Review: Christopher Breunig

Review: Christopher Breunig, Review and Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 29, 2020  |  0 comments
hfncommendedSan Diego-based Dan Clark Audio, previously known as MrSpeakers, has just launched its lightweight but resilient Aeon 2 headphone in both 'open' and 'closed' variants

If you're looking at the photos of the Aeon 2 here thinking, 'Isn't that a MrSpeakers product?', the answer is yes and no. The original Aeon was indeed made by MrSpeakers but recently the company changed its name to Dan Clark Audio, Dan Clark being the company founder. It was a sensible move because MrSpeakers had never made, or looked like making, a loudspeaker, but like all company name changes it can take time to bed in.

Review: Christopher Breunig, Review and Lab: Keith Howard  |  Apr 21, 2020  |  0 comments
hfncommendedWhile their eye-catching aesthetics have been unkindly compared with 'Eastern Bloc, Cold War era' industrial design, these flagship cans still aim to please both head and ears

Is conventional headphone design an example of what biologists call convergent evolution – adoption of a common design solution because it's optimal – or something more akin to herd behaviour: doing it a particular way because we always have?

Review: Christopher Breunig, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 19, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingHiFiMan has done as much as any brand to popularise the planar magnetic headphone since the technology's revival, and the Susvara is the best PM it knows how to make

Astute readers will have noticed that we've been exploring the HiFiMan range in stepwise fashion. We began with the £475 Sundara [HFN Jun '19], progressed to the £1500 Arya [HFN Aug '19] and have now reached the £5750 Susvara. While, despite its elevated price tag, the Susvara isn't the most expensive headphone the Chinese manufacturer currently offers, the costlier Shangri-La and Shangri-La Jr are both electrostatic models, making the Susvara its flagship planar magnetic design.

Review: Christopher Breunig, Review and Lab: Keith Howard  |  Nov 26, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingBeryllium drivers, sustainable hardwood, real leathers, price – these debut open-back 'phones tick all the boxes. But do they offer the ultimate in sound quality?

Mention beryllium and digit counters begin to whorl in the imagination. Unquestionably the very best metal from which to construct a headphone or loudspeaker diaphragm – because the speed of sound through it is over twice that of aluminium, magnesium or titanium – its use has historically been constrained for two reasons.

Review: Christopher Breunig, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Oct 28, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingWith their unusually extended ovoid cups – pear-shaped, you might say – these new planar magnetics, once auditioned, could easily become the apple of your eye

With 16 current models in its Reference range, HiFiMan's product offering many not be as extensive or potentially confusing as Audio-Technica's but still it's a lot to get your head around. I classify them, informally, into round capsule and ovoid capsule models, the £1500 Arya being one of the latter. It's an apt classification in that once you've worn the Arya – or any other headphone whose capsules better reflect the shape of the external ear – you wonder why headphones aren't all designed this way. You wouldn't wear rectangular shoes, so why are these shapes so widely used for headphone capsules and earpads? It flies in the face of anatomical logic.

Review: Christopher Breunig, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Sep 24, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedTaking a load off your mind, these headphones are claimed to be the lightest open-backed planar magnetics around. Great for comfort – but what about the sound?

We've reached the stage in the renaissance of the planar magnetic (aka isodynamic) headphone where merely being one is no longer worth more than a passing mention. In fact it's a few months since I've had anything but PM headphones arrive for review. So to be more than the PM headphone du jour, any new model needs something extra: a true USP.

Review and Lab: Keith Howard, Review: Christopher Breunig  |  Sep 03, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceThe Chinese company claims a decade of planar driver technology development with these robust mid-priced open-backed 'phones – are they a cause for celebration?

With HiFiMan's UK distribution now switching to Signature Systems, we are at last able to get our hands on this idiosyncratic range of headphones from China. What makes them idiosyncratic is not merely their use of planar magnetic (aka isodynamic) drive units – something which is becoming increasingly mainstream – but that these drivers are reminiscent of isodynamic units of the past in respect of their low sensitivity.

Review: Christopher Breunig, Review and Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jul 05, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe French speaker company has upped its game with this de-luxe closed-back design – perhaps aimed to make a 'mocha-ry' of the competition? Let's see how well it sounds

Hot on the heels of the Elegia [HFN Mar '19] – the first closed-back model in Focal's revamped, post-Spirit headphone range [HFN Dec '15] that launched in 2016 with the open-back Utopia [HFN Feb '17] – comes the second closed-back design, the £2799 Stellia. These two flagship models, both featuring beryllium diaphragms, effectively bookend the range, their less costly siblings being based around the same M-cone drive unit concept but with a less exotic aluminium-magnesium diaphragm.

Review: Christopher Breunig, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 17, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedLooking for isolating headphones to wear when out and about? Focal has the answer in its first closed-back cans, the elegant Elegia, with tech derived from earlier models

The idea of listening to music while commuting or exercising was almost unheard of until the advent of the Sony Walkman 40 years ago, but nowadays it's ubiquitous. And with the 'Beats' generation wearing full-sized headphones this too has become widespread. One of the advantages, along with sound quality, is the increased sense of isolation – for which you might look for a closed-back model. So, following its £3250 flagship Utopia [HFN Feb '17], £800 Elear [HFN Apr '17] and £1399 Clear [HFN Mar '18] open-back predecessors, Focal has integrated these technologies into a closed-back design – the £799 Elegia.

Review: Christopher Breunig, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Apr 18, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedWith the Fostex T50RPmk3 as its donor chassis, headphone accessory brand Dekoni Audio breaks into the big time with a back-to-basics planar magnetic. It's blue too...

Now where did I put my headphones?' It's not a question you are likely to ask with the Dekoni Audio Blue, as it comes in the associated Japanese company Fostex's signature colour, with a boldly lettered headstrap. It's the first headphone product from Dekoni Audio – a New Jersey company specialising in replacement pads for a range of 'phones – and an obvious step for Dekoni to take.

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