June 27, 2013

"I genuinely dig the sound of Paradigm's new noise-isolating headphone and its noise-canceling brother" - Technology Tell on the H15 & H15NC

When Dennis Burger stopped by our booth at CES 2014 and we showed him our upcoming H15 and H15NC headphones, he was intrigued and made it very clear that he'd love to audition them once available. So when the first models became available to us, we sent Dennis one of each model for review (even before they hit store shelves). Below is a summary of his findings, (though we encourage you to read the review in full)...

Dennis Burger of Technology Tell reviews and compares the H15 and H15NC.


Sound that Sparkles
"My sense of style is not one that anyone would or should aspire to. So when I say that I’m not exactly wild about the design of Paradigm’s new H15 on-ear headphone, you should salt that observation to taste before imbibing. But when I say that I genuinely dig the sound of Paradigm’s new noise-isolating headphone and its noise-canceling brother, hopefully that observation carries a little more weight." 

"I feel pretty confident in saying that the sound of the H15 isn’t going to be described as “dull” by anyone. There’s oodles of high-end sparkle here, and... I’m still hearing plenty of useful energy from the H15 all the way up into the 16kHz range (and all the way down to 20Hz)... it has the effect of giving the headphone plenty of presence."

"Oodles of high-end sparkle"
"My favorite tunes with the H15, though, tend toward the Girl Talk/Fatboy Slim end of my musical preferences. Throw in something like “Gangster Trippin’” and you’d swear these headphones were voiced specifically to sound amazing with that track—the way its low-frequency extension rocks the bottom end, its forward midrange thrusts the vocals and instrumentation right into the middle of your noggin, and its high-end puts a razor’s edge on the track."

Quite Comfy
"...it’s a quite comfy headphone, with a really snug fit, good noise isolation, and even if swiveling cups don’t really make it any more compact, they do help to assure solid noise isolation."

"Both headphones feature detachable cables, which... are amongst the least microphonic I’ve ever heard."


Good Looks
"It’s amazing how much of an impact the little things can have, but the presence of grey die-cast detailing on the H15NC makes all the difference for me in terms of looks... the H15NC wears its price tag proudly, and yet at the same time, it carries over all the elements that make the H15 so comfortable to wear."

Sound that Sparkles... Even More!
"Amazingly, the active H15NC doesn’t sounds radically different from its passive little brother. Its bass is a bit warmer and more forward, which has the effect of evening out the sound even more. As such, I tend to prefer it with a wider variety of tunes."

"The presence that comes through in Abigail Washburn’s tunes in there, with an added weight and clarity to the bass that makes the higher frequencies sparkle all the more. For all its forward midrange and rich bass, the H15NC is capable of generating quite a dynamic range of spaciousness..."

"Major props to Paradigm..."
The Advantages to Paradigm Noise-Cancellation
"Here’s the weird thing about the sound of the H15NC, though: engaging the noise-cancellation results in virtually no perceptible change in its audio quality. Major props to Paradigm for that. The tonal balance remains practically unchanged (like, seriously, you have to A/B for ages and really strain your ears to hear any difference at all), which is a nice surprise for an active NC headphone. Virtually every other active model I’ve heard sounds perceptibly different with the switch on and the switch off (if they even continue to deliver sound when off, which some don’t)."

"That may have something to do with the fact that the H15NC’s noise cancellation isn’t anywhere near the most aggressive I’ve ever heard. [Two unnamed models] did a much more thorough job of combating environmental noise across a broader range of frequencies. But, then, there’s the fact that both sound absolutely terrible with music."

"...wears its price tag proudly"
"The H15NC is mostly effective at canceling only low frequency noise, and I really wish I’d had a chance to try it out on a flight, but I put it to the test against lawnmowers and suburban traffic, and really dig the way it removes the rumble, if not the whine."

"Another peculiar (much appreciated, but peculiar!) thing about the H15NC is that its noise-
cancellation doesn’t result in that disconnected, puffy-headed feeling that so many NC headphones give me. When I say that the noise-cancellation circuitry has no discernible effect on the audio, I don’t mean just in terms of tonality—I mean you really can’t hear it, unless you turn your tunes completely off. Or feel it, for that matter. Low frequency noise just seems to magically poof out of existence, without making you feel like you have a head cold."

"One other thing that sets the H15NC apart from other noise-cancelling headphones is that it doesn’t rely on store-bought batteries. The unit charges via a USB cable in a little over an hour, and on one charge I’ve been putting the headphone through its paces for the better part of a week now, with no need for a top-off."

The Verdict

H15 or H15NC? ...
H15NC: "...even at a hundred dollars more, it feels like more of a value. I like the styling much better, I like the sound a good bit better, and the noise-cancelation—although, again, not the most aggressive I’ve ever heard—knocks out most fatiguing environmental noise frequencies, while still allowing you to clearly hear voices and even approaching cars, if you wear them out and about. And most importantly, it does so without impacting sound quality in the slightest."

[H15NC] "...even at a hundred dollars more, feels like more of a value."

Click here! to read Dennis' full review on the H15 and H15NC.
Click here! from more info. on Paradigm SHIFT headphones and to buy online.

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