LAS VEGAS — Audiofly has been busy since we last visited them at CES two years ago. This year they’re finally ready to ship their long-promised AF140, albeit with a radical redesign, and are introducing the quad-driver AF180. The Aussie crew also showed us the over-the-ear set of cans they’ve been working on.
LAS VEGAS — Shure has hit the extremes lately in terms of how much they think music lovers are willing to pay for headphones and earphones, but their latest in-ear monitors cost just $50.
The new SE112s are just half the price of Shure’s previously cheapest IEMs, the SE215, and only $20 more than Apple’s iconic, earbud-ish EarPods. It’s quite a change for Shure: Earlier this year, the company came out with the ultra-high-end, $1,000-plus SE846 canalphones. And their exotic, carbon-fiber SRH1540 headphones arrived just a few months ago at a robust $624.
Audio-Technica has far, far too many models of in-ear earphones to count. I mean, literally — I tried counting them and gave up due to exhaustion and severe dehydration (I stopped at about 20, which makes me a wimp and means I should probably drink more water).
So why are they adding six more models (which the company is calling their “SonicFuel” series) to the mix? And why do they bear an uncanny resemblance to Monster’s iSport earphones, right down to the swiveling ports and massive flange? Whatever the answers to these questions might be, the new sets, at $50-$100, are in just about the right price-range for holiday gifts; and if the fit really is identical to what we experienced with the iSPorts, they’re probably really comfy.
If Cult of Mac ever created an award for “Most Prolific i-Gadget Maker,” there’s little doubt it would eventually end up in a cabinet at iHome’s headquarters (or possibly more accurately in a cabinet at their parent company, SDI technologies, which also owns New Balance and Timex).
There aren’t many in-ear monitors made of steel. Aluminum? Yes. Plastic? Wads. But steel-bodied IEMs — now that’s a rare find. There’s good reason for this: Though the material is solid, hard-wearing and, according to some, produces a cleaner sound, it’s heavy — which can make steel-housed IEMs often uncomfortable and annoyingly ill-fitting.
But forget all that. Scottish-based RHA have managed to make the stainless steel-bodied MA750i supremely comfortable and well-fitted, even under heavy action. In fact, RHA absolutely nailed it perfectly with these ‘phones in every single category that matters, with only two or three minor trade-offs.
All of Thinksound’s earphones encompass three basic principles: They’re made of wood; they’re given the sort of pro-green marketing and manufacturing attention that would satisfy even the most spirited hippy; and they offer big, warm sound for a relatively small price.
But aside from its requisite earthy wooden elements and green cred, Thinksound’s new supra-aural On1 studio monitors is taking the small company into uncharted territory.
Jabra made a big show of introducing their Sport Bluetooth music/phone earbuds at CES this year, even bringing in triathlete celeb and Ironman champ Craig Alexander to flaunt the buds while he sweat away the miles on a stationary bike. Unfortunately, the Sport has been plagued by reports of abysmal Bluetooth connectivity (possibly due to range) and poor fit ever since it shipped.
Jabra’s response is their new Sport Wireless+, the successor to the Sport, which Jabra says has made everything better.
The British Isles aren’t generally known for exporting headphones; mega boy bands and cycling superstars, yes, and perhaps Marmite. But headphones? All that’s changing though, with the impact RHA has made over the past year or so. The outfit has thus far produced a series of home run hits (or batted sixes, if you’re a cricket fan) with inexpensive headphones with sound way above their price.
If their past successes are anything to go by, these new ‘phones from RHA should sound amazing—because they’re the company’s most expensive yet.
It’s strange to think that, till now, as big a high-end audio player as Shure has had no answer to the extravagant, big-gun, flagship in-ear monitor models of its rivals — models like the Ultimate Ears 18 Pro Custom, or the JH Audio JH16 Pro.
But now they do — big time. The new SE846 extends Shure’s highly regarded SE line well beyond the SE535, previously their top, most expensive IEM.