Technology additions, active noise cancellation make a the BackBeat Pro a fantastic buy
Looking for a pair of headphones that can do everything a user requires is a task that can take some study. Trying to decide on in-ear, over-ear, or on-the-ear model starts at user comfort and preference, but goes much further when features are thrown into the mix. When features like noise cancellation are tossed into the equation, the cost can weigh on the practicality and sound of the unit. It doesn't always need to though, as Plantronics tries to prove with the BackBeat Pro. Would these headphones be the right fit for most consumers, or are there enough small flaws that push them into being just another headphone set with active noise cancellation (ANC)? Find out in our review.
On-cup controls handle playback, calls
Apple-owned Beats has announced the Solo2 Wireless, a new pair of over-the-ear headphones. The unit is based on the original Solo2 headphones released earlier this year, but sports Bluetooth for pairing with devices up to 30 feet away. Buttons on the ear cups let users control volume and playback, and even answer phone calls.
Punch and bass felt through the entire unit, but app, comfort hold the headphones back
Headphones have hit a point where there isn't much to differentiate one set from one another. Making a choice between Bluetooth and wired models ends up being the first decision, followed by the type of tuning or sound quality a user wants. Alpine aims to add another feature into the mix, the feel of the music. With the Alpine Headphones the audio company wanted to bring the feel of a concert home, packing technology into a set of over-the-ear headphones with an app for user control to accomplish it. But do the Alpine Headphones offer a new audio experience that is worth feeling, or would consumers be better served by something more traditional? Find out in our review.
New headphone suspended ear cup design inspired by studio microphone mounts
Two new pairs of over-the-ear headphones were announced by 808 Audio today, taking a new approach to the ear cup design. The Performer Headphones -- released in wired and Bluetooth models -- use ear cup suspension technology in an attempt to give users a better fit during long play sessions, or in professional audio applications like DJ sets.
Alpine launches headphone line with emphasis on feel, adds app to create 'energy' playlists
A new set of consumer headphones was released by Alpine Electronics that sets out to bring the concert experience to users in order to "feel their music." The patented TKR3 full-frequency immersion technology attempts to recreate the sensation of a live show with a "unique sound field expansion." The Bluetooth headphones feature 40mm drivers, programmable audio processing, powered digital amplifiers, and a lithium battery for up to 10 hours of play. The Alpine Headphones can be used with the Alpine Level Play app for iOS, which creates playlists based on the "energy level" of the songs on the device. The Alpine Headphones are available at Alpine's website or Apple Stores for $300.
Publicity from ban, player fine makes Beats 'look like the underdog,' co-founder says
Speaking at the University of California's "Global Conversation" conference on Wednesday, Beats co-founder and Apple executive Jimmy Iovine offered his spin on the recent NFL deal with rival Bose to make the latter's headphones the "official" brand of the football league, and the fact that many players seem to prefer the Beats brand. He told the audience that players, both under contract to endorse Beats and not, have taken to taping over the Beats logo on their own pairs rather than wear the endorsed brand.
League has signed exclusive deal with Bose that covers post-game and interview endorsements
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been fined $10,000 by the NFL for breaking a league rule about wearing unsponsored products when conducting interviews within 90 minutes following a game. Kaepernick was wearing a pair of pink Beats headphones -- which he later tweeted was in support of breast cancer awareness -- during a press conference following a game with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The NFL signed an exclusive deal with Bose back in March, and only that brand of headphones are supposed to be seen.
Audiophile-grade amplified headphones feature perfect fit, great sound
Blue, a company that has specialized in microphones, has turned its techniques the other way around to create a set of serious headphones -- called Mo-Fi -- with an almost Apple-like attention to detail, from the packaging to the execution of the design. This is the sort of thing we were hoping Apple would create for Beats after the first year or two, but here it is now. At $350, they are not meant for casual listening, and it might be dangerous to wear them while walking the streets. They are primarily intended for serious listening to high-quality music. Are they for you? Find out in our review.
Bose granted rights to prevent other headphone use, NFL defends practice
Apple-owned designer headphone brand Beats by Dre is taking another hit in the professional sports arena. It was uncovered that a recent deal between Bose and the National Football League (NFL) will ban other headphones on game days as a part of the exclusive league sponsorship. While the ban is in effect for all other headphone manufacturers, Beats argues that its headphones are important to players.
Four headsets added under Siberia line five years after the release of the Siberia v2
Audio accessory maker SteelSeries announced that it is building upon its lineup of successful Siberia headphones, adding four new models under the line. The new models, named under the Siberia v3 and Siberia Prism monikers, come five years after the release of the popular Siberia v2 headset. The next iteration of the Siberia line is set to release this holiday season.
Steven Lamar said to have exaggerated association to boost new venture
According to new court filings, Apple-owned Beats is suing Roam and Jibe Audio founder Steven Lamar for false advertisements and unfair competition after Lamar posted numerous times on social media and his own company's website that he was a "co-founder" of Beats alongside Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. While Lamar does have a legitimate connection to the headphone maker, and collects a royalty on certain models of Beats headphones, Beats says in its filing that Lamar has "never had any ownership interest" in the audio products company.
Headset brings 60mm drivers, DTS Headphone:X technology for 7.1 surround sound
Turtle Beach released the Ear Force Z60 headset last week, a pair of gaming headphones that the company first unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Made to handle the surround-sound needs for video games, music and movies, the headphones utilize DTS Headphone:X 7.1 surround sound. Turtle Beach does this without the use of separate software or drivers, unlike many other headphones on the market.
May require iOS 8, hardware upgrade in order to play true 24-bit audio files
Audio and video equipment maker Philips has debuted a new headphone set for iOS devices that offers a pair of distinct differences: it features 24-bit digital-to-analog conversion and amplification built right within the headphones, and it uses a Lightning connector rather than a standard 3.5mm connector. The Fidelio M2L headphones are said to the first to use the Lightning connector.
AT&T announces cost of second year of data plan for Timex Ironman One GPS+
AT&T has announced second-year data pricing for the Timex Ironman One GPS+ smartwatch. Originally announced in August, the Timex smartwatch offers stand-alone wireless connectivity without a phone, including fitness tracking, a "Find Me Mode" safety function, and more. After the initial year of included data service, AT&T smartwatch users will need to pay $40 for the second year of data and messaging. Pre-ordering for the Timex Ironman One GPS+ is available online for $400, with the product officially available this fall.
New headphones, Bluetooth speaker and wireless speaker system on sale this year
At a recent trade show, Harman Kardon made a number of announcements about the new consumer audio devices that would be hitting the market this fall. Offerings are spread across the board, with a new set of Bluetooth on-ear headphones, a professional Bluetooth speaker, and a wireless in-home audio speaker system and adapter are coming to tackle a number of customer needs.
Headphones feature interchangeable parts, smaller ear cups and rotatable arms
Pioneer Electronics has announced a new set of professional headphones in its DJ line today, with the HDJ-C70. The company took a different stance on design with the HDJ-C70s than other DJ headphones in the past, moving to create a lightweight headset to fit the sound quality demands and comfort needed for heavy use.
Company claims over-the-ear headphones have 24-hour battery life
Plantronics announced a new model of Bluetooth headphones this week with the BackBeat Pro. The over-the-ear headphones feature a long battery life, 40mm drivers, active noise-cancelling technology and "Plantronics signature audio performance and design." Not leaving noise cancelling as the only trick of the headphones, Plantronics also added a smart feature to help consumers pick up where they left off if the headphones are removed.
Includes battery-powered preamp, adjustable headband, more
Blue Microphones, a digital audio brand best known for its USB audio mics popular with both podcasters and musicians, has expanded into headphones with the release of its first Mo-Fi headphone set. As recently noted by one of our reviewers, most headphones sound much better when paired with a combination DAC and amplifier like the Sony's PHA-2 portable headphone amps -- but Blue has taken it a step further by building the amp directly into its headphones.
Middle-of-the-road headphones offer comfort and long battery life, but odd controls, sound
When it comes to music on the go, consumers generally have some options to consider when looking for the best experience. While Bluetooth speakers are good in a large number of situations, in some place they just aren't practical. This leaves consumers to look away from speakers and toward their counterparts for sonic deliver, Bluetooth headphones. But not all headphones are created equal, especially when the boutique market for headphones is examined. One company, Life n Soul, hopes to grab attention with its 8 Driver Bluetooth headphones. Do the headphones warrant some attention, or are they just another set in the middle of the pack? Find out in our review.
Bluetooth headphones feature 40mm drivers, 116dB sensitivity, on-ear controls
Genius announced a new set of stereo headphones today, giving consumers another option in the world of Bluetooth listening devices. The HS-920BT on-ear headphones feature 40mm drivers with a sensitivity of 116dB, an impedance of 32ohms and a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz. Controls are placed on right ear cup, giving users control over volume, tracks and receiving phone calls. Power is provided by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
SMS Audio BioSport headphones feeds back heart rate to mobile app
Intel has partnered with SMS Audio, the headphone company by rapper 50 Cent, to develop headphones designed for fitness tracking. The BioSport In-Ear Headphones includes a built-in optical heart rate monitor, one which continuously collects data about the wearer's pulse as they go through intense exercise or a relaxation routine.
Bass-heavy headphones provide sweat resistance during workout, lackluster sound
When hitting the gym or going out for a trail run, headphones can cause a number of problems. From the ear buds getting slimy with sweat or the ear cups not holding onto the user's head tightly enough, there are a bunch of inconveniences that occur. This isn't even considering the cords that can get in the way, resulting in headphones flying off someone's head or a plug being yanked from a device. Is there a set of headphones that can put active people at ease when wearing them? Perhaps, as SMS Audio, the company led by Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, has released an active version of its Sync on-ear wireless headphones. Do the SMS Audio Sync Sports give users everything they want, while delivering great audio? Find out in our review.
Balanced sound, cleaver controls make wearing on-ear headphones enjoyable
For all the different configurations of headphones on the market, it's always a tough choice for buyers to get something that is just right. For consumers searching for a strong sound but who don't want to shell out a couple hundred dollars on over-the-ear headphones, on-ear is the next step down. But does that mean the sound quality is a step down as well? The JBL Synchros E40BT headphones aim to convince users otherwise, with their balanced approach to sound and mid-range price. Does that mean that the headphones are good, or something that consumers would be settling for? Find out in our review.
Tight-fitting headset covers all-around needs for gaming, everyday listening
Gaming headphones are a challenge to get right, for a long list of reasons that are unique to the consumer buying them. Some shoppers want a universal set of headphones, some weigh the difference in the configuration, while others just want something with a good built-in microphone for voice chat. What about gamers looking for their next set of headphones for longer gaming sessions? Razer, a brand many gamers are familiar with, may have a solution with the Kraken Pro headset. But is it good enough for gaming as well as everyday needs? Find out in our review.
Four audio devices including Bluetooth speaker and in-ear headphones start at $150
Samsung is jumping into the premium audio market in North America with four new consumer offerings for headphones and Bluetooth speakers. Samsung launched the Level line of audio products today, aiming for high quality sound, portability and style. The Level Over, On and In give consumers options based on the type of style headphone preferred, while the Box speaker allows music to be shared with others.
QNAP launches new fabless, silent HS-251 NAS device
QNap Systems has announced the release of its Silent Network-Attached Storage (NAS) series addition, the HS-251, designed for living-room use. Featuring a wide range of multimedia applications, the HS-251 offers real-time and offline Full HD video transcoding, and HDMI connectivity for local playback. Simultaneous viewing of different videos is possible with the device, and video content can be converted in formats that can be easily played on PCs, mobile devices and smart TVs.
Headphones available in on-ear, in-ear models endorsed by Carmelo Anthony
SMS Audio, the headphone company that features rapper 50 Cent as a majority owner, released four new pairs of headphones today. The new headphones are part of the SMS Audio Sport Collection, featuring on-ear and in-ear versions of two existing models. The Sync and Street by 50 headphones are endorsed by company investor and partner Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks.
Two sport models, four E-Series models offer large range of consumer options
Announcing a total of six units yesterday, JBL is bringing out new entries in the Synchros lines of in-ear, on-ear and around-ear headphones. With two Sports models and four E-Series models, consumers are offered a number of options to fit their specific needs. The new Reflect Sports headphones offer users flexibility with a wired or Bluetooth option. JBL's new E-Series units offer small in-ear units to large around-ear headphones to fit nearly any situation.
Life N Soul releases new Bluetooth 8-driver headphones, stereo speaker
Audio device producer Life N Soul has announced its new BE501 8 Driver Bluetooth headphones, and the BM211 Virtual Surround Bluetooth Speaker. The company's Bluetooth headphones feature Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, and can pair with two different devices with a range of up to 30 feet. Offering built-in lossless transmission technology and dynamic surround sound, the BE501's frequency response ranges from 5Hz to 25kHz. Each ear piece bears 1pc woofer and 3pc drivers, with a total of 8 neodymium dynamic audio drivers. The headphones can hold a charge for 28 hours of play time, and 1300 hours of standby time.
AKG announces new addition to its Y-Series headphone collection
AKG has released its new Y-Series headphone collection, which includes three models and aims to offer a modern aesthetic within the brand. The on-ear headphones have a closed earcup design, reducing ambient noise, and a folding mechanism for easy storage.
Yantouch Diamond+ LED Bluetooth speaker released
Yantouch has released a new portable Bluetooth speaker with an accompanying light system in its Diamond series, the Diamond+. Its neodymium Super Magnet speakers are located on the sides of the device for improved sound emissions, and include a 300 precent sound boost feature. The system's LED light show features 16 million colors to choose from, with users able to control the hues, brightness and saturation, and several light modes. Its "Music You Can See" light mode, for example, matches lighting based on a song's beats. Other modes include a "wash-wall" mood lighting and a white LED light for reading.
Fitness-oriented Bluetooth audio
Apple-owned Beats has announced a new edition of its Powerbeats earbuds, the Powerbeats2 Wireless. The buds connect to any Bluetooth-capable device, and are said to have been designed with help from NBA player LeBron James. They're consequentially more fitness-oriented, with rubberized hooks to keep them in place while walking or running.
KitSound Clash On-Ear headphones now available
KitSound has released its new Clash On-Ear headphones, which feature a retro aesthetic. Designed to be lightweight and compact, Clash headphones offer an in-line microphone component, which allows for answering calls. Available in white, red or black, KitSounds' Clash headphones are priced at $50.
Lightning audio expected to be activated in iOS 7 update
Apple has produced a new Made-for-i specification allowing manufacturers to make headphones that connect via a Lightning cable instead of a 3.5mm headphone jack, a report says. The technology is currently unsupported in iOS, but Apple will allegedly be updating iOS 7 with support sometime later.
Claims best products in 25 years due in 2014
Speaking yesterday at the Code Conference, Apple's senior VP of Internet software and services, Eddy Cue -- joined by Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine -- offered an explanation of the company's $3 billion buyout of Beats, and also discussed Apple's upcoming product pipeline. He noted that a deal for Beats and/or the people behind it has been in development for a decade, and that together the two companies should be able to speed up products that are being kept secret.
Apple EarPods provide a great listening experience at small cost
The ink hasn't even dried on Apple's acquisition of Beats and Dr Dre (Andre Young) and Jimmy Iovine, both newly anointed executives at Apple have already made a public gaffe a piece. Firstly, we saw Dr Dre quaffing Heineken beer and bragging about the deal before it was made official. Then just late yesterday, in an interview with Walt Mossberg at the Code Conference, Jimmy Iovine publicly criticized Apple's pre-packaged headphones (its EarPods) as being for little more than "to see if the sound [on the device] works." While it might have been a casual off-handed quip, it wouldn't have amused the team responsible for developing Apple's EarPods. Nor is it something you would ever expect hear coming from an Apple executive, indicating that this union may take a little while to become fully settled.
Acquisition, if true, would be Apple's largest buyout ever by nearly 10x
In what could be a rumor intended to manipulate stock prices, the Financial Times is reporting that Apple is planning to buy the maker of the popular (though not well-regarded by audiophiles) Beats headphones and Beats Music streaming service for $3.2 billion. If true, the deal would be by far the largest-ever acquisition by Apple. Coincidentally, the report's alleged price for Beats -- more than three times higher than its valuation -- is the exact same amount paid by Google for Nest.
50 Cent's audio accessories brand announces Star Wars headphones for May 4
SMS Audio, an audio headphone and accessories brand from 50 Cent, has announced the availability of its First-Edition Star Wars Street by 50 Cent wired headphones. Launched in light of today being unofficially "Star Wars Day," the new headphones are branded with characters and themes from Lucasfilm's Star Wars series, with new models including Stormtrooper, Rebel Alliance, Bob Fett and Galactic Empire. The headphones share the same specifications as the existing Street by 50 On-Ear wired headphone line, including 40mm drivers, passive noise-cancellation technology, and a foldable design. Priced at $200, the First Edition Star Wars headphones are available for purchase now.
Renowned DJ collaborates with Philips to produce DJ-quality headphones
Philips, in partnership with renowned DJ Armin van Buuren, has launched the A5-PRO DJ headphones. Designed for audio monitoring and mixing, the headphones' replaceable bayonet-mount cushions are available in three sizes for comfort options. Its anodized aluminum form with leather headband is foldable, and its 50mm high-definition neodymium driver offer high quality low-frequency sound. Pricing and availability have not yet been announced.
Twitter for iOS and Android updated, adds photo tagging of up to ten people
Twitter announced an update to its mobile apps today, adding the ability to now tag up to ten people in a photo. Available for both iOS and Android app, tagging does not affect character count in a tweet. Up to four photos can be shared in a single tweet, and a full image in a group can be viewed by tapping on a preview. The new photo features rolled out today on iPhone, and are due soon for Android and its web version.
Aria headphones feature 50mm full-range neodymium magnet drivers, wooden acoustic chamber
Luxury gaming instruments company Feenix has announced the upcoming availability of its headset, Aria. Intended for gamers who desire a high level of sound quality, Aria focuses on reproducing sounds as well as a studio monitor. The headphones possess 50mm full-range neodymium magnet drivers, and an acoustic chamber composed of Japanese pine wood. Its independent cardioid clip microphone allows for unidirectional voice recording, with its recording capability making Aria suitable for an every day headphone as well as a gaming headset. Aria's ear cushions are made of memory foam and protein leather for comfortable wearing. Currently available for pre-order online, the Aria headset is priced at $350.
Tech could even theoretically monitor mental states
Apple has won rights to a US patent on a biometric headphone system. The technology would track factors like temperature, heart rate, and/or perspiration, using embedded sensors. The sensors could be embedded into the rim of a speaker, or broken out into other components, such as ear clips or inline remotes. Apple also suggests integrating one or more accelerometers for tracking movement, in the latter case recording multiple axes.
Divoom Voombox Outdoor Bluetooth speaker offers portability, water resistance
Divoom will be releasing its portable outdoor Bluetooth speaker tomorrow, the Voombox Outdoor. Offering 12 hours of play and talk time on 15 watts of power, the Voombox can withstand splashed water and dust. Users can wirelessly stream audio from tablets, smartphones and other Bluetooth-enabled devices, and make or receive calls wirelessly.
Audio collection includes devices with Bluetooth streaming, AirPlay, DLNA support
Harman revealed a number of audio products at CES, headed up by the JBL Flip 2 portable wireless speaker. The JBL Synchros S400BT headphones and J46BT in-ear stereo headphones accompany the Flip, as well as the AKG Y55 DJ headphones, the Harman Kardon Aura home audio system, and the Harman Kardon BDS 580 and 280 3D Blu-ray players.
Ultra HD TVs, sound bars, zipper-style headphones on show at CES
Display manufacturer Sceptre has revealed its 2014 line of televisions and other devices at CES. Though light on details, the company advises that the typical range of HDTVs is accompanied by a group of Ultra HD displays, sound bars, speakers, headphones, and a number of what Sceptre calls a "Mobile Internet Display" but sounds like a collection of tablets.
Sony expands its premium range with the MDR-10RBT Bluetooth Headphones
With the rise of the premium headphone market over the past few years, Sony has been quietly ramping up its headphone range to meet the increased demand for a high quality audio experience. The latest addition to its high-end audio range is its new MDR-10 series that sits just below its superb MDR-1 range. We have previously reviewed the Sony MDR-1RBT headphones (which have recently been updated to the Mk II version) and found them to be the best Bluetooth headphone experience we have heard. At $150 less than the MDR-1RBT and more in line with competing products, how do the MDR-10RBT's stack up? Read on in our full review.
Headset can stream over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, store music
Streamz Media has launched its first set of headphones that offers the ability to stream audio from various sources. The self-titled Streamz can connect to hotspots and other mobile devices to receive audio over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0, while its onboard 4GB of storage can be extended by a 32GB microSD card in order to hold a user's music without connecting to another device.
PlayOn announces availability of PlayCast channel in Roku channel store
MediaMall Technologies, owner of PlayOn media server software for streaming
video content, has announced the availability of its new PlayCast channel in the Roku channel store. PlayCast allows users to send any video from a PC browser to a Roku-connected TV, much like Google's Chromecast service. When used with PlayOn, PlayCast gives users the ability to cast videos from an Internet browser. PlayCast is available in the Roku channel store; PlayOn, which can be accessed through subscription, is available in monthly, annual and lifetime payment options, starting at $9 per month.
iMacs, 4K TVs, headphones and more
This week, B&H has the current-generation 21.5-inch iMac for only $1,149. That's $150 off the list price of $1299, and the lowest price we've seen on this by about $63. Free shipping is included, but sales tax applies for residents of New York State. This iMac features a 2.7GHz Intel quad-core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive with Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics.
Soundmatters' wireless, 'pocketable' speaker DASH7 now available
Audio accessory maker Soundmatters has announced the availability of its wireless pocket-portable speaker, the Dash7. The new Daah7 is three-quarters of an inch thick, and offers omnidirectional sound in a size that fits in a slim bag or pocket. Featuring extended Bluetooth range, the Dash7 can also be used as a noise-cancelling speakerphone. Available in red, white and black, it can be purchase for $250 through various online retailers, and the Soundmatters website.