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I get pitches to review new true wireless earphones almost every day. Most seem like perfectly fine products, but there’s nothing special enough about them to warrant a review. The AXS Audio Professional Earbuds ($149, all prices USD) don’t look any different from most other true wireless earphones, but their pedigree got me interested. They’re made by a team who formerly led Riva Audio, which built some of the best Bluetooth speakers yet made.

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Reviewers' ChoiceThe TinHiFi T3 Plus earphones will be the last of the “Chi-Fi” models I’ll review for a while—and they’re in many ways the most interesting, because they’re the priciest of the bunch (typically $79.99 USD) and also the simplest, with just one 10mm dynamic driver per earpiece. This bare-bones design sets the T3 Pluses in stark contrast to earphones such as the CCA C10s, KZ x Crinacle CRNs, and NiceHCK DB3s, which are $30 to $50 less expensive yet have far more drivers—three per earpiece for the latter two, and five per earpiece for the C10s.

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Reviewers' ChoiceI first got excited about high-end audio in the hospital. I was on an IV for a week, and a fellow editor at Video magazine brought me copies of The Absolute Sound, Stereophile, and HiFi Heretic magazine. The first two I had a hard time relating to, but HiFi Heretic hooked me with its passion and its real-world attitude; the mag’s name referred to the founder’s rejection of the notion that you have to spend a fortune to get good sound. My recent reviews of affordable “Chi-Fi” earphones—the CCA C10s, KZ x Crinacle CRNs, and now the NiceHCK DB3s—have brought back some of that excitement I felt 30 years ago.

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Reviewers' ChoiceReviewing the CCA C10 earphones a few months ago led me down a rabbit hole—and I’m glad it did. The CCA C10s incorporate four balanced-armature drivers and one dynamic bass driver per earpiece, yet they cost just $40.99 (all prices USD). After I ordered those from Amazon, I noticed another “Chi-Fi” model that was perhaps even more appealing: the KZ x Crinacle CRN earphones. Initially known as the ZEX-Pro earphones, the $38.99 (and often lower on Amazon) CRNs incorporate a single balanced-armature tweeter, a 10mm dynamic driver for the bass, and an electret electrostatic driver (basically a miniaturized, permanently charged version of the giant panel drivers found in MartinLogan and Quad planar speakers) for the mids.

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These days, when someone tells me there’s a new brand of true wireless earphones, I assume it’s just a few people in an office somewhere in Southern California, getting their logo slapped onto a generic design from a Chinese factory, with barely a clue about how earphones are designed and tuned. Grell Audio is exactly the opposite. It was founded by Axel Grell, a guy with 30-plus years of experience designing headphones and earphones—most notably for Sennheiser, where he designed, among other models, the top-of-the-line HD 800s. The TWS/1 true wirelesses ($199.99, all prices USD) are the first earphones he’s offered under his own name.

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True wireless earphones aren’t literally a dime a dozen—not yet, anyway. But even though SoundStage! Solo targets audiophiles, and I thus review only a few true wireless models a year, I’d say I get at least three pitches per week to review new true wireless models. Many of these loosely resemble Apple AirPods, but are priced much lower, often less than $50, sometimes as low as $20. Denon’s AH-C830NCW earphones definitely look like AirPods, but at $159 (all prices in USD), they’re not inexpensive. What, I wondered, might Denon be thinking, launching what looks like a generic model at a—well, not expensive, but certainly not inexpensive, price?

Latest Comments

@Ivan B BergerHugh Knowles' invention would have been more properly referred to as the subminiature balanced armature ...
Brent Butterworth 5 days ago Edifier Stax Spirit S3 Bluetooth Headphones
@AmyDazzHow do you predict my results might have changed?
I noted you're using Samsung Galaxy S10 which may be obsolete by now. Perhaps you ...
Felix Hamzah 7 days ago TinHiFi T3 Plus Earphones
Would love to have a pair, crinacle have high praises on these.
Ragav 16 days ago Sennheiser IE 300 Earphones
Nice review Brent! Eagerly awaiting your reviews of the IE 600 and IE 900! and ...
Bryan 16 days ago TinHiFi T3 Plus Earphones
i love it too..sound is amazing. Bang for the buck...😍
Brent Butterworth 17 days ago Beyerdynamic Amiron Home Headphones
@KrisHi, Kris. There's a common misconception among audiophiles, and perhaps even more so among audio ...
Hello
Just one question here from me, how can one test 600 dollars amiron home on ...
Kuri 22 days ago TinHiFi T3 Plus Earphones
Very amazing IEM, and good review too🤩
Muhammad Ibnu 23 days ago TinHiFi T3 Plus Earphones
Nice , i can't wait to have listen this iem from TinHifi😍😍