wireless headphones Stories November 2, 2016

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Most people use in-ear headphones while exercising – not necessarily because they prefer the experience, but because on-ear and over-ear headphones don’t cope well with things like running.

This was the problem former NFL player Mark Clayton set out to solve with the LIVV wireless headphones ($299), specifically designed to provide a full over-ear headphone experience while staying firmly in place no matter how vigorous your exercise regime …

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wireless headphones Stories September 9, 2016

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Without a doubt the biggest consumer-facing news from Apple’s September event yesterday was the removal of the iPhone’s headphone jack. This “courageous” move is seen to help push forward wireless audio technology, all the while giving Apple a few more millimeters to work with in the device’s internals.

Not without controversy, this decision does mean leaving a lot of wired headphones in the dust. Not everyone will find the AirPods, expected in October, the default choice and we figured this would be a good time as any to roundup the 9to5Mac team’s opinions on their current favorite pair (or 2) of wireless headphones. Take a look through and be sure to share your current favorite wireless audio options in the comments.

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Headphone companies unfazed by Apple dropping the 3.5mm socket

With consumers not shy about voicing their own opinion of Apple dropping the headphone socket from the iPhone 7, The Verge decided to find out what headphone manufacturers had to say about it.

wireless headphones Stories September 1, 2016

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Well-respected British audio company Bowers & Wilkins clearly wants to be ready for the anticipated loss of the headphone socket in the iPhone 7: it has just announced a Bluetooth version of its P7 over-ear headphones.

We’re big fans of the company’s smaller on-ear P5 headphones, which made it into the holiday gift guide selections of both Jeremy and myself after the company launched a wireless version earlier in the year. This launch brings the same wireless freedom to the larger over-ear model …

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wireless headphones Stories June 30, 2016

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If you care about audio quality even while you run or work out, Bang & Olufsen‘s latest wireless in-ear headphones may tick the box. The Beoplay H5 have a number of features aimed directly at fitness fans.

First, the cable is moulded directly into the rubber, which B&O says keeps the sweat out, to avoid corrosion in the electronics, while the earpiece housings are also moisture-resistant. Second, the shape has been ‘meticulously tested and improved’ to provide a snug fit no matter what shape your ear canal, so they shouldn’t fall out. Third, when you’re done listening, the two earpieces snap magnetically together, keeping the headphones locked safely around your neck …

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wireless headphones Stories June 28, 2016

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Noise-cancelling headphones are great when you just want to eliminate all outside noise, as you might on board a plane, but there are times when you want to be able to block most outside noise, but not all. Being able to hear car engines while cycling, or announcements while on a train, for example. That’s what the Here One wireless earbuds are designed to do.

The company says it uses smart noise filters to provide what it calls ‘layered listening.’

Control the volume of streamed audio and ambient sound simultaneously. Safely listen to music while riding your bike, or access live commentary at a game while still experiencing the cheering crowd. Unlike normal headphones, Here One doesn’t isolate you from the world […]

Selectively filter out an airplane engine, office chatter, a siren, and more. Amplify speech to tune into every word at a crowded restaurant or party … 

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wireless headphones Stories April 21, 2016

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With Apple widely believed to be planning to drop the headphone socket in the iPhone 7 in favor of Lightning-connected and wireless headphones, a patent application published today describes how a single set of headphones could switch smoothly between wired and wireless modes without any interruption of playback.

There’s of course nothing new in headphones that support both wired and wireless use – many Bluetooth headphones come supplied with a plug-in audio cable that allow them to fall back to wired use if they run low on battery power or you just want the higher quality a wired connection typically delivers.

But switching between wired and wireless use typically has a couple of issues, and Apple’s patent aims to solve both of them …

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wireless headphones Stories January 28, 2016

iPhone no headphone jack

My cheap headphone jack-less iPhone mockup

While it’s widely rumored that the iPhone 7 will drop the headphone jack when it launches later this year, known Apple audio supplier Cirrus Logic may have hinted about how Apple plans to handle this transition. Speaking to analysts and investors during the company’s latest earnings call (via BI), CEO Jason Rhode made a few interesting comments about what might be planned for later this year.

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wireless headphones Stories January 5, 2016

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Jaybird, maker of the popular sweatproof X and X2 Bluetooth headphones, has announced two new models planned for release in the second quarter of this year. Designed to appeal to athletes, the X3 ($150) and Freedom ($200) have both been redesigned from earlier, similarly-named models, and now use power-efficient Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology for full compatibility with current-generation iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. Each will be available in five colors, and work with Jaybird’s MySound app to create user-defined equalizer settings…

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wireless headphones Stories March 20, 2015

This is the Apple Store’s in-ear headphone try-on Demo Kit

Earlier this month we shared that Apple would soon begin allowing customers to try in-ear headphones at its retail stores. As we mentioned then, Demo Kits include six models of in-ear headphones, half of which are Beats-branded:

The following headphones are available to try out with Demo Kits (Apple’s prices listed, but linked to better prices at Amazon): RHA MA450i ($49.95), urBeats ($99.95), Beats Tour ($149.95), JayBird BlueBuds X ($169.95), PowerBeats 2 Wireless ($199.95), and the Bose QC20i ($299.95).

Japanese blog Macotakara has now shared an image of the Demo Kits including each headphone model reported before. 

wireless headphones Stories January 14, 2015

Review: Harman Kardon’s Soho Wireless is a luxury alternative to Beats’ Solo 2 on-ear headphones

I wasn’t a fan of Harman Kardon’s Soho headphones when they debuted a year ago, but the reason was unusual: they were seriously uncomfortable. Soho was a much smaller, wired version of Harman’s gigantic Bluetooth wireless headphone BT, notably using relatively tiny 30mm speakers instead of the 40mm drivers found in BT and many rivals, including Beats’ Solo 2 and Solo 2 Wireless. Something was off during Solo’s design or manufacturing process, because its steel headband felt like a vise on my head, an issue I hadn’t previously encountered while testing hundreds of other headphones.

Believe it or not, I’m glad that Harman didn’t give up on Soho, because the latest version Soho Wireless ($250) actually fixes most of its predecessor’s flaws. It’s a sharp-looking headset, and though it continues to use anemic 30mm audio drivers, Soho Wireless is markedly smaller and more comfortable than before. As the name suggests, it’s now capable of operating in a fully wireless mode using Bluetooth 3.0, with a usable range well in excess of the standard’s 33-foot minimum. And Harman has upgraded the design and materials a little, apart from including a simpler soft carrying case rather than a larger, heavier box.

The two biggest changes in Soho Wireless’s design are tweaks to the headband and the on-ear drivers. Although the new headband could still benefit from padding under its leather wrapping, Harman has thankfully revised the shape to feel natural rather than vise-like on your head–a critical improvement that makes Soho Wireless actually wearable.

The speakers are now behind cushioned leather rather than fabric, which lets this version of Soho surpass the luxury of Bowers & Wilkins’ P3 rather than just matching it. If anything, Soho Wireless is gentle on the ears even after you properly adjust the pull-down arms, which permits a little ambient noise to leak in—you don’t get the ear seal of Beats’ Solo 2, but there isn’t obvious audio leaking out at regular volumes, either.

Harman has also made a couple of changes to Soho’s cabling and controls. On Soho Wireless, the included 3.5mm audio cable is purely optional—slim, fabric-jacketed, and lacking an in-line remote control. The only integrated button is found underneath the right earcup, doubling as a power and Bluetooth pairing control. A similarly-sized box with a USB icon hides a micro-USB port, connectable to an included fabric USB cable to recharge Soho Wireless’s 400mAh battery, for which Harman’s web site, packaging, and manual oddly provide no estimate of run time. When asked, a Harman representative noted that Soho Wireless offers 9 hours of playback after 2 hours of recharging, which isn’t bad at all, but falls a bit short of the 12 hours promised by Beats’ Solo 2 Wireless.

Track controls are hidden on the outside of the right earcup. To change, pause, or play tracks, you now tap or swipe your finger against the flat leather surface using gestures helpfully indicated inside Soho Wireless’s box. When the gestures work, they work, but all it takes is a slight miss of the hidden touch surface and you’ll find yourself re-tapping or re-swiping. Once again, this feature is better than having no integrated controls, but less than ideal.

Sonically, Soho Wireless is a middle-of-the-road performer for its price. As the 30mm drivers inside are atypically small, there are points during listening when they seem to be straining to reproduce the frequency range–notably the bass–of larger headphones such as Solo 2. Head to head, they’re pretty close to Solo 2, roughly mimicking the Beats model’s so-so highs, fine midrange and good mid-bass, but the lowest notes aren’t as punchy or obvious.

We preferred Soho Wireless’s sound in wired mode, as a hint of buzz can be heard in the headphones when they’re operating wirelessly, but the difference isn’t profound. Additionally, a microphone is hidden underneath the right earcup, delivering only OK sound quality relative to the iPhones’ built-in mic system when you need to make phone calls.

The key thing that will make Soho Wireless a viable alternative to somewhat comparable alternatives from Beats, Bowers & Wilkins and others is the aesthetic it delivers for $250. Harman’s choice of chrome and leather is luxurious and mature, giving users the choice between Beats’ more expensive, all-plastic design or something that looks and feels executive-class at a lower price. On the other hand, you’ll compromise somewhat on audio quality, which may or may not be important to you. Soho Wireless is a big step in the right direction for Harman, but definitely not the last stage in the evolution of its wireless headphones.

Read more of my reviews here, as well as our premium headphone guide, and some of my personal top headphone picks.

wireless headphones Stories June 1, 2014

A few weeks before initial reports that Apple was planning to acquire Beats Electronics, I started AT&T’s three month trial of the Beats Music subscription streaming service.. Given that generous window of time, I felt more comfortable investing my time than I would with a one or two week trial. When news broke that Apple was in final talks to purchase Beats, I was caught off guard and immediately concerned that the subscription service that I was starting to really like would change under Apple’s watch. Since the deal has been made official, Apple has said that Beats Music will continue as it is (across multiple platforms even) as will the headphones line (Beats branded, not Apple branded) for now.

Because I was rather surprised by the appeal of Beats Music and Apple is now endorsing the headphones more than ever (even if only really for their massive profit margins), I got really curious Friday afternoon to try out a pair of Beats headphones first hand so I did just that. I’ve been using the Beats Studio Wireless headphones (Amazon) just about all waking hour of this weekend, and below you can read my thoughts on one of the products included in Apple’s biggest acquisition to date. expand full story

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