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audio reviews

4

Libratone Track Air+ review: Solid sound and active noise-cancellation at a decent price

Until Sony's excellent WF-1000XM3 launched earlier this year, there was no viable true wireless earbud option with active noise cancellation. This is partly because in-ear audio products already isolate far better than on or over-ear headphones, negating the need for ANC, and partly because it's difficult to squeeze the necessary tech into such a small form factor.

This space has come on leaps and bounds in a few short years, however, and we can now expect even more noise-canceling earbuds to hit the market. Danish brand Libratone recently entered the fray with its Track Air+ model, and they boast an impressive feature set while managing to undercut the competing Sony model by some margin — £179 vs £229 in the UK.

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4

Mpow's H5 noise-canceling headphones get the job done for 50 bucks

The active noise-canceling headphone market has been booming lately, with commendable options from the likes of Sony, Jabra, and Microsoft — not to mention Bose, which has practically defined the product category for years. If you want the best, though, you'll have to pay: it's not uncommon for high-end ANC cans to run $200 or more. Mpow's H5 noise-canceling headphones can't compete with the big guys, but at $50, they're not trying to — and they're probably just right for a lot of people.

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73

Sony WF-1000XM3 review: The current king of true wireless earbuds

Sony's WH-1000XM3 over-ear headphones have been lauded for their audio fidelity and noise cancellation since they launched, but not everyone wants to devote so much space in their bag to headphones. Enter, the WF-1000XM3, a set of true wireless earbuds that promise a high-quality audio experience with active noise cancelation. The WF-1000XM3s are bulkier than most other true wireless earbuds, but you get something for that extra mass. These earbuds offer superb sound and effective noise cancellation almost on par with Sony's full-sized headphones. They're spendy at $230, but this is one of those times you get what you pay for.

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31

The Soundcore Liberty Neo finally bring decent audio to cheap true wireless earbuds

Only two months have passed since we reviewed the Soundcore Liberty Air true wireless earbuds and now we’re taking a look at — or listen to — the Liberty Neo. Neither set is to be confused with the Liberty earbud range from another Anker sub-brand called Zolo. Why Soundcore needs two distinct but similarly priced models is the first question I pondered. The Liberty Neo (MSRP $60/£58) and Liberty Air (MSRP $80/£80) both feature graphene-coated drivers, Bluetooth 5, and IPX5 sweat resistance, but there are also a few key differences to justify the separate SKUs and price variance.

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130

Samsung's excellent Galaxy Buds hit all the right notes at the right price

True wireless earbuds are big business these days, and they’re especially popular since Apple released its to-be-seen-with AirPods. Samsung's first attempt at this product category in 2016 was a little disappointing, but the updated Gear IconX that came out the following year offered improved battery life, a redesigned case, and better connectivity. The $200 price tag was too high for what you got, but frequent discounts made them a slightly more viable prospect.

Fast-forward to 2019 and Samsung is back with its latest iteration. Galaxy Buds is already a far more appealing and marketable name. They also cost much less than their predecessors at $130, even undercutting the AirPods by a full $30.

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1

Marshall Stanmore II review: A powerful but pricey Assistant speaker

You are no longer stuck with a few Google-branded speaker options if you want to invite Assistant into your home. There are speakers from JBL, Sony, and many others—including Marshall. The updated Marshall Stanmore II speaker launched recently, and it looks like a feasible alternative to Google's best-in-class Home Max. It combines classic Marshall styling with modern voice assistant features, but it comes with a steep $400 asking price.

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37

Review: Soundcore Liberty Air true wireless earbuds are an incredible value

Like it or not, headphone jacks are getting harder to find on smartphones, and that makes your wireless headphones more crucial than ever. There are some compelling true wireless options out there, but you have to spend big to get features like low-latency, Type-C charging, and long battery life. As the technology improves, we're finally starting to see some compelling budget options in true wireless—for example, the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air. For a mere $80, these earbuds offer an experience that's almost a match for products that cost twice as much. If you can make a few small compromises, they're an incredible deal.

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32

RHA TrueConnect true wireless earbuds review: You can do better

Everyone is trying to make true wireless earbuds these days, but most of these products aren't very good. The technology has gotten cheap enough that any white label OEM can throw together a true wireless setup that does the bare minimum. Unless you simply refuse to have wires under any circumstances, these cheap options aren't worth the tradeoffs like sync issues, poor sound quality, and A/V lag. At the high-end, there are true wireless systems that can almost match a nice set of regular Bluetooth earbuds, but there's a lot of variation. The RHA TrueConnect earbuds look like an able competitor, but the USB Type-C port can't make up for the missing features and so-so sound quality.

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