The CE Week line shows are over, the exhibitors have packed in their gear, and we’re left wondering how to make sense of all the gadgety goodness on display. Personal audio is undergoing a minor renaissance, with lots of very talented audio engineers launching headphone brands with models that mix up great sound quality and fashionable design. Here are a few of the best headphones AppleTell found on the show floor.
I have to admit, I stumbled over to the MythLabs table because I thought the logo on their t-shirts said “MethLabs,” and I figured, “Why not?” Instead of contraband, I discovered interchangeable headphones that let you mix up headbands and earcups for a thoroughly customizable experience. Swap out different colors of Mythband headbands and choose from one of two earcup designs: the Genesis on-ears for lower-quality music libraries, or the Eclipse for the high end audio snobs who know what lossless formats are. Everything is modular and swappable, so you can buy different combinations and swap them out as you like.
Best of all, the iMyth Sonic Signature app will scan your music and recommend the best earcups for your library, then help you burn in your new headphones for optimal listening.
A full set of Genesis will run you $180, while the Eclipse go for $260. The Mythbands alone are $100, while the Genesis and Eclipse are $80 and $160, respectively. Check out the MythLabs store and start customizing.
audio-technica had one fairly normal product on display: their over-ear active noise canceling QuietPoint ANC70s ($200). Their in-ear SonicFuel CX5iS ($50) and CX7iS ($80) were more of a walk on the wild side, however. They feature both a literal and figurative twist: the audio channel swivels. This means incredible comfort, as you can pivot the drivers, which sit just outside the ear canal to achieve a better fit. This on top of already interchangeable silicone or foam ear tips and interchangeable C-loops makes a fantastically adjustable combination, so you should be able to find a comfortable fit.
The CX line also contains a higher end model, the CX9iS ($100), which doesn’t have the swiveling audio channel due to its larger driver.
The full product line is scheduled for availability in September, and the prices above are the suggested retail values. Check out the full lineup or find an audio-technica dealer on their website.
Despite AutoCorrect’s desire to change this company’s name to munition, you can arm yourself with some seriously comfortable studio-grade headphones with a pair of the Munitio Pro40 headphones (available starting July 1 for $299). I’ve never worn headphones that were so light yet still capable of producing such impressive bass. Usually the large drivers and even larger support structure they require leaves you with some heavy cans, or the digital processing to give you faux bass leaves your music distorted. Not so with the Pro40s, which were well demonstrated by Munitio’s unique testing apparatus.
As part of a custom retail kiosk, Munitio offers 5 test tracks that show off the headphones’ capabilities, including one that’s narrated by the artist to specifically call out the bass, midrange, and treble elements of the track as they play, which provides fantastic guidance for your listening experience.
In addition to on-ear headphones, Munitio also had their in-ears on display, including their bullet-inspired Nines, a tactical 9mm bullet-shaped earphone. Available in black, gold, or (vampire-killin’) silver, a pair of these will set you back $170 at Munitio’s online store.
Stay tuned for an AppleTell review of the Nines.
Hands down the winner for the company with the best totally-unrelated-to-the-show factoid, Velodyne is a company with a diverse array of stunning audio designs. They took home a best in show award for their VFree Bluetooth headphones ($299), and I took home a pair of their VPulse in-ear headphones ($99) to review (stay tuned, but I’m digging them so far). The VFree are some of the lightest on-ear Bluetooth headphones I’ve ever tried, and delivered sufficient sound to be clearly audible over the din of the show floor (which is a suboptimal place for headphone testing).
To get rid of the show noise entirely, though, the VQuiet noise canceling headphones ($299) tamed the hubbub and looked good doing it, with the company’s signature pointed teardrop shape. Best of all? Both the VFree and VQuiet work like traditional headphones when the batteries die, so you’re never left with a useless audio brick.
That unrelated company factoid? They’re the company that makes the LIDAR system that’s used in Google’s self-driving car.