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Apple's selling refurbished HomePods at a discount

Wed, 14/11/2018 - 20:59

If you love the Apple HomePod but not its $349 price tag, you'll be pleased to know that you can now get your hands on a refurbished model through the Apple website with $50 off.

Now selling for $299 on the refurbished section of the store, the pre-owned HomePod is available in space gray or white to US customers, with a limited quantity available to purchase. 

Apple's Certified Refurbished products have been used and returned to the store, after which they are put through a "rigorous refurbishment process" to ensure they meet the company's "high standards".

The HomePod is Apple's first smart speaker, and offers fantastic audio quality combined with the smarts of Apple's voice assistant Siri - although, when we reviewed the speaker, we found that Siri just doesn't quite measure up to the likes of Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant.

Are there any risks?

If you're planning on buying one of the refurbished HomePods, you may be wondering whether it will work and look the same as a brand new model. 

Apple says that each refurbished product is put through full functionality testing, thoroughly cleaned, and put through a detailed inspection, which means you shouldn't be able to tell the difference between a new and refurbished model. 

One downside to buying refurbished Apple products is that they come with the standard one-year warranty that you get with new products. Many companies that resell repaired stock will offer an extended warranty just in case there is anything wrong with the product as a result of the refurbishment process. Worth thinking about if you're buying a big ticket item.

Furthermore, $50 isn't exactly a huge discount on the HomePod, considering the retail price is nearly $350 - particularly as you're essentially buying second hand. Still, if you have a budget of $300 for your next smart speaker, this discounted price may be just what you were looking for. Alternatively, you might prefer to hold fire until Black Friday, in case the price of new devices comes down even further.

Via MacRumors

Categories: General Technology

JBL launches its premium PartyBox Bluetooth speakers in India

Wed, 14/11/2018 - 01:49

JBL unveiled its newest musical accompaniments, the PartyBox 200 and the PartyBox 300 speakers, at a high-profile launch party in Bangalore on Tuesday.

The speakers feature Bluetooth connectivity to play music wirelessly using smartphones and tablets, a USB input option for thumb drives and a 3.5mm audio jack. 

Both speakers come with two 6.5-inch woofers and three 2.5-inch tweeters and are compatible with mics and guitars. Using the built-in light feature users can also choose one of three lighting options- Meter, Pulse and Party. 

Users can also wirelessly connect up to two PartyBox speakers using True Wireless Stereo via Bluetooth, or wired via one RCA port to another.

The PartyBox 200 and PartyBox 300 are powered by a 12V DC power source while in use. They are also portable, and the Partybox 300 comes with a rechargeable 10000mAh battery which provides up to 18 hours playback.

“I love that my JBL PartyBox combines JBL Signature Sound with stylish lighting, and the speaker’s bass brings my personal parties to life.’’

Priyanka Chopra Pricing and availability

The JBL PartyBox 200 is priced at INR 32,499, while the PartyBox 300 is priced at INR 35,999. Both are available at, and at other online and offline retail stores, including 350 Samsung brand stores across the country.

Categories: General Technology

The best Bluetooth headsets 2018: top hands-free kit

Wed, 14/11/2018 - 01:28

To many people hands-free Bluetooth headsets seem a little over the top and unnecessary. But for many others who rely on their phone and make lots of calls each and everyday, they're a game-changer. 

Sure if you only had one or two calls to make per day you could pick up your phone each time, but if you need to make more than ten calls or thereabouts, it's going to be a hassle. Meaning you can say hello to hand strain and goodbye to multi-tasking.

That's why we've collected together the best of the best hands-free headsets that are comfortable to be worn for most of the day, are convenient to be used in a hurry and serve up good audio quality throughout. 

But although a good Bluetooth headset can make your constant calling life infinitely easier, once you go out searching for a great headset you’ll find that choosing the best Bluetooth headsets among the myriad knockoffs and imitations can be a pain. And even if there are some devices that look similar, the actual features and functionality can vary wildly.

But don’t worry, below you'll find the very best Bluetooth headsets currently available, and we've used our price comparison tool to help you find the top deals as well.

The Plantronics Voyager 5200 is one of the very best Bluetooth headsets around, from a brand name that is well respected when it comes to headsets. It's designed with comfort in mind, so you can wear it for extended periods without it bothering you and it sits securely in place too, so it won't fall off. It's also completely hands free, as caller ID will announce the name of whoever is calling you and you can simply say "answer" to take the call. Its noise-cancelling is effective even in busy environments and multiple microphones ensure strong voice quality, for a great all-round Bluetooth headset. Its also coated in sweat proof material which gives it a robustness that other Bluetooth headsets lack.

The Sony MBH20 headset used to sit at this point in our list. It was a simple, easy-to-use headset with good battery life, but it's since been replaced by the MBH22. Although they both have a similar, simple design, this latest model is packing some newer features. 

There are the same minimal buttons, but now there's a USB Type-C connector instead of an older microUSB port. It's still a good, comfortable fit although there is only one earpiece, which means that might not be the case for everyone. 

You can connect two phones at the same time to switch between calls if you're that in demand, as well as smart access to Google Assistant and Siri.

Plantronics simply makes phenomenal Bluetooth headsets, which is why it should come as no surprise that this isn’t the first Plantronics headset to make it on the list of the best Bluetooth headsets, and it certainly won’t be the last. The Plantronics  Explorer 500 is built to be compact and discreet, but there is a huge amount of tech built into this tiny package, including three microphones and a boom arm for stellar voice quality. Its small size does mean its battery life isn't exactly on the same level as some competitors, but at seven hours of talk time it's still very passable. 

The Jabra Stealth is one of the nicest designed Bluetooth headsets in our roundup, and not only does it look good, it also feels comfortable to wear. It's not quite as small and unnoticeable as its name suggests, but with such a nice design, you won't really mind that much. Perhaps most importantly, sound quality on this headset is excellent, and it does a good job of limiting background noise picked up by its mic as well. This is definitely a Bluetooth headset worth investing in if you rely on voice-free calls. 

The Sennheiser Presence UC is a brilliant Bluetooth headset if you work in a fast-paced environment where you need to multitask, as it has a multi-connectivity feature that connects to both your phone and computer, so you can quickly switch between the two. It has very good sound and recording quality, and talk time is also very impressive. It's not the most comfortable headset, however, so if you need something that you're going to wear all day, then something like the Jabra Motion will be better suited to your needs. 

If you work outside in noisy environments, and need a robust Bluetooth headset that can eliminate background sounds, then the Jabra Steel is the best Bluetooth headset for you. Resistant to dust, dirt and water, it can also survive high drops, making it an excellent headset for outdoor use - and it comes with a 5 year warranty as well. It also features aggressive noise cancellation which will make your voice calls nice and clear, even if you work somewhere where there is a lot of background noise. Sadly, though, there's no physical volume control buttons on the actual headset, which makes it a bit annoying if you need to adjust loudness.

The Plantronics M70 is the successor to the popular M55, and like its forbear, it is a budget headset, but you get a lot for your money. While it doesn't have a premium build it's perfectly comfortable to wear, it supports voice commands for truly hands-free use and the sound quality is good, especially when aided by the built in noise-cancelling tech. The M70 also has a DeepSleep mode which activates when it's separated from a paired smartphone for 90 minutes and leaves it with up to five months of battery life, but simply bring your phone within range and it will quickly wake up again.

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Plantronics Voyager Edge 

With a talk time of over eight hours the Jabra Wave is a Bluetooth headset which just keeps going and going, making it a great choice if you're going to be away from a charger for an extended period. Its fairly large size means it's not the most discreet of headsets, but it's a worthwhile trade-off for all that battery life. It also features strong audio quality and is good at suppressing noise, especially wind. Add to that easy pairing and the ability to connect it to two devices at once and the Jabra Wave is a good option.

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Plantronics Voyager Edge 
Categories: General Technology

Should I buy the Samsung HW-K450 2.1 Wireless Sound Bar?

Tue, 13/11/2018 - 02:20

The bottom line: Is your TV's audio sounding a bit weak? Want to beef up that bass? Fill your living room with sound by picking up the Samsung HW-K450 2.1 Wireless Sound Bar, which can blast out tracks with 160W of power – and an additional 140W from its wireless subwoofer.

Enhancing vocal frequencies, it provides an exceptionally crisp and clear sound when tuning in to your favourite streaming service. You can choose from six preset sound modes to enhance your viewing experience, whether you're watching the football, listening to music, or putting on your favourite film.

Pros: Optimised for vocal clarity, wireless subwoofer for easy placement

Cons: A soundbar will never replace full 5.1 sound

SAMSUNG HW-K450 2.1 Sound Bar: Everything you need to know

Sound quality 

The Samsung HW-K450 2.1 Sound Bar and subwoofer, like all in its range, produces the illusion of surround sound. The subwoofer elevates sound elements and changes them up to match the mode that you’ve set. For example, switch on movie mode and dialogue has said to have been made clearer while additional bass has been added to enhance dramatic scenes. 

With three advanced audio features including Crystal Sound Pro and Surround sound expansion, you are free to work the system until you find your personal sound preferences. 

The Sound Bar

The sound bar forms the hub of the system and is, contrary to the product name, wired up to your TV/DVD player via HDMI to enhance your favourite shows and films. When Samsung refer to the wireless sound bar, they are referring to its bluetooth capabilities, which means you can connect your phone or handheld device for some background music. 

The Subwoofer

The subwoofer is the other wireless element of this speaker set, which means it can be conveniently placed anywhere within your lounge. It's worth noting that many people who are hard of hearing choose to purchase a system that can separate speech from other sounds to make deciphering favourite films much easier. 

If you want to make a true feature out of your entertainment system, Samsung have also designed a rear speaker system that works alongside the sound bar and the subwoofer to enhance the cinematic experience. 

What else do you need to know?

If you have an Android phone, you can download an app which allows you to manage your sound system. From waking up the required devices to easily playing your favourite tunes, this is a great bonus for anyone who buys the set. Included in the box, you’ll receive a sound bar, a wall mounting kit, cables and a manual so you can design your own sound system as you wish. 

If you like the idea of this sound system, check out the latest deals further up this page.

Categories: General Technology

Best turntables 2018: the best record players for any budget

Tue, 13/11/2018 - 01:18

Best Turntables Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best turntables (also known as record players) you can buy in 2018. 

Turntables can be a fantastic investment. Not only is the vinyl revival movement here to stay, but the players themselves last for ages. 

While the idea of a turntable might call images of the '60s and '70s to mind, you'll find that most modern turntables are pretty well-equipped with the latest tech – i.e. Bluetooth built-in or USB output that allows output records straight to your PC, meaning you can listen to your vinyls anywhere. 

One downside it that, as a result of all of these new products and tricky naming conventions, the market for the best turntables can be more confusing than a college cover band (we're looking in your direction AB/CD), but stick with us and we’ll find the best turntable for you.

To start, we'll walk you through all the little details that go into choosing the best turntable for your listening needs and budget. Do you want to go on the high end with a belt drive? Or how about a more user-friendly direct drive turntable? What about phono preamps? Do you need one? 

All of these questions will be answered right here, so don’t worry, you’ll be absorbed in all of your favorite albums before you know it.

[Update: Black Friday 2018 is fast approaching, so if you're thinking of buying a new turntable, it's definitely worth waiting until November 23 incase you can get yourself a better deal. Make sure you bookmark our Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals pages for real-time deals news and you might just save yourself a lot of money.]

What is a good turntable to buy?

On of the most vital components to look for when you’re shopping for the best turntable is how well damped it is. 

Damping is essentially the method by which manufacturers combat vibrations – whether internal or external. They do this through the use of different motor configurations, and through the use of various components. 

Most of the time, belt-driven turntables are going to be a lot quieter and offer higher fidelity than their direct drive brethren – as direct drive turntables have a motor that is directly connected to the platter. However, there are some great direct drive turntables out there, so don’t write them off quite yet. 

Your own personal needs are important too, though, so don’t forget about them. If you’re just starting out, you probably don’t need to be fooling around with a complex turntable with an adjustable vertical tracking angle, anti-skate and azimuth. Do you want to rip your vinyl to your digital library? If so, look for a turntable with a USB output and reliable software to get the job done.

What's the best turntable?

The Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB is the best introductory turntable for aspiring vinyl enthusiasts. Out of the box, it features the ability to play 33 ⅓, 45 and 78 RPM, this means there will never be an album you can’t play. There’s also a built-in phono preamp so you never have to worry about finding one on your own.

New record collectors will love the easy setup and features while more vetted users will love the option to dial in the vertical tracking angle, tracking force and easily replaceable headshell. Sure, it looks like a Technics SL-1200 ripoff but at a fraction of the price, it’s entirely worth it. 

The AT-LP120-USB also comes with a USB output that allows you to record your record collection if you want. To put it simply, this deck strikes the perfect balance of ease of use for beginners while still including some more advanced features for you to grow into.

If you’re not looking to drop a fortune on the best turntable in the world and don’t necessarily care about squeezing every last drop of fidelity from your LPs, the Audio-Technica AT-LP60 is a perfect starting point. It’s portable, can play most vinyl and is by far the most inexpensive turntable we have on this list. It’s also totally automatic, meaning it’ll queue a record and return the arm to resting position without requiring a manual lever. 

The only caveat with a turntable this cheap is that it won’t grow with you as your vinyl collection expands. The built-in phono preamp means you’re stuck with it, however you can replace the needle once it wears out.

While there are cheaper, poorly engineered turntables on the market, it’s not worth it, as you risk damaging your precious records with poorly aligned and improperly weighted tonearms. Vinyl is expensive so we recommend the AT-LP60 for beginners just looking to get started. 

The Denon DP-300F is a gorgeous turntable that sounds just as good as it looks. The included DSN-85 cartridge isn’t the most accurate but it nevertheless manages to make your music sound airy and reasonably detailed, especially for it’s price.You’ll need  to spend a lot more cash to hear more detail.

While the DP-300F lacks the USB outputs of some of the turntables listed here, it’s still a great starting turntable for anyone who doesn’t want to manually queue their albums or have a habit of falling asleep while listening to music. The Denon’s automatic start/stop feature means your needle won’t be worn down at the end of the record as the arm immediately returns when an album is done. 

Build quality is decent for an all-plastic turntable, but its buttons feel cheap – a minor problem but shouldn't be a deal-breaker for you. If the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB doesn’t fit your aesthetic, consider the Denon DP-300F instead.

Read the full review: Denon DP-300F

The Fluance RT81 is an excellent starter turntable for the enthusiast. It’s simple to set up and use for newbies but you can switch out the cartridge to squeeze out more performance later on. Newbies also won’t have to worry about getting a separate phono preamp, as one is built in. However, you can turn it off if you want to use a better external preamp. 

The only downside is that Fluance’s advertised “auto-off” feature simply turns off the platter, preventing excessive needle wear but you’ll still have to return the arm to its resting place yourself. You’ll also have to manually queue records, which isn’t a deal breaker by any means but is something to consider for those looking for a fully automatic turntable. The Denon DP-300F is a great choice for those looking for a fully automated record listening experience. 

Read the full review: Fluance RT81

From here on out things start to get a little bit more ‘real’: The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is in the runnings to be the best entry-level hi-fi turntables you can buy. 

While vinyl newcomers may cringe at the price, the Debut Carbon is really an incredible bargain. For the money, you get an very well made deck that’s damped properly for fantastic sound quality. The carbon fiber tonearm is lightweight and stiff, and is usually reserved for turntables costing much more.

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is for the budding enthusiast that’s committed to the record collecting hobby and because of that commitment, it doesn’t feature niceties like an auto-returning tonearm, buttons for changing speed or an included phono preamp. Newbies may be turned off by the manual changing of the belt position to change speeds and the lack of an included preamp. However, if you want to extract more detail and resolution from your records than the cheaper options on this list, or if you want to get started on the path of being a true vinyl collector, the Debut Carbon is probably your best bet.

Read the full review: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon

There’s a lot of debate whether the Rega Planar 1 or the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is the best entry-level hi-fi turntable. It’s a close match and there are no clear winners, each providing an excellent starting place for audiophiles on a budget. 

While the Rega may lack the fancy carbon tone arm of the Pro-Ject, the Planar 1 still sounds excellent and is well damped with its phenolic resin platter. And for newbies, the Rega Planar 1 is still easy to setup, though you’ll have to provide your own phono preamp. 

Ultimately, the Rega Planar 1 just sounds so good that it’s hard to fault it too much. Vocals are revealing and you can hear the texture from instruments like the violin. The included Rega Carbon cartridge isn’t anything special but manages to be a great match for the turntable. It’s a tough choice between the Planar 1 and the Debut Carbon but you can’t go wrong with either.

The Marantz TT-15S1 costs a serious bit of change, but you’re actually getting a killer bargain. The Clearaudio Virtuoso included with the turntable is $1000 when purchased separately. Additionally, you get a killer tonearm and gorgeous turntable at a price that’s definitely an investment, but not unreasonable. 

So what does the Marantz TT-15S1 get you over the competition? Attention to detail. Just about every part of the turntable has been poured over to be the best it can be for the price. The fit and finish are excellent and it’s a pleasure to handle the high-quality components. This is a turntable you’ll find yourself admiring its visual and audible qualities. 

Newbies should not get this turntable as it requires more knowledge to set up properly than the entry-level turntables on this list. But if you’re ready to take your record collecting and listening to the next level, the Marantz TT-15S1 is the perfect place to start.

Read the full review: Marantz TT-15S1

If the Clearaudio Concept and Marantz TT-15S1 seem familiar, that’s because the Marantz was built by Clearaudio to Marantz’s specifications. This means everything about the excellent build quality of the Marantz carries over to the Clearaudio Concept (i.e. this is a turntable that is as gorgeous as it sounds). 

One small but notable difference between the Marantz and the Clearaudio is the ability to play 78 rpm records. While most people will never come across 78s, it’s nice to know that the Clearaudio Concept is capable of playing them. The Concept also has a handy speed dial on the plinth, meaning you don’t have to swap the belt position manually.

As for negatives, the Clearaudio Concept has no notable flaws. Yes, it’s expensive but you’re still getting a bargain in this price range. The included Clearaudio Concept moving-coil cartridge costs $1,000 by itself. Yep! 

Read the review: Clearaudio Concept

The Sony PS-HX500 is a great entry-level turntable for those just getting started with record collecting. Its standout feature is its ability to record Hi-Res audio from its USB output in 96kHz/24bit resolution. This is an excellent feature for those looking to digitize their records. 

In terms of sound quality, the Sony PS-HX500 sound spacious and provides good detail. However, the included needle sounds a bit harsh and sibilant at times and lacks the resolution of more expensive cartridges. 

While some may like the minimalist design of the Sony, it’s utterly forgettable and its plastic build leaves a lot to be desired. Handling the turntable on a daily basis leaves us wanting more premium materials that don’t rattle. 

  • Want to listen to digital music instead? Check out our list of the best MP3 players.
Categories: General Technology

Should I buy the RHA S500u / RHA S500i headphones?

Fri, 09/11/2018 - 03:14

If you’re looking for a pair of budget wired earphones, then you may have already come across British audio company RHA - and in particular, the RHA S500u and S500i in-ear headphones. 

Although wireless and true wireless headphones are all the rage at the moment, there are some instances where wired simply works better. Without the annoyance of dodgy Bluetooth connections, it’s easy to see why many of us haven’t cut the cord quite yet. 

Not only that, but wired headphones have historically delivered a better standard of audio quality than their wireless counterparts, as it’s more difficult to deliver hi-res sound over a Bluetooth connection. 

That’s not to say wired headphones will always give you a better listening experience; in fact, as technology advances, wireless headphones are beginning to compete with and even outperform them in terms of quality - but not yet in terms of price. 

So, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly, no-nonsense pair of in-ear headphones, wireless may just be the way to go, and the RHA S500u and S500i models could be a great place to start. But which one is right for you?

RHA S500u features and performance

Let’s start with the S550us. When we reviewed them, we were blown away by the audio quality they provide, especially when you consider the price - $40 (£30 / AU$52) is an absolute steal. 

Granted, they aren’t the highest quality headphones money can buy, but we were impressed with the neutral presentation and warm, pleasing timbres - this means they provide a pretty accurate representation of how your music was originally mixed in the studio. 

They are also noise isolating, so you won’t disturb people around you with your music leaking from the earbuds.

We found the overall sound to be well-balanced, although you may find a little sibilance (sharp ‘sss’ sounds) in the highest frequencies, which can make your ears feel fatigued after long listening sessions. 

We also felt the soundstage was slightly narrow, so you can’t particularly pick out where instruments are coming from or the acoustics of the recording room.

They might not be high-spec enough for true audiophiles, but if you’re a casual listener, it’s unlikely that this will bother you very much. 

On to that all important wire: made with aluminum and braided nylon, you should find that it’s pretty sturdy, but the addition of nylon can create cable noise (this is when the wire rubs against your clothing creating an annoying crackling sound.)

The cable features an inline remote with a microphone and universal button which can be used to stop or start your music whether you use an iPhone or Android phone - so you’ll still have to reach into your pocket to change the volume. 

They come with three different silicone eartips, so they should be pretty comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

How do the S500is differ?

Although the S500i headphones are very similar to the S500us, there are a few key differences that are worth considering. Firstly, the price: the S500is retail for $88 in the US, but are far cheaper in the UK at just under £28. In Australia, you can get them for around AU$80 - it’s not clear why they are so much more expensive outside of the UK.

The main difference between the S500us and the S500is, is that, while the former is compatible with all smartphones, the latter is specifically designed to be used with iPhones. This is reflected in its three button inline remote, which can change the volume unlike its predecessor... but only on iPhones. Pressing these buttons while connected to an Android phone will have no effect.

It’s the same story for the microphone, although some Android users will find the stop/start button on the inline remote still works. To be clear, we haven’t reviewed the RHA S500i headphones, but having tested the very similar S500u model, we’ve got a good point for comparison.

A matter of taste

If you’re in the UK, the question of which model to buy depends mainly on whether you have an iPhone or Android smartphone, as they are roughly the same price - the S500is work best with Apple devices and the S500us work equally well with iPhones and Androids (although the inline remote doesn’t have as much functionality.) 

In the US and Australia however, the cost of the S500i headphones is significantly higher than the S500us, so which one you pick depends on how important that extra remote functionality is to you. Either way, both sets should provide a decent level of audio quality, as well as the convenience of not having to pair via Bluetooth every time you listen.

If you’re thinking of buying either model, it’s worth bearing in mind that Black Friday is coming up soon - so if you wait until November 23, you could bag yourself a sizable discount. 

Make sure you bookmark our Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals page for the latest deals news and our tips and tricks for where to find the biggest discounts on November 23.

Categories: General Technology

Best stereo speakers: the best bookshelf, floor and Hi-Fi speakers in 2018

Thu, 08/11/2018 - 22:00

As technology continues to progress, we audiophiles haven’t changed a bit - at the end of the day, we want our sound clear, full, and true to the original source. Although the principle of stereo sound is decades old and single unit smart speakers are beginning to dominate the audio market, for audiophiles, two speakers really are better than one. 

Finding a set of speakers that checks our laundry list of requirements, however, is much easier said than done. 

To find the best stereo speakers on the market, we reached out to some of the best audio companies on Earth to review and test a wide variety of stereo speaker setups, ranging from compact bookshelf speakers to room-dominating towers with built-in subs. We will be reviewing more units in the future and adding them to this list, so keep your eyes (and ears) peeled for that. 

[Update: It's worth bearing in mind that Black Friday is just around the corner, so if you're looking to buy a new stereo setup it's a good idea to wait until November 23 in case you can bag yourself a big discount. Make sure you follow our Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals page for breaking deals news and updates.]

The testing process

In testing these speakers, we compared each stereo set at a comparable power level and tested the same tunes, plucked a variety of music genres. 

Our test songs spanned the dynamic range of music and artists, from John Mayer to Tom Petty, and from U.K. prog-metal band TesseracT to the likes of John Williams and Hans Zimmer. Each song was chosen to test the dynamics offered by each set of speakers with some speakers reacting better to certain genre’s than others, depending on their design.

Of course, not all speakers are created equal in function. The Definitive Technology BP9080x towers, for example, are obviously made to cover a more broad frequency range than say the Edifier bookshelf speakers with a 4 inch woofer. We used to our best judgement in testing these speakers according to their individual purpose and affordability, and graded them with that in mind. 

Since comparing bookshelf speakers to high performance towers is an obvious case of apples and oranges, we’ll at least try to make it clear which speaker is an apple and which is an orange. Sound good? Good.

Without further ado, these are the best stereo speakers we have tested so far. 

What are the best stereo speakers?

In life, money isn’t everything. In sound, however, it’s pretty important.

Case in point: the Definitive Technology BP9080x speakers. Right off the bat we want to make it clear that this stereo pair is a luxury item that is made only for the most avid audiophile on the market. 

If that’s you, then let us tell you just how amazing these speakers are. 

From beginning to end of the covered frequency range, the BP9080x speakers are crystal clear, articulate, and genuinely moving. The passive design is aided by an active subwoofer, giving the user independent control of the subwoofer volume on each tower, meaning it can be adjusted to fit any room with any standing waves. 

The midrange is as full and clear as any speakers we’ve ever heard, never getting overworked or muddy no matter what songs and sounds we threw at it. The pitch-perfect mid range blends perfectly into the gorgeous treble frequencies that never got harsh, even when the windows were shaking from the volume. The clarity from the top of the frequency range to the bottom can’t be overstated. 

On top of it all (literally) there are two “height channel” speakers that make this a perfect centerpiece in your Dolby Atmos or DTS:X home theater. 

All of this audio goodness is wrapped in a tall and slender package made from premium materials that is impossibly discreet, especially considering the amount of volume it can pump out. All we can say is that if you’re looking to spend the money (and it is a lot of money), we can’t recommend Definitive Technology’s BP9080x speakers enough. 

Since 1985, the Forte floorstanding speakers from Klipsch have been the gold standard for home entertainment. Now, the Forte III speakers are on the market and hope to build on the success of their forebearers. 

Of course, as you might expect, these speakers sound fantastic. Klipsch’s attention to detail on the fine tuning of the speakers is second to none, making way for a clear and intricate mid-high range. They’re also phenomenally designed and built, making a great addition to basically any living room. They are also very heavy, which can be a blessing and a curse. Once you figure out their place in the living room, these speakers aren’t going anywhere.

These speakers are built for bass, with a 12 inch subwoofer and a massive 15 inch passive radiator in the back of the speaker to help disperse the low frequencies. To get the most out of the bass speakers on these towers, you need to run two separate amps, or a single amp with multiple outs that is strong enough to get the subwoofer moving. Having separated or bi-amp control allows the user to control the power sent to the high and low channels, allowing them to get the exact balance they want. 

The downside to these speakers is that they are even more expensive than the Definitive Technology BP9080x speakers and don’t have the powered subs or high-firing speakers that our number one pick has. Part of that premium is paying for the Klipsch name, but there is quality to back it up - just not enough value or pure sound power to topple the Definitive Technology BP9080x.

If you’re not in the market for full-on entertainment behemoths like the Definitive Technology towers, the Klipsch RP-150M speakers are a surprisingly affordable bookshelf speaker option with a mid-range and high frequency clarity that rivals our top pick. 

These light and passive reference speakers are beautifully designed and are a continuation of what Klipsch does best: honest and clear replication without over-coloring the sound. While the 5-inch woofer doesn’t do much in the way of bass, not coming audibly close to the 48 Hz promise on the frequency response, these speakers have a surprising amount of low-mid thump. 

The mid range in these Klipsch speakers is completely clear and open, allowing for subtle articulation to come through that would be lost on lesser systems. The upper range never gets shrill and has a natural air under it that seems to be a signature in Klipsch products. 

Overall, if you’re looking for a solid pair of stereo speakers for casual listening, studio work, or piecing together an entertainment system, these Klipsch RP-150M speakers are just about as good as they come, especially for the price. 

If you’re starting to take your music listening experience more seriously, it’s natural to look into getting a speaker setup. That is until you realize that you’ll have to pick a preamp, amp, and DAC to get your dream speaker setup. That’s a lot research and setup, which is quite intimidating to a hi-fi newbie. 

But what if there was a speaker system that just worked out of the box? What if all you had to do was plug the speakers into the wall and turn on some music?

Thankfully, this dream system is real and it’s made by the folks at KEF. 

After spending several months with the KEF LS50 Wireless, we were blown away by the package that the company was able to engineer. The speakers offer mind-blowing sound quality with absolute neutrality, hologram-like imaging, and an expansive soundstage. Plus, it was dead simple to set up and use from any of its sources. While not cheap, the LS50 Wireless is actually quite a bargain when taken as a complete package. 

[Update: KEF recently launched its new LSX Wireless Music System - we'll be sure to update this article once we get our hands on the speakers, so watch this space.]

Read the full review: KEF LS50 Wireless Speakers

If you’re an audiophile who’s in the market for compact bookshelf speakers but doesn’t want to sacrifice on sound quality, it’s time to look at the Q Acoustics Concept 20 speakers. 

These extremely low-profile bookshelf speakers are rich in sound from the low-mids to the crispy highs. Even with the amplifier cranked (to safe power levels) the sound never broke up into distortion and remained clear, not shrill. Of course, with any speakers this size, there wasn’t much bass below the low-mid range to speak of, but what was there was full without being muddy. 

What could be seen as a pro for some and a con for others, the Q Acoustics Concept 20 speakers are passive and require an external amplifier. 

For audiophiles, this is a great excuse to drop even more coin on a high fidelity amplifier to get the best possible sound out these already great speakers. For casual listeners, however, it can be an inconvenience to worry about amplification with what should be small and discreet bookshelf speakers. 

After testing songs of every conceivable genre, it’s clear that the Q Acoustics Concept 20 speakers are up to just about any challenge. For those looking to fill out the living room with clear, crisp, hi-fi sound, these bookshelf speakers from Q Acoustics are a no-brainer. 

The beauty of Polk Audio is in its ability to make quality speakers that compete with the biggest name brands while keeping a lower price tag. Do these beautiful full range Polk Signature S60 towers stand up to the prowess of the Definite Technology BP9060x towers? Well, not exactly, but these are stellar speakers in their own right. 

Polk’s passive signature series speakers for home entertainment are designed to provide full and immersive sound, and for the most part, they hit the mark. The mid-range, which is the easiest to muddy up, is crystal clear and articulate no matter what sound is blasting through these almost four-foot tall towers. 

The high frequency range is certainly lively, occasionally to the point of shrillness when the volume is really pushed, but never gets too harsh for comfort. As for bass frequencies, the packaging advertises a unique porting system that allows more low frequencies to travel more easily. However, to hear the bass really cutting through, the volume needs to be cranked quite a bit. Still, overall the sound quality is excellent in these Polk Audio speakers, the frequencies might could just use a little tweak with an external equaliser. 

If you’re looking for a more affordable alternative to the Definite Technology towers, the Polk Audio Signature S60 speakers are a solid option that will likely outshine just about any other run-of-the-mill home entertainment system you’ll encounter. While they don’t handle the highs or the lows as well as our premium pick, we have no doubts that even the most critical ears will be happy with the signal these bad boys pump out.

These stylish and compact Q Acoustic BT3 speakers are the most digitally integrated speakers on our list, featuring Bluetooth capability, a remote control, a 3.5mm input, a digital optical input, and active speakers. But how does the sound quality compare to the rest?

The sound that came out of these little speakers was shockingly full. 

Q Acoustics designed these speakers primarily as a convenient bookshelf speaker, but also as a stereo alternative to the soundbar, and it was clear why. The BT3 speakers covered virtually the entire frequency range very evenly, with the exception of the sub bass. Still, the bass that was produced was thick and full and didn’t cause the signal to overly distort. The high range was also surprisingly manageable, though a bit more shrill than the pricier Concept 20 speakers or the Klipsch RP-150Ms. 

While the BT3 speakers from Q Acoustics won’t replace your favorite reference monitors any time soon, they weren’t really designed to. These speakers have a lot of technological integrations that make them a perfect replacement to a traditional soundbar or a simple solution to bookshelf speakers. With Bluetooth integration and remote control, the BT3 speakers are perfect in the corner of the living room when you want to quickly blast your song through the house, and sound good doing it.

The Edifier R1280T speakers are a popular choice on Amazon, and for good reason. These compact desk/bookshelf style speakers back an impressive sonic punch and look good doing it, all while keeping the price tag under $100 for the pair. Ok, it’s $99.99, but that penny really does count!

The standout features here include its active design, rich mid-range response, and surprisingly competent bass. Because of the small woofer size, these guys obviously don’t push much low-end, and because of the tweeter design, the highs aren’t as clear as the competition we tested. But other than that, the frequency response and clarity holds its own pretty well.

While they don’t compare to the encompassing power of the Definitive Technology BP9080x or even the clarity of the Klipsch RT-150Ms, these compact speakers certainly serve a purpose. If you’re looking for an affordable set of computer speakers, or better yet a warm stereo set up for your turntable, the Edifier R1280T speakers are a fantastic option for the money.

Categories: General Technology

Best running headphones 2018: our top 10 choices to soundtrack your workouts

Thu, 08/11/2018 - 03:06

You might assume that the only thing that separates the best running headphones from that cheap pair you saw at Wal-Mart (or wherever you do your shopping) the other day is the fact that they don’t fall out while running. That isn’t exactly far from the truth, but the best running headphones go a lot further than that. 

Over the last few years there have been plenty of radical innovations and improvements in headphone technology, and there are a ton of manufacturers who are busy transforming those innovations into the best headphones for working out that have ever existed.

Thanks to improved technology, the best wireless headphones are giving their wired counterparts a run for their money, so you no longer have to worry about tripping on your headphone wire while running. The best workout headphones will take the latest and greatest wireless technology and implement it in new ways by boasting high battery life so you don’t have to worry about your charge running out halfway through your run. 

  • [Update: Don't forget Black Friday is coming up very soon - and you could bag yourself a fantastic deal if you hold off buying your new running headphones until November 23. Make sure you bookmark our Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals page for real time deals news, and you could save yourself a lot of money.]

The best running headphones will also go one step further to include features like heart rate monitors and AI personal trainers that make the best running headphones the best running gadgets on the market in 2018.

Plus, to top off all of this awesome tech, there is actually plenty of research that proves that music can make you run better. So, with that all out of the way, let’s get started on our list of the best running headphones for every budget.

There are a ton of headphone manufacturers who are competing for that coveted spot in your running kit, and it can get difficult to discern which are the best at the things you need them to do. That’s why the TechRadar editorial team has put together this list of the best workout headphones you can buy today – each pair here has been tested and ranked with our own seal of approval, so you can be confident that you’ll get your money’s worth.

While lacking some of the newest running headphone technology, these earbuds more than make up for it in comfort, durability and their inexpensive asking price.

One of the most annoying issues when you’re running is when your earphones come loose or, worse still, fall out. The iSport Victory stay securely snug in your ear throughout your run, thanks to the rubber ‘wings’ and a surprisingly wide variety of ear tip options. Naturally, they’re sweat resistant and, at only 15g, they’re the most lightweight headphones on this list.

And, with 10-hours of Bluetooth battery life, they could feasibly get you through your workday and your post-work run. Sound quality doesn’t quite cut it for regular use and it’s lacking a heart rate monitor but, for the price, they’re still a great simple option for most runners.

Our sole on-ear entry hails from the relatively obscure start-up 66 Audio and stands out in several key facets. Firstly, the BTS Pro earphones offer a ludicrous 40+ hours of continuous playback from a single charge along with an stunning wireless range of 100-feet.

Most Bluetooth headphones give you about 30-feet of leeway, but thanks to the aptX 3D antenna tech you can wander much further away from your mobile device, which is especially handy for track sessions.

For runners who like as much control over sound equalization as they do their fitness levels, the Motion Control app allows effortless control of the sound output.

The native apps (there’s also one for Apple Watch) also have a useful ‘Find My Headphones’ feature too. But most importantly, the sound is phenomenal for the relatively low price and they offer noise-cancelling microphones. 

  •  This product is only available in the US at the time of writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Headphones 

Replacing the AfterShokz Trek Titanium is the newer Air model. These are a touch more expensive, but they're lighter and we've found the sound quality has improved as well.

AfterShokz specialize in making wireless options designed in a way that particularly suits urban runners. Sound is delivered through your cheekbones, thanks to bone conducting tech which leaves your ears open, free to hear the traffic around you.

You can keep chatting with those around you easily and if you're in a race you'll be able to hear the cheering from the sidelines too.

What really sets these headphones apart is they're one of the few sets that are 'race-legal' in some countries, as they allow you to hear the commands of marshalls and traffic on open-road courses. If you want to run with music in smaller races, these are really your only option.

We found the Air to be more comfortable than previous AfterShokz models so if you don't mind shelling out a little extra money these will be one of the best for you. Plus they're sweat-proof, have a good secure fit and they can't fall out when you're jogging either as there aren't any earbuds.

The compact, durable and affordable Jaybird X2 in-ear buds proved mighty popular among runners. The new Jaybird X3 neckband offers improvements across the board with an even more favorable price point.

Despite being slightly smaller, they’ve retained the sweat-proof design and surprisingly great sound. Greater control over the audio is also possible due to a new companion MySound app, while the abundance of fitting options means they stay secure in your lugholes.

They’ve also been updated to Bluetooth 4.1, which means longer battery life, although we struggled a little with intermittent Bluetooth dropouts.

Whoever came up with the expression ‘jack of all trades, master of none,’ never used the KuaiFit Sport headphones. With 8GB of storage they’re a music player, fitness tracker, heart rate monitor, real-time running coach and a pair of wireless headphones all in one.

KuaiFit sells fitness plans created by Olympic athletes and verified coaches as part of its offering, and its headphones will store and deliver voice notifications based on your progress towards goals – all while leaving your phone at home.

The KuaiFit app for iOS and Android will store all your data and, if you want to link up to your phone, play music from Spotify too - although we do wish that was supported offline too...

  • This product is only available in the US at the time of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones 

If you need your power song to give even more umph, then the Bose SoundSport might give you exactly that extra push you’re looking for. With the unmistakable sound signature of the US audio heavyweight, these lightweight earbuds feature a comfortable and secure fit thanks to the StayHear+ tips.

For runners with NFC-enabled smartphones and music players, the SoundSport buds can be paired in the blink of an eye. The Bose Connect app also allows music sharing with more than one pair of earbuds, ideal if you’re out running with a buddy (and we love that they name which device is connected, something that's great if you're carrying around a phone, media player and tablet).

The SoundSport range comes in two flavors. For an extra $50 you can pick up the Pulse edition which features a built-in heart rate monitor. Depending on your training method, this could be a worthwhile investment as we've found their heart rate monitor to generally be fairly precise from the ears with these.

Under Armour’s first foray into headphones entrusts the audio tech to a worthy partner: JBL. With a built-in heart rate monitor you can finally ditch the chest strap, while also summoning voice updates on your progress with a simple tap on the right bud.

When paired with the UA Record app you can even configure these updates to be read out at predetermined intervals, so you know whether you’re hitting your zones. The over-the-ear buds also feature 5.8mm dynamic drivers and JBL’s PureBass Performance tech on board.

Combined with JBL’s TwistLock tech, the firm is guaranteeing you a custom and secure fit, meaning you’ll never have to deal with the faff of them falling out mid-run.

Leading the way in a new generation of ‘hearable’ tech, the LifeBEAM Vi combines a voice-powered personal running coach with top-class Harman Kardon audio. The on-board AI uses your heart rate and body temperature to adapt to your fitness level and goals.

If it knows if you’re near a personal best, Vi will spur you on to get you over the line. It will challenge you to match your running cadence with a beat, and will learn your effort levels to offer feedback on your pace.

It can also use your running history to suggest how hard you should push. If you’ve been running the same pace and distance over time, it will suggest ways to shake things up. It even provides contextual advice based on your location and weather conditions.

Voice controls are two-way and you can request things like your heart rate. The buds pull out from a flexible, comfortable neckband that can be worn all day and used for handling calls. It has an iOS and Android Vi Fitness companion app and will sync with Spotify to ensure your power playlist is seamlessly integrated.

  •  This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones 

There’s wireless, and then there’s true wireless. The top-end Jabra Elite Sport are the latter. Beyond the cordless design, the headline feature is the Hear Through tech that allows you to alter the way the buds filter out ambient noise.

If your run takes you from a park to a busy road, a quick button press enables you to pick up your surroundings as well as your tunes. They’re also designed for calls, allowing you to wear one at a time if you desire. Each bud offers two microphones, which help to filter out background noise for the person on the other end of the line.

The on-the-go charging case provides 13.5 hours of battery life in total (similar to Apple’s AirPods), but with just 4.5 hours available from a single charge slower marathoner and ultra runners will probably want to jog on - although for 99% of your training this won't be an issue.

Although not marketed for swimming, they’re also IP67 certified water resistant. The companion app also utilizes the built-in heart rate monitor to enhance your workouts, along with the internal accelerometer to monitor your reps of squats, lunges and the like.

These are expensive buds, but the amount they can do is incredible - for many, they'll be your go-to choice.

The PowerBeats 3 running headphones are yet another pair for of headphones from Beats that aim to keep your tunes pumping while you keep your legs pumping. They may come with the high price that is a signature of the Beats and Apple brands, but they offer a lot for runners, and especially for Apple users.

With a 12-hour battery life and quick charging that can add an hour of battery life in a few minutes, the PowerBeats 3 should rarely run out of juice in the middle of anything short of an insane ultra-marathon. They’re also ready for all the sweat from your brow, and can even handle a run in the rain.

While they may not top some of the other wireless headphones on this list for features, the PowerBeats 3 headphones will truly shine for major Apple lovers. They feature Apple’s W1 chip, which makes the Bluetooth pairing process with multiple iCloud-linked devices incredibly easy in addition to boosting wireless range.

Read the full review: Beats PowerBeats 3

Check out our videos below for a roundup of the best headphones available.

Categories: General Technology

Xiaomi launches AirPod rivals for those on a super-tight budget

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 21:00

Are you desperate for some Apple AirPods but don't have a spare $159 (£159 / AU$229) lying around? Today could be your lucky day, with the news that Chinese tech company Xiaomi has launched a pair of AirPod clones that cost just $29 (£22 / AU$40). 

Named the 'AirDots', the true wireless in-ears look to share many of the same features with the AirPods, including support for Bluetooth 5.0, tappable controls on the casing, and a portable charging case.

Although they don't feature the long stem you find on Apple's earbuds, the design is relatively similar, with that white minimalist aesthetic that Apple accessories are so well known for.

They are currently available to preorder in China, but there's no word on when they will become available in other regions.

Should I buy the AirDots?

Without the chance to test them ourselves, we can't speak to whether the AirDots are a truly convincing clone of the AirPods - but at that extremely low price, we'd be very surprised if they measure up in terms of audio quality and connectivity. 

More and more companies are creating their own clones for the Apple AirPods, with varying levels of success - but so far we haven't come across any which give the originals a run for their money. 

That being said, we recently reviewed the TicPods Free, and we were pleasantly surprised by powerful bass frequencies and how comfortable they were to wear for long periods of time - even so, these cheaper dupes are still going to cost you $129 (£119 / AU$199).  

Unfortunately, it looks like the technology is still too new for headphones under $50 to compete with the larger brands in terms of quality, but hopefully we aren't too far off affordable true wireless in-ears - and who knows? The Xiaomi AirDots could well be the first to do it. 

Via The Verge

Categories: General Technology

Spotify Connect speakers to get free tier streaming – if developers get on board

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 03:29

In a boon to those of us without Spotify Premium accounts, the globally popular music streaming service has made it possible to access free tier streaming through compatible Spotify Connect speakers – even if nobody is planning to implement it.

Spotify Connect refers to speakers that can link up to the Spotify app on your smartphone, through Wi-Fi rather than a less reliable (and proximity-dependent) Bluetooth connection.

Those who pay £9.99 / $9.99 / AU$11.99 for a Spotify Premium account can already stream music through Spotify Connect speakers. A newly-released SDK (Software Development Kit), however, will allow hardware devs to open this up to Spotify Free subscribers too.

So the feature isn't actually available yet, but it's likely we'll see hardware developers start working on patch updates for Spotify Connect speakers soon.

If you can't beat 'em

Spotify is largely credited with shifting the music landscape, away from the previous pay-per-track business model and toward the convenience of subscription-based streaming.

To ensure the long-term health of the service, though, Spotify has naturally been looking for ways to integrate with other services and hardware. A Spotify app is now being tested on the Apple Watch, while the company is even shipping out free Google Home Minis to Premium Family subscribers.

We're yet to see a dedicated Spotify smart speaker, but the new SDK is sure to strengthen the case for Spotify Connect, as the service faces renewed competition from the likes of Apple Music, Tidal, and Deezer.

Categories: General Technology

Denon releases luxe new headphones, the AH-D9200s

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 03:07

Denon is well-known for making high-quality audio devices and accessories. Its latest pair of headphones, the AH-D9200s, look to be no exception. 

Handcrafted from Japanese bamboo, each pair is unique thanks to the patterning of the wood, which adds an organic touch to these high-tech headphones while also acting as natural dampeners to produce a warmer sound. 

The inclusion of 50mm nanofibre drivers, built to be lightweight but sturdy, means that the new headphones should give truly accurate sound.

Built with comfort in mind, the AH-D9200s feature a lightweight aluminum headband as well as soft leather ear-cushions, so you should be able to use them for long periods of time without feeling any discomfort. 

Luxury at a price

The new headphones come with two detachable cables (although it's worth noting they aren't Bluetooth-enabled, so don't abandon your cables); a 3m silver-coated cable with 6.3mm jack for listening at home, and a shorter 1.3m cable with 3.5mm jack to hook up to portable players like your smartphone.

If you were hoping to buy the AH-D9200s for less than $1000, you'll be disappointed - they are available to buy from the Denon store or approved retailers for $1699 / £1399. It doesn't look like they are available to buy yet in Australia, but just based on current conversion rates, you could be looking at paying around AU$2300 - luxury handmade headphones come at a price after all. 

They are the same price as one of our favorite models, the Sennheiser HD 800s, but you can get decent over-ear headphones for far cheaper. Whether you'd be willing to spend that much on a pair of headphones really depends on how serious you are about your audio...and how much money you have burning a hole in your pocket. 

Categories: General Technology

Blue Yeti Nano microphone: should I buy it for podcasting?

Tue, 06/11/2018 - 22:46

It feels like everyone and their grandma has a podcast these days - and with good reason. Podcasting can be a really fun and easy way to delve into the subjects you love the most, whether you’re a true crime buff or a poetry know-it-all. 

That is, it’s easy if you have the right equipment. If you’ve recently looked for the best podcasting microphones online, you may have come across the Blue Yeti Nano.

If you’re not sure whether to go ahead and purchase this bitesize mic, read on for all the pros and cons of the Blue Yeti Nano. To be clear, we've not tested this model ourselves, so the following is our expert tech take based on the specs and online reviews - however, we have reviewed the original, larger Blue Yeti Microphone so we've got a pretty good point for comparison.  

Good for beginners, great for your bank balance

The Blue Yeti Nano is one of the cheaper microphones you can buy for podcasting, at $99.99 (£89.99 / AU$159). Blue Yeti hasn’t sacrificed many of the features you’d expect from a professional podcasting mic for this price however, and it should provide a pretty high standard in terms of audio quality and clarity.

This condenser mic has two polar patterns; cardioid (heart-shaped) and omni-directional; the former is best for solo broadcasts, whereas you’ll want to use the latter for roundtable style discussions as the mic will pick up audio in 360 degrees.

The omni-directional setting is also good for conference calls with multiple people in one room.

It supports hi-res 24-bit recording, so your podcasts should sound a lot better than using your laptop's inbuilt microphone, and it’s compatible with Mac and PC via USB. 

The Blue Yeti Nano also comes with the Blue Sherpa companion app so you can easily switch between different polar patterns and adjust the gain - although you can do this by pressing a button on the mic itself anyway.

Increasing the gain will make your voice sound louder, and lowering it will make it quieter, with a lower gain reducing the risk of your audio peaking (this is when the volume is too high and causes distortion.)

Does size matter after all?

As you’ve probably guessed already, the Blue Yeti Nano is small - that means if you’re on the taller side, you may end up hunching over your desk to speak into the microphone, which we can’t imagine will be very comfortable for long periods of time.

You can buy an additional shock mount or boom mount, but they’ll set you back around $50 (£38 / AU$70) or $100 ( £77 / AU$140) respectively.

It’s probably easiest to compare the Blue Yeti Nano to its closest relative, the original Blue Yeti Microphone, which comes in at $129.99 (around £100 / AU$180), and the main difference between the two (aside from the size), is that the Nano model doesn’t support stereo or bidirectional modes (so you won’t be able to sit across the table from your podcasting buddy). 

We found that the original Blue Yeti Microphone had a fantastic level of audio quality, although we found that you might want to invest in a pop shield as it is quite sensitive - a pop shield is a small mesh screen you place between your mouth and the microphone, and it stops the peaking effect you get when you make 'b' or 'p' sounds with your mouth. 

As the specs are fairly similar with the Blue Yeti Nano, it could be worth investing in a pop shield - you can buy a decent one for around $12 (£10 / AU$18). 

Should I buy the Blue Yeti Nano?

As the price is fairly cheap compared to similar models, the Blue Yeti Nano should be a great option for those starting out with podcasting, vlogging, or streaming gameplay - and for under $100, you get a lot of quality features.

The specs suggest a real ease of use, as you can simply plug in this microphone and start recording straight away without needing to fine tune myriad settings.

If you desperately want bi-directional/stereo recording, you could be better off with the original Blue Yeti, or for professional standard recording, try the Blue Yeti Pro.

If you're thinking of buying the Blue Yeti Nano (or any tech for that matter), we'd recommend holding off until Black Friday on November 23 - lots of retailers will be making huge discounts across their products, so you could bag yourself a brilliant deal.

Make sure you bookmark our Black Friday and Cyber Monday page for breaking deals news, and read up on our tips and tricks for making the most of Black Friday 2018.

Categories: General Technology

AirPods 2 leak hints at Bluetooth 5.0 and new biometric sensors

Tue, 06/11/2018 - 08:13

The Apple AirPods 2 have been tough to pin down. Sure, we’ve seen a number of leaks over the last six months – including information around potential waterproofing and noise-cancellation features – but none that has originated from an official source.

That all changed today, when the Apple AirPods 2 passed SIG Bluetooth Certification, a requisite for any device that includes Bluetooth before it comes to market. 

The listing on SIG's website was first noticed by MySmartPrice, an India-based tech publication, and it not only confirms the existence of Apple’s next-gen true wireless earbuds, but also gives us some key details.   

The first of these major spoilers is that the Apple AirPods 2 will support Bluetooth 5.0 instead of the Bluetooth 4.2 version that was available on the original AirPods. Bluetooth 5.0 will mean that the second-gen earbuds will support a 50m wireless range and two times the amount of data transmission, plus a longer battery life overall. 

The new earbuds are only identified by the model numbers A2031 and A2032 in the SIG document (potentially pointing to the left earbud and right earbud respectively), and that makes gleaning additional details difficult. 

That's where an updated trademark filing with Hong Kong and Europe comes in.

Wellness sensors included

The updated trademark filings were spotted by Patently Apple, who specifically calls attention to the new Class 10 designation for the AirPods. 

Class 10, for those who don't speak FTC filings, means that a device is intended to be a general wellness device, a category that typically includes "health, fitness, exercise, and wellness sensors, monitors, speakers and displays for measuring, displaying, tracking, reporting, monitoring, storing, and transmitting biometric data, heart rate, body movement, and calories burned."

That confirms our earlier suspicions that the second-gen AirPods will be more of a health-focused device that will likely be a sweat-proof gym companion. 

The filing doesn't give any additional details other than the new class designation, but that, in and of itself, offers a bit more insight to Apple's otherwise MIA earbuds.

Via Patently Apple

Categories: General Technology

Apple HomePod gets early price drop ahead of Black Friday

Mon, 05/11/2018 - 20:35

Even with Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaching, it's hard to find good prices on Apple deals: the Cupertino brand is simply able to command a premium for its products all year around.

Which makes this sweet saving on its superb-sounding Apple HomePod all the better. UK retailers Currys and John Lewis are knocking £20 off the usual £319 asking price for the Siri-powered smart speaker, making it the cheapest you'll see the HomePod this side of a second hand deal.

The Apple HomePod is arguably the best-sounding single smart speaker we've tested so far, giving premium devices like the long-standing Sonos even a run for its money. 

However, it works best if you're already invested in the Apple ecosystem, requiring an iOS device to set up, and working most smoothly when syncing from an Apple Music account (which you'll need to have, paying a tenner a month for it). 

If that doesn't suit your style, consider perhaps the Amazon Echo Plus or the Google Home Max as premium voice-controlled alternatives - and we're expecting massive discounts on smart speakers this Black Friday in the UK.

Categories: General Technology

Sonos One won’t see Google Assistant support until 2019

Fri, 02/11/2018 - 04:33

Sonos might’ve been a bit ambitious when it promised both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support on the Sonos One smart speaker back in 2017: It’s been over a year now and while the speaker has seen a number of updates – including AirPlay 2 support – Google Assistant wasn’t among them. 

Unfortunately, according to a post on Sonos’ blog, that’s not changing anytime soon.

“While we originally planned to have the experience ready to ship in 2018, the reality is that we need a bit more time to get the experience right and will now look to lock down a date in 2019,” Sonos says. “We’re very excited to see Google Assistant come to life on Sonos, and we know our customers are too.”

Despite being asked about it frequently, Sonos has so far been relatively quiet about when the integration would be available. "It’s easily one of the questions we get the most from customers, press, and even in the comments on our Instagram feed: When is Google Assistant coming to Sonos?" says Sonos. "We’re listening. Together with Google, we’ve learned a lot, and are confident the integration will be worth the wait." 

The early bird gets the beta

If you can’t wait until 2019 to get your hands on a Google Assistant update to the Sonos One, Sonos says it’s accepting applications for private beta testers that will help the company by providing data on Google Assistant usage. 

The catch here is that participants will need to “commit to at least 14 hours of listening per week, use 10 voice commands daily, and respond to surveys within 72 hours” all in the name of technological progress.

Initially, Sonos will start the beta with just a few hundred applicants before extending the invitation to another few thousand homes in the coming months. 

Interested parties will need to fill out a short survey ... or, alternatively, non-interested parties can just sit and wait patiently for the next announcement that's coming in early 2019. Both options are fine.

Categories: General Technology

The cheapest Beats headphone prices and sales in November 2018

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 23:32

The best cheap Beats headphone prices are right here, which great news if you're a budget-conscious shopper who wants to get a hold of the popular headphones at a discount in the latest Beats headphone sales. We've got you covered for cutting edge Beats by Dre wireless options and regular wired headphones.

Beats by Dre is arguably the most successful brand of headphones on the planet, with a big name and pedigree behind it. These attributes were clearly recognized by Apple when it purchased Beats for $3 billion in 2014.

The best cheap Beats headphone sales on the web can be found right here. We've rounded together all of the current Beats models here, and our system searches thousands of retail sites every single day so can you find the cheapest Beats headphone prices available. We've organized them up from top to bottom, plus thrown in Beats' own taglines for each product to both inform and amuse you.

If you've recently grabbed an iPhone 8, iPhone X or iPhone XS deal, then prepare to save even more because there isn't a better place to pick up a pair of excellent wireless headphones than right here. You may recall that Apple made the controversial decision to remove the standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7, which is why finding a great set of wireless headphones is more important than ever. We've ordered the Beats headphone deals on this page to put all the wireless options at the top for your convenience.

You can find links to the latest Studio 3 Wireless, Solo 3 Wireless, Powerbeats3 Wireless and Beats X deals below along with a selection of the best Beats deals for the older headphones too.

The cheapest Beats Studio3 Wireless prices

"Hear the music. Not the noise"

The newest entry in the Beats by Dre headphone range is the Beats Studio 3 Wireless. The Studio3 is the best noise cancelling set of headphones Beats has ever made. The battery has massively improved too, as you can enjoy music for up to 22 hours, or even 40 with the active noise cancelling tech turned off.

The Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones are a great match for iPhone users, especially the iPhone 8 and iPhone 7, but you can pair them with any smartphone thanks to the Bluetooth technology. The Studio 3 is available in six colors including: red, matte black, white, porcelain rose, blue and shadow grey.

The cheapest Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphone prices

"Wireless the way it should be"

If you have an iPhone 7,  8 or XS and want one of the best pair of headphones in the business made especially for Apple's new phone, you really should take a look at the Beats by Dre Solo 3 Wireless range. Below you'll find links to the latest prices.

The cheapest Beats X by Dre prices

"The perfect wireless companion"

Long after their reveal alongside the iPhone 7, these eagerly awaited Bets inner-ear headphones were finally released in February 2017. These wireless headphones are a perfect match for iPhone owners already missing the 3.5mm port. We're particularly impressed by the quick charge feature that gives you two hours of playback from a single five-minute charge. Eight hours from a full charge isn't too shabby either. You can find the headphones in black, white, grey and blue.

The cheapest Beats by Dre Powerbeats3 Wireless prices

"Power meets endurance"

Do you lead an active lifestyle that requires the lightweight feel of in-ear headphones without the massive cans on your head? Then the Beats by Dre range has you covered for that, too, because not all models about that authentic studio design. With an improved 12-hour battery life, you're all set for multiple workouts packed with hours of adrenaline-pumping tunes.

The cheapest Beats by Dre Studio Wireless prices

"Feel The Music, Not The Wires"

Again not cheap, but they are at least compatible with the iPhone 7 and above. The Beats by Dre Studio Wireless over-ears have all the same features as the Beats Studio model above but also come with Bluetooth. That means they can stream music wirelessly from your phone, tablet or laptop. The built-in microphone will also allow you to answer your phone without having to take them off.

The cheapest Beats by Dre Solo2 Wireless prices


You can make a massive saving on these cans thanks to the newer Solo 3 models. These are compatible with the iPhone 8 too. The tagline for these Beats headphones comes all in caps, so it must be true. If you're looking for deals on the Beats Solo2 but maybe you're thinking about the Studio Wireless, this could be the pair for you. They are as you would imagine them to be - the same as the Solo2 but with added battery-powered Bluetooth skills to make them wireless.

The best Beats by Dre Powerbeats2 Wireless sales

"Performance. Power. Freedom"

Chuckle - we see what you did there, Doctor. If you hadn't guessed, the Powerbeats2 Wireless are the same earphones as the Powerbeats2 regular, but with Bluetooth and yes, the Powerbeats2 Wireless will work with the iPhone. They connect through a cable behind your head so you can't lose them, but other than that they're cable-free. We particularly like this description of the Powerbeats2 Wireless from the official website: "Powerbeats Wireless was designed to defy the ordinary while catapulting athletes towards unparalleled performance". How can you NOT buy them after reading that?

The best cheap Beats by Dre Pro prices

"The Headphones Used To Mix In Every Major Studio"

Ok, onto the wired options now. We'll start with the most expensive Beats products and work our way down so if you're looking at these prices and thinking "cripes" - just scroll down. That tag line above is what Beats' own website says about the product - we're pretty sure that Dr. Dre hasn't been to every major studio in the world to check. But, whatever, these are the over-ear cans that Beats says are its best.

The cheapest Beats by Dre Studio 2.0 prices

"A Headphone Icon, Remastered"

With active noise cancelling, the Beats Studio 2.0 over-ear headphones aim to cut out outside noise so that the sound from its drivers are not distorted (ANC is great at electronically removing white noise on planes and trains but don't expect too much else). These are the top 'consumer' models, so if you're looking for cheap Beats by Dre they're probably not for you. If you want the high end ones, these are for you.

The cheapest Beats by Dre Solo2 prices

"Designed For Sound. Tuned For Emotion"

The taglines only get stupider, people. The Solo 2 is probably the most popular Beats by Dre product, offering a balance of performance and portability. The cups are on-ear rather than over-ear which could affect comfort and will definitely affect isolation from outside sounds. But look at the price, it's quite a bit cheaper than other Beats by Dre headphones.

The cheapest Beats by Dre Mixr deals

"Lightweight And Powerful. Built For DJs"

As you can see, Dr. Dre wants all DJs to be using these headphones. The earcups rotate so you can do your skillful mixing uninhibited, or indeed so you can pretend to do skillful mixing in the knowledge that you're actually playing a CD unbeknownst to the drunk people bobbing in front of you. The bass in these cans is supposed to be particularly 'big' and you can share what you're listening to with dual-port daisy chaining.

The cheapest Beats EP prices

"An ideal introduction to Beats for any music lover"

The Beats EP headphones are the cheapest on-ear headphones in the Beats by Dre lineup and are a fine place to start if you've had your eye on the colorful stylings for a while. They're wired via a 3.5mm jack, but at least you'll never have to worry about them running out of battery juice.

The cheapest Beats by Dre Urbeats deals


The tagline for these is particularly uninspiring and it's all in caps again which reminds us of that classic saying: if you've got nothing to say, so it loudly. Err, anyway - these are the first in-ear headphones/earphones on the page. If you want cheap Beats by Dre, this is as good as it gets really. It's a standard pair of earphones which come with tangle-free flat cables as well as a clicker and built-in microphone for taking calls.

The cheapest  Beats by Dre Powerbeats2 prices

"Performance. Power. Strength"

The tagline for the Powerbeats2 is better while still saying absolutely nothing about the product itself. These earphones are made for using while exercising. They're designed to not fall out of your ears and they're sweat and water resistant. Meanwhile, RemoteTalk controls allow you to easily take calls or change your music without having to fiddle.

Categories: General Technology

KEF launches the LSX Wireless Music System for hi-res stereo sound

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 20:01

With the increased popularity of smart speakers, it feels like we’re seeing less stereo setups in the home – but British audio manufacturer KEF still believes that “two speakers are better than one” when it comes to the pursuit of high resolution audio. 

With that in mind, the company is combining the decades-old principle of stereo sound with modern wireless technology to deliver the LSX Wireless Music System, which they say will give your music “space to breathe in full-bodied, wide bandwidth stereo.”

With phase correction and distortion reduction, the new speakers should provide crystal clear audio, while four Class-D amplifiers means that the bass should pack a pretty powerful punch. 

True wireless

Designed for true wireless audio, the LSX Wireless Music System supports Apple Airplay 2, which means you’ll be able to use it with your Macbook Air, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, as well as with Apple’s voice assistant Siri.

The speakers are also integrated with Spotify and Tidal, and if you want to use a different streaming platform like Amazon Music or Google Play, you can do so using Bluetooth. 

They come in five different colors; gloss white, maroon, olive, blue, and black, which means they should fit into any style of decor. The LSX Wireless System will be available in mid-November with a recommended retail price of £1099 (£1000 / around AU$1800 based on current conversion rates).

Categories: General Technology

Jaybird Tarah Pro wireless sport headphones are made for the athletes out there

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 19:01

Jaybird has announced a new model of in-ear headphones for serving the needs of endurance runners and athletes – the Tarah Pro.

Launched today, the new Pro Series range will build on Jaybird's current line-up of sport-focused wireless earbuds, including the Jaybird X3 and Jaybird Tarah.

The Tarah Pro looks to be a more premium offering than we've seen previously – at $159 / £139 / around AU$249, compared to the Tarah's  $99 / £89 / AU$149 – though it's still under the higher price tag of Jaybird's Run True Wireless earbuds.

With a 14-hour battery life for even the longest workouts (seriously, who works out for that long?) the Tarah Pro is also both sweatproof and waterproof with an IPX7 rating, meaning it can withstand water submersion up to 1m deep for up to 30 minutes.

Jaybird has also forgone the usual USB-C port for a distinctive, water-resistant connection point that won't have an issue in wet weather or extreme exercise conditions.

Let's get physical

The design is a notable departure from the standard Tarah model, with a cabling material similar to climbing rope: tactile and likely weather appropriate, but unlike anything we've seen on a pair of headphones before. It's even made of a reflective thread for visibility in darker conditions.

Based on consumer feedback and testing with professional athletes, Jaybird have also developed the ways you can wear the Tarah Pro, allowing you to rotate the earbud cable between standard under-ear wear and a firmer over-ear fit.

The Tarah Pro retail at $159 / £139 / around AU$249  and are now available in Black/Flash, Mineral Blue/Jade and Titanium/Glacier color options.

Categories: General Technology

Best earbuds 2018: the best earbuds and earphones for any budget

Wed, 31/10/2018 - 10:25

Best Earbuds and In-Ear Headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best earbuds and earphones you can buy in 2018.

As much as we'd love to stay home and listen to music using our pristine umpteen-watt floor-standing speakers, at some point, we have to leave home. 

But just because we're heading out for the day doesn't mean we have to leave exceptional sound quality at our doorstep - a great pair of in-ear headphones (or earbuds) can contend with some high-end systems and cost a lot less.

Not only are the best pairs of in-ear headphones ultra-comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, but newer models can be completely wire-free and support Hi-Res audio codecs like LDAC and aptX HD. 

That being said, our list of the best headphones are routinely tested to ensure they're still the best in the business. We're looking for pristine sound quality, convenient features and bullet-proof build quality at a price you can afford. 

While you won't find any discount-bin earbuds on our list, you can rest easy knowing that the 'buds you see below are durable, long-lasting and sound (for the most part) out-of-this-world. As we review more models this list will change, which means you can expect that you're getting the best headphones on the market at any point and any time you buy them. 

Can't decide which type of headphones to buy? Check out our guide video below:

The best earbuds and in-ear headphones of 2018:

After spending a few weeks with both the 1MORE Triple Driver in-ear headphones and the 1MORE Quad Driver in-ear headphones we were blown away at just how much value each one gave in their prospective price ranges. 

For $100 (£100, about AU$168), it’s hard to think of a better sounding and built headphone than the 1MORE Triple Driver. That said, if you want just that little extra refinement and luxury materials, the 1MORE Quad Drivers are still a bargain at twice the price. 

There’s very little we can fault the Triple Drivers for. Their rubber cable is annoying and its remote control feels cheap but these are just nitpicks. But, for their price, it’s impossible to do better than 1MORE's Triple Driver in-ear headphones. 

Read the full review: 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone

While truly wireless earbuds are undoubtedly the future of portable audio, they still present compromises in battery life and wireless reliability. Plus, they’re easy to lose if you’re not careful. Neckbuds, or earbuds that are worn around the neck, are a great alternative to true wireless earbuds as they offer longer battery life for continuous listening and stronger wireless performance. 

That being said, if you're interested in picking up a pair, it's hard to do better than the RHA MA390 Wireless, which easily stands as one of the best neckbuds on the market. After spending several weeks with them, we came away impressed with the package RHA has come up with: The headphones are built extremely well, have a fun sound signature, can take a beating and still remain relatively affordable. 

It’s main rival, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless (featured below), are also excellent, however the RHA MA390 offer more dynamic sound and better build quality. 

 Read the full review: RHA MA390 Wireless

RHA T20i

Good sound is subjective, yes, but there are things that we can all agree on that make a headphone sound good: Bass should be tight and impactful, highs detailed but not harsh, and mids that are smooth like honey. 

Most headphone manufacturers shoot for these specs, but what if you want a little more bass or want to increase the energy of the highs? For most headphones, your only option is to mess with equalization. But RHA has a different idea. 

The RHA T20i is an excellent sounding pair of in-ear headphones with a neat party trick: customizable filters. These filters thread into the headphone housings and let you choose from Bass, Treble, and Reference. Each filter makes an audible impact and are easy to swap out on the go. 

As a package, the build quality, sound, and customizable filters make the RHA T20i a must-have for audiophiles on the go. In fact, they sound so good, they made us want to give up our wireless headphones.

Read the full review: RHA T20i

Optoma NuForce BE Sport4

The NuForce BE Sport4 wireless earbuds are that rare find: earbuds that are good for basically all situations. While they're specifically designed for use in the gym and on the track, the BE Sport4 do an awesome job isolating audio in a crowded city environment and are even good enough for home listening.  

The BE Sport4 earbuds have claimed 10-hour battery life, which we found to be pretty close to the mark in our time with them, and from empty you can get two hours of use from just a 15-minute charge – ideal for those needing a quick top-up while they put on their trainers and pack a gym kit. 

Consider this a warning shot fellow audio manufacturers: build and audio quality do not need to be sacrificed in order to keep earbuds affordable. 

Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE Sport4

OnePlus Bullets Wireless

OnePlus is most known for its “flagship killer” phones like the OnePlus 6, but the company also makes headphones - the best example of which are the company’s excellent Bullets in-ears.  

For $70 (£70, about AU$124), the OnePlus Bullets Wireless offer an incredible value in the neck-bud headphone category. Sure, true wireless headphones are en vogue now, but tethered wireless headphones offer better battery life and signal strength for much less money. 

Read the full review: OnePlus Bullets Wireless

Optoma NuForce BE Sport3

NuForce knocked it out of the park with the BE Sport3 headphones. They're an incredible value for a pair of wireless headphones that sound good, last all day, have a bulletproof build and incredible noise isolation. 

While they're not the most dynamic or resolving headphones, NuForce shows us that the future of wireless headphones is a bright one.

Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE Sport3

Jabra Elite 65t True Wireless

If you want a pair of high quality truly wireless earbuds that aren’t the Apple AirPods, then the Jabra Elite 65t should be at the top of your list. 

After spending over a month with them, we came away impressed with the well-rounded package that Jabra managed to create: The earbuds offer a subtle, mature look and a reliable wireless connection, which isn’t always the case with truly wireless earbuds. Plus, they sound great compared to the competition. 

While the Jabra Elite 65t are easily one of the highest scoring true wireless headphones we've reviewed, there are a few others on the market worth considering: If you want a pair of exercise earbuds, there’s the Jabra Elite Sport which has a higher water resistance and handy sports-oriented features. For audiophiles who don’t mind stretching the budget, the active noise cancelling Sony WF-1000X are an excellent choice. Bassheads will want to try the SOL Republic Amps Air.  

If you only have the budget for one of these, though, go for the Elite 65t.

Read the full review: Jabra Elite 65t

Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear

With the appealing candy apple detailing, Sennheiser gets you in the door. But once you're in, you'll stay for the killer sound quality that comes from the Momentum In-Ear earphones.

These are the among the best deals in the headphones market as it stands today. The company has a version available for each flavor of mobile OS –Android and iOS – so everyone can get in on the goodness.

Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear

1More Quad Driver In-Ear Headphones

They're expensive, but the 1MORE Quad Driver in-ear headphones are worth every penny. 1MORE hit it out of the park with this flagship pair of in-ear headphones with its balanced sound build quality, smartphone compatibility and price. These in-ear headphones will make mobile audiophiles very happy. 

The only reservation that we have is that the Quad Drivers face tough competition from 1MORE’s own cheaper Triple Driver sibling which costs half the price (which sit pretty at the number one spot on our list). 

In terms of value, the 1MORE Triple Driver headphones are the winner but for those who want just a bit better build and more detailed sound, the 1MORE Quad Driver headphones are worth the extra money. 

Read the full review: 1More Quad Driver In-Ear Headphones

Optoma NuForce HEM6

While they can't quite top other in-ears like the exceptional1MORE Triple Driver or RHA's T10i, Optoma's NuForce HEM6 does bring a lot to the table. Namely, that includes a great-sounding – and ultra-comfortable – pair of headphones. 

So, why are they so far down the list? 

While the NuForce BE Sport3 strikes the perfect balance between performance and price tag, the HEM6 skews a bit towards the expensive side without offering enough of a difference in performance to warrant the sticker price. That's not to say these are a bad pair of headphones – they're quite the opposite – it's just that we feel there are better values out there in the headphone world.

Read the full review: Optoma NuForce HEM6

Additional resources: 

Categories: General Technology

Best over-ear headphones 2018: the best-sounding, most comfortable cans

Wed, 31/10/2018 - 09:30

Best Over-Ear Headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best Hi-Fi over-ear headphones you can buy in 2018. 

When it comes to raw sound quality, nothing beats the sense of scale a pair of decent over-ear headphones can provide. If pristine audio performance is what you're after, you can simply do no better than the headphones you'll find here.

Now, that does mean making a few trade-offs. That might mean buying a pair of wired headphones instead of wireless ones, or losing out on features like active noise cancellation so audio can sound as neutral as possible.

If you're looking for the best wireless headphones and best noise-cancelling headphones guides specifically, we can help you out, but don't feel bad if you're specifically looking for Hi-Fi headphones and don't mind shaving off some of the non-essential features to get it. 

With that said, this guide will focus on sound quality above all else. There are a couple of wireless and noise-cancelling equipped choices in our list, but that's only because they sound great in addition to packing these features.  

Has something changed since the last time you visited this page? That's completely normal. We're always updating this guide with the best headphones - which, as you can expect, changes frequently. That said, you can expect this guide to be as up-to-date as we can get it on any given day, ensuring that you're getting out top picks all year round. Without further ado, here's our guide to getting the most for your money, whatever your budget. 

What are the best over-ear headphones?

While Beyerdynamic may not be as well known as its German brother, Sennheiser, the audio company has a history of creating some of the best sounding audio gear on the market – the company’s DT770, DT880 and DT990 were renown for their excellent build and sound quality. 

Above them all, however, stands the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro, an open-back version of the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro, a headphone which won our Editor’s Choice for its imaging, design and value for the money. Both headphones are priced the same ($599, £589, AU$1,159), so you won’t find a deal picking up one over the other. The difference here comes down to sound. 

As they’re open-back, the DT 1990 Pro are meant to be used at home or in the studio for serious analytical listening. Sound is able to get in and out but the good news is that the open-back design gives you the DT 1990 Pro a great sense of space. Soundstage is quite wide, too, allowing even the most lackadaisical listener to pinpoint the exact location of where each instrument is playing.  

If you've been searching for a pair of Hi-Fi headphones that are used by some of the world's leading audio engineers, these are them.

Read the full review: Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

The Philips Fidelio X2's are a superb pair of headphones offering premium comfort and build quality with a sound that rivals even the most vaunted audiophile cans. Perhaps on sheer sound quality they're a notch off the likes of the top Oppo or Sennheiser offerings – but the fact that you'd be saving vast amounts of cash by opting for the Philips is just a no brainer.

Read the full review: Philips Fidelio X2

The Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pros are a stunning pair of headphones. Are they expensive? To some no, to most yes; but for the sheer listening experience they deliver you'd be hard pressed to take them off after putting them on, even using them with portable HRA players and mobile phones.

That said, they really do push the boundaries of what you can do with a dynamic driver. All praise to Beyerdynamic for putting together such a wonderful product.

Read the full review: Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro

The fourth entry on our list easily could've been the first if it didn't cost well over $1,000/£1,000. The Sennheiser HD 800 are, hands down, one of the best-sounding pairs of over-ear headphones on the planet, affectionately praised by inner circles of audiophiles the world over. When paired with the proper hardware, they sound absolutely excellent – balanced in every way. 

Unfortunately, they're supremely expensive and require more audio equipment than the average consumer is ready to buy. Should you find yourself in need – or, let's be honest, in want – of amazing over-ear headphones, these are them.

Read the full review: Sennheiser HD 800

If you’re looking for a pair of audiophile headphones that won’t break the bank, the 1MORE Triple Driver over-ear is a great place to start. Its build quality and detailed sound really impress and we think bass-lovers will like the slight mid-bass emphasis and control in the lower registers while not sacrificing the mids or highs. The headphone reveals a good level of detail throughout the frequency range and never get harsh in the upper registers. 

To that end, it’s hard to fault the $250 (about £190, AU$338) 1MORE Triple Driver Over-Ear, making them an easy recommendation for the price. 

Read the full review: 1MORE Triple Driver Over-Ear

The B&W P9 Signatures are simply some of the best-sounding headphones we’ve ever used. They have a tight, refined sound that offers an almost unmatched level of detail. 

That said, the fact remains that they’re a comparatively feature-light pair of cans. If you want to spend less then you can get a much more portable pair that’ll be better suited to the morning commute or a plane ride thanks to additional features like noise-cancellation and Bluetooth connectivity.

But, if you’re looking to invest in a seriously high-quality pair of headphones to listen to a high-quality music collection, then there are few that can match the P9s at this price point. 

Read the full review: B&W P9 Signature

An improvement on Sony's existing flagship, the Sony WH-1000XM2 sound great, pack excellent noise-cancellation, and manage to do this all wirelessly. 

Other headphones offer better sound quality, longer-range wireless connectivity, or better battery life, but the Sony WH-1000XM2 manage to offer the best balance of features and performance. 

It's also got a couple of interesting tricks up its sleeve like a selective noise-cancellation mode that lets in certain useful sounds, and a shortcut that allows you to quickly hear what's going on around you. 

Offering all of this without a serious price-premium over the competition means the Sony WH-1000XM2 are a great choice for on-the-go music listeners. 

Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM2

Audiophiles typically shun wireless headphones because of poor sound quality. However, Bluetooth audio has improved tremendously over the years. There are now plenty of wireless headphones that can please the music enthusiast, with Hi-Res Audio support being more and more prevalent.

That said, the Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT feature some of the best wired and wireless sound quality for a headphone under $200 (£150). They play well with all music genres and offer a near-flat response curve. They're extremely comfortable for long listening sessions and are well built. Battery life is equally impressive with nearly 40 hours of playback from a charge. And while they lack some features of more expensive wireless headphones like active noise cancelling and multi-device pairing, these are tradeoffs worth making for phenomenal sound.

Read the full review: Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT

The Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless are the best-sounding wireless headphones you can buy, period. Sound is spacious, detailed, and makes you want to rediscover your music library. Their bulky design and average noise isolation make them terrible for travel but if you’re looking for the best sound from a wireless headphone, this is it.

Read the full review: Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless

After cutting the wires off its flagship cans with the Bose QC35 headphones, Bose's QC35 II are a slightly more minor upgrade. This time the big addition is Google Assistant, which can be summoned with the press of a button. 

Otherwise these are more or less the same headphones that we enjoyed the first time around. The QC35s aren't the best sounding out there, but their noise-cancellation is class-leading and if that's your priority then they're a great choice. 

Read the full review: Bose QC35 II

Check out our videos below for a roundup of the best headphones available.

Categories: General Technology