Since Sony’s re-imagining of the portable cassette player, portable audio has seen a huge upswing in popularity; a popularity which has among other things, created a new monster: the portable audiophile. This new breed of hi-end user demands the best sound quality for on-the-go listening, a problem which is only mostly satiated by purchasing a good headphone like Earsonics’ SM2. A higher quality headphone is the most immediate upgrade a portable audiophile can experience, but often, is the gateway drug to real audio debauchery.
In its first incarnation, the iPod Shuffle was the player to have if you didn’t need a screen. Besides a little hiss, it smashed through the audio performance of most other players at the time and remains this day, one of the best performing audio players outside audiophile oriented players such as Head-Direct’s Hifiman HM801 and the HiSound AMP3. Well, Sansa’s Clip, which utilises a very similar audio chip, has jut been upgraded to a sturdier package which simply outshines the new and troublesome iPod shuffle which doesn’t allow easy upgrading of the stock (and rubbish) earphones.
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.
I will not get into which sound signature I am more partial to, rather the pictures are merely to illustrate the differences and similarities between both high-end iems. Sensaphonics’ 2X-S is a stodgy contender for the better part of a decade and has survived several cosmetic and build overhauls since its infancy. It is made from soft silicon, a pliable material which stretches with minute changes in the ear’s internal shape. Jerry Harvey’s JH13Pro is made out of the more traditional hard acrylic material that with a perfect fit, feels almost as comfortable as the Sensaphonics 2X-S. Differences in materials do mean a different flavour of sound; the hard acrylic of the JH audio renders extremely clean sound in all frequencies, but both earphones are incredible.
If you would like to read our review of the JH13Pro, please click here.
A couple of days ago, TMA reported on the impending release of the Westone 1. Today, we receive the official press release of the earphones which are due for release on 4 September. Again, they take after their older sibling, the Westone 3, which pioneered true 3-way balanced armature drivers in a universal earphone. Both phones are aimed at the discerning listener who is obviously not content by her earbuds. Both the Westone 1 and 3 are inner earphones which block a certain amount of outside noise and are compatible with ear pieces from Comply, Westone, Shure, Futuresonics, Earsonics and many other thin-mouth manufacturers.
Their Press Literature is below:
In my earlier article, I waxed lyrical (not really) about the cheap alternative earphone, Ear Budeez. While looking a bit like Rolando, the above is indeed, not a game. The new ME products are a collaboration between Soundcat, Audiovox and Jensen. The Me earphones are inexpensive and boast many models which take a fun approach to marketing. And, at ~10$, the price certainly is right.
The news made the front page of NAVER, a large and influential Korean news site and has been spreading all over the country in various technology circles. What does TMA say to new earphones? “Bring ‘em on!” is what we says!
Last year, Westone released the first true 3-way earphone, the Westone 3. It comes in an overhauled shell, but remains similar in size to the UM2 before it. With a focus on consumers, the Westone 3 has a ‘fun’ sound which is graphically v-shaped in its frequency response with emphasis placed on bass and treble. This year, Westone are releasing the Westone 1, a one-way balanced armature earphone which utilises the same housing and what looks to be the same accessory kit. But, at 199$ versus the 399$ MSRP of the Westone 3, the new headphone will be an easier decision.
In typical Westone fashion, the Westone 1 will utilise the excellent cable which is the industry’s least microphonic and best relieved and bumpered earphone. The suggested street price will likely fall to around 139$, making this a perfect earphone for the active audiophile.
Yeah, it doesn’t get much cooler than today. Companies are doing giveaways left and right. Already, Jays’ c-Jays giveaway is live at their blog and just after waking up, I found out that Monster, too, are playing Santa Claus. The Jamz are a new headphone product from Monster which seems to be debuting with this contest. As for Anjulie, Canadians rejoice! Another home-grown pop star is rising from among our somewhat low-key population. She is a musician from Toronto who has just been nominated for an MTV music award and does seductive pop rather well. The contest convolutes both the Jamz and Anjulie – rather, Anjulie’s signature will accompany the Jamz if you win.
Check out her Myspace page here, or click more below for a few of her videos.
As for Monster – for some they need nearly no introduction. For the others, Monster are a cable company, but have branched out into anything music. We have done a couple of Monster Headphones reviews which are part of our larger headphone section.
The contest takes place at Monster’s webpage and requires you just to fill in your name, date of birth, and acceptance of the terms and conditions – in other words, I joined!
Yeah, you heard it right. The c-Jays carry an MSRP of 129$ USD, but Jays are giving away a pair from their blog. The good news? This ain’t another blow-over company. Jays’ earphones have garnered two GRAB ratings from TouchMyApps for their excellent sound quality and overall value. Few companies grasp both ideas but Jays are pretty well abreast both. The other good news? You just have to leave a nicely written comment on their blog to get your hands on a pair.
In the next few weeks, TMA will finish reviews of the v-Jays headphones and the one that started it all, the d-Jays balanced armature inner earphones. Contest rules are noted after the gap. Note: This is not a TouchMyApps contest. To enter the giveaway, you must Jay’s blog and leave your comments there.
Earsonics, a French producer of professional earphones, have broken into TMA with their SM2 DLX, a dual balanced armature professional in-ear stage monitor which is priced at 280 € in France, or 268€ outside the country . It both feels and performs worthy of its asking price and comes in your choice of the following three attires: black, crystal (clear), and white. Like the UM3X from Westone, Earsonics’ top-tier universal iem has been constructed to exacting standards and utilises the same cable type: a durable, non-microphonic twisted strand design which is a benchmark for cable quality. Also, like its American competitor, the SM2 is plagued by a dearth of accessories.