There are a lot of smart speakers available these days. Some of them are cheap and not great for music, like the Nest Mini and Echo Dot. And then, there are devices at the other end of the spectrum like the Sony RA5000. Despite the uninspiring name, the RA5000 is the big debut for Sony's high-end 360 Reality Audio speakers. The sound you get from this speaker is fantastic across the board, but it's extremely expensive like most Sony products, and there isn't much 360 audio out there. Still, if you're looking for a new way to experience music at home, this could be it.
When a product is priced significantly higher than its competition, there are two potential reasons: either A) it's a legitimately superior option, or B) the company that makes it knows its target demographic will pony up regardless of how much it costs. Most luxury goods are some combination of the two (think Apple or Tesla). Bang & Olufsen's second-generation Beosound A1 also fits that bill: at $250, the Bluetooth speaker hardly reinvents portable audio — but it does everything it does so well, I'm inclined to put it more in column A than column B. I love this thing.
The Galaxy Buds Pro are the biggest update to Samsung's line of in-ear true wireless headphones since the original Galaxy Buds in 2019. The most notable upgrades? Audio comes via a brand-new dual dynamic driver system in each bud (the Buds Pro sound great), and a return to a sealing eartip design combined with multi-microphone ANC deliver seriously effective noise reduction. If you've been waiting for credible noise canceling true wireless earbuds with strong audio chops that aren't the AirPods Pro, Samsung delivers with its latest Buds.
With movie theaters still closed in most places, the home theater experience is more important than ever. A spiffy Atmos surround sound system can take your viewing experience to the next level, but maybe you don't want to run wires or have speakers permanently installed around your room. Well, that happens to be the niche JBL is targeting with the JBL Bar 9.1. It's an Atmos-enabled soundbar with a whopping 820W of power and detachable satellite speakers that you can place around the room when you need them. It also has full integration with Google's Chromecast platform, so you can manage it from the Home app.
Apple has become a big name in wireless headphones with AirPods, which are easily the most popular and recognizable earbuds worldwide. AirPods provide reliable connectivity and an all-around great wireless earbud experience, but the sound quality can't compete with a nice set of over-ear headphones. That's what the AirPods Max are about.
Good true wireless earbuds are getting cheap in a hurry. You can still spend hundreds for fancy features like ANC if you want, but you don't have to break the bank to get decent sound. OnePlus's first true wireless earbuds, the succinctly named Buds, were a great value at $80. The OnePlus Buds Z take it a step further — for just 50 bucks, these earbuds might lack polish, but they deliver on fundamentals.
Sennheiser is one of the most recognizable names in audio. Even though the company's wireless products sometimes lack features found in competitors from Samsung or Sony, they usually offer best-in-class audio. We've tried Sennheiser's Momentum True Wireless 2 and CX 400BT earbuds not long ago, and we came away impressed with the sound quality on both.
Sennheiser also released a pair of over-ear headphones recently, the HD 450BT. They feature active noise cancellation, Bluetooth 5.0, and 30-hour battery life, all for an MSRP of $199.95 (though it's currently on sale for $150). However, the design isn't for everyone.
This story was originally published and last updated .
Razer released its first fully-wireless Bluetooth earbuds last year, the Hammerhead True Wireless. The earbuds were functional enough, but they ultimately failed to stand out against competing products from Apple and Samsung. Razer has now returned with an upgraded model: the Hammerhead True Wireless Pro.
Razer's new earbuds feature an in-ear design, support for active noise cancellation, and the same low-latency Gaming Mode. However, battery life is still a sore point, Gaming Mode isn't incredibly useful, and there's no support for Qualcomm aptX.
When Apple debuted the Airpods Pro in 2019, it took what customers loved from Airpods and added active noise cancellation, better sound quality, and a sealed in-ear design. The combination of simplicity, reliability, and convenience makes them some of the world's most popular wireless earbuds. Many clones have been created, but some copy the formula better than others. Swedish company Urbanista's new London earbuds cost $149 and offer touch controls, wireless charging, and ANC — pretty much everything that Apple's Airpods Pro do but for significantly less cash. And while they succeed in a number of ways, there are also some potential deal breakers involved.
The first pair of standalone earbuds I bought was the Sennheiser CX 400-II. It was 2009 and at the time, it seemed preposterous to spend money on an accessory that was bundled for free with every phone or iPod. But I'd heard Sennheiser's audio quality was worth the splurge and I wanted to see for myself. I was not disappointed. For years, the CX 400-II were my buds of choice thanks to their superb comfort and even more superb sound.
Sennheiser is now reviving that same brand with the CX 400BT, a pair of true wireless buds for 2020 with the same distinctive attribute of 2009: awesome sound quality.