Quick Thoughts: Audio-Technica ATH-LS200

Editor’s Note: This overview of the Audio-Technica ATH-LS200 is based off multiple listening sessions at headphone stores and shows, without sustained personal time with the product. Thus, it should not be regarded as a full review — in fact, our entire ‘Thoughts‘ category of articles is not meant to house comprehensive reviews.

The Biz: Asahi-Kasei and ESSTech go to war over mobile superiority

There’s no question that, over the past three years, ESSTech has completely dominated the premium portable digital audio segment. The fab-less circuit design firm kicked things off in 2014 with the introduction of the now-ubiquitous ES9018-2M, a mobile-minded DAC chip designed as a two-channel die shrink of the venerated 8-channel ES9018S (itself the evolved production…

Between the Headband: FIIL’s Diva Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Editor’s Note: We’re starting a new category of articles here on CYMBACAVUM that covers headphones. Historically, there have been numerous websites that do a very good job of covering full-sized headphones, so we chose to cover — obsessively — in-ears and other aspects of the most portable arm of audio. But while we’ve always focused almost…

Op-Ed: Embrace the Jack-less revolution!

With the next generation Apple iPhone 7 set to be announced imminently, many people have bemoaned Apple’s decision (not 100% confirmed, but essentially a foregone conclusion, based on the substantial and numerous rumors) to remove the 3.5 mm analog jack from the phone. Not only have highly influential e-zines such as The Verge have come…

iFi Audio’s iUSB 3.0: Next Generation Power

Editor’s Note: We thank iFi Audio and the Evergeneral Trading Corporation for their immense patience and coordination. We held onto the review loaner unit of the iUSB 3.0 for way longer than we’d originally intended, and their patience is much appreciated!  We reviewed the original iUSBPower by iFi Audio about two years ago (review link) and…

The Biz: E-Earphone’s CIEM Store in Akihabara, Tokyo

Founded by an Osakan man with a full head of hair and a hope to spread the spirit of porta-fi to the masses, E-Earphone is one of Japan’s premier personal audio store chains, with storefronts in both Tokyo and Osaka metropolises. Its aisles upon aisles of headphones and earphones are famed to the enthusiast community,…

Quick Thoughts: Sony’s Hybrid Evolution, from A to Z

Editor’s Note: This thing was supposed to come out months and months ago; it somehow slipped through the cracks. Better late than never, though. Sony has been making a big push with its hybrid earphone models. Last year, they released the first generation of their hybrid series in the XBA-H1, XBA-H2, and XBA-H3.

Etymotic MK5: Isolator, Reborn.

If you’ve been in this portable audio hobby for any length of time, then you’re aware of Etymotic Research. The Ilinois company, founded by Dr. Mead Killion, is legendary. Its flagship ER4 models (of which there are three variants) are a true mainstay in any portable listener’s collection. It has been tested and verified both…

Quick Thoughts: Custom Art Music Two, Revisited

Editor’s Note: When shotgunshane reviewed the Music Two last March (read the review), he thought it was incredible value for money. A bit later, Mr. T also took the plunge, this time with removable cables. Mr. T considers Custom Art’s Piotr Granicki a personal friend and thus may be partial to the Polish company’s products,…

Ode to a Classic: Sony MDR-EX1000 — Dynamism, Defined.

Editor’s Note: This pithy post is  a prelude to impressions on the new Sony in-ear products flooding the Q4 2014 market (and bursting into 2015) in typical Sony fashion. But before extolling the future, we must pay homage to the past — one that may never return.

John Franks’ & Rob Watts’ baby, the Chord Hugo

It’s been a busy few weeks for me lately, but I managed to sneak a few hours away from work to attend a local presentation by CHORD Electronics’ head honcho John Franks and lead designer Rob Watts. By now, most people fixated on the high-end of portable audio have heard of the Hugo. When it…