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Neutral Milk Hotel - On Avery Island Music Album Reviews

Each Sunday, Pitchfork takes an in-depth look at a significant album from the past, and any record not in our archives is eligible. Today, we revisit the oft-overshadowed debut from indie rock icons, a smaller and more intimate look into the mercurial world of Jeff Mangum.
In the mid-’90s, Jeff Mangum moved into a haunted closet in Denver where he had dreams of women in fur coats drinking champagne, yelling at him to get out of their house. During a snowy Colorado winter, the Louisiana-born songwriter and his childhood friend Robert Schneider set about recording what would become Neutral Milk Hotel’s debut album. They worked feverishly, going out to smoke cigarettes when they hit a roadblock, until, in May of 1995, they had a finished record. The North Carolina indie label Merge scooped up the young band and quietly released On Avery Island the following March.

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Moshi Avanti C Headphones Review

Moshi’s USB-C Headphones promise premium sound quality and high-grade comfort but are they worth over £200?

Should I Buy The Moshi Avanti C?
The Moshi Avanti C Headphones sound great and provide some useful customisation options, but the fit leaves a little to be desired.

They leak sound slightly due to the design and the awkwardness of both cups needing to be wired means using the Avanti C’s leads to an inconsistent experience.

However, if you’re in the market for USB-C on-ear headphones, the Avanti Cs offer solid audio quality and durable build.


Price When Reviewed
  • $199.95
Producing wired-only headphones that are in excess of £200 is a risk in 2019, and Moshi compensates for this by delivering a sleek design and crisp audio that can be tailored to listeners’ tastes. The customisation options, while relatively simplistic, are a welcome addition.

Audiophiles will appreciate the attention to detail Moshi provides, with a rich, full-bodied sound producing satisfying music and clear vocals. The padded ear cups and headband means they are comfortable even when wearing for long periods, but this is offset by a few notable impracticalities.

Price & Availability
Moshi’s headphones are available directly from the manufacturer for £219.95, with free shipping to the UK. They are not yet available from Amazon, but B&H are taking pre-orders in the US for $199.95.

They therefore undercut wireless cans such as the Beats Solo 3 Wireless, yet are significantly more expensive than more simplistic headphones such as the Beats EP. This puts them in a strange middle ground where they have few direct competitors, particularly in the on-ear market.

Moshi offers a three-year warranty to customers when they purchase the headphones, provided they complete the registration process on their website.
Design & Build
Moshi’s minimalist approach to accessories has rubbed off on its audio equipment, as the Avanti C’s offer a sleek stainless steel headband and soft leatherette earcups.

The company claims they can be worn comfortably by people with a wide range of head sizes, and in testing we found this to be generally true, with the headphones offering much more flexibility than anticipated.

We enjoyed how easy it was to adjust the angle and positioning of the headphones to suit our needs, but still found ourselves constantly securing them so they wouldn’t wobble or be moved out of place. It was difficult to find a balance between a snug fit on our head and long-term comfort. This is a common problem with on-ear headphones, particularly compared to their over-ear counterparts.

The earcup hinges swivel 180 degrees, allowing for easy adjustment but also making them more compact when in the included hard shell case.

The case closely resembles those offered with many modern headphones, and includes a pouch for cables, which you will need to bring with you wherever you plan on using them. The USB-C cable is braided and highly durable, so clearly built to last.

However, we found it a little annoying that the headphones needed a wired connection to both cups at all times to work. It became a minor inconvenience to ensure the L and R on the cable matched to that on the headphones each time we wanted to use them.

We tested the Onyx Black version, but these headphones are also available in Burgundy Red or Caramel Beige. The latter two are very distinctive and will definitely ensure you stand out from the crowd.

Sound Quality & Features
Moshi compensates for a lack of wireless functionality by including a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) within the USB-C cable, allowing for higher quality audio composition.

The results are noticeable, with sound quality much more full and rich than is provided even by the 3.5mm jack cable also included in the box. As USB-C headphones do not work with all devices, even those which include the port, Moshi’s alternative cable helpfully includes both volume controls and a built-in mic.

The audio can be adjusted to personal tastes by downloading the headphones’ companion app, Moshi Digital Audio. This is not quite in the same realm as the more expensive Nuraphone headphones, and we would have liked to have seen a few more options in what is a very simplistic user experience. The app is also not available on iOS, a clear indication that the Avanti C’s are aimed at customers outside the Apple ecosystem.

We found a noticeable improvement in the sound quality upon connecting the headphones to the companion app. The “Moshi Preset” provides a tight, balanced sound, while listeners can emphasise bass or treble as they choose. The app also provides option to save five additional custom presets, which can then be triggered using the “DJ Boost” button direct on the cable.

Adele’s piano ballad ‘Hello’ is wonderfully captured by the Moshi headphones, while remastered classics such as Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ help showcase their excellent range.

The Bass Boost, while effective in some cases, should be used sparingly to ensure maximum impact. We found it overpowering in heavily produced songs such as Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Funk’, which became irritating as the song built to a crescendo.

We also found the sound strangely lacking in the iconic ‘Nessun Dorma’, with Pavarotti’s booming vocals not quite as effectively conveyed as we have seen in other headphones.

Unlike Beats, these headphones often struggle with modern pop and dance tracks, while alternative genres and old classics are wonderfully portrayed. Watching films and TV is another highlight, with the Avanti C’s particularly effective at reproducing evocative sequences such as those in David Attenborough’s ‘Our Planet’.

On the vocal side, listening to podcasts and audiobooks using these headphones is a joy. Speech is crisp and accurate, but we wouldn’t recommend using the bass or treble boosts here as there is already plenty of clarity.

Moshi advertises excellent noise isolation, and while we found that to be true for the most part, the sound leak is a little more than expected. At high volumes, this can be heard by people next to you, so would make us a little more hesitant to use on public transport.
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Verdict 
These headphones provide great overall quality in a compact package, but we would have at least liked the option to connect via Bluetooth, particularly considering the price.

They offer rich, full bodied audio thanks to the DAC in the USB-C cable, but for the price you might expect a wireless option built in too.

These are a good fit if you are looking for USB-C over-ear headphones, but you may want to consider alternatives due to the awkward fit and high price.


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