Thursday, March 25, 2021

Master & Dynamic Introduces MW08 Active Noise-Cancelling True Wireless Earphones



Master & Dynamic Introduces

MW08 Active Noise-Cancelling True Wireless Earphones

 

The MW08 ($299) features ultra-durable materials such as

ceramic and stainless steel and are the brand’s first True Wireless Earphones

with 11mm drivers and Hybrid Active Noise-Cancellation

 

 


 

[New York, NY] March 23, 2021: Master & Dynamic announces the launch of the new MW08 True Wireless Earphones ($299) and M&D Connect, the brand’s first mobile application.

 

The MW08 is the latest introduction in Master & Dynamic’s line of True Wireless Earphones and represents a leap forward in both sound and design. It features unrivaled 11mm Beryllium drivers and hybrid Active Noise-Cancellation. The MW08’s signature “D”-shaped design is updated in ceramic and features stainless steel, an external aluminum antenna, Bluetooth 5.2, as well as a proprietary new 6-microphone system.

 

“Our MW08 True Wireless Earphones continue our obsession with design, materials and technical sophistication. We were able to integrate significant improvements in this product, including 11mm custom drivers and six microphones, while reducing the overall size of both the earphones and case. The combination of ceramic, stainless steel and anodized aluminum provide a sleek yet tactile form factor, packing a punch both visually and acoustically,” says Founder and CEO Jonathan Levine.

 

      Brilliant Sound: 11mm Beryllium drivers deliver Master & Dynamic’s signature sound. New hybrid Active Noise-Cancellation offers an immersive listening experience in any environment.  Ambient listening modes allow users to tune into their surroundings for safety and added awareness.

      Elevated Design and Materials: The MW08 is crafted from ultra-durable ceramic, a material most commonly used in high-end watches. It was chosen for its luxurious feel, rich color, and resistance to cracking and scratching. Each of the four hues is housed in a stainless steel charging case. A compact ergonomic body provides added comfort for extended listening.

      Enhanced Features: A proprietary machined aluminum nano-bonded external antenna beautifully frames each piece of ceramic while providing exceptional connectivity range. Bluetooth 5.2 with AAC, aptX, and SBC create a seamless wireless experience, while a six-microphone talk solution with proprietary noise and wind reduction means clear phone calls even on-the-go. The earphones offer 10 hours of playtime with 3 additional charges in the case for 40 hours total playtime.

      iOS and Android Support: The new M&D Connect app will allow users to customize their listening experience, download firmware updates, and more.

 

Master & Dynamic’s MW08 Active Noise-Cancelling True Wireless Earphones ($299) are available in Black Ceramic/Matte Black Stainless Steel, White Ceramic/Stainless Steel, Brown Ceramic/Stainless Steel, and Blue Ceramic/Graphite Grey Stainless Steel at masterdynamic.com starting March 30, 2021.

 

 

About Master & Dynamic

 

Since its launch in 2014, New York City-based premium audio brand Master & Dynamic has released a variety of award-winning audio products ranging from wired and wireless headphones to a wireless speaker; most recently the MW07 True Wireless Earphones were recognized for world class design as the winner of The Red Dot Award: Product Design 2019. With an unrelenting attention to craft and detail, Master & Dynamic has a deep passion for building beautifully crafted and technically sophisticated sound tools to help focus, inspire and transport your mind.

 

Designed to be modern yet timeless, Master & Dynamic products utilize only the finest materials and are engineered to last, creating the perfect balance of aesthetics, strength, comfort and exceptional sound. With collaborations from world-renowned luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Leica Camera, Master & Dynamic believes mastery is a never-ending exploration requiring a dynamic approach. Our sound tools can be found in over 500 partner stores around the world. View the entire collection at www.masterdynamic.com and join the conversation at @masterdynamic.


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Thursday, March 18, 2021

BLUESOUND Introduces New PULSE SOUNDBAR+ To Lineup of Wireless Home Theater Products

Header image

Next Gen soundbar features a 3D immersive audio engine, support for Dolby Atmos, easy touch panel controls and more

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, March 18, 2021 – Bluesound, makers of the award-winning hi-res wireless multi-room line of audio players, announced the PULSE SOUNDBAR+, an all-new soundbar addition to the brand’s high-performance ecosystem. The PULSE SOUNDBAR+ is the ultimate audiophile-grade soundbar that will satisfy any home entertainment need. The PULSE SOUNDBAR+ ($899 in black, $999 in White, U.S. MSRP) is offered in a choice of Black or White finish and is configurable to a range of home entertainment applications. For ease of installation, it comes supplied with a wall mount bracket as well as two kickstand feet. Available for pre-order now, the PULSE SOUNDBAR+ will begin shipping in April 2021.

The PULSE SOUNDBAR+ is a system solution that replaces the need for bulky AVRs. Designed to fit perfectly under HD TVs, the PULSE SOUNDBAR+ offers a fully immersive sonic experience thanks to its range of features, including support for Dolby Atmos, 24-bit high resolution audio, 120 watts of full frequency multi-room and multi-channel audio, and a wide array of connectivity options.

PULSE SOUNDBAR+, WhitePULSE SOUNDBAR+, White

DOLBY ATMOS SUPPORT

A full audio-chain redesign with advanced DSP processing now supports 3D audio from Dolby Atmos, meaning a wider, higher, and more enveloping soundstage from the PULSE SOUNDBAR+.

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SOUND

Featuring 24-bit audio processing, 8 audiophile-quality drivers, and 120 watts of total power, the PULSE SOUNDBAR+ is to audio what the 8K TV is to video. Capable of deep and crisp bass on its own, the PULSE SOUNDBAR+ can also be paired with the PULSE SUB+ to create dramatic soundscapes for music, movies, concerts and games. Simply add a pair of PULSE FLEX 2i speakers as rear channels for a complete wireless Dolby Surround Sound experience.

FLEXIBILITY FOR ANY ENTERTAINMENT SETUP

Connect nearly any audio source to the PULSE SOUNDBAR+ via its array of wired and wireless, digital and analog connectivity options. TVs, gaming consoles, music streaming services, laptops, and music libraries can be accessed through HDMI eARC, Apple AirPlay 2, two-way aptX HD Bluetooth, TOSLINK, RCA, USB, and our proprietary BluOS music streaming system.

MORE POWERFUL, MORE EFFICIENT

Designed for end-to-end efficiency, the PULSE SOUNDBAR+ features a powerful custom-specified ARM Cortex A53 Quad-Core chipset that processes audio 8 times faster than previous generations of Bluesound architecture. Combined with two WiFi chips to prevent network latency, this flagship board design offers rock solid and zero-lag audio performance, even for demanding gaming applications.

PRECISION APP CONTROL

The PULSE SOUNDBAR+ offers a spectrum of control options, making it easy to weave home entertainment into everyday life. Newly added simple touch controls on the front panel now offer quick access to play, pause and volume. With just a smartphone or tablet, the built-in BluOS wireless multi- room streaming technology can connect and sync audio to, from, and around any room in the home. Hands-free control of your home entertainment is made possible with popular voice assistants from Google, Amazon, and Apple, while professional smart home integrators can get access to drivers for popular control systems like Lutron, Crestron, RTI, Elan, and others.

Like all Bluesound PULSE speaker models, the acoustic design and speaker voicing was performed at Canada’s National Research Council by Lenbrook’s renowned speaker design and engineering team.

“In 2016, Bluesound launched the world’s first Hi-Res soundbar, setting the bar for audio excellence in the category that continues to this day,” says Matt Simmonds, Bluesound Product Manager. “With the PULSE SOUNDBAR+, we continue to innovate and refine, making good on our commitment to bring hi- res, HiFi listening to everyday life, even in product categories that traditionally overlook the importance of audio quality.”

Highlights of the Bluesound PULSE SOUNDBAR+:

  • Future Forward. Bluesound’s next generation quad-core processor boasts all the power and speed required for the latest and greatest audio and DSP processing, with built-in headroom for whatever technologies the future may hold.
  • Audio First. The PULSE SOUNDBAR+ stays true to its hi-res audio foundations and its HiFi roots. The tried and tested amplifier platform packs a punch, allowing you to play loud and dig deep, with tight, musical control.
  • BluOS. The world’s leading hi-res multi-room system connects the PULSE SOUNDBAR+ to any other Bluesound Player with precise control in the BluOS app.

ABOUT BLUESOUND

An alliance of audiophiles. We are the designers, engineers and individuals who have spent our lives in the music industry. Our founders helped pioneer HiFi in the 70s – innovation and the pursuit of perfection in audio runs deep in our collective DNA. Bluesound’s sole mission is to create innovative wireless audio products and technologies that allow for the most true-to-live performance music reproduction possible, utilizing the most advanced, state-of-the-art digital technology.


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Friday, March 12, 2021

ASUS Announces ProArt B550-Creator

ASUS Announces ProArt B550-Creator
Motherboard for creative professionals unleashes the performance of the latest
AMD Ryzen 5000 Series processors for accelerated workflows

 

Fremont, CA (March 11, 2021) — ASUS today announced ProArt B550-Creator, a motherboard designed for creative professionals that delivers powerful performance and connectivity, plus advanced security and convenient, creator-focused features to accelerate workflows and make it easier to realize their artistic visions.

Featuring robust power delivery and PCI 4.0 support, ProArt B550-Creator maximizes the computing power of the latest AMD® Ryzen processors to speed up tasks like 3D rendering and video post-production as well as working with and sharing large files. The massive performance demands of these next-generation processors are balanced with a comprehensive and efficient thermal solution, resulting in the rock-solid system stability and reliability ASUS motherboards are known for and professional content creators demand.
 
Lightning-speed connectivity
The ProArt B550-Creator motherboard comes with a comprehensive array of powerful I/O ports — including two Thunderbolt 4 ports, two Intel® 2.5G Ethernet and four USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports — enabling quick data transfers and extensive storage options with flexible, hassle-free connectivity. Each Thunderbolt 4 port delivers up to 40 Gbps of bidirectional bandwidth for the latest high-speed devices and drives. Thunderbolt 4 also supports up to two external 4K UHD displays or one 8K display.

The two Intel 2.5G Ethernet (I225-V) ports enable faster transfers of large files across local networks — ideal for copying large files to network-attached storage (NAS) devices, streaming high-res video and sharing assets with colleagues. ProArt B550-Creator also features CreationFirst, exclusive network optimization software that allocates more bandwidth to speed up essential apps for creative work.
 
Unthrottled performance
ProArt B550-Creator provides robust power delivery and comprehensive cooling to handle the latest AMD Ryzen 5000 Series desktop processors, ensuring incredible performance for even the most demanding creative tasks. Its 12+2 power stage VRM is ready for the top Ryzen chips, and 8+4-pin ProCool auxiliary power connectors with solid pins ensure steady and stable power delivery to those stages.

To keep thermals under control, high-mass heatsinks with extensive surface areas as well as high-quality thermal pads transfer heat from the VRM and choke areas. Together with an efficient M.2 heatsink design, ProArt B550-Creator effectively cools both the CPU and SSD for rock-solid system stability and fast storage performance, delivering seamless content-creation workflows.
 
Advanced security
For professional design and creative studios, system security and effective device management is imperative to keep work running smoothly, reduce operating costs and prevent data leaks. ProArt B550-Creator works seamlessly with ASUS Control Center Express, which provides centralized IT management and advanced security features — including USB port management, software blacklisting and remote Windows Registry Editor control — with minimal configuration and maintenance.

USB port management lets IT administrators enable, disable or set USB ports on the motherboard as read only to prevent leaks of creative assets and other important data. Software blacklisting ensures users cannot run high-risk applications, and Windows Registry Editor control lets administrators remotely enable or disable the ability to modify the Windows Registry on client devices to prevent unauthorized changes to system configurations for enhanced security.
 
Content creator friendly
ProArt B550-Creator comes with ProArt Creator Hub, unified management software that provides a convenient, centralized location and user-friendly interface for controlling all ProArt Series products, such as ProArt displays and laptops. For ProArt B550-Creator, the software lets users adjust the motherboard's fan control profiles, monitor system components — including the CPU, memory and storage devices — and quickly launch frequently used apps.

With remote work becoming commonplace, the ability to collaborate with coworkers and clients easily is critical. To ensure clear voice communication in both audio and video calls, ProArt B550-Creator features exclusive Two-Way AI Noise Cancellation technology. By leveraging a massive deep-learning database to reduce background noise from the microphone and other incoming audio, distracting keyboard clatter, mouse clicks and other ambient noises are smartly pared back to ensure users can hear and be heard with total clarity in their online communications.
AVAILABILITY & PRICING
The ASUS ProArt B550-Creator motherboard will be available in North America in early April 2021. Please contact your local ASUS representative for further information.


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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

2021 Annual Headphone Shootout The Over The Ear Models

These have been unprecedented times due to the pandemic. We typically do our annual headphone shootout around the time of March Madness. We figured with basketball teams duking it out…let’s have headphones duke it out. But last year, March Madness was completely cancelled. Not knowing how it would play out this year, we thought we would start early. It appears that March Madness will still be held this year, so we will go ahead and publish the over the ear part of our shootout now, the second part of the shootout, the in-ear models, will be published before the end of March Madness.

 



This year, we have some great over the ear models, from some quality manufacturers. With an increase in popularity in wireless models, we are focusing on them this year. Only one of the models is not wireless.  Some of them also have noise cancellation. One of them is also for gaming. They start with the Creative SXFI Gamer for $129 MSRP, followed by JBL Club 950NC $249 MSRP, Master and Dynamic MH40 Wireless $249 MSRP, Beyerdynamic Lagoon Traveler $299 MSRP, Audio Technica ATH-ANC900BT $299 MSRP, and Focal Listen $499 MSRP. Let the shootout begin!

 

We will start out with the Creative SXFI Gamer. It is a gamer headphone with a big bang for the buck. The prized award winning feature of these headphones is the SXFI chip, which after programing it to you, most will concur that it sounds as good as if magic was employed. Being able to get this sound in a gaming headphones is really cool!

 

Features and specs:

SPECIFICATIONS

Interface: USB, 3.5 mm Stereo Input

Product Type: Wired Headset

Weight: With Mic 349g (12.31 oz), Without Mic 336g (11.85 oz)

Color: Black

Frequency Response: 20–20,000 Hz

Driver: 50 mm (1.97 inches) Neodymium magnet

Wearing Style: Over-ear

Microphone: Frequency Response: 100–16,000 Hz

Sensitivity: - 42 dBV / Pa: Controls

Mic mute, Super X-Fi, Volume, RGB lighting On/Off

RGB Ear-Cup Rings: Choose from 16 million colors

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

Windows® OS

Intel® Core™ i3 or AMD® equivalent processor

Intel, AMD, or 100% compatible motherboard

Microsoft® Windows 10 32 / 64-bit

1 GB RAM

>600 MB of free hard disk space

USB 2.0 / USB 3.0 port

 

Mac® OS

Mac OS X® 10.9 or higher

1 GB RAM

USB 2.0 / USB 3.0 port

 

PS4

Firmware Ver 5.0 or later

Available USB port

 

Nintendo Switch

Switch OS 5.0 or later

Available 3.5 mm headphone port on console

Available USB port

Voice communications supported when connected via 3.5 mm port and with Bluetooth to Android and iOS Nintendo Switch Online app or VOIP client

PACKAGE CONTENTS

Creative SXFI GAMER

CommanderMic

USB Cable

Analog 4-pole 3.5 mm Cable

USB-C to USB-A Converter

Quick Start Guide

Warranty Leaflet

WARRANTY

1-year Limited Hardware Warranty

 

The Creative SXFI Gamer came in a nice looking color printed box with photos and specs of the headphones. Opening the box revealed a well protected product held in place by custom molded plastic. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with a little bit of metal. Quality of materials used as well as the fit and finish was good. Also included was the detachable mic, audio cable, USB-C charging cable, USB to USB-C adapter and owners manual.

 

I really liked the design of the Creative SXFI Gamer. The leatherette earcups are soft with thick foam for good comfort. All of the connections are on one earcup, and the touch controls are very nice. I also like the way the earcups light up, and that you can change the color. And of course there’s also SXFI chip so you can set up your own profile for your own head and ear-mapping. It’s easy to think it’s gimmicky, but it’s not. I’ll never forget the demo I participated in at CES last year. They demo’d creating surround sound through the SXFI chip and a sound profile for the user. To tell you how well it sounded, I’ll use an analogy. Remember the scene in the movie Antman, when Antman puts on the suit, and shows his guys that he can shrink? The reaction of his guys was a lot like the reaction of everyone in the demo. Let’s see how they actually sound.

 

Toto: Africa- Kick drum had very good, tight, impact and depth. The congas also had very nice resolution of the pad. Cowbell had nice tone. Vocals were very smooth with very nice texture of the timbre. Drums had very good dynamics and extension. Cymbals were crisp and clean. Recorder had very good air. Piano sounded natural.

Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody- Huge soundstage that makes you feel like you were right there with the artists in the studio. Harmonics of the vocals was very good, and provided very good resolution to really make Freddy shine. Piano sounded very natural. Cymbals were crisp and clean. Drums were very dynamic and played with very good impact.

The HU:  Sugaan Essana- The thunder at the beginning sounded startlingly lifelike! Soundstage was as good as multiple times their price point. There was enough resolution to hear the bow slide across the strings of the lute. Vocals were nice and raw with very good resolution of the texture. Bass played with very good authority.

Next up is the JBL Club 950NC. You may not know a lot about headphones.  If that’s the case, buying a JBL headphone is a safe bet, getting you that JBL sound. Up for review is their JBL Club 950NC. Not only is it a quality wireless headphone, but you also get active noise cancelling. There’s even a cool app to control it.

 

Features and Specs:

Frequency response (Passive): 16 Hz - 40 kHz

Frequency response (Active): 16 Hz - 22 kHz

Sensitivity: 91 dB SPL @ 1 kHz / 1 mW

Maximum SPL: 105 dB

Maximum input power (Passive): 2000 mW

Microphone sensitivity: -24 dBV @ 1 kHz / Pa

Impedance: 32 ohm

Driver size: 40 mm dynamic driver

Weight: 372 g

Bluetooth transmitted power: <6 dBm

Bluetooth transmitted modulation: GFSK, _x001F_/4 DQPSK, 8DPSK

Bluetooth frequency: 2.402 GHz - 2.480 GHz

Bluetooth profile version: A2DP 1.3, AVRCP 1.5, HFP 1.6

Bluetooth version: V5.0

Battery type: LITHIUM ION POLYMER BATTERY (3.7 V / 730 mAh)

Power supply: 5 V 1 A

Charging time: <2 hrs

Music play time with BT on: Up to 55 hrs

Music play time with BT & ANC on: Up to 22 hrs

Music play time with Aux-in & ANC on: Up to 30 hrs

 

The JBL Club 950NC came in a nice looking color printed box with photos and specs of the headphones. Opening the box revealed a well-protected headphone held in place by custom molded plastic. And they were secured in a quality hard zipper case. Opening the zipper case revealed a quality headphone made mostly of plastic, but with some metal in places it mattered most, like on the hinges. Quality of materials used was very good, as was the fit and finish. Also included was the charging cord, audio cord, and manual.

 

I liked the design of the JBL Club 950 NC. Like DJ headphones, the earcups flip up for monitoring like a DJ. But it also works great for easier storage in the zipper case. And as stated before, I also like the metal hinges for increased durability. The app is also really cool, allowing you to control not only the active noise cancelling modes, but to also control the EQ settings and DSP, for your personal preference. Now let’s see how they sound.

 

Toto: Africa- Kick drum had very good tight clean impact with very good low-end extension. Congas also had a nice full sound with good resolution of the pad. Cowbell had very nice crisp metallic tone. Vocals were very smooth with very good resolution and texture of the timbre. Drums had very good dynamics and extension. Cymbals were crisp and clean. Recorder had very good air. Piano also sounded pleasantly natural. Soundstage was very wide.

Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody- the soundstage was huge, making you feel like you are right in the studio. Vocals were very smooth with very good harmonics of the texture of the timbre. The piano sounded very natural. Cymbals were really crisp and clean. Drums were very dynamic with a full deep sound.

The HU: Sugaan Essana- The thunder at the beginning was very lifelike, showing a huge soundstage. There was enough resolution to be able to hear the bows slide across the strings of the lute. Vocals were pleasantly raw and portrayed very well. The bass played very deep and with good authority.

 

Fairly new to the headphone scene is a company called Master & Dynamic. They may not have the decades of experience that some manufacturers have. But they are making up ground quickly with their premium sound, and the use of premium materials. Being made mostly of aluminum, you know they will last for years. Up for review today is one of their wireless over the ear models the MH40 Wireless.

 
Features and Specs:

MODEL: MH40 Wireless

DIMENSIONS: 205mm x 202mm x 71mm

DRIVERS: 40mm Neodymium

IMPEDANCE: 32 Ohms

WEIGHT: 276g

HEADPHONE MATERIALS: Coated Canvas, Anodized Aluminum, Lambskin Leather

HEADPHONE CONNECTION: Bluetooth 5.0 Supporting AptX and SBC

CABLES: USB-C to 3.5mm & USB-C to USB-A for charging

EAR COUPLING: Over-Ear

MICROPHONE TYPE: Beamforming Noise Reduction Mic Array

ANTENNA: Internal Antenna

EAR PADS: Replaceable Lambskin-Wrapped Memory Foam

BLUETOOTH PROFILE: Bluetooth 5.0 Supporting AptX and SBC

CHARGING: 100% in 80 minutes, 50% in 30 minutes

 

The Master & Dynamic MH40 Wireless came in a great looking color box with photos and specs of the headphones. Opening the box revealed a well protected headphone, held securely in place by a custom plastic molding. Materials used in the construction was mostly aluminum, with some leather and canvas. Quality of materials used was excellent, as was the fit and finish. Also included was a high quality braided charging cord and audio cable, as well as manual and soft carry bag. It’s a premium product and it shows.

 

I love the design of the Master & Dynamic MH40 Wireless. It has a simple design with just volume buttons, as well as one for on/off and Bluetooth pairing and one for answering/ending calls, song playback and voice assistant. There’s and LED indicator for pairing and charge level. And I especially love the high-quality build. The aluminum construction provides a huge level of durability, and the leather earcups will provide comfort for even long listening periods. Now let’s see how they sound.

 

Toto: Africa- Kick drum had very good low-end extension that tight, played with lots of impact and authority. The congas had a full sound with very good harmonics and resolution of the impact on the pad. Cowbell had nice dynamics and detail of the impact. Vocals were very smooth like honey and with pleasant harmonics of the timbre. Drums had very good dynamics and extension. Cymbals were crisp and clean. Recorder had very good air. Piano sounded very natural.

Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody- Vocals were extremely smooth like honey with excellent resolution of the texture of the timbre, that gave harmonics that were audibly delicious. Soundstage was huge. Piano sounded much more natural than it should at this price point. Drums were dynamic with a deep full sound that played with great authority. Cymbals were crisp and clean.

The HU: Sugaan Essana- Thunder at the beginning was extremely lifelike with dynamic highs and deep bass, that revealed a huge soundstage. The resolution came in layers and revealed a bow that could be heard across the strings of the lute. Vocals were pleasantly raw, with tons of detail of the texture of the timbre. Drums were very dynamic, playing deep with lots of authority.

 

Now it’s time for the Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC. Designed in Germany by Beyerdynamic’s, it’s a premium wireless headphone, that also includes active noise cancelling. The goodies do not end there however. They also include Beyerdynamic’s MOSAYC sound personalization software. Thanks to the truly special software, the Lagoon ANC can be transformed to provide for the personal listening needs of the user.

 

Features and specs:

OPERATING PRINCIPLE: Closed

TRANSMISSION TYPE: Wireless via Bluetooth®

NOMINAL IMPEDANCE HEADPHONES: 20 ohms

WEIGHT HEADPHONES WITHOUT CABLE: 283 g

BATTERY RUNTIME: Up to 45 hours

BATTERY RUNTIME WITH ANC: Up to 24.5 hours

HEADPHONE FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 10 - 30.000 Hz

SUPPORTED BLUETOOTH PROFILES: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP, SPP

CODECS: aptX™ LL, aptX™, AAC, SBC

SOUND COUPLING TO THE EAR: Circumaural (around the ear)

ARTICLE NO.: LAGOON ANC

 

The Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC came in a great looking color printed box, with phots and specs of the headphones. Opening the box showed a well-protected headphone held in place in the hard zipper case. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic, with some metal. The earcups are wrapped in ultra soft leatherette with what feels like memory foam behind it. Quality of materials used, as well as fit and finish, are all excellent. Also included was the charging cable, audio cable and quick start guide.

 

I really enjoy the awesome design of the Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC. One earcup has all the connections, as well as Bluetooth and ANC controls. The earcups are super soft for long listening sessions, and they fold in for more compact storage in the hard case. The light guide system is a cool way to show their status. And of course the MOSAYC software helps to tailor the sound by adjusting the output of the different frequencies based on your hearing needs, thanks to the hearing test that the app does. Now let’s hear how they sound.

 

Toto: Africa- Kick drum had very good tight clean impact with low end extension. Congos had very good full sound with very good resolution of the pad. Cowbell had very good resolution and metallic sound. Vocals were silky smooth with very good texture of the timbre. Soundstage was both deep and wide. Drums had excellent dynamics and tight deep impact. Cymbals were crisp and clean. Gong had clear decay. Recorder had good air. Piano sounded natural.

Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody- Soundstage was absolutely huge, both wide and deep, giving the impression that you were actually in the recording studio. Harmonics of the vocals were excellent and really revealed the layers of texture of the timbre, in silky smoothness. Piano sounded more natural than it should at this price point. Cymbals were crisp and clean. Drums were dynamic with excellent impact, fullness and low-end extension. Guitar was nice and raw.

The HU: Sugaan Essana- The thunder at the very beginning sounded extremely lifelike it surprised me! There was very good resolution so you could hear the bow slide across the strings of the lute. Drums were very dynamic, played with great depth and tons of authority and did so cleanly! The vocals were amazingly raw with tons of resolution of the timbre and texture.

 

The next in line is the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT. If you’re looking for a manufacturer with a long history of providing quality products, Audio-Technica is one of them. They have been around for decades. Buy an Audio-Technica headphones, and it’s a safe bet that they are going to be a great sounding product. Up for review today is their ATH-ANC900BT. They are a wireless over the ear headphone, that also includes ANC.



Features and specs:

Digital hybrid noise-cancelling technology provides the highest degree of ambient noise reduction of any QuietPoint® model

Bluetooth 5 wireless technology with touch and swipe controls built into the earcup for convenient handling of calls, music playback and volume adjustment

40 mm drivers feature diaphragms with a diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating to deliver exceptional full-range audio reproduction

Switchable quick hear-through function allows voices (conversations, announcements at airports and transit stations, etc.) to be heard through the headphones

Fold-flat design for easy portability

Exclusive memory-foam earpads provide increased isolation

Up to 35 hours of continuous Bluetooth and ANC use on a full charge

Supports the Audio-Technica Connect app for convenient control of headphone settings, including the adjustment of noise cancellation and hear-through function

1.2 m (3.9') cable provides a wired connection for times when wireless operation is not available, when battery power is low, or when Hi-Res Audio is desired

Includes 30 cm (1.0') USB charging cable, airline adapter, and carrying case

Frequency Response  5 – 40,000 Hz

Maximum Input Power  1,000 mW

Sensitivity  103 dB/mW (when noise-cancellation used)*

100 dB/mW (when noise-cancellation not used)*


The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT came in a nice looking color printed box, with images and specs of the headphones.  Opening the box revealed a well-protected headphone held in place in a hard zipper case. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some metal. Earcups are soft leatherette with memory foam. Quality of materials used was excellent, as was the fit and finish. Also included was the charging cable, audio cable, manuals, as well as the hard zipper case.




 

I love the design of the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT. All of the connectors and hard buttons are on the left earcup. The touch controls are on the right earcup. The earcups also swivel and fold in for more compact storage in the hard zipper case. They are designed for the Hi-Res Audio. And not only are they wireless using Bluetooth, they also have a digital hybrid active-noise cancelling, to really keep the noise out of your ears. The memory foam gave a very comfortable fit. And while I like the soft feel of the leatherette, they do get warm over long listening periods. Now let’s see how they sound.


 

Toto: Africa- Kick drum was extremely deep with tight and punch in the chest impact with lots of authority. The congas were full with very good resolution of the hands across the pad. Cowbell was crisp with great tone. Vocals were silky smooth with excellent resolution of the texture from the timbre. Drums were extremely dynamic with good extension. Recorder had very good air, with sufficient resolution to show some tonguing technique. Cymbals were really crisp and clean. Piano sounded very natural. Soundstage was wide and deep.




Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody- Soundstage was not only huge, but extremely lifelike, with a perception of being right there in the studio with the band. Harmonics were stellar, due to a resolution that really brought out the texture of the timbre. Freddy sounded brought back to life, with silky smooth vocals that we have loved for decades. Piano sounded extremely natural beyond what it should be at this price point. Cymbals were really crisp and clean. Drums were very dynamic with a full deep sound.

The HU: Sugaan Essana- The thunder at the intro was extremely deep with authority and highs were crisp, revealing a huge soundstage that was wide and deep. Drums were also very dynamic with a full deep sound that was clean and played with authority. Vocals while providing great harmonics, were also very raw, revealed by the layers of resolution of the texture of the timbre as well as the bow as it slid across the strings of the lute.

 

The Focal Listen came to us from a French manufacturer who knows a thing or two about high-quality sound. When you hear the brand Focal, you may think of their high-end car audio and home audio components. But they also do headphones as well. Tapping into their heritage of over 40 years in the audio industry, they are able to use their expertise in their headphones.



Features and specs:

Type: Circumaural closed-back ear-cup headphones

Bluetooth® wireless technology:  4.1

Range:  > 15m

Battery:  Up to 20h

Impedance (passive mode):  32Ω

Sensitivity (passive mode):  122dB SPL @ 1kHz – / 1Vrms

THD @ 1kHz / 100dB SPL:  < 0.4%

Frequency response: 15Hz -22kHz

Driver: 40mm Electrodynamic (137/64“) Mylar Titanium

Microphones: 2 Omnidirectionals (Clear Voice Capture)

Net weight: 300g

 

The Focal Listen came in a great looking color printed box with images and specs of the headphones. Opening the box showed a well-protected headphone held in place in custom molded plastic. The materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some metal. Quality of materials used was excellent, as well as fit and finish. Also included was the charging cable, audio cable, manual and soft zipper case.



I really enjoyed the elegant looking design of the Focal Listen. The plastic being both a gloss as well as a matte finish, look extremely elegant together. The look gives a more high-end impression. This is a good thing, as some of the specs are a little dated, such as using Bluetooth 4.1 and not being Hi-Res Audio ready. I would have hoped to have real leather at this price point, but it is Focal. The fold in design of the earcups for more compact storage is a nice touch, as is the raised metal Focal logo on the earcups. The large memory foam earcups enclose your ears for nice sound isolation. Now let’s see how they sound.

 

Toto: Africa- Kick drums had really good tight clean impact with good low-end extension that played with very good authority. Congas had a really good full sound with great dynamics. Cow bell had excellent resolution of the metallic tone. Vocals were smoother than honey with loads of resolution of the timbre that yielded excellent harmonics. Soundstage was huge, not just wide but also deep, providing the realism as if you were in the recording studio. Drums had excellent dynamics and impact. Cymbals were really crisp and clean. Gong had excellent resolution of the mallet and decay. Recorder had excellent air. Piano sounded natural. Marimba’s woody texture shown through excellently.


Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody- Soundstage had to be heard to fully grasp just how good a soundstage can sound. Harmonics of the vocals were off the charts, with phenomenal resolution of texture of Freddy’s timbre. Piano sounded extremely natural, much more than it should at this price point. Cymbals were crisp and clean. Drums were extremely dynamic with great authority. Guitar sounded nice and raw. Gong had nice decay.

The HU: Sugaan Essana- The thunder sounded extremely natural. There was sufficient resolution to hear the bow slide across the strings of the lute. Drums were extremely lifelike with all of the dynamics that their being played in fury provided. The raw texture of the vocals came out in layers upon layers. There’s no way that blasting this would not get you psyched up to bring your A game.

 



 

Overall sound

 

The Creative SXFI Gamer had a more neutral sound, that was maybe just a hair on the bright side for a pair of headphones more marketed towards gaming. They held their own very well for music. Yet they also had the full deep bass that sounds great with all the explosions on gaming. Giving the sound quality I would expect to hear at almost twice their price, they are a huge bargain!

 

JBL with their Club 950NC, you get a stellar sound that JBL is known for delivering. Sound signature is more neutral, maybe just a hair on the warm side, not only do you get a bit more resolution, you get active noise cancelling, as well as a handy app. Thanks to the app you get a ton of body control, not just for ANC, but also with EQ and sound personalization. Bang for the buck is huge. They’re also super comfy to wear.

 

The Master and Dynamic have a neutral sound signature that’s maybe a hair on the bright side. They are doing things right with the MH40 wireless you don’t get fancy extras like an app. But what you do get is a well made product made entirely with premium materials aluminum and leather. You know it’s built to last. And they also sound great!

 

Beyerdynamics Lagoon Traveler provided another sound signature that was neutral, leaning just a hair on the warm side. Resolution was raised a tad as well. That’s in part to their tesla driver. Vocals were silky smooth. The bang for the buck continues, thanks in part to their sound app. You get your own little hearing test, thanks to which you get a sound tailored to your own hearing need. Can you say bespoke headphones? Your mind will be blown!

 

Next is the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT. They have a more neutral sound signature, that’s just a hair on the bright side. They are designed with a traveler in mind. They are light weight, yet also very well made. And they’re taken over a decade of experience and improvements, and put it all in the headphones. Sound quality is also excellent, with increased resolution over the previous listed models. Soundstage is also huge.

 

Last but not least is the Focal Listen. Known world-wide for their high-end home and car audio speakers. They have new put that experience in their headphones. The resolution is taken to another level, with excellent huge soundstage and precision imaging. Sound signature is neutral, leaning just hair on the bright side. Their specs may not look the best on paper, maybe a little aged. But shhh…don’t tell their drivers, because they sound like absolute champs! They have to be heard to be believed.

 

Bluetooth performance and ANC performance

Before we get into the Bluetooth performance, let us tell you about the testing.  It’s a torture test, designed to be too much for just about any headphone.  Few go unscathed.  But that’s ok, because I know of no manufacturer who has headphones designed to go this distance. Most are rated somewhere between 50 – 100ft.  For indoor testing, using my LG V40 Thinq smartphone, I place my phone in one corner of the basement, walk all around and to the other end of the basement which is about 50ft away.  I then walk up to the main floor and walk all around the main floor. I then walk up to the second floor and walk all around the second floor.  And for outside testing, I set my smartphone on our front porch, and walk out to the corner of the street, which is around 250 ft.  It’s a test designed to get the phone to fail, but see just how far it’ll go before it does.

 

JBL - Good for 50 feet same floor through multiple walls with no glitches. Got occasionally glitchy in-between floors, but made it from basement to 2nd floor with only occasional glitches. Outside it was a little glitchy at around 200 feet, but made it to 250 feet.  ANC worked very well, removing about 90%.

 

Beyerdynamic – Good for 50 ft same floor through multiple walls with no glitches. Got just barely glitchy upstairs, but made it to the 2nd floor no problems. And it also got a tad glitchy at around 200 ft outside, but made it no problems to 250 feet.  These had the best Bluetooth performance. ANC worked extremely well, removing about 95%. It was also the best performance of ANC.

 

Master and Dynamics – good for 50 ft same floor though multiple walls, no glitches, a little glitchy going upstairs, but no problems playing on the 2nd floor. A little glitchy outside at 200 feet, but made it to 250 feet.

 

Audio-Technica – No problems on same floor up to 50 ft through multiple walls. Was more glitchy at around 100 feet again at 150 and 175 feet. Made it to around 200 feet before signal disconnected. ANC worked well, removing about 90%.

 

Focal – No problems on the same floor up to 50 feet through multiple walls. It was more glitchy on the main floor and 2nd floor, although it did work on the 2nd floor. Outside it got glitchy at around 100 feet, again at 175 feet, but did make it to around 250 feet.

 

In the end, all of these headphones performed very well.  The surprise for me was just how well the Creative SXFI Gamer sounded.  It did not have wireless functionality, but it still performed like twice their price.  The JBL Club 950NC provided great performance and great build quality including some metal and even an app, while the Master & Dynamic provided great sound and the best build quality of the group.  Beyerdynamic took the app to a whole new level, providing an actual hearing test, to get the sound just to where you need it.  Audio-Technica provided some of the best resolution as well as ANC that performed in spades.  The Focal Listen Wireless wasn’t ANC, and was a little dated in their specs, yet they still had the best sound overall.  The good news, is depending on your budget, you couldn’t go wrong with any of these.  Based on their design, features, quality, and performance, the Creative SXFI Gamer, JBL Club 950NC, and Master & Dynamic earned out Highly Recommended Award, and the Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC, Audio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT, and Focal Listen Wireless earned our Editor’s Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.us.creative.com, www.jbl.com, www.masterdynamic.com, www.beyerdynamic.com, www.audio-technica.com, www.focal.com,





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