Testing some medium-to-high-end headphones in San Francisco…

This week I spent some time in SF because of GoogleIO. I thought while I was here I would compare some of the higher end headphones on sale at retail outlets against my customs.

The idea here is that I just assume what I have is good, and unless I really audition a lot of good headphones/earbuds I may well not know what I may be missing. There are a lot of outlets in SF that have a wide range of ‘phones they’ll actually let you audition, including some in-ears.

All in all, I aimed for some of the more well-respected headphones and picked out a few high end ones which were available here to test:

Shure SE846 earbuds – ($999)

B&W C5s ($179)

B&W P5 ($299)

B&W P7 ($399)

Sennheiser Momentum ($349)

All the “Beats” at the Apple Store… ($199-$399)

Parrot Zik ($399)

(I must admit I avoided the Bose quiet comfort headphones.)

I still think that the B&W C5 is the best value for money at a fraction of the cost of some of the on- or over-ears, with what sounds to me like a much more linear frequency response across the board. The others either sounded like the bass was muddying the entire sound, or was not nearly “punchy” enough.

I expected the Shures to be a lot better than they are for the price, but I suspect a good seal was the issue here – though this brings up the question as to whether you can get a reliable seal with in-ears that are not custom….

Of the over ears, I think the Parrot Zik headphones actually did the best job of the sound signature I liked, though because of the bluetooth there is some clipping/static as they start playing. Not sure how they do on battery or for long periods.

That said, I really don’t know how the comfort of these headphones is longer term – I played the exact same track on all of them, and so only spent 3 or 4 minutes with each… comfort over longer periods I am sure is a big question.

All in all, this renews my faith that my JHAudio 13s are, by far, the best sounding headphones I have ever managed to listen to…

Ill have to find a high-end place to audition the likes of the Audeze LCD-3 or Sennheiser HD 800… each hundreds moe than the 13s, and not nearly as portable…



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