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Bowers & Wilkins P3 headphones get red makeover

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b-2-p3-top.jpgBowers & Wilkins' top-notch P3 headphones get a makeover today, with the over-ear cans now finally being released in a red colour.

Drip feeding different shades since their launch, the new colour joins the existing line up of white, blue and black versions of the P3.

The foldable headphones make use of repositioned terminals in the driver unit that "make sure airflow around the drive units is uniform, resulting in a more linear movement," while introducing a "unique damping system that provides the optimum balance of stiffness and flexibility."
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Made from aluminium and rubber, the durable headphones are also protected by a hard-shell carry case, thrown in as part of the package.

Though designed for iPhone, the P3 comes with two cables supporting both the Cupertino smartphone company's devices and one for other generic MP3 players.

Touching down in stores from October, you can pick up the new-look headphones for £169.99.

sony-3-in-1.jpgOne music device to rule them all? That's the plan with Sony's new WH Series Walkman, managing a trio of functions from a single device.

First up, as its shape suggests, it's a pair of headphones. It makes use of a 40mm dome driver unit with a 5-25,000Hz range, with a selection of sound modes to push bass frequencies of increase the clarity of vocals among others.
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Secondly, and true to the Walkman name, it's an MP3 player, with the NWZ-WH505 model packed with 16GB of storage and its own power supply to let you play tunes directly from the headphones without needing to be tethered to a standalone MP3 player or mobile device. You'll get up to 20 hours of battery life from a single charge, while just three minutes of charging will give you a whole hour's worth of playback. A cable for hooking up to your mobile device is or course also supplied.

Last of all, the WH Series also acts as a loudspeaker, letting you broadcast your tunes to all around you. Not sure yet how you activate this feature - hopefully there's a failsafe to prevent you from switching to loudspeaker mode while you're still wearing the WH Series as headphones!

A variant model is also on the way and will likely be cheaper, with the NWZ-WH303 version offering 4GB of storage, a 30mm driver, and a 30-20,000Hz sensitivity range. This version will be available in white and black, where the WH505 comes only in black.

No pricing or availability has been announced yet, but we'll pass on the details as soon as we have them.

mad-catz-tritton-kunnai-top.jpgThe Tritton Kunai PC and Mac gaming headset from Mad Catz begins shipping today, after a well-recieved first outing at E3 back in June.

An affordable stereo headset available in black, white and red glossy colours, it makes use of 40mm Neodymium speakers and an in-line remote for easy access to volume and chat controls.

mad-catz-tritton-kunai.jpg"Our TRITTON Kunai range proved popular at E3 thanks to its clean aesthetics and impressive audio," said Darren Richardson, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mad Catz Interactive.

"We are confident that passionate PC and Mac gamers will appreciate the performance and value synonymous with the brand."

Priced at £49.99, it's a good value headset, providing you're not after pseudo-surround sound bells and whistles.

Pick it up here.

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NewBeatsStudio 2.jpegBeats by Dre, the headphone line of choice for back-of-the-bus teens, are launching a new model this week, the updated Beats Studio edition.

"Precisely tuned with new custom digital software called the Beats Acoustic Engine (BAE)" according to the release, the sound experience is said to have been completely redesigned for this new model which (hopefully) should mean a more balanced sound than the bass-heavy cans of Beats gone by.

Featuring adaptive noise cancellation paired with an improved ergonomic design, the latest Beats over-ear headphones should offer the most comfortable fit from the brand yet, with a 20-hour rechargeable battery providing almost a full day's worth of external-noise-cancelled tunes.
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"Music is my first love," said Dr. Dre. "It's how artists and producers communicate with their fans, but if the sound isn't right then the emotion isn't right and the meaning gets lost in translation."

"With the original Studio headphone we set out to prove that people all around the world care enough about sound to invest in it - and we did," said Jimmy Iovine, Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman.

"Now we are taking it a step further. The new Studio is tuned with balance, accuracy and emotion, has a breath-taking design and truly innovative technology. This is the sound of the future."

A pair of the new Beats Studio headphones will set you back £269.95. The first 30 pairs to hit UK stores will be exclusively sold at Selfridges, Oxford Street at 9.30am on Wednesday 14th August, before going on general sale in September.

MOMENTUM On-Ear blue_semiprofile.jpgreview-line.JPGName: Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear

Type: On-ear headphones

Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: £169.99

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Shrinking down their impressive Momentum over-ear headphones and adding a splash of colour, have Sennheiser done enough to claw back customers from the beastly brawn of the Beats brand? Read our full review to find out!

review-line.JPGSennheiser's headphones have never suffered in the style stakes before, offering elegant designs whether in-ear, on-ear or over. What they haven't offered much of in the past though is colour, traditionally sticking with chromes and blacks. If the success of the Beats brand is anything to go by, the more colourful your cans, the more recognisable they'll be too, and more likely to wrestle the pennies out of your pockets to boot. Sennheiser's latest, the Momentum On-Ear headphones, take this on board and offer a very slick look to go with their silky sounds.

Slightly shrinking down the earlier Momentum models which give this latest line their name, the Momentum On-Ear headphones have slightly smaller cups that rest on your ear rather than over them. The line is available in a range of tasteful colours - we tested out a navy blue pair, but you can also pick up pistachio green, coffee brown and cream, and pink versions, with a handful more expected in time for Christmas.MOMENTUM_ON_EAR_4colors.jpgThe colours and construction together add up to a very tasteful design. A stainless steel band (finished off with real leather at the top) pulls the two cups together, each finished with suede-like Alacantara padding - the same you'd expect to find in an oil baron's luxury yacht upholstering. If there's a weak link anywhere, it's the three-button remote's cabling, with a slightly rubbery texture causing the cable to tangle at times. Still, in a wise move, Sennheiser have made the cable replaceable, so if it does fall foul to a tangle you'll be able to replace it inexpensively without having to chuck out the headphones as a whole. Considering their leaning towards the pricier side of the consumer headphone market at £169.99, you'd hope for this flexibility, which Sennheiser have thankfully offered. All in, it's a good-looking package.

In terms of comfort, the adjustable headband (sliding smoothly rather than clicking into notched sizing positions) should fit all but the most bulbous of heads comfortably. The on-ear cups will never feel quite as comfortable as in or over-ear alternatives, but either way never pushed in with so much pressure as to prevent our many-hours-long listening sessions from being a joy.

That joy came mostly from the Momentum On-Ear headphones top-notch sound quality. Measured and clear, it's a much more satisfying sound produced than bass-heavy rivals like Beats.MOMENTUM On-Ear blue_front.jpgThat said, the Momentum On-Ears do sit comfortably towards the bass-y end of the spectrum, but with a warmth that's never over bearing. There's a kick to synth and electronic low-end sounds, while low-mid tones sound full and rich too. Trebles and mids were clear too, but can't quite match the brightness of an open-backed design.

Listening to a wide range of music, we'd say rock and electronic tunes are best suited to the Momentum On-Ear headphones, which didn't quite have the dynamism we'd like for classical recordings. Suede's Coming Up, mixing thick synth sounds and crunchy guitars sounded a treat, with good definition between tones in even the busiest moments of tracks like Trash. Chic's Good Times saw its classic bass-line rumble in beautifully, with the track's strings and key runs sitting nicely in the mix too. Daughter's If You Leave album was an enjoyable listen too, though the fragile moments were less well suited to the Momentum On-Ear's punchy bottom end.MOMENTUM On-Ear blue_side.jpgAnother point of note, the headphones offer little noise cancelling abilities. Sitting on rather than over the ear, it's easy for outside noise to seep into your listening session, which, when combined with the fact that they can't be folded up for storing in a bag, may not make these the most suitable headphones for commuters. Enjoyed in the comfort of your own home however, there's much to like here.

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Verdict:

A beautiful design and solid soundstage, the Momentum On Ears lose a point for the slightly-annoying cabling and lack of sound isolation. Those points aside, they're a worthy purchase, with audio chops to match their good looks. review-line.JPG

4/5

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sen-momentum.JPGLooking to take the battle for a place on your bonce to Beats, Sennheiser have revealed their latest Momentum headphones.

Aiming at a slightly older, more sophisticated market than the teen-orientated Beats headphones that sparked the current boom in fashion-conscious headphones, Sennheiser's Momentum on-ear headphones.

Lightweight and made from a mixture of stainless steel and luxury leather, the Momentum's come in four pastel shades, including lime green, pink, blue and a natty ivory / coffee combo.
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Costing £169.99 a pair, they don't come cheaply, but our brief hands-on time with the headset has so far proved positive. From the 'Alcantara' materials around the earcups (usually the reserve of luxury yacht upholstery) and a balanced sound that leans ever-so-slightly in favour of bass tones without ever losing Sennheiser's signature clarity, they've impressed so far.

We'll have a full review of the Sennheiser Momentum headphones up in Tech Digest shortly so check back soon for our full verdict.

Launching in mid-July, you can find out more about the headphones at Sennheiser's website.

From JBL comes a new J-Series A range of in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones complete with mic/remote control for compatibility with most smart phone devices.

Prices range from £39.99 (J22a) to £119.99 (J88a over ear).

The updated range includes:
JBL headphones.jpgJBL J55a on-ear and JBL J88a (Image left) over-ear
• The J55a features a premium 40mm driver
• The J88a features a powerful 50mm driver
• Feature JBL Pure Bass
• Feature flip-up ear cups - common on high-end DJ headphones - so users can tune into a conversation by simply pivoting an ear cup without having to turn off the music
• Feature "strain-relief" cable enhancements to ensure a long wearing life
• Available in black (white coming soon)
• Priced at £79.99 (J55a on-ear) and £119.99 (J88a over-ear)


JBL earphones.jpgJBL J22a (left) and JBL J33a in-ear
• Each set of headphones ships with three sizes of silicone sleeves - the J33a also includes Comply foam tips - to ensure a tight, comfortable, sealed fit
• Feature "strain-relief" cable enhancements to ensure a long wearing life
• Available in black (white coming soon)
• Priced at £39.99 (J22a) and £59.99 (J33a)



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Momentum_SE_Bowie_Bundle_04.jpgTo celebrate the V&A's unique 'David Bowie is' exhibition (23 March - 11 August), event partner and headphone specialist Sennheiser has created 500 pairs of 'MOMENTUM Special Edition' headphones.

These closed-back 'around-the-ear' headphones have been created for music lovers wanting a bold and elegant appearance, without compromising on sound quality.

Designed with style in mind they feature, soft, breathable leather ear cushions, a durable design for a custom fit and integrated smart remote making these perfect for use on the go.

The collectable headphone box set includes the V&A exhibition's 'David Bowie is' book, providing music fans with a real insight in to Bowie's creative work and inspiration.

Usually costing £259.99, this Bowie inspired package could be yours for nowt. All you have to do is tell us Which is your favourite David Bowie track and why? Either email your answer to shinymediacomps@gmail.com or leave your thoughts on our Facebook wall here

Closing date is Friday July 12. The winner will be chosen by the editor. Entries must be UK only. Full competition terms and conditions can be found here. 

You can get more information about the Sennhesier Special Edition Momentum headphones here.
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musical-fidelity-eb-50-1.JPGreview-line.JPG Name: Musical Fidelity EB-50

Type: Earphones

Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: £149.99

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Home audio specialist Musical Fidelity turn their attention to earphones with the EB-50 in-ear buds. Featuring an eye-catching design not usually seen with in-ear models, can their sound quality match their invention elsewhere? Read our full review to find out!

review-line.JPGGiven that earphones tend to be hidden away in your ears rather than over them for all to see, their design is usually not all that exciting, often amounting to little more than black plastic ovals to shove into the sides of your head. Musical Fidelity have taken a different approach with their EB-50 earphones. Made of aluminium, they feature a striking design that sees the left and right buds signified by blue and red highlights. Four colourful screws are embedded into the other edge of each, alongside similarly coloured bands along the shaft. Each bud is also finished with a pair of textured bands, giving them a premium feel. It's not easy to manage Beats-like branding with in-ear buds, but Musical Fidelity have made as eye-catching a pair of headphones as is tastefully possible.

A 1.2 metre cable runs off the buds, with a one-button mic controller for pausing and resuming track playback and answering calls about 10-inches down from the left earbud. There are no volume controls here, so you'll need to pull out your playback device to sort that out. musical-fidelity-eb-50-4.JPGA little way down the cable from the mic is an aluminium fastener, with the cable ending in a 3.5mm L-jack next to a cable tidy. Frustratingly, the cable has a rubbery finish that when combined with the extra weight of the aluminium fastener can cause the cabling to tangle often if that cable tidy isn't' used. The cable isn't detachable from the buds either, and given that these are at the pricier end of the in-ear market, you'll do well to look after them knowing that a damaged cable on the EB-50s can't be replaced.

The sturdy build of the buds themselves also leads them to sometimes work their way out of your ears. They're heavier than your average buds. However, Musical Fidelity offer a wide range of tips to swap out on the EB-50s, letting you find a comfortably snug fit. These tips also help accommodate some passive noise-isolation, letting you enjoy your tunes without the world seeping in to spoil them.musical-fidelity-eb-50-3.JPGIn fact, Musical Fidelity's extras thrown in here are among the most generous we've seen in a while. As well as both a hard carry case and a leather bag, they've also thrown in a 6.35mm jack, a headphone splitter, a lapel clip, optional hooks for to support the weight of the buds, a cleaning cloth (though we're not sure how dirty anyone ever really gets their earphones - the thought in fact makes us a little queasy) and ten additional sets of tips to suit all ear sizes. It's a very nice package.

Using 6mm balanced armature drivers, Musical Fidelity show their nuanced audio heritage by giving the EB-50s a balanced, warm tone. musical-fidelity-eb-50-2.JPGWith the mid-ranges the most dominant, the EB-50s aren't quite as detailed at the top-end as as some rival earphones, nor as overwrought at the bottom. As such they favour rock and acoustic music, where the mids and mid-lows often take precedence. We rocked along to Queens Of The Stoneage's latest album '...Like Clockwork" enjoyably, with the chunky guitar riffs hammering home satisfyingly. The shimmer of our electronic favourites Crystal Castles wasn't quite as pronounced as we'd have liked in the EB-50s, making them hard to recommend to dance music fans, but no genre felt so misrepresented as to be an uncomfortable listen through the buds.

Coated with anti-resonant materials, the EB-50s also cope well at high volume levels, never distorting even at painfully loud volumes.

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Verdict:

Musical Fidelity's first foray into the earphone space is a solid one, showing great promise for their new venture, particularly in terms of industrial design where they're already carving out a recognisable look for themselves. A little more treble in the mix would have been appreciated sonically, as well as detachable cabling, but overall it's a generous package that's worthy of your money. review-line.JPG

3.5/5

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boae-ae2w.pngIf you're juggling tunes from a smartphone and a tablet at the same time, and hate the faff of having to change Bluetooth pairings over from one to the other, take a look at the new AE2w headphones from Bose.

A little less pricey than the high-end brand are usually known for, the AE2w headphones use Bluetooth 2.1 to hook up to audio players wirelessly, but can also maintain a connection with two devices simultaneously thanks to multipoint technology.

With a built in microphone that can also communicate with IOS's Siri and Google voice search on Android, the headphone design features passive noise cancellation , though Bose stress that the cans "aren't specifically designed for this purpose".

A 3 hour charge offers 7 hours of playback from the AE2w headphones, with a good range count of 30 feet. As well as a USB charging cable and carry bag, the headphones also come with a standard audio cable if the headphones run out of juice for wired playback.

Finished in black, the AE2w headphones will touch down in stores from May 14, priced £199.95. If you're not too fussed about being tethered to a wired-only headset, there's also the Bose AE2 and AE2i headphones, available for £129.95 and £149.95, respectively.

Click here for more info.

Turtle-Beach-Ear-Force-XP510-2.JPGreview-line.JPG Name: Turtle Beach Ear Force XP510

Type: 5.1 wireless gaming headset

Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: £249.99

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Turtle Beach's new Ear Force XP510 is a beast of a gaming headset, boasting wireless connectivity, Dolby Digital Surround Sound and plenty of preset EQ settings. But does anyone need to rage through a Modern Warfare match in a £250 headset? Read on to find out!

review-line.JPGIf you're laying down a quarter of a grand on a gaming headset, you're going to want it to be able to do everything but wash the dishes for you. Turtle Beach realise this, and have put together what's possibly the most comprehensive feature set we've ever seen from a gaming headset in the Ear Force XP510.Turtle-Beach-Ear-Force-XP510-1.JPGNot counting an array of charging cables and a digital optical cable, the XP510 is comprised of four main components: the over-ear headset, an RF wireless transmitter, a detachable microphone and an XBA Bluetooth adapter that slots into the bottom of your Xbox 360 controller. Though billed as an Xbox 360 accessory primarily, the set will work with a PlayStation 3 too or Bluetooth-enabled PC. A cheaper version without the XBA adapter aimed at PS3 owners is also available.

There's a fair bit of kit here to set up but it's all pretty straightforward, with a choice of either RCA or digital optical audio connection on the back of the transmitter. A USB charging port on the bottom of the headset allows for rechargeable battery-powered dual-band wireless connectivity between it and the transmitter, and pairing the two is a simple matter of holding down the power button on each device for a few seconds. If you're using a PS3 you'll simply need to scroll through your Bluetooth settings menu to pair the headset with the console, but Xbox 360 players will also have to go through a short Bluetooth pairing process between the XBA adapter and the headset itself. Once paired with your device of choice, you won't have to worry about doing it again.Turtle-Beach-Ear-Force-XP510-3.JPGYou'll even be able to pair the headset with the base unit and a Bluetooth audio player (such as a smartphone or iPod) simultaneously, allowing all manner of combinations between answering calls, in-game chat, game audio and music playback through the headset.

The headset is a little weighty, but is well padded, making lengthy play sessions comfortable. The green and black colour scheme won't be to all tastes, but seeing as it's likely to be only used in the privacy of your gaming den, that shouldn't be too much of a concern. Having said that, its Bluetooth chops and on-board battery make it a viable set of Bluetooth headphones to go with your smartphone.Turtle-Beach-Ear-Force-XP510-4.JPGA gaming headset of this price should really enhance your game considerably to be worthwhile, and the XP510 doesn't disappoint. As well as offering virtual 5.1 surround sound (with a good soundstage giving the impression that audio events are occurring all around you), the XP510 comes equipped with all manner of pre-loaded EQ presets on board, which an be navigated with a press of a button found on the left ear can. These include everything from a setting that enhances the sound of enemy footsteps creeping up behind you to a setting that amplifies in game explosions for a more immersive experience. Ten presets are pre-loaded into the XP510, but Turtle Beach's keen community have made tons more that can be uploaded onto the headset using the supplied data cable. For the first time in a Turtle Beach headset, there are also settings optimised for movie and music playback.

Sound quality is superb, with no hiss or interference despite the wireless connection. Bass booms and the ricochet of trebly bullets pierce through appropriately. Dialogue in the mid range comes across clearly (especially noticeable when watching movies on the optimised preset) and the well balanced sound across the frequency ranges makes the XP510 not a bad pair of headphones for music playback either. The simulated 5.1 surround is also pulled off with aplomb - you're able to pinpoint movement happening all around your characters as a result.Turtle-Beach-Ear-Force-XP510-5.JPGWhich is why perhaps we weren't convinced by the "surround angles" feature, activated by a button press on the transmitter. It's supposed to elongate and widen the "rear" channels of the simulated surround sound, but we couldn't hear any discernible difference with it activated. Thankfully, the standard 5.1 offering onboard does a fine job of enveloping you in game sounds.

The detachable microphone, plugging into a rotating port on the left ear cup, sits on a durable bendy arm, and offers crystal-clear audio pick-up. Directionally tuned, it expertly dampens ambient noises, meaning other players will only ever hear your own dulcet tones through the mic.

That's if you wan't them to hear your own voice, of course: the XP510 offers a range of chat/mic presets too, accessed by another button on the left ear can. Though there's a range of game-aiding settings (like one that ramps up chat voices if in-game volume spikes) we had loads of fun winding up our friends with the voice-masking settings, changing our voice to make it sound Barry-White deep, Tweety-Pie high or into an alien, metallic sound. The high-pitched one is a sure-fire way to get opponents to rage-quit.Turtle-Beach-Ear-Force-XP510-6.JPGPerhaps the most useful of all the features of the XP510 is just how much control you have over all the separate audio volume sources. The left can offers separate volume dials for game volume and how much of your own voice you can hear in the headset from the mic, while the right has buttons for controlling the volume of connected Bluetooth devices (including incoming Xbox Live chat), while the transmitter base unit has a separate volume dial for line-in devices. Being able to fine tune them to your in-game needs is really useful - being able to quickly dial down mouthy teammates during a crucial co-op cutscene, for instance, can be a lifesaver.

Battery life is said to be good for between 10 and 15 hours depending on usage, and we'd say that's accurate - we're approaching a solid 12 hours with the headset so far, and haven't reached for the charging cable once, no mean feat considering all that's going on within the headset. Using the headset wirelessly, you'll be able to get between 15 and 20 feet away from the base unit before audio crackles to a halt.Turtle-Beach-Ear-Force-XP510-7.JPGShould you run out of battery, the headset can be hooked up directly to a device with a standard 3.5mm cable.

Our one major concern? £249.99 is a hell of a lot of money to be dropping on a gaming peripheral this late in the console cycle, with attentions now turning to next-gen machines. Now there's nothing to say that the XP510 won't work with any eventual Xbox 720 or PS4 console - indeed its optical cabling and Bluetooth connections are industry standards. But there's nothing to say too that the Bluetooth controller attachment will work with future Xbox controllers, for example. Of course, this unit is being sold as a current-gen accessory, so let us make it clear that these are not faults with the device. But considering it's very possible that your PS3 and Xbox 360 may be gathering dust in 6 months time, think long and hard before splashing the cash if you're planning on diving straight into the next-gen.

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Verdict:

Though it's expensive, it's hard to find fault with the XP510. Solidly built, offering superb sound quality and incredibly flexible when it comes to fine-tuning the headset to your personal needs, it's a superb addition to the pro-gamer's arsenal. review-line.JPG

4.5/5

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REVIEW: Onkyo ES-HF300 over-ear headphones

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Onkyo-ES-HF300-review-2.JPGreview-line.JPG Name: Onkyo ES-HF300

Type: Over-ear headphones

Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: £179.99

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Home cinema champions Onkyo turn their attentions to the increasingly-competitive headphone market, launching the premium ES-HF300 over-ear cans. Do they live up to the brand's respected home cinema pedigree? Read our full review to find out!

review-line.JPGOnkyo have taken a tasteful, no-nonsense approach to the design of the ES-HF300 headphones. Available in black, white and purple finishes, we've been playing around with the seriously cool black model. A solid construction combining both aluminium around the cans and ABS plastic in the headband, they're satisfyingly chunky in the hand, but manage to stay a comfortable 240g in weight. Compared to the garish Beats headphones (which we'd say are Onkyo's biggest competition here), the ES-H300s feature discrete branding, with a small embossed Onkyo logo in the middle of the recessed outer side of each cup.

Each ear cup rotates so that the headphones can be more easily packed away into the supplied soft travel bag, though they wont lie completely flat, due to the width of the headband. Though the headband can be adjusted to fit different head sizes, it doesn't fold, meaning you'll have to take care not to snap them when in transit, though they do look sturdy enough to take a fair old beating.
Onkyo-ES-HF300-review-1.JPGBoth the headband and ear cups are generously padded, each with a leather covering, adding to the premium feel. The headband grip is a snug fit, so you shouldn't be in any fear of them slipping off your head, but that also means your ears will get a little toasty.

Into each can goes a detachable "audiophile" grade copper cable, which Onkyo promise offers the best possible sound quality. Ending in a 3.5mm L-tipped jack on one end and splitting into two separate chrome finished MMCX micro coaxial connectors that snap into each can, the cable itself is a silvery white colour, with a slightly rubbery feel. They thankfully don't get into too much of a tangle, though do tend to bounce about a bit and sit at unusual angles rather than hanging or laying flat. Onkyo-ES-HF300-review-4.JPGSadly, the cable doesn't offer an in-line remote, meaning you're going to have to pull out your music player of choice if you want to adjust volume or skip tracks. Onkyo promise that versions with a remote will be available later this year. It's worth noting that the audiophile-grade cable is the only discernible difference between the high-end Onkyo ES-HF300 headphones and the company's cheaper ES-FC300 headphones. Seeing as the cabling is detachable on both, and Onkyo offer the audiophile cable as an optional upgrade for ES-FC300 owners, it's worth considering the cheaper alternative and buying the more expensive cable if you find you really need it later on.

Onkyo have stuffed top-notch audio components into the ES-HF300s, including 40mm titanium drivers in the closed-back cans, and two bass chambers in each cup for rich low end with presence without overpowering the mid-and-hi ranges. It's a really lovely, balanced sound, warm without stifling high frequencies, and with detailed response across the board. Offering a 10Hz to 27kHz, they handle lossless audio as well as the best of the competition in this price bracket.Onkyo-ES-HF300-review-3.JPGWe threw every musical genre we could bring our ears to listen to at the ES-HF300s, and couldn't find a weak link anywhere. Phoenix's new Bankrupt! album, awash with synths and 80s bass hooks sounded suitably thick and punchy, with the ES-HF300s picking up detail from within the relatively-busy mix. Heavier fare, like Black Sabbath's War Pigs saw the bass and crunchy guitar sit complementarily alongside each other, with the hi-hit shimmering in the rear of the intro. Moving onto lighter sounds, the acoustic strings of Daughter's Youth were clear and well balanced, with the cans really shining as the movement of the first building synth and string sounds pan from left to right in the mix. The beautiful Claire De Lune by Debussy again showed off the warm tones of the headphones, but still allowing the treble some breathing room as the high tinkling keys run into the deeper bass keys.

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Verdict:

Onkyo's first foray into headphones is a great success. Sounding and looking beautiful, all that's missing from the package is an in-line remote for mobile playback control. A well balanced tuning, they'll compliment many different genres of music, and look cool while you listen. They're not cheap, and it may be worth giving the lower-end ES-FC300s a try if you're counting the pennies, but splurging the extra cash here won't leave you disappointed. review-line.JPG

4.5/5

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onkyo-ES-HF300-angled.jpgOnkyo have made their first steps into the headphone market, launching two over-ear and two in-ear models, as well as announcing a headphone partnership with Gibson guitars.

The top-end model from the brand most widely associated with AV and Hi-Fi gear is the ES-HF300. A closed-back, over-ear design with wide-range 40mm titanium drivers and a unique bass-sub chamber design for clean low frequencies, they come complete with a detachable oxygen-free audiophile grade copper cable with gold plated connectors. They'll set you back £179.99.

Next up are the over-ear ES-FC300. They're almost identical to the HF300 cans in terms of internal specifications, but swap out the audiophile cable for a simple detachable non-tangle one (though Onkyo will offer the audiophile HCMX-HF120 cable as a separate £49.99 upgrade for those interested). Available in black, white and violet shades (with red, white and violet cables respectively), the ES-FC300 headphones will cost £149.99. Again, the non-tangle HCMX-FC120 cables will be available to buy separately at £29.99 for those looking to match the headphones to an outfit.

Moving on to the in-ear models, both the £129.99 IE-HF300 and £99.99 IE-FC300 earphones offer 14.3mm dynamic transducers and a balanced sound. Again, the only thing separating the two is the cable used and again all cables are detachable, and the aforementioned cables for the over-ear headphones can be bought and used with the in-ear models.

The Onkyo-branded headphones will be available in stores by the end of the month. Versions with in-line mics will launch at some point in Q3.onkyo-gibson.jpgPerhaps most interesting of all though was Onkyo's announcement that they'd be extending their partnership with Gibson guitars to offer a range of Gibson-branded headphones. These look set to match the specifications of the ES-HF300, but will come in classic Gibson guitar finishes (Black Beauty, Gold Top and Vintage Cherry Burst), and come in a collectible package. These will launch with a Gibson-branded smartphone EQ app some time after July.

We'll have a full review of the Onkyo ES-HF300 headphones in the coming days, so check back soon for more.

bowers-wilkins-p3-blue-top.jpgBowers & Wilkins nifty P3 headphones get a fresh lick of paint, available now in a blue shade alongside the existing black and white sets.

Lauded for their foldaway design and sonic excellence, the blue P3s change little of what made their predecessors so great aside from the colour scheme.

Built from aluminium and durable rubber, each P3 pair come with a hard-shell carry case, and a choice a of cables; one with an inline remote/microphone attachment for iPhones, another that's a simple headphone cable for guaranteed compatibility with other smartphones or MP3 players.

The change then is purely an aesthetic one, and one that's seemingly largely in response to the monumental growth of the rival Monster headphone brand, whose very visible branding and red colour schemes have done well to win over the youth market.

In stores now, the blue Bowers & Wilkins P3 headphones are priced at £169.99, the same as the other shades in the range.

Sally-Sohn-new-head.jpgHow much would you be willing to pay for a pair of headphones? £50? A couple of hundred? How about £20,000?

Nope, didn't think you'd bite at that last price tag, but that's exactly how much you're going to need to grab yourself Monster's latest cans, the Monster Diamond Tears Sally Sohn Edition headphones.

A one-of-a-kind, one-off Harrods exclusive, Monster has teamed up with the Korean designer to create a luxury pair of their already-impressive Diamond Tears headphones.

Made from 18K gold and encrusted with 5.56 carats worth of black diamonds, it took more than 100 hours to hand craft the luxury headphones, hence this Harrods exclusive being the only pair in existence. If you've got a spare 20 grand lying around then you might want to act fast if you want to nab them.

If you prefer in-ear premium earphones, we were blown away by AKG's K003 buds back in October 2011. Compared to the Sally Sohn edition Diamond Tears' £20,000 price tag, the AKG earphones are basically pocket-money prices at £1,000 a pair.

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onkyo-headphones--es-hf300.jpgOnkyo are taking their extensive home cinema speaker knowledge and popping it straight into your ears at CES 2013, announcing the company's first sets of over-ear and in-ear headphones and earphones.

First up are the HS-HF300, which benefit from an audiophile-grade 6N oxygen-free copper cable, cased in clear elastomer, and with gold-plated connectors. The top end of the range, Onkyo have stated you'll get near-perfect conductivity and next to no noise.

Next on the list are the HS-FC300 model, with a flattened elastomer cable to prevent tangling, and will come in black, white and purple colours.

Each model uses a folding, closed-back design for easier portability and minimal sound leakage, employing 40mm titanium drivers. "Muscular bottom-end response" is delivered through sub-bass chambers, while each model's cabling is detachable, making for easy replacements should you damage the leads.

You're looking at $179 for the HF300 and $149 for the FC300 when the launch stateside before the Spring, but we've yet to hear word on UK pricing or release info.

If you prefer in-ear headphones, Onkyo will also be offering the IE-HF300 and IE-FC300 models. They again offer a choice between audiophile or tangle-free cabling, and use a 14.3mm dynamic transducer. They cost $129 and $99 respectively, with the same US release schedule.

Onkyo are also putting out an equaliser app for the new headphones, expected to land alongside the release of the new cans.

Click here for more news from CES 2013

turtle-beach-sierra-3.jpgreview-line.JPGName: Turtle Beach Call of Duty Black Ops II Ear Force Sierra Limited Edition Headset

Type: 5.1 surround sound programmable gaming headset for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: £279.99

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Looking to get an edge during your Black Ops II online matches? Turtle Beach's latest Call of Duty gaming headset range includes the Ear Force Sierra, designed to offer just that with its 5.1 surround sound delights. But can it improve your game enough to justify a price tag just a few pounds shy of £300? Read on to find out!

review-line.JPGWith Black Ops II's increased focus on competitive, professional gaming, totting up a high frag count is more important in this year's Call of Duty than ever before. Turtle Beach have been churning out top-notch gaming headsets for years, and have continued their partnership with Activision for a line of Black Ops II branded and optimised headsets.

The Ear Force Sierra model sits near the top of Turtle Beach's premium priced headset lines at £279.99, just below the £299.99 Tango model that adds wireless connectivity into the mix. Though convenient and tidier than the mass of cables that accompany the Sierra model, the Tango's wireless connectivity means that it runs the risk of suffering from interference and hiss, not to mention potentially unexpected, mid-game battery depletion, making the cheaper Sierra model actually the go-to Turtle Beach set for Black Ops pros.

A sturdy mix of plastics and leather, finished with orange highlights and featuring prominent Black Ops II branding on each can, the Sierra headset is as durable as it is comfortable. They'll endure knocks and being crammed into a rucksack, meaning they are perfect for taking to tournaments and sessions at pals' houses. Though a tighter fit than many over-ear headsets, the soft memory foam ear and headband padding keeps the Sierra comfortable during prolonged play sessions and lets air circulate, keeping them from becoming uncomfortably hot or sweaty. Each can is also closed-cup, meaning that very little sound will seep out and annoy those sitting around you, or in to disturb your game. The headset's mic sits on an adjustable arm, itself sturdy and dependable, and can be positioned to your liking with ease, staying firmly in place.turtle-beach-sierra-2.jpgThe headset connects up to a fully-programmable Digital Signal Processor (DSP), roughly the size of an average TV remote control, and then through another powered processing box that lets it hook up to Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles, as well as PCs and Macs. Turtle Beach provide all the necessary cabling to hook each machine up (including the Xbox 360 chat cable that goes into the 360's controller) as well as useful documentation to help you quickly get things up and running. The amount of cables attached can quickly become a little ridiculous (particularly with the 360), but set up itself is a painless affair.

The USB-powered DSP itself is a sight to behold. Complete with orange backlights and a chunky volume dial, it gives you control over all of the Sierra's more advanced options, including 9 programmable preset buttons, LED lights indicating the active surround sound channels and even a line-in port for hooking up an MP3 player if the in-game sounds aren't your thing. Having physical buttons to access the presets is great, as is the visual feedback, and a far more user-friendly set-up than having buttons built into the headset (previous Turtle Beach headsets required you to listen out for a series of beeps to help you identify which preset you had selected - hardly the most intuitive solution).

Pre-programmed presets built into the DSP range from subtle bass and treble boosts to intense game-changers like the "Footstep Focus" mode that drastically alters the game's sounds to isolate the noises of approaching enemies, which can prove useful during Search and Destroy and One in the Chamber Black Ops II rounds. It's debatable how much of an improvement to your performance this mode will offer (you'll still need Spiderman-like reflexes to react in time to the millisecond advantage the audio cue offers), but it's the best example of the undeniable audio range that the DSP can deliver.turtle-beach-sierra.jpgThe amount of fine-tuning to the game's audio that the DSP offers goes beyond the presets too. The DSP lets you dictate the precise placement of the simulated 5.1 channels in each headset, meaning that if you're used to having your surround channels at the side or the rear, you can tweak their positioning appropriately. It'll also intelligently boost or roll back chat levels to match particularly noisy or quiet in-game scenes.

The Sierra's audio quality all round is top-notch. Packing in 50mm diameter speakers with neodymium magnets for a frequency response of 20Hz - 20kHz, they deliver a dynamic sound that's just as boisterous as the game it's partnered with. Booming explosions rumble satisfyingly thanks to the superbly deep bass response, while the crack of gunfire pops through the mid and top ranges. It's hard to fault, though the simulated 5.1 movement is inevitably less defined than with a dedicated home cinema set up. In this sense, the headset is just as well suited to other games beyond the Call of Duty series. Skyrim's lush forests come alive with the headset on, while the roar of Forza supercar engines is ferocious through the Sierra. Though we weren't able to test it for ourselves, we've heard other journalists say that the "Footsteps Focus" preset works great in stealth titles like Hitman: Absolution too.

The microphone too delivers crystal clear audio to your squadmates, with noise-cancelling tech ensuring unwanted external sounds don't invade your game.

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The Ear Force Sierra headset is sonically great and is comfortable to wear for prolonged sessions. It provides an immersive sound that wipes the floor with what you'd get out of a flatscreen TV, and is only bested by a dedicated 5.1 home cinema set-up. Durable enough to endure being carted around to tournaments and mates' houses, it's surprisingly easy to use for a headset offering such complex functions. However, it's a negligible performance boost you'll gain while gaming when using it, and there are similar rival headsets that sound equally impressive that cost far less. A nice package that serves hardcore gamers best, think carefully and consider cheaper alternatives before committing the cash.review-line.JPG

4/5

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Name: Turtle Beach Ear Force PX3 wireless gaming headset for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC

Type: Over-ear wireless headset

Specs: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: £70

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A wireless, multi-platform gaming headset from Turtle Beach, the kings of online deathmatch smack-talk enablers, that doesn't break the bank? That's just what's on offer from the impressive Turtle Beach Ear Force PX3 headset. Read on for our full review!

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Turtle Beach is a brand that's increasingly becoming synonymous with high-quality gaming headsets, seen by many as the go-to brand if you're after a comfortable headset with detailed sound for in-game chat. Rivalled only by Astro Gaming headsets, they've also got a bit of a reputation for being pretty expensive. You get what you pay for, but upwards of £150 to better hear 16 year olds slag you off during a Modern Warfare match is a premium many still don't feel comfortable paying.

Enter then the Turtle Beach Ear Force PX3 headset. Aimed at the budget-conscious gamer, they offer many of the best top-tier features of their more expensive stablemates at a far more attractive price.

Hovering around the £70 mark these days, the Turtle Beach Ear Force PX3 headset offers top notch value. For starters, it's fully compatible with Xbox 360, PS3 and PC gaming set ups, meaning you can use this headset to chat in games no matter what console or platform you're using. Then there's the fact that they're wireless, with a built-in rechargeable battery that's good for a solid 10 hours worth of play. You'll struggle to find a similar feature set at anywhere near this price range.

Concessions of course have been made; in terms of looks, the mix of chunky black plastics on the PX3 over-ear headset can be described as functional at best, especially when compared to some of the luscious offerings higher up the Turtle Beach range or from rivals Astro Gaming. But they are supremely comfortable and fairly lightweight, with plenty of padding around the ears and an adjustable, equally-padded leather headband that offers a firm grip around your head without squeezing your brains out. You can wear these happily for hours without even realising they're on your head.px3-close-up-turtle-beach.pngThe microphone too isn't the prettiest by a long shot, with it's ribbed plastic covering, but again it gets the job done nicely. Sitting on the end of a lengthy arm, it can be rotated and bent in any direction you chose, meaning you can easily find an optimal placement for it when in-game. It's very clear when in use too, offering a detailed sound over the din of potential in-game chaos.

Along the side of the headset you'll find a volume dial for controlling the overall sound volume, as well as buttons for managing the output level of the microphone, a power button, the wireless pairing button and a button that cycles through the headset's built-in sound profiles, which we'll get onto in a little while.

Setting up the PX3 is fairly simple, no matter which gaming device you're using it with. However, the mess of cables the headset ships with would have you thinking otherwise, and maybe even raise an eyebrow to that whole wireless branding. It's not helped along by the lack of any instructional documentation in the box at all, but common sense makes it all relatively easy to figure out.

Along with the headset, you get a small box that acts as a wireless transmitter that plugs into your console or PC via a standard USB connection. Into this box also goes a microUSB charging cable which connects up to the headset, drawing juice from the console or PC until charged, or alternatively you can leave it plugged in for wired play free from the fear of running out of power. That charging cable is obscenely long too, meaning you can easily have it trail across the floor from a console to a living room couch, though it may get a bit messy and tangled around the more confined space of a computer desk.

Also in the box are cables to be used with the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles, including RCA cables with piggyback connectors. You'll need an A/V breakout adapter though if you plan on connecting with a HDMI connection. There's also a lead for hooking up the Xbox 360 controller to the gaming headset, an unavoidable convention of Microsoft's console. Once you've hooked up to your gaming platform of choice, it's simply a matter of sliding a switch across the transmitter to the corresponding games machine, hitting the pair button on the side of the headset and firing up your game.

There's also an auxiliary port on the transmitter, letting you hook up an MP3 player if you'd rather listen to your own tunes rather than in-game sounds. PX3beauty_01.jpgWith a 75-foot wireless range (barring of course too many doors or walls blocking the signal) you could use the headset to listen to music or chat online from any point around a modestly sized house.

Despite dropping premium 7.1 surround features in favour of stereo sound (a natural cost-cutting decision), the PX3 headset sounds superb. Bass is solid, trebles high without screeching into your ears, and the overall tone warm and listenable, making them just as well suited to music listening as gameplay sounds. The volume can go incredibly high too, but thanks to a circumaural design, very little sound seeps out, meaning those sitting near by need not be annoyed by your in-game gunfire or spell casting.

A ton of pre-programmed preset sound configurations are also built into the PX3 headset, and can be scrolled through by hitting a button on the side of the headset, and can be identified by a string of low and high notes that play as you press the button. Here the headset comes into its own and even offers a genuine competitive edge over your online gaming competitors; as well as standard mic-boosting or bass boosting settings, there are also ones that highlight incoming enemy footsteps or the sound of local reloads. They're great for upping your game in shooters, but there are also lovely presets for adding extra dynamism to speech-heavy adventure titles or driving games. Head over to the Turtle Beach website and there's a vibrant community making extra presets that you can download and add to the headset, and also the tools to make your own.

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Verdict:

The Turtle Beach Ear Force PX3 headset offers fantastic value for money. Working across all major gaming platforms, it'll be at the heart of your gaming experience for months to come. It may not look all that exciting, but its wireless features paired with superb sound and mic clarity, as well as those nifty presets, make it easily recommended, especially at its low price point.

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4/5
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Klipsch-ONE-BT.jpgKlipsch's Image ONE headphone line gets an update this week, adding Bluetooth connectivity to the on-ear model.

A slick black design with flat earpads, brushed aluminium highlights and an adjustable leather headband, the wireless version uses Bluetooth A2DP standards and the aptX codec to ensure high audio quality is maintained when playing back lossless music files.

Controls sit on the right ear cup, letting you handle playlists, volume and phone calls with oversized buttons.

A rechargeable battery offers up 10 hours of wireless playback, though you can still hook up a standard wired connection if you run out of juice, using a flat-tangle free connection.

Tunes are pumped to your ears via a single KG150 4cm full-range driver, offering a frequency response of 16hZ to 23kHz.

Available now direct from Klipsch, they'll set you back £129.99.

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Name: Logitech UE Ultimate Ears 4000 headphones

Type: On-ear headphones

Specs: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: £79.99

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Following their purchase of headphone specialists Ultimate Ears, Logitech are now putting that expertise into products. The Logitech Ultimate Ears 4000 are among the first to feature the co-branding, and we've got our hands on a pair to give them a whirl. Read on for our verdict!

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Headphones aren't just merely here to deliver tunes to our ears anymore. Oh no siree; they're a fashion statement too. You only have to take a passing glance at the popular Beats line or the mad Monster Diesel VEKTR headphones to see this.

Logitech and Ultimate Ears clearly realise this too, and it shows in the Ultimate Ears 4000, which manage to look stylish without being obnoxious. Available in all-black, black-and-magenta and black-and-white styles, we're particularly taken with the latter. With the on-ear cans white with a glossy black band, there are blue highlights across the speakers themselves, and small chrome-effect UE logos over each earpiece. Quite compact with a reasonably thin headband, they look like the sort of headphones a Star Wars Stormtrooper would wear, which is obviously great.

On the whole, they're a comfortable set of headphones. Lightweight and with just the right amount of squeeze, they'll sit on your head without any issues. Memory foam padding on the ear cups also helps the cans sit on (rather than over) your ears without too much discomfort, and without getting too hot, too. There isn't much headband padding, but the Ultimate Ears 4000 headphones are neither heavy enough nor uncomfortably tight enough for that to be a problem. What may be more of a concern is that the band isn't collapsable for folding when travelling; it's a sturdy band, but you'll have to package them carefully to totally ensure they won't snap when in transit.

There's also a headphone splitter thrown in the box too, and it also is nicely designed, with an angular design made of hardened black plastic, as well as a sizeable carry bag with the same blue/black/white colour scheme that zips up. It's a nice package, and one that feels worth more than the £79.99 asking price.

Adding a splash of colour is a neon blue cable, roughly 1.5 meters long that connects to the left can with a straight 3.5mm jack, and ends in a 90-degree 3.5mm jack. As it's detachable from the headphones, it may save some damage to the headphones should you manage to accidentally yank it or trip over it. The cable has a finish that will prevent it from tangling too much, and features a 3-button remote and mic a few inches down the cable, sitting at just below the neck for most people. It's a good size, with embossed buttons that are easy to find without looking. They'll work best when paired with Apple's iPod, iPhone and iPod products, and while the volume, playback and track-skipping controls won't work with all MP3 player or smartphone brands, the audio always will. The mic works as you'd expect, delivering clear audio, though the audio returned to our ears from a caller was a little more muffled than with other headphones we've tried.

Sonically, the Ultimate Ears 4000 headphones impress. Boasting 40mm driver units with a fairly standard frequency range of 20 Hz - 20 kHz, they offer a warm, rounded sound that seems tuned fairly neutrally. If there's a slight bias, we'd say it's towards mids and low frequencies, which will perhaps upset those looking for shimmering highs.

Bass-heavy dance tracks see the headphones performing at their best, with the sub-bass sounds present across Crystal Castles' second self-titled album particularly impressing. Dexy's Midnight Runners' Searching For The Young Soul Rebels album was delivered with warmth, with the brass and bass tones landing without any harshness, though again there's a lack of treble and space that you'd find with more expensive headphones. A bit of Bowie's Rebel Rebel saw the classic high-pitched riff cut through a little cleaner though, but things still feel a little enclosed, and the same can be said of Guns 'N' Roses classic Sweet Child O' Mine.

All in, across all genres, the Ultimate Ears 4000 sound great, especially for the price. They won't bother audiophile grade headphones, but they also land at a fraction of the cost. Throw in the nifty looks and accessories, and they're looking a real bargain.

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Verdict:

The Logitech Ultimate Ears 4000 headphones look superb, like some sort of sci-fi movie prop, without ever verging into outlandish territory. They also sound great considering their price and are comfortable to wear over long periods. While we'd have liked audio to sound a little more expansive (and with clearer highs), even the most aurally picky could do far, far worse than these. They definitely come recommended by Tech Digest.

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4/5
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