TECHNOLOGY PROFILE – AUDIO
Here’s a look at some of our favorite high-performance wireless headphones.
BY DOUGLAS WEINSTEIN
WIRELESS HEADPHONES COME IN ALL FLAVORS, SHAPES AND SIZES. IN-EAR BUDS, ON-TEMPLE BONE CONDUCTORS, OVER-EAR MODELS which help to isolate the listener, and of course the ubiquitous noise-cancellation models spread across the entire range of the category. And we’re doing more than just listening to music with our modern headphones – we’re taking phone calls and podcasting and dictating letters and assisting with sleep apnea, snoring and other medical innovations. It’s an ever-expanding category filled with entertainment and utility.
At the high-end, the luxury end of the market, you can add aesthetics and comfort and elegant sound reproduction that allows the listener to dive deeper into the artist’s original intention. Listening to this subset of the category is a riveting experience. The precision of build and quality of materials represent years of engineering and design efforts that are brand defining and a source of pride for the manufacturers who delve in the deep waters of audio excellence.
MARK LEVINSON № 5909
Mark Levinson is perhaps the most revered of audiophile brands, defining and refining the state-of-the-art for 50 years. With the 2022 release of their first-ever headphones, reference-quality sound meets luxurious comfort in a lightweight and durable set of wireless headphones. Featuring Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation, these headphones are perfect for travel or anywhere you want to take your music.
The beautiful design incorporates high-end materials such as anodized aluminum for lasting durability and premium leather for exceptional comfort. And with the № 5909 you will be able to enjoy your music for up to 34 hours of playback time (30 hours with noise cancelation engaged) as well as six hours of listening with a 15 minute quick-charge.
The Mark Levinson № 5909 delivers optimal performance via 40 mm beryllium-coated drivers, engineered to provide the finest aural sound in an over-ear headphone. The №5909 sound profile has been expertly tuned to the HAR¬MAN Curve, an acoustic response curve that achieved the highest subjective scoring across listening tests developed over decades of research by HARMAN into listening preferences and the science of acoustics.
For the finest performance when holding conversations on your phone, four beam-steering microphones with Smart Wind Adaption ensure your voice isn’t muddled by outside noise. Mark Levinson’s Active Noise Cancellation blocks ambient sounds so you can focus on your business calls and chats with friends. Crystal clear calling with near-perfect clarity adds to the experience of these elegant headphones.
And while your deep diving into your music during travel, the NO 5909 headphones offers three levels of Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation so you can block out background noise while enjoying the finest details in your music even in noisy environments, especially while traveling by air. For added convenience an Ambient Aware mode lets you talk to those around you without having to remove your headphones.
B&W Px8 McLAREN EDITION
Bowers & Wilkins, founded in the U.K. in 1966, has been at the forefront of high-performance audio technology for more than 50 years. It designs and manufactures precision home speakers, headphones and performance car audio products that set new standards for innovation and sound quality, earning countless awards and accolades from the world’s leading recording studios and musicians. Bowers & Wilkins’ reputation is based on the unwavering pursuit of the best possible sound and an unsurpassable music listening experience.
McLaren Automotive is a creator of luxury, high-performance supercars. Every vehicle is hand-assembled at the McLaren Production Centre (MPC) in Woking, Surrey, England. Most recently, the company unveiled its all-new high-performance hybrid supercar, the McLaren Artura, designed and developed at the McLaren Composites Technology Centre using world-first processes that will spearhead the brand’s electrified future.
McLaren Automotive chooses to partner with like-minded, world-leading companies who push the boundaries in their respective fields, including Bowers & Wilkins. To celebrate the McLaren and Bowers & Wilkins partnership and the high-performance hybrid McLaren Artura supercar in which the two companies’ award-winning collaboration features, Bowers & Wilkins has created a specially designed version of its Px8 wireless headphones, the McLaren Edition.
These stunning headphones feature a Galvanic grey finish and Papaya orange highlights, the latter inspired by the famous Papaya orange which originated on Founder Bruce McLaren’s early racing cars. The heart of the McLaren Edition Px8 is stellar performance with outstanding detail, resolution and spaciousness thanks to all-new bespoke 40mm Carbon Cone drive units, inspired by technology used in Bowers & Wilkins reference-quality loudspeakers.
The Carbon Cone drive units in the McLaren Edition are carefully angled inside each earcup to ensure a consistent distance relative to the listener’s ears from every point across the surface of each driver, to produce a more immersive and highly accurate soundstage. The result is the best sound quality Bowers & Wilkins has ever delivered from a pair of wireless headphones.
Offering the most beautiful harmony for music lovers and the best sensations for sound enthusiasts – that’s been Focal’s mission for over 40 years. Combining performance and design, Focal’s collections are a revelation, awakening the emotions through supreme listening quality. And it doesn’t matter where you are. At home with acoustic and architectural loudspeakers, on the move with in-car kits, in the studio with professional monitors, and even at sea with specialist yacht solutions.
Bathys comes from the word “bathyscaphe”, the first submarine exploration vehicle. The embodiment of calm, depth and absolute silence, this vessel is the inspiration behind the name of Focal’s very first wireless headphones with active noise reduction.
Its Bluetooth and Active Noise Cancellation technologies offer total freedom of movement and an immersive listening experience with zero disturbance from background noise. ‘Silent’, ‘Soft’ or ‘Transparency’: all you have to do is choose one of the noise cancellation modes on offer and set off on your first-class musical journey. With their Focal made-in-France speakers, their 30 hours’ battery life, fine materials and array of features, the Bathys headphones will enhance your everyday and your time away.
Bathys boasts a distinctive, timeless Black Silver finish and design cues intended to offer unparalleled lightness, compactness and support. These ergonomic headphones combine refined materials – such as magnesium on the yokes and leather on the headband – resulting in outstanding comfort for any head shape. The earcup grilles display highly aesthetic curves, while Focal’s flame symbol incorporates a white backlight system that can be activated as desired.
Bathys headphones benefit from Focal’s world-renowned sound know-how. Made in France using technology from the best Focal headphones, their patented Aluminum/Magnesium “M” dome speaker drivers deliver detailed, precise and dynamic high-fidelity sound. Focal sound engineers have also incorporated a USB-DAC mode into the headphones for a resolution of up to 24 bits/192 kHz, guaranteeing exceptional and uncompromising sound quality for portable headphones.
Bathys headphones come with a wide range of connectivity options (Bluetooth 5.1, Jack, USB) and are fitted with easily accessible control buttons. An adjustable EQ, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistants, and other settings are available via a dedicated app available on iOS and Android.