LSTN. A specialty headphone company, not many have herd of unless your an audiophile, are pumping out some really sweet cans in a very unique way. I received an email from Chad Horton, KingKulture.com’s managing editor, he had a pair of “The Troubadours” that he wanted me to test out, and so I jumped on the opportunity. I’ve never reviewed nor even used a pair of LSTN headphones before, so I was quite anxious to receive them and put them through some rigorous use! I did some research before even receiving them, they looked stunning in the photos, and the specs really stood out as something you would find in a great pair of audiophile cans. The Troubadours come in 4 different color variations, beach wood, cherry wood, ebony wood, and zebra wood. One other thing that stood out to me, which is something we have been wanting to implement here at headphonestyles.com, is LSTN’s generous donations to the Starkey hearing foundation, they donate $1 for every pair of headphones that they sell!
The ones that finally arrived in the mail, were ebony wood. They came in a basic looking box that was easy to open, with some standout features highlighted on the back. Inside lay the Troubadours, sitting pretty, with a nice hemp draw string carrying bag (LSTN logo on the bag).
First Impressions & Build Quality
Usually it’s the weight of the headphones that stands out to me at first, but the Troubadours have too much going on, pushing minor specs like the weight to the bottom of the list. What caught my eye was the high polished chrome headband, with it’s very unusual layout, combined with the dark ebony wood ear-cups that are shaped as round cornered triangles. The headband on these is innovative to say the least, besides it’s stunning shimmery finish, the way it actually extends is quite amazing. The lower part of the headband has hollowed out rivets that allows the band to move up and down flawlessly, with a subtle but very satisfying clicking noise. The top of the headband splits off into two thin bands, leaving a nice wide gap in-between. The headband has virtually no padding whatsoever, besides a thin rubber layer, but funny enough the comfort is excellent, and the LSTN Troubadours did not slip or move around at all.
The overall fit and comfort was relaxing, the flex on the headband was just right, and combined with the cool triangular shaped heavily padded ear-pieces, the fit was snug. The ear-cups have a descent range of movement, more so in terms of cup flipping ability, and less for pivoting. One of the biggest standout features of the Troubadours is their use of real wood, which not only adds to their super hip style, but also aids in providing unreal sound reproduction. Each pair is individually handcrafted from real reclaimed wood, which also means that every single pair is different, giving every single Troubadour headphone it’s own personal character. The wood ear-cups have a really nice glossy finish to them, allowing them to withstand your basic wear and tear, and also have the LSTN logo engraved at the bottom of both cups. The nylon wrapped cable is strong, designed with a gold plated 3.5mm jack, and equipped with an in-line microphone, but is lacking in volume and track control. The cable plugs into both wood-enclosed sockets on the ear-pieces, and is fully removable.
The comfort is perfect for long term use, and in my opinion excelled in “one-earing”. Due to the strong noise-cancelling properties of The Troubadours, you will occasionally need to one-ear this bad boy, and it worked without any compromise in snugness or comfort. The LSTN Troubadours are also compatible with most devices like, iPhone, iPod, Android, Blackberry, and pretty much anything you throw at it. If you want to get the most out of these cans, they work best with a good quality mini amp, such as the DragonFly Dac from Audioquest, but my testing was done without an amp and the results were still great.
Balanced, crisp, clear, and noise-isolating, are some of the properties found when listening to The Troubadours. The experience you can expect when listening to these is one of serenity, and unbelievable sound reproduction, cooped with excellent balanced frequencies. If you value balanced headphones at all, then I highly recommend these, they stood out to me as one of the most balanced i’ve ever experienced in this price range. Im not sure if it has anything to do with the magical reclaimed wood, or 40mm drivers that LSTN uses, but the sound is fantastic, and the audio reproduction is very accurate, with a high quality flac track you can practically close your eyes and imagine the guitarist strumming away right beside you.
They also happen to be very noise-cancelling, which they don’t seem to claim anywhere on the box, this made for a very pleasant and private listening experience. The speaker sensitivity is 101+/-3dB, and the frequency ranges from 18Hz to 20KHz, even without an amp the power was strong but still levelled. If your looking for a pair of wood headphones with very natural and powerful sound, in the mid $100 range, these are a great choice.