Browsing All Posts By Kristopher Prue-Cook

Best Snowboarding In-Ear Headphones of 2016

Best Snowboarding In-Ear Headphones of 2016

If you’re looking for the Best Snowboarding In-Ear Headphones of 2016, look no further. Snowboarding and Skiing are a great way to get out and enjoy this planet of ours and this winter, El Niño is bringing heavy snow fall across the United States. Listening to music with headphones while doing either only enhances your winter sport experience, but not all are created equal. Normal headphones are not made to take the beating that winter sports can dish out; especially if you bail on boxes or rails a lot. Water, sweat, cold temperatures and impacts are the #1 source of headphone demise while out on runs. Sports headphones are made to withstand these forces and keep going.

So whether you’re a Snowboarder or Skier, keep reading to find our top picks for this winter season.

Best Snowboarding In-Ear Headphones of 2016

While on-ear and over-ear headphones can be bulky and heavy, a pair of earbuds takes up next to no space and weighs even less. This makes them great for snowboarding and skiing. Despite their size, earbuds rarely sacrifice sound quality in comparison to their on-ear and over-ear counterparts and can even outperform them. Finding the right pair for you can be a tricky proposition, so we’ve created this list of our 3 favorite in-ear sport headphones.

JayBird X2 Bluetooth SPORT Headphones JBL Synchros Reflect Bluetooth SPORT Headphones Sennheiser OCX 686G SPORT Headphone
JayBird X2 Bluetooth Sport Headphones JBL Synchros SPORT Series Reflect Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones Sennheiser OCX 686G
Ultra-Lightweight Sports Headphones
  • Sealed in-ear-canal design
  • AVRCP Music Controls
  • Bluetooth Version: 2.1+EDR
  • Play Time: Up to 8 Hrs
  • Charging Time: Less than 2.5 hr
  • Sealed in-ear-canal design
  • Bluetooth-enabled connectivity
  • Reflective cord design and retractable tether
  • iOS or universal remote control/mic
  • Magnetic clasping function
  • Sealed in-ear-canal design
  • Anti-bacterial ear adapters (SteriTouch)
  • In-line smart remote and mic on the cable
  • Ear-hook to minimize ambient noise
  • Convenient storage pouch and cable clip
Buy Now! Buy Now! Buy Now!

 

Snowboarding with JayBird X2 Bluetooth Headphones

 

JayBird X2 Bluetooth In-Ear Snowboarding Headphones

The JayBird X2s are Micro-sized, sweat-proof sport Bluetooth earbuds that deliver superior audio performance (music & calls) rivaling the best in wired headphones. With their patented Secure fit for ultra comfort, they’re ready for anything you can dish out on a half pipe or shredding the slopes. Their exclusive super-capacity Battery HD technology doubles the Jaybird X2’s playtime to a solid 8 hours, offering a full day of listening while riding.  They also come in a wide variety of colors to match your board or fit your style.

 

 

Riding with JBL Synchros SPORT Series Reflect

 

JBL Synchros SPORT Series Reflect

A great partner on the slopes is the JBL Reflect BT that combines cutting-edge style with innovation. Providing legendary sound in a workout-ready headphones design, it puts you well on your way to being able to conquer the 20 foot table top. Designed to stay in your ears, these ergonomic, stay-put ear-buds are engineered to withstand the rigors of your most energetic downhills. With 5 hours of Bluetooth-enabled connectivity and JBL-quality sound, you can dig deep and push that much harder.

 

 

Boarding with Sennheiser OCX 686G Sport Headphones

Sennheiser OCX 686G

Sennheiser’s OCX 686G/i has been created to energize your music experience while you concentrate on your boarding or skiing. The high-output drivers deliver amazing sound quality. The innovative ear-canal coupling and cable routing work together to help reduce unwanted background noise to a minimum. Furthermore, its lightweight, ergonomic design ensures that the OCX 686G/i sits comfortably, and the ear hooks provide extra hold to give you maximum freedom of movement during your runs.

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SENNHEISER HD 630VB Audiophile Closed-Back Headphones Reviewed

7.5HD 630VB_1

Sennheiser is well known for their amazing audiophile-grade open-back headphones such as the HD 800 and HD 650 that offer a natural and spacious feel compared to their closed-back brethren. The only drawback to those headphones is they really can’t be used anywhere but in the quietest of spaces as they have a lot ambient noise bleed through due to their open-back design. Sennheiser says they have solved this problem of generating high-resolution/audiophile sound with their new HD 630VB closed-back headphone. On-top of delivering amazing performance on-the-go, the HD 630VBs come with a host of features that aren’t normally found on audiophile grade monitors. So do these new headphones from Sennheiser deserve to be named after their  legendary HD Series?

DESIGN:

FUNCTION: Featuring an aluminum voice coil, combined with a reported total harmonic distortion of less than 0.08 percent (at 1 kHz and 100 dB SPL), promises precise, unaltered sonic reproduction across a large frequency range of 10 Hz to 42,000 Hz.

hd_630vb-03

If your musical tastes prefer more bass-heavy listening, Sennheiser has also incorporated a rotary dial to finely tune the amount of boom coming through the drivers. Playback and volume levels can be controlled via the right ear cup, too, and you can take calls with the help of an omnidirectional microphone integrated into the oxygen-free cable.

hd_630vb-04

An even bigger bonus to users is the ability to switch them from iPhone to Android compatible via a slider switch on the bottom right earcup labeled “i” (iPhone) and “G” for Galaxy. This is extremely convenient for households that have both Android and Apple devices. No more need for two different models of headphones for both operating systems.

FORM: As with all high-end Sennheiser headphones the materials used on the HD 630VB are top-notch. First the all aluminum construction lends to a very substantial feeling headphone without being too heavy.

hd_630vb-05

The adjustable/folding headband is made from a sprung steel that has a very comfortable clamping force and is finished off with a padded, high-quality leather cushion. The snug as a bug in a rug ear-cups also use the same high-quality leather which seals very well to your ears and keeps the ambient noise bleed-through to a minimum. These headphones were made for long listening sessions and it shows. The only drawback to the HD 630VB is the cable is not detachable. This might be a deal breaker to the hardcore Audiophiles but most will look past this negative.

PERFORMANCE:

Let’s look at the HD 630VB specs from Sennheiser:

  • Wearing Style: Headband
  • Ear coupling: Circumaural
  • Transducer principle: Dynamic, closed
  • Frequency Response: 10 – 42,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 23 ohms
  • Sound Pressure Level: 114 dB (1 kHz / 1Vrm)
  • Total harmonic distortion: <0.08% (1kHz, 100dB)
  • Bass Boost: +/- 5dB at 50 Hz
  • Contact pressure: 5.5 ~ 6.8N
  • Weight (headphones excluding cable): 14.2 oz (400 g)
  • Accessories include carry bag and 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter

Soundstage: The soundstage of the HD 630VB is on the larger side for a closed-back headphone. Thanks in part to the large neodymium dynamic drivers, and variable bass technology that Sennheiser has incorporated into it’s design. Yosi Horikawa’s “Kingdom of Frogs” demonstrates the spaciousness of these quite well. Though they aren’t as wide of a stage as the HD 800s or HD650s, but they’re very good.

Highs: Highs on the HD 630VB are crystal clear and very detailed. They can run a little on the bright side for my taste. It’s all about what the user prefers and most will appreciate the extra oomph these provide. “Dangerous-Oliver Remix,” by Big Data sounds stellar on these Sennheisers.

Mids: This is where I think the HD 630VBs could use a little improvement. Not that they are bad by any means, but on heavy vocal tracks like Labrinth’s “Jealous,” they leave me wanting more. They just don’t give me the live feeling that it’s fellow HD Series do.

Lows: The HD 630VB can reproduce intense sub-bass, but it does so accurately. The variable bass control seems to just fill in the lows, not just exaggerate them. It also lets you taylor the bass quickly for different songs. Because lets face it, all bass is not created equal. There are two songs that I think really show off how dynamic the low frequency range of the HD 630VB truly is. First is Zhu’s “Automatic.” The bass sounds very natural for a closed-back headphone. And with deeper digital bass tones like in the intro to Outkast’s “Speakerboxxx” album, that covers a wide spectrum of the low-end, you get to hear how well the low notes are controlled and represented.

Equipment Used for Review:

OVERALL:

SENNHEISER HD 630VB Audiophile Closed-Back Headphones Reviewed
January 19, 2016
7.5/10
Engineering a closed-back Audiophile headphone that is portable device friendly is no easy feat. Congrats on your success Sennheiser.
7.5 Review Score
SENNHEISER HD 630VB Closed-Back Audiophile Headphones

Engineering a closed-back Audiophile headphone that is portable device friendly is no easy feat. Congrats on your success Sennheiser.

Design
7.5
Performance
8
Usability
8
Value
7

The HD 630VBs are an extremely fun headphone. They pretty much do everything good and their build-quality is fantastic. This is definitely the one to have as your all-around, good performer that you use on the daily. Combined with their earcup controls and ability to be used with Apple or Android, the Sennheiser HD 630VBs are at the top of my list for closed-back headphones. They are just pure musical fun! And in my honest opinion they do deserve to be in Sennheiser”s HD series line of headphones. This is as close as you’ll get in a closed-back headphone.

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Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro: Studio Reference Headphones and More?

8.5dt1770pro_00

Nowadays Pro-audio Headphones come in many of shapes and sizes, but few are as comfortable, lightweight and balanced as the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro. These Closed-back circumaural headphones are meant for the professional or musician wanting a clear representation of the entire frequency range, from the deepest bass to the brightest highs. But are they a “one trick pony?”

FEATURES:

The DT 1770s have a simple but elegant build quality that gives them a substantial feel. The metal and thickly cushioned leather headband combined with the ear pads, allows for hours of extended studio or listening time without fatigue on those pressure points. The ear cups are actually plastic even though they do a great job of convincing you otherwise (I thought they were metal).

Sound Isolation is very nice with the leatherette ear pads but they aren’t as comfortable as the velour pads. One of my favorite features, beside their sound signature, is the snap-in Mini-XLR connection on the left ear cup. This provides a very secure connection and allows for easy replacement of that part should it fail. As with a lot of Beyerdaynamic’s headphones you can also buy replacement parts for the DT 1770 Pro.

PERFORMANCE:

Soundstage: The soundstage of the DT 1770 Pro is on the larger side for a reference, closed-back set of headphones. Thanks in part to the 250 Ohm, 45 mm dynamic Tesla 2.0 neodymium driver technology that has already made its mark in the company’s history.

Highs: Highs on the DT 1770 Pro are crystal clear, neutral and very detailed. They never come off as too bright or over powering. It’s all about balance which will be a reoccurring theme throughout this review. You hear every little nuance of a song like “Rosanna,” by Toto. Even the very highs-heavy track “S.O.B.” by Nataniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, sounds very detailed and not over the top like it can at certain points of the song with the very nice Audeze EL-8s I used as a reference set of headphones.

Mids: This is where I think the DT 1770 Pros really shine. The sublimely balanced midrange sounds full and rich. These reproduce such natural sounding vocals that they make you remember what the midrange should sound like. Labrinth’s “Jealous” sounds like he’s in the studio and you’re listening to him sing live for you. Also, if you’re into Musicals, a track like “Where’s the Girl” from The Scarlet Pimpernel will just blow you away.

Lows: The DT 1770 Pro can reproduce intense sub-bass, but it does so accurately, not by exaggerating what’s the in track. They never sound muddled or overly powered. Just balanced and near perfection to my ears. There are two songs that I think really show off how dynamic the low frequency range of the DT 1770 Pro truly is. First is Dave Matthews Band’s “Say Goodbye.” The percussion instruments sound uncommonly natural for a headphone. And with deeper digital bass tones like in the intro to Outkast’s “Speakerboxxx” album, that covers a wide swath of the low-end spectrum, you get to hear how well the low notes are controlled and represented.

Equipment Used for Review:

OVERALL:

Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro: Studio Reference Headphones and More?
November 4, 2015
8.5/10
With their very neutral and balanced way of reproducing music, the DT 1770 Pro is ideal for musical production sessions or just listening to the details of a song.
8.5 Review Score
Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro 250:

With their very neutral and balanced way of reproducing music, the DT 1770 Pro is ideal for musical production sessions or just listening to the details of a song.

Design
9
Performance
9
Usabitlity
8
Value
7.5

The DT 1770 PRO is a very well balanced and neutral studio monitor headphone which is what you’re looking for in this category. And to answer my original question I purposed at the beginning of this review, “Are these are a One Trick Pony?” In short, no. Where my opinion might differ with most is I think these are a great all-around headphone. They’re just so neutral sounding yet extremely detailed all across the entire auditory spectrum. Audiophiles and Musicians alike would love to have these in their collection. Good job Beyerdynamic!

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HIFIMAN HE400S: Best Entry Level Audiophile Headphones?

9HiFIMan-HE400S

Today’s market is crowded with “entry level” audiophile headphones for consumers. HIFIMANS’ newest foray into the battle ground is with the HE400S. Will it live up to what I think can be a game changer in the segment – especially at its sub $300 price point – or did they just cheap out on everything? Keep reading.

FEATURES:

The relatively new HIFIMAN HE400S Planar Magnetic Driver headphone features an elegant, yet simple design. These open-back monitors are made from plastic with a nice silver finish and black accents. The HE400S weigh a mere 12 ounces (350 grams), which is nice, light and quite amazing if you consider the size of the headphones themselves. It also features angled velour ear pads that are very comfortable and can be worn for extended listening sessions without discomfort. Although, I can see how some people with ears that stick out further than mine might find the stock ear pads lacking in depth. The tips of my ears were just barely, barely touching the inside of the cans.

The metal and leather headband has a clamping force that is appropriate and average for the size of the HE400S. The headband was easily adjustable and these would fit most, if not all head types. That being said, some people with a big head like me (I wear a 7-¾” hat) might find them little on the tight side after an hour plus of listening.  If your head is on the medium to smaller size, you should be good-to-go. I also tried verifying this with another large-headed coworker and he said they seem fine. So, it might just be me.

Complementing the HE400S is a 4 ft long non-microphonic, cloth sheathed cable that is made from OFC (Oxygen-Free Copper).  It features an angled 3.5mm jack (1/4” adapter included) which terminates into dual 2.5mm TRS connectors at the headphones for left and right signal. The isolation from microphonics is excellent, but the cable is a little on the stiff side and seems like it could possibly pinch or break the wire if bent too hard. Overall their build quality is very nice.

PERFORMANCE:

Soundstage: The soundstage of the HE400S is immense. Thanks in part to the planar magnetic drivers and open back design. While listening to “Kingdom of Frogs,” by Yosi Horikawa, it felt like I was in a rain forest listening to music. It’s pretty awesome for sure.

Highs: The highs on the HE400S are crystal clear.  Sometimes they can be a little too bright for my taste with electronic music depending on the song. “Secrets,“ by Tiesto can be painful at high volumes, while “Don’t Give Up,” by Chicane sounds amazing.

Mids: The mids sound full and rich without being forceful or unnatural. Songs that have heavy vocals, like Luther Vandross’ “Here and Now” sound like you’re at a venue listening to him live.

Lows: Bass on these headphones is spectacular. It hits the low frequencies with amazing accuracy, depth and clarity. There is nothing overpowering or artificial sounding about it (that is one of my biggest gripes with a lot of headphones like Beats by Dr. Dre). Low frequency transitions are very precise. Good job HIFIMAN for accomplishing such a nice balance.

Equipment Used for Review:

There is one thing I did notice about the HE400S when using the Beyerdynamic A 20 Desktop Amplifier. It took more volume to drive HE400S than it did the Sennheiser HD650 that I used as a reference set of headphones. The HD 650s made it to about half volume before being maxed out. The HE400S however could take max volume from the A 20 with little to no distortion depending on the song you are listening to at the time. I then listened to the same songs on my iPhone 6 and it was the same deal. Almost like there is some sort of built-in protection for the drivers so they won’t distort. I know most of this has to do with the fact the drivers on the HE400S are planar magnetic and require more power than the HD650s and its dynamic drivers.

**Note: I tried using my Fiio E17 amp with my iPhone 6 and it had no problems driving the HE400S. It actually sounded pretty damn good. Thanks in part to the low impedance and the efficiency of the headphones. They definitely could be used as an everyday headphone at work depending on the noise level because they have a lot of bleed through as they are open back.

OVERALL:

HIFIMAN HE400S: Best Entry Level Audiophile Headphones?
October 9, 2015
9/10
There's no other headphone on the market today at this price point that gives you the pure audio bliss that the HIFIMAN HE400S Headphone does
9 Review Score
HIFIMAN HE400S: Best Entry Level Audiophile Headphone

There's no other headphone on the market today at this price point that gives you the pure audio bliss that the HIFIMAN HE400S Headphone does

Design
9
Performance
10
Usability
8.5
Value
10

Brilliant is all you need to know about the HIFIMAN HE400S. They have excellent sound quality and for their price I can’t think of another headphone that comes close to matching the value I think HIFIMAN has brought to the table in this segment. Anyone would be proud to add these to their collection. I know I would.

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New Sennheiser Urbanite Headphones

Let your ears be loved: Sennheiser’s new on-ear URBANITE and over-ear URBANITE XL deliver unique style and an intense club sound on the move – serving up massive bass but with Sennheiser’s uncompromising audio expertise ensuring excellent clarity across all frequencies.  Staying connected is a breeze with two dedicated versions for Apple iOS, or Windows Phone and Android devices, such as Samsung Galaxy that provide in-line remotes and integrated microphones for taking calls and controlling the music. URBANITE’s streetwise styling comes with toughness to match. They feature durable metal components that can take on the pressures of urban living, and are designed to cleverly fold away into a soft pouch.

DESIGN:

From a design standpoint both versions have a similar design with the obvious difference of the size and shape of the ear cups. The Urbanite XL (over-ear) is substantially larger than the on-ear version, but the colors and materials are essentially identical. The canvas-like covering, contrast stitching on the headband and the matte finish of the earcups are simple, classy touches, and the earpads themselves are exceptionally comfortable. Even the on-ear URBANITES provide a great acoustical seal to your ear which is rare for an on-ear.

A thick cable descends from the interior of the headband, attaching to each earcup and acting as the adjusting mechanism. The detachable audio cable connects to the left ear, and the inline remote control and microphone is compatible with iOS devices and allows for adjusting volume, skipping tracks, playing or pausing music, as well as answering or ending phone calls.

SOUND:

As with all Sennheiser products, the sound output of the Urbanite headphones are full, rich and crystal clear. Sennheiser developed them to deliver extra low-end bass. The thing that separates these from other headphones with an emphasis on bass is that these have a fuller and richer tone throughout their operating frequency range of 16 – 22,000 Hz, without things sounding awkwardly boosted. As Sennheiser says, “The bass is better. Not Louder.”

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Sennheiser Urbanites

On-ear and Over-ear Headphones

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