Wayback Wednesday: Victor/JVC HA-FX500

In choosing the JVC FX-500, an earphone that I reviewed for TouchMyApps for this week’s Wayback Wednesday, I’m breaking Lieven’s rules. For that, I’m sorry. But I’ve got my reasons. Those reasons stem largely from my purchase of the JVC HA-FW02 last week. I picked it up at e-Earphone. Like the first HA wood earphone, at its centre is the glorious, if self-destructive idea of wood. In typical FX fashion, it is unwieldy. The other reason is that I’ll be writing about the FW02 soon.

The JVC FX500 was the first earphone to drag the name Victor/JVC out from the mire. The HA-FW02 is hobnobbing it with the best avatars in the best swamp boots.

The JVC FX500 was released for around 150$. If held onto for a few years, it would develop a syndrome called nozzle-twirl. Since I just coined that phrase, let me explain. Nozzle twirl is when the sound tube, or nozzle, twirls when fingered. My pair developed nozzle twirl after a year and a half. Still, I loved it.

Models above the JVC FX500 came and went. I tried each. From me, no more reaction than meh. Each was too bassy than the original. Some were even scratchy than the original. And then, last week, I got to put some serious ear time on the FW02. Better audio balance. Better build. It is heavier, more unwieldy, and about twice as expensive. Spiritually, it succeeds where most, if not all, FX500’s successors failed.

The JVC FX500’s wide stage and dry, textured bass are what hooked me early on. But that creaky high range made it hard to listen to some of my music for longer than an hour at a time. To that add the fact that my preferences have evolved. Today, I prefer high ranges with fewer northward spikes. Sometimes I even dig low-pass filters. Today, I prefer warmth to absolute sharpness. It’s why I prefer the Astell&Kern AKT8iE to the Beyerdynamic Xelento.

I’ve developed a soft spot for z-axis depth, particularly where bass crosses into the midrange. It’s a great substitute for a body-slamming floor-standing woofer, and somehow grounds you in a space. Done right, mids and highs ring around and over you, creating a believable musical stage. Well, the JVC FX500’s z-axis isn’t up to 2017’s par. It sounds good. It pushes stereo wide and delineates most frequencies pretty well.

But it’s got scratchy highs and that damned nozzle twirl.

Its plug end wasn’t developed for the long haul. It’s long, pokey arms are buggers. And yet, it really started things. It’s a favourite no-longer-used earphone of mine. I can’t imagine things changing. I don’t want to get rid of it, but I’m also not going to use it. I’ve moved on. And, it appears, so, too, have JVC/Victor.

Review: Focal Elear – Hyperior

Disclaimer: Focal’s PR agency sent us the Focal Elear on loan for this review. The headphone needs to be returned. The pictures in this review or either ours or those of Focal which we borrowed.



My favorite living film director probably is Alfonso Cuaron.  He has been so ever since I first saw Y Tu Mama Tambien in college.  I checked out his earlier films, a Little Princess and Great Expectations, and enjoyed them both.  He then signed on to make Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and I was over the moon.  I loved the Harry Potter books, and here was my favorite director adapting one of them. Cuaron’s Azkaban ended up being the best of the Harry Potter films by a long short.  I loved it so much I felt like I could write a 40 page essay on it (which I did for my college graduation paper).  So, a few years go by, and his next film, Children of Men, starts getting some press.  Of course I am looking forward to it.  I think Cuaron is amazing, and the subject of the film is really fascinating.  I can’t forget the terrific cast, either.  Then, the trailer is released, and I flip out.  “Holy cow that looks amazing” I say to myself.  I don’t know how many times I watched that trailer.  Of course, by now, part of me is expecting Children of Men to be the greatest film ever made.  Literally, the greatest film.  You can’t win with those kinds of expectations.  Even if it turns out to actually be THAT good, at best, your expectations are only met.  So, despite eventually calling Children of Men Cuaron’s best film, and one of the best of that decade, I was really disappointed the first time I saw it.  It took a while for my expectations to finally dissolve.  I guess the point to this is to remind all of us on how dangerous hype and elevated expectations can be, and the importance of reviewing something for what it is, and not what you heard it is or expected it to be.  And now, on a completely unrelated note, let’s talk about the Focal Elear.

The Hype Train

Yeah, it’s hard to escape the hype on this headphone.  I asked L if I could review it right before the hype train started puffing full steam.  L said he was going to do the review, and then screamed at me to get off his lawn.  Ok, not true, L was very polite about it, but since I wouldn’t be doing the review, I saw no harm in reading what others had to say.  Well, people seemed to be loving every inch of the Elear.  They made it sound pretty awesome.  “Damn,” I says to myself, “I wish I were reviewing it.”  Flash forward a month or two, and I find myself with the opportunity to get an Elear loaner from Focal, and I ask L, if his own review isn’t done yet, might he be interested in a dual review.  “I haven’t been able to get a sample yet” he tells me, “so knock yourself out.”  I am beginning the review this way to fully inform you, gentle reader, that I am not reviewing this headphone unspoiled by the prior enthusiasm for this headphone.  When I know I am going to review something, I try to avoid reading as much about it as I can, as to not come into the review with a preconceived notion of what I am about to hear.  That did not happen here.  So, is this headphone the best that there is at $1000?  Does the Elear silence all comers?  Is this the end game headphone for all except the most insane?  There is certainly a good case to be made for that, but one step at a time.


Focal is a French company that started in 1979 in the home audio world making speaker drivers and loudspeakers (originally, the loudspeakers were released under the brand name JM-lab, named after the Focal founder Jacques Mahul).  Since then, they have gotten their fingers in a number of different pies including studio monitors and car audio.  In fact, in 2016, Focal launched an OEM system for the car manufacturer Peugeot.  With an optional upgrade, your car will ship with a complete Focal system.  They didn’t come to headphones however, until 2012 with the Spirit One.  The Spirit One had some troubles on release, but Focal seemed to learn a lot from it and responded with the well-received Spirit Classic and Spirit Professional.  But, it is really with the release of the Elear ($999) and its big brother, the Utopia ($3999) that Focal seems to have proven that they can play with the big boys of the headphone world.


The look of the Elear does a great job of announcing its presence.  I have been struggling as to find the right word as to describe the look.  It isn’t sleek.  It isn’t gaudy.  I’m just not sure.  Then, as I peruse the internet, looking at pictures of the Elear, I notice in one of the pictures the Elear looks like a bodybuilder flexing his massive arms (it was a thumbnail, and I might have been drunk).  That is it.  Muscular is the word I am looking.  Compared to the HD800, which looks like electronic earmuffs or the veneer on the HE-560 that makes me feel like I am wearing my parents’ old  Dodge station wagon, the Elear strikes a bold look that really grabs the eye.  But, even after some time has passed, the look never crosses that line into being too much or too loud.

Build & Comfort

As a headphone of $999 should, the Elear feels to be a very well built headphone.  Aluminum is the material of the day for the yoke.  The ear cup rotator and the length adjustment mechanism, usually part of the yoke, are both contained inside the leather headband.  They did this to maintain the “purity of the design”.  I can’t speak to the purity of it, but functionally speaking, there are no issues here.  You don’t get the same degree of rotation that you find in, say, a Hifiman headphone, but what you get here is more than enough to get you a good seal and a comfortable fit, and that is all that matters.  Speaking of comfort, Focal did a terrific job with the headband on the Elear.  The top of my head is very sensitive, and can’t stand long headphone listening sessions if the weight isn’t very well distributed.  The Elear is not a light headphone.  At 450g, it is 50g heavier than the Senn HD630, which does make my head sore when worn too long.  So, when I say the Elear can be worn for hours with no discomfort, that is really saying something.  The weight, although significant, is distributed well enough to be insignificant.   Well done on that front Focal, very well done.

The review continues on Page 2, after the click HERE or the jump below

Picture Sunday: Massdrop x Nuforce EDC IEMs

The Massdrop X Nuforce EDC IEM is the star of today’s Picture Sunday article. To check out other Picture Sunday articles, click here.

Nuforce are on a roll. The HEM2 earned end of the year kudos from me. Their dual-driver HEM4 put heart into a super-clear sound signature. And EDC? Bigger bass than either and between the two for warmth. There’s a single driver inside it. It looks almost exactly like a HEM. In fact, when first I touched it, I assumed it was a re-badged HEM. HEMs of course, sport balanced armature drivers. This bad boy packs in an 8mm dynamic.

It ditches the heavy hard case but keeps the Comply tips and the cable pair: one with a remote, the other something twisted. The latter cable appears to be a bit stronger than earlier, easily-ripped things that came with HEM earphones.

Another departure from the HEM series is the see-through side panel. Inside you can see the stabilizer, part of the driver housing, some wires- and if you look hard enough, yourself. The insides are clean as can be, and worth taking a looksie. It was a good idea when Shure did it with the SE215, and it is a good idea still.

Better yet, this badboy fits better than the Shure and thanks to memory-wire-free cables, is more comfy. Its v-shaped signature isn’t quite as warm, and it has less mid-creeping bass. I think it’s a better listen. But make no mistake: EDC’s got big bass. I was warned that certain production batches were overly bassy to check my unit. No, man, this thing is spot on. I mean, if it was defective, so would be most v-shaped sounding earphones out there. It sounds great. Not a lot of instrument separation, not a lot of depth, but close, powerful, and moving. Its v-shaped signature tips closer to the lows than to the the highs.

While I’ve got a review of it coming in the next few days or week or so, I’ll leave you with a word: damn.

I can’t believe how far we’ve come. When I got into this game, the most expensive non-stage earphone cost like 100$. And, while, on balance, it sounded good, it was too boomy, and had a really crap cable. Today’s 99$ is literally head and shoulders and knees and toes above what was the tip top in 2002, even if, through Massdrop, today’s 99$ is actually 59$. Even if you hate my reviews, and drink bleach when you see a Nathan below a title, give a little thought Massdrop’s and nuforce’s way. You might be surprised.

Wayback Wednesday: Beyerdynamic T51P

Disclaimer: This article about the Beyerdynamic T51P is part of the Wayback Wednesday series.  Check out the other Wayback Wednesday articles HERE. 


I reviewed the Beyerdynamic T51P back in March 2014 already and in audio years that’s a almost decade. The thing is I’m not a fan of on-ear headphones and then I’m expressing myself lightly. Why someone out of free will would chose an on-ear headphone is beyond me, but well some people actually really do.

Now if you really/absolutely need or want an on-ear headphone than I can easily only recommend the T51P as the Tesla drivers and closed back design make it sound extremely good. In fact, the T51P’s comfort is pretty good, for an on-ear headphone that is, as the pads are soft, the clamping force not too high and the headband cushionny. If you’re not sure yet why I’m recommending the Beyerdynamic T51P, I’ll make it easy for you: its sound. This is what Beyerdynamic has to say about the T51P:

A particularly deep bass response and transparent, clear highs are apparent from the T 51 p due to the common properties that make all Tesla headphones so special: high efficiency and low distortion. The result: a clear, powerful sound across the entire frequency range, even at low levels. The closed design of the T 51 p also isolates external noise very effectively.

And for once – I kid I kid – I couldn’t have said it any better: the Beyerdynamic T51P isolates very well, has great body, speed, clarity and simply sounds really good as most of the Tesla driven headphones do (I’m not a fan of the T70). Three years ago, I even dared to state the following: The T51P is very dynamic, textured and plain fun to listen to. It has an excellent detail level and a good sound stage. I love it, it’s close to being perfect.

Ever since I reviewed the T51P, I deliberately stayed away from reviewing on-ear headphones. Sure I own the Sennheiser HD-25 and the V-Moda XS but neither sound as good as the T51P and secretly I just want to keep it my n°1 on-ear headphone.

Not convinced? Then read the full review below. My question to you: What is your favorite on-ear headphone, and why? And on top of that, why do you really need an on-ear headphone?

The Amazing Beyerdynamic T51P


Review: Massdrop x nuforce EDC – Personal Chauvinism

Disclaimer: Massdrop sent me this earphone in exchange for a review. I paid nothing for it. It’s got a single 8mm dynamic driver inside. It goes for 59$ USD. Crazy. Here’s more info about it: Massdrop x NuForce EDC In-Ear Monitors.

Having penned four hundred words just Sunday, I’m not sure what’s left to say about the EDC. Nuance, I’m told, writhes and flows between the lines. As do I, a semi-frequent queuer, tuber, and threader of turnstiles. I learn to nuance the city once a month. And there’s no better city to nuance than Tokyo, the world’s largest. Like Nuforce’s HEM series, EDC is brilliantly able to shut out Tokyo’s myriad high-volume advertisements, political campaigns, and horrendous announcements. And its middlingly pretty face attracts no unnecessary attention.

Its zippered pouch keep its comply tips, silicon flanges, and cable clip, neatly away.

Let me explain a personal chauvinism. I hate the letter X. I hate it in cameras, in cars, in phones, and in Massdrop coops. The Grace m9xx -> phenomenal machine but named like a prototype iPhone killer. I’ve owned several Fujifilm X cameras; the X-Pro 1, the X-T1, and now the GFX. Each sounds like a grade school advertising assignment. X was damn cool in the 1990s. Today it’s comical. From X-Men Apocalypse, to X-Men Dark Phoenix and Gambit, this is literally the case. EDC’s single x singly triggers my personal x-rated chauvinism.

The EDC goes for peanuts. If you’re clever and want to stock up for Christmas, it’s a shoo-in for anything from a confidence booster in parallel to a poorly chosen main present to a stocking stuffer, or b-day present for your niece or nephew. It’s a 59$ that goes a long way.

Because it looks so much like the HEM2, I expected HEM2 sound. Its twisty cable is a bit better than the HEM2’s is. It takes more than baby strength to rend its cable in two. Or three. Or four. Or five. Unfortunately, looking like the HEM series means it shares the same raised, sleeved cable port, which, while compatible with most aftermarket two-pin cables, doesn’t sturdily fasten to like a flush body would. If you have a mass of expensive two-pin cables lying about, think twice before plugging them in. When properly supported, pin snaps are rare; when they aren’t supported, they’re not.

All of that is to say that, as much as I love the HEM body style, I wish the EDC could have been a bit different. And, yes, that is a foolish wish. Massdrops are aimed at enthusiast quick purchases based on predetermined volume and discount. I don’t know how many they sell in a single lot, but their mass market penetration is smaller than non-Massdrop sales, and therefore harder to clinch a design change. Massdrop and Nuforce worked with what they had, and overall, I think they have put together a palatable package.

Sound and more after the jump:

Review: Mitchell Johnson MJ1 – Shimmer

Disclaimer: Mitchell & Johnson sent the MJ1 my way for the purposes of this review. I will be reviewing most of their headphone line. The MJ1 goes for 399,99£. You can find out more about them here: MJ1 stereo headphones.

After reviewing Verisonix’s N500 and N501, Electrostatz Technology left a deep impression on me. Such clarity, such precise z-axis 3D detail, and so little weight and drive requirement. Mitchell & Johnson’s Electrostatz versions follow similar signatures to their Verisonix OEM, but are a bit more bitey around and above the vocals. Bass lines are tauter, hardening the entire sound. The differences aren’t huge, but I think anyone with ear time on both versions will get them.

Electrostatz is one of the most interesting hybrid technologies out there. It ties a 40mm dynamic driver to a portable electrostatic driver in a passive crossover. No special amp need, and Electrostatz headphones get right loud even from portable sources. Ostensibly, it hitches together the benefits of both driver types.

Not sound

Mitchell & Johnson’s headphones come in standard white boxes, emblazoned with two icons, one beautiful, one cheap. The beautiful one is the Union Jack; the cheap one is that eye sore that reads: Hi-Res Audio. At least to these eyes, it is better suited to market cheap headphones for people that know nothing about headphones.

This box is easier to open, close, and get around in than Verisonix’s box. MJ1 is fast: it neither folds, nor bends. Nor does it come with the zippered case the MJ2 and JP1 come with. In its stead is is a subtly-branded, soft, velvet-lined tote pouch. Inside that are three cables: a curlicue DJ-style cable, a textile clad mic’d remote cable, and a no-fills textile clad cable. Further, there are a 3,5mm to 6,3mm stereo phono step-up adapter and an old-school airplane dual-mono-to-stereo adapter. If you’ve forgotten that airplanes used to pump audio via air pressure from the armrests through bare rubber tubes, you might just remember that what came after was a dual-mono output. But it’s been yonks. And in general, those outputs sound like mud. There is real reason to include a 3,5 to 6,3 step up adapter, but – especially for high-end headphones – little reason to still include an airplane adapter.

While I use each cable, my favourite is the regular textile cable. The reason is that whilst on the go, I don’t always listen through my iPhone and the mic’d cable doesn’t work on the amazing Onkyo DP-S1. That, and the regular textile cable is more svelte.

The MJ1 is solidly built. The metal butt of each arm is fastened by two metal bolts. Its shiny, swivelling metal fulcrums attach to shiny metal hangars. Generally, the fulcrums are well anchored, playing only just so on their hinges. And the dark walnut cups are handsome. The MJ1 is also the first Electrostatz headphone I’ve used that fits my head – albeit barely – out of the box. For my head-room-less head, the smallest setting sags to just a bit below my ears, but only just. Otherwise, driver positioning is good.

If your ears are angled outward, you may have trouble. The drivers are fixed on parallel hinges. They can’t be swivelled along the z-axis. The headband doesn’t clamp like MyST’s OrtoPhones, or older HiFiman and Audeze headphones, but it isn’t as light or comfy as the amazingly comfy HiFiman Susvara.

Among Mitchell & Johnson’s higher end Electrostatz series, the MJ1 is, at least for me, the best-fit. My somewhat misshapen head gets on with it well enough. Better lateral adjustment would be great.

Sound and more after the jump:

Review: V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless – Versatile

Disclaimer: The V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless was shipped to us by V-Moda, with an additional BoomPro Microphone. The price of the V-Moda Crossfade 2 is set at 330$ USD and the mic costs 30USD.


Back then, when I started to put some interest into this hobby, one of the headphones that caught my eye was the Crossfade M80. It was my first love and I wanted it so much at the time, but never had a chance to listen to it. Years later as a reviewer, I get my hands on the Crossfade 2 Wireless.

Time flies.

I saw the headphone through Head Fi forums and then I asked whether can we get a sample. In the end, V-Moda sent us both the Crossfade 2 and Forza, and the microphone. Very nice of them. The review of the Forza will come after this review.


V-MODA is a private international company, specializing in the design and production of mobile audio products. The company was founded in 2004 by Val Kolton, a professional DJ and producer. He originally focused on technological innovation and new patents to develop the fashion headphone lines for DJs. The products and brand were designed in Italy, in Milan and Venice, on frequent design research trips.

Back in Los Angeles, one day Val found himself on Rodeo Drive, watching a woman step out of her Rolls Royce, dressed to kill in total haute-couture. There was just one thing that ruined her perfect image: a set of cheap white plastic headphones. This was back in 2002.

V-MODA began developing the M series in 2010 (for Modern audiophiles). 2011 saw the launch of the first M series on-ear headphones, the M-80, which was very popular at the time, soon followed by the M-100 over-ear headphones.

CROSSFADE 2 Wireless

Evolved from M series, the V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless is the 2nd wireless version. Same signature design elements, same durability and same style, only wireless. Pretty much straightforward, but of course it’s not that simple.

Our best over-ear wired headphone yet…that can be unleashed via Bluetooth


A very stylish packaging welcomes you which reflects the style of V-Moda. The content includes a great carrying case, a V-Moda sticker and the papers. The box shows the mentality of the brand, very impressive right from the start.

The impressive display continues when you get the headphones out with the case. The case is spectacular to me, looks like it can take any blow. Of course I didn’t test it in that way, but it gives the impression to the extent that you start to think you can toss it around. I say, it’s very unlikely to see a damage to the headphone when it’s inside.

The headphone itself is simply remarkable in terms of materials and build. From the headband to the all metal hinges, it’s an example of a high quality product. It’s not a surprise to me because I read the impressions and reviews all over the web, saying that these might be one of the toughest headphones available. Maybe they’re not as durable as the classic versions because of the tech inside of it (and that’s just a prediction), but still it’s nothing less than fantastic.

The one I received is the full black variant which looks very noble to me. Black is always good, no? Well, you get plenty of options, with rose gold being the most flashy one. A downside about that though; only the Rose Gold version has the AptX Bluetooth tech. To be honest I don’t know how it works or what it brings to the table but this one doesn’t have that.

Also, V-Moda offers custom machined shield plates for you to add a more personal look. As I remarked, the birth of V-Moda is based on design and style so one should not expect less than great from the brand.


Before focusing on the sound, let’s get into some details in terms of user experience. I haven’t faced a single problem using the V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless. It’s very easy to get used to it. From top to bottom you get a great on-ear headphone with nice functionality. First of all the thing that impressed me was the small footprint when the headphones are folded. It gets much smaller that way, so you have more space in your bag, nice mobility here.

There’s no active noise cancelling but the isolation is quite good so I don’t think it was necessary to add the feature. Also, NC can disrupt the sound in some ways so I’m glad they didn’t put that to this one. V-Moda wanted to achieve a sound quality that can go up to the audiophile levels this time around, thus it’s quite normal not seeing that feature. It’s a little heavy. and that’s because of the internal DAC and AMP modules (that one is called VAMP, surprise). Nothing uncomfortable but still should be noted, since it can get a little uneasy to your head in a long period.

The wireless functions work flawlessly. Connecting the headphones is simple. You open it with the switch which is on the earcup, then flick it to the right and hold it there for 3 seconds. Than it’s all ready for you to connect it to your device. There are also buttons to change the volume and start-stop the playback. I found these buttons a little fiddly so I didn’t use them too much, instead I controlled the playback on the device. Maybe it’s just me but I didn’t feel very comfortable trying to push them on the earcups. There’s a built-in Bluetooth Mic on the headphone but the performance of it is not quite good. The people on the other line said that my voice was not clear and the sound was noisy. In a quiet environment though it should work better.

Bluetooth range is great, you can move quite far from your device and still there are no cuts in the sound. By the way, despite being a wireless model, you can also use it with the supplied cable. That disables the sound processing of the headphone and you listen it the usual way. I will talk about the difference between wireless & wired shortly in the next section.

Click HERE to go to the next page, or use the page numbers below.

The Very Best Wireless Earbuds for Active People

If you’d asked me three years ago which wireless earbuds to buy for the gym, I would’ve laughed and laughed and laughed. The entire category was so hilariously bad back then, how could I recommend anything? Well let me tell you friend: a lot has changed in the best of ways.

Historically, the problem with wireless earbuds hasn’t been sound quality. It’s been comfort and convenience. The truly minimal wireless earbuds tend to fall off your head or feel like you’re wearing heavy stones in your ear canals. Other styles required a clunky neckband that improved comfort and battery life but also made you look like a goon. Don’t even get me started on easy-to-lose proprietary chargers.

All together, these problems made wireless earbuds virtually useless for an active lifestyle—and it’s still a challenge. But after testing out some of the best reviewed wireless earbuds on the market right now, I was thrilled to learn that some of the newest models actually work really well for exercise and daily use alike. Dare I say, I’m suddenly loving this wireless earbud trend.

How we picked the finalists

Wireless earbuds are honestly everywhere now. (I can buy some knockoff Powerbeats in my local bodega.) To find the very best, however, my pals at Gizmodo and I dipped back into our own reviews as well as those from publications we respect. This narrowed things down to a handful of companies including Jaybird, Jabra, Bang & Olufsen, and, yes, Beats. We didn’t include the Apple AirPods—or any of the “truly wireless” gear out there—because the ultra minimal design falls out of your head pretty easily when doing activities.

The BeatsX earbud, no weird attachments required.

The units we ended up testing needed strong marks in three categories: sound quality, comfort, and convenience. Because our main goal was to find the best wireless earbuds for an active lifestyle, we ruled out almost all of the neckband contenders as well as the completely wireless earbuds that tend to fall out very easily. Earbuds that required proprietary chargers were also considered with heavy skepticism. All things considered, we wanted to find the highest quality earbuds with the fewest inconveniences.

How we tested the best

Let me be honest: some of these wireless earbuds were eliminated right out of the box. Sure, I still set them up and ran through the songs on my headphone test and jump around my apartment, but a number of well-`reviewed models were dead on arrival. Let’s have a moment of silence for the too neckbandy V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless, the too bulky and expensive BeoPlay H5 buds from Bang & Olufsen, the too ugly and uncomfortable Plantronics BackBeat Fit, and the too flimsy JLab Epic2 headset.

The remaining candidates—the Powerbeats3, the BeatsX, the Jabra Sport Coach, the Jabra Sport Pulse, the Jaybird X3, and the Jaybird Freedom—went through the ringer. I went on runs with them. I listened to them in the calm comfort of my own home. I took them on the subway. I did pretty much anything an active person would do with a set of wireless earbuds. In the end, it all came down to those three categories I mentioned earlier.

Sound quality test

Just because sound quality isn’t the biggest issue with wireless earbuds doesn’t mean it’s not an issue. Some of these earbuds, like the BeoPlay H5, sound great! Unfortunately, what’s surely some extra space to hold better drivers makes them a huge pain to wear. (That’s why those were already eliminated.) Others, like the Jaybird X3 and the Jaybird Freedom, sound tinny and flat. Considering the fact that those sets require a tiny proprietary charger that you will certainly lose, I had to cut the Jaybirds from the lineup pretty early as well.

The BeoPlay H5, which sound fantastic but don’t fit well in your ear and require a bulky proprietary charger.

The remaining four wireless earbuds all sound just fine. Each set is tuned a little different—the Beats are famously bass heavy, while the Jabras sound more balanced—but I enjoyed listening to all types of music and podcasts with both. That brings us to Category 2.

Comfort test

To me, comfort is the most important thing factor in choosing the right wireless earbuds. Everybody’s ears are shaped differently, and companies go to great lengths to provide 9,000 different attachments to make sure their set will work in your canal. So at the end of the day, what feels good for me might not feel perfect for you. But let me just admit that I found that the Jabra earbuds felt like they simply disappeared, when I got the fit configuration right. I found the Powerbeats, which hook around your ears and rest just outside your ear canal, to be the absolute worst. Eliminated.

The Powerbeats 3, a popular headset that felt very funny on my head.

There are other factors to comfort, too, though. Wireless earbuds need a little controller so that you can adjust the volume and stuff. That module might also contain a battery, adding weight that tends to be annoying, tugging the earbuds to one side. This is one of the reasons that I fell for the BeatsX and the minimal little neckband that keeps the heavy stuff from dangling about.

Convenience test

The final aspect of wireless earbuds I considered is a big more nuanced than the first. It’s also the most subjective. Convenience to me means that the Bluetooth connectivity aspect worked with minimal effort and the process of putting the earbuds into my dang ear didn’t take 20 minutes. (Seriously, some of these seem like puzzles when you’re trying to get them on correctly.)

The Jabra Sport Pulse, which monitor your heart rate while you’re enjoying tunes.

If you’ve been following, you’ll know that we’re down to three finalists: the BeatsX, the Jabra Sport Pulse, and the Jabra Sport Coach. The BeatsX connect easily to Apple devices, which is a plus for some, but the extra bulk of the neckband can be slightly annoying. The Jabra earbuds are almost identical in terms of form factor, the major difference being that the Pulse has a heart rate monitor and the Coach works with a personal trainer app. However, both can be slightly tricky to squeeze into your ear. They’re all comfortable during various levels of activity, though, and they all sound damn impressive for their size.

So who wins?

Not to be anti-climactic about it or anything, but I think the BeatsX and the Jabra Sport Pulse both win. (The Jabra Sport Coach personal trainer thing never made sense to me, and the heart rate monitor in the Pulse is actually really cool.) It all comes down to your personal preferences—neckband or nah, iPhone or Android, etc. But this is where price might make a big difference.

The BeatsX, complete with surprisingly comfortable neckband and great battery life.

The BeatsX retail for $150. The Jabra Sport Pulse retail for $160. But! Amazon has the Jabras on sale for $100 right now. Quite frankly, I think even neckband haters will like the BeatsX, and plenty of people will enjoy the Jabras.

I am concerned that a lot of people have complained that the Jabras don’t hold up well over several weeks of use, possibly because they’re not waterproof enough. We didn’t experience this issue but will update this post if it happens. If it happens to you, send them back and get the BeatsX. Everybody wins.


  • BeatsX
  • Jabra Sport Pulse

Headphone.com premium domain for sale at Sedo.com


Dear HeadRoom and Headphone.com Customers and Fans,

It’s been an amazing ride but the time has come for us to move on from being a retailer of headphones. Over the last few years, we’ve done everything we can to get it “Right Between Your Ears” by being the best place to shop for headphones on the internet.   We’ve decided to let go of our vision of headphone.com, allowing us to do what matters most to us. We’re making this change to focus on our true roots, manufacturing high-end headphone gear. So, we’re selling the headphone.com domain. Moving forward you’ll be able to find us at HeadRoomAudio.com.

If you are interested in purchasing the headphone.com domain visit the link or contact info below.  Please direct any questions about acquiring this premium domain to Dave Evanson.

Click Here for more info about buying the Headphone.com domain

Dave Evanson

Senior Broker – Sedo

[email protected]

857 209-1807

I’m sure there will be a few questions which I will do my best to answer in the comments. Here are some key points:

  • Until the domain is sold, we will continue to operate as usual.
  • All manufacturer product warranties will continue to be valid.
  • In the future, you will be able to find your previous order history at headroomaudio.com

How To Support Headphone.com

Headphone.com has been testing headphones and writing/publishing comprehensive headphone reviews since 1996. Up until the last 5-10 years, headphone.com was the only place you could find professional reviews and purchase premium, reference sounding headphones like AKG, Stax, Sennheiser, Audeze, Beyerdynamic, Shure, Oppo etc. Over the years our team of expert reviewers and writers has had one thing in common, a strong passion for music. With music as our foundation, evaluating headphones based on sound quality, fit and style has become a passion in and of itself. Providing easy access to the “best” headphones, and being able to do in-depth comparisons and measurements is our way of helping customers choose the right headphone. We have frequency response graphs and other tools to help make the decision easier as well. If you would like to read more about us check this out.

If you find our site useful, the easiest way to support us is buy using the links on our pages to purchase products on Amazon. We find Amazon has great pricing and it’s hard to beat their shipping if you’re a prime member. Headphone.com will make a small commission on purchases you make, and that goes towards keeping everything (graphs, reviews, etc) on the site up and running while also publishing new content. You can also use the link below, maybe save it somewhere so its easy to get to. 

Amazon Affiliate Link

HeadRoom has owned headphone.com since our founder Tyll Hertsens bought it in 1995! HeadRoom has been publishing headphone content on it ever since and you can imagine how things have changed over the years! Well you don’t have to imagine too hard thanks to the waybackmachine. Its a cool website that allows you a walk down memory lane by looking at some snapshots of our website over the years! Check it out here. Just type in headphone.com, then pick a year and day, and away you go!