Review: Master & Dynamic MH40 headphones rival my much-loved B&W P5s

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When I put together my premium headphone gift guide, a commentator suggested that there was one more pair that deserved to make the list: the $399 Master & Dynamic MH40. The visual design had initially led me to assume these were semi-open cans – and thus not ideal for mobile use – but I found this wasn’t the case, and decided to give them a try.

I should say I’m a hard sell with headphones. I may not venture into four-figure professional headphone territory, but I’m prepared to spend a decent chunk of change on something with well above average sound, and my beloved Bowers & Wilkins P5s were the result of much research and listening time. They match superb sound with extremely sleek looks and great comfort. P5s are, for me, the standard against which all other premium headphones get judged, so you’ll understand me drawing comparisons between the two.

The MH40 is aimed at the same market. A similar price, broadly similar looks, same foldable design, same embedded controls and mic for use with phone calls as well as music. The question was: how would they compare … ?

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Gift guide: Premium headphones & earphones for the music lover in your life

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Apple makes great phones, tablets and computers; earphones not so much. The ones that come free with the iPhone look attractive, but they’re pretty much worth what you pay for them when it comes to sound quality.

Great sound, though, doesn’t come cheap, which is why a pair of premium headphones or earphones can make the perfect gift for someone who loves their music but perhaps doesn’t have the budget to really splash out on themselves.

If you’re buying for a musician, check out the more studio-oriented recommendations in our music gift guide. For those who will mostly use their headphones while on the move, read on …  Read more

Bose products reportedly set to return to Apple Store shelves as early as next week

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Earier this year Bose and Apple had a bit of a falling out when the former decided to block NFL players from wearing Beats headphones while on camera, then fined players who violated the rule. Beats Electronics co-founder Jimmy Iovine said at the time that the ban actually served Beats by providing a bit of free publicity.

Apple apparently didn’t agree, and retaliated by pulling all Bose products from its store shelves in October. Around that time the two companies were also duking it out in a patent lawsuit, though they eventually decided to settle.

But Bose products are reportedly headed back to Apple Store shelves…

Beats announces Solo2 wireless headphones as first new product under Apple ownership

Beats Solo2 Wireless Headphones

Following our exclusive report of FCC documents revealing that Beats was working on a new pair of headphones, the accessory maker this morning has announced its brand new Solo2 wireless headphones as its first new product since being acquired by Apple for $3 billion earlier this year. The headphones are set to launch in the United States this month at Apple Stores and select retailers for $299.95. Read more

Upcoming Bluetooth Apple-branded Beats Solo2 headphones revealed by FCC

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Apple and its Beats by Dre group seem to be close to announcing a new pair of headphones: a Bluetooth version of their popular Solo2 headphones. Earlier this year, Beats launched the Solo2 wired earphones as a cheaper alternative to the Studio cans. Today, a wireless version has been revealed thanks to the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) testing department.

As can be seen in the image above from today’s FCC filing, the design of the wireless model is akin to the wired model. The only difference appears to be the Bluetooth connectivity. The documents specify that Bluetooth 4.0 Low-Energy technology is utilized.

Interestingly, these documents indicate that these headphones are Apple-branded:

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Apple reportedly removing Bose products from retail stores as NFL bans & Bose sues Beats

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Bose headphones and audio products could soon get the boot from Apple retail stores, according to a report from MacRumors citing “a reliable source.”

While Apple’s acquisition of Beats would seem like the obvious reason behind replacing the many Bose headphones and speakers currently used with iOS and Mac demo units, the report also claims that Apple will be removing Bose products from store shelves in addition to the demo units. Read more

Apple introduces MFi specs for Lightning cable headphones, support arriving in future iOS update

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We’ve learned Apple has quietly introduced a new specification for manufacturers in its Made-For-iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) program that allows them to create headphones that connect to iOS devices using a Lightning connector instead of the usual 3.5mm headphone jack. Apple has not flipped the switch on the audio input support for Lightning cables and existing iOS devices, but it will release a software update in the future that will enable support in devices running iOS 7.1 or later. Read more

Review: Beats Studio Wireless headphones (and what Apple can improve)

A few weeks before initial reports that Apple was planning to acquire Beats Electronics, I started AT&T’s three month trial of the Beats Music subscription streaming service.. Given that generous window of time, I felt more comfortable investing my time than I would with a one or two week trial. When news broke that Apple was in final talks to purchase Beats, I was caught off guard and immediately concerned that the subscription service that I was starting to really like would change under Apple’s watch. Since the deal has been made official, Apple has said that Beats Music will continue as it is (across multiple platforms even) as will the headphones line (Beats branded, not Apple branded) for now.

Because I was rather surprised by the appeal of Beats Music and Apple is now endorsing the headphones more than ever (even if only really for their massive profit margins), I got really curious Friday afternoon to try out a pair of Beats headphones first hand so I did just that. I’ve been using the Beats Studio Wireless headphones (Amazon) just about all waking hour of this weekend, and below you can read my thoughts on one of the products included in Apple’s biggest acquisition to date. Read more

Beats acquisition may be part of a new focus on music quality, suggests Japanese blog

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Following the presumed acquisition of Beats, Apple plans to up its music game with support for high-resolution audio files in a revamped Music app in iOS 8, and to offer a higher-quality version of its In-Ear Headphones, reports Japanese blog Macotakara

The source of the high-res audio rumor appears somewhat circumstantial, linked to a Warner Music post about the forthcoming release of a ‘Super Deluxe’ version of three remastered early Led Zeppelin albums in 96kHz/24-bit form – a resolution the current iOS Music app cannot play. It is, however, consistent with a similar earlier rumor regarding iTunes support for higher-quality audio …  Read more