I greatly admire Sennheiser headphones--I've had a classic on-ear HD 414 SL in my recording studio for 40 years. These days, the company also makes in-ear headphones (IEHs), including the IE 300, which was introduced at CES 2021. When I learned about the IE 300 last January, I was excited to check it out. Now that I have, I can say it's the best in-ear headphone I've ever heard. The IE 300 is definitely aimed at audiophiles--there's no Bluetooth, noise cancellation, or microphones for phone calls; just a 4-foot, unbalanced cable terminating in a 3.5mm stereo plug.
Many smartphones come with earbuds that let you privately listen to music stored or streamed on the device. Many consumers regard those stock earbuds with disdain, however, claiming their sound quality is simply not good. For them, buying a set of third-party earbuds--or, even better, a set of in-ear monitors (IEMs)--is an easy way to improve the quality of the sound they hear. Swedish company RevoNext is one of many makers of IEMs. Within its lineup is the QT5, which offers several high-end features for a decidedly bargain price.
Cleer Audio is a relative newcomer in the headphone market. It was founded in 2012 with a focus on DJ headphones, but that focus changed to consumer products in 2016. Since then, the company has wasted no time; it now offers four in-ear and four over-ear models with more on the way. The Flow II is one of Cleer's latest models. Most importantly, the overall sound quality is exceptional.
I've long advocated for protecting your hearing by limiting the levels you listen to. Long-term exposure to high sound pressure levels leads to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), which can greatly reduce your sensitivity to high frequencies and midrange frequencies that are fundamental to understanding speech. Another potential symptom is the constant annoyance of tinnitus (aka ringing in the ears), which can become permanent--and there's no cure. Puro Sound Labs addressed this concern with its PuroQuiet headphone, reviewed here, which is designed for children and limits its output level to protect them from NIHL. Now, the company has introduced an adult version of the same idea.
Headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC) allow you to retreat from the din of modern life. And who doesn't want to do that now and then? Even better, you can listen to your favorite tunes at lower levels, thus protecting your hearing. After thoroughly testing Edifier's W860NB ANC headphones, I can say they're better for the former than the latter. The Edifier W860NB is an over-ear (circumaural) Bluetooth headphone with artificial-leather earpads and headband, weighing in at just over 10 ounces.