Saturday, May 5, 2018

Vlad Savov reviews Koss Porta Pro Wireless headphones →

Vlad Savov, resident audiophile for The Verge, published a review of the new Koss Porta Pro Wireless headphones — a modern update of the classic fan favorite. Here’s what he thinks:

I’ve had a pair of the new wireless Porta Pros for the past couple of weeks, and the quickest way I can summarize them is to say that they’re fundamentally the exact same Porta Pros above the wire. That’s mostly a good thing, though it does make the addition of a Bluetooth connection look and feel like an afterthought that’s been tacked on.

Thoughts on the design:

[…] Descending from each headphone is a black cylinder that either dangles aimlessly or gets pushed up by my collar, in both cases serving to make me look dorkier than usual. […]

And:

Even if I could forgive the dangly dongles on the wire connecting the two halves of the Porta Pro Wireless, the one thing I absolutely can’t abide is the pulsating blue light that’s emitted from the headphones when they’re on. Embedded in the remote control on the right side of the wearer’s head, this light is way too bright and, tragically, it can’t be switched off. This is more than a mere cosmetic issue: I’m unable to watch movies in a dark room with these Porta Pros without being distracted by their blinking searchlight. Koss says it’s looking into the issue, though it feels like an obvious oversight not to have addressed it before release.

Sound quality:

Sound quality from the Porta Pro Wireless a little less refined to my ear, more coarse and less detailed than the original Porta Pros. But this is a difference of only slight degrees — Paul happens to think the Porta Pro Wireless are just as awesome and amazing as the originals.

I love my original Koss Porta Pros. I remember using my Dad’s for the first time and being blown away by how amazing these simplistic-looking headphones sound — especially for the price.

With the wireless version, it sounds like Koss made a few design mistakes. I agree with Vlad on the connecting wire. Why not build the necessary electronics into the headphones themselves and avoid the eyesore? Koss could have stayed true to the classic design while accounting for the modern necessities. I can’t think of any other over-the-head Bluetooth cans that have a connecting wire.

That said, I’m tempted to pick up a pair of these for comparison with the original wired Porta Pros. After all, the price is just as compelling.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Reddit audiophile largely impressed with HomePod →

Judging from my analytics, this post on HomePod’s technology is proving particularly popular over the last week as launch nears. In similar vein, WinterCharm from Reddit’s audiophile community had an hour with HomePod and has great things to say. Here’s a few of his notable thoughts.

On the HomePod’s size:

Fucking hell this thing is TINY. It’s really surprising to see it in person. Hefting it is odd, too. The fabric is soft but firm. It was also lighter than I was expecting. It’s also very pretty. Aside from the single cord coming out the back, there is no idication that it has a particular side/front. It’s built to blend into whatever space it’s in, rather than stand out.

On the sound:

Having heard it side by side with The Sonos Play One and Google Home Max, A single HomePod is already much better than both in terms of sound quality. I would say the Sonos Play One was 80% of the way there, but it just lacked the clarity of bass and wide soundstage. The Home Max was consistent with the Sonos Play One.

And:

I started out with “Hotel California” by The Eagles. The first impression was the neutrality of the speaker. The HomePods are tuned for an as-true-to-recording sound. When the song calls for it, there is bass. When the song turns to crystal clear highs, they are reproduced faithfully. What really was interesting is the instrument separation in the room. At about 45% volume, the HomePod FILLED the room I was in with some great sound. When you walked away from it, the sound gets quieter, but not as quickly as you’d expect. All the details were still there, just softer. there was no feeling of walking out of the sweet spot that you get with a normal speaker. And that’s when it hit me… Apple really has done it.

Conclusions:

  1. Significantly better audio than Sonos Play One or Google Home Max.

  2. Walk around in the room you never feel like you’re leaving the sweet spot. An impressive feat.

  3. Volume is more than adequate. The speakers sound accurate, never introducing extra bass when the song didn’t call for it. 40% was fine for me. Pushing them to 80% was really fun.

  4. Highs are great, but I expect that they’ll become crystal clear with a second HomePod.

  5. For a speaker so TINY, these are fucking AMAZING.

  6. The bass is really clean, and well controlled. Build is solid.

There are other reviews out there, but this is the feedback that matters to me most — a real audiophile’s review. I wouldn’t call myself an audiophile per se, but I really value high-quality audio. This makes me even more excited to fire up my HomePod on February 9.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Apple AirPods Review

The AirPods have been a sleeper hit for Apple, reminiscent of their magical and whimsical nature. They also have been out since December 2016, and are still largely in short supply. I’ve had them since day one, and everyone who sees me wearing them always asks me how I like them, so I figured a proper, in-depth review was in order. Read on if you want to know everything about the AirPods and how much I like them.

Read on