The USA-based firm Audeze (loosely pronounced like “odyssey”) is drawing worldwide acclaim for its superb open-back model LCD-2 and LCD-3 planar magnetic headphones. But astute product marketers at Audeze have realized that, good though their current offering are, Audeze ‘phones often get overlooked for studio applications precisely because they are open-back designs (open back ‘phones tend to allow a high degree of “bleed through” of external noise, which is extremely undesirable for studio work). Accordingly, company founder Alexander Rosson and his team have been hard at work to create closed-back versions of the LCD-2 and LCD-3, which were shown as rough-cut, proof-of-concept prototypes at RMAF.
Voicing for the closed back ‘phones struck me as being similar, but not identical, to the open-back version, though the closed-back samples did do an admirable job of blocking out noise. I can’t help but speculate that is more studios used headphones this good we’d all wind up with better sounding recordings. Neither pricing nor release dates for the closed back models was available at RMAF, but a company spokesperson said the intent was for pricing to be similar to the current LCD-2 and LCD-3 models ($995 and $1945, respectively).
The German firm Beyerdynamic rolled out three new models for Can-Jam, each with a quite different persona. First up was the firm’s new Custom One Pro headphone ($199), which is a closed-back, easy-to-drive (16 Ohm), full-size headphone based on the design of the firm’s popular but more costly DT770 model. Interesting design details include removable signal cables (always a good idea in our book), customizable side panels and trim for a user personalized appearance, and—most importantly—distinctive “Sound Slider” controls on the bottom of each ear cup that give end users a good measure of control over the headphone’s voicing. Accordingly, the marketing slogan for this model is, “Custom Look, Custom Sound.”
For purists on a budget, Beyerdynamic offers the T90 headphone ($649)—the newest model in the firm’s Tesla-series product family. The T90 is relatively easy-to-drive, 250 Ohm, open-back headphone fitted with micro-velour ear cup and headband pads, and sporting Beyerdynamic’s typically overbuilt “Tesla-style” drive units. Many headphone aficionados regard Beyerdynamic’s flagship T1 Tesla very highly, but some would-be T1 owners find the T1’s $1399 price to be prohibitive. The T90 is meant specifically for those seeking the impressive Tesla sound, but at a much more manageable price level.
Last but not least comes Beyerdynamic’s affordable little DTX 501 ($99)—a fold-flat, on-ear travel headphone that is offered in black or white finishes.
Our online sister publication Playback recently reviewed the terrific new Soloist headphone amplifier/stereo preamp ($999) from the Australian firm Burson Audio, concluding that the Soloist offers “refined sound,” plenty of power, “superior versatility, and exceptional build quality.” For RMAF, Burson combined the Soloist with a very high quality, high resolution DAC to create an even more ambitious product: namely, the Conductor headphone amplifier/preamp/DAC ($1850).
Also new from Burson was the Timekeeper Monoblock Power Amp (75 Wpc), priced at $2200/pair. The big news with the Timekeeper is not massive power output (obviously the Timekeepers are not wattage blockbusters by American standards), but rather sound quality, pure and simple.