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Updated: 1 hour 36 min ago

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

Audio-Technica releases ATH-M50xBT wireless studio-grade headphones

Wed, 31/10/2018 - 02:00

Audio-Technica has a long history of creating professional quality headphones, with its M50 series used in recording studios the world over, reportedly favored by the likes of Stormzy and Royal Blood.

Now the Japanese audio brand has cut the cord, making its famous headphones wireless with the ATH-M50xBT, which connect to your devices via Bluetooth. They are available to buy now for $199 (£179 / AU$379). 

Harnessing the sonic power of the original M50s, the new headphones should be great for listening on the move, with touch controls to activate your smartphone’s voice activated assistant - whether you use Siri or Google Assistant. 

The M50xBTs have been designed with portability in mind, with a collapsible design and 90 degree swivelling cups, which Audio-Technica says provides a high level of sound isolation, so listening in noisy environments like trains or planes should be easy.

Long battery life

Audio-Technica claim the new headphones have an impressive 40 hour battery life, even during continuous playback - this means you should be able to get enough juice for around an entire week’s worth of commuting from a single charge.

If you prefer a wired connection or you’re running low on battery, the headphones come with a 1.2 meter cable that has an inline mic and controls. 

Whether the M50xBTs can truly provide the same level of audio quality as their wired counterparts remains to be seen, but with large aperture 45mm drivers and support for Bluetooth aptX, it should give you a high level of audio quality provided your source is good too.

You will also be able to manage the audio via the free Audio-Technica Connect app, which is compatible with iOS and Android phones. 

Categories: General Technology

Shure's next-gen headphone cable elevates wireless listening

Sat, 27/10/2018 - 08:03

Shure's sound-isolating earphones are unmistakable with their one-of-a-kind design. From the immense value of the entry-level SE215 earphones all the way up to the high-end clarity of the quad-driver SE846, Shure has established a lineage of impressive sound and fit, complete with that uniquely-shaped module and detachable cable.

And since last year, they've been wireless too. No, not in an Apple AirPods-like, free-floating manner. Instead, Shure's RMCE-BT1 Bluetooth Enabled Remote + Mic Accessory Cable let you swap out the original wired 3.5mm cable for a Bluetooth tether that linked up the earphones with a remote in between, but then connected wirelessly to your device for freedom of movement.

It was a great start, and according to Shure, the unexpected demand for the Bluetooth device convinced them that wireless connectivity was going to be a key part of their future in earphones.

Now Shure is back with the RMCE-BT2 High-Resolution Bluetooth 5 Earphone Communication Cable, and it's more than just a new look and version number: it's been retooled and rebuilt to deliver better performance, especially on the higher-end Shure SE models. Ahead of the launch, we visited Shure's Chicago-area headquarters and downtown offices to try out the RMCE-BT2 cable and find out about their mission in expanding their Bluetooth footprint.

The future of the headphone cable

As innovative as the new RMCE-BT2 cable is, Shure would consider it a minor innovation on its previous effort, the RMCE-BT1. Before, the two earphone connectors were joined by a single cable, which both an in-line remote and a small module hanging off of it. Now, however, the connectors emerge from a larger module with a metal clip and grippy texturing, ensuring that it'll stay put when hooked onto your shirt collar. And the in-line remote is still there on the right cable.

Of course, appearances are deceiving: What's inside is what really counts here, as Shure has redesigned the technology to maximize wireless playback performance.

"The first model was a very efficient, cost-effective model that met Shure's standards for things like reliability, build quality, and functionality," explains Matt Engstrom, Shure's category director for microphones, earphones, headphones, and phono. "For the second generation, we decided to go a little bit deeper on some of the componentry."

Coming off of the BT1, Shure saw an opportunity to build a higher-end version of its Bluetooth cable and create something that comes closer than ever to duplicating the output of a wired device.

The key difference is a dedicated headphone amplifier, which exists separately from the other components. Many wireless headsets use a single chip for the amplifier, antenna, Bluetooth radio, and other components to minimize size and expense. Coming off of the BT1, Shure saw an opportunity to build a higher-end version of its Bluetooth cable and create something that comes closer than ever to duplicating the output of a wired device.

"These days, it's possible to get a very-good quality package all in one. They'll put a Bluetooth radio, they'll put an antenna, they'll put a codec to convert digital to analog, and then they'll put an amplifier all on one chip. And they get pretty good," Engstrom explains. "The performance of them is admirable considering how inexpensive they are and what they do."

"Our products that can connect to these Bluetooth devices offer a very, very high level of performance. And that performance can't necessarily be achieved with an all-in-one solution," he continues. "So we chose to break out some of the critical components, namely the headphone amplifier, as a separate component. And what that headphone amplifier is going to do is provide a more full-range signal and better sound quality with less things like noise and distortion—a much better-matched signal."

Wireless for the discerning ear

For years, audiophiles derided wireless technology—and for good reason. Before better codecs came along, basic Bluetooth wasn't enough for high-resolution music to maintain its integrity during transmission. But, now that we have technology like aptX and AAC, that's a different story.  

That said, despite the advanced codecs, you might not be able to tell the difference between the BT1 and BT2. I couldn't tell the difference while wearing Shure's SE535 earphones, which start at $449, using the BT1 ($99) first and then switching the cable over to the BT2 ($149). Honestly, both sounded excellent to me.

But I'm not an audiophile and this isn't a review. (The SE535s cost more than twice as much money than the AirPods and other earbuds and headsets I typically pop onto my head.) For those listeners who demand a high-end audio experience, and who may have spent significant time with Shure's products lodged tightly within their ears, they may notice the subtle enhancements. 

But they are subtle, for sure.

"It does take a discerning ear, and for some products, it's not an immediately noticeable difference."

Matt Engstrom

"It does take a discerning ear, and for some products, it's not an immediately noticeable difference," says Engstrom. "The more demanding product—in our case, it's the more you spend: the single-driver, the dual-driver, the triple-driver, and the four-driver [models]. As you go up that line, the demands of that product become more substantial, especially up to the four-driver."

"It has an impedance—impedance is the resistance at which the system operates. It's very, very low, and unfortunately you also need an amplifier that's also extremely low-impedance to match that. The amplifier in this new wireless product is optimized for something that has a very demanding specification, like our high-end products. The difference you might notice is a more complete frequency response; the difference you might notice is extremely low noise floor when no music is playing, and a very strong capability to match very complex passages at loud volumes."

In addition to the hardware upgrades, the RMCE-BT2 also adds support for Qualcomm aptX audio codecs (along with AAC and SBC), with three modes available on compatible devices: standard aptX audio, aptX HD, and aptX Low Latency. "[aptX HD] offers a fidelity that's almost matched by cables. You get basically almost as good as a cable with something like HD," says Engstrom. Meanwhile, the Low Latency option is ideal when listening in locations with a lot of other Bluetooth devices around, to reduce any stuttering from congestion. The BT1 only had SBC support, so there are a lot more codec options this time around.

The BT2 also bumps up to Bluetooth 5 with this model, for improved connectivity, and packs in a couple more hours of battery life—it's up to 10 hours, from eight in the previous model.

Shure to continue 

Shure's biggest focus is on high-end listening tech, and the RMCE-BT2 only furthers that aim in the wireless space. Your average listener might not notice the aural advantages over the previous BT1 model, but for those Shure listeners who both want to squeeze every bit of added quality out of a device—while also embracing the freedom of Bluetooth connectivity—it may be an upgrade worth investing in.

"We continue to, after more than 20 years in the earphone business, try to improve the audio quality, fit and comfort, and durability," Engstrom affirms. "We make products that have very, very high standards of audio quality, so it only made sense to add this next-generation wireless adapter for our transducer platform."

This ensures that SE earphone owners can listen however they please, easily replace a busted cable or component without trashing the entire device, and enjoy a high-end product for a potentially long stretch of time.

Rather than release new, dedicated Bluetooth earphones, Shure continues to build upon its proven platform. This ensures that SE earphone owners can listen however they please, easily replace a busted cable or component without trashing the entire device, and enjoy a high-end product for a potentially long stretch of time.

Wireless may still be a new market for Shure, but the RMCE-BT2 High-Resolution Bluetooth 5 Earphone Communication Cable shows that the company is serious about providing a way for new and existing users alike to adapt to the growing demand for wireless connectivity.

"We were surprised at how many people bought our first-generation wireless [connector] last year, and that really helped us decide to double down in this market and come up with a new product," says Engstrom. "I think we're here to stay now."

Categories: General Technology

Logitech Z607 5.1 speakers get you surround sound on a tight budget

Fri, 26/10/2018 - 19:54

Making the upgrade to 5.1 surround sound can be a pricey undertaking. There's lots to consider, from AV amps to whether or not you want to go the whole hog to a Dolby Atmos system.

Logitech is looking to cater for those on a much tighter budget, without limiting the playback sources its latest speaker system can tap into. It's today announced the Logitech Z607 5.1 Surround System, available for the bargain price of £109.99.

That translates to roughly $140 or AU$200 – a steal for getting that immersive sound around your home.

Multi source

So what do you get for that price? "True" 5.1 surround sound from five satellite speakers and a 5.25-inch subwoofer, for a 160 watts max output.

You'll be able to connect up a TV, phone or computer via Bluetooth, 3.5mm or RCA cables – so note that this isn't going to offer any HDMI passthrough if you're looking to make this part of a living room cinema system.

However, it's aiming to make set up and use as straightforward as possible, with 6.2 meter cabling letting you easily dot the speakers around your room, and USB, SD card and FM radio playback all supported. There's also a small remote control included for controlling playback across a room.

Expect to find the speakers on sale from today over at the Logitech website.

  • Dolby Atmos: the ins, outs and surrounds of the object-based audio system
Categories: General Technology

Jabra launches Engage 50, a premium noise canceling headset for professionals

Fri, 26/10/2018 - 19:48

Jabra has launched a new noise-cancelling headset Engage 50. It's a professional corded headset aimed at improving call experience in offices, call centers or similar. It is said to be engineered to solve issues faced at customer service-led organisations. 

It features a 3-microphone system that is said to filters out background noise and breathing sounds and it's also compatible with on-premises and cloud-based softphone platforms. 

The headset is lightweight and promises a comfortable fit for prolonged wearing. The microphone can be adjusted for optimum comfort and better audio. To further increase employee productivity, there's a circular status lights on the earcups. It's a simple addition but it does help to indicate if you're on call or free to talk signaling with green and orange.

Additionally, the Engage 50 brings a call control unit (remote), which allows users to adjust volume, speed dial, mute/answer/end calls, and even control the status light. 

Some additional smarts are provided by a live on-screen rich call analytics to ensure best results for both customers and enterprises.

Price and availability

The Engage 50 comes in two variants - Stereo and Mono.  Stereo is priced at Rs 23,730 and Mono will be selling for Rs 21,470.

Categories: General Technology

TicPods Free true wireless earphones are on sale now

Thu, 25/10/2018 - 05:00

Following a successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign from AI company Mobvoi, the TicPods Free true wireless headphones are now available to buy from its website for $129 / £119.99 / AU$199.

The new headphones look like a convincing dupe of the Apple AirPods, but with some crucial differences - although the design is similar, the TicPods come in a range of different colors and support Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, as well as Apple’s Siri.

Created by Mobvoi (the company behind some of our favorite smartwatches including the Ticwatch Pro and Ticwatch S), the in-ears come with a number of features including touch control and ambient noise cancelling technology. 

Touch and go

With a side touch panel on each earbud, you can control the TicPods using a number of gestures, including swiping up and down to adjust the volume, double tapping to answer and end calls, and long pressing to reject calls. 

A long press on the earbud should also activate your voice activated assistant of choice - whether you prefer Google Assistant, Siri, or Alexa, the TicPods should have you covered. You will of course need to be an iPhone user to enable Siri, but the headphones will automatically connect to whatever voice assistant you’ve set as your default on your iOS or Android device.

They also have an IPX5 rating, which means they won’t break down at the sight of rain (or after a sweaty workout session), and are available in red, white, or blue. 

In terms of audio quality, the TicPods have a few tricks up their sleeve, with ambient noise cancellation and a noise isolating design, meaning you should be able to listen to your music free from environmental distraction - and with four hours battery life and a wireless charging case, these could be the perfect headphones for your commute.

Categories: General Technology

Google's new Chromecast third-gen can stream full HD at 60fps

Thu, 25/10/2018 - 02:06

Google has launched the Chromecast 3 officially in India. The new casting device from Google is a successor to the Chromecast 2, and as the name suggests it is the third generation of the casting device from the company.

The Chromecast 3 is priced at Rs 3,499 in India and will be available in Charcoal color variant. It will be available exclusively on Flipkart as of now, and we’re expecting it to be listed on other online websites along with Google Store in near future. 

Early buyers will get a free one year subscription to Sony Liv and six months ad free subscription of music streaming app Gaana. Flipkart is also offering a Rs 100 cashback if you buy the Chromecast using PhonePe, which brings down the total cost to Rs 3,399. Additionally, during the ongoing Flipkart Festive Dhamaka sale, Axis Bank debit and credit card users can avail 10% instant discount. 

What's new in the third-gen Chromecast?

The Chromecast 3, similar to its predecessors, essentially helps you watch content on a screen via an HDMI by either mirroring smartphone screen or casting the content of a supported app to the TV.

The new inclusions are a claimed 15 percent bump in performance, support for 60fps video streaming at full HD (1080p) resolution. It used to be only HD (720p) in the previous models. 

Another major upgrade includes Google Assistant integration, which allows users to plug the Chromecast third gen to any speaker to simply use your voice to play content on YouTube or a compatible TV.

The third-gen Chromecast is supported by both Android and iOS devices and some compatible popular apps include Netflix, YouTube, HBO and Hulu. 

It has got a new design that goes in line with the latest Google Home products. It looks the same like a hockey pluck, but with a new matte finish, rounded corners and a Google’s iconic “G” logo on top. It measures 162 x 51.8 x 13.8mm and weighs 39.1 grams.

Categories: General Technology

Beastie Boys Sonos Play:5 special edition speaker is ready to mmm... drop!

Wed, 24/10/2018 - 20:21

You gotta fight for your right to party, and Sonos is here to help. It's teaming up with legendary rappers the Beastie Boys to release a limited edition of its Play:5 speaker, with all proceeds of the sales going to charity.

The Beastie Boys Play:5 features a cool design by San Francisco artist Barry McGee printed across its grille – but that's about it in terms of differences from the core Play:5 speaker. It's more a chance to shout about your love of the Brooklyn trio than anything else.

Make some noise

However, pick up the $499 speaker, and you'll also be doing your part to support Peace Sisters, a charity that supports underprivileged women in Africa, and Little Kids Rock, the charity that gives greater access to music lessons to children across the United States.

The Sonos Play:5 is a powerful-sounding connected speaker, bringing multi-room audio to your home from practically every conceivable digital source. The Beastie Boys edition will act just like a regular Play:5, and will seamlessly slip into your multi-room set up.

While the Beastie Boys speaker will only be available at physical retail in Sonos's NYC brick-and-mortar store, you'll still be able to pick it up globally online through Act fast – it's being made available in limited amounts, so this will get snapped up quickly.

Categories: General Technology

Should I buy a HyperX Cloud Stinger gaming headset?

Tue, 23/10/2018 - 06:57

PC gaming audio has come a long, long way since when sound cards and digital surround sound were a big deal – to the point that you can get quality audio from a relatively affordable PC gaming headset. But, just how low can you go?

The HyperX Cloud Stinger, once lauded as one of the best PC gaming headsets on this very site, is an over-ear gaming headset that calls for just $49/£49 for what’s honestly a rather quality set of headphones. 

That price nets you a surprising amount of features for both comfort and function. So, will just 50 bucks or quid – a relative pittance in the grand scheme of your Black Friday expenses – be enough to upgrade your PC gaming audio experience?

The headset

HyperX’s Cloud Stinger is slightly rudimentary in its design, a solid piece of black plastic (with an adjustable steel slider for sizing) connecting two large ear cups with the HyperX logo emblazoned on them. These ear cups can rotate 90 degrees for a better fit that can more easily rest on your shoulders when it’s break time.

Inside, you’ll find memory foam cushions beneath leatherette ear cup pads, which wrap around 50mm audio drivers. On the left ear cup rests a microphone on a swivel that, when moved upward, automatically mutes itself – that’s a super convenient feature that not even some high-end headsets include.

Finally, gamers that like to play on Mac every once in a while (maybe at work?) will appreciate that this is a multi-platform headset supporting both Windows and macOS.

The cost

While the HyperX Cloud Stinger goes for just $49/£49, so do a few other competing budget gaming headsets. Most notably, those include the $49/£49 Corsair HS50, which features a more adjustable microphone that’s detachable (though, it doesn’t auto-mute).

This one, too, is a multi-platform headset, however it’s more widely so with support for Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch, too.

We’d say that the HyperX Cloud Stinger is definitely the more feature-rich – and PC-friendly – of the two, but not quite as widely applicable to your various gaming devices as Corsair’s. That said, the HyperX also has the super-neat (and useful) auto-muting feature, which is a rarity at this price point. So, if it’s quality PC gaming audio on a budget that you seek, the HyperX Cloud Stinger certainly gets you there.

Categories: General Technology

The best Bluetooth speaker of 2018 in the UAE: the best portable speakers for any budget

Sun, 21/10/2018 - 15:34

Best Bluetooth Speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the bluetooth speakers you can buy in 2018. 

Even if you're lucky enough to have a dedicated AV cabinet and a speaker system to rival some of the biggest and best stadiums across the globe, there are still going to be plenty of times when you need a portable, reliable and durable Bluetooth speaker.

Whether you're looking for a speaker to take on your next adventure that'll need to be waterproof and drop-proof, a portable powerhouse that's capable of bringing the bass to an outdoor party or something small and compact that'll fit in your carry-on, we've collected together some of the best Bluetooth speaker options available to buy now.

Of course there are some compromises to the form factor, like limited battery life and a drop in audio quality - but, when it comes to convenience and price, Bluetooth speakers can't be beaten.

Your only problem is there's too much choice. So to help you decide which speaker to buy, here are some of our favorite possible portable audio companions for the beach, camping or on-the-go listening.

How to pick out the best Bluetooth speaker

With so much choice it's no huge surprise that the question we've been asked time and time again when it comes to Bluetooth speakers is: How do I pick out the best one for me? 

Well, although it may seem like the choice is endless, there are plenty with unique selling points. Some are rugged. Some are stylish. Some are weatherproof and some aren't fit for the outdoors. 

If you're having problems figuring out what speaker might work for you, start by picturing where you're going to use it and find a speaker that matches that setting. If you're a beach person, that means water- and dust-proofing are key. If you're a party person, you might want the ability to connect two speakers together or a speaker with multi-point pairing that allows multiple devices to connect at a time. We'll break down these features for you below to help you find a speaker that first for your unique lifestyle.

However, regardless of what features you want from your speaker, its imperative that it has a decent battery life and good level of sound quality. There's no point in having a device packed full of features if its battery dies quickly and it sounds rubbish. All of our picks fulfill these two requirements, so when you're picking from this list you can afford to focus more on features. 

Whatever your budget and whatever your needs, here are 10 outstanding Bluetooth wireless speakers, ranked by their price-to-performance ratio, that will surely work for you.

 The best Bluetooth speakers of 2018:  

This sequel to the UE Boom nails everything a Bluetooth speaker should be. It's loud, yet detailed. Portable, but still incredibly durable. Plus, even better, the addition of waterproofing turns what used to be the best Bluetooth speaker around for most occasions into the best one for every occasion. 

If you're deep in the search for your next –, or first – Bluetooth speaker, you can stop looking now. (But if you're looking for a little more power, the Megaboom – also from UE – is a great choice, too.) 

Read the full review: UE Boom 2

As a package, the JBL Charge 3 offers a compelling set of features and excellent sound quality to boot. It punches well above its weight, playing loudly and distortion-free. 

The Charge line of speakers have been on our shortlist of recommendations for a long time thanks to the way they combine great sound quality with the ability to charge your devices over USB. 

The latest iteration maintains JBL's dominance in the portable Bluetooth speaker market.

Read the full review: JBL Charge 3

The Bose SoundLink Mini II is relatively ancient, having been released in June 2015. However, writing off the SoundLink Mini II because of its age would be a mistake, as it remains one of the best sounding wireless speakers. 

That said, it punches way above what its size would suggest, producing deep bass, sparkling highs and a lush midrange. While most wireless speakers sound OK, the Mini II proves that small speakers don’t need to compromise on sound, and other Bose conveniences like a charging pad. 

Read the full review: Bose SoundLink Mini II

When someone asks us for a recommendation for a waterproof speaker, the UE Roll 2 was always on the top of our list. We loved the Roll 2’s unique form factor, 50-foot wireless range and, obviously, it sounded good, too. Where it was lacking was in the bass department. Logitech, UE’s parent company, has fixed the Roll 2’s lack of bass by creating the appropriately named UE Wonderboom. 

In our eyes, the UE Wonderboom bests the Roll 2 in just about every way –except for the Roll 2’s handy bungee cord. Still, ignoring that, if you’re looking for one of the best waterproof Bluetooth speakers on the market today, it’s hard to do better than the UE Wonderboom. Plus, it comes in some interesting colors, including Avocado guessed it, Unicorn.

Read the full review: UE Wonderboom

The Creative Muvo 2C is a speaker than punches well above its weight in terms of its sound quality. This tiny Bluetooth speaker is one of the smallest we've seen to pack its own bass radiator, which results in much better dynamic range than many other speakers at this price point. Plus, it's also feature rich in terms of its inputs, allowing you to play music either over Bluetooth, a 3.5mm jack, USB or even insert a microSD card to play MP3 files directly. 

Of course, that being said, if you spend more you'll get a more refined sound, better bass still, and a longer battery life. But if you're looking for a budget speaker than the Muvo 2C is hard to beat at this price. 

Read the full review: Creative Muvo 2C

B&O created a hit with the Beoplay P2. It’s a well-designed speaker that’s extremely easy to use, has a well-built companion app, and it sounds great. On top of that, the speaker is ultra-portable without compromising on much bass content. Sure, you could get something a little bigger (and stereo) for the same price, but at this size the sound quality justifies the price. The smart gestures are a nice touch too, although we wouldn’t buy the device solely for that reason.

Read the full review: B&O Beoplay P2

The Marshall Kilburn might not appear to be the best choice in Bluetooth speakers. It’s large, heavy, doesn’t have USB charging and isn’t waterproof – plus, AED 1,299 is a lot to pay for a Bluetooth speaker. 

But none of this matters because the Kilburn sounds so darn good. 

Over a month's time, we fell in love with the Kilburn’s design, feel and pristine sound quality. There’s no other portable Bluetooth speaker on the market quite like it. It’s a head turner and conversation piece. It’s a piece of audio art that you’ll be proud to show off to your friends during a party. 

Read the full review: Marshall Kilburn

It seems just about every speaker company has a wireless speaker that can take the abuse of being outdoors and Bose, a company most well-known for its brand of excellent noise-canceling headphones, is no different. If you’re looking for something from Bose to take with you on your next hike, the AED 549 SoundLink Color II is the company’s only splash-proof speaker that can stand up to the elements with an IPX4 rating. 

Read the full review: Bose SoundLink Color II

Bringing bluntness over refinement, the JBL Flip 4 is a good Bluetooth speaker for the rugged outdoorsman in your friend circle. It’s rough, tough design makes it perfect as a portable speaker to accompany all aspects of your life while its sound is solid without worrying your home audio system.

It’s all weather friendly design is a win, but a lack of definition and distinction in the mid-range ultimately means its sound quality is not quite up to scratch when compared with some, more high-end portable speakers.

Read the full review: JBL Flip 4

The newest speaker in the Denon Envaya line is one of the first speakers to absolutely blow us away in 2018. It offers powerful, room-filling sound that will sound great to most ears, plus comes with an IP67 rating, make it both dust and waterproof. It's also built like a tank, making it one of the most durable speakers we've ever laid our hands on.

Despite a nearly flawless performance, the Envaya isn't perfect: While sound quaity is full, powerful and rich, it doesn’t have the treble bite some like and the buttons located along the side can feel stiff and difficult to operate. These are ultimately minor complaints, however, and the Denon Envaya remains a great Bluetooth speaker – easily one of the best you can buy this year.

Read the full review: Denon Envaya (DSB-250BT)

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Categories: General Technology

LG C8 OLED, Sony WH-1000XM3 win big at What Hi-Fi? Awards

Sat, 20/10/2018 - 06:59

If you’re a fan of AV, the name What Hi-Fi? should mean something to you. 

These folks have been covering the world of TVs, speakers and headphones for the last four decades and have a reputation for reviewing the latest and greatest in audiovisual tech. 

The culmination of a year’s worth of reviews happens at the brand’s annual What Hi-Fi? Awards, held in September and October of each year.

For the 2018 awards, 102 products walked away with a trophy – including some of our favorite products, like the Sony HT-ST5000 Soundbar and the Beyerdynamic Amiron – with top accolades going to the LG C8 OLED for Best 55-inch TV and 65-inch TV  under £2,500 and the Sony WH-1000XM3 for Best Wireless Headphones over £300.

Unsurprisingly, audio manufacturers Rega and Chord swept the turntable and DAC categories, respectively, with Panasonic's new DP-UB9000 winning an award for Best 4K Blu-ray player over £500.

While the awards are generally separated by price, one product in each of the categories will be awarded a Product of the Year trophy in-person at the annual What Hi-Fi? Awards ceremony, which goes down Wednesday, November 7.

Ready to see which other products got a nod this year? You can check out all 102 awards over at the What Hi-Fi? Awards 2018 landing page.

Categories: General Technology