Unless you own an iPhone, you probably haven't thought about Beats much in a few years. Apple bought the company for three billion-with-a-B dollars in 2014, and its more recent products have been increasingly Apple-focused, Lightning charging ports and all.
But the new Beats Studio Buds break with that tradition. Like newer iPads and MacBooks, they charge with the correct cable (USB-C, that is) and support Fast Pair, meaning they're equally at home on Android as on iOS — and at $150, they look like a bargain next to the $250 AirPods Pro. But while I've certainly enjoyed using them, some missing features stop the Beats Studio Buds from being an unqualified home run.
There has never been a better time to shop for earbuds. No matter what your budget is, you can find fantastic true wireless buds to keep you entertained at the gym or on your commute. The mid-range category, in particular, has seen some real competition, with heavyweights like Amazon and Google throwing down with budget-conscious brands like Anker and Tribit. You'd be forgiven for not counting TCL among the bunch — it's stuck mainly to affordable neckbuds in the personal audio category. With the MoveAudio S600, however, the company is looking to bring some premium features to a price point that won't break the bank.
This story was originally published and last updated .
Samsung got into the true wireless earbud game early on, but its Icon-branded buds were unreliable and had terrible battery life. The Galaxy Buds line has been far superior, and Samsung has only beefed up its true wireless credentials over time. Almost every Unpacked event has featured a new pair of Samsung earbuds, and the most recent one was no exception. Alongside the new foldables, Samsung unveiled the $150 Galaxy Buds2.
If you’re numb to the OnePlus-style hype train that precedes every major product launch — as we are — you may not have been following the incessant attention-seeking from Nothing ahead of its hardware debut. Rather than buy into all that, we’ve been waiting to see what they actually come up with, and well, I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised.
Sony makes numerous headphones and earbuds across a range of prices, but the 1000X line is its flagship family with top dogs like the WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones and the aging but still capable WF-1000XM3 earbuds. The latter were top-of-the-line when they launched almost two years ago, but newer options like the ANC-equipped Galaxy Buds Pro and AirPods Pro have overshadowed Sony's old buds. The updated WF-1000XM4 puts Sony right back in the thick of things with phenomenal noise canceling and premium features. The XM4s are without a doubt my favorite earbuds right now, but they don't come cheap at $279.99, and some of the competition is only a little worse for a lot less money.
As most phones have left the headphone jack behind for good, true wireless earbuds have gone from optional accessories to must-haves for on-the-go listening. While Samsung, Apple, and Jabra fight it out in the premium space, there's still plenty of competition available for low and mid-range options. Amazon is no stranger to providing quality alternatives at lower prices — it's kept the budget Android tablet alive single-handedly with its Fire tablets. Whether it can do the same with earbuds is another question altogether.
JBL launched a bunch of products at CES this year, but few looked to be as promising as the Charge 5. Part rugged Bluetooth speaker, part power bank, the newest entry in the Charge series has much to offer, but it’s a lot more spendy than your average Bluetooth speaker. While long-time JBL fans may be disappointed the new PartyBoost pairing feature has such narrow compatibility, everyone else will be too impressed by the class-leading audio and killer battery life to care.
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.
This story was originally published and last updated .
Just six months after the excellent Galaxy Buds+, Samsung has a new set of true wireless buds, and they're probably its most anticipated product in this space. The Galaxy Buds Live may look like beans, but they sound a lot better than a pinto in your ear canal. With an unsealed design, they're pretty clearly aimed squarely at Apple's AirPods, and undercut the wireless charging version of Apple's beloved earbuds by thirty bucks, at $170. Like AirPods, they also don't block out much external noise, and that's something many people want. The active noise canceling also does little to quiet the world, and really doesn't make sense in an unsealed design.