Bass Boost CMoy Headphone Amp

Philips SHS3200/37 EarbudsPortable headphone amp with a bass boost feature

It’s in an Altoids box. That’s kind of cool. It uses a high-grade Texas Instruments chip. The gain gives a good even boost, and the bass boost feature really fills up the bottom end, delivering awesome presence.

There is a great deal of noise when the gain is not engaged. Same goes for the bass boost – when it’s not engaged, there is a little bit of noise. There is no volume control, either. That’s dependent solely on your audio device or an inline volume control.

For almost $40, not a bad deal at all! The bass boost feature is absolutely awesome. I’m a little disappointed there is no volume control, but I guess there’s only so much room in an Altoids box.

Curiously Strong Bass

For almost $40, not a bad deal at all! The bass boost feature is absolutely awesome. I’m a little disappointed there is no volume control, but I guess there’s only so much room in an Altoids box.

In a mini box where about 75 small, white, edible disks once sat, there is now headphone amp circuitry.  It’s cool, it’s creative… it’s a headphone amp encased in an Altoids box.  It has a few things missing, but makes up for it with two great features and quality components, relative to other Cmoys.

There is no volume control on the unit.  That’s determined by your sound source’s output (iPod, portable turntable, etc).  The maker’s explanation for a fixed gain is pretty practical: no potentiometer means less circuitry the signal has to pass through.  That’s combined with an ergonomic reason: when you access your sound source, your hands are already there and it should have a volume control… and how many do you really need?  So instead of a volume control on the amp, there is a gain control.  This gives a good, even boost to your headphones.  That’s more important when dealing with high-impedance headphones in the range of 150+ Ohms, but I’ve had it engaged all day, just for fun.

When the gain is not engaged, there is a small grounding problem.  I have the unit hooked up to the audio output of my PowerBook, and there is a hum in the AKG K701 headphones I’m using.  As soon as the unit is placed on my computer’s titanium shell and cuddled with my hand, the hum goes away.  It also goes away when the gain switch is flipped on.

The BassBoost feature alone is well worth buying the unit.  It gives such an incredibly clear and powerful lift on the lower end (14.1dB, almost three times bass loudness), adding more low frequency presence than any other headphone amp I’ve ever heard.  Big bass is a signature of my generation, and a design to emphasize this is perhaps best delegated to someone of my generation.

The designer of the BassBoost Cmoy is an engineering undergrad at the University of Missouri.  He set out to improve the general Cmoy design as well as to innovate the functions and features.  The result is a tweaked version of a regular Cmoy, employing the same TI opamp (OPA2227P) but with higher quality components and even custom-printed circuit boards for a professional look.

One non-audio improvement is a DC power jack.  Although it’s not included, recommendations are made to get your own for under $10.  The entire unit will run on a 9V battery, but when DC power is plugged in, the battery is politely bypassed.

Normally, I am not a huge fan of the AKG K701 headphones.  However, when they are met with a great amp and given a little pat on the behind (a.k.a. bass boost) they come alive.  Such is the case with the BassBoost Cmoy.  It delivers such incredible bass response that it’s actually hard for me to listen to anything else right after using the feature.  However, with lesser headphones like the AblePlanet Clear Harmony phones, the bass boost can muddy up the mix, especially at louder volumes.

Some people may not like the frequency spectrum being altered because it doesn’t accurately reflect the master recording.  However, that’s very subjective and depends on your personal preferences.  Some people hook up massive car audio systems with bass that can be heard two blocks away (including me) because that’s how they like to hear their music.  I’m happy this Cmoy has an option to adjust the bass.

So there it is.  Leave it to a young entrepreneur to take a great product and make it greater.

Technical Info

Price: $40

Philips HE591 Surround Sound Earbuds

Philips HE591 Surround Sound Earbuds

Forward sounding presentation that gives music some jump. Affordable. Soundstage depth and width are quite good, although the entire presentation could use some more warmth. Very good with folk, pop, and vocals.

Asymmetric cable is so annoying. The top end had some extra energy that might bother some. Weird surround effect that lets you hear the singer before he even opens his mouth. No extra flanges for those of us with asymmetic ear canals. Can't locate the inline volume controls anywhere..

If the asymmetric cable design were not so annoying, we would like these headphones a lot more as they are rather comfortable. The overall sound quality is quite good with neutrality across the board, but it really could use a splash of red.

Philips SHE591 Virtual Surround In-Ear Headphones: Where's the Beef?

Fairly comfortable in-ear virtual surround headphones that don't hurt the wallet or your ears.

Philips is a company whose headphones do not jump off the page and scream, “Buy me”. The manufacturer is best known for its video technology and the development of digital television systems and the compact disc. Its core business in the United States is in lifestyle related products, including health care technology. It may be the third largest consumer electronics company in the world, but headphones have never been its focus. That being said, Philips has been quite busy during the iPod-era and has expanded its headphone line-up to over 40 models, including the SHE591. They do face some rather stiff competition from Sony, JVC, Grado, Bose, and others, but Philips products seem to be selling rather well. Philips has a number of good (although not spectacular sounding) models such as the SHE591 that serve their purpose quite well; Easy to wear for extended periods of time, well-made, value priced, and easy to travel with.

Sonically, the SHE591 are a mixed bag. They were not very neutral across the entire frequency range. I would like to know what happened to the meat in the mid bass and the extreme bottom end. The drivers seem more than capable of pumping out the jams, but they seem reticent when asked to take the floor with demanding material. Do not be afraid, do your thing! Most frustrating when they were so easy to listen to for that long of a listening session. One thing that did stick out and not in a good way was an upper midrange that added too much emphasis to vocals. Robbie Williams is high enough, folks. He did not need any more emphasis. 50 Red Bulls a day. Yikes. The result is that the presentation is somewhat more forward sounding than some people might care for. If you like your music from row ‘a’, the Philips SHE591 might be your ticket to happiness.

My longest listening session with the SHE591 was more than seventy-five minutes at medium volume levels before I turned them off. The comfort level is above average, which makes them good for working out or commuting. The problem is the asymmetric cable design that makes no sense at all. Not to me, or anyone else in the office. Numerous Philips models seem to have this asymmetric cable design and we really do not care for it. We read the Philips packaging and while the explanation makes sense, the reality is that the left headphone pops out when your turn your head. Granted, a bald looking woman resembling Britney Spears walked past us when that happened and we all did a double take.

The SHE591 is my favorite model from Philips, primarily because it has a pulse and breathes some fire into the music I like. If it had some additional weight in the bass and lower midrange, it would be a great little headphone for a very affordable price. Not bad, but not quite there.

Technical Info

Brand: Philips
Model: HE591 Surround Sound Earbuds
Acoustic System: Open
Diaphragm: Mylar Dome
Magnet type: Neodymium
Voice coil: CCAW
Frequency response: 16 – 22,000 Hz
Impedance: 16 ohms
Maximum power input: 50 mW
Sensitivity: 106 db
Speaker diameter: 15 mm
Type: Dynamic
Price: $24.99

Sennheiser HD600 Headphones

Sennheiser HD600 Headphones

Reference sound quality that can’t be beat for the price. Sennheiser’s reference headphones have been surpassed by the new HD650s, but the HD600 remain a real bargain. Exceptional build quality.

Have been surpassed by the new HD650s. Slightly uncomfortable. Somewhat forward sounding.

A reference pair of headphones that offer a true taste of high-end audio at a very affordable price and can be improved with a third party cable.

Sennheiser HD600 headphones

The former reference is still better than what 95% of the planet is listening to and that's the truth, Ruth.

The Sennheiser HD600 headphones came onto the market about 10 years ago and set off a revolution, or at least fed one.

In a world of competing sounds, CDs, digitization of just about everything, except our analogue ears; in a world where speaker manufacturers continued to produce smaller and tinnier or larger and expensiver units; in a world where personal listening had been growing ever since the Sony Walkman arrived – in this world, people were primed, were sitting ducks, were ready for private listening to music that sounded better than it could on some $25000 speaker systems.

The Sennheiser HD600s came into the world to throw reviewers into paroxysms of joyful approval. The price, about $550 in Canada, seemed high at first. Until you clamped a pair on your head for a little demonstration.

Even as the price decreased with time and dealer specials, you could count on the sound. Its quality stayed constant.

Before the 600s, no one except those who could afford hugely expensive headsets had any idea of what good sound could come through ear cans.

My first experience listening to music with the HD600s stunned me. Music could sound this good?

Let me summarize without naming a lot of recordings that you may or may not recognize. Clear, detailed, musical, translucent, transparent, vibrant, in phase. And that was just through my Nakamichi RE-1 receiver’s headphone jack.

When I tried it with several different headphone amps the experience was even more intense. I also had a local hifi manufacturer construct an impedance matching box so that I could use the ‘phones with my Audiomat. Once again, stunning was an understatement.

There is one major difference between using the HD600s and a pair of good speakers. With the 600s, you hear bass notes down to a very low frequency – say, 20 Hz. Sennheiser says that these ‘phones reproduce frequencies from 12 to 39,000 Hz, both beyond my audibility range. But, you do not feel the sounds as you do when listening to music through speakers. With a good pair of speakers, you feel the sound at all frequencies, but most especially below 90 or so Hz. With the headphones, the experience is, pardon the expression, uncanny.

You hear with greater musical clarity than ever before the Liszt organ music that shook the window panes, the hip hop that vibrated your tie rack two floors away. But this sound  does not hit you in the gut. You cannot watch the speaker cone moving. There are no peculiar buzzing noises emanating from the cutlery drawer. Your coffee remains waveless.

But you hear as you never have before. To hear organ music or bass drums or bass viols as the music actually is, not as your room interprets it, is an amazing experience. That in and of itself is sufficient reason to buy these headphones.

I have not yet used the new HD650 headset from Sennheiser, but, if it actually improves on the 600s, it can only add to excellent. Sennheiser lists the new set at $599.95 USD and the HD600 for $449.95. Both are a good buy, because you know that, the moment you plug them into a headphone jack, you are going to experience a revelation.

Technical Info

Brand: Sennheiser
Model: HD-600
Impedance @ 1kHz: 300 ohms
Cord Length: 10 Feet
Detachable Cable: Yes
Cord Type: Straight Y
Coupler Size: Large
Ear Coupler Type: Full-Size
Driver Type: Dynamic
Acoustic Seal: Open
Connector Type: 1/8” with ¼” adaptor
Weight: 9.2 oz
Price: $319.00

Philips SHE 9500 In-Ear Headphones

Philips SHE 9500 In-Ear Headphones

Comfortable design that sits well in the ear and can worn for more than an hour. Not very expensive considering the sound quality and isolation from outside noise. Smooth, neutral sounding midrange and top end that won't have you turning down the volume when the actions gets hot.

The different cable lengths on each side is infuriating. Bass needs some added meat. Will not stir the soul with passion.

An inexpensive pair of in-ear headphones that do well in most categories, but don't expect them to shine with dance or hip-hop because the meaty bass response is not there. The cable design makes no sense and needs to be reworked.

Philips SHE9500 In-Ear Headphones: Dude, Where's my Ambilight?

Comfortable in-ear headphones that are very affordable and unlikely to hurt your ears.

Philips is a company whose headphones do not jump off the page and scream, “Buy me”. The manufacturer is best known for its video technology and the development of digital television systems and the compact disc. Its core business in the United States is in lifestyle related products, including health care technology. It may be the third largest consumer electronics company in the world, but headphones have never been its focus. That being said, Philips has been quite busy during the iPod-era and has expanded its headphone line-up to over 40 models, including the SHE9500. They do face some rather stiff competition from Sony, JVC, Grado, Bose, and others, but Philips products seem to be selling rather well. Philips has a number of good (although not spectacular sounding) models such as the SHE9500 that serve their purpose quite well; Easy to wear for extended periods of time, well-made, value priced, and easy to travel with.

Sonically, the SHE9500 are neutral across the entire frequency range making them great, as long as you do not crave passion in your sonic presentation. I know that sounds like a real dig at an otherwise decent product, but why cannot manufacturers pad the midrange just a tad on some of their models. Would it be so difficult? As someone who does not listen to MP3s at all, as I consider it a sin worse than bacon on Yom Kippur, you could probably argue that I am the last person to complain about such an issue because all of my music is in lossless formats and the headphones are only reproducing what I am feeding them.

Garbage in. Garbage out?

I fed the Philips the same audiophile-level recordings I use when reviewing $1,000 headphones, and $10,000 loudspeakers, so I will stand by more initial comment that they (and this is a general comment about many ear buds and cheaper headphones that I have tried of late) need some extra meat in the midrange to become better than average.

I could listen to the SHE9500 for about thirty minutes at medium volume levels before I wanted to turn the music off. They really do not commit any major sins, which is a plus. The comfort level is above average, which makes them good for working out or commuting. The problem is the asymmetric cable design that makes no sense at all. Not to me, or anyone else in the office. Try turning your head while sitting down with these, and the left headphone keeps popping out. Not a good design item to promote in my humble opinion.

Worthy of an audition, but I am still think you are better off spending an additional $30 on the Grado SR60s.

Technical Info

Brand: Philips
Model: SHE9500
Headphone Type: Binaural
Form: Ear bud
Cable length: 48 inches
Sensitivity: 102 dB
Impedance: 16 Ohms
Magnet: Neodymium
Price: $35.99

Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

Stereo headphones designed for monitoring

Overall, these are an incredible value for the price. They are medium weight and comfortable. The frequency response is very well balanced among the highs, mids and lows. They will exceed a users threshold of pain before distorting.

Objectively, there are no negative points with these phones.

Compared with other comparably priced circumaural headphones, these are among the highest quality. They’re clean sounding, durable and comfortable.

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Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

Compared with other comparably priced circumaural headphones, these are among the highest quality. They’re clean sounding, durable and comfortable.

I remember the first time I was blown back by headphones.  It was two years ago when I first listened to Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil through the HD 280 Pros.  That was the beginning of a very intimate relationship with an inanimate object.

Sennheiser sells a modest package that contains just the headphones and a quarter-inch adaptor.  Sennheiser’s adaptors are threaded, so they screw onto the eighth-inch jack.  This is good and bad (mostly good).  For starters, it ensures the cord will never get ripped from its adaptor, which could easily break or damage the components.  Also, threads eliminate friction plates inside the adaptor that would normally hold it in place.  However, the adaptor can only be used with threaded eighth-inch jacks.  Other jacks’ plastic surrounds get in the way.

The HD 280s are made so the parts that naturally wear down over time and use can be easily replaced.   Ear pads, headband padding and even the pigtail cable can be reordered through the website.  The headphones come with a two-year warranty, as well.

Squishy foam surrounds are perfect for long listening sessions.  These phones are particularly effective at blocking out noise, largely due to their surrounds.  They don’t quite measure up to noise canceling headphones, but you can listen to Genesis at a comfortable level and the world quietly passes by.

For those who like to push their threshold of pain, the 280s let you do it with ease.  Even when Jay-Z says his headphones are distorting, these remain calm, cool and clean.  Turned way up, they get piercingly loud before they start to significantly distort.

The bass response on these phones is phenomenal.  Their frequency range runs down to 8Hz, well beyond what humans can actually hear.  Running a 55 Hz (the lowest A on a bass) sine wave, these produce a clean, smooth signal.  Their total harmonic distortion is less than 0.1%, allowing you to really turn up the sound and focus on the tone without worrying about unwanted noises.

Sennheiser designed these phones for monitoring.  There are three applications where they meet their design performance:

1. For live sound engineers, if you want to monitor any specific channel against the house system, these will deliver great tone reference.  For instance, if after the band starts playing you realize something doesn’t sound right, you can rule out acoustic anomalies and focus on the signals by using these phones.

2. If you have multiple musicians multi-tracking in one room, these phones can provide additional isolation from drums and acoustic bleed.

3. Studio engineers can use these for mixing and mastering.  They have great dynamics, so you can bury something in the mix and truly hear where it falls.  The 280’s are cold-hearted.  They call it like it is.  If your masters are weak, over-processed or just tonally unmatched, these phones give you a great perspective to produce well-balanced masters.

The HD 280 Pros will give you an interesting feeling.  The spacial imaging is very large.  Sound that is panned hard to either side really does feel far away.  But this does not detract from the overall presence.  Actually, their presence is tight and balanced across the frequency spectrum.

After mixing and mastering with these phones for two years, when I listen to commercial albums I feel like I’m back behind the console.  If you want to hear music the way it sounded the day it left the studio, get the 280s.

Once you have the 280s, break them in with a listen to Beds Are Burning.

Technical Info

Transducer principle: dynamic, closed
Nominal impedance: 64 Ohm
SPL: 102 dB (IEC 268-7)
Load rating: 500 mW
Distortion (THD): <0.1%
Ear coupling: Circumaural
Contact pressure: 6 N
Weight w/o cable: 220 g
Jack plug: 3,5 / 6,3 mm stereo
Connection cable: Coiled cable (min1m/max 3m)
Frequency Response: 8-25,000Hz
Price: $99

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JDS Labs cMoy Bass Boost v2.00

Philips SHS3200/37 EarbudsSecond version of cMoyBB, debugged and with new features

All the great things about the first version are still here: high-grade circuit components, a great bass boost feature, and an Altoids enclosure that’ll make rubber gloves snap at airports. The drawbacks to the first version are pretty much completely resolved. There is no more noise issue, which was my biggest problem with it. That’s because the gain switch has been eliminated and a volume pot is in its place.

So far, so good.

I’m a sucker for second generations of most products. It usually means the kinks have been worked out of the first. Although the debut cMoy Bass Boost from JDS Labs was a killer product, its second-coming is a truly superior product. The Bass Boost feature, alone, is worth the price.

Logitech FreePulse Wireless: Conveniently Cordless and Bluetooth

Although the Logitech FreePulse Wireless shines when it comes to wireless convenience, the lack of comfort, limited usage time and less than fantastic sound may be enough to deter some users. But if you can withstand these imperfections than the Logitech FreePulse Wireless can become a reasonable buy.

The Logitech FreePulse Wireless Headphones gives the luxury of listening to your favorite music without being constricted by a pesky wire. Due to the Bluetooth 2.0 wireless technology, you can wear the Logitech FreePulse Wireless Headphones up to 33 feet away from your electronic device. It even comes equipped with a rechargeable battery that last for up to six hours. For unmatched comfort, it also provides a durable high carbon spring headband as well as custom-fit soft-touch comfort rings. The Logitech FreePulse Wireless Headphone is made to fit all 3.5mm adapters.

Technical Info

Bluetooth 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) wireless technology
Maximum Range: 33 Feet
Frequency: 2.4 GHz
Soft-Touch Comfort Rings
High-Carbon Spring-Steel Headband
Integrated Bass Boost
Transmission Format: Digital
Rechargeable Battery
Optional AC power adapter
Custom-fit for iPod, MP3, CD and DVD compatibility
Suggested Retail: $109.99

Bose IE2 Audio Headphones

Bose IE2 Audio HeadphonesUshering in Natural Sound Quality

Good Stuff content

Bad Stuff Content

These ear buds are a great buy and the new design puts them in a class all their own.

Check the Amazon website here for more information on this product.

Bose IE2 audio headphones

Great Audio Quality with New Design

Bose has set a higher standard for ear phone makers with their latest in ear headphones. The Bose IE2 earphones increase the range of natural sounds. This isn’t your regular $10 ear bud listening experience. The design itself is engineered to enhance the acoustics of sound and the results are smooth audio output, a snug fit and durability.

The IE2 ear buds are small and compact but pack a punch. Some larger model earphones can’t measure up to the output quality here. The trademark StayHear silicone tips make sure these earphones keep up with you whatever you may be doing. They come in three different sizes to accommodate different listeners’ ear shape comfortably.

Bose IE2 headphones are compatible with a wide range ofMP3 players, laptops and portable CD players. It comes with a leather carrying case for an element of added style.

Bose extended its classic over the ear design to fit the on the go consumer and they couldn’t have done it better. The new design allows people to move about freely but still enjoy the best audio standards of the business.

While the price tag may be higher than the competition, so is the sound quality the Bose IE2 produces. In some cases, you get what you pay for can’t be truer. This is one of them

Technical Info:

MSRP $99.95
Product Details
Product Dimensions: 8 x 2 x 5 inches ; 2 pounds
Headphones (one side, with StayHear™ tip)
1.3"H x 1.02"W x .59"D (3.3 cm x 2.59 cm x 1.5 cm)
Cable length from ear bud to headphone plug
45.25 in (115 cm)
Weight with cables and StayHear tips
.65 oz. (18.5 g)

See the Amazon page for Bose IE2 Audio Headphones here

Micro CMoy Opamp2227

Philips SHS3200/37 EarbudsMini headphone amp encased in an Altoids box

It’s made from Texas Instruments amp circuitry. It’s actually in an Altoids box, so if it’s character you’re looking for, you got it. It’s kind of like a DIY kit, except it’s already done.

The knob is slightly larger than the thickness of the box, so it doesn’t sit perfectly flat on the table. That’s disastrous to me and anybody else with OCD. I’m also not a big fan of the toggle power switch; I’d rather see a button.

It’s inexpensive, made from consumer-quality components and very creative. All in all, for $35 it’s an amazing deal. You get what you pay for. In this case, it’s an Altoids box fitted with a headphone amp.

Curiously Strong Headphone Amp

It’s inexpensive, made from consumer-quality components and very creative.

Ok, let’s just get this out of the way: yes, it’s an Altoids box.  It’s cute, creative, and curiously strong.  Don’t get confused, though.  This is a quality headphone amp, designed with great components and craftsmanship, and it will drive your headphones like peppermint never did.

Let’s start with the not-so-hot stuff about the Micro Cmoy Opamp2227.  The loudness knob is slightly larger than the box, and protrudes beyond the bottom of the case.  This means it’ll never sit on a desk perfectly flat.  However, I’ve learned to deal with this over the hours.  I just rest my hand on top of the unit.  To make it louder, slide the unit to the right and it turns the knob “up” against the desk.  Slide the unit to the left and it turns it down.  Ridiculous?  You’re ridiculous.

Next, nothing is labeled.  There are two 1/8” jacks on the front, but they’re not labeled.  One is an input, one is an output, and your memory is your only friend.  This sucks for the elders, the Murphy’s Law-ers and the entire pot-smoking community.

My last “complaint” is about the unit’s interaction with petty thieves.  They intended to steal Altoids.  Everybody loses.

Now, on to the good stuff.  On the scale of innovation, the Cmoy gets ten stars.  It is the ultimate Rag Shop headphone amp.  I love the enclosure, and I love that every piece used to design the amp can be revealed.  The most significant parts are the opamp chip (a highly-regarded Texas-Instruments product) and the potentiometer (a highly-regarded Panasonic product).

If you itemize the parts used in the Cmoy, they come to about $20 (including cost of the Altoids).  I’m estimating that is about average for parts in headphone amps.  The difference is, markup on the Cmoys is significantly lower, so you get a fair deal.

How does it sound?  For an Altoids box, pretty darn good.  For a headphone amp, kind of average.  But (big but) it is the kind of average that’s contingent upon your wants and needs.  Remember, it uses some audiophile-grade components… and it’s $35.

I’m taking a signal straight from my PowerBook’s 1/8” output (volume halfway) and the Cmoy is driving AKG K701 headphones.  They sound crisp, clear, and “free,” as in loud but still preserving the dynamic range.  Plugged straight into the computer, the headphones sound and respond the same (audibly), only not as loud.

An interesting end note for the adventurous: the Cmoy is not exclusive to any one manufacturer.  It is a hobbyist’s creation, and there are several online tutorials that can guide you all the way from purchasing the parts to completion.

Technical Info

Price: $35

Apple iPod Earphones

Apple iPod Earphones

Comes with the iPod for free. Average sound quality. Looks cool. Very easy to find if you need to replace them.

Terribly uncomfortable. Not cheap considering the alternatives. Bass is boomy.

The most visible pair of earphones on the planet, are sadly the most uncomfortable. They just don't feel right and one does have better alternatives that are both cheaper, and slightly more expensive.

Apple iPod Earphones: Millions of Ears…Imagine the Suffering

One of the most popular earphones in the world does not really deliver where it counts; comfort and sonics

There are few headphones as visible as the Apple iPod Earphones, with more than 60-70 million pairs floating around the planet at any given time. While Apple deserves an enormous pat on the back for the iPod and headphone firestorm that it ignited, it really did not do such a great job with the supplied headphones. From the first moment I tried them, something did not sit right. They are the most uncomfortable earphones I have ever tried. How millions of people are able to walk around with them in their ears all day, baffles me to be quite honest. It is like being poked in the head with a sharp stick all day.

I know.

What if they have a banana?

What if they have a bunch?

Sonically, the iPod Earphones have improved dramatically from the first model and Apple did listen to the complaints that many of us sent in. The midrange is certainly cleaner sounding and the bass is better controlled. The top end still sounds bright to me, which I find to be a strange characteristic for a device that encouraged people to listen to music with its top end lobbed off.

For $25, there are far better options.

Sorry Apple, but the $10 JVC Gumy headphones are more musical sounding and way more comfortable.

Technical Info

Brand: Apple
Model: iPod Earphones
Frequency response: 20Hz – 20,000Hz
Impedance: 32 ohms
Price: $29.00

Fubar III USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier

Philips SHS3200/37 EarbudsA one-box integrated headphone amp and USB DAC

A very convenient and satisfying one-box solution to get great music from your computer. Eliminates the need to lug around multiple units by combining both a DAC and headphone amp in one tiny unit. Plug and play ready – no need to install anything.

Doesn’t provide the best sound we’ve heard, but for its retailed price, who’s complaining? Also, it may not be the easiest product to locate on the web.

Overall, the Fubar III is a great buy. It combines everything you need for a great listening experience with your laptop. Moreover, the OP amplifiers are exchangeable. We were surprised at the musical character of the amp, which is very warm, full and transparent.

Firestone Audio Fubar III USB DAC with Headphone Amp

Overall, the Fubar III is a great buy. It combines everything you need for a great listening experience with your laptop.

t's always nice to meet enthusiastic headphone lovers from around the globe.  Rasmus Horn of kindly supplied this little headphone gizmo to be reviewed for

The Fubar III (or FubarIII) USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier is Firestone Audio’s newest product.  The metallic-encased Fubar III combines everything the Fubar II (or FubarII) USB DAC offers with a Battery Cute ll (or CuteII) Headphone Amplifier in one tiny little body product.  This makes traveling a breeze, because instead of lugging around multiple units, you’ll only need the Fubar III for a worthy listening experience.

The same technology of the Fubar II USB DAC is used in the new Fubar III, so you’ll still be able to simply plug and play without having to install any annoying drivers (with PC Windows, Mac OS or Linux operating systems).

The included Burr Brown OPA2604AP op amp can be altered according to your personal preferences.

Before even looking at the Fubar III, I could get an overall feel for the product inside by merely looking at the packaging.  That “don’t judge a book by its cover” saying isn’t always right, especially in this case.  It’s evident that Firestone took the time to make sure their new Fubar III is packaged nice and securely.  The contents of the box were nicely organized and conveniently packaged.

When initially taking the Fubar III into the palm of your hand (it’s so little, it fits), you’ll instantly feel the quality that’s gone into this little product.  Its thick aluminum encasing is sleek and luxurious as well as a good protector for the precious contents inside.

Connecting the Fubar III was no brainer. Just hook it up to your PC or Mac via USB cable that’s conveniently included. My MacBook Pro recognized the driver within a second and I had absolutely zero trouble getting audio through the Fubar and to my headphones.

I tried it with numerous headphones, from Westone’s In-ear Monitors to my Sennheiser HD 650s. For an optimal experience, you'll have to play music with high-low gain switch on the back side of the Fubar. For high impedance headphones like HD 650, 600, etc., you'll be extremely satisfied with high output gain.

The musical character of the amp is very warm, full and transparent. I must say, I was quite impressed with this powerful combination.  For the retailed price of $349, the Fubar III is a very nicely integrated USB DAC and headphone amp combination!  You can purchase the Firestone Audio Fubar III here.