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Audio Reviews

3

Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. review: Aggressive, confident styling with some key functional upgrades

Marshall's been a familiar name in music hardware for decades now, and while we're always going to think about amplifiers first and foremost, over the past few years we've seen the brand spread to a new line of consumer audio gear. That's included plenty of smart speakers, headphones, and even one really weird smartphone with two audio jacks. Today I'm checking out an updated version of the wireless Monitor Bluetooth headphones, the new Marshall Monitor II A.N.C.

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4

Sony WF-SP800N review: Fitness-focused ANC earbuds at a fair price

Sony makes some of the best noise-canceling headphones and earbuds money can buy — the WH-1000XM3 and WF-1000XM3 are widely considered to be the gold standard in each of their respective product categories. Not content in its dominance of the general-purpose market Sony has added a pair of fitness-oriented ANC buds to its lineup in the WF-SP800N (killing it with these names) and for $200 they offer almost everything you could ask for in a pair of gym earbuds.

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28

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review: Back with a bang

With their first attempt at the end of 2018, ever-reliable German audio brand Sennheiser produced the best pair of true wireless earbuds I had used up to that point. So I was understandably excited to try the second generation when they were announced earlier this year. The hefty price point of $300 remains the same, but battery life has been doubled and active noise cancellation has been added. There’s also a white model this time around if that’s more your style. Comparisons to Sony’s excellent WH-1000XM3 and Master & Dynamic’s MW07 Plus — not to mention Apple’s AirPods Pro — are inevitable given the price and feature set, but Sennheiser’s latest buds do more than hold their own in this company.

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7

Sony WF-XB700 review: Extra bass, but not extra special

Long associated with compelling personal audio products from the Walkman to studio headphones, Sony's made something of a reputation on the back of its sound credentials. The same has quickly become true of its wireless headphone and earbuds portfolio, being well-known for their great sound (and terrible naming conventions) in premium products like the WH-1000XM3 and WF-1000XM3. With its $130 WF-XB700 true wireless buds, the company takes aim at a more budget-conscious product segment. I really like them — but stiff competition and a pronounced dearth of bells and whistles makes them tricky to recommend.

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87

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ review, two months later: Still the true wireless go-to

Back when I first reviewed them in March, I was very impressed with the Samsung Galaxy Buds+: they managed to improve on the already-solid original Galaxy Buds in a couple of key ways while keeping their price competitive at an MSRP of $150. I've been using the Buds+ ever since, and after nearly 200 hours of listening, they're still not easy to find fault with.

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15

Sony WH-CH710N review: Great noise-cancelling headphones for under $200

Sony makes some of the best noise-canceling headphones around, especially the WH-1000XM3 (which is overdue for a replacement). The WH1000XM3 is a premium set of headphones that regularly goes for around $300, and competing products like the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and Jabra Elite 85h aren't far behind. While Sony doesn't have a sequel to the WH-1000XM3 ready yet, it does have a new budget alternative: the $200 WH-CH710N.

The Sony WH-CH710N offers nearly everything I want out of a pair of headphones, and it does so at a price range that isn't ridiculous. While the sound quality isn't mind-blowing, there's still a lot to like here.

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7

TCL’s SOCL500TWS are the true wireless earbuds that’ll cure your stay-at-home blues

Think back, way back to CES 2020. Remember when we tech journalists still travelled (in airplanes!) to trade shows and covered the crap out of them? Those were the days! It all seems like ages ago now. But I digress… Back at CES in January, among the plethora of devices TCL announced -- all the TVs, cool phones, and even prototypes -- were these unassuming true wireless earbuds, the SOCL500TWS (ugh, that name). They gave everyone in the media a pair.

I didn’t think much of them at the time. Sure, I was intrigued by the reasonable $80 price tag and the colorful translucent design, but quickly forgot about them.

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19

LG Tone Free review: Clearly designed by and for people without ears

True wireless earbuds used to be a luxury, and one that came with a hefty price tag. That's no longer the case with uncountable no-name companies selling mediocre true wireless earbuds on Amazon. The best audio experiences cost more, but that doesn't mean every expensive set of true wireless earbuds are worth it. Sony's $230 WF-1000XM3 earbuds are definitely worth the price, but I can't say the same for the new LG Tone Free earbuds. At $200, I would expect excellent sound quality, design, and features. These earbuds check precisely zero of those boxes.

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32

Huawei's FreeBuds 3 are a solid alternative to Apple’s AirPods Pro

By most estimates, Apple’s AirPods business alone is worth about $8 billion. Let that sink in for a minute. No wonder everyone’s getting into the true wireless earbuds game — from Samsung to Google to Microsoft to Amazon. And of course, Huawei joined the party a while ago. Its third generation FreeBuds 3, while beating the AirPods Pro to market (IFA 2019), compete directly with Apple’s latest offering.

I‘ve been using Huawei’s FreeBuds 3 on and off for a couple months now, but also enjoyed a brief stint with Apple’s AirPods Pro, so here’s what you need to know.

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13

TicPods 2 Pro review: Good sound, but a fit that's not for everyone

When the TicPods Free came out in 2018, they were one of my favorite true wireless sets, especially given the relatively low price of $130. Cheaper models were few and far between at that point, and you’d have to pay significantly more to get anything that sounded truly excellent. The market has been flooded with half-decent affordable options in the time since then, however, and the original TicPods didn’t stand up to the test of time all that well.

I've been looking forward to an update, and now the TicPods 2 and TicPods 2 Pro are upon us, the latter of which I’ve been reviewing over the past week or so.

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