New Year – New Gear

My favorite headphones for the past 5 years have been the Sennheiser HD-380 Pro series. I thoroughly tested them against the ATH-M50 (their closest competitor) and preferred the Sennheiser model in every category of comparison from comfort, design aesthetic, durability, transparency of audio signature, and portability. (The HD-380 Pros ship with a wonderful semi-hard shell travel case.) You can check out my original comparative review from 2011 here.


After 5 years, I’ve replaced the earpads once, but the replacements are third-party aftermarkets and have already separated from the frame after only a few months. I’m considering investing in a new pair and am exploring alternative models.

In April of last year, I picked up a pair of AudioQuest Nighthawks – the company’s flagship headphone. Aesthetically they are absolutely brilliant and precisely the style I’m after. They wed both vintage and contemporary design with their liquid wood finish, biometric diamond-cubic butterfly latticework grills, and retro-style dual headband. (Check out my featured images and more design details from this entry to Innerspace.) But of course, what matters most with headphones is their sound signature, and I quickly found that while the Nighthawks deliver a punchy and powerful sound for live and rock recordings, that they were somewhat lackluster in their delivery of classical, ambient, and electroacoustic works.


The features I most desire in a headphone are supraaural closed-back leather earcups, detachable cables, passive noise cancellation, and studio-style sound signatures which focus on transparency rather than colorization. These will primarily be used in my listening room and in bed, which are both low ambient noise environments. Comfort is another key factor as I do not want fatigue to distract from first-listens to subtle and nuanced recordings like ambient, space, and drone works. I’m eyeing the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 cabled headphones as a potential upgrade.


But before I jump into a new pair, I’m going to hold off until I pick up the AudioQuest Dragonfly Red USB DAC. Universally acclaimed as the finest portable DAC at its price point, the device has been sold out from all licensed distributors twice since November of 2016, so I am just awaiting the next replenishment. I am hopeful that the Dragonfly Red will correct the somewhat disappointing (but fully understandable) performance of my Android cell phone, Chromebook, and my desktop in playback of FLAC and 320CBR audio from my server.

Stay tuned!

The Personal, Portable Media Cloud

Recently, a new tech product has surfaced on the market – one that solves a very specific problem for a particular niche of media consumers.

There exists a digital media user base with larger-than-usual libraries. I’m speaking of anyone with multiple TB of media, whether it be audio, cinema and TV archives, CBR collections, ePub libraries, or any combination thereof.

Naturally for collections of this size, these consumers have a great passion for their media, and desire full-accessibility to their content at all times.

A percentage of these users have created a solution by holding-fast to their grandfathered-in unlimited cellular data plans, and use one of various dedicated home servers to make their data instantly accessible on any web-enabled device without any fear of data caps or throttling. (I am among these users.)

There remains however, a less-fortunate base of media consumers who don’t have the luxury of unlimited data or a dedicated server, (Subsonic or otherwise) to grant them the freedom they desire.

Which brings us to the solution of the personal, portable media cloud.

Seagate now manufactures a surprisingly small Wireless Plus Portable Hard Drive with its own built-in WiFi network and a 10 hr internal battery.

This device acts as your own personal (and portable) wireless network – on the road or off the grid, your media is always accessible, wirelessly to any device.

It is robust enough to stream up to 3 different HD movies to 3 different devices at the same time.

Use the Seagate Media App on any of your devices, or the codec-ready application of your choice. The Seagate Media App also works as a sync tool to backup your devices’ files to your portable HDD.

The 1.5 TB model is $155 and the 2TB edition is $197 – a small price to pay for the freedom it will bring. This product solves a very particular problem for a very small niche of users, but for those users it is exactly what they’ve been looking for.


Published in: on May 2, 2015 at 7:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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