Friday, July 24, 2015

Quincy Jones $1,500 Headphones

Quincy Jones headphones sound great, but are they worth $1,500?


That technology, TruNote, uses two microphones in each ear cup to measure the frequency response and uses filters to compensate accordingly while you wear them. As you listen to a particular type of music, you press a button on the right ear cup and release it upon hearing a tone. A second or so later you'll hear a couple of blips that let you know the headphones have been calibrated to the shape of your ear.
I guess I don't have a trained ear because, to be honest, I had a hard time telling the difference whether I calibrated the headphones or not.

AKG Quincy Jones N90Q
As active noise cancellation headphones, the AKGs send out signals to kill the frequencies of external unwanted noises — the blur of an airplane engine, say. I didn't get a chance to listen on a plane, but the headphones did an excellent job of blocking out the noise on a commuter bus.
You flip a switch attached to the right ear cup to turn the headphones on or off. You cannot listen in the off position, so you'll want to make sure the headphones are fully charged if you expect to be without power for awhile. Unfortunately, there's no status indicator to warn you when the battery is about to die.
You charge the headphones through USB. Harman says you'll get about 12 hours between charges. The headphones come with a heavy metal carrying case with a power bank and USB connector inside that lets you charge them while they're stashed away. A lighter travel pouch (without the built-in charger) is also supplied.
USA Today's Ed Baig asks Quincy Jones about his new headphones,
the $1500 AKG N90Q
The headphones themselves are on the heavy side but comfortable. The headband and ear cushions are made of leather; the hinge of aluminum.
I'm not sure everyone will love the way they look, however. A co-worker said I looked dorky. My wife thought they were ugly.
You can rotate an aluminum ring on the right ear cup to adjust the volume. A ring on the left ear cup controls bass and treble. You can also fine-tune listening modes for a surround sound experience or for a studio setting.
Like many people, I listen to streaming music on my phone, where outside distractions and less than optimal source material makes you wonder whether headphones like these are overkill? The sound was impressive just the same.
But I also spent a pleasurable afternoon testing the headphones in a more ideal listening environment, in a secluded room at the Harman store. I listened to compact disks playing in a high end OPPO Blu-ray player. I took in an eclectic mix: Super Audio CDs of the classic Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon album — the authentic-sounding cash register in Money reminded me how expensive these headphones are — and the Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestra performing material from Sir Edward Elgar and Ralph Vaughn Williams.
A Blu-ray Audio recording of Tears for FearsEverybody Wants To Rule The World andThe Working Hour sounded amazing.
So did the tracks off regular CDs: Paul Simon's Diamonds on the Sole of Her Shoes,Hot Chip's Look At Where We Are and Dire StraitsMoney For Nothing.
Occasionally I switched to $300 Bose headphones for comparison purposes. While I preferred the AKGs, the Bose sounded good, too, and for a lot less money.

Jones told me: "Music and water will be the last thing to leave this Earth. People can't live without it."
He's right, of course. But you don't always have to spend a fortune to enjoy it.
The bottom line:
Pro. Splendid sound. Active noise cancellation. Personalized to user's ear. Comfortable to wear.
Con. Expensive. No indication when battery will poop out. Not everyone loves the way they look. — Ed Baig | USA Today
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