LSTN's Encore headphone blends vintage looks with a feel-good factor

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LSTN's Encore headphone blends vintage looks with a feel-good factor

I first met Bridget and Joe -- the duo, and driving force behind LSTN headphones -- in a London pub. The enthusiasm for their altruistic headphones (a portion of each sale goes to the Starkey Hearing Foundation) went beyond the charitable cause; it was genuinely infectious. If you didn't know, LSTN makes stylish, elemental headphones, with a charitable component to sweeten the deal. When they contacted me to tell me that LSTN was growing its portfolio -- with the Encore on-ears above -- I was pleased. Not only to see the range growing, but because Encore is LSTN's most striking headphone yet. This is a promising step forward for the burgeoning start-up, one that should help it continue its good work.

Gallery: LSTN Encore headphones | 10 Photos

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Let's back up a little. The idea behind LSTN is simple: you buy a nice sounding/looking pair of headphones, and money from that purchase goes toward helping others hear for the first time. LSTN may not be the only brand that gives to a good cause, but it's one of the few where its founders get so directly hands on with it. In fact, after our London meet, Bridget and Joe were heading to Uganda the next day to deliver hearing aids.

What about the Encore? In my opinon, easily the best in the range so far. The Troubadors (the previous flagship model) was a good mix of style, sound and comfort, but the Encore ramps things up a notch in every regard. I mentioned the design was LSTN's most striking, and it's true. Both previous models (the Troubador and Fillmore) had LSTN's trademark reclaimed wood detail, but the basic design didn't deviate too far from existing well known products. Encore's rectangular ear cups show a more contemporary side, still carry reclaimed ebony, but throw in a modern touch with open grilles flanking the wooden sections.

The Encore doesn't have too much in the way of additional features, there's no Bluetooth, or in-line remote, and the lightweight build might not be your cuppa if you prefer a weighty headset. But, if you're after a pair that don't have brash logos or a neon color set, LSTN is that.

If you're already on LSTN's mailing list, the good news is you'll get first dibs on a pair of Encores. Starting today, the first 100 pairs can be bagged for $149, after which, the standard price ($199) applies. If you're not on the mailing list, or just prefer bricks and mortar, then you'll have to head to Nordstrom stores, where they'll be available as of July 7.

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