Saturday, May 11, 2019

Emotiva BasX A-500 5 Channel Home Theater Amp Review


We’ve come a long way since the beginning of Dolby with Dolby Stereo. The sound keeps getting better, not just in the number of channels, but also the quality of the sound as well. We now have easy access to 11 channels for full surround sound envelopment with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. And modern surround sound receivers also allow use of discrete separate amps for better sound. So whether you want to improve the sound of your 5.1 of 7.1 surround sound, or you want to upgrade to the latest 7.1.4 of Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, you will probably need a separate amp. Enter the Emotiva BasX A-500.

Emotiva is an audio product manufacturer that focuses on the budget minded audiophile. If you consider yourself an audiophile and are looking for a high quality product that gives a huge bang for your buck, Emotiva is who you are looking for. And a great amp of theirs from their budget BasX line is the BasX A-500. If you want to improve the sound of your main 5.1 channels, it’s a perfect fit for that. But if you want to make the jump to Dolby Atmos or DTS:X and add 4 ceiling height channel speakers, the Emotiva BasX A-500 will work great for that as well.


Features and specs:

Circuit Topology

The BasX A-500 is a five channel power amplifier. The BasX A-500 combines classical audiophile amplifier architecture, based on a heavy-duty linear power supply, and a carefully designed high current short signal path Class A/B output stage, with advanced microprocessor-controlled monitoring and protection circuitry, to deliver superb sound quality at a truly reasonable price.

Audio Specifications

Power Output (two channels driven):

110 watts RMS per channel; 20 Hz – 20 kHz; THD < 0.1%; into 8 Ohms.

190 watts RMS per channel; 1 kHz; THD < 1%; into 4 Ohms.

Power Output (all channels driven):

80 watts RMS per channel; 20 Hz – 20 kHz; THD < 0.1%; into 8 Ohms.

Power Bandwidth (at rated power; 8 Ohm load): 20 Hz to 20 kHz (+ / – 0.07 dB)

Broad Band Frequency Response: 5 Hz to 80 kHz +0/-1.8 dB

THD + noise: < 0.02% (A-weighted); ref rated power

Signal to Noise Ratio (8 Ohm load):

> 120 dB; ref rated power; (A-weighted).

> 100 dB; ref 1 watt; (A-weighted).

Minimum Recommended Load Impedance (per channel): 4 Ohms

(which equals one 4 Ohm load or two paralleled 8 Ohm loads).

Damping Factor (8 Ohm load): > 500.

Input Sensitivity (for rated power; 8 Ohm load): 1.2 V.

Gain: 29 dB.

Input Impedance: 27 kOhms.

Input And Output Connections

Input Connections: Unbalanced (RCA); one each per channel.

Speaker Output Connections: Audiophile grade 5-way binding posts.

Trigger:

Trigger Input: 5 – 12 V (AC or DC); <10 current="" font="" input="" ma="" required.="">

Trigger Output: 12 VDC; can drive any load up to 120 mA.

Power Requirements

115 VAC or 230 VAC @ 50 / 60 Hz (automatically detected).

Front Panel Controls and Indicators

Standby: push button (halo ring changes color to indicate Standby or On).

Status LEDs: one per channel; blue.

Status LEDs change to red to indicate a fault condition.

Rear Panel Controls

AC Power switch: rocker switch (switches AC main power).

Status LEDs switch: disables front panel Status LEDs.

Protection

The BasX A-500 is protected against excessive operating temperature, shorted speaker connections, ground faults, and other common fault conditions.

Mechanical

Dimensions:

17” wide x 4” high x 15-1/2” deep (not including connectors).

21-1/2” wide x 8” high x 21” deep (boxed).

Weight:

26.5 lbs (unboxed)

35 lbs (boxed)


The Emotiva BasX A-500 came double boxed in a standard brown cardboard box. Opening the box revealed a well protected amp, held securely in place by custom molded Styrofoam, and wrapped in a black cloth bag. Pulling out and unwrapping the amp revealed a very well made product. Materials used in the construction were almost all metal, with a very high quality brushed black aluminum face plate. Quality of materials used was also excellent, as was fit and finish. The Emotive BasX is a very well made product and it shows. Taking off the cover plate showed high quality internal components, with tight connections. Connections on the back were also very good. I was amazed at the quality for only $499, and starting to get very excited to hear how it sounds. Also included in the box was the power cord, remote turn on cable, owner’s manual, and a couple spare fuses. 


 Setting up the amp in my rack was very simple. It was just a matter of connection the RCA line outs on the receiver to the line ins on the back of the amp. Then connecting the remote out of the receiver to the remote in on the amp, and then plugging it in. Having a Dolby Atmos or DTS:X 7.1.4 system in our reference room, we will be able to test the Emotiva BasX A-500 for both scenarios.



Our reference receiver is the Onkyo TX-RZ920, which has an internal THX amp rated at 135 watts, 2 channels driven at 1 kHz. The Emotiva BasX A-500 is rated at 110 watts a channel, but is rated at 20-20000 Hz. The power output should be fairly close for both the Onkyo and Emotiva, even though the rated output is a little different. This should be a fairly good apples to apples comparison. That way we can tell how the Emotiva BasX A-500 compares to an internal receiver amp. And then we’ll test how well it does as an upgrade add-on for Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. Now that it’s all connected, let’s hear how it sounds.

I started off with measurements from my sound meter, and measured during a few clips of a couple of my favorite movies: RED and Ready Player One. Reference gear used was an Onkyo TX-RZ920 THX Receiver, Oppo Digital BDP-103D transport, NHT Classic Three’s and NHT Classic Three C, in a 5.1 system and SVS 16-46 PC Plus as the subwoofer. I first measured using just the internal amp at a set volume level on the receiver. I took measurement readings for peak volume during a few clips for each movie. After I was done measuring the several clips in both movies, I hooked up the Emotiva BasX A-500. I went through the same clips of each movie, listening to each clip a few times and noting the peak volume of each clip at center listening position. The measurements came out really close, as I expected. Through out all of the clips, there was only a 1db difference in volume at the same output level, and it was the Emotiva amp that had the lower volume output. But that could be due to the slight signal loss going from the receiver to the amp through the RCA’s. But again, the difference is minimal, barely noticeable if you are listening for it and doing an AB test the way I was. Now let’s see how they actually sound. 


I was impressed with the sound of the internal amp of the Onkyo TX-RZ920. In fairly recent years, Onkyo made the jump to using a digital amp.  While it’s a digital Class D topology, it still has a very good neutral sound. For those who don’t want more, it’s a good amp. And is even THX certified.


If you want to get the best performance out of your home theater, getting a dedicated amp is the way to go. The Emotive BasX A-500 is a great economical way to do it! With an MSRP of only $499, it’s a steal! As stated previously, the output in volume is just a hair under the output of the internal amp at the same volume level of the receiver. But that’s just part of the story. There is a lot more head room with the Emotiva.


Listening to the Emotiva BasX A-500, I heard the same neutral sound as the internal amp, but there was also a lot more. Music had more clarity and resolution. The midbass was fuller with more punch. Dynamics in movies was also greater. The difference was not huge, but it was there and noticeable. And in cranking up the volume to much louder than I listen to, it was still really clean, with crisp highs, smooth mids, very articulate vocals, and tight punchy midbass.  Transparency level from the amp was also very good!  And not only that, but it sounded just really full, with plenty of reserves still on tap.


It’s kind of like the analogy I like to use with engines, and horse power and torque. You can get a big horsepower engine without a lot of torque. And while it’ll have power in the horsepower, with a lack of torque it’s lacking muscle behind it. So while the internal amp sounds good and will play loud, it doesn’t have the reserves or muscle behind it like you get with and engine that has a lot of torque. You won’t have the same full sound or the perceived headroom behind it so it won’t sound a tad thin. You can definitely tell using the Emotiva as dedicated amp gives you a lot of brawn on tap.


The Emotiva BasX is an outstanding dedicated theater room Amp. If you’re happy with the performance of your internal amp, but want to make the jump to Dolby Atmos, or DTS:X, the Emotiva BasX A-500 is a great add-on amp to power the 4 height channels. And given the close output levels as previously discussed, it’s also a great match to the internal amp, when used to power the height channels, as they are both close to the same wattages.

 Using the Emotiva BasX as an add-on amp to power 4 height channel speakers proved to be an excellent fit. Getting it all wired up, and running the calibration software, it was now time to test the amp with Dolby Atmos in 5.1.4. As Darth Vader said to Luke, “Impressive, most impressive.” The Emotiva BasX A-500 made my Revel C263’s really sing! Highs were crisp and clean, mids were very smooth and bass had good extension and punch in the midbass. There was plenty of power on tap for the Revels, and the sound provided with Dolby Atmos was holographic, fully enveloping you in all of the action!

 In the end, the Emotiva BasX A-500 provides a real synergy! It provides an excellent build quality for a product that will provide years of use. But it sounds just as good, giving a performance that is more than the sum of the parts. It’s not perfect, but given its low MSRP of only $499, it’s bang for the buck is off the charts! And it provides a lot of functionality. If you’re looking to up your game in your home theater setup, the Emotiva BasX A-500 should be on your short list. But I do have a word of caution.  If you are using your surround sound receiver to power your mains and get a BasX amp for the height channels, don’t try out the BasX on your mains.  If you do, you may just end up keeping it there and getting another BasX for the height channels! Like a BasX A-700 for the mains and a A-500 for the heights in a 7.1.4 setup. Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the Emotiva BasX A-500 has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.emotiva.com.
*Sample product provided did not have any influence on the resulting review


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Sunday, April 28, 2019

Spyclops 4 Channel 2MP POE NVR Security Camera Kit Review


We all like to feel safe. Security is a big factor in our daily lives, whether we are at home or traveling, we want to feel safe. Unfortunately, we don’t live in Mayberry. And we can’t go back in time to good ol 1955 like Marty McFly. Crime is a ton higher now than it used to be. In today’s day, even your packages sitting on your doorstop are in danger! Doorbell cameras have become very popular, but that isn’t always good enough for anything other than a doorstop package. Enter the Spyclops 4 Channel 2MP POE NVR Kit: SPY-NVR4POEKIT1.

If security is important to you, you know what I am talking about. If it’s not, all you have to do is turn on the news. A doorbell camera is convenient, and better than nothing, but it is limited in capabilities. It only covers your front door. Your home more than likely has more entry points than just your front door. And if something happens while you are away from home, being able to access recorded footage can be critical. Spyclops is a brand of Metra Home Theater group, which provides products for your home audio and video needs.
Spyclops has products available for your security needs. There are multiple parts of a home security system. First is the camera itself. Next is the storage device to hold the recorded video. There is also the wiring needed to get power to the cameras, and the video from the camera to the Digital Video Recorder. You will also need a video monitor to view the camera footage, but you can provide that yourself. Everything else that is needed for your security camera system and it’s installation can be provided by Spyclops.
There are also different types of cameras, such as wired and wireless. With a standalone wireless camera, you need to have a very robust wi-fi. Anytime your wi-fi goes down, so do your cameras. With a Wireless camera kit, a dedicated wireless signal is created and is dependent on the NVR: SPY-NVR4720WB, SPY-NVR8720WB.  And they would still need power run to them. Our preference is a POE (Power over Ethernet) Camera, which uses a single cable for power and video. Up for review today is their simple and convenient all in one kit, the 4 Channel 2MP POE NVR Kit: SPY-NVR4POEKIT1.

This Spyclops kit comes with everything you need. It comes with 4 cameras, a 4 channel NVR (Network Video Recorder), and the cables needed to connect the cameras to the NVR. The cables are even crimped on both ends with the needed connectors for the NVR and the camera. All of these 4 cables are also fairly long at 59 feet. But if you do have a longer run, a longer cable is needed. They also have bulk cable available if there is a longer run.


Features and specs:

NVR Specifications:

4 channel POE LAN ports connection

HD 2MP 1080P resolution all cameras

VGA and HDMI® Outputs

Free remote view app for Android and iOS

1 TB hard drive included

Camera Specifications:

HD 2MP 1080P resolution 30FPS

3.6mm Fixed lens

IR LED’s for night vision up to 20 meters at night

Auto 3D DNR

RJ45 POE connection

IP66 rated for indoor/outdoor installations



The Spyclops SPY-NVR4POEKIT1 came in a great looking color printed box with features and photos of the kit. Opening the box revealed a well protected product held in boxes for each camera and wrapped in bubble wrap.


Materials used in the construction of the cameras were mostly metal, with some plastic. Quality of the materials used was excellent. The NVR was made of mostly metal with some plastic. Quality of the materials used in the NVR was not quite as high of quality as the cameras as the gauge of steel housing of the NVR was a bit thin, but was sufficient. Also included in the kit was the installation guide, cables, power cord and window stickers.


Installation was fairly straight forward. A fairly handy do-it-yourself handyman can handle it. For a flush mount install, you will have to drill a hole for the wire. And the cameras are designed to mount flush with the building. Wherever you decide you want to monitor your cameras from, you will need to run wire from each camera to that room. The ethernet wires from each of the four cameras plug into the back of the NVR. There are also connections on the back to the NVR for the monitor, mouse, and power cord.

 
The hardest part of the install is drilling the hole for the wire for each camera, and running the wire through your building. If it seems too much for you, there’s always local professionals who can help with the install. Once it’s all installed and wired up, it’s time to power it on. And the remote control can help you control the system.


The setup is not too difficult. The included setup guide was fairly straight forward and simple enough to follow. And if you do have difficulties, there is a customer service number listed in the guide that you can call for tech support. Right clicking the mouse will get you a pop-up box with links to the different screens, for system setup, video playback, video backup, color adjust, PTZ control, manual record, volume, setup wizard and fast network.

I was extremely pleased with design of the system. It’s very simple with very little setup. Once the cameras were installed, wires connected to the back of the NVR, and it was turned on. The video from the 4 cameras was automatically loaded onto the screen. The video from the camera is also automatically started to record. You can also set the cameras to record based on time, motion, or sensor. The video playback screen was also simple to navigate, and lets you look through previously recorded video. There’s even a video back up feature, to back up video for authorities in case of an incident. And to make monitoring simple, there’s also a cool app where you can monitor your cameras from your phone.


 
The video quality was also very good. The design of the cameras made for easy adjustment so you can get the right angle that you need. And the resolution was good. You definitely need good resolution. Think about what you are doing – you want a security system for your property in case of an incident. If something were to happen, you need to be able to see what is going on and who is involved. You don’t want to skimp on the quality of cameras.

The cameras in the Spyclops kits are of excellent quality. The optics gave a good quality image with good resolution to see the details of the image on screen. I was impressed at how much light they picked up.  Looking out my window at dusk….it was pretty dark out.  But looking at the live video feed, outside looked like it was an hour earlier having much more daylight. The night vision also worked extremely well. So well, that I questioned it. I saw how bright the image was, with still good detail. I realized I had left the porch light on, and knew it was due to the extra light from the porch light. I went and turned off the porch light. The video feed looked exactly the same! The infrared night vision just worked very well!  And seeing the house across the street proved they had good distance as well.  Having 24/7 security monitoring is very comforting!


The Spyclops kit proved to be an excellent product! It was actually better than expected. The hardware quality was very well made, the software worked very well, as did the mobile app for the mobile monitoring. It really is a complete system. Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the Spyclops 4 Channel 2MP POE NVR Kit: SPY-NVR4POEKIT1 has earned our highly recommended award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.metrahometheater.com.

*Metra Home Theater Group providing the kit with no charge did not have an impact on the review.


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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Otterbox Defender Series LG V40 ThinQ Case Review


Smartphones are getting more and more expensive. And the displays are getting bigger and bigger. This makes the need for a protective case even more critical. While any case is better than none, they are not all created equal. If you want one of the best, you need to look at Otterbox. Up for review today is their Defender Series.

 Features and specs:

Raised edge for added screen protection

Multi-layer case with solid inner shell and resilient outer slipcover

Port covers block dirt, dust and lint from getting into jacks and ports

Polycarbonate shell

Synthetic rubber slipcover

 The Otterbox Defender Series comes in a clear plastic box with it’s specs ,and the ability to actually see the case inside. Opening the box revealed a well made case. Materials used is both a hard plastic, as well as a softer rubber cover, and foam. Quality of materials used as well as the fit and finish was excellent.


 I love the design of the Otterbox Defender. When I got the new LG V40 ThinQ, it was time for a case. Knowing of their quality of protection, I naturally looked to Otterbox. There is a hard, plastic skeleton with a built in foam pad that the smartphone sits on, to protect against impacts. The skeleton is two pieces, one on the front and one on the back, and they snap together. The soft outer shell slides into place.  I also love there belt loop case holder, that holds your case securely in place.
When it is all put together, there’s the soft rubber outer layer with hard plastic shell. The level of protection is excellent. I know the LG V40 ThinQ has some of the best protection available. Everything clicked into place and melded together perfectly. The MSRP is a little pricey at $59.95, but it is worth every penny. And the option of colors are Black or Bespoke Way blue.

If you are looking for some of the best protection available for your smartphone, the Otterbox Defender Series should be on your short list. Based on it’s design, features, quality and performance, the Otterbox Defender Series has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.otterbox.com.


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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Gourmia Digital Cut + Dry Compact Food Dehydrator Review

Almost everything available for purchase at all of our local grocery stores have some preservatives in it. It is just the way our society has developed and grown. We are big believers in instant gratification. When we want something, we want it now and we don’t want to have to wait. Preservatives are a natural progression of that process. But so many of us are now understanding that that might not be the best, or healthy at all for us. Many are now actively looking for ways to get the foods we crave in a healthier manner. One of the many processes we can use for this is dehydrating. Up for review today is the Gourmia Digital Cut + Dry Compact Food Dehydrator.


Features and specs:

HEALTHY & DELICIOUS: A more flavorful, preservative-free, and cost-friendly alternative to commercial products.

6 TRAYS: Simultaneously dry a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, or meats.

DIGITAL CONTROLS: LED touch interface allows for easy setting of time and temperature.

TRANSPARENT WINDOW: Designed with a clear door that allows you to monitor the dehydration progress

360° AIRFLOW CIRCULATION: Provides thorough, uniform drying without overheating, no rotation required.





The Dehydrator came in a color printed box, printed with pictures of the product and it’s specs and features. Opening the box revealed the product well protected. It was wrapped in a plastic bag and was held in place by a custom molded Styrofoam casing. Also included was the owner’s manual and a recipe booklet. Materials used in construction was mostly plastic with some metal. Quality of construction was very good, as was fit and finish. This was a very well built product with many years of possible use.

The design of the Dehydrator was wonderful. It is a large box that fits easily on a standard countertop. It came with six removable drying shelves and one plastic protective food sheet for use in more fragile foods, like fruit leather, for easier removal after dehydrating. It also has an easily removable drip pan to catch any spillage to make cleaning easy and effective. 

After we followed the instructions for cleaning the product before first using it, we tried to decide what we wanted to make first. As is our customary habit, we always follow directions to the letter the first time we attempt anything new, and then make changes according to our personal tastes and desires. As we dried bananas and apples, we discovered that, while the dehydrator did an excellent job, we prefer a crisper finish. The bananas and apples turned out chewier and tougher than we wanted, but I don’t think that was an issue, just a person taste preference. So we started to experiment. For my family, we prefer thinner slices and a longer drying time to achieve the level of crispiness we loved. As we experimented further, we found the most wonderful thing known to man, sweet potato chips. Only three ingredients; sweet potatoes, avocado oil and salt and totally satisfied the craving that fried potato chips raise in my soul! We didn’t find a single thing that this dehydrator couldn’t do with some experimentation for taste and texture.

This was an excellent product that we are sure would be an asset to any kitchen. While there’s not much we can do about the instant gratification side of things, a dehydrator takes many hours to finish a treat, but it is infinitely healthier and with just a bit of planning, we can have our chips, and eat them guiltfree.  Based on it’s design, features, quality, and performance, the Gourmia Digital Cut + Dry Compact Food Dehydrator has earned our Highly Recommended Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.gourmia.com.
*Sample product provided did not have an influence on the resulting review.


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Saturday, April 13, 2019

2019 Annual Headphone Shootout Part 2: Over The Ear Headphones Review


Now it’s time for part two of the Headphone Shootout: the over the ear models. They come from some great manufacturers: 1More, JBL, Master & Dynamic, Audio-Technica, and E-MU. They include some excellent designs. Some are corded, some wireless. And there’s even one with a multiple driver design; common for IEM’s but rare for over the ear models.  Most of us will be using our smartphones to listen to our music.  To provide a better sound, we used our LG V40 ThinQ as our source unit, which is designed for superior sound with it’s Hi-Fi 32-bit Quad DAC.

First up is the 1More Triple Driver. They feature a unique design for over the ear models. They actually incorporate a multiple driver design. It’s a rare design for over the ear models. Usually multiple driver designs are found in IEM’s. Here 1More uses two active drivers. One is for the highs, one is for the mids and lows, and there’s also a passive radiator. So while there are 3 drivers, only 2 are active. Price is also very competitive at $169.






Features and Specs:

Type: Over-Ear Headphone

Name: 1MORE Triple Driver Over-Ear Headphones

Color: Titanium

Weight: 293 g

Wire: Oxygen-free Copper

Cable Length: 1.35 m

Plug Type: 3.5 mm Gold Plated

Speaker Impedance: 32 Ω

Sensitivity: 104 dB

Frequency Response Range: 20-40,000 Hz

Maximum Power: 50 mW

Implementation of Standards: Q / WMSX 003-2016



The 1More came in a great looking color printed box, with photos and specs of the headphones. Opening the box revealed a well protected product, held in a nice semi-hard zipper case. I was extremely impressed with the packaging, which looks like a significantly more expensive product! Materials used in the construction were actually mostly metal, with some plastic and foam. Quality of materials was good, as was the fit and finish. Also included was the owners manual, soft carry bag, and ¼” adapter. And I liked the fact that it has detachable cables.



Next up is the JBL Everest 7106A. These JBL headphones are a prime example of how products keep getting more and more advanced. Not only are they wireless headphones, they can also connect to other wireless headphones so you can share your music with friends. There’s even Google Assistant built-in that you can access with the built-in mic. MSRP is a very competitive $249.



Features and specs:

General Specifications:

Headphone cable length (ft): 3.93

Headphones jack type: 3.5 mm

Weight (oz): 9.35

Ear cushion material: PU Leather

Bluetooth version: 4.1

Headphone cable length (cm): 120.0

Audio Specifications:

Driver size (mm): 40.0

Number of drivers per ear: 1.0

Driver sensitivity at 1kHz/1mW (dB): 96dB

Impedance (ohms): 32.0

Control and Connection Specifications:

Bluetooth profiles: HFP v1.7, HSP v1.2, A2DP v1.3, AVRCP v1.6

Bluetooth transmitter power: 4 dbm

Bluetooth frequency: 2.402GHz - 2.48GHz

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

Dynamic frequency response range (Hz): 10Hz – 22kHz

Battery Type: Polymer Li-ion Battery (3.7V, 850mAh)

Charging time (hours from empty): 2

Speed Charging time (hours): 2.0

Talk time (hours): up to 25



The JBL Everest 7106A came in a great looking color printed box with photos and specs of the headphones. Opening the box revealed a well protected product held in a semi hard zipper case. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some metal. Quality of materials used were very good, as was the fit and finish. Also included was the manual, charging cable and audio cable.




 


Up next is the Master & Dynamic MW60. They are a premium wireless headphone, with only the best materials used in the construction. And something that is getting rare, is they are actually hand assembled. MSRP is a fair $449 for what you get.



Features and specs:

Dimensions: 200mm x 185mm x 50mm

Drivers: 45mm Neodymium

Impedance: 32 ohms

Weight: 345g

Materials: Premium grain leather, lambskin leather, stainless steel, aluminum

Cable: Detachable 1.25m Standard Cable

Micro USB Input Cord

Headphone Connection: 3.5mm Passive Audio input micro USB charging/firmware update input

Ear Coupling: Circum-aural / Over-Ear

Microphone Type: Omni-directional

Machined Aluminum Antenna

Ear Pads: Detachable lambskin memory foam

Bluetooth Profile: Bluetooth 4.1 with Aptx™ high quality audio




The Master & Dynamic came in a great 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 foam. Materials used in the construction was mostly anodized or PVD coated aluminum and stainless steel, with some leather, and memory foam. I actually did not see any plastic used in the construction. Premium cowhide are used on the exterior side of the headband and earcups, with soft lambskin on the underside of the headband and ear pads. Quality of the materials used was excellent as is the fit and finish. They are a very well mode and durable product! Also included was a cloth zipper carry case, manual, changing cable, audio cable, and ¼” adapter.



Now it’s time for the Audio-Technica ATH-SR9. They are a premium over the ear headphone designed for Hi-Res Audio. They are designed from the ground up for Hi-Res Audio, employing 45mm True Motion drivers. The cables we dual sided with A2DC connectors. With a built-in mic and controls on the cable, they are also designed to be used with your smartphone. MSRP is at $449.


Features and Specs:

Exclusive 45 mm True Motion Drivers, each featuring a bobbin-wound OFC-7N voice coil and diaphragm with DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating, provide extremely accurate audio reproduction with extended high frequencies

Midpoint Mount Technology provides a uniform space in front of and behind the diaphragm to ensure the full performance of the driver inside the limited space of the housing

Acoustic resistor controls airflow inside the diaphragm housing to yield a natural sound

High-rigidity aluminum housings reduce unwanted resonance

Includes two 1.2 m (3.9') detachable cables (one standard, one with mic & controls) with A2DC (Audio Designed Detachable Coaxial) connectors

Ultra-comfortable, soft foam earpads and headband

Fold-flat, swivel design and hard carrying case for easy portability

Type: Dynamic

Driver Diameter: 45 mm

Voice Coil: OFC-7N

Frequency Response: 5 – 45,000 Hz

Maximum Input Power: 1,500 mW

Sensitivity: 97 dB/mW

Impedance: 47 ohms

Weight: 270 g (9.5 oz.), without cable

Cable: Detachable 1.2 m (3.9') standard cable with A2DC connectors, detachable 1.2 m (3.9') cable with A2DC connectors and in-line control and microphone

Connector: 3.5 mm gold-plated stereo mini-plug, L-shaped

Accessories Included: Hard carrying case

Type (Microphone): Condenser

Sensitivity (Microphone): -40 dB (1V/Pa at 1 kHz)

Frequency Response (Microphone): 50 – 4,000 Hz

Polar Pattern (Microphone): Omnidirectional

 
The Audio-Technica ATH-SR9 came in a great looking color printed box with photos and specs of the headphones. Opening the box I found a well protected product held by a semi-hard zipper case. Materials used in the construction was metal and plastic, and memory foam for the soft headband and earcups. Quality of materials used was very good, as was the fit and finish. Also included was the manual and two sets of cables, one standard and one with mic and music controls, and a ¼” adaptor.



Last but not least is the E-MU Teak. This is a model from their wood series. They are Audiophile reference headphones with an eye for craftsmanship, as can be seen with the teak wood earcups. The polished teak wood is absolutely gorgeous. They are a premium headphone and it shows. MSRP is $999.



Features and specs:

Weight: 370 g (Without Cable)

Color: Brown

Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 45 kHz

Cable Length: 3 m

Cable Style: 7N Oxygen-Free Copper, wrapped in nylon braiding with gold-plated connectors, detachable

Driver: 50 mm (1.97 inches) Neodymium magnet with Bio-Cellulose Diaphragm

Wearing Style: On-ear


The E-MU Teak came in a black box. Opening the box revealed a headphone held in place by cardboard and protected by being held in a custom bubble wrapped bag. Materials used in the construction were metal and wood, with soft leather and memory foam. There was no plastic used. Quality of materials used was excellent as was the fit and finish. The large polished teak wood is gorgeous! The cord was also very high quality covered in braided cloth. We must have been provided a previous generation, as per their website the cable is detachable, but the model we were provided did not have a detachable cable.



Now it’s time to hear how they sound. We tried to use a variety of genres, and we wanted to include songs that would be a good test of sound of vocals, piano and other instruments, to test the resolution and sound quality. We’ll start with 1More triple Driver and work up the models according to MSRP, and end with the E-MU Teak, seeing the sound we get as we move up in price. As with March Madness, there are times when we have surprises and a team performs above their seeding. And sometimes we get a surprise when a model performs above it’s price point. Let’s see how they sound.



1More

Disturbed: Sound and Silence –Piano sounded natural, vocals had good texture and timbre. Guitar was crisp and clean. Violin was smooth. Soundstage was surprisingly big. Tympani had decent impact, depth and low end extension.      Adele: Rolling In the Deep – Vocals were smooth with good texture. Guitar was crisp and clean with good resolution of the strings. Kick drum had good impact, depth and played with authority. Piano sounded very natural. Junior Wells: Why are People Like That –Vocals were very smooth with good texture and timbre. Bass had very good depth and played with a ton of authority. Drums were very dynamic, piano sounded very natural. Cymbals were crisp. Harmonica was dynamic and very smooth. Soundstage was very large and imaging was very good. Liquid Soul: Spam Sucker –Bass is tight, has good punch, and authority. Trumpets are crisp and clean, dynamic. Drums have very good resolution of the pad. Sax has very good texture. Cymbals are crisp and clean.



JBL

Disturbed: Sound and Silence –Piano sounded very natural, vocals had very good texture and timbre. Guitar was nice and crisp with good resolution. Violins were smooth with nice low level harmonics. Tympani had good impact and low end extension. Sound stage was pleasantly big, and imaging was good. Adele: Rolling In the Deep –Vocals were smooth with very good texture and resolution. Guitar was very crisp and clean with very good resolution of the strings. Kick drum had very good impact and authority. Cymbals and high had were very crisp and clean. Piano sounded very natural bass had great low end extension and played with a ton of authority. Soundstage was big and imaging was good. Junior Wells: Why are People Like That –Vocals were very smooth with very good texture and timbre. Bass had very good low end extension and a ton of authority. Drums were dynamic, great impact, cymbals were very crisp and clean. Piano sounded very natural. Harmonica was smooth, dynamic with very good harmonics. Soundstage was very big with very good imaging. Liquid Soul: Spam Sucker –Bass is tight, with really good low end extension, and good punch. Trumpets are smooth and really dynamic. Drums have very good dynamics and resolution of the pad. Sax has very good texture. Cymbals are really crisp and clean.



Master & Dynamic

Disturbed: Sound and Silence –Piano sounded very natural. Vocals had very good texture and timbre and very smooth. Guitar was crisp and clean with good resolution. Violins were smooth with good harmonics. Tympani had good impact with great low end extension and played with good authority but was a tad muddy. Soundstage was pleasantly large with good imaging. Adele: Rolling In the Deep –Guitar had good resolution of the strings. Vocals were smooth and had very good texture and resolution, kick drum had very good definition, impact and played with authority. Cymbals and high hat were very crisp and clean. Piano sounded natural. Bass had very good low end extension and played with a lot of authority. Soundstage was big and imaging was also good. Junior Wells: Why are People Like That –Vocals were extremely smooth with very good resolution of the texture and timbre. Bass had very good definition, low end extension and played with a ton of authority. Drums were very dynamic with very good impact and authority. Cymbals were crisp and clean. Harmonica was silky smooth, dynamic, and nice harmonics. Piano sounded very natural, soundstage was large and imaging very good. Liquid Soul: Spam Sucker –Bass is really tight with excellent punch and authority. Trumpets are really crisp and dynamic and not too brassy. Drums have excellent dynamics and resolution of the pad. Sax has really good texture and harmonics, and good resolution for the tonguing technique.



Audio-Technica

Disturbed: Sound and Silence –Piano sounded very natural, vocals had excellent texture and timbre with excellent resolution. Guitar had excelled resolution and was extremely crisp and clean. Violin was very smooth with excellent harmonics. Tympani had very good impact, low end extension, and authority. Soundstage was very big and imaging was also very good. Adele: Rolling In the Deep –Guitar had excellent resolution of the strings. Vocals were very smooth with excellent resolution of the texture and timbre. Cymbals and high hat were extremely crisp and clean. Kick drum had very good impact and definition and played with authority. Piano sounded very natural. Bass had very good low end extension and played with a ton of authority. Soundstage was big and imaging was spot on. Junior Wells: Why are People Like That – Vocals were extremely smooth with excellent resolution of the texture and timbre. Bass played deep, tons of authority and definition. Drums were dynamic with very good impact. Cymbals were really crisp and clean. Harmonica was smooth like honey with excellent dynamics and harmonics. Piano sounded really natural. Soundstage was huge and imaging was spot on.  Liquid Soul: Spam Sucker –Bass had good low end extension, was tight and played with good authority. Trumpets were really dynamic and smooth without being too brassy. Drums had excellent dynamics, impact and resolution of the pad. Sax had excellent texture, harmonics, and great resolution for the tonguing technique, and woodiness of the reed. Soundstage was quite large.



E-MU Teak

Disturbed: Sound and Silence –Piano was extremely clean, vocals were extremely smooth with excellent resolution of the texture and timbre. Guitar had excellent resolution and extremely crisp and clean. Vocals were smooth as honey. Tympani had very good impact with great impact, authority and definition of the pad. Soundstage was huge and borderline holographic with spot on imaging.  Adele: Rolling In the Deep –Guitar had excellent resolution of the strings. Vocals were silky smooth with excellent resolution of the texture and timbre. Kick drum had excellent impact and definition of the head, with authority. Cymbals and high hat were extremely crisp and clean. Piano sounded extremely natural. Bass had excellent low end extension and ton of authority. Soundstage was huge and imaging was spot on.  Junior Wells: Why are People Like That –Vocals were smooth like honey, had excellent resolution of the texture and timbre, drums had excellent dynamics, impact and authority. Cymbals were extremely crisp and clean. Piano sounded extremely natural. Bass had excellent low end extension and played with a ton of authority. Harmonica was silky smooth, had excellent harmonics and dynamics. Soundstage was huge and imaging was on a dime.  Liquid Soul: Spam Sucker –Bass had excellent low end extension, punch and played with a lot of authority. Trumpets were extremely smooth, dynamic, and not too brassy. Drums were extremely dynamic with excellent resolution of the pad. Cymbals were also crisp and clean. Sax had excellent texture and resolution for the tonguing technique, and woodiness of the red. Soundstage was really big and imaging spot on.

There ended up not being very many surprises in this part of our annual headphone shootout. They all performed up to their price points. I was a little surprised at the 1More Triple Driver. They appeared to be aggressively priced for employing multiple drivers. Using multiple drivers however did not provide quite as much detail as I was expecting.  But they still sounded extremely good for their price point, and would give headphones twice their price a run for the money. They provided a sound signature that was just a tad on the warm side.



The JBL’s performed very well for their price point as far as the sound goes. They were more neutral in sound signature. Highs were crisp and clean, vocals were smooth and had great resolution of the texture. And the bass had good depth and good authority. They did not quite sound as good as the 1More, but you have to remember that there was a lot of cost in the wireless features. After all, not all of the cost went into the drivers. And add in the extra feature of Google Assistant, and you get a great bang for your buck!



Master & Dynamics MW60’s also provided a more neutral sound signature. Highs were crisp and clean with very good resolution. Vocals were very smooth with very good texture and timbre. Bass also had very good impact, detail and output. For the extra money, you do get a bit better resolution, and an excellent build quality of all metal and leather that should last for years.



The Audio-Technica’s while not built like a tank like the Master & Dynamics are. Instead the money is put in the technology. Their True Motion Drivers provide an excellent amount or resolution. The sound is taken to a new level. The highs were crisp and clean, vocals smooth like honey with excellent texture, and bass had very good low end extension and output. Resolution and detail was excellent, and the soundstage really opened up, with imaging that was spot on.

 
Last but not least, the E-MU Teak took the sound to an even higher level! Not only is the polished teak wood gorgeous to look at, the aural feast they provide will also leave a permanent smile on your face. And the soundstage they threw was borderline holographic! Unfortunately, they’re not in everyone’s budget based on their price point. But as Ferris Bueller once said…If you have the means, I highly recommend it!



In conclusion, all of these models give a good value for their price point. And the build quality of all of them is good enough to provide a long life, some longer than others. Based on their design, features, quality and performance, the 1More Triple Driver and the JBL Everest 710GA has earned our Recommended Award, the Master & Dynamic MW60 and Audio-Technica ATH-SR9 have earned our Highly Recommended Award and the E-MU Teak has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at: www.1more.com, www.audio-technica.com, www.sg.creative.com, www.jbl.com, www.masterdynamic.com.





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