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I know I need to stop listening at some point to this new EP by Tennyson, but I can't seem to bring myself to do it. Like What is one of the best-sounding and most fun albums I've heard in some time. Tons of effort went into the production of it, which is readily apparent from the moment you press play.

Beautiful stereo recording samples litter the soundscape, like the sound of a marble rolling from right to left in the song "7:00 AM," and the classic "glass being filled with liquid" kind of sample in the following tune, a hallmark of Canadian duo Tennyson. One of my favorite songs, "With You," starts with such a realistic recording of running water, you'd be forgiven for looking around to make sure nothing has spilled nearby.

It's cutting-edge electronic music, full of clever stutter-stop timings and glitches, and even more replete with eye-opening jazz chords and progressions. Things get downright fusion-y for a couple tunes. Quite a welcome surprise in this unique hybrid electronic genre.

Portability: Go!

I've been writing the last few weeks about headphones, and getting pretty nerdy about it. I know in-depth tech talk isn't interesting to all, but hopefully it's been illuminating to some who want to know more about the exploding industry of portable music devices and playback.

Seeing that we're a couple weeks out from Christmas, I thought we'd do a quick run-through of some gift ideas for a headphone lover, if not for Christmas per se, then for the glorious store credit post-holidays period on the other side.


Stuff and things

I've already professed my love for the new Master & Dynamic MH40 headphones. Having listened to probably a hundred 'phones by now, I declare these are among the finest I've encountered. and that includes all of the choices above $1000!

However at $399, they're not exactly cheap. And neither are most planar dynamic headphones, like the Oppo PM3 and the Audeze EL8, both budget offerings from their respective companies, and both at or above $399.

But in the last couple years, due to rising demand, planar magnetic headphone companies have been trying to reach further down the wallet train to serve everyday people with real-world spending habits and abilities. Imagine that!

Enter Fostex and HiFiMAN. This year at Rocky Mountain Audio Festival's CanJam headphones and portable device side-festival, both companies brought realistically priced planars into the market. Fostex responded to a thriving D.I.Y. scene surrounding its recording studio-focused headphones (T50RP Mk II), with a brand-new product, the T50RP Mk III. In my column picture, I'm actually wearing my heavily modified T50RP Mk II's, so I certainly know what's possible with Fostex' planar driver. The T50RP Mk III is a completely improved headphone using the same driver, and still costs next to nothing compared to the likes of Audeze's upper echelon. The price? $159.

Wrapping up, you can achieve even better performance with a few more bucks and the HiFiMAN HE400S, which is their entry-level closed-back planar headphone. The HE400S sounds fantastic and will only set you back $299.

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