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Bose QuietComfort 25 Headphones, Black
Bose QuietComfort 25 Headphones, Black
Price: $299.00
8 used & new from $275.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bose QC-25 Around-ear Noise Canceling Stereo Headphone review by Dale, January 23, 2015
Sources: iPhone6+ with Portaphile Micro/PA2V2/Decware Zen Head amps using the LOD, various computers using Microstreamer/Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza DAC/amps.

Review notes: My first impressions of the sound of the Bose QC25 are based on direct comparisons to other headphones - the v-moda M100 and XS, the FAD Pandora VI and IV, the Beyerdynamic T1 and T90, the AKG K812 and K712, and notes that I've accumulated from many prior reviews. I'll describe how I relate to the QC25 (i.e. my personal tastes and how I use the headphone) only after covering all of the objective issues.

Noise Canceling notes: A long time ago, Ray Dolby came up with a Noise Reduction scheme that involved boosting certain frequencies (mostly high frequencies) during the recording phase, then when users played back those recordings they could use "Dolby Playback" codecs to restore the proper sound, which reduced those frequencies by the same amount that they were boosted during recording. That way, any noise that would be introduced by tape recorders or other things that were not part of the musical sound would be reduced in volume compared to the musical sound. Noise Canceling (NC) in headphones works differently - tiny microphones in the headphone sample the noise that's not part of the musical sound, and then the NC codec generates "opposite" waveforms that effectively cancel the outside noise. Presumably this NC doesn't interfere with the finer musical details in good quality recordings. Based on long listening to the QC25, I'd say the NC scheme works extremely well.

As good as the QC25 NC is, I'd like to describe where I think the ultimate limitations are, so users will understand the difference between noises that aren't fully treated (or which occur in the NC codec itself) and the untreated environmental noises, and the musical details that will be much more audible due to the reduction of noises in the environment. Put the headphone on in a very quiet place with the NC switch off (to the left), and then flip the switch on (to the right) and hear the faint "shhhhhhh" sound coming from the headphone. That's the NC "opposite" waveform at rest, waiting for music to start playing and for any outside noises to be suppressed. If it's very quiet where you are, you should be able to easily hear the difference between the NC waveform and any noises that originate in your head (blood movement etc.). So far I haven't found an instance where this NC waveform interferes with any music.

The only other anomaly I've encountered with NC is where sudden low-frequency sounds occur (NOT steady rumble etc.), such as nearby car doors being slammed, or vehicles hitting loose plates on roads where those plates are covering repair work. Those sudden sounds may combine with low frequencies in the musical sound the headphone is playing, resulting in a "wobbly" kind of low-frequency tone that's odd to hear, but not loud or especially irritating. NC used in headphones does not fully reduce low frequencies as it does high frequencies and most mid-frequencies, but the overall noise reduction is still fantastic, and I grant Bose 5 stars for the QC25 NC, as well as other aspects of the sound and the physical build quality.

In many of my reviews I've used the Audioforge equalizer out of necessity, since many of those headphones have steep treble rolloffs, or less often, excess treble brightness. In the QC25's case, there's probably no need for EQ of any kind in Active mode, since the response I hear compared to many 'flagship' headphones is very neutral, or approximately +/- 2.5 db across most of the spectrum. In Passive mode the response is more like +/- 6 db, with a significant recess around 2 khz and some treble rolloff above 10 khz, so to get audiophile quality** sound in Passive mode, some EQ would help. Some of my headphones sound quite a bit different (usually better) after "burn-in", which is a simple matter of playing them at a good volume for 12-24 hours before making any judgements about their sound. Some of them don't change much at all, and I suspect the difference isn't always the make or model - it may be that the manufacturer runs them on a "play" bench for a number of hours before packing them up for shipment.

**With some judicious EQ, the Passive mode sound can equal the quality of the Active mode sound in most respects, although it's more difficult to compensate accurately above 10 khz without creating a project just for that.

Summing up the sound in Active mode, the treble is my kind of neutral - i.e. less bright than headphones like the Sennheiser HD800, AKG K812, Beyer T1 and T90 etc., but still very present and extended. The bass also is neutral - i.e. near perfect for classical, jazz, folk, and other genres that have a similar bass requirement, but somewhat shy of what's common among modern headphones for pop, EDM, hip-hop, metal, and other such genres. I can't make a critical analysis of the midrange as many experts do, with descriptors like 'liquid', 'dry', 'forward' and so on, but I can say that I haven't found anything that isn't just right - I hear great clarity and detail, and natural musical tone. The sound in Passive mode is similar in some ways, but with much less treble. Critical listeners will hear that +/- 6db difference in frequency balance as I noted above. There may be other NC headphones that do better in their Passive modes, but I haven't heard one yet.

Isolation in Passive mode is at least average, possibly better for a good closed-back headphone, but the leakage is just enough that if the QC25 is used in offices, libraries, or other very quiet places, the volume would probably have to be kept below typical audiophile levels. The headphone is pretty light overall, and thanks to that and some excellent luxurious padding, extremely comfortable. The earcups go around my average size ears perfectly, but people with very large ears may not fare as well. That may not always be a problem for large ears in Passive mode, but likely would be in Active mode where a complete seal is necessary. The total range of adjustment for different head sizes is about 11/8 inch (35 mm) on each side, and my fit is right in the center of that range. The QC25 folds up very neatly into its 8 x 5.5 x 2 inch high stiff zippered carry case, and that case would probably be OK for most backpacks, and certainly no problem for travel luggage.

The QC25 is an ideal portable headphone in the sense that it can be pulled off the head when not in use and worn around the neck with no comfort issues, with the earcups folded flat against the chest. This is important to me because when I walk around town and stop to talk to people or purchase things, I don't want the headphone to interfere with my movements, and I don't want to carry the case with me. The QC25 cable is single-entry (ideal), it's detachable, and has a good durable thickness that doesn't add noticeable weight. The control box on the cable has a microphone, a center button for stop/start and previous/next track, and buttons for volume up/down, for Apple i-devices at least (don't know about Android devices). The 4-conductor plug that goes into the earcup is 2.5 mm, while the other end is 3.5 mm - also 4-conductor for Apple (and possibly other) smart-phones.

In previous reviews I've included the following music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to those other reviews and see how the QC25 compares with each individual track. The following comments apply primarily to the Active mode sound, but in cases where the Passive mode sound is significantly different, I'll note that as well.

Animotion - Obsession (1980's New Wave/Techno): The upper bass synth has excellent detail and tone, and both male and female vocals sound natural without favoring either. The QC25 plays this perfectly.

Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled very well by the QC25.

Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound. Of special note here are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts are soft and well in the background, and you can really feel some of of the weight they carry with the QC25.

Black Sabbath - Iron Man (Classic Rock): Very good instrumental detail and the vocal sounds very natural. As with most classic rock tracks, there is very little or no deep bass. The QC25 plays this music smoothly, and the lack of deep bass doesn't unbalance the treble.

Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Great sound quality - this is a good test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled extremely well by the QC25.

Cantus - Danny Boy (Traditional/Male Choral/Acapella): The QC25 plays the voices with enough low end warmth and weight to sound very natural, yet there is no added emphasis of the lower register of the male voices on this track.

Cath Carroll - Moves Like You (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's percussion and voice are crisp and well-balanced, and there's a good sense of space or soundstage around the voices and instruments. The QC25 reproduces the space and detail perfectly.

Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the QC25 renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

Chris Isaak - Wicked Game (Pop/Rock): The QC25 plays this high treble energy recording very smoothly - the voice and instruments are very detailed but not edgy - very musical in fact.

Chromatics - I'm On Fire (Synth-Pop, female lead): This track has a good amount of space around the voice and instruments, making for a very pleasant stereo image. The voice is excellent, and the tambourine is clearly recognizable. Note: In Passive mode the tambourine is very dull.

David Hazeltine - Fur Elise (Jazz): A very high-quality recording from HDTracks. The QC25 reproduces the instruments smoothly with a spacious ambiance. The wire-brush-on-cymbal harmonics are very extended and detailed. Note: In Passive mode the harmonics are very recessed.

Grieg (Beecham-Royal Philharmonic) - Peer Gynt-Solveig's Lullaby (Classical): This very old (late 1950's) stereo recording must have been made on the most expensive gear in the world, since the overall sound quality and especially Ilse Hollweg's amazing voice are as close to "being there" as I've heard with some of the better classical recordings made since the year 2000. The QC25 plays this music perfectly.

Hans Zimmer - Dark Knight-Aggressive Expansion (Soundtrack): The percussion in this track hits really hard, and the bass tones beginning around 0:45 have the ultra-deep "shuddery" kind of sound that indicates a solid deep-bass response. The QC25 plays this music extremely well.

Heaven 17 - Let Me Go (1980's New Wave/Techno): The bass instrument (guitar?) has excellent detail, and the voices and ambiance have a "you are there" quality that's uncommon in early 1980's pop music. The QC25 plays this track perfectly.

Hugo Audiophile - 15-16 (Electronic): I'm not sure what the 15-16 stands for - perhaps track numbers from a CD album. The deep-bass tones that start around 33-34 seconds into the track reproduce very well with the QC25. This is a great recording for evaluating whether a headphone's bass will be sufficient for most environments, since for many headphones that have a weaker bass, the deep bass gets absorbed and mostly lost when the environment contains a lot of low-frequency energy.

Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has several loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical with some headphones. The QC25 provides excellent reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in for best-case detail. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrument separation and detail, and the QC25 does those near-perfectly. Note: In Passive mode the horn crescendos are very muffled.

Kellogg Auditorium, Battle Creek Michigan, Aeolian-Skinner Organ (1933) - Pedal, 32', Resultant, Arpeggio: This 16 hz organ pedal tone differs from other music tones in that you won't "hear" the tone - you'll only feel it. Although most music tones have harmonics (including this one), the harmonics from this tone will be too weak to provide any "feel", so whatever you actually hear would not be part of the fundamental 16 hz tone. There are ~30 hz sounds in the outdoor environment in big cities, generated by large trucks, buses, and subway trains, and they have a quality of "rumble" that's similar to some deep-bass tones found in music. This 16 hz organ tone is easily distinguished from those sounds when compared on a headphone that has good undistorted response at 16 hz. The QC25 plays this with enough weight and detail that you can hear/feel the 16 cycle per second "beats" of the fundamental tone.

Mantovani - Sunrise Sunset (Easy Listening, ca. 1972): A master musician and conductor who specialized in light classics and orchestral pop music, Mantovani's accomplishments were overshadowed by music critics who couldn't tolerate the notion of "light classics" or "semi-classical" music, even when those recordings were no threat to the classical music genres. In any case the later Mantovani recordings from the mid-1960's through mid-1970's had the advantage of being mixed for much better hi-fi systems than those which the music critics possessed at the start of the Long Playing (LP) record cycle. Here in 2015, at least some of those digital remasters have improved the sound further, although it's not always the case. This track as played on the QC25 is a perfect example of the sheer musicality lurking in those later recordings, and is highly recommended for soundstage, instrumental tone, and musical balance.

Michael Tilson Thomas - Rhapsody In Blue (20th Century Classic): Great sound and soundstage, and terrific piano playing and tone. There are some very deep bass impacts starting around 38 seconds into the 17:24 length track, and the weight of those impacts is subtle but appreciable with the QC25.

Pinback - Non Photo Blue (Pop-Rock): Crispy sound with "crunchy guitars and bashing drums" - the QC25 renders this music as perfectly as I've heard an energetic pop-rock recording played with any headphone.

Porcupine Tree - Trains (Pop-Rock): This track opens with some nicely-detailed string sounds and a forward-sounding male voice with a higher-than-average register. There are a series of "clip-clop" effects starting at 3:19 that should sound like they were made with wooden blocks of some kind. The QC25 reproduces that sound effect to some extent, but not perfectly.

Richard Strauss (Mester-Pasadena) - Also Sprach Zarathustra (opening) (Classical): The granddaddy of bass is in the opening 1:50 of this recording, and I've heard it only once on a large and expensive loudspeaker system in Cleveland. For most people, that experience would be indistinguishable from being in a fairly strong earthquake. The QC25 conveys as much of that experience as is possible on an average decent stereo headphone. The tympani also have good impact here.

Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E Major K381 (Classical, Harpsichord): The harpsichord here is fairly bright and highly detailed, and the QC25 renders the tones and transients very well. Note: In Passive mode the brightness is very subdued, but much of the tone and transients come through anyway.

Tiger Okoshi - Bootsman's Little House (Jazz): The trumpet here is recorded fairly close up and is somewhat bright with a significant "bite". The QC25's reproduction is near-perfect, and the close-miked piano is also a treat. For comparison, I have several Maynard Ferguson tracks that feature a similarly strong trumpet with lots of brassy bite.

Trombone Shorty - Backatown (Jazz-Funk): The deep bass impacts here are strong and work extremely well with the horns and other instruments. The QC25 delivers the impacts with great weight and detail, and the horns have the kind of bite that gives them a wonderfully realistic sound.
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NOONTEC Powa HUB 45W 5-Port Family-Sized Desktop USB Charger for iPhone 5s 5c 6 iPad Air mini Galaxy S5 S4 Note 3 2 the new HTC One (M8) Nexus and More (White, 45W)
NOONTEC Powa HUB 45W 5-Port Family-Sized Desktop USB Charger for iPhone 5s 5c 6 iPad Air mini Galaxy S5 S4 Note 3 2 the new HTC One (M8) Nexus and More (White, 45W)

5.0 out of 5 stars Noontec Powa Hub 5-outlet USB devices charger., January 21, 2015
I got one of these Noontec Powa Hubs recently, and I find myself using several of the USB ports now, but I'm giving up only one electrical outlet instead of one outlet for each device. I have approximately 15 things that charge by USB (4 headphone amps, 2 calculators, one book reader, an iPad, iPhone, several iPods etc.), and now I don't have to scramble for outlets or add more power boxes to the clutter that's my working area.

The Powa Hub is a small white box about the size of a deck of playing cards, but thicker. The physical quality is very high, and I don't see anything that could ever go bad. A few years ago I would have gladly paid $50 or more for this box, but at today's prices I don't give it a second thought. The Powa Hub uses a common electrical cord (same as many electric shavers, inkjet printers etc.) that has a slender AC plug on the end that won't crowd out other AC plugs on a power strip.


Noontec ZORO II HD Headphone, Adjustable On Ear Stereo Hi-Fi Earphone Headphone for PC MP3 MP4 iPod iPhone iPad Tablet Cellphone Mobile Phone (Blue)
Noontec ZORO II HD Headphone, Adjustable On Ear Stereo Hi-Fi Earphone Headphone for PC MP3 MP4 iPod iPhone iPad Tablet Cellphone Mobile Phone (Blue)
Offered by 123CellDeals
Price: $99.99
5 used & new from $99.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Noontec Zoro II On-ear Portable Headphone review by Dale, January 19, 2015
Sources: iPhone6+ with Portaphile Micro/PA2V2/Decware Zen Head amps using the LOD, various computers using Microstreamer/Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza DAC/amps.

Review notes: My first impressions of the sound of the Noontec Zoro-II (Zoro2) are based on direct comparisons to other headphones - the v-moda M100 and XS, the FAD Pandora VI and IV, the Beyerdynamic T1 and T90, the AKG K812 and K712, and notes that I've accumulated from many prior reviews. I'll describe how I relate to the Zoro2 (i.e. my personal tastes and how I use the headphone) only after covering all of the objective issues.

Most reviewers expect low-cost headphones to have less fidelity than higher-price headphones, one reason being that the low cost of manufacturing doesn't allow the kind of detailed quality control in driver matching etc. to guarantee that the sound will be exactly the same (or close to it) from sample to sample. A second consideration for reviewers is the time invested in making the review, in hopes that the headphones the customers purchase sound the same as what the review describes. I haven't heard the original Zoro (or Zoro HD), but I was curious as to whether Noontec could maintain a consistent level of quality in a headphone half the price of the Beats Solo2, which seems to me to be the most likely target competition. A long story short: they did it.

In many of my reviews I've used the Audioforge equalizer out of necessity, since many of those headphones have steep treble rolloffs, or less often, excessive treble brightness. In the Zoro2's case, we have only the small plus or minus 5 db variances that are found in even some of the highest-priced headphones, therefore I needn't comment further on EQ settings (although I do them anyway just to try to quantify the headphone's 'signature'). Out of the box**, the Zoro2 sounds great. I can't say how it compares to other $100 headphones, since I don't know of any other $100 headphones that have this level of sound quality, unless those other sub-$100 headphones are being discounted as not selling or as discontinued items. However, since I suspect that the design aim is to compete with the Beats Solo2 and other similar brands and models up to $200, I can say that the Zoro2 is very comparable.

**Some of the very low-cost headphones I've had change quite a bit during the burn-in process, but the Zoro2 sound has changed very little.

The Zoro2's treble** is a little soft (below 'neutral'), but good enough for most critical listening, unless you have perfect pitch or require the full harmonic detail that's typical of the best open-back headphones. I wanted to determine how the Zoro2 handles very loud and complex music passages, like what I hear in some of my versions of Beethoven's 9th symphony, where the orchestra and chorus are going full-tilt at the same time. The Zoro2 performs well above its price point in this regard, with good separation of instruments and voices. One thing that reviewers mention frequently with small closed headphones is the 'constricted' sound coloration they usually have. I can't say whether the Zoro2 is entirely free of that, but it's not something that stands out to me, and that's also better than expected for this type of headphone.

**The Zoro2's on-ear design and earpads conform to my ears properly, getting a seal that preserves the bass response well, but I've noticed that if I put the earpads against hair instead of directly on my ears, some of that bass will escape and the headphone can sound brighter as a result. Different use cases and preferences will determine how users judge the sound, but I'd advise customers to avoid putting the earpads over hair, since the best response in my opinion is with the pads directly on the ears.

Isolation is less than what I've experienced with some of my closed on-ear headphones, but where I hang out most days about 100 yards from a busy freeway, the isolation is enough to keep the noise well below the music level. I'm good with the isolation then, but the leakage is even better news - it's low enough that the Zoro2 should be playable at reasonable volumes in libraries, in quiet offices, and on public transport. The Zoro2 is probably average in weight for a small on-ear headphone, which is to say it's pretty light. The clamping force is also average I think, and that means it becomes comfortable very quickly, and stays securely in place with activity that doesn't involve rapid head movements.

The Zoro2 is an ideal portable headphone in the sense that it can be pulled off the head when not in use, and worn around the neck with no comfort issues for most people. This is important to me, because even though the Zoro2 does come with a nice durable carry bag, I like to be able to go places without having to deal with a bag or case - just put the headphone around my neck and drive to work, then set the headphone down somewhere on the desk. The range of adjustment for different head sizes is OK - about 3/4 inch on each side, where my average size head fits in the middle of that range. The cable is single-entry and detachable, and it's the flat-ribbon type that has a good durable thickness and doesn't add noticeable weight. The plug that goes into the earcup is a standard 3.5 mm plug, so I'd guess that any generic cable with 3.5 mm stereo plugs on both ends could be used with this headphone. According to Noontec, the control button on the cable will answer a phone call and also terminate the call.

In previous reviews I've included the following music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to those other reviews and see how the Zoro2 compares with each individual track.

Animotion - Obsession (1980's New Wave/Techno): The upper bass synth has excellent detail and tone, and both male and female vocals sound natural without favoring either. The Zoro2 plays this very well.

Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled perfectly by the Zoro2.

Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound. Of special note here are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts are soft and well in the background, but you can really feel some of the weight they carry with the Zoro2.

Black Sabbath - Iron Man (Classic Rock): Very good instrumental detail and the vocal sounds very natural. As with most classic rock tracks, there is very little or no deep bass. The Zoro2 plays this music smoothly, and the lack of deep bass doesn't unbalance the treble.

Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Great sound quality - this is a good test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled extremely well by the Zoro2.

Cantus - Danny Boy (Traditional/Male Choral/Acapella): The Zoro2 plays the voices with enough low end warmth and weight to sound very natural, yet there is no added emphasis of the lower register of the male voices on this track.

Cath Carroll - Moves Like You (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's percussion and voice are crisp and well-balanced, and there's a good sense of space or soundstage around the voices and instruments. The Zoro2 reproduces the space and detail very well.

Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the Zoro2 renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

Chris Isaak - Wicked Game (Pop/Rock): The Zoro2 plays this high treble energy recording very smoothly - the voice and instruments are very detailed but not edgy - very musical in fact.

Chromatics - I'm On Fire (Synth-Pop, female lead): This track has a good amount of space around the voice and instruments, making for a very pleasant stereo image. The voice is excellent, and the tambourine is clearly recognizable.

David Hazeltine - Fur Elise (Jazz): A very high-quality recording from HDTracks. The Zoro2 reproduces the instruments smoothly with a spacious ambiance. The wire-brush-on-cymbal harmonics are normally very extended and detailed, but the Zoro2 needs some treble boost to get the full upper-harmonics effect

Grieg (Beecham-Royal Philharmonic) - Peer Gynt-Solveig's Lullaby (Classical): This very old (late 1950's) stereo recording must have been made on the most expensive gear in the world, since the overall sound quality and especially Ilse Hollweg's amazing voice are as close to "being there" as I've heard with some of the better classical recordings made since the year 2000. The Zoro2 plays this music perfectly.

Hans Zimmer - Dark Knight-Aggressive Expansion (Soundtrack): The percussion in this track hits really hard, and the bass tones beginning around 0:45 have the ultra-deep "shuddery" kind of sound and feel that indicates a very deep bass, although the strength of those bass notes is less than what I hear with the more expensive closed-back headphones. The Zoro2 plays this music extremely well.

Heaven 17 - Let Me Go (1980's New Wave/Techno): The bass instrument (guitar?) has excellent detail, and the voices and ambiance have a "you are there" quality that's uncommon in early 1980's pop music. The Zoro2 plays this track perfectly.

Hugo Audiophile - 15-16 (Electronic): I'm not sure what the 15-16 stands for - perhaps track numbers from a CD album. The deep-bass tones that start around 33-34 seconds into the track reproduce very well with the Zoro2. This is a great recording for evaluating whether a headphone's bass will be sufficient for most environments, since for many headphones that have a weaker bass, the deep bass gets absorbed and mostly lost when the environment contains a lot of low-frequency energy.

Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has several loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical with some headphones. The Zoro2 provides very good reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in for best-case detail. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrument separation and detail, and the Zoro2 does those very well.

Kellogg Auditorium, Battle Creek Michigan, Aeolian-Skinner Organ (1933) - Pedal, 32', Resultant, Arpeggio: This 16 hz organ pedal tone differs from other music tones in that you won't "hear" the tone - you'll only feel it. Although most music tones have harmonics (including this one), the harmonics from this tone will be too weak to provide any "feel", so whatever you actually hear would not be part of the fundamental 16 hz tone. There are ~30 hz sounds in the outdoor environment in big cities, generated by large trucks, buses, and subway trains, and they have a quality of "rumble" that's similar to some deep-bass tones found in music. This 16 hz organ tone is easily distinguished from those sounds when compared on a headphone that has good undistorted response at 16 hz. The Zoro2 plays this with enough detail that you can hear/feel the 16 cycle per second "beats" of the fundamental tone.

Mantovani - Sunrise Sunset (Easy Listening, ca. 1972): A master musician and conductor who specialized in light classics and orchestral pop music, Mantovani's accomplishments were overshadowed by music critics who couldn't tolerate the notion of "light classics" or "semi-classical" music, even when those recordings were no threat to the classical music genres. In any case the later Mantovani recordings from the mid-1960's through mid-1970's had the advantage of being mixed for much better hi-fi systems than those which the music critics possessed at the start of the Long Playing (LP) record cycle. Here in 2015, at least some of those digital remasters have improved the sound further, although it's not always the case. This track as played on the Zoro2 is a perfect example of the sheer musicality lurking in those later recordings, and is highly recommended for soundstage, instrumental tone, and musical balance.

Michael Tilson Thomas - Rhapsody In Blue (20th Century Classic): Great sound and soundstage, and terrific piano playing and tone. There are some very deep bass impacts starting around 38 seconds into the 17:24 length track, and the weight of those impacts is very subtle with the Zoro2.

Pinback - Non Photo Blue (Pop-Rock): Crispy sound with "crunchy guitars and bashing drums" - the Zoro2 renders this music as perfectly as I've heard an energetic pop-rock recording played with any headphone.

Porcupine Tree - Trains (Pop-Rock): This track opens with some nicely-detailed string sounds and a forward-sounding male voice with a higher-than-average register. There are a series of "clip-clop" effects starting at 3:19 that should sound like they were made with wooden blocks of some kind. The Zoro2 reproduces that sound effect perfectly.

Richard Strauss (Mester-Pasadena) - Also Sprach Zarathustra (opening) (Classical): The granddaddy of bass is in the opening 1:50 of this recording, and I've heard it only once on a large and expensive loudspeaker system in Cleveland. For most people, that experience would be indistinguishable from being in a fairly strong earthquake. The Zoro2 conveys that experience to some extent, but with less impact than the better full-size headphones. The tympani also have good impact here.

Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E Major K381 (Classical, Harpsichord): The harpsichord here is fairly bright and detailed, and the Zoro2 renders the tones and transients very well.

Tiger Okoshi - Bootsman's Little House (Jazz): The trumpet here is recorded fairly close up and is somewhat bright with a significant "bite". The Zoro2's reproduction is near-perfect, and the close-miked piano is also a treat. For comparison, I have several Maynard Ferguson tracks that feature a similarly strong trumpet with lots of brassy bite.

Trombone Shorty - Backatown (Jazz-Funk): The deep bass impacts here are strong and work extremely well with the horns and other instruments. The Zoro2 delivers the impacts with moderate weight and very good detail, and the horns have the kind of bite that gives them a wonderfully realistic sound.
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Reebok Men's Aztek Flex Racer Fashion Sneaker,Laser Blue/Athletic Navy/Reebok Royal/Neon Yellow,11 M US
Reebok Men's Aztek Flex Racer Fashion Sneaker,Laser Blue/Athletic Navy/Reebok Royal/Neon Yellow,11 M US
Offered by USA26

1.0 out of 5 stars Reebok "New Aztec" Running Shoe, January 15, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is an awful shoe - flimsy and cheap - nothing like the original Aztec. The original has never been matched in performance decades later, thanks mainly to Runner's World's constant hammering of the notion that all running shoes need stiff inserts to prevent "pronation". The original Aztec had excellent padding front and rear, and no stiffness anywhere. Lace it up tight and you could run like a deer. Reebok even ran large color ads showing how the shoe could be rolled up like a scroll - that's how flexible it was, yet there was no sloppiness or tendency to wander.


Lace Up [Deluxe Edition]
Lace Up [Deluxe Edition]
Price: $13.79
37 used & new from $7.96

5.0 out of 5 stars There are actually some very tuneful tracks on this album - highly recommended., January 15, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this when I read where MGK assaulted several Microsoft computers at a show event. There are actually some very tuneful tracks on this album - highly recommended.


iPhone 6 Plus Case, SUPCASE [Heavy Duty] Belt Clip Holster Apple iPhone 6 Plus Case 5.5 inch [Unicorn Beetle PRO Series] Full-body Rugged Hybrid Protective Cover with Built-in Screen Protector (Black/Black), Dual Layer + Impact Resistant Bumper [Not Fit iPhone 6 4.7 inch]
iPhone 6 Plus Case, SUPCASE [Heavy Duty] Belt Clip Holster Apple iPhone 6 Plus Case 5.5 inch [Unicorn Beetle PRO Series] Full-body Rugged Hybrid Protective Cover with Built-in Screen Protector (Black/Black), Dual Layer + Impact Resistant Bumper [Not Fit iPhone 6 4.7 inch]
Offered by BrilloTech
Price: $15.99
10 used & new from $13.39

5.0 out of 5 stars I'm getting pretty much all of the quality and functionality of the ..., January 15, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
So far, after 2 months of use, I'm getting pretty much all of the quality and functionality of the $70 OtterBox case in this $20 case. One difference is, this case admits more dust and dirt where the 'Home' key is, so I have to take the phone out every few weeks and remove the dirt.


Dvorak: Symphony No. 9; "From The New World"
Dvorak: Symphony No. 9; "From The New World"
Price: $10.16
56 used & new from $2.64

5.0 out of 5 stars Dvorak New World Symphony (#9) - review by Dale, January 15, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Amazing sound quality and performance. If you're not familiar with Dvorak or the 9th symphony, there's no way to know whether you'd like it or not, but I have only a few symphonic recordings myself, and this is at the top of my favorites. Check out movement no. 2 at ~30 and 54 seconds in, and see if you can tell which lead instrument is a horn and which is a woodwind.


BeoPlay H2 - Carbon Blue
BeoPlay H2 - Carbon Blue
Price: $199.00
5 used & new from $172.93

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bang & Olufsen (B&O) H2 On-ear Portable Stereo Headphone review by Dale, January 15, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Sources: iPhone6+ with Portaphile Micro/PA2V2/Decware Zen Head amps using the LOD, various computers using Microstreamer/Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza DAC/amps.

Review notes: My first impressions of the sound of the B&O H2 are based on direct comparisons to other headphones - the v-moda M100 and XS, the FAD Pandora VI and IV, the Beyerdynamic T1 and T90, the AKG K812 and K712, and notes that I've accumulated from many prior reviews. I'll describe how I relate to the H2 (i.e. my personal tastes and how I use the headphone) only after covering all of the objective issues.

Most reviewers expect low-cost headphones** to have less fidelity than higher-price headphones, one reason being that the low cost of manufacturing doesn't allow the kind of detailed quality control in driver matching etc. to guarantee that the sound will be exactly the same (or close to it) from sample to sample. A second consideration for reviewers is the time invested in making the review, in hopes that the headphones the customers purchase sound the same as what the review describes. But I had two of the H6's (brown and agave green) before this, and I was curious as to whether B&O could maintain that level of quality (or something close to it) in a headphone half the price of the H6. A long story short: they did it.

**The H2 at $200 USD might not be considered low cost, but for B&O it is.

In many of my reviews I've used the Audioforge equalizer out of necessity, since many of those headphones have steep treble rolloffs, or less often, excessive treble brightness. In the case of the H2, we have only the small plus or minus 3-4 db variances that are typical of even the high-priced headphones, therefore I needn't comment further on EQ settings (although I do them anyway just to try to quantify the headphone's 'signature'). Out of the box**, the H2 sounds great. I can't say that it's average in its price class, since there are a lot of $200 headphones that don't sound very good. So I'll say as a point of comparison that the H2 is at least average within the set of the better $200 headphones, maybe the top 25 percent of those. The bass is very good in this class - better than the 'neutral' headphones I've owned, but not as detailed as the Beyer 'Tesla' series or the better AKG models.

**Some of the very low-cost headphones I've had change noticeably during the burn-in process, but the H2 sound hasn't changed much at all.

The H2's treble is a little soft - below 'neutral', but good enough for most critical listening, unless you have perfect pitch or require the full harmonic detail that's typical of the best open-back headphones. I wanted to determine how the H2 handles very loud and complex music passages, like what I hear in some of my versions of Beethoven's 9th symphony, where the orchestra and chorus are going full-tilt at the same time. The H2 seems better than average in this regard, with good separation of instruments and voices. One thing that reviewers mention frequently with small closed headphones is the 'constricted' sound coloration they usually have. I can't say whether the H2 is entirely free of that, but it's not something that stands out to me, and that's also better than average for this type of headphone.

Isolation is about average for a small on-ear headphone (good I think), but the leakage is very low, so the H2 should be acceptable in offices, libraries, and on public transport, even at audiophile volume levels. The H2 is lightweight overall and the earpads are ideally soft and squishy, but the clamping force out of the box was surprisingly strong. Fortunately that clamp has lightened up on its own after a couple of days, and it's just enough to keep the headphone secure on my head now. I haven't experienced a headphone that changed clamping pressure this much of its own accord, so I'm curious as to how this happened and whether B&O designed it to automatically change that way. When a headband loses that much clamping force with no attention from me except for using it, I wonder whether it can maintain the current clamp from here on out, but all indications are that it will - it's a high-quality design.

The H2 is an ideal portable headphone in the sense that it can be pulled off the head when not in use and worn around the neck with no comfort issues, with the earcups folded flat against the chest. This is important to me since the H2 does not come with a carry case of any kind, and I don't believe in packing a quality headphone into a backpack or luggage without a protective case. The range of adjustment for different head sizes is excellent - even better than many full-size headphones - about 1-3/4 inches on each side, where my average size head fits in the middle of that range. The cable is single-entry (ideal), it's detachable, and has a good durable thickness that doesn't add noticeable weight. The music player controls have a center button for stop/start and previous/next track, and buttons for volume up/down, for Apple i-devices at least (don't know about Android devices).

In previous reviews I've included the following music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to those other reviews and see how the H2 compares with each individual track.

Animotion - Obsession (1980's New Wave/Techno): The upper bass synth has excellent detail and tone, and both male and female vocals sound natural without favoring either. The H2 plays this very well.

Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled perfectly by the H2.

Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound. Of special note here are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts are soft and well in the background, but you can really feel the weight they carry with the H2.

Black Sabbath - Iron Man (Classic Rock): Very good instrumental detail and the vocal sounds very natural. As with most classic rock tracks, there is very little or no deep bass. The H2 plays this music smoothly, and the lack of deep bass doesn't unbalance the treble.

Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Great sound quality - this is a good test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled extremely well by the H2.

Cantus - Danny Boy (Traditional/Male Choral/Acapella): The H2 plays the voices with enough low end warmth and weight to sound very natural, yet there is no added emphasis of the lower register of the male voices on this track.

Cath Carroll - Moves Like You (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's percussion and voice are crisp and well-balanced, and there's a good sense of space or soundstage around the voices and instruments. The H2 reproduces the space and detail very well.

Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the H2 renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

Chris Isaak - Wicked Game (Pop/Rock): The H2 plays this high treble energy recording very smoothly - the voice and instruments are very detailed but not edgy - very musical in fact.

Chromatics - I'm On Fire (Synth-Pop, female lead): This track has a good amount of space around the voice and instruments, making for a very pleasant stereo image. The voice is excellent, and the tambourine is clearly recognizable.

David Hazeltine - Fur Elise (Jazz): A very high-quality recording from HDTracks. The H2 reproduces the instruments smoothly with a spacious ambiance. The wire-brush-on-cymbal harmonics are very extended and detailed.

Grieg (Beecham-Royal Philharmonic) - Peer Gynt-Solveig's Lullaby (Classical): This very old (late 1950's) stereo recording must have been made on the most expensive gear in the world, since the overall sound quality and especially Ilse Hollweg's amazing voice are as close to "being there" as I've heard with some of the better classical recordings made since the year 2000. The H2 plays this music perfectly.

Hans Zimmer - Dark Knight-Aggressive Expansion (Soundtrack): The percussion in this track hits really hard, and the bass tones beginning around 0:45 have the ultra-deep "shuddery" kind of sound that indicates a solid deep-bass response. The H2 plays this music extremely well.

Heaven 17 - Let Me Go (1980's New Wave/Techno): The bass instrument (guitar?) has excellent detail, and the voices and ambiance have a "you are there" quality that's uncommon in early 1980's pop music. The H2 plays this track perfectly.

Hugo Audiophile - 15-16 (Electronic): I'm not sure what the 15-16 stands for - perhaps track numbers from a CD album. The deep-bass tones that start around 33-34 seconds into the track reproduce very well with the H2. This is a great recording for evaluating whether a headphone's bass will be sufficient for most environments, since for many headphones that have a weaker bass, the deep bass gets absorbed and mostly lost when the environment contains a lot of low-frequency energy.

Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has several loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical with some headphones. The H2 provides excellent reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in for best-case detail. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrument separation and detail, and the H2 does those near-perfectly.

Kellogg Auditorium, Battle Creek Michigan, Aeolian-Skinner Organ (1933) - Pedal, 32', Resultant, Arpeggio: This 16 hz organ pedal tone differs from other music tones in that you won't "hear" the tone - you'll only feel it. Although most music tones have harmonics (including this one), the harmonics from this tone will be too weak to provide any "feel", so whatever you actually hear would not be part of the fundamental 16 hz tone. There are ~30 hz sounds in the outdoor environment in big cities, generated by large trucks, buses, and subway trains, and they have a quality of "rumble" that's similar to some deep-bass tones found in music. This 16 hz organ tone is easily distinguished from those sounds when compared on a headphone that has good undistorted response at 16 hz. The H2 plays this with enough weight and detail that you can hear/feel the 16 cycle per second "beats" of the fundamental tone.

Mantovani - Sunrise Sunset (Easy Listening, ca. 1972): A master musician and conductor who specialized in light classics and orchestral pop music, Mantovani's accomplishments were overshadowed by music critics who couldn't tolerate the notion of "light classics" or "semi-classical" music, even when those recordings were no threat to the classical music genres. In any case the later Mantovani recordings from the mid-1960's through mid-1970's had the advantage of being mixed for much better hi-fi systems than those which the music critics possessed at the start of the Long Playing (LP) record cycle. Here in 2015, at least some of those digital remasters have improved the sound further, although it's not always the case. This track as played on the H2 is a perfect example of the sheer musicality lurking in those later recordings, and is highly recommended for soundstage, instrumental tone, and musical balance.

Michael Tilson Thomas - Rhapsody In Blue (20th Century Classic): Great sound and soundstage, and terrific piano playing and tone. There are some very deep bass impacts starting around 38 seconds into the 17:24 length track, and the weight of those impacts is subtle but appreciable with the H2.

Pinback - Non Photo Blue (Pop-Rock): Crispy sound with "crunchy guitars and bashing drums" - the H2 renders this music as perfectly as I've heard an energetic pop-rock recording played with any headphone.

Porcupine Tree - Trains (Pop-Rock): This track opens with some nicely-detailed string sounds and a forward-sounding male voice with a higher-than-average register. There are a series of "clip-clop" effects starting at 3:19 that should sound like they were made with wooden blocks of some kind. The H2 reproduces that sound effect perfectly.

Richard Strauss (Mester-Pasadena) - Also Sprach Zarathustra (opening) (Classical): The granddaddy of bass is in the opening 1:50 of this recording, and I've heard it only once on a large and expensive loudspeaker system in Cleveland. For most people, that experience would be indistinguishable from being in a fairly strong earthquake. The H2 conveys as much of that experience as is possible on a lightweight stereo headphone. The tympani also have good impact here.

Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E H2 K381 (Classical, Harpsichord): The harpsichord here is fairly bright and highly detailed, and the H2 renders the tones and transients very well.

Tiger Okoshi - Bootsman's Little House (Jazz): The trumpet here is recorded fairly close up and is somewhat bright with a significant "bite". The H2's reproduction is near-perfect, and the close-miked piano is also a treat. For comparison, I have several Maynard Ferguson tracks that feature a similarly strong trumpet with lots of brassy bite.

Trombone Shorty - Backatown (Jazz-Funk): The deep bass impacts here are strong and work extremely well with the horns and other instruments. The H2 delivers the impacts with great weight and detail, and the horns have the kind of bite that gives them a wonderfully realistic sound.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 15, 2015 11:58 PM PST


Janine Jansen: Concertos & Romance
Janine Jansen: Concertos & Romance
Price: $14.82
56 used & new from $6.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Mendelssohn/Bruch Violin Concertos - Janine Jansen, Violin - review by Dale, January 10, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Quite simply the best violin recordings I've heard, and that includes my previous favorites from Emily Palen of Blue Coast - an independent improv artist. I see from a handful of reviews that a few listeners thought the virtuosity overshadowed the content, and while some technical truth can be gleaned from such reviews, there is no question in my mind that the kind of sterile virtuosity I have heard in the occasional recording is absent here - here in these performances the passion and love for the music is palpable. This is the album that gets played again and again...


AIAIAI 05337 Tracks Headphones w/ Mic for Apple iPhone iPod iPad Android (Blue)
AIAIAI 05337 Tracks Headphones w/ Mic for Apple iPhone iPod iPad Android (Blue)
Offered by Turntable Lab
Price: $69.95

4.0 out of 5 stars AIAIAI Tracks On-ear Stereo Headphone review by Dale, January 7, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Sources: iPhone6+ with Portaphile Micro/PA2V2/Decware Zen Head amps using the LOD, various computers using Microstreamer/Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza DAC/amps.

Review notes: My first impressions of the sound of the AIAIAI Tracks are based on direct comparisons to other headphones - the v-moda M100 and XS, the FAD Pandora VI and IV, the Beyerdynamic T1 and T90, the AKG K812 and K712, and notes that I've accumulated from many prior reviews. I'll describe how I relate to the Tracks (i.e. my personal tastes and how I use the headphone) only after covering all of the objective issues.

I've avoided most low-cost headphones at this point for several reasons, the biggest reason being that the low cost of manufacturing doesn't allow the kind of detailed quality control in driver matching etc. to guarantee that the sound will be exactly the same (or close to it) from sample to sample. A second reason is the approximately 24 work hours required to test the headphone, make a video, process a couple of photos, and write the report - a lot of work if customers purchase the item and it doesn't sound very close to what the review describes. But, I had a Tracks in my Amazon "Save for Later" basket for a long time, so I went ahead and ordered it, to perform the tests necessary to create this review. My previous experience with the AIAIAI TMA-1x didn't help to prepare for this review, since the TMA-1x has a 4.5 db recess at 2.5 khz and an 8 db recess at 10 khz, whereas the Tracks has an opposite sound with a 4.5 db recess at 2 khz and a huge broad peak stretching from +11 db at 3 khz to +6 db at 9 khz.

The primary utility I'm using for this review is the Audioforge equalizer, which allows me to 'flatten' the sound (to reduce resonance effects mainly), which in turn produces a chart that shows how the sound of the Tracks varies from the average of the best headphones I've had. This review is aimed at audiophiles with extremely limited budgets, who use portable music players, and who need the very best headphone they can get in this price range. All other users should skip the critical analysis of the sound in the next paragraph, and read on from there.

Out of the box, the Tracks sounds fairly smooth, since the treble peak is very broad with only a few small bumps. What's really unusual about the Tracks is that nearly every small on-ear headphone I've had has a significantly recessed treble, and several of those are so recessed that I couldn't even review them. Another oddity with the Tracks is how the open-back design could produce such a strong peak at 3 khz. So I can't imagine who this headphone was designed for, other than a replacement for the equally bright Apple Earpods, for someone who wants an actual headphone rather than earpods or earbuds. The good news is that the bass is very good, with only a small (~2 db) emphasis around 100 hz, and with the magic afforded by the Audioforge equalizer, the treble flattens nicely and the soundstage becomes very lifelike.

The Tracks has no isolation and leakage is total, so this headphone wouldn't be acceptable in offices, libraries, and possibly not even on noisy trains and buses etc. Both the overall weight and earpad pressure are very light, and I'd judge the Tracks to be one of the most comfortable headphones I've ever used. This is an ideal portable headphone in the sense that it can be pulled off the head when not in use and worn around the neck with no comfort issues, but of course the isolation and leakage are the limiting factors for portable use. The range of adjustment for different head sizes is good - at least 1/2 inch up or down on each side, where my average size head fits in the middle of that range. The cable is double-entry and non-detachable, and while it's thin, it looks to be durable enough given the extremely light weight of the headphone. The music player controls (volume up/down, start/stop, microphone) work OK with the iPhone at least.

In previous reviews I've included the following music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to those other reviews and see how the Tracks compares with each individual music track. Note that the comments below apply to the Tracks' sound played with the Audioforge equalizer as noted above.

Animotion - Obsession (1980's New Wave/Techno): The upper bass synth has excellent detail and tone, and both male and female vocals sound natural without favoring either. The Tracks plays this very well.

Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled perfectly by the Tracks.

Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound. Of special note here are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts are soft and well in the background, but you can feel some of the weight they carry with the Tracks.

Black Sabbath - Iron Man (Classic Rock): Very good instrumental detail and the vocal sounds very natural. As with most classic rock tracks, there is very little or no deep bass. The Tracks plays this music smoothly, and the lack of deep bass doesn't unbalance the treble.

Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Great sound quality - this is a good test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled extremely well by the Tracks.

Cantus - Danny Boy (Traditional/Male Choral/Acapella): The Tracks plays the voices with enough low end warmth and weight to sound very natural, yet there is no added emphasis of the lower register of the male voices on this track.

Cath Carroll - Moves Like You (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's percussion and voice are crisp and well-balanced, and there's a good sense of space or soundstage around the voices and instruments. The Tracks reproduces the space and detail very well.

Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the Tracks renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

Chris Isaak - Wicked Game (Pop/Rock): The Tracks plays this high treble energy recording very smoothly - the voice and instruments are very detailed but not edgy - very musical in fact.

Chromatics - I'm On Fire (Synth-Pop, female lead): This track has a good amount of space around the voice and instruments, making for a very pleasant stereo image. The voice is excellent, and the tambourine is clearly recognizable.

David Hazeltine - Fur Elise (Jazz): A very high-quality recording from HDTracks. The Tracks reproduces the instruments smoothly with a spacious ambiance, and the wire-brush-on-cymbal harmonics are very extended and detailed.

Grieg (Beecham-Royal Philharmonic) - Peer Gynt-Solveig's Lullaby (Classical): This very old (late 1950's) stereo recording must have been made on the most expensive gear in the world, since the overall sound quality and especially Ilse Hollweg's amazing voice are as close to "being there" as I've heard with some of the better classical recordings made since the year 2000. The Tracks plays this music perfectly.

Hans Zimmer - Dark Knight-Aggressive Expansion (Soundtrack): The percussion in this track hits really hard, and the bass tones beginning around 0:45 have the ultra-deep "shuddery" kind of sound that indicates a solid deep-bass response, although the weight of those tones is somewhat light. The Tracks plays this music extremely well.

Heaven 17 - Let Me Go (1980's New Wave/Techno): The bass instrument (guitar?) has excellent detail, and the voices and ambiance have a "you are there" quality that's uncommon in early 1980's pop music. The Tracks plays this track perfectly.

Hugo Audiophile - 15-16 (Electronic): I'm not sure what the 15-16 stands for - perhaps track numbers from a CD album. The deep-bass tones that start around 33-34 seconds into the track reproduce very well with the Tracks. This is a great recording for evaluating whether a headphone's bass will be sufficient for most environments, since for many headphones that have a weaker bass, the deep bass gets absorbed and mostly lost when the environment contains a lot of low-frequency energy.

Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has several loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical with some headphones. The Tracks provides great detail. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in for best-case detail. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrument separation and detail, and the Tracks does those very well.

Kellogg Auditorium, Battle Creek Michigan, Aeolian-Skinner Organ (1933) - Pedal, 32', Resultant, Arpeggio: This 16 hz organ pedal tone differs from other music tones in that you won't "hear" the tone - you'll only feel it. Although most music tones have harmonics (including this one), the harmonics from this tone will be too weak to provide any "feel", so whatever you actually hear would not be part of the fundamental 16 hz tone. There are ~30 hz sounds in the outdoor environment in big cities, generated by large trucks, buses, and subway trains, and they have a quality of "rumble" that's similar to some deep-bass tones found in music. This 16 hz organ tone is easily distinguished from those sounds when compared on a headphone that has good undistorted response at 16 hz. The Tracks plays the fundamental tone with some weight, but the distortion components are obvious.

Mantovani - Sunrise Sunset (Easy Listening, ca. 1972): A master musician and conductor who specialized in light classics and orchestral pop music, Mantovani's accomplishments were overshadowed by music critics who couldn't tolerate the notion of "light classics" or "semi-classical" music, even when those recordings were no threat to the classical music genres. In any case the later Mantovani recordings from the mid-1960's through mid-1970's had the advantage of being mixed for much better hi-fi systems than those which the music critics possessed at the start of the Long Playing (LP) record cycle. Here in 2014, at least some of those digital remasters have improved the sound further, although it's not always the case. This track as played on the Tracks is a perfect example of the sheer musicality lurking in those later recordings, and is highly recommended for soundstage, instrumental tone, and musical balance.

Michael Tilson Thomas - Rhapsody In Blue (20th Century Classic): Great sound and soundstage, and terrific piano playing and tone. There are some very deep bass impacts starting around 38 seconds into the 17:24 length track, and the weight of those impacts is very subtle with the Tracks.

Pinback - Non Photo Blue (Pop-Rock): Crispy sound with "crunchy guitars and bashing drums" - the Tracks renders this music as perfectly as I've heard an energetic pop-rock recording played with any headphone.

Porcupine Tree - Trains (Pop-Rock): This track opens with some nicely-detailed string sounds and a forward-sounding male voice with a higher-than-average register. There are a series of "clip-clop" effects starting at 3:19 that should sound like they were made with wooden blocks of some kind. The Tracks reproduces that sound effect perfectly.

Richard Strauss (Mester-Pasadena) - Also Sprach Zarathustra (opening) (Classical): The granddaddy of bass is in the opening 1:50 of this recording, and I've heard it only once on a large and expensive loudspeaker system in Cleveland. For most people, that experience would be indistinguishable from being in a fairly strong earthquake. The Tracks conveys that experience to some extent, but with less impact than the better headphones I've used. The Tympani have good impact here.

Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E Tracks K381 (Classical, Harpsichord): The harpsichord here is normally bright and detailed, but the Tracks raises that brightness to a new level.

Tiger Okoshi - Bootsman's Little House (Jazz): The trumpet here is recorded fairly close up and is somewhat bright with a significant "bite". The Tracks' reproduction is near-perfect, and the close-miked piano is also a treat. For comparison, I have several Maynard Ferguson tracks that feature a similarly strong trumpet with lots of brassy bite.

Trombone Shorty - Backatown (Jazz-Funk): The deep bass impacts here are strong and work extremely well with the horns and other instruments. The Tracks delivers the impacts with decent weight and detail, and the horns have the kind of bite that gives them a wonderfully realistic sound.


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