Monster’s Turbine was a surprise hit and the first official headphone for review at TMA. Now a year later, Monster are still on a roll, pushing out an impressive number of headphones at an equally impressive range of prices. Jamz and Lil’ Jamz are a couple of the latest to grace Amazon’s virtual shelves and thankfully, can be had for south of 100$. TMA will be reviewing the Monster Turbine Pro in the next couple of weeks and will not; I repeat: will not spoil the review by admitting that it is better in every way than the Turbine.
Monster Lil’ Jamz: $79.99
Monster Jamz: $89.95
Monster Turbine Pro: $249
MEElectronics’ earphones rode onto the scene last year with aplomb. Not only are they priced to sell, they sound good and in general, are made well. Now, MEEl have jumped on the wood bandwagon started by the venerable Victor FX500. The R-1 is a solid earphone which will rock the clocks of bass lovers who happen to have no more than 40$ in the bank.
Final Audio Design’s earphones say hi-end better than any headphone product. They are built from the ground up to deliver perfect sound rather than convenience. To accomplish this, Final Audio employ a special metal alloy on the earphone’s inner sound chamber which eliminates distracting vibrations. Equally as important is the regularisation of air pressure on both sides of the speaker. Both earphones are things of audio beauty, but as we will see, are as audiophile esoteric as high-end power supplies. The all-steel FI-DC1601SS tips the scale at just above 800$ US, while the FI-DC1350M2 checks in nearer 250$. Their top model, the FI-DC1601SC costs more than 2000$. But contrary to most expensive earphones, Final Audio Designs’ products strike impressive balance of sound quality rather than diamond dust.
Please take a look at Final Audio Design’s earphone webpage (Japanese) for more information and stay tuned for our in-depth article.
The venerable Shure SE530 is a great inner earphone which has stood the test of time. But, after nearly 3,5 years, it is getting long in the tooth. Fortunately for Shure fans, a two new models, the SE535 and SE425 have been spotted at CES. These new earphones are slimmer than the old triple-driver model and come with breakaway (coaxial?) cables. Other than that, not much is yet known about the new earphones which are expected to ship in the middle of 2010.
With the release of the CK100, Audio Technica have reinvented the inner earphone. Their former flagship portable, the dual-driver CK10 is a thing of neutral, fast, and airy beauty. But no matter how good it is, its younger, pricier sibling hurdles it in every imaginable way. The CK100 houses 3 balanced armature speakers per earphone from which a brilliant atmospheric sound haunts. For audiophiles looking for a high-quality, good-sounding inner earphone, there is none better for the price.
On 19 December 2009, I attended one of the most eye-opening meetings of my life: the Tokyo OFF Headphone Audio Meeting. While that is a rough translation of the actual event’s title is underwhelming, the current crop of small Japanese audio makers who peeked in is amazing. I have been smitten by the nearly perfect ALO Rx headphone amplifier, but what I heard at the meeting smashed most of my expectations in terms of what is possible in portable audio. Carrying an amp with an iPod can be annoying, but in my opinion, the jump in sound quality is worthwhile – very worthwhile. Matt MacBeth who designed the audio circuitry of the ALO Rx said in TMA interview that 2010 will be the year when portable audio overtakes home audio in terms of quality. In terms of price/performance, that certainly is possible, and in terms of possibility, that much is certainly true.
The DIY audio community is large, well-fueled, and rabidly concocting exciting accessories for the iPod and iPhone. Some successful DIY-ers have gone on to found shops, quitting their day jobs and are now making some of the best components for the iDevice. Down Under, a new shop has opened from the long-time Headfi-er and cable maker, Qusp (Jeremy Glover). Twisted Cables specialises in Cyro parts for best signal integrity and ease of use. TouchMyApps has been using Twisted Cables parts for reviews of products such as the ALO Rx portable headphone amp and the FitEar Private 333 custom earphone. The verdict? Great products with excellent performance. TMA will review Twisted Cables products in the new year including one of the most low-profile audio docks in the world. Till then, feel free to email founder, Qusp, with questions and comments. His website should be up very soon.
Ladies and gents, it has been a great year. The iDevice has become a respectable platform and overtaken a few stodgy mobile OSes in the meantime. TMA has gamed, researched, and enjoyed the production genius of many great companies. Better than that, we have enjoyed receiving contact from our readers who have been a great support in this year. Whether you are working away at your desks, balancing over a lion’s head, or enjoying time with your family, have a safe and merry Christmas. And, if you don’t celebrate Christmas, have a good time nonetheless.
The FX500 is a good headphone at its normal price of 136.80$ plus shipping, but even better when discounted! Wait, what is that? Yes, Seyo have gloriously bestowed God’s good graces on TMA by offering an 8% discount to users who buy through through the below banner. The offer is good until 3 January, 2010.
In layman’s terms, that means that the FX500 is on sale till the end of the year! The good news doesn’t stop there; any product purchased from Seyo through TouchMyApps will garner a 5% discount. That means lenses, headphones, flashes – any product which attracts your inner geek comes with a nice, geeky discount. More details on how to take advantage of this special offer after the break!
Firestone have hammered the last studs into their newest audio block just in time for Christmas. The Fubar IV headphone amp/DAC continues the tradition of excellent price/performance for which Firestone are famous and even enjoys a price reduction from last year’s model. This amp sports USB input which makes enjoying high quality music from your computer a breeze and in the same breath, hooks up to SPDIF and digital coaxial input for direct lossless listening from HiFi sources. Finally, it has also wormed its way into my heart with its excellent pre-amp and even-Stephen sound.