Headphones Awards – Q1 2013 (Part 2) : Philips M1, Beyer dynamic T50p, Grado SR80i

3/9/2013 9:08:02 AM

Philips M1

Price: $240

Philips M1, the best portable on-ears $150-$300

Philips M1, the best portable on-ears $150-$300

Philips has hit a run of good form with its Fidelio range, the bigger brothers to these headphones, the L1s, were on the receiving end of a four-star review back in May, but these really blew our socks off and beat B&W’s excellent P3s in a photo-finish for this Award.

Favoring a simple and stylish on-ear, vented construction over the L1s’ semi-open design, they eschew plastic is favor of metal which Philips hopes will keep unwanted vibration and resonance to a minimum. The pads are of the faux-leather type, but sit nicely on the ears and grip tightly enough – they didn’t get too sweaty on our ears after a long listening session, either. We think they look the business. They isolate sound well, too – so they’re good for the commute.

Vocals have room to breathe, while high frequencies sound natural, and don’t harden up. Stereo imaging is impressive too

Well-rounded, detailed presentation

Listening to a WAV of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ Please Read The Letter running from iTunes through a Chrod Chordette headphone amp, we’re happy with the level of detail on offer. The M1s don’t have the kind of airy zing offered by open-packed cans such as the Grado SR80is but neither do they demand your compete attention (or leak like US diplomatic communiqués).

It’s a rounded presentation. Vocals are given a decent amount of room to breathe, while high-frequency sounds are natural and don’t harden up when you crank the volume, stereo imaging is impressive, too, with instruments sitting explicitly in their own space. It’s all tightly marshaled, too, which is important.

Downstairs, the bass is decently weighty. It never overwhelms proceedings, and stays nice and tight even with complex rhythms such as those found in Tortoise’s Corpone Brunch.

The one thing the M1s don’t do is grab you by the lapels and force you listen. And we mean that in a good way. It means they never get tiring to listen to, and they excel if you’re after en extended listening session.

These headphones go up directly against the B&W P3, which have won admiration for their confident, controlled delivery. Not only do they meet the challenge laid down by the P3s, they beat it and in some style, too.

Best portable on-ears $300+

Beyer dynamic T50p

Price: $345

Don’t sell them short: these superb headphones deserve to be fed a high quality signal. Try to stick with uncompressed music files.

Don’t sell them short: these superb headphones deserve to be fed a high quality signal. Try to stick with uncompressed music files.

In last year’s Awards, we said the of the T50ps: “If you’re the kind of person who feels their commute would benefit from genuine hi-fi sound quality, the Beyerdynamics are the way to get it.” And that’s just as true today.

Arriving with minimal fanfare right at the tail-end of 2010, these premium cans caused an instant stir. Beyer dynamic has used a couple of different alloys to come up with a design that’s thin but solid, functional but elegant.

There’s a real weight and depth to the bass, but it’s integrated seamlessly with the midrange, itself solid and full-bodied

Lightweight sonic heavyweights

They’re comfy, too – the leatherette ear-pads are kept snugly in place by the grippy band, but at 174g they’re light enough to be ignored. And, thanks to a closed-back design that leaks almost no noise, they’re perfect for commuting.

The sound they produce, on the other hand, is entirely ignorable. Start with Bon Iver’s brilliantly haunting Perth and the T50ps prove to be incredibly insightful, finding nuance in all of the many vocal strands.

They’re superbly punchy and precise, too, hammering out the thumping drums as the track builds, and throwing out the intentionally cacophonous crescendo with serious, dramatic force. There’s real weight and depth to the bass, but it’s integrated seamlessly with the midrange, itself solid and full-bodied.

At the top-end the treble is crisp but controlled, with cymbals sounding detailed and striking without ever sounding harsh.

This ability to combine punch and attack with control and fluidity means they won’t overly expose more compressed tracks, but you’d be doing these excellent headphones a disservice if you didn’t switch to a lossless or uncompressed format.

Given the price and the inexorable rise of the mobile phone as a music device, we wish there was a mic and control unit but otherwise we have no complaints. These are superb.

Best home on-ears up to $225

Grado SR80i

Price: $172.5

Grado SR80i, the best home on-ears up to $225

Grado SR80i, the best home on-ears up to $225

You can’t have everything: sometimes, when it comes to hi-fi, those pesky ‘laws of physics’ come along and smugly insist that it simply can’t be done. Compromises must be made.

In this case, we’re referring to the sonic performance of headphones, and what can and can’t be achieved in terms of real quality: clarity, detail, naturalness, fluidity, transparency, and so on.

The fact is, headphones are used for private listening which means most models utilize a closed-back design. which keeps you from inflicting your music on those around you.

But this design also creates a plethora of internal reflections, enclosure vibrations and standing waves – all of which are detrimental to sound quality.

Detailed, musical and natural these really are the kind of headphones that make you close your eyes and sit back

Shouldn’t everyone enjoy the music?

So, what’s to be done? Well, it’s to Grado’s great credit that it decided to answer that question with a method of mind-boggling simplicity: make open-backed headphones that leak sound like there’s no tomorrow but which, as a result, sound sublime to the person wearing them.

Sit next to someone on the train or bus who happens to be wearing these, however and you might be forgiven for thinking they had them on inside out.

And it’s not as if these colander levels of leakiness are their only idiosyncrasy. With their retro-looking ear-cups attached to a leather headband via a metal rod, they look for all the world like a headset for a 1950’s shortwave radio.

But the SR80i have a serious point. And that point is how they sound: sharply timed, awesomely detailed, musical, natural and – with the right recordings simply beautiful. These really are the kind of headphones that will make you almost involuntarily close your eyes, sit back and imagine you’re in the auditorium with the orchestra.

But don’t take them on the train with you: the person next to you will hear every single note and, let’s face it, not everyone likes Micheal Bublé.

But, for home listening where it won’t bother the spouse, the SR80is are simply a stupendous buy for $165. Sound per pound? Yep. Another Award? It’s be churlish not to…

Video tutorials
- How To Install Windows 8

- How To Install Windows Server 2012

- How To Install Windows Server 2012 On VirtualBox

- How To Disable Windows 8 Metro UI

- How To Change Account Picture In Windows 8

- How To Unlock Administrator Account in Windows 8

- How To Restart, Log Off And Shutdown Windows 8

- How To Login To Skype Using A Microsoft Account

- How To Enable Aero Glass Effect In Windows 8

- How To Install Windows Store Apps From Windows 8 Classic Desktop

- How To Disable Windows Update in Windows 8

- How To Disable Windows 8 Metro UI

- How To Add Widgets To Windows 8 Lock Screen

- How to create your first Swimlane Diagram or Cross-Functional Flowchart Diagram by using Microsoft Visio 2010
programming4us programming4us
Top 10
Free Mobile And Desktop Apps For Accessing Restricted Websites
TOYOTA CAMRY 2; 2.5 : Camry now more comely
KIA SORENTO 2.2CRDi : Fuel-sipping slugger
How To Setup, Password Protect & Encrypt Wireless Internet Connection
Emulate And Run iPad Apps On Windows, Mac OS X & Linux With iPadian
Backup & Restore Game Progress From Any Game With SaveGameProgress
Generate A Facebook Timeline Cover Using A Free App
New App for Women ‘Remix’ Offers Fashion Advice & Style Tips
SG50 Ferrari F12berlinetta : Prancing Horse for Lion City's 50th
Popular Tags
Video Tutorail Microsoft Access Microsoft Excel Microsoft OneNote Microsoft PowerPoint Microsoft Project Microsoft Visio Microsoft Word Active Directory Exchange Server Sharepoint Sql Server Windows Server 2008 Windows Server 2012 Windows 7 Windows 8 Adobe Flash Professional Dreamweaver Adobe Illustrator Adobe Photoshop CorelDRAW X5 CorelDraw 10 windows Phone 7 windows Phone 8 Iphone