Do you still own a collection of music stored on cassette tapes? Then I have some advice: STOP LIVING IN THE PAST! Those things’ll kill you eventually. If the wow and flutter doesn’t get you, or the ridiculous rewind times don’t drive you crazy, then the magnetic tape will probably spool out at nights and strangle you in your sleep. Probably.
But before you ditch those mix-tapes, you might want to transfer them to your iDevice. And wouldn’t you know it, but Hammacher Schlemmer will sell you a device almost as useless as your own (probbly perfectly-preserved) Walkman to do it.
We bumped into neophyte Australian headphones-maker Audiofly in January, during a press-only event at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, and gave two models in the four-model lineup a whirl. Their mid-level AF45 set sounded great for $50; but the next one I tried — the top-of-the-line AF78 ($200) — left me slack-jawed with disbelief; its sound knocked my socks off, even amid the cacophony of noisy journalists.
What makes the AF78 unusual is its speaker arrangement.
Many mid-to-high-end canalphones are powered by tiny armature speakers, while moving coil drivers are found pretty much everywhere except the very high end. Armatures are generally better at producing clean highs and mids, but can lack deep bass; moving coils, on the other hand, are generally not as good at reproducing the clarity of an armature. But the AF78 is part of an elite group of models — like the Scosche IEM856m I reviewed last year — that employ both a moving coil speaker and a balanced armature in each ear, in an attempt to give the listener the best of both worlds. And it works spectacularly.
While other manufacturers might tart up their headphones with loud colors, obnoxious logos and frills, the Klipsch Image One ($150) drops all extraneous nonsense in favor of making you happy through its three impressive strengths: perfomance, comfort and portability — a triple threat that makes these headphones a contender for best traveling companion.
So far it’s been pretty consistent: Each time we review a set of Ultimate Ears ‘phones, the bar leaps up a few notches as our expectations regarding the outfit’s offerings rise. After reviewing the 350, 700, and especially the 600vi — which garnered a best-in-class verdict — we were expecting the TripleFi 10 ($400) to slay vampires and cure cancer.
Of Ultimate Ears’ more serious offerings — and by serious, I’m referring to UE’s armature-equipped models, which start at $100 — the TripleFi 10 is by far the most serious, with three drivers and a crossover in each ear, pro-level detachable leads, the thickest cable we’ve ever seen on an IEM, Comply foam tips (the best tips, period) and a sound signature that’ll have you madly running through your entire music catalog with a big, gleeful smile plastered all over your face.