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Bluetooth Headphones

Zero1 Awards 2018 – Audio – Wireless Headphones

December 6, 2018 — by Digit0

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Wireless audio has been relegated to a second-grade position in the audiophile world for a long time since its popularisation. High-end audio and the tag of hi-fi has been mostly exclusive to wired headphones and earphones. However, in recent years, that landscape has seen a lot of change. Now, there’s wireless technology in the market that makes wireless headphones comparable to the audio quality of wired devices.

Established brands are creating wireless versions of their popular and flagship headsets. High-end boutique houses and mass market audio manufacturers alike are bringing out newer, high-end wireless headphones and also launching improved successors in their popular lineups. To sum it up, this is probably the year where it was more likely for audiophiles to make the jump to wireless.

2018 Zero1 Award Winner: Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless

The trend of bringing wireless versions of flagships manifests in the Amiron Wireless from beyerdynamic. They’ve now latched on to the wireless trend and we’re not complaining! The Amiron Wireless is easily the best sounding wireless headphone we’ve heard. These cans sound bright, energetic and often make you forget your critical analysis on your favourite tracks. Tracks like Pull Me Under from Dream Theater make you want to headbang– with just the right amount of power in the mids and perfectly rendered lows.

The Amiron Wireless supports nearly all the codes (except LDAC) and the result shows. The aptX HD performance takes the Amiron Wireless to the next level and ensures that it bags the award. If one is shelling 60K for a pair of Bluetooth headphones they might as well be portable and at least have ANC, but believe us, all these demands take a backseat once you put the Amiron Wireless on and your favourite track kicks in.

Runner-Up: Sony WH-1000XM3

Noise cancellation shows up more often with wireless headphones than wired ones. If ANC is a must have for you, we couldn’t recommend anything better than the Sony WH-1000XM3. Almost everybody who tried these out commented on how quiet the world around seemed to get. Remember, no ANC can cancel out all sound, but the 1000XM3 comes close.

According to Sony, this is all thanks to the brand new QN1 chip they’ve put into these cans. It handles sound in a dynamic way that is not common with noise cancellers. The soundstage is expansive and doesn’t suffocate you with limitations. Combined with the intuitive controls and overall quality of sound, The 1000XM3 also stands as the Editor’s Pick for this category. It ended up as the runner-up because of the sheer supremacy in clarity the Amiron Wireless has over it.

Best Buy: Grado GW100

Once you get over the confusion of seeing an open back design and wireless audio together, the GW100 won’t fail to impress. While it sports some similarities with Grado’s cheaper SR line, look beneath its exterior and you will find an open-back audio experience that defies expectations.

Handling lows and highs equally well, the Grado doesn’t disappoint in the mids either. If anything, there’s something wrong with the upper mids that aren’t easy to pinpoint. If not for its poor isolation and a bit of lacking power in quite a few tracks, the GW100 would be destined for glory.

Bluetooth Headphones

Zero1 Awards 2017 – Audio – Bluetooth Headphones

December 13, 2017 — by Digit0

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Wireless audio has come a long way – from being frowned upon by purists to being very expensive, the Bluetooth-powered headphones have evolved in the true sense of the word. With improving Bluetooth standards, the premium wireless headphones segment has seen major innovation. Audio quality has improved manifold to a point where it is truly impressive. This is further supplemented with all things now going wireless.
These new headphones not only play good audio, but also do it in style. Many others are adding additional features like noise cancellation, gesture support and more to make themselves highly versatile. It is this versatility that may form a big part of your buying decision, but since this is a premium audio product we are talking about, it always has to begin with audio, right?

2017 Zero1 award Winner: Audiotechnica DSR9-BT

Audio-Technica ATH-DSR9-BT

The Audio-Technica DSR9-BT plays music with incredible accuracy and clarity. The sound signature is impeccably well balanced, and the good balance of sound is further aided by the plush warmth and rich timbre. You also get superior soundstaging, which further diversifies the range of each spectrum of audio frequency. Hence, what you hear is clearer and more distinct bass notes, very well composed and prominent vocals, and loud instruments which are not too shrill.
The Audio-Technica DSR9-BT is, hands down, the best performing premium wireless headphones of 2017. It is not available directly for purchase in India at the moment, but if you have any friend or relative travelling abroad and you’re on the hunt for a premium pair of headphones, you should ask them to get one!

Runner up: Fiil Diva Pro

The Fiil Diva Pro holds its composure well across a wide variety of genres, and plays well detailed bass notes with commendable clarity. The mids are well accentuated, and the highs do not pinch your ears. The overall audio delivery sounds really crisp and cohesive, and the rich warmth of the sound is quite appreciable. While soundstaging may not be its ultimate forte, it does make up for it with an ‘open mode’ in playback. This mode makes the playback sound a tad bit more spacious, and eases the tightness of the way the Diva Pro clamps over your head.
It comes a certain second to the Audio-Technica DSR9-BT, but that itself is no
mean feat, particularly coming from a relatively new company.