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Apple lives in a whole different world than the rest of the headphone industry. They shipped about 25 million units of the AirPods true wireless earphones in 2018, and are projected to sell double that number in 2019 and quadruple that number in 2021. Why should audiophiles care? For lots of reasons -- just one of which is that today’s best audio engineers will see those numbers and know they can make a lot more money (and find more interesting work) designing true wireless products than trying to do something fresh in the well-established, fast-shrinking world of passive headphones. That’s where the 1More E1026BT Stylish True Wireless earphones ($99.99 USD) come in.

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It’s hardly unusual when audio enthusiasts and writers reflexively reject new technology -- I’m sad to say it has become the reaction I expect. That’s why I was so surprised to see even some of the most reactionary audio writers embrace Sennheiser’s new Momentum True Wireless earphones ($299.95 USD).

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It’s difficult for audio companies to differentiate themselves, because there are so many of them and most of the good ideas have already been done. That’s why I so admire companies that find a different approach. One of those is Akoustyx, a new company I first encountered at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, and the manufacturer of the R-220 earphones ($199.99 USD) reviewed here. Instead of spinning stories of some specious sonic “secret sauce,” Akoustyx focuses on making sure its earphones fit properly in your ears and stay in place once you get them in.

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Reviewers' ChoiceUnder normal circumstances, I’d have been reluctant to review the Campfire Audio Solaris earphones. Why did I relent? Because I’d had such a positive experience with the company’s Comet earphones, and because company founder Ken Ball’s pitch for the Solarises sounded so proud and impassioned, I didn’t even bother to find out what they were before I agreed to the review.

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“Wired headphones have really tanked for us,” a sales manager for a large and respected headphone maker told me at the recent Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, considering that Apple took the headphone jacks off new iPhones two years ago -- and that there are countless Bluetooth headphones and earphones now available at affordable prices. Still, cables have their utility, which is why Acoustic Research’s AR-E010 earphones ($249.99 USD) let you change from wireless to wired operation in just a few seconds.

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Fidue is a Chinese company founded by Benny Tan, who, according to the company’s website, has been involved in research and development of headphones and earphones for over two decades. To date, all of the company’s products have been high-end earphones with multiple drivers, including the A83 ($349.99 USD) and the A91 Sirius ($899.99) models. The latest are the A85 Virgo earphones ($299.99).

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@Brent ButterworthThanks Brent! Still room for improvement. Cheers!
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