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.
Are they for UFC fighters who want to listen to music while they’re actually throwing punches in the ring? For talk-radio listeners who get violent when they hear opinions they don’t agree with? Or just for clumsy goofs who’re always destroying their headphones (you know who you are). Whatever the reason for the over-engineered Jabra Revos existence, the headphones ship today.
The new Audiofly AF160. Somebody spent a looooong time setting this photo up.
Australian earphone-maker Audiofly was just a fledgling outfit with scarcely a handful of models and a shaky toehold in the earphone market when I first encountered a year ago at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. After I had a chance to spend some quality time with what was then the company’s flagship set, the fantastic AF78s, I was pretty certain that, if the company did eventually fail, it would be in spite of the brand’s quality — not because of it.
But they didn’t fail. Now here they are, a year after debuting at CES, with a trio of new, more expensive additions — all decadently equipped with multiple drivers and balanced armatures — that shove the AF78 into the middle of their lineup.
These Scosche Realm RH656 ($130) headphones compete in the same league as with headphones like the Beats (formerly Monster) Solo HD, the Incase Reflex and the Fanny Wang 1000 Series. These ‘phones have a lot in common: they have smallish earcups that sit on the ear, instead of over; they all have track and volume controls (remember though that the volume control won’t work on Android devices); and they’ve all had a dash of fashion added.
But there are some key differences too. And as you’re about to find out, the RH656 does pretty well against its competition.
There’s just something about the natural beauty of wood that seems to mystify man. You’d be hard-pressed to go your entire day without encountering something that’s been made using this porous material. One area wood has always played an important role in is music. For thousands of years, wood has been used in musical instruments, not only because of its availability, but also because of its beauty and unique sound qualities. When you think about the history between wood and music, it’s no wonder we also see it used in speaker enclosures, headphones, and earbuds.
When one company swallows another, it’s common for a slow shift in rebranding and design to occur as the two entities thrash out their roles and relationship. The latest shift in the Logitech-Ultimate Ears story — Logitech purchased UE in 2008 — occured a month or so ago, when Ultimate Ears was rebranded as Logitech UE and launched a suite of high-end, blue-tinged soundware, with a product selection that reached far beyond the in-ear monitors the company has thus far been known for. In fact, out of seven new gadgets, just one new IEM was introduced: the Logitech UE 900 ($400), a quad-armature earphone that now sits at the pinnacle of UE’s non-custom earphone line.
The UE 900 has lineage, of course; we loved the snug fit, solid build and amazing sound of its antecedent, the TripleFi 10. But the TripleFi 10 is gone, and the UE 900 has stepped into its place with new ergonomics, a new sound — and a lot of blue.
If you live an active lifestyle and have trouble finding a pair of earbuds to stay put while you’re working up a sweat, then you might want to check out our next deal. For a limited time, you can pick up a MEElectronics Sport-Fi S6 earphone workout package for only $32. That’s a great price for a package that includes:
You’re an American, and you’ve just watched your athletes come away with a barrel full of gold medals in London. Maybe you’re feeling a little patriotic; maybe a little like you want to go out and train for Rio de Janiero. If so, then Monster has created the perfect earphones for you: A special edition “USA” version of their impressive, washable, iSport IEMs.
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.