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I've never heard of Astrotec headphones. As a self-professed audiophile, I know Bowers & Wilkins, Shure, Sennheiser, AKG, Audio Technica, Pioneer a lot better. I've learned the hard way-its worth buying from audiophile brands and audiophile brands only because the manufacturers will stand behind their product and repair it if it breaks-Audio Technica repaired my $60 headphones free of charge.
Hey, I really enjoyed these, if you're looking for a review of these, Bowei Zhao and I did one over at Audio360.org. Thanks!(I hope you don't mind me mentioning this Will, just trying to help Abell out.)
can i have a link to that review
There are hundreds of makes and models discussed on Head-Fi.org, many of which offer greatly superior sound to the domestic european stereo companies you mention.
B&W make some great speakers, I don't think you start to grasp the breadth of the headphone market and how diverse the technology offered in earsound is.
As noone pointed out, don't knock it till you've tried it. Although the brands you mention are always a safe bet, I definitely consider B&W earphones a boutique (read:overpriced) brand (speakers notwithstanding). I will admit that there are some unknown crap brands that you see on the shelves of BestBuy and such, but these definitely aren't one of those. From what I gather, these guys are an OEM for some of the better audio companies and decided to make their own. There are few Chinese upstarts that make really nice IEMs, Dunu is another, for example. I want to buy their DN1000 dual BA/single dynamic driver unit.
I recently bought the Astroc AX35, and I find the value from it to be well above the asking price. I would venture so far as to say that you will be hard-pressed to find anything below the $200MSRP mark to compete, for a well balanced sound that has clarity while maintaining a good punch. At least with the AX35, it requires a bit of EQ to bring the bass out (for those that want some more punch). I find it really nice for listening to vocals, jazz and easy listening - without any sibilance that one finds it headphones that are known for clarity.