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FOCAL Stellia Headphone, Arche Amplifier | REVIEW

by Nan Pincus in Headphones

I don’t listen to headphones like the Focal Stellia (website). Okay, let me back up—I listen to headphones all the time, just not for pleasure, but rather to check my work in the studio and occasionally to make eq decisions on a master. Words by Dave McNair and Nan Pincus When Eric Franklin Shook asked me if I wanted to review some headphones, I said “Uh, I don’t think so.” “Wait, these are special ‘phones—the Focal Stellia AND their killer headamp the Arche,” [...]

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  • FOCAL Utopia Headphone, Arche Amplifier | REVIEW

    December 11, 2020 // 2 Comments

    Focal Utopia. “World’s Best Headphone.” This was the proclamation made by the man who gave me my first job doing headphone reviews, my mentor and predecessor at Innerfidelity, Tyll Hertsens. As a young teenager I remember learning a lot from Tyll and Innerfidelity, and the exciting discussions of his reviews and measurements that made their way onto the forums at head-fi and other sites. Words and Photos by Grover Neville To my great surprise, the reviewing game came with far fewer [...]
  • The Best Headphones [Editor’s note: Welcome to the Part-Time Audiophile Buyers Guide for 2021! This year we decided to mix it up a little by breaking up the Buyers Guide into sections, which makes it a far more manageable read. And oh, we know what you’re thinking–the best headphones and headphone amps? Hard no! Everyone’s ears are different, and headphones are a very personal thing! Let’s clear this up: these are the best headphones and headphone amps that we, the [...]
  • The story of the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition (website) is one of many welcomed surprises. Not often in life are we gifted with genuine surprises, and the ones most common to occur are usually anything but welcomed. The story begins as I’m wrapping up the Audeze LCD-1 headphone review, and finding a new appreciation for all things sonically flat in regards to headphones. The act of searching for a balanced sense of color and low-distortion through the careful matching of associated [...]
  • LSA HP-2 Ultra Headphone | REVIEW

    November 15, 2020 // 2 Comments

    One of the great things about high performance headphone audio is that there is such a diverse selection of great sounding gear now. Back in the day (oh, 30 years or so) there were far fewer options on the table. Now, one would have to listen every day of the year to make it through all the variety in headphones that promise high fidelity within a personal space. This review of the LSA HP-2 ($799) covers one of that market’s newest entries. It’s not perhaps the most widely known option out [...]
  • Audeze LCD-1 Headphones | REVIEW

    November 13, 2020 // 3 Comments

    This is the story of the Audeze LCD-1 and my emotional rejuvenation. As the pandemic pushed me into a bit of a social lull, I turned to the arts. Days began to fly off the calendar like confetti. Before long, I noticed that I was feeling less and less. When I stop feeling the music is when you know I’ve stopped feeling. By nature I’m a people person. I need human interaction to breathe and think. I need to hear human voices, and see the eyes of someone friendly looking back at me. [...]
  • We live in a society that favors the visual. With the election in our rearview (kind of), this fact is constantly reinforced everywhere. Images sell or persuade, and in doing so they change the way that we experience the space around us. For audiophiles, the chance to sit down with an aperitif, dim the lights, and drop the needle is a way for us to escape the creeping intrusion of this public world of images. It’s just us and the music and it feels damn good. Edgar Allan Poe once stated, [...]
  • Look down, think of a Danish speaker brand that starts with D, look up, think of a Danish speaker brand that isn’t Dynaudio. I’ve had a number of run-ins with Dali speakers over the years, but they’ve never been as firmly planted in my mind as some other brands–but I’ve always thought they seemed to put out a nice enough product. I’ve just never sat down with a Dali for long enough to know, and to tell the truth I didn’t really do much research when a review sample came across [...]
  • Rosson Audio Design RAD-0 Headphone | REVIEW

    October 16, 2020 // 0 Comments

    To some, describing a headphone as “fun” is akin to the kiss of death. The calling for linearity occasionally spurs dynamic swings in opinions, and even greater judgments in the comment sections and forums. Whatever your preconceived notions of the term are, the Rosson Audio Design RAD-0 is a fun headphone to behold, to hold… and to hear. If you take a look through the company website, the first thing you might notice is that there appears to be a wide array of customizations and one-offs [...]
  • Acoustic Research AR-H1 | REVIEW

    December 9, 2018 // 5 Comments

    Words and Photos by Eric Franklin Shook Nothing holds you hostage with the music like a big set of cans. You are isolated, alone, just you and the music. The music gets inside your head in more ways than one. A lifelike sound-stage isn’t usually something I usually associated with headphones, that is until I got myself into a fancy set of Audeze LCD-X headphones. Planar drivers can hold and shape the sound-stage in unprecedented ways. When I first had a run in with Acoustic Research [...]
  • This is not for the faint of heart, or wallet. If you think headphones have reached overwhelmingly high prices spare your time and don’t read this review. You have been warned. Walking down the Munich High End corridors Bumped upon Riccardo Yeh, talented musician, opera lover and HiFiMan’s international sales director. Come in he said, we have both Susvara and Shangri La playing side by side. I was sold. Fast-forward a couple of months Early summer, I couldn’t get those lush [...]
  • Review: Fostex TE100 IEM headphones

    July 15, 2017 // 1 Comment

    IEMs? Where would we be without their high propensity for mobility and discreet listening sessions? It’s like a personal private eye, hired for some deep investigative work. In the case of the masses vs. Fostex TE100 ($1,200 USD) the undiscovered back story is a fairly rich one. Fostex is known for its OEM work as well as a myriad of partnerships over the years (you can check out some more of their history from our other review HERE), and one of the more recent meet ups came at a crossroads [...]
  • by Brian Hunter Fostex has a long history in the audio business. The company was founded in 1973, but its parent company Foster Electric Co., Ltd was formed way back in 1949. The company was originally a mass producer of OEM speaker and transducer products, but broke into pro and hi-fi facing mini monitors in 1978 with the Fostex 6301B and then into the growing category of home recording with a line of multitrack recording devices in ‘81. This was actually my first interaction with the brand [...]
  • Review: SPL Phonitor X headphone amplifier

    March 17, 2017 // 7 Comments

    I’ve got a somewhat complicated relationship status with headphone listening. It’s something we’re working through, and perhaps I’m being too needy. The thing is I feel that I’m getting shortchanged on the big listening experience I’m used to from my two-channel rig. In an effort to address this emotional attachment to my loudspeakers I dipped my toe into the head-fidelity pool, and committed to a couple of headphone amps for a month to see if I was [...]
  • So I get an email from Kostas Metaxas of Metaxas and Sins in which I am asked if I would care to listen to the new Marquis Memento Mori headphone amplifier (lets call it the Skull from now on). I would do almost anything to get my hands on that piece of sculpture, so I try to play cool, hold my breath and reply in an appropriate fashion. Yes Kostas, why not (as in hellyeah, asap) But I don’t want to get greedy, many friends would like to see, touch, hear the Skull. Instead of bringing the [...]
  • Review: Pass Labs HPA-1 headphone amplifier

    February 5, 2017 // 3 Comments

    by John Grandberg Have you ever waited and waited and waited for something to show up? And then when it does, it actually manages to exceed your admittedly over-inflated expectations? I’m not talking about impatiently sitting by the window watching for the FedEx truck. I mean things that don’t exactly exist yet. An upcoming album by a favorite band. That new movie from the relatively obscure director that you’ve been following for years. It could be a new speaker, a new craft [...]
  • Review: Cayin HA-1A MK2 tube headphone amp

    January 29, 2017 // 5 Comments

    By John Grandberg More audiophiles these days are embracing the pleasures of headphone listening. There’s an ever-growing selection to choose from, but enthusiasts soon learn that a key factor in achieving the ultimate sound quality from their cans rests with the dedicated amplifier they choose. Having spent time with dozens of headphone amps over the last couple of years, I have some observations that I feel are worth sharing. First, what is it that makes an amplifier compelling? The sound [...]
  • Just an update of what’s in the headphone queue. I know we traditionally don’t do a lot of headphone reviews, or headphone amplifier/DAC reviews. But we want to change that, so look for more can coverage in the future. I’ve received some lovely headphone amps/DACs for review courtesy of Edward Ku at Element Acoustics over the weekend. The SPL Phonitor X ($2,500 USD), and the Naim DAC-V1 ($1,800 USD). These will also help with comparisons for my upcoming Part II review of Roon [...]
  • Noble Audio knows upside and down how to make an in-ear monitor look good and sound even better. And with the help of the audiophile retailing entrepreneurs at Massdrop, their new little marvel is available at the lowest price I’ve ever seen a Noble product that wasn’t heavily chewed on by Brian Hunter’s cat. Say hello to the $249 the Noble X Universal. $249? For a Noble? That is a flipping steal, my friends. Get in line and get in fast because I’m pretty sure Brannan [...]
  • Massdrop and Noble Audio

    December 1, 2016 // 1 Comment

    New product announcement Press release from Noble Audio and Massdrop. NOBLE AUDIO’S MOST AFFORDABLE IEM AVAILABLE, EXCLUSIVELY FOR A LIMITED PERIOD ON MASSDROP Just 2,000 proprietary-driver Noble X IEMs available on this first run at $249/c.£200 and time is running out! 1st December 2016, Santa Barbara, USA — Noble Audio, the world’s leading high-performance in-ear monitor (IEM) specialist, has launched the Noble X exclusively on Massdrop, a special limited edition in-ear monitor [...]
  • AudioQuest NightHawk Carbon & NightOwl Carbon

    November 3, 2016 // 0 Comments

    Just got the word that AudioQuest is refreshing their headphone line. NightHawk isn’t all that long-in-the-tooth, but advances and refinements wait for no … something something something. Ahem. Long story short — they’ve went ahead and made them and made them better. Score one for the Californians! The most notable — and obvious — change is that NightHawk is no longer alone in the AudioQuest headphone lineup. NightOwl will be the name for the fully [...]