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Audio Reviews


UE ROLL 2 Launch Review: Same Look, Better Performance

The UE ROLL was one of the most interesting new Bluetooth speakers launched last year. With a waterproof (IPX7), disc-shaped body, and an attached bungee cord, the ROLL was marketed as a perfect companion for any adventure, rain or shine. Cam was a big fan of the device and had almost no complaints in his review.

Ultimate Ears is back at it again this year with an update to the original ROLL. It's called the UE ROLL 2 ($99), and as you might expect, it's even better.

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Urban Ears Hellas Review: Fitness Oriented Washable On-Ear Headphones

There are a lot of great in-ear Bluetooth headphones that are designed for active people. They sport many different features like water-resistance, earbuds that lock into place, and tangle free wires, but they all have one thing in common – they go in your ear. For some people with irregular/oversensitive/teeny-tiny-baby-mouse sized-earlobes, in ear headphones aren't an option.

The problem for people who don't like in-ear headphones is that most on/over-ear headphones are not great for workouts either. They can be bulky, heavy, fall off easily, and can be ruined by the moisture and salt excreted by their sweaty owner. Urban Ears has heard the cries of dismay and despair of the earbud intolerant sweaty masses and created a product that promises to solve these problems.

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Plantronics BackBeat Pro+ Review: A Do-It-All Bluetooth Headset That Falls Just Short Of Excellence

You'd be hard pressed to find a Bluetooth headset with more features than Plantronics' BackBeat Pro+. Active noise canceling? Check. NFC? Sure. Bluetooth and 3.5mm plug? Yes, definitely. Multipoint technology? Oui. And the list goes on and on. Name any option and the Pro+ likely has it. If you're looking for a jack of all trades headset, you'll waste a lot of time trying to find one more versatile and feature-filled than the BackBeat Pro+, but there's more to this pair of headphones than gimmicks and long feature lists. The Pro+ shines in some instances that I didn't know I'd appreciate and falls flat in some other places where I had higher expectations.

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The Dash By Bragi Review: The Ohs, Awes, And Woes Of True Wireless Earbuds

I have always wanted true wireless earbuds. Over the past years, I have gone from using Bluetooth earphones connected to a central unit (Sony MW600, Jabra BT3030) to the smaller and less intrusive earbuds (Jaybird BlueBuds X, Plantronics BackBeat GO2, and BackBeat Fit), but there was still a wire somewhere in the design connecting the left and right earbuds together and I wanted it gone. I wasn't alone in that sentiment.

It's this desire that Bragi banked on when it launched its Kickstarter campaign about two years ago, in February 2014. The Dash was promised to be a true wireless set of earbuds that had everything I wanted and more — built-in storage for local music playback, waterproofing for use in pools, and activity tracking and heart rate monitoring.

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JBL Everest Elite 700 Bluetooth Headphones Review: Solid Wireless Headphones At A Decent Price Point

I'm a huge fan of what JBL has been doing in the portable speaker scene here lately — the Xtreme ($299), Charge 2+ ($139), and Flip 3 ($99) are all absolutely incredible at their respective price points. There's no doubt in my mind that JBL is at the top of the Bluetooth speaker game right now.

Knowing what the company has done with speakers, I was all over it when they reached out about the new Everest Elite 700 over-the-ear headphones ($300). I really just wanted to see if the Bluetooth headphone situation was on the same level as the speakers.

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Creative Labs iRoar Bluetooth Speaker Review: An Overpriced Speaker That's Still Somehow Pretty Good

While my initial impressions of Creative Labs as a speaker company weren't so great, the company made me a believer in the Roar brand with the first speaker to carry the namesake. After the Roar 2 came out and once again impressed, I knew this would be one to keep an eye on moving forward. So when the iRoar ($370) was announced — the self-proclaimed "most intelligent speaker on the planet — I knew I had to check it out.

Is it better than its successors? Without a doubt. It's sleeker and smarter, but most importantly: it sounds better.

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Blue Lola Headphones Review: A Cheaper, Lighter, Simpler Version Of The Mo-Fi With The Same Lovable Sound

The Blue Mo-Fis were one of the more controversial headphones of 2014, owing to a built-in, battery-powered amplifier that Blue - a company traditionally in the microphone business - alleged made them superior for mobile device listening. I reviewed them and found Blue's claim to be accurate - especially when it came to Android smartphones, which generally offer lower-power built-in amplifiers than comparable iOS devices. But many headphone nuts were unconvinced, and begged Blue to release a cheaper, amp-less version of the Mo-Fis. And that's exactly what the $250 Blue Lolas are.

Gone are the internal battery, amplifier, the headband adjuster, and a fair bit of weight owed to these features.

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Fugoo XL Bluetooth Speaker Review: First In Durability, Second In Sound

About a year and a half ago, I called the original Fugoo "the speaker I'd make if I made speakers." The design of it is actually brilliant — it's waterproof, offers 360 degree sound, is crazy-robust, and gets an insane 40 hours of battery life. Really, it's a beast.

Then, back at CES (yes, in January), Fugoo announced the XL. Like the name suggests, it's a big-ass version of the original Fugoo speaker. I've been waiting for what seems like forever to spend some time with it — as good as the original was, a bigger version is logically better, right? I mean, it makes sense to me.

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Wren V5US Review: A Truly Great Speaker With Bluetooth, AirPlay, And Play-Fi Support, But It Has A Really Steep Price

I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to review the V5PF (Play-Fi) Wireless Speaker from Wren. The sound quality was absolutely immaculate, and everything about the physical product more than justified its fairly high price tag. The one unfortunate dark spot in the nearly perfect experience came from software – an Android app built by DTS to run its proprietary Play-Fi protocol. It was ugly, amateurish, and unreliable. Two years have passed, and Wren has released the V5US, a new model that not only fixes some minor issues from previous products, but it also combines the features of its three existing variants to produce a single speaker with support for Play-Fi, AirPlay, and Bluetooth.

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Ultimate Ears BOOM 2 Review: Better Than The Original, But No Longer The Best

Back in July of 2014, a speaker came out that changed the way I thought of Bluetooth speakers: the Ultimate Ears BOOM. At the time — and for many months after — this speaker was the benchmark by which all others were judged. Then came the MEGABOOM, a damn-near double sized BOOM. Again, benchmark-quality stuff. The ROLL is the smallest entry from Ultimate Ears, but that didn't stop it from also being incredible. Needless to say, Ultimate Ears has been putting out some of my favorite speakers over the last two years.

Then JBL came along and changed the game again.

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