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Crutchfield: The Podcast Ep. 36

In this episode:

Who doesn't love free stuff? J.R. delivers the details on our regular gear giveaways which we announce on our live-streamed video show, Crutchfield Live. You can catch it every other Thursday on YouTube and Facebook. This special audio version of Crutchfield Live #10 reveals the latest gear J.R. has added to his Subaru Crosstrek, Advisor Dylan's experience with the Bose SoundLink Flex Bluetooth® speaker, staff writer Jeff's picks for best audiophile headphones, and more.

Be sure to tune in next time when cohost Eric returns for a roundtable discussion of Jeep Wrangler-specific audio gear.

Explore more episodes

Read episode transcript

Hello and welcome to Crutchfield the podcast. It's me, your host JR all by my lonesome here in my little office slash studio. Today's show is we're gonna repurpose some content here because it's just that good as you probably know if you've been listening to this show, we do a a live tv show on Youtube and facebook, we call it Crutchfield Live. We're currently doing it every other thursday. So every two weeks we're live on the air on Youtube and facebook where you can hang out with us, you can ask us questions, you can comment on stuff. We show pictures of people's gear that they when they hashtag us on social media. We like to show off how people are you using our products and we, we go deeper and dive into specific products and uh and we give stuff away. Our, our Crutchfield Live is pretty awesome because we have finally gotten all the paperwork, figured out all the behind the scenes legal stuff so that we are now allowed to do giveaways. You wouldn't believe how much red tape there is involved in that, but we've got it figured out. We just recently gave away a Bose flex, bluetooth speaker, four of them. We are, we're doing an SVS subwoofer giveaway. Uh and we've got more planned things to give away to people that watch the live and you do need to actually watch it to participate in this. That's where you get the link, to to register for the sweepstakes, it's where you get the code word when we usually will give a code word out to give you a way to get an extra 25 entries into the sweepstakes drawing and it's all about trying to hang with our people as much as possible and getting more people involved and interacting with Crutchfield customers and fans and viewers and just people that love to talk about car audio, home audio, subwoofers, drones, I mean anything we sell uh and stuff we don't sell our free game for us to talk about on Crutchfield live and it's uh and it is very much live, so you never know what we're going to say and do and uh so far it's been a lot of fun. So I strongly encourage you to check out Crutchfield live on Youtube and facebook every other thursday, what you're about to hear was episode number 10. And in this episode uh it was, it was a bunch of cool stuff, a bunch of different things happened. Uh I told and showed pictures of the new Sony Mobile E. S floating screen head unit that I installed into my Subaru cross trek. We've talked about my Subaru and the sound system I installed when I first got the car, this is the latest addition to that system and boy did it make a difference and you'll get to see that and hear me talk about how much how wonderful it is to listen to music in my car. We then brought in one of our sales advisors, Dylan who recently got to take home the bows flex, bluetooth speaker. She talked all about how much she loves it. And this coincided of course with when we were giving Bowflex speakers away. So that's pretty cool. And then like next we brought in Jeff Miller, Jeff Miller is our headphone guy. If you look up any set of headphones on our website, he's probably taken that pair of headphones home, played it, listen to it, put it through its paces and then wrote all about what he felt about those headphones. And so in this episode, talk about our best audiophile headphones, those headphones that are, you know, they're not cheap, but they, you get the performance you paid for. Uh, lastly we finished this episode with Philip, who is one of our video guys. He took some video of the system he installed at his house, you know, on Crutchfield, the podcast. We love to talk to people about the stuff they loved so much. They bought it and took it home. And uh, so Philip is gonna show us he's got a really, really nice to channel music listening system uh, with the ability to play hi res music as well as vinyl on some clips, Heresy speakers. I mean it's, it's fantastic. It's a great little system. You'll get to see it and hear it if you watch the live, strongly encourage you to go check out future lives entered in the sweepstakes, maybe win some cool stuff and hang out with us comment question, put us to our paces. Try to stump us with weird consumer electronics, audio questions, that kind of thing. So thanks so much for joining us here on Crutchfield the podcast, enjoy the rest of this show and maybe we'll see you next time on Crutchfield live, check you later. I want to circle back to something we have talked about on previous Crutchfield Lives that a lot of people showed a lot of interest in. And that would be the Sony Mobile E. S head unit with a big floating screen. It's called the X A. V 9500 E. S. You might remember it from a previous episode. Also, we did a Prada spotlight video where I sort of talked about it for 10 or 15 minutes and showed off all the things it does. And we put that on our product page on, on the Crutchfield dot com as well as on our Youtube channel. And that video seems to have gained a lot of traction over 320,000 views of that video alone. So clearly people are interested in a nice high end Sony head unit with a big, beautiful touchscreen. Uh, and uh, and I have one, I actually got one that one that we had in the video is now physically in my car and I want to tell you what it's like. I've been driving around with that stereo now for about a week and a half. And so I can tell you how much I love it. Uh, and we've got, so you got some footage of that radio in my car. Uh, and I do absolutely love it. First off, its wireless carplay. That's one of my favorite things about it. When I get in, I don't have to plug my phone in every single time I get in the car to have it work with carplay on the stereo. I used to have to do that with my factor radio, which was no problem on long drives, but on short drive, just driving to work or driving to the store. I didn't want to plug the phone in every single time. Now I can get in and leave the phone in my pocket and it just appears apple carplay wirelessly right there on the screen and that is fantastic. One of my favorite things about it. Another thing I love is how great it sounds. It really fixed some problems I was having with the audio in my car. Now, I already installed a five channel amp kicker component speakers in the front, two way speakers in the back doors and a five channel, uh, and a subwoofer in the back of my car. So my system sounded pretty good, but it was all getting signal from that factory radio in my Subaru cross track, which was doing some funky things. It's not a great head unit, as far as audio quality goes. It rolls off the base at higher volumes. It processes things. Those front tweeters were sounding a little squeaky, that's a new word, Feel free to use it. And uh, it was just a little rough. And the we basically trouble. Shooted it. Is that also a new word? Uh, and we determined that the problem really was the source unit, the radio itself. So replacing the radio was the thing to do, which is a little bit of a challenge in my car. It's a Subaru with like all the fancy stuff. It had Subaru Starlink and uh, that actually involves a separate module there with the radio that has to be kept in the car even when the radio is replaced. So we had to like find a place to put that in the dash so that the car can communicate with the internet. I can use remote start from my cell phone app, things like that. So Starlink wanted that to keep working. We had to use an eye data link, maestro O E M interface, which is basically a magical small black box. It's a computer that makes the computer in the car talk to the computer in my new radio so that they all work together. And that is available for my car. So we installed that along with the Sony radio and now the amplifier and the speakers are not getting signal from a kind of low end factory radio, low end sound quality wise, it's now getting strong pre amp level signal from the five volt, six channel pre amp outputs on the back of this Sony radio. So the output of the radio going into the amp significantly better and it's super clean. There's no funky processing like they have in the factory radios to account for those cheap speakers that come with cars and that squeaky sound, that squealing nastiness I was hearing on my tweeters and some songs completely gone. I can turn it up significantly louder with zero distortion. Just the fact that it's a nice high end head unit makes all of that possible. And on top of that, uh, it also has the ability to play hi res music files and I have a nice little USB memory stick with about 50 gigs of music on it. And I've been going through that listening to Alison Krauss, daft punk buddy, holly. A whole bunch of stuff. And I have done some comparisons where I'm listening to the high res file and then I switch and I listened to the same song on Spotify from my phone through carplay and it sounds fine on carplay. It's super convenient to use Spotify. That is my, mainly my go to music source. But if I want to listen to something and have it sound as good as it can possibly sound. I'm gonna go to that USB memory stick and play something in like a flat file and the difference. It really is in a system that I think sounds pretty great most of the time when I go to hi rez it's like taking a blanket off all of the speakers and it opens it up and it gets spacious and big and it's more dynamic and it really, really is impressive. So the sound quality on this Sony is excellent. I see Rick Dodson is watching uh saying, I love Sony SAm online says huge screen. Absolutely. I've had Sony radios in several vehicles going all the way back to when I started at Crutchfield. Uh, my second stereo I ever installed was a nice Sony mobile E. S head unit and I had a similar experience then with the improvement in sound quality over the radio I had previously. So, Sony car stereos and I go way back, I couldn't be happier to have it in my car. I do want to give you some things that maybe I don't love as much about it as I was hoping. Um, when we put the video out, when we talked about it on Crutchfield live, several people mentioned that it doesn't have a volume knob on it and you know what I do kind of miss the volume knob, that's the one thing about the factory radio is it had an easily accessible, easy to turn volume knob. Uh and this radio just doesn't have one. Uh and I do kind of miss that. Now, the steering wheel controls work well with the new radio. The new radio has a little hideaway of sort of buttons right on the front of it. They're like hidden in the bezel and you can hit that to mute really quick and go to the home. So, and it's got hard, hard coded buttons on the top for volume and such. So it's easy to control track forward and trackback volume up and down with the buttons provided plus my steering wheel. I still miss the volume knob. So anybody that criticized this Sony for not having a volume knob, I feel you if I, if I could get Sony to go back in time and redesign this thing, I would make them put a volume knob on it. We have another comment from Rick Dodson. I had a full Sony explode system in my 1993 accord. Fantastic. Yeah, Sony has been making great stereos for quite a long time. Uh, this is the stereo that is in my car that you see in this picture right here. It's actually that one, the one we took a picture of to put on our catalog is the one in my car. Another thing about it that is maybe ever so slightly less than perfect. This really isn't a video head unit, meaning it's not currently able to play any video files, right? There's no disc player. So no DVDS or anything. And even if you plug a USB memory stick in, it only plays audio files, not video. So it's not for, not for that person that wants to be able to, you know, park their car and watch movie or play a video game or something. This just doesn't do that. Uh, and that's fine for me. I don't need it to do that. I will say that my factory back up camera could look a little sharper on it. Uh, it's a big screen and it looks fine, but it could look a little bit better. Uh, and uh, and I've actually talked to the folks at Sony, they've acknowledged that. Yeah, it could look a little better, but the focus of this stereo is audio performance and it absolutely shines at doing that. Whether I'm playing Spotify or hi rez stuff. I do listen to my Sirius XM app, they're serious. Sounds better when you're using streaming over the internet than it does when you're getting it from the satellite. So that sounds fantastic. Um, it also looks incredibly elegant and, and it's huge. Uh, you know, having it there in the dash, I have it stick out a little bit and it's closer to me with that bigger touchscreen. So all of the buttons on it are easy Here to find and hit while I'm driving. I could literally go on talking about this stereo for probably the next 20 minutes. Um, I absolutely love it. And I just wanted to sort of close that loop. You know, we've talked about it here on live, we did the video on it. There's a lot of people very interested in it and I absolutely love it in my car. So I just wanted to let you know, that's what happened to the stereo we featured on the live a few months back and uh, so there you go. It's good to work at Crutchfield. Let me just tell you that. And that's all I have to say about the Sony X A V 9500 E S. We are going to switch gears completely and we're going to bring in a special guest, our first guest of the day, Dylan, You wanna come on in. Dylan is one of our advisors. Uh, how's it going? Good to see you. Good to see you again. You've been doing more and more videos as of late. Yes, you've been on live a couple times now and you are here today because you got to take home the bows flex, is that right? That's right. I did. And what did you think of it? I was thoroughly impressed. I've really always loved the Jbl Bluetooth speakers, like specifically like the charge series speakers and the flex. I didn't, I didn't know what to expect but I was, I was very impressed. Very large sound, very room filling. Um, more so than I than I guess I expected if I expected anything at all. Very much like a charge. Um, I didn't want to give it up. Yeah, I mean jBl is a big player in the Bluetooth speaker market. So is bows though. They've been doing it for quite a while when I think of Bose bluetooth speakers I think of they make some that are very elegant. They look beautiful. They sound significantly bigger than they look right and they now make a lot of rugged bluetooth speakers as well. And this one's pretty rugged. Right? Oh yeah, it's totally rugged. In fact it's, you can, you can basically drop it in water. Um there's limitations on that, but it can be submerged in water. It can be holds up against mud. Um You got a steel grill that's powder coated like the undercarriage of cars if you're gonna get them treated for winter and such. It's it's it's legit and I didn't abuse it or anything but I, I carried around a lot of places and it looked like it was brand new out of the box after like a week. And you, so you've got to sort of hang out with it for like a week. Right, take it home. What type of music did you play on it? And how do you play music? Is it from Spotify? Like what do you use on your phone to play music to your speaker? Yeah, so primarily Spotify but I also use title. Um, and Bluetooth. Bluetooth is the the only way that you can connect and play music through the Bowflex and that was sufficient for me. Um, you got about 30 33 ft of range. Um, but it's so portable. If you have to pick it up and take it from room to room or place to place, it's like this little loop your finger through the loop, grab it, it's light, but will follow you around and it's a really great speaker to have on hand. It's available in three colors. The color you see on your screen now, is that stone gray? Do I have that? Right? It's stone gray, which is why we put it on a stone in that video. Guys are really good at what they do. That's professional. And then you've got the, is that more like a white and a black, Pretty much bos has named this white smoke, white smoke black and then black. So three different colors to choose from. You had it at home for a week. So Bluetooth from Spotify and title and you mentioned the grill on the front of it. Uh And in addition to that, you also did some grilling while you had the Bose speakers. Right? Yeah, that was, that was awesome. That transition like that. Oh yes, the master of the segway is incredible. Yes, I sure did. I had, in fact this one was the one I had at home. I miss it. It's like the perfect backyard speaker. Oh yeah. And you guys were what grilling out and you, you are a steak aficionado. Like you're pretty good at grilling steaks from what I am. It's a long, it's going to be a lifetime journey. I am a steak enthusiast I would say aficionado is something I'll graduate to. Hopefully eventually. Yes, I I love learning about steak and cooking it and perfecting my oh, that's up on the screen. So those, so my boyfriend had a hand in that actually, but they're so well, he went ahead and went for the sriracha, just just just pre grilled sriracha. A lot of it's gonna grill off but you can get that little kick sometimes. It's nice little salt and pepper, salt and pepper. Yeah and that is pretty much it. I mean he put some herbs on there too, but and then you know basically with you find a good steak, I find a good cut of steak, season it with salt and pepper. That's almost all you ever have to do. Just cook it over charcoal, which is what we did and to a medium voila. There it is, that is a lovely group of steaks if I do say so myself. Um Yeah, those are some rib eyes and they were about medium rare. They all turned out great, simple and yet this my uh the white smoke post flex was my companion smoke. Why didn't I think of that tie into the grill grill. I mean this is almost as if I did it on purpose but yeah I had that out there um uh playing music while I was grilling and having a good time. So favorite backyard barbecue music you have a playlist you go to, what do you like to listen to? If I put on like a Spotify radio station often my go to will be country if it just fits the mood because I don't know, it just seems like it does and that was what I had going on that night but um otherwise it would be like James, taylor radio or do some nineties rock radio. It's just I hop from, from john john john but at the moment it felt appropriate to throw those steaks on the grill, listening to some old George straighten Toby keith and such. You can't go wrong there. I mean they probably have songs about throwing steaks on the grill, right. Yeah, I think some of those guys get down with that sort of thing. Have you got a chance to talk to any customers on the phones about the bows flex yet? Has that happened for you yet? I have a couple of times um So and then of course having personal experience very much helps the conversation flow and make a really good recommendation. Um Also when something's really good, it kind of just sells itself, it speaks for itself. So I've had a couple conversations um comparing to other portable, rugged Bluetooth speakers, I can now say those flex. Um, you're gonna be impressed, especially at that price point. It's kind of like, yeah, pretty sweet. It's a good deal. Did you find you have good battery life with them? Did they last a good long time? Yeah. Um, so when you crank it and I did a lot, um, it'll drain the battery a little faster. Um otherwise you're supposed to get about 12 hours, medium to low volume. Um, so it just depends on what you're doing. Uh also it'll take your calls. So that's part of the battery life that didn't really, that didn't really like significantly drain it at all. It's just if you really want to, if you want it to be like your party speaker, which it can be because it gets loud. Um you get, I don't know, something about eight or nine hours, I imagine. It's a lot long time. No, that's absolutely, that's more than most people need their device to do in any kind of one between charges. Yeah, so you have 1 49 and that is cool. A lot of bluetooth speakers don't do the hands free calling things. So if you're hanging out in the backyard and you're grilling, you don't want to start grabbing your phone out of your pocket. You're gonna get grease all over it. Right. Leave the phone in the pocket. Let the bows do the job of being your microphone and your speaker. So and knowing bows, I'm sure it's got good the ability to cancel out noise and hear you really well? So your callers here, you're good. So Dylan, thank you so much for coming in today for having me. I appreciate it. Thanks for letting me talk about steak, Absolutely appreciate it, bows, steak smoke. And what was the other grills, summertime. Fantastic. We're going to switch gears and we're gonna bring in another special guest. His name is Jeff Miller, uh, he is what I like to call our headphone guru here at Crutchfield, Jeff used to work in our customer support department where he was talking to people about, you know, shipping their orders and tracking packages and issuing refunds and setting up special invoices and returns and all that fun stuff. And then you saw, you thought you wanted to do more than that. Huh? I moved on to the creative department and then pretty, pretty soon after I got up there. Um, and, and you know, started writing different product pages are the old headphone guy got promoted to editor. So opened up a spot and um, from then just uh, he gave me sort of the blueprint and you know, everybody around here. Well, I learned from you as well during training, but just like there's no better crash course on any of this stuff than, than being here, um, sort of learning by osmosis? Even those first however many years I was here job in creative. Did you hope to be able to write about headphones. Was this a passion of yours before you got that job, or did you take this on? And now it's become like, what seems to be your life's blood is like learning and writing about and evaluating headphones? I remember when I first heard about a headphone amplifier, when I was down in customer support, I thought it was the craziest thing I ever heard of, I was like, why would you need a headphone amplifier? And then now it's kind of like, oh, of course you need a headphone amp right now you're educating the public on the importance of just the concept. Just kind of blew my mind. So Jeff writes a ton about headphones. So, if you are on a page, a product page for a pair of headphones on our website, there's a halfway decent chance Jeff wrote all about those headphones, right? I mean, you've done most of those uh and you've also written some really nice articles on Crutchfield headphones and there's a cool way. I didn't know this until you showed me earlier. If you go to Crutchfield dot com slash best phones, do I have that? Right? Best phones with an S at the end, best phones, as in headphones, you're not rating iphones and android, you're not getting into that debate right? I have enough on my plate with these. So if you go to Crutchfield dot com slash best phones, we'll put a link to that in the chat. I hope I'm saying that I hope someone's about to do that. And I'll take you to this page here. You can see Jeff bunch of articles. Best true wireless earbuds, best noise canceling, best wireless, best wired headphones, which is, you might think that's what we're doing here today. But there's another article coming soon to this page. It's called best audiophile grade headphones. Why not workshop it live here on youtube. Right. I'm still working on it. Best headphone amps, best gaming headphones. Lots and lots of really cool articles, Jeff wrote quite a few of them, archer and Colin are also sort of your cohorts there, right? Yeah. Um Colin is gaming expert, so he knows, yeah, that makes sense. Um, but I'm fortunate enough to have heard and and listen to a wide variety of headphones, everything from like, you know, the $25 headphones that I got from my kids that have the noise limiting thing to make sure that that that it preserved their concerns, their hearing and everything up to, you know, this level of headphone, which is um competing with the experience you get from like a high end audio setup to set up and that's what we've got here today is five high end audiophile grade headphones. And you, this is uh topical for you. You've recently written an article. It will, it is appearing currently in our spring 2022 catalog. Uh and I've got a shot of that here. We saw it for a second. Maybe we'll switch back to it momentarily. But it's a it's a right out in the catalog. Actually you have the catalog itself right there, grab that thing, Jeff props. Yeah. Got props like the weird last guest on Letterman. I got all the props. So that's the article you wrote about these particular headphones that we have here in the studio with us today. So we figured we'd take advantage of the fact that we've got them to talk about why you chose these as the best audiophile headphones. What makes each one? Great and uh and how you evaluate them? So let's go from that side to this side. What is the first one you got over there? Oh actually no, you you told me you were going to start with these here, aren't we? Well, do you wanna just name them first and then go, yeah, good call Jeff. What are the five headphones? This is the message audio Elite planar magnetic headphones. They're open back, they look close back but they're open back. These are the Sennheiser. HD 800 S. Um Open back dynamic headphones. These are the focal, clear MG. Open back headphones. Um Here's a closed back model, the Den in a H. D. 9200. Uh closed back bamboo ear cup headphones and finally odyssey's new flagship, the L. C. D. Five. Planar magnetic headphones Also opened back. so 1234 open backs in a closed back. So what's uh I'll start off with throwing some stuff I can tell you just from looking at these headphones. What's unique? What's common about all five of these is that they are they're not bluetooth, no they're not noise cancel. They don't do hands free calling. Uh They they are wired headphones not wireless and all those other things that you listed have their place. Um In fact I've noted I noted the we another head article I'm working on is our wireless tv article updating that. So I noted what the person on comments said earlier and that's a good idea to test the latency. Yeah. Yeah. You wanna you wanna comment on that real quick? It would be nice to have some content about wireless headphones with some latency tests and detailed spectrum responses. I've definitely had bluetooth headphones where I'm watching a youtube video and the audio and the video is not sync up and that seems to have improved over the last couple of years it's gotten really good um from blue to five on um And even if your phone or your device doesn't have Bluetooth five if the headphone itself has Bluetooth five. I've personally noticed this is anecdotal, not like I didn't like get a you know anything to test it out with but just anecdotally. Um I've noticed a much better uh audio video sync with Bluetooth five recent set of headphones definitely improved upon that. What about like spectrum responses right? Where we have like, we can show the EQ curve or the actual frequency response curve of each pair of headphones. Is that something we well, I mean it is, I mean it's fun to to dive into that stuff. It's everywhere. Um I guess for me, the problem is is like you got to really know your stuff and really know you the tools and and the measurements and there's so many people who are who have had so much experience doing that. Um Not that there aren't people in our company who could do that. Certainly the speaker compare could probably do that, but um I just think that, you know, for for us to like to get in there and do that. Um we want to do it right, and we want to make have to make sort of the business case for and all that good stuff too. So yeah, that would be a major endeavor testing equipment and making sure we're doing that fairly uh and representing them fairly when uh for me personally, I could look at a frequency respect um on these headphones and I can see that maybe one has some more bass or clearer on the highs or something, but for me it all comes down to what does it sound like and what does it feel like when I put them on my head. Right, uh And the frequency of respect of spectrum graph or something like that may or may not accurately predict what I'm going to enjoy mostly. Yeah I mean I've seen people dismiss headphones out of hand that they probably should have given a try and um sort of the other way around to where they um really love something and then they see the they're like oh I shouldn't love that because it's like well if you like it you like it, you know exactly. Um Alright let's start talking about the 800 now the in the article you call those uh a sonic Trailblazer. Yes the lineage of these, the the original H. 5800 came out around 2009 and it kind of kicked off the whole high end headphone boom. Um And then you know sort of taken off from there but they were the first ones to um well we're gonna talk price, hit that $1000 price point and above. Um And really just bringing a complete sophistication sophisticated um Look at drivers design and that and that sort of thing. Um They you know there had been electrostatic headphones that had been that could rival sort of the sound of like your your high end speakers. Um I should not mimic speakers. They're not most of these headphones are not trying to mimic speakers um But they but um these were sort of the first ones that kind of got to give you that really really high end high end sound. Yeah they've been making these for a while now and they updated them a few years ago. I remember seeing them at the consumer electronics show in Vegas. They were always an open back headphone for a long time. And they recently within the last few years sort of changed that. So they're sort of I think they describe it as semi closed back right? So you still have an open spacious feel but it also keeps that base in is that they actually we have a newer a newer one that has like these gorilla glass ear cups. There's the H. D. A. Twenties. So that's the one I think those are the ones you tried and and those are that's um they're trying to recreate that same sound in a closed back headphone. But these what they what they did with the s model of that same HD 800 is kind of hone in some of those high end frequencies because um these that's what I guess these are known for. You know for a few things. One of them is this really huge soundstage probably the largest style stage to this uh day you know however many years later um of all of all the headphones which makes them very popular for classical music and that kind of thing. But also even like professional gamers will use them when they need need like a good sense of direction when they're, when they're kind of playing games like these are obviously the pros they're doing a separate microphone and all that good stuff. So uh so these are an open back design, open back design. So you, so that they like music in and out. Um and they'll, that's partly how they get that big sound. Right. Right. Exactly. And like I said four out of the five here are our open back, but um that's sort of they're calling card is a huge sound stage, but in that precise imaging so that everything sounds like where it should be cool. Let's move on to the next ones. What is, what do we got going on right there? These are the measure elites, they're built on the backbone of the Imperial, which was their original um high top of the line headphone. These are there even more type of headphone, Their latest flagship at $4000. Um They are uh one probably I think the best built headphones that um we actually carry like as far as like you know the physical build of the headphones because um the messy Antonio met the founder who actually got to interview and that's another article coming out soon. Um I've been very fortunate to be able to listen and talk to some of these people in involved in making the headphones, but he comes from a product design background. So he wants to make these like heirloom keepsake quality pieces um, to give you an idea, they do a machined aluminum hand sculpting of everything. The machined aluminum, uh, part of the frame, that part right there takes about 20 hours per headphone for the elite according to messi. Um, so you know, just a really strong build and then really comfortable. That's kind of how this company made their name, Crutchfield most comfortable headphone was made by messier audio if you remember, we did some testing on that a few years back back before the pandemic when we could get people in a room and have them trying on headphones and evaluating them for not how they sound, but how they feel. And the 99 classics were the most comfortable headphones. Hey, here they are. Look at you. Yeah, so, and the crazy thing about these, if you don't mind me going too far off the rails, Philip um, the uh, the um, these came out originally back in 2015 and I feel like our comfort testing and you know, some other things, just people rediscovering wired headphones and high end headphones here the last couple of years. But our comfort testing and being named the most Crutchfield most comfortable headphone help them have like sort of a second life and their um more popular now than they were when they first came out. Yeah, let me see that for a second. I think one of the things that made them so comfortable was this headband right here because it takes the pressure points off and it sort of uh it spreads out the weight of the headphone even though, and I'm sure those are a little heavier duty and heavier than these right? But they don't feel all that heavy because they do such a nice job of supporting themselves and keeping the frame from you know creating a pain point on your head so comfortable and uh and they sound incredible. Yeah and so Antonio told me name, drop Antonio told me that the the spring actually covers the entire crown of your head where most headphones it's just that you know just the part that's like between the, he knew that that would make sure um was comfortable for the most size ahead, whether it's like somebody my size head or a smaller head. Um So so yeah so and then uh sound wise um really for these and for the for the 99 classics, um really tight authoritative base um Just uh you know and then this is the uh the the elites are one of those headphones, you can just kind of put on there so comfortable there, so even keeled and then they get that punchy bass that that works well with pretty much you know who doesn't like base right? Um these things have three different customer reviews already on them which is saying something for $4,000 set of headphones uh and averaging five out of nobody has given anything other than five stars on the reviews. And people have lots and lots of nice things to say. Alright, so Sennheiser are excellent. The meses are fantastic focal. Next, which gets my vote for the prettiest headphone on the table today. These things are absolutely gorgeous, agreed um They are built on that same sort of, so focal has a line of high end headphones and they all have the same similar shape. They they are the same exact shape, I should say. Um They did the studies to see what worked best, what kept the drivers in the right position and what looked the best, felt the best and all that stuff um for for, for their driver and just built on it every time. And this is probably the prettiest one that they've come up with yet. This is the Clear MG. It's their newest audiophile headphone came out last year um and it's as close to they get to their top of the line. Utopia headphones which have um those which I hope I'm not introducing too many things, but those have beryllium drivers. So you know, brilliant has that the sound characteristics that are like that. They, they're, they're rigid lightweight. They move really fast, but they also um you know, they like zero vibration. I think the guy brought us a tuning fork from focal, hit the desk and I have them in my bang them and we can listen to the, all the materials rang out except beryllium just dies right there. So it adds no resonance to the sound. It doesn't color your sound with its own additional frequencies. That's the last thing you want to fantastic. And these are about as close as you can get because these these are magnesium purely magnesium diaphragms with still with the same M shaped design that is like really fast attack. So you get those incredible dynamics that focal is known for. Um Do you remember in our training, way back when when you trained me years and years ago that we we we went to a focal, I think we had just started doing pro audio and they brought in some near field, near near field monitors. Um like the speakers that you would listen to at a desk for me. Um So I remember them playing those and I was in the back of the of our big huge training room at the time um and saying, well this is not the focal, I know this is what is it, I can't. And then I got closer and it's like oh yeah so I that had another learning thing, thank you J. R. That. And so they call these extreme near field speakers that kind of if that helps you visualize what they're going for. It sort of that money at your desk with monitors, speakers that so forward, more forward focal knows what they're doing. Making speakers whether it's for like a living room set up. They've got some really nice high end bookshelf and floor standing speakers when you look for Utopia, that's, they're really, really top of the line flagship model. They know how to do speakers in cars for a completely different environment than a living room and how to make them sound good with all the timing issues in cars. And then like you said, studio monitors for mixing music where you're listening just sitting a foot or two away from them. That is a different sound than speakers that are 10 ft away from you. Uh, and headphones are even, and even different sound when they're literally an inch from your ear. So, uh, so yeah, they know how to make them sound right at the distance you'll be listening to them from and that's, that's important. You often will see me hear me say and see me right about how spacious the headphone sounds. I talked about the sound stage here and how incredibly large focal here embraces the headphone nests of it all, you know, very close to you forward, but still a good sense of space. Um, yeah, and you can still pick out details and all that good stuff. So I'd say you got so far three pretty solid choices. These were what about 1000 bucks? The messages were 4000 bucks, 1500 bucks. Now they kind of feel less expensive when we think about a $4000 headphone. Uh these are looking pretty attractive to me, We've got two more choices here. What's next? These are the denizens and, and, and those are near and dear to me because I feel like Crutchfield helped kind of help them grow their name in the states and reputation. Um and this is like their attempt at like swinging for the fences on high end headphones and they have really done it if if you pull up that product page um you can see how they hand make these um bamboo ear cups. See this guy, he's, what is he doing? He's um so this, he's taken the bamboo and sort of processing, processing it and milling it and getting it to where they can um they can get it shaped into the right and sculpted into the right side that it's hand lacquered at the end. I think they have pictures of the hand lack a ring that they do. Um And they even put the, yeah, yeah. Um but yeah there's, there's those drivers and they are built to succeed within those bamboo ear cups. So you know that the bamboo has that has a tonal characteristic that's very lively. Um but the drivers and the, and the baffles inside things are built to kind of tame it a little bit but also kind of let it sparkle in the, And the highs and this is great. I didn't know we had so many pictures of the hand building of these headphones. Yeah I mean it's I mean it's it's very accurate sound but but but at the same time it's um you know it kind of lets the freak flag fly and how can they even afford to do that 99. I mean that once you know that that's the way they build these. They're not just you know coming off an assembly line, 100 of them at a time. They are really built with that that kind of care. 15 99 sounds pretty reasonable. A lot of great reviews on it. Seven of them. 75 out of five stars. So these are this is a great option. People, they're not in stock at the moment. Looks like we have an E. T. A. Though. So hopefully they'll be back in the next couple of months. But I would say the fact that you can add that to your cart right now if you're at all interested in those that do that because that will put you on the list to get one uh in the order in which your order was placed. So get one of those. All right? Our last headphones, what do we got here? These look different than the rest. Yes the odyssey L. C. D. Five plan, our magnetic headphones. Um you remember our comfort test. You remember people who may not be familiar with the higher end headphones walking in seeing those giant you know earlier generation odyssey headphones and being like whoa and putting them on just huge. I mean when you hit play on the music, I mean it's just heaps of um Yeah, yeah, but yeah, but they're very heavy um odyssey has actually made them much lighter, the carbon fiber frame um the but they've used their um their magnet technology to make them much more efficient and ultimately like this is the lightest uh flagship headphone people have seen. So you get that great odyssey sound, that incredible odyssey sound, but you don't have to wear the big giant um I mean it's big but they're physically large. Ear cups are bigger uh there, you know, and it takes that to do plain are magnetic. So that is all of the rest of these headphones have a traditional, those are also playing are magnetic. So these three have a more traditional speaker, it's just smaller and Condensed and it's put into uh an ear cup, right, this is a completely different thing happening in there. I mean it's still electricity going in and it's moving a diaphragm but that diaphragm isn't shaped like what you're used to seeing in a speaker. No, it's just like it's um it's very thin and very large. They say it's too, they say that's 200 times thinner than a strand of human hair now, you and I don't have human hair. So we don't know what that means. But um it's like it was actually a film, a material that was developed by Nasa that um that can move really quickly but then but still, you know, so it's it's it's large but it's moving a lot of air but it's moving very quickly because it's because it's so thin and then they have this magnet array that is um and then we go back to that. Yeah, I was just looking at the magnets, I don't again and we were lucky, we were fortunate enough to have um you know, training from, from all these different companies and odyssey has come in before with just the magnets themselves and shown us how they lay them out in a asymmetrical array, which means like it's like opposite of how you would think magnets should be laid out to patented technology they came up with and makes the magnets basically go, I think maybe twice or 1.5 times as strong as they normally normally a magnet would be. We saw, you know, like, like really quick and and that's what makes those super thin, super huge um drivers move. Um But yeah, so that's the real significant difference is the surface area of the driver being significantly bigger, more surface area means it moves more air, it makes more sound because it's super thin, it can be quick and precise for those high frequencies because it's bigger, it can give you bass, right? So it is a full range everything from top to bottom. Uh and maybe even more presence than most other headphones, yep. Um A lot of that stuff trickles down to the, to some of the headphones that don't necessarily have to cost $7000. So you, I mean you can get really great. Really excellent really, you know, that has all the same sound characteristics at lower prices. Um I just, you know, Crutchfield Lives. So let's bring the creme de la creme to that. You know, we're here talking about audiophile grade headphones, write your article on best wired headphones has a lot of lower priced alternatives to these that are fantastic from the same companies. Very much very, you know, the little brothers to these guys and these are also great headphones that are more uh in the everyman's budget. Right? That's not what this is. These are the audio file ones. Um Let's let's finish this up by talking about how you evaluate these headphones. Like how do you do that? What do you listen to? What do you get your music? What's your process like when you're listening to these headphones so that you can write about them? Well, um let me, so all of these headphones need that after mentioned headphone amplifier to uh to to to drive them to make them. I mean you get, can get sound by plugging them into your phone if you can get the right connection to your phone but to hear them at their best, you you you definitely need a headphone amplifier. Um these are not the kind of headphones, you just plug into your phone. No, you just don't do that with these headphones, that's not what they're for. And we've and um you know the last couple years, everybody at home just like we've seen two channel grow grow back, you know this resurgence in two channel audio and turntables. All these other old school old fashioned wired headphones plugging into an amplifier I've got on my screen if you want to pull it up some examples of some headphone amplifiers and they range in price drastically. Right so and shape and shape like you could get one that just plugs into the side of your laptop, you can get some that are more portable, designed to go with you wherever you go, you can also get some that are more like a component style where they are designed to sit on your desktop next to your computer, next to your audio system, things like that. So lots of different choices for headphone amps, but you need one pretty much all of these to really do what they do. So you use a headphone amp and most of our headphone amps have a dac built in a digital to analog converter which is important because even though we talked about how all these old school um sort of uh you know things are coming back um Another thing that happened is our networking has gotten better so we can we can stream, high res like you do in your car, we can we can we can listen to these higher quality recordings and and that sort of thing. So having a quality digital analog converter um takes that part of the process out of your computer or phone or whatever and um and and brings it over here. So I personally listen to Cohibas. Hi res streaming. We have a good relationship with those guys. We actually interviewed a few of them also. Soco Buzz does for Hi res music, what Spotify does for cd quality music? Right? So it's it's streaming, it's most of the songs that are out there in the best quality that you can stream. Right? And if you're streaming over wifi, it can sound, it's best if you're streaming over cellular, it could use a lot of data but it is the best sound quality for streaming. Now. Do you have that coming out of your computer or your phone or what? Yeah. Usually my laptop um have it connected straight USB to the deck and then it um and and headphone amplifier and then it does the conversion and then and you use the Cobra's app on your computer. Right? Not the browser version of Cobra. Yeah. So that's gonna get you the best sound from the Cobra's service, you're coming out USB to a headphone amplifier and a d to a converter. Uh so that your computer isn't responsible for powering and converting the music. Uh And so you've got plenty of power for your headphones. Yeah, I call out one. So I've tried a bunch of different um headphone amp decks. Um and if I certainly is a great uh you've got them pulled up there, they they're great at uh at uh making these products, the one that I call out in the in the catalog article is the Cambridge Audio, Dac Magic 200 sort of a swiss army knife, jack of all trades kind of thing that has um that can be a pre amp. It could be a, you know, you can use it as a and customers love it, but you could, you can plug. I mean that's got to have a nice headphone amplifier built in, capable of driving all of these headphones. If you could drive these headphones, you drive anything right? Um and it's a great deck for converting all the digital photos to analog. So and so amplifies your headphones, big volume knob on the front and covered this. Hey look there it is. Uh So that's the dark magic Plus, so this is a component, I mean this thing sits on your desk probably near your computer but not too huge to where, you know, it's not like I have another one that's like this big where I have to put on a rack beside the yeah, this one you can put on your desk. So we got a USB connections on the back, you've got XLR connections so you can go balanced connections if you've got a high end pre amp or something. Uh and optical digital inputs. So just about anything you can pipe it into here, converts it from digital analog, amplifies it and sends it out and output specifically for your headphones. Control it with the volume. All right. I feel like you've been delaying here Jeff, you gotta tell me what are you listening to? Okay, I'm sorry, like music. Yeah, so I listen to all types of different stuff. Um certainly, you know, because when you're dealing with this class of headphone, you want to know how technically proficient it is. So I'll listen to um, I will listen to classical music, some jazz and that kind of thing. Just to kind of see, hey, can I pick out instruments? Is the imaging on point? Um does the, do the dynamics like the loud to soft moments come through with the sort of like in your chest kind of thing. Like it should. Um But also, you know, I listen to some like classic soul because I also, because like we're talking with the measurements, I just, sometimes a lot of it is like how do you feel when you're listening to the music when I get when I have that cup of coffee in the morning and like do I get energized to like put it on and put and um you know, certainly with all these headphones, It does and and and listening to something like a soul, Like some soul music. Um Some, you know, some rock music, that kind of thing. Like will it pick me up? Will it make, will get me in the groove, that, that sort of thing. Um And then um I also listen to like, you know, um late nineties rap and stuff of that area, like the newer griselda stuff, that's kind of like that grimy sort of beat where if it's a lesser headphone, it sounds like either way like way too much bases. Like beat me over the head of bass or it's like, or sometimes even these like uh really high end headphones can just beat sound like a guy talking over like a musical backtrack versus like really blending in and textured and like, you know, during the fingernails getting into the music kind of thing. And that's what I like to hear is like when it's like a nice blend. Um And and you do get some, you do get a good base, but it's not like overbearing. It's not like at the expense of everything else that I'm so glad you get, you went from customer support to creative because you are so good at describing sound and you do that well right here right now you're using the words that I can like, oh I get what he's talking about? You also do a lot of that in your product spotlights where you write about a headphone that you actually got to listen to. That's what I've got on my screen. Now. If you want to pop that up Landon, uh just to show an example of when Jeff writes about a headphone, maybe not every single time, but a lot of times you will include your hands on experience what, what you listen to, what you heard when you listen to it, how you felt. Uh and giving out very specific examples. I love it when you do that. Well, yeah, I like to steer people because, like, I mean, I've been given an overview, but I want to make sure that if you're listening to a certain thing that you're getting the right, like if you're spending this kind of money on the headphones, I want to make sure you're getting the right one and they um it's gonna be, it's gonna play to your taste. I guess what I'm going to dr Philip crazy, but I went ahead and brought the Sony link buds, Sony link buds. These are very specific for very, very specific. Can you get that? Uh they have a big hole in the middle so that I can stay aware of my surroundings while I listen to music. They but they're surprised they're surprisingly um full sound, even though that you might think there would be hollow if you notice there's a hole in the middle of Yeah. Why is there a hole? So that's so that's so that you can hear your surroundings like if I'm up at three in the morning with my two year old trying to get him back to sleep, I can listen out for my three month old. Um and make sure that he's still asleep and not crying but still listen to podcasts and things. Sound good. They sound good and I can listen to stereo and put two. I used to do the thing with one ear and I don't know how many parents do that. Um But now I have I can listen to the stereo, listen to music, listen to podcast at three in the morning, get the kids to sleep and then make sure that the other kids are Jeff. We clearly got more than we bargained for with you here today. I can't thank you enough for coming on and talking about it. This is uh it's a lot going on here with some really, really nice headphones. Thank you man, appreciate it. Thank you. And you said you kept mentioning how you were annoying Phillip. You know who's next on the screen Philip Philip is you gonna join us to talk about some stuff that he's got at his house, not just stuff that you've auditioned and taken home for a week and then had to bring it back. But stuff stuff you purchased stuff I like so much that I bought. Yeah. So and this is your, your home stereo setup. So can you take it through us? I think we have a video you shot right as well. Yeah, sure. So I guess the main part of my system is a pair of clips. Heresy speakers that I got from our employees store got returned by customers. Those are the Heresy Threes. The next that's the SVS SB 1000 subwoofer. There's my turntable, the techniques sl 12 10 my phono pre amp, my Marantz integrated amp. That's what you're seeing now. You're about to see my blue sound node, my apple tv and then my Eero router is over there but its mostly vinyl system for listening to music. I also have my tv uh running through it to through the blue sound, but it's mostly for listening to records. So what give me, give me an idea of what you like to listen to on here. What records are you popping on when you get home from work or if you're going to do some real listening on it, what is your favorite go to? So I mean a big mix of stuff but everybody says, oh, I like all kinds of music and that's not a very satisfied. We don't allow people to just tell us. So I listen a little bit of everything. We hear that a lot. I'm gonna pin you down and so you're gonna have to tell me early nineties shoe gaze exclusively. Now listen to a lot of that rock, some jazz that the record that was I think on my tv stand there was a band called Dirty Three which is an Australian rock band. Warren Ellis leads that and they do instrumental stuff and Warren Ellis is on tour with Nick Cave right now they do a bunch of soundtrack stuff together. But then of course Nick cave and the bad seeds is more well known rock band. Yeah, lots of stuff like that. Uh those clips, heresy speakers. I am very jealous that you have a pair of those. I'm a huge clips fan as anybody that's been watching live knows uh how tell me about those, right are these are those things, I mean as in your face awesome as I expect them to be. Yeah, every bit as in your face awesome as you would want their uh their three way speakers with a horn loaded tweeter and midrange and then I think it's a 12 inch wool for um super in your face, Super dynamic and they just sound really big. Is kind of the best way I can put it. It's like wall of sound that the first time I heard them, that is what blew me away was just the size of the music, the size of the presentation. Um and then when there's music with lots of dynamics, how good they can just like go full speed, really, really quick. Yeah, I used to work at a radio station had clip studio monitors and the radio station console. The volume knob was this tiny little knob that you could just go like that and it would go from 0 to 100% in like a nanosecond. And those clips speakers were like, yeah, no problem, you wanna do it again, I can give you this as loud as you want. Uh So love those. Um and then you've got the SVS sub, so that's a pretty full bodied system, right? Yeah, and it's, it was almost tricky to dial it in because the clip speakers are so efficient as you know with those horns, they're like 97 or 98 Db. Really really sensitive. Uh So on my amplifier I barely ever have it past nine o'clock. But the signal from the amplifiers what tells the sub how loud to go. So it's like a really, really low signal. But SVS has an awesome app for dialing in the subway first and forget everything fine tuned. So it works really well together. Uh But yeah, super, super efficient speakers kind of make everything else in the system have to work well with it. Do you ever have any issues with the base from the sub or the speakers causing your record player to have a problem? I didn't see any acoustic decoupling devices in there, but you've got it dialed in. Okay. Yeah, so actually with the SVS subwoofers, they sell accessories come included, but they sell sound path feet that are like these thicker rubber isolating feet. So I have those under my subwoofer. And then I have actually we have in our studio here one of these beady eye tv stand, so it's really, really heavy and so no vibration gets through nice and really quick. So this is not a surround sound system at all, even though you've got your tv integrated and it's just two channels just to channel left 2.1 technically. So how are you using the Apple tv and the blue sound node. So so my Marantz amplifier only has analog inputs. It doesn't have Bluetooth or Wifi or even an optical digital input. I have my tv, my apple tv and then streaming all runs through the blue sound node. So it acts as my dad as my D A converter and then out of the blue sound node into a set of inputs on the on the Marantz amplifier. And you don't do anything as far or do you do you do any like music streaming through the note? Because the note is part of that blue sound multi room wireless audio system. And if you do any streaming, what do you stream? Like what services do you use? I pretty much only use Spotify just because it's so convenient and they have everything and it's great for like music Discovery. If I if I like a record, I buy the album, I buy it on vinyl. Um but I like Spotify for finding new music and it's super convenient. My wife enjoys that and uses Pandora. I don't have any multi room stuff. I only have the one blue sound piece, so that'd be a cool addition for the future, but it's mostly just the tv runs through it. Uh And what about stuff on tv? What do you watch? I mean you're part of our video team here, so you watch tv differently than the rest of us. Maybe a little bit. What do you watch? I probably subscribe to pretty much every streaming service. Uh certainly all the big ones. HBO, hulu netflix. Uh Apple tv plus. Disney plus. Yeah, but usually it's netflix or something on HBO max is what I'm watching. And you probably, you live kind of in town, right? You have pretty decent internet, you get four K. You get you get great sound obviously off of this. Yeah, videos look good and sound good. Yeah, so I'm lucky enough we have Ting internet which not everybody knows of, but it's fiber and it's super fast. So jealous. And then I have that Hero, you saw one of the routers in there. It's the Eero mesh system. So I have that plus two nodes in the house. So we get, we get close to gigabit upload and download speeds. So what we just did was an example of what we would like to do with more of our employees if you enjoyed what we just did a look at Philips system and we talk about it how you use it while you like it. Were trying to get more crutchfield employees to come join us here on live. So if you're into that, feel free to drop us a line and let us know uh and we're gonna reach out to other employees to see who might be interested in doing this Philip. Just laid it out for you. That's a great little sort of thing. We'd also love to hear more about your systems as our customers, as our viewers and we've had people send us photos. People tag us on instagram, things like that and we would love to showcase your systems as well even if it's just a picture of your, your living room, your card, stereo, you're, you're too channel system, whatever it might be landing, you've got some of those pictures handy. We had some people already doing this even before we asked people to do this, but that would be D. S. Auto Spot, which is a boss audio system installed in their dash. Nice, big doubled in touch screen. That thing looks great, has a backup camera, it looks like it's installed on a Honda fit. What else do we got? Oh, that's, that's right up my alley, I see a turntable pair of speakers, lots of records up there. Yeah. Is that a center channel right below the turntable. I think you're right. And I don't see that. I don't see the tv in this particular picture, but I do see a Metallica, which is right up my alley. Is that a lava lamp or just a regular? I hope it's a lava. I hope it is too. Is this chopper d new setup? Very happy with the finish. Very cool. That's awesome. Yeah, Send us pictures like that. That makes us very happy. What do we got next? Oh, this is a before speaker. This is somebody the inside of their door. They've taken the door panel off and that is the factory speaker right there in 204 wilderness looks like they replaced the factory speakers with some nice kicker CS. Two ways. I guarantee you that sounds a lot better than what was in there before. And that's one of the new Subaru wilderness models. Have you seen those before where they're lifted and they're on like the all terrain tires. Like they do all, all the mods that I'm in a Subaru cross track facebook group where people are like, what tires can I put on there? How, how far can I lift it? What light bar do you have? Can I put a winch on it? Uh, and uh, this is Subaru just doing most of that for you. So you just buy it that way. I'm not a person that does a lot of modifications? I replaced the stereo. That's it. Uh, and so otherwise my car is pretty much factory. Do we have any more or is that? All right, cool. So that's a that's a sort of a look into some of our customers, viewers, fans on instagram, tag us at crutchfield or hashtag crutchfield. Somehow. Let us know if you're posting pictures of the systems that you bought from us and install. We'd love to see that we're gonna try to get more employees to do what Philip just did and show us what they've, what they've got in their homes and their cars and their boats and wherever you might be camera. What are you, what are you doing with your camera? We'd love to see that. Their desks. Lots of headphone fans like Jeff your headphones. Good idea. Your bluetooth speaker. Give us a shot of you grilling steaks in your backyard, like Dylan. Uh, so, so yeah, that's we would love to have and be able to feature more of that on a future crutchfield live Philip. Everybody have a wonderful day. Thank you so much for watching. Thanks Jr

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