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HiFi Lounge

Highend Headphones - All Our Latest News & Reviews!

77 posts in this topic

Dealer

Hi Everyone,

I thought I would start a separate thread from our HiFi Lounge news thread with just all the news from our Highend Headphone side as this is a fast moving side of HiFi nowadays with new and interesting products being released all the time.

Cheers,

Paul.

Just thought I would start of with the Highend Headphone announcement to keep everything in one place -

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Hi Everyone,

This is some really exciting news for both myself and Wendy, due to the success of our headphone room we have decided to launch a new company called ‘Highend Headphones’ Please follow the link to our new website below, I have been over it thoroughly but if you do see any errors please let me know -

http://www.highendheadphones.co.uk

launching the website is the first phase in the development of Highend Headphones, Phase 2 is my wife Wendy, who many of you will already know, joining the company to help run HiFi lounge and Highend Headphones, phase 3 will be Highend headphones moving into its own dedicated building, a stunning converted barn with 2 large demo rooms, on the same site as HiFi Lounge, and finally phase 4 will be the Highend Headphone website switching over to online shipping to make it easier for fellow headphone enthusiasts to purchase whatever takes their fancy at any time.

Both Wendy and myself are extremely excited by launching this new company, When we launched HiFi Lounge towards the end of 2012 we decided to take a gamble and to use the smallest demo room as a headphone room, we started of with 6 pairs of Grado’s and to be fair it got off to a very slow start and I really thought that it wasn’t going to work, undeterred we bought on some more brands and slowly but surely the headphone room really did take on a life of its own with people coming from all over the country for a chance to compare some of the best headphones currently available today. In the end the headphone room has become one of the busiest parts of HiFi Lounge so we took the decision to move the headphones into their own building and to start Highend Headphones so that we can expand it further and to give it room to breath outside of HiFi Lounge. Please see a couple of pictures below showing the headphone room when we opened and what it has become now, it is definitely time to move it into its own building :)

End Of 2012

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May 2014

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It really is such an exiting time for headphones, amps and Dacs at the moment, especially at the top end, with constantly new brands and products entering the market which all need demoing as matching the Amp/Dac to the headphones is vitally important. This is why we have put together a selection of the best headphones, amps and dacs in the world today all under one roof for our customers to come and compare and chose the perfect match for them.

As we are based in a converted stable well away from the high street, with plenty of free parking, you really can come in and spend as much time as needed to put a system together that suits you, it may seem daunting at first when you come face to face with all the options but you soon find a sound that suits you and that is where we can help guide you in the right direction, in fact one of the real beauty’s of headphones is that you can own 2 or more pairs all with different characteristics to suit a particular type of music or mood maybe, something you would struggle with on a conventional hifi speaker system.

The quality of headphone rigs now really is quite amazing with some stunning setups possible that cost a fraction of the price of a traditional hifi system but will surpass it quite easily on pure sound quality, ok so it won’t have the scale and soundstage of a speaker system but for pure sound quality we really believe that headphones are tough to beat, the main area where headphones win is that they totally eliminate the effect the room has on sound quality, the room is pretty much one of the biggest parts of any traditional hifi rig so with headphones you are tapped straight into the recording, there really is no better way to listen to music as the artist intended than on a Highend Headphone rig, this also means when you demo your setup at Highend Headphones it will sound exactly the same when you get it home, not always the case with a traditional hifi system.

We will constantly be evaluating new products and brands that enter the headphone market so please check back regularly to our site for all the exciting new developments as one thing is for sure the headphone market doesn’t stop for a minute and it really is exciting to be part of that.

If you’d like to explore a top end headphone setup please get in touch to book an appointment, there will be no time constraints, just sit back and enjoy comparing all the different options that are available, all under one roof in a relaxed manner with as much tea or coffee that you can drink, I think you’ll be surprised just how immersive and enjoyable listening to you favourite music will be to a dedicated highend headphone setup, it will be like re-discovering your music collection all over again.

Please find a few pictures of the stable building below that is currently undergoing some work in readiness for our launch hopefully sometime in June, all being well we will be having a launch party sometime in September.

The Entrance.

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The Rear with large sliding doors opening into the gardens.

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Demo Room 1, still plenty of work to do.

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The Views, You can just see HiFi Lounge to the left.

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Hope to see you soon,

Thanks,

Paul and Wendy.

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Dealer

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Hi All,

This is really exciting news as since opening HiFi Lounge towards the end of 2012 there has always been one brand that I have always wanted to add to our portfolio, the cherry on the top if you like, that brand being McIntosh.

Is there any Hifi brand more iconic than McIntosh Laboratory’s? probably not, with their classic black glass front panels, blue VU meters and green lettering, there really is no mistaking a McIntosh product. They are based in Binghampton, New York and were founded in 1949 by Frank McIntosh and have gone from strength to strength over the years creating some of the most respected Hifi ever created. They even powered The Woodstock Music Festival in 1969 and helped create The Grateful Dead’s legendary ‘Wall of Sound’ in 1974, delivering 28,800 watts of continuos power from forty eight McIntosh power amps, the most powerful sound system by some margin at the time.

Being that we are bringing on McIntosh for Highend Headphones to start with we are starting of quite small by adding the stunning new MHA100 dedicated headphone amplifier and the D100 DAC/PRE/Headphone Amp, once we have finished kitting out the new shop I will then bring on the big McIntosh stuff for HiFi Lounge, I’ve already got my wish list in place :)

The MHA100 really is a stunning headphone amp that will drive any headphone out there thanks to its 3 different impedance settings + normal and high gain, from ear buds to the hardest to drive headphones, it even has a 50 watts per channel power amp built in to drive a pair of speakers, you could also use the speaker taps to drive the hardest to drive headphones on the planet using their adaptor, the HiFiMan HE-6’s, leaving the front output for a more normal pair of headphones shall we say, the MHA100 also contains a highend DAC with asynchronous USB, it’s a great way to own a piece of McIntosh without having to re-mortgage the house and it has to be the best looking headphone amp on the planet, can’t wait to try it with the Abyss AB01266 headphones :)

Then there is the D100 DAC / Digital Preamp with a high quality headphone amp built in, use it as a headphone amp or hook it straight up to a power amp to create a fantastic digital system, I know a lot of headphone guys in the states use this DAC into some very high quality headphone amps so I am really looking forward to getting my hands on the D100.

I am expecting my demo MHA100 and D100 to be with us in a couple of weeks so If you would like to see how McIntosh could sit at the centre of your headphone rig please pop into Highend Headphones for a demo and to discuss further.

Please find a link to both products on our website + a few pictures -

McIntosh

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Cheers,

Paul.

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Hi All,

Every since being made aware of the Abyss headphones at the Whittlebury HiFi show last year I have been following their progress with interest, many people have described these as the best headphone available today so needless to say that I couldn’t resist a statement like that so am really pleased to announce that we now have the Abyss AB-1266 Headphones on Permanent demo.

Abyss Headphones are a division of JPS labs, an American company best known for their highend range of audio products mainly focusing on interconnects and cables, afew years back though the founder of JPS, Joe Skubinski, decided that he would create a sub division of JPS with the sole aim of developing, not one of the best headphones on the planet, but the very best headphone available today, certainly no small claim. Like Audeze and HiFiMan they decided to go down the Planar Magnetic route but developed proprietary very thin, very low mass diaphragm with custom made high power neodymium magnets resulting in a headphone with no coloration that is extremely revealing and lifelike in its presentation with unbelievably good bass response, along with the clever fitting of the ear cups to get the best seal and the highend stock cable and accessories that come as standard then the Abyss AB-1266 Headphones really do promise to be something quite special indeed.

I only got them yesterday and started to run them in straight away but couldn’t resist to spend a couple of hours listening last night, firstly, they are far more comfortable than they look and although their styling is a little different shall we say, the good thing is that once you have got them on you can’t see yourself so it doesn’t matter, seriously though the only thing that does matter is how do they sound? and this is where they really do shine, the funny thing is they don’t do anything spectacular as the overall balance is superb it is only when you compare against another headphone do you realise how special the Abyss Headphones really are.

Last night I only had time to compare against the Audeze LCD-3’s, one of our biggest selling headphones and one of the best around, first I must point out that the Abyss cost £4524, so significantly more than the LCD-3’s, but they really are a clear step up, the Abyss offer an extremely tight and punchy bass, with a stunning mid range and a very refined treble, when you compare directly to the LCD-3’s it really does sound like a veil has been lifted and you are presented with a far cleaner and insightful sound, I guess that is what an extra £3000 buys you. The trouble is once you’ve heard them you can’t listen to anything else again so be warned.

The big comparison will be the Abyss AB-1266 headphones v the amazing Stax SR-009’s, also considered by many to be the best on the planet, I want to run in the Abyss more before sitting down to try that one so at the moment I’m running them in with some Rammstein blasting through them which with the Abyss’s industrial looks only seem right somehow.

I’m also going to try a few different amps to see what will get the best out of them, at the moment the Bryston BHA-1 has done a brilliant job with its balanced stereo outputs but I have heard that the HiFiMan EF-6 also does a great job and I’m really keen to try the Trilogy 933 amp as although it only has a single ended output it really is my favoured amp at the moment.

Anyway please feel free to come into have a listen, and as ever here are a few pictures -

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Cheers,

Paul.

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Hi Everyone,

As most of you have probably guessed by now, I quite like listening on headphones so I’m really pleased to announce that we have now added Ultrasone to our line up of top headphone brands and are now a certified Ultrasone Elite dealer.

Ultrasone are a German company founded in 1991 and based near the Alps, their prime objective is to produce the most musical headphones available today. As a certified Ultrasone Elite dealer we have decided to focus on the very special Ultrasone Editions range of headphones, many of which are limited editions. Ultrasone now have over 60 patents in place, one of which is their S-Logic technology which with its decentralised transducer gives a different listening experience to all other headphones out there. The Editions Range only use very select natural materials and are all crafted by hand by skilled craftsmen, every driver being hand selected and matched in pairs then every headphone is tested before leaving the factory to ensure the customer gets the highest quality pair of headphones,

We have on permanent display the Edition 8, Edition 10 and Edition 12, and can get in the Edition 5 (limited to 555 pairs worldwide) upon request. Since getting them in a couple of weeks ago I have spent a fair bit of time listening to all 3 models, the first thing that strikes you is how beautifully made they are, also how light and comfortable they are, but mainly how right they all sound, very balanced presentation with great detail but not bright, just very musical, the kind of headphone you could wear for hours on end and forget you have them on.

Please find a link below and some pictures, please feel free to come in for a listen anytime.

http://www.highendheadphones.co.uk/ultrasone

Edition 10 - Limited to 2010 Pairs Worldwide

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Edition 12 Headphones

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Edition 8 Headphones

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Edition 5 - Limited to 555 Pairs Worldwide

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Cheers,

Paul.

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Hi Guys,

It really isn’t everyday that a new brand enters the headphone arena, we all know that OPPO have proved their worth with their stunning Blu-Ray players over the last few years but the headphone market is a very competitive place at the moment, particularly at the highend so as a big fan of what OPPO have achieved with their disc spinners I have been looking forward to both these products for some time now.

Obviously they come with the fantastic OPPO packaging that OPPO are renowned for, as for the headphones they are extremely light, beautifully made and one of the most comfortable headphones I have tried. They use Planar Magnetic drivers but they really are very easy to drive, I tried them on the Astell&Kern AK240 and that was a brilliant combination with plenty of volume, I have yet to compare with other headphones at the same price point but knowing the lengths OPPO went to for the development of the PM-1 I’m very confident that they will take the fight to the establishment, they are priced at £1099.

As for the headphone amp, well I have been really excited by this since talking to the guys from OPPO when they paid me a visit a few months back, it really is extremely well built and caters for all inputs, has low and high gain setting, balanced and single ended inputs and outputs, runs in Pure Class A and is based around the ESS 9018 Sabre32 Reference DAC which will decode everything including the latest DSD codecs, best of all though it has VU meters or a Spectrum analyser which you can choose between :) The first thing I did was set it to high gain and grab the notoriously hard to drive HiFiMan HE-‘6’s which to be fair most headamps can’t drive but the OPPO HA-1 really didn’t have any problems which is a great start. I’m still waiting for the price to be confirmed 100% but hopefully it will be a similar price to the PM-1’s, which to be fair will be an absolute bargain, oh yeah, and you get full remote control which is quite rare with headamps.

In other OPPO headphone news, OPPO announced last week the PM-2 Headphones, which won’t come with all the goodies of the PM-1 but uses very similar drivers, looks the same and will cost £699, that should be an extremely successful headphone for OPPO.

Anyway here are a few pics, I have both the headphones and amp here on permanent demo, both are available to order now with delivery due later this month all being well. Please find more info in the link below -

http://www.highendheadphones.co.uk/oppo

How Exciting

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Classic OPPO Packaging

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Beautiful Dark Cherry Presentation Box

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Time to Un-Box the amp

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Thanks,

Paul.

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Hi All,

This is just a quick post to say that OPPO have just released details of the accessory range that they will be offering for the their excellent PM-1 headphones and HA-1 headphone amp.

Please see below, these are all due in soon as we are taking pre-orders now - you can see the full OPPO headphone range here -

Oppo

OPPO Headphone Stand - £79

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OPPO Headphone Amp Stand - £150

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Balanced XLR Cable for Headphones From £129 for 2m, £149 for 3m.

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We also have the new OPPO PM-2 headphones to look forward to, as far as I can tell they offer similar driver technology to the brilliant PM-1 but without all the frills and at a cheaper cost, more details and price to be confirmed.

OPPO PM-2 Headphones

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OPPO HA-1 In Silver - Available soon!

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So I think it is fair to say that OPPO really have thought through their Headphone products and will very shortly be offering a fantastic package with both a brilliant amp and headphones along with stands and balanced cable options, nice one OPPO :)

Needless to say we will have everything on demo at Highend Headphones as soon as it is all available so please feel free to come in to have a look and a demo.

Cheers,

Paul.

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Hi All,

The first time I saw these new players was at Munich a couple of weeks ago and I was a little surprised to be honest as the range seemed to be getting too complicated but it now looks like the original AK100 and AK120 will soon be discontinued to be replaced by these new 2nd generation models.

It seems as if Astell&Kern have learned a lot from the development of the flagship AK240 model and have decided to re-fresh the lower models to include many of the features from the AK240 + increase storage and add a larger more informative screen.

Stock is due in over the next couple of weeks so please feel free to place any orders now, more information can be found on our Highend Headphones website below and we will have the full range on permanent demo once released -

http://www.highendheadphones.co.uk/astellampkern

Here are a few highlights of the 2 new models and a few pics -

Astell&Kern AK100 II

Single DAC - Cirrus Logic CS4398

Balanced Output

Mastering Quality Sound

DSD Support

Use it as an external DAC

Supports up to 192GB of storage

Wireless Streaming

3.31” AMOLED Touch screen

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Astell&Kern AK120 II

Dual DAC - Cirrus Logic CS4398 x2

Balanced Output

Mastering Quality Sound

DSD Support

Use it as an external DAC

Supports up to 256GB of storage

Wireless Streaming

3.31” AMOLED Touch screen

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Cheers,

Paul.

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Hi All,

Today was a big day as I have always dreamt of owning some McIntosh equipment but never thought that would ever happen really but today that dream became a reality :-)

It has been a long while since I have been so excited in opening a box with new kit in, you only have that first time feeling once and as I had long admired McIntosh kit at shows and in magazines the fact that I had at long last had a couple of items in my possession was almost to much to bear, sad I know.

Anyway eventually I took a knife to the tape and got stuck in, I still can’t believe the packing for the D100 DAC, I have never seen such a well packed piece of hifi before, i really can’t imagine how big the boxes must be for their big amps, hopefully one day I will find out :-)

Needless to say once unboxed the build quality really is something else, the MHA100 really is a stunning design that looks absolutely beautiful, I know that the McIntosh design is very marmite, Wendy really doesn’t like it, but I just can’t get enough of it, this is real McIntosh kit, just shrunk down a little.

The Highend Headphone shop is still undergoing some work, the decorating is now all done, next the floor will be going down then it shouldn’t be too much longer before the grand opening, but once we get everything in place the McIntosh MHA100 and D100 will certainly take centre stage.

If anyone is interested in the MHA100 I would recommend picking up a copy of this months HiFi News as there is a stunning review of it in there, getting a score of 85% which for HiFi News is very high indeed, don’t forget this isn’t just a Highend Headphone Amp / DAC, but also a 50 watts per channel integrated that will run some very nice speakers indeed so it really can form the hub of a fantastic hifi setup.

Anyway I can ramble on about McIntosh kit all day so please find a few pictures below of the unboxing and more info can be found on our website then I’m off for a good listen, if you are interested in either the MHA100 or the D100 please get in touch to arrange a demo -

http://www.highendheadphones.co.uk/mcintosh

McIntosh MHA100 Headphone Amplifier

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McIntosh D100 DAC

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Cheers,

Paul.

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Hi All again,

Well it has taken some time but I have finally got round today to having my first proper listen to both the MHA100 and the D100, now to be fair I bought on McIntosh on looks alone and a few listens at various shows so to say I was keen to have a listen was an understatement, needless to say I haven't been disappointed.

Firstly both the MHA100 and D100 sound very different, I used the Audeze LCD-3's as my cans of choice, with the MHA100 you get a very full sound, a little laid back with enough detail, but it is more about musicality than out and out detail, you really could listen to it for hours without any fatigue setting in plus it has loads of drive, I used the LCD-3's on the normal gain setting and they are not the easiest cans to drive but with a high setting available also then I can't imagine that there is a headphone out there that they would struggle with, next I will try the brilliant Abyss headphones.

As for the D100, that offers a more detailed, open and cleaner sound, as a headphone amp it hasn't quite got the drive of the MHA100 but it really is surprisingly good and very capable, its great really as both are brilliant headphone amps and DACS but with 2 very different presentations.

You can't ever miss a chance to take some pictures of McIntosh kit so here are a couple more of them running in, sad I know :-)

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Cheers,

Paul.

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Hi Guys,

Grado have just announced their new range of headphones called the ‘e Series’ so we are now selling off our demo models of the much respected previous range, in fact it was the excellent PS1000 headphones that really got me into headphone listening.

We have 6 models available, they are all in excellent, as new condition, have only been used a handful of times and will come boxed with all documentation.

If you would like anymore information please feel free to ring me on 01767 448121 or e-mail me on paul@highendheadphones.co.uk

Please find pictures and prices below -

SR80i

New Price - £99

Our Price - £59

SR325i

New Price - £299

Our Price - £199

PS500

New Price - £599

Our Price - £449

RS1i

New Price - £699

Our Price - £499

GS1000i

New Price - £999

Our Price - £749

PS1000

New Price - £1699

Our Price - £1199

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Cheers,

Paul.

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Grado SR325i's Now Sold!

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New Astell&Kern AK100 II and AK120 II Portable Players on Demo!

Hi All,

I just wanted to mention that we now have the 2 new models on demo from Astell&Kern, the AK100 II and AK120 II, these are 2nd generation players that now replace the outgoing AK100 and AK120.

It looks like Astell&Kern learnt a lot when developing their top of the range AK240 and have now put a lot of that into the new models like MQS streaming, which I find really useful when listening at home as it gives the user the ability to access all their music stored on a NAS drive or computer and stream it wirelessly to any of the new A&K players and if you want you can then download directly to the player to take out and about with you. Also once connected to your home network you can now upgrade the firmware wirelessly which makes it all very easy.

Also now all 3 models share the same Cirrus Logic DAC’s with one in the AK100 II and 2 DACs in both the AK120 II and AK240 which allow playback of DSD files across the range, with only the AK240 playing it natively though, the 2 new players convert to PCM first.

The other main improvement other than increased storage is the new larger screens and a much improved user interface in my opinion which is now the same as the AK240, it is very clear and very intuitive to use.

Finally in a month or so Qobuz will be added as a firmware upgrade which will allow you to stream CD quality music from Qobuz’s servers directly to your Astell&Kern player, as a user of Qobuz this is something I am personally looking forward to.

So now the Astell&Kern range feels complete with all 3 models now sharing the same features and user interface, we have all 3 on demo so if you’d like to experience the ultimate portable systems please feel free to get in touch to arrange a demo.

Please find some more information below + a few pictures -

http://www.highendheadphones.co.uk/astell-and-kern

AK100 II

  • Single Dac
  • DSD Playback (DSD to PCM)
  • Balanced Output
  • Wi-FI MQS Streaming
  • 64GB Internal Storage (Expandable to 192GB)
  • Optical Output

Price - £799.99

http://www.highendheadphones.co.uk/astell-and-kern/astellampkern-ak100-ii-portable-player-2nd-generation

AK120 II

  • Dual DAC
  • DSD Playback (DSD to PCM)
  • Balanced Output
  • Wi-FI MQS Streaming
  • 128GB Internal Storage (Expandable to 256GB)
  • Optical Output

Price - £1499.99

http://www.highendheadphones.co.uk/astell-and-kern/astellampkern-ak120-ii-portable-player-2nd-generation

AK100 II & AK120 II

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AK100 II

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AK120 II

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The Full Astell&Kern Family

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Cheers,

Paul.

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Just a quickie to mention that we have now sold most of our Grado Ex-display headphones, we still have the GS1000i's and PS500's available, both excellent headphones, please feel free to get in touch if you'd like to discuss further.

PS500

New Price - £599

Our Price - £449

GS1000i

New Price - £999

Our Price - £749

Thanks,

Paul.

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Hi Everyone,

I just thought I would post a quick update regarding how we are getting on with the refurbishment of the old stable building that we are turning into a Headphone Demo facility, basically we have had the decorators in, yesterday the floor went down and next week the CCTV and Alarm systems are being fitted, once this has been done we can start with the fun part of getting all the Headphones / Amps and DACs up and running.

A date for everyones diary, We are having our official launch event on September 27th which should be a fun event with many representatives coming along from the headphone brands, we will also have special offers for the event, more info to come shortly regarding this.

Also Highend Headphones is going to be this years title sponsor for the ‘Headzone’ at this years National Audio Show at Whittlebury Hall over the weekend of September 20th/21st, basically we are taking over most of the area showing a selection of the best headphones and amps currently available in the world today, should be another great event.

Anyway I have been taking a few pictures of the work done so far, not the most exciting to be honest but all part of creating what we hope will become the premier place to visit within the UK for everyones serious headphone needs -

Its getting serious, we now have a sign :-)

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Time to do some decorating!

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Then the turn to get the floor laid!

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So it really is starting to take shape now, over the next couple of weeks we should get all the furniture in place and it should start to look how we’ve imagined it for the last few months, I’ll post some more pictures once done.

Please keep an eye on our website also for new products and news -

http://www.highendheadphones.co.uk/

Cheers,

Paul.

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Hi All,

We seem to have been waiting for ages to get our hands on HiFiMan’s new HE-560 headphones, I heard them first at the Munich Highend Show back in May and was instantly impressed so I was really pleased when a HiFiMan labelled box arrived yesterday.

These headphones are entering a very competitive area of the higher end headphone market and being the direct replacement for the excellent HE-500’s they certainly have big shoes to fill. HiFiman are probably best known for making pretty much the hardest headphone to drive on the planet with the excellent HE-6’s, the HE-560’s are still use a planar driver like the HE-6’s but are much easier to drive.

HiFiMan have also started again with the ergonomics of their headphones so we now have a redesigned headband, very reminiscent of the Stax SR-009’s if i’m honest, but they are considered one of the most comfortable headphones around so not a bad idea to copy that. The HE-560’s are also quite a bit lighter than their previous offerings and with the new ear cup design they are much more comfortable for longer listening sessions.

I have only just un-boxed them and will be running them in for the next few days but obviously I couldn’t resist a quick listen, and straight away they impress with a very open mid, a detailed but smooth’ish treble with a tight and punchy bottom end, I can really see that once these are run in they will be unbeatable at their price point.

They come in at £650, you can see more info below on our website, also please find a few pictures below, if you’d like to come in for a listen then please feel free.

http://www.highendheadphones.co.uk/hifiman/hifiman-he-560-headphones

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Cheers,

Paul.

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