Earphone power drain on iPod, Axiom and Ascend speakers

Q: have a question about headphones. I have an iRiver H10 MP3 player. The earbuds that came with the player are adequate but not great. So I replaced them with some Sony in-ear headphones. They sound terrific but they are uncomfortable to wear for more than a half hour or so. Now I’ve switched over to a pair of closed-cup (over the ear) headphones but my battery life has gone down tremendously and I don’t even play my music loudly. Are there any closed-cup headphones that you know of that sound good and are stingy with their power consumption? Thanks.

Steffan Paul
Wichita, KS

A: I don’t know which particular headphones you have, but headphones have varying power requirements, much like speakers do. Some play loudly on a little bit of power, others require a lot of juice to get them going. It sounds like your headphones fall into the latter category.

Have you considered the Bang & Olufsen A8? They are earbuds, but have an articulating arm that slips over the ear and holds then in place. It is very comfortable, has great sound, and the design and construction are top notch. They sell for $159 and cane be seen at www.bang-olufsen.com or at the online Apple Store at store.apple.com.

If you must have closed-cup I understand the Grado SR40 works well with portable music players, but it is discontinued. You may be able to fine as set on ebay though.

Grado headphones can be seen at www.gradolabs.com. They are some of my favorites for all types of listening, but you have to go to a hifi specialist shop to buy them.

You may want to consider attacking the power problem by buying extra batteries. It won’t help your headphones play any louder, though.

Q: You recommended the Axiom M22Ti speakerss for my small room and I am happy with them. However you gave a glowing review of the Ascend CBM 170s on your website, saying they are more detailed and accurate then the m22ti’s. I know it is
always highly subjective when comparing speakers, but, the combination of
your review in addition to the outstanding consumer reviews on audioreview.com got me thinking if it would be worth making the switch, selling the m22tis and getting some ascend CBM 170’s. I have done some additional research and I might be interested in improving my Axioms by adding the Acoustic Reality Crossover someone posted that
this would make a huge difference because the crossover in the M22Ti is the
only cheap part, and adding a high quality one would make them sound much, much better. What do you think I should do?

-Brian O’Flaherty, Chicago, IL

A: Since you are already happy with your M22Tis, I think you should keep them and enjoy them exactly as they are now. If there is one thing I have learned in years of working in the business and as a columnist, if you are happy- don’t mess with it and change anything! Often your supposed upgrade somehow won’t satisfy you the way your original system did.

As for the crossover, I am very skeptical when it comes to such tweaks. This is taken to the extreme with these silly $150 and more AC power cords people are selling as “upgrades”. If you want to do something meaningful to improve sound quality, look into acoustical treatments for your room and experiment with speaker placement. This will make much more difference than changing a crossover.

For readers who are interested, you can see Axiom speakers at www.axiomaudio.com and Ascend speakers at www.ascendacoustics.com. Both sell direct to the consumer only and have great reputations for quality and service. Axiom in particular has been one of my favorite products to recommend, my readers being universally enthralled with their purchases, especially the entry-level Epic Midi surround sound system.

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