The selection of "truly wireless" earbuds is truly staggering these days. They've gone from being crazy expensive status symbols to the norm, with surprisingly cheap models available. But even at $100, mid-range options like the Optoma NuForce BE Free6 still need to make some compromises to hit that price. You get good sound, decent battery life, and USB Type-C charging, but I had some serious problems when it came to fit, and there's no app for updates or other functionality. Read More
Noise-cancelling headphones are popular among business travelers, those in loud, open office spaces, and frequent commuters for a reason: they make life just a little bit less stressful. But good ones remain a product largely aimed at those with a good amount to spend - Bose and Sony's popular models retail for $300 and $350, respectively. The new Jabra 85h are priced to match Bose's jetsetter staple (seriously, the number of QC35s you'll see in business class cabins on airplanes is crazy), but have already dropped to $250 in promo sales.
While matching or even undercutting Bose for price, Jabra's headphones offer noticeably superior noise cancellation in most situations, better audio, and much better battery life. Read More
$250. That is what a pair of Bose's take on the truly wireless earbud will set you back, and you won't exactly look stylish for your decision. Like the original, cable-linked SoundSport Wireless, the newest wireless earbuds from Bose aren't lookers, and they're damn expensive. Here's the thing: they do the truly wireless thing very well, and they sound great doing it.
I loved the original SoundSport Wireless, but my one real gripe was the cable between the buds: it rubbed against my neck in a kind of annoying way, and I yearned for a true wireless take with a similar design. Read More
Blue is a company famous for its studio microphones, but their more recent foray into headphones has not disappointed me. 2015's Lolas were my favorite to date, though I also quite liked the powered Mo-Fis. But what I have here are easily Blue's most ambitious headphones yet: Ella, and she has me absolutely head over heels - this is pure planar magnetic bliss.
If you're not familiar with the term, planar magnetic headphones are a subtype of over-ear monitors that vibrate a series of membranes and strata in a conceptually similar way a traditional dynamic driver does a "voice coil" - using electricity and magnets to drive a moving element attached to a diaphragm that then produces sound. Read More
I may have more than half a dozen Bluetooth earphones lying around home and at work, but my personal preference is almost always skewed toward Plantronics. The BackBeat GO 2 has been a mainstay in my purse for almost two years, and the BackBeat Fit is my absolute favorite workout headset. Both provide a great balance of features, battery life, and portability that fits with my needs. That's why I was eager to see what the company has in store with its newest foray, and the BackBeat SENSE didn't disappoint me. But before I go into my thoughts on this pair of headphones, let's start with the specs. Read More
When it comes to audio on-the-go, the consumer market has come full circle over the last several decades: back in the 80s it wasn't uncommon to see kids running around with massive headphones attached to their skulls, rocking out to whatever crap their parents hated the most. Fast-forward twenty years, and it was all about earbuds – stuffing tiny speakers into your ear canals was the only [socially acceptable] way to listen to music. Today, it's a good mix of both: earbuds are widely available for those who prefer the smaller form factor, and on-ear headphones have re-emerged into the premium market, as they often provide sound quality their smaller brothers are not capable of producing. Read More
The MA350 is an earbud produced by RHA, subsidiary of the UK firm Reid Heath Ltd., based in Glasgow. RHA currently manufacture only two models earbud, both of which use the same audio guts - one of them just has inline controls. The MA350's are the model without them. They retail for $40 (buy here). A small carrying pouch and three sets of eartips are included.
For $40, the RHA MA350's produce sound that is - I would argue - far more comparable to headphones of the $80-100 range. My primary point of comparison, therefore, were my trusty old Etymotic Research hf2's (equivalent to the hf5, which are $100 street price, $150 MSRP). Read More