident in trance and progressive and both are delivered by the Zino in steady, smooth, yet deep rhythms. Despite the Zino’s clean, yet powerful bass, even the flabby bass of American hip-hop is rendered well, yet with edge and clarity which are quite foreign to the genre.

Portable headphones in this price range are often extremely boomy, favouring mid-bass and lower mid frequencies to reverse the affects of anemic bass output inherent in popular portable players. The Zino is unapologetic about its detailed, somewhat subdued bass impact which reveals detail and texture instead of empty wind. This signature will will likely appeal to people who enjoy high-quality detail-oriented earphones such as Audeo PFE, q-Jays, and Grados. In hardware tests, the Zino stretches down to 20 Hz, but at that frequency, the signal is quite recessed. In other words, manufacturer’s specifications in headphones often mean as little as they do in speaker amplifiers.

In summary, the Zino surprises. Despite its gaudy looks, it isn’t a gaudy bass performer full.

Mids
Crisp, detailed, and inflected, mids on the Zino are good, but they are cool. Both male and female vocals in every genre are clear, thinner versions of their detailed siblings in other frequency ranges. Though the thickest portion of a singer’s voice is recessed, the space between instruments and vocals is very well defined, in crisp, delineated borders.

Other parts of the spectrum are similarly clean and equally bright, with shimmer, edge, and grit. Stage projection in uncommonly wide in the Zino. Since headphone drivers are offset, the Zino’s midrange is transformed to an ephemeral, thin-bodied presence which is detailed, yet light. To some, the Zino could be called ‘sucked out’, an unflattering term, but at the same time, no headphone in this price category displays such wide instrument placement. At first, the S-Logic presentation in this headphone is quite like stepping off the plane in China when the intended destination was Sweden: confusing. However, after a few hours of continued listening, this presentation becomes addicting. I will admit that it isn’t a natural sounding mid section in all of its presentation; perhaps ‘unique’ would be the better word to describe it, but technically, there is nothing ‘off’ either. If you like the S-Logic effect, you will love the Zino’s mid section.

Highs
As hinted at above, the Zino is a high and low frequency oriented headphone. If you like clean shimmering cymbals, detailed, bright strings, and crave extra edge on vocals, the Zino delivers in spades. Again, for a headphone of 99 dollars, it surprises. Sometimes, overly bright headphones impress with artificial detail, but the Zino isn’t that phone.

While not overly smooth, highs are free of sibilance and grain, and if a little metallic, they are speedy full of grit. Fans of hard, clangy music like heavy metal may enjoy the razor sharp high frequency edges which the Zino renders. However, like the mid section, Zino highs are ‘unique’ more than they are perfect. There is not way to describe it otherwise – notes aren’t exaggerated and cymbals don’t stretch on forever, but high notes wrap unusually far around the head, arriving at the brain a little ‘thinned out’.

Soundstage and Separation
I could just tap out the word, ‘phenomenal’ for emphasis, but won’t. The Zino excels in both with a very wide presentation of music and excellent instrument separation. But, like its peculiar rendering of mids, and to a lesser degree, high frequencies, its uncanny soundstage exerts heaps of influence on the rest of the music. S-Logic itself is a wonderful technology which makes my DJ1Pro sing and gives Ultrasone a memorable sound signature, but the Zino is perhaps too distinctly accented by width that it may at times, feel stretched and thin.

Sound in a nutshell
The Zino feels and sounds like a more expensive headphone – there is no denying it. But, depending on the listener’s preferences, it may be too ‘unique’. Low and high frequencies, treble and bass; each are showed very strongly in the Zino. Even the meagre mid section is incredibly detailed and in all musical genres and with any instrument, there is simply gobs of detail to be had. If you like the powerful bass, forward treble, great instrument separation and a wide soundstage, the Zino might just be your phone. But, if you value upfront vocals with warmth rather than edge, you may have to look further.

Out and about with the Zino
Though I have thrown hints in this review, I have not outright said it: the Zino is not a great headphone for the street. Unlike inner earphones or closed over-the-ear headphones like my DJ1Pro, it blocks little to no noise at all. That means that in order to hear music which may be perfectly loud whist playing at home, you will have to crank the volume up to painful (and dangerous) levels. So, no-go places are: bus, trains, busy streets, and any area where outside noise leaks into your music. On the flip side, in order to hear your music, the volume at which you will have to listen will annoy anyone around you – think twice before being a twit!

Since the Zino’s cables exhibit little noise, walking around will generate little to no distraction to your music, but, as mentioned above, you had better be in the quietest of environs to actually really enjoy your music. As for walking about, the 1,2 metre cable sits comfortably in the trouser pocket of a rather tall person like myself (185 cm). If, however, you like to sag ‘dem jeans, the cable may be too short.

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Use the carrying case. If you intend to listen to the phones at school, work, or elsewhere, keep them protected in Ultrasone’s excellent carry pouch. Unfortunately, no matter what you do, the Zino will smudge, leaving indelible marks on the arm bands and ear cups (just take a close look at any of the photos – you will see these love-marks).

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Conclusion
For 99$, there are few options which are as good as the Zino. The headphone looks good, has a great cable and an overall solid construction which are mated by a ‘uniquely’ good sound quality. For detail freaks, this phone will please, and for those who value a mostly balanced sound, the Zino is also a great choice. Bass is strong and foot-tapping in any genre while remaining realistic, while treble is very well extended and excellently detailed. The mid section is the crux of this headphone’s sound presentation; some people will love it and others will not. Detailed and speedy; edgy and slightly thin, mids are at times, a thing of beauty and at other times, distracting.

But, for the price, there is little to complain about in this very unique headphone.

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App Summary
Title: Ultrasone Zino Developer: Ultrasone
Price: $99
  • Good headphone build quality
  • Very comfortable
  • Great detailed sound
  • Tactile bass
  • Wide soundstage
  • Great carrying case
  • Low microphonics
  • Cable lacks proper stress relief
  • ‘unique’ sound may be hard to adapt to
  • Ear pads are non replaceable

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TMA loves headphones. A few of our most recent articles are below:
Sensaphonics 2X-S and Jerry Harvey 13Pro Visual comparisonEarsonics SM2 DLX in reviewKlipsch Image S4 in Review

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