Casio released the first G-Shock watch in 1983. The original set the bar for tough watches with incredible shock resistance to protect the quartz module. It’s a classic and still available for purchase in several forms in 2018. Recently, Casio released an all-metal version of the watch that features the iconic design but with modern […]
Casio released the first G-Shock watch in 1983. The original set the bar for tough watches with incredible shock resistance to protect the quartz module. It’s a classic and still available for purchase in several forms in 2018.
Recently, Casio released an all-metal version of the watch that features the iconic design but with modern technology like Bluetooth connectivity. This isn’t a smartwatch, but simply a watch that’s a bit smarter than most.
The Bluetooth function is simple and worth a look. It gives owners an easy way to access settings. Instead of navigating through the menus on the watch, owners can use a smartphone app to sync the watch to the phone’s time, adjust settings and set alarms and reminders. It takes just one button press on the watch and for the owner to launch the app. The watch does not have to be connected through the phone’s Bluetooth menu; the app takes care of it all.
I found the experience a refreshing update. I don’t need a smartwatch all the time but there are advantages to connecting a watch to a phone. If this is a glimpse at the future of timekeeping, I’m all in. I enjoy a complicated complication as much as the next guy, but sometimes it’s overwhelming to set the primary timezone let alone the alarm. I don’t mind when an app can do it for me.
Bluetooth headsets make it easy to make and receive phone calls, especially if you’re in an environment where your hands are often busy. But there are so many choices available that it can be difficult to know which devices are best. If you do some research, you’ll quickly discover that the price, feature list, and build quality varies wildly between different manufacturers. We’re here to help you decide. The Death of Single-Ear Headsets? When you think of a Bluetooth headset, you probably picture one of those large rectangular devices hanging out of a person’s ear. Banish those thoughts from your…
Bluetooth headsets make it easy to make and receive phone calls, especially if you’re in an environment where your hands are often busy.
But there are so many choices available that it can be difficult to know which devices are best. If you do some research, you’ll quickly discover that the price, feature list, and build quality varies wildly between different manufacturers. We’re here to help you decide.
The Death of Single-Ear Headsets?
When you think of a Bluetooth headset, you probably picture one of those large rectangular devices hanging out of a person’s ear.
Modern Bluetooth headsets almost all use a dual-ear approach. They offer stereo sound, built-in microphones, and call control buttons. They also weigh considerably less than their predecessors, making them much more comfortable to wear.
So here are the five best Bluetooth headsets for iPhone.
Beats was founded back in 2008 by rap superstar Dr. Dre. For a while, the brand’s headphones were accused of being more of a fashion accessory than a serious audio device.
However, Apple made Beats the largest purchase in its history in 2014 when it bought the company for $3.2 billion. From there, the quality started to improve. Because the brand falls under Apple’s ownership, it’s no surprise that Beats gear integrates seamlessly with Apple’s hardware.
The BeatsX include Apple’s W1 chip. As long as you have an iCloud account, the chip allows you to jump between Apple devices easily. Additionally, BeatsX has RemoteTalk. It’s a Siri-compatible way of taking calls and interacting with your iPhone.
You’ll also benefit from quick charging. Just five minutes of charging will give you two hours of constant usage. It’s an essential feature if you spend a significant portion of your day chatting in hands-free mode.
BeatsX headphones are available in black and silver.
Although the number is dwindling, there are still some single-ear headsets worth considering. The best of the bunch is arguably the Plantronics Voyager 5200.
Its key features include a dynamic mute alert (which lets you know if you’re accidentally talking while your headset is on mute), an IPX4 splash-proof rating, and a series of smart sensors.
The sensors can detect whether your wearing your device and route a call’s audio accordingly, plus monitor wind direction and background noise to improve noise cancellation and voice clarity.
iPhone users will appreciate the device’s Siri integration. A two-in-one button on the protruding microphone lets you chat with Apple’s smart assistant. You can also use the button to mute your voice while you’re chatting with someone.
Instead of BeatX’s flexible neck strap approach, the LBell neck strap is weightier and more robust. It’s not going to fall out of place during rigorous exercise.
Despite the LBell’s reasonable price tag, the manufacturer has packed in an impressive number of features. The device includes 6G CVC active noise reduction technology, vibration for incoming calls and other alerts, and an IPX4 waterproof rating.
Most impressively, the headset has a battery that lasts for more than 30 hours of talk time and 600 hours of standby.
The JBL Reflect Mini BT headset is in the mold of the BeatsX. It’s a stylish and lightweight device that boasts high-end audio combined with hands-free calling.
The headset has 5.8mm dynamic drivers and a frequency of 10Hz-22kHz. There’s an inline call management tool on the left earbud’s cable.
Interestingly, the JBL Reflect Mini BT competes with the LBell Bluetooth Headset for joggers’ and cyclists’ attention. It has a reflective strip on the back of the neck strap to alert other people to your presence when you’re out on the roads at night.
You can expect about eight hours of music playback or 13 hours of talk time off a single charge. However, some users have questioned the lack of sleep mode. The headset won’t automatically go into standby after a period of prolonged inactivity, hurting battery life.
The JBL Reflect Mini BT is available in black, blue, pink, and teal.
The second single-ear Bluetooth headset to make the list is the Jabra Steel. It’s one of the most durable and rugged devices on the market.
It’s specifically aimed at tradesmen or people who work in places where wear-and-tear is naturally high. However, it’s also an excellent option for hikers, campers, and other people who need to take calls in remote locations.
Aside from dust and water resistance and drop protection, the Steel’s creators have thought of other rugged-friendly features. For example, it has large power, voice call, and voice command buttons, meaning you won’t need to take your gloves off to use them.
The voice command buttons will give you a direct link to Siri, allowing you to perform many tasks hands-free.
On the downside, the Jabra Steel does not have volume control buttons; you need to change it on your actual device. For people who are working around loud machinery, it’s not ideal (of course, you could always buy a rugged phone to pair it with).
Away from its rugged features, the Jabra headset also boasts impressive noise cancellation. Presumably, it’s developers’ way of trying to ensure you never need those missing volume buttons.
Headset or Headphones for the iPhone?
As you’ll have probably noticed, the arrival of Bluetooth earphones has meant that the distinction between hands-free call devices and music-focused headphones is becoming increasingly blurred.
While the traditional one-ear earpieces remain firmly in the hands-free camp, many of the leading audio companies are now trying to straggle the divide. What is clear though, is that no matter your usage case, you’ll be able to find a Bluetooth headset for your iPhone that meets your needs.
On September 29, 2018, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology certified several unreleased Apple devices, with model numbers likely indicating new iPad Pro models and a next-generation Apple Pencil.
A Chinese filing leaked today by MySmartPrice has corroborated next-generation iPad Pro information published earlier this week. It includes model numbers pertaining to the upcoming iPads, including new identifiers hinting at further iPad Pro and Apple Pencil updates.... Read the rest of this post here
Marshall speakers stand out. That’s why I dig them. From the company’s headphones to its speakers, the audio is warm and full just like the classic design suggests. The company today is announcing revisions across its lines. The new versions of the Action ($249), Stanmore ($349) and Woburn Bluetooth ($499) speakers now feature Bluetooth 5.0, […]
Marshall speakers stand out. That’s why I dig them. From the company’s headphones to its speakers, the audio is warm and full just like the classic design suggests.
The company today is announcing revisions across its lines. The new versions of the Action ($249), Stanmore ($349) and Woburn Bluetooth ($499) speakers now feature Bluetooth 5.0, an upgraded digital signal processor and a slightly re-worked look.
Marshall also announced a new version of the Minor wireless in-ear headphones. The wireless headphones were among the company’s first products and the updated version now features Bluetooth 5.0 aptX connectivity, new 14.2 mm drivers and 12 hours of battery life. Marshall also says the redesigned model will stay in place better than the original model.
It’s important to note that the company behind these Marshall speakers and headphones is different from the company that makes the iconic guitar amp though there is collaboration. The Marshall brand is used by Zound Industries, which also operates Ubanears.
The models produced by Zound Industries stay true to the Marshall brand. I’ve used several of the products since the company launched and I’m pleased to report that this new generation packs the magic of previous models.
The company sent me the new Woburn II speaker (pictured above) and it’s a lovely speaker. This is the largest speaker in the company’s line. It’s imposing and, in Reddit-speak, an absolute unit. It’s over a foot tall and weighs just under 20 lbs.
The speaker easily fills a room. The sound is warm and inviting.
The Woburn II features a ported design which helps create the rich sound. Bass is deep though doesn’t pound. Mid-tones are lovely and the highs are perfectly balanced. If they’re not, there are nobs mounted on the top to adjust the tones.
I find the Woburn a great speaker at any volume. Turn it down and the sound still feels as complex as it does at normal listen volumes. Crank the speaker to 10, drop the treble a bit, and the speaker will shake walls.
Don’t be scared by the imposing size. The Woburn II can party, but it is seemingly just as happy to spend the evening in, playing some Iron and Wine.
Sadly, the Woburn II lacks some of the magic of the original Woburn. The new version does not have an optical input and the power switch is a soft switch. It’s just for looks. The first Woburn had a two position switch. Click one way to turn on and click the other to turn off. It was an analog experience. This time around the speakers retain the switch, but the switch is different. It’s artificial and might as well be a power button. When pressed forward, the switch turns on the speaker and then snaps back to its original position. The clicking it gone. I know that seems like a silly thing to complain about but that switch was part of the Marshall experience. It felt authentic and now it feels artificial.
Like past models, the speaker is covered in a vinyl-like material and the front of the speaker is covered in fabric. Don’t touch this fabric. It stains. The review sample sent to me came with stains already on the fabric.
The Woburn II is a fantastic speaker with a timeless look. At $499 it’s pricy but produces sound above its price-point rivals. I expect the same performance out of updated Action II and Stanmore II speakers. These speakers are worthy of the Marshall name.
Microsoft yesterday refreshed its Surface family of hybrid notebooks, tablets and all-in-ones while announcing the company’s first AirPods rival. Here’s everything you need to know about the new Surface products and accessories.
Microsoft at yesterday’s media event in New York shared exciting news concerning their updated Surface notebooks and hybrid devices, including an unexpected product announcement— a wireless headphone with AirPods-like smarts and some notable features.... Read the rest of this post here
Here ends your quest for the best pair of wireless sports headphones for the gym or workouts. In this list of earphones, headphones, true wireless earbuds, and cheap headsets, you’ll find the right set for you. How to Buy Bluetooth Sports Headphones Most sports, exercise, or running headphones are designed as earphones, not big headphones. That said, headphones are good for gym sessions, especially if you work with weights or do cardio on machines. There are two important aspects to look for in sports headphones: Fit: You don’t want earphones that fall out of your ears while on a run,…
Here ends your quest for the best pair of wireless sports headphones for the gym or workouts. In this list of earphones, headphones, true wireless earbuds, and cheap headsets, you’ll find the right set for you.
How to Buy Bluetooth Sports Headphones
Most sports, exercise, or running headphones are designed as earphones, not big headphones. That said, headphones are good for gym sessions, especially if you work with weights or do cardio on machines.
There are two important aspects to look for in sports headphones:
Fit: You don’t want earphones that fall out of your ears while on a run, or headphones whose strap doesn’t fit securely on your head. Getting the right fit is important. While it usually won’t be a problem with the recommendations in this list, if you’ve had trouble in the past with getting earphones or headphones to fit snugly, please try them out before buying.
Waterproof: If your exercise involves outdoor activities, it’s best to get water-resistant earphones. No earphones are fully waterproof, so the best you’ll get is water-resistant instead of waterproof.
Look for the IPX rating, which has a number at the end such as IPX6. The higher the last number, the more water-resistant it is. Anything with an IPX4 rating is good enough for most people. But if you particularly want earphones you can wear while running or cycling in the rain, go for those with a rating of IPX6 or higher.
A Quick Note About Terms
In the roundup below, you’ll find the words “headphones,” “earphones,” and “earbuds” used interchangeably. Technically, they are different.
Headphones wrap around your head and cover the ears, earphones go into your ear canal (like the new Apple Earpods), and earbuds sit in your ear (like the old Apple Earbuds). But these days, manufacturers and consumers don’t differentiate between them, so we won’t either.
Notable Feature: Magnetic backs of earpieces to fasten together
The Aukey Latitude EP-B40 doesn’t claim to be a pair of sports earbuds, and rightly so. It has basic water-resistance with an IPX4 rating. But it fits snugly in your ear with its wingtip design, and the sound quality is good enough.
The battery life is sufficient for a full workout as well. If you want to spend as little money as possible while still getting a decent pair of Bluetooth earbuds for running or the gym, this is what you should buy.
It’s not the best audio quality you’ll ever hear, but at this price, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the experience. There’s a reason this made it to the top of our list of cheap Bluetooth and wireless earbuds.
Anker also has a sports variant called the Anker Soundcore Spirit Sports without the neckband, but this sacrifices audio quality and battery life. Don’t buy it.
Notable Feature: Long battery life in small profile
These hit the sweet spot for most people looking for Bluetooth earbuds. Right now, the Optoma NuForce BE Sport4 is the best you can get at this price, with its strong Bluetooth connectivity and long battery life despite the slim size.
These earphones are rated as one of the best fits by multiple reviewers, and they come with plenty of buds and wing sizes. Be warned that buyers have reported problems that their voices weren’t clearly audible to others while making phone calls. But that’s the only real complaint about a pair of budget earphones that sound great and offer 10 hours of playback on a single charge.
Notable Feature: Fantastic sound, great Bluetooth connectivity, clear audio calls
The Bose SoundSport Wireless are a bit old at this point, but they’re still fantastic. They have a particularly strong Bluetooth connection, which is great if you use them in places with interference like crowded gyms. The sound profile is perfect for exercise, as you get a thumping bass while still maintaining balance for mids and highs.
The battery life is a little low for earphones that cost so much, but that’s the trade-off if you want earbuds that are small, compact, and lightweight without a neckband. Given the overall size and comfort of the Bose SoundSport Wireless, five hours of continuous music playback is astounding.
Battery Life: 4.5 hours on single charge (13 hours with charging case)
Notable Feature: One-touch voice commands for Alexa, Google Now, and Siri
There are three different variants of the Jabra Elite (65t Regular, 65t Active, and Sport), and one of these usually makes it to the list of every reviewers’ sports headphones recommendations. We’ve gone with the Jabra Elite Sport.
This is mainly for the Sport’s extra water-resistance and dust-resistance rating of IP67, compared to the 65t Active (IP56) and 65t Regular (IP55). The Sport also has a three-year warranty, while the Active and Regular come with a two-year warranty. Finally, the Sport allows for a little more ambient noise than the Active and Regular, which might be useful when you’re running or cycling outdoors.
I also like that Jabra lets you buy a single earpiece for the Elite Sport and Elite 65t Active in case you lose it, instead of buying the whole set again.
But apart from that, there isn’t a big difference between these three models. If you like the Jabra Elite 65t Active or regular version more and think you don’t need the Sport’s extra features, feel free to buy any of the three models.
Notable Feature: Bone conduction earphones don’t block noise, allow ambient sounds for outdoor activities
If you go for a run or bike outdoors, you need to be aware of sounds in your surroundings. The Aftershokz Trekz Air solves this by using bone conduction technology, which transmits sounds through vibrations on your skull. This means the earphones don’t actually go into your ear canal and block noise.
Bone conduction headphones are nothing new, and are even used in how hearing aids work. In the past, such headphones have been routinely panned for being gimmicky without offering quality. However, the Aftershokz Trekz Air has earned praise from everyone who tried them. So if you’re into outdoors exercise, these could be the safest headphones you buy.
Notable Feature: Longest battery life, and sweat-resistant
Headphones aren’t usually great for workouts, but if you must have them instead of earphones, consider the Plantronics Backbeat Fit 500. This model has a nano-coating for water-resistance, which is fine for sweat but not much else. Don’t wear the headphones outdoors.
The Backbeat Fit 500 has a tendency to slide off your head, which is annoying for workouts. As mentioned when I listed them among the best Bluetooth headphones you can buy, I’d suggest putting them on a little tighter than you usually wear headphones, and making sure the band is right on the top of your head.
Get a Fitness Tracker Too
Depending on your needs and budget, this list should give you a good pair of wireless sports and exercise headphones with this list. You can also get earphones that offer extras like heart rate monitoring, but if I was you, I’d leave that task to a dedicated fitness tracker.
You can choose from a wide variety of fitness bands, as well as smartwatches with fitness tracking features. If you’re new to the market, go with the band or watch that best fulfills your needs among the two leaders, Fitbit and Garmin.
Whether for music, movies, or gaming, audio quality is key. Built-in speakers are notoriously lackluster, especially in phones, tablets, and laptops. The solution: use an external speaker. And for lush audio without wires, opt for a Bluetooth speaker. Because Bluetooth speakers offer wireless features, they’re more convenient than plugging in a 3.5mm cable, especially with headphone jacks becoming less prominent. Plus, portable Bluetooth speakers allow you to carry your device around the house. The Best Portable Speakers in 2018 When you’re searching for the best portable Bluetooth speakers, options range from tiny, inexpensive devices to massive, jaw-dropping pricey models. Which…
Whether for music, movies, or gaming, audio quality is key. Built-in speakers are notoriously lackluster, especially in phones, tablets, and laptops. The solution: use an external speaker. And for lush audio without wires, opt for a Bluetooth speaker.
Because Bluetooth speakers offer wireless features, they’re more convenient than plugging in a 3.5mm cable, especially with headphone jacks becoming less prominent. Plus, portable Bluetooth speakers allow you to carry your device around the house.
The Best Portable Speakers in 2018
When you’re searching for the best portable Bluetooth speakers, options range from tiny, inexpensive devices to massive, jaw-dropping pricey models. Which device is best depends on your needs and budget.
The OontZ Angle 3 Ultra from Cambridge Soundworks remains one of the best cheap Bluetooth speakers. It’s surprisingly loud for the size and features 14 watts for rich audio. With a 100-foot range, you don’t have to worry about losing a connection. There’s a 3.5mm jack for a wired connection, plus on-device controls and IPX6 water resistance. Unfortunately, it isn’t completely waterproof, though.
This device benefits from improved sound quality over the Angle 3 and Angle 3 Plus. You’ll get about 20 hours of use from one charge. Generally, sound quality is solid with deep bass and punchy mids. There’s some distortion at higher volumes, but for a speaker this size that’s expected.
Overall, the OontZ Angle 3 is easily the best portable Bluetooth speaker for the price.
While the JBL Clip 3 might not technically clock in as the smallest Bluetooth speaker available, it balances size and performance. For comparison, I snagged an uber cheap keychain-sized Bluetooth speaker, and while it works, it’s barely louder than the built-in speakers on my phone and tablet. The ultra-compact JBL Clip features an onboard carabiner, hence the clip from its name.
Delivering 10 hours of battery life, complete IPX7 waterproofing, and an audio profile far larger than its size, the JBL Clip 3 is the best truly portable Bluetooth speaker you can buy. This updated version is slightly heavier than its predecessors Clip and Clip 2, although sound quality is remarkably improved.
You may also consider the UE Wonderboom which features a prominent loophole but no carabiner. The Wonderboom is a bit larger than the JBL Clip, but is still light and easy to carry.
Tech company Anker dabbles in several areas, and its Soundcore Flare speaker provides good audio at a reasonable price. Punchy mids, lush lows, and clean highs coupled with waterproofing and LED lighting make the Soundcore Flare a top-notch Bluetooth speaker. With adjustable bass, it’s a well-specced device.
While EQ modes do exist here, differences aren’t really apparent. However, with a rich audio profile, IPX7 waterproofing, and a 3.5mm aux input, the Anker Soundcore offers arguably the best overall value of any portable Bluetooth speaker.
The Best Overall Portable Bluetooth Speaker UE Boom 3
Ultimate Ears, or UE, is a renowned name in the audio community. The UE Boom 3 comes in a recognizable cylindrical form factor. Because of its feature set combined with phenomenal audio, the UE Boom rapidly rose to prominence and its third-generation model only improves further.
Its fabric provides delightful durability, and there’s full waterproofing. The jumbo volume controls remain, plus a so-called Magic Button for control of music playback and linking to playlists from Deezer and Apple Music.
Since it floats, can link with multiple speakers, and allows for bass and treble adjustments, the UE Boom 3 is an incredible speaker. For an even more powerful option, check out the larger Megaboom. Or if you need Wi-Fi connectivity, try the UE Blast and Megablast which feature Alexa onboard.
Unfortunately, the UE Boom 3 isn’t cheap, although it definitely delivers. If you’re willing to pay a slight premium, it’s evident in the specs and sound quality.
There’s a reason audiophiles flock to Bose for everything from noise-canceling headphones to speakers: quality. The Bose SoundLink Revolve is the quintessential portable speaker with its condensed size, integrated microphone, 360-degree omnidirectional sound, and distortion-free bass. Not only is the SoundLink Revolve exquisite to the ears, it’s shock and water-resistant.
The slightly larger SoundLink Revolve Plus does provide louder sound, though you’ll easily fill even a moderate to large room. Using the Bose Connect app, you can pair speakers and use two at once, even selecting different speakers as left and right channels.
While Bose, JBL, and UE tend to dominate the Bluetooth speaker space, Sony makes some of the best portable Bluetooth speakers. Its hulking GTKXB90 boasts three tweeters, two subwoofers, Bluetooth and NFC, plus a 16-hour battery life. You can daisy-chain speakers for a wireless party.
Unfortunately, at 13.2 x 26.4 x 13.2 inches and 30 pounds, the GTK-XB90 is a behemoth. Sure, there’s a battery, but this calls into question the definition of portable. You can tote it around, though you may prefer a less bulky and cheaper option. The Sony GTK-XB90 is thus a monolithic speaker with a price to match.
Not only is the Marshall Kilburn an excellent-sounding portable speaker, it’s possibly the best-looking device as well. With retro looks, loud audio, deep window-quaking bass, and controllable treble plus bass, the Marshall Kilburn is an awesome choice for audiophiles.
With an amp aesthetic, the Marshall Kilburn is as pretty to the eyes as it is to your ears. However, as portability goes it’s a bit cumbersome. While the Kilburn is no Sony GTK-XB90, it’s considerably heavier than the average cylindrical portable Bluetooth speaker. Additionally, you won’t find a built-in mic or playback controls, which should come standard on any premium Bluetooth speaker.
But retro sentiments and a gorgeous audio profile make the Marshall Kilburn a solid bet.
The Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers for All Uses
Ultimately, what Bluetooth speaker you prefer depends on several factors. From entry-level contenders to rugged speakers and high-end portable speakers, there’s an option for everyone.
Largely, consider your requirements. If you value a rugged, go-anywhere speaker for hiking and outdoor use, snag a speaker that’s water-resistant or waterproof. For audiophile quality, check out premium speakers from trusted brands. Names like Bose, JBL, UE, and Sony tend to provide top audio quality.
However, inexpensive offerings from brands such as Cambridge Soundworks provide alternatives to pricey portable Bluetooth speakers. For private listening, check out the best wireless earbuds you can buy!
If you’re in the market for a new set of earphones, it’s time to cut the cord. You can get good quality Bluetooth earphones and earbuds for anywhere between $20 and $50, in various styles like regular earphones, sports wear, neckbands, or even true wireless earbuds. As a general rule, wired earphones will offer better audio quality at the same price as a pair of Bluetooth earphones. But they come with their own issues, like how the cable keeps breaking. Plus, with smartphone makers slowly abandoning the 3.5mm headphone jack, you are better off buying wireless Bluetooth earphones. A Quick…
If you’re in the market for a new set of earphones, it’s time to cut the cord. You can get good quality Bluetooth earphones and earbuds for anywhere between $20 and $50, in various styles like regular earphones, sports wear, neckbands, or even true wireless earbuds.
As a general rule, wired earphones will offer better audio quality at the same price as a pair of Bluetooth earphones. But they come with their own issues, like how the cable keeps breaking. Plus, with smartphone makers slowly abandoning the 3.5mm headphone jack, you are better off buying wireless Bluetooth earphones.
A Quick Note When Buying Bluetooth Earphones
In this article, you will find the two words “earphones” and “earbuds” used interchangeably. Technically, they are different: earphones go into your ear canal (like the new Apple Earpods), while earbuds sit in your ear (like the old Apple Earbuds). But these days, manufacturers and consumers don’t differentiate between them, so we won’t either.
Broadly, there are four categories of Bluetooth earphones:
For the best overall pick, the category isn’t as important as the balance of audio quality, battery life, build quality, and value for money. The Anker Soundcore Spirit X surpasses expectations (and some big-brand competitors) to provide the best Bluetooth earbuds under $50.
Anker is more renowned for its cables, chargers, power banks, and other such accessories. But over the past couple of years, it has upped its game in the headphone market, especially with wireless earphones like the Soundcore Curve.
The Soundcore Spirit X delivers a rich and balanced sound with its 10mm drivers. The bass isn’t artificially boosted like many other earphones in this category, which is a pleasant surprise. But of course, these are still cheap Bluetooth earphones, so don’t expect great audio quality.
You will get about 10 hours of battery life on a single charge, so you won’t run out while you’re running out. Oh yeah, the Spirit X is also sweatproof and IPX7 water-resistant.
Anker has also equipped these earbuds with the new Bluetooth 5 standard, making them future-proof for the next range of smartphones and other smart devices.
The only thing missing in this well-rounded package is support for AptX, the hi-fidelity Bluetooth codec. If I was you, I wouldn’t worry about that. AptX is useful only with headphones that can produce much better audio quality than anything you will find in $50 earbuds.
Anker also has a non-neckband variat, the Anker Soundcore Spirit Sports. But this comes with smaller 6mm drivers, and a lower 6 hours of battery life. They’re not as good as the Spirit X for the same price, and we believe there are better options for budget in-ear Bluetooth earbuds.
If you don’t like the hook style of the Soundcore Spirit X, or you prefer a better brand, then look no further than the JBL E25BT. These are ideal for those who want a standard pair of in-ear wireless earbuds that last a long time, deliver good audio reproduction, and look good doing it.
Everything about the JBL E25BT is “normal” and “standard” in the look, feel, and style, right down to the different sizes of silicon tips you get with it. If you’ve used any earphones before this, you’ll know what the E25BT will be like. But it’s refined in the right ways.
Even though the sound quality is excellent, the housing unit is small and well-designed. The cord is not too long, but not too short either, so you can wrap it around your neck or dangle it in front. There’s also a little removable clip to attach the earphones to your shirt. And there’s a carry pouch so it doesn’t get tangled up. It’s the little things, but it makes all the difference.
But the true exception is the sound quality. While the bass definitely has an artificial boost, I haven’t heard bass feel this punchy on cheap Bluetooth earphones in a long time, especially with such small housing units. The rest of the sound profile is as balanced as it can be when you’re boosting the bass. The highs are sharp, but I wouldn’t call them clear. In fact, if audio quality matters more than Bluetooth 5 or battery life, buy the JBL E25BT over the Anker Soundcore Spirit X.
The battery life of 8 hours is good enough for most users, but this is where you need a bit of a warning. Customers who have used the JBL E25BT for a year or more have noticed that the battery life has degraded to about 4-5 hours. Keep that in mind, it’s something you should know before buying wireless headphones.
It seemed like Skullcandy was going to win this round easily with the Skullcandy Ink’d, which is much-loved by several reviewers. But then there was a price cut on the Sony MDRXB70BT, which is a damn fine set for wireless earbuds under $50.
The Sony MDRXB70BT is all about the bass. If you like a thumping, extra thumping, or even a tubathumping bass, this is the neckband earphones set for you. Sony has amped up the bass, considering that’s that the biggest demand (and usual complaint) from customers.
I’m also a fan of silicon neckbands as opposed to rigid ones, since it’s easier to fold and carry silicon bands in your pocket. But you should know that this neckband is a bit longer than average ones. The left one also houses the volume and playback controls at its tip, which is not very comfortable.
But when you consider the sound quality, the 10 hours of battery life, and the silicon folding design, you can’t really complain when you get these cheap wireless earbuds for less than $50.
It is truly difficult to recommend true wireless earbuds under $50 because in the quest for mobility, you will lose out on battery life and sound quality. Still, if you are looking for such a budget buy, then go with the Enacfire E18.
It’s “the best of the worst” in many ways. The battery life is only three hours (although you can recharge them once popped into the carry case). The fit is better than others at this price, but not as good as what you’ll get from several $100 cheap wireless earbuds.
As for the sound quality? Well, let’s just say don’t expect much from the bass. These are earphones you use for casual music listening, or listening to podcasts, movies, and audiobooks. Voices and highs will sound all right, but don’t expect to truly enjoy your music.
The good news is that Enacfire E18 is rated highly on Amazon. And yes, I checked for fake reviews. It is also frequently available in flash sales and discounts, for as low as $30.
It’s rare to find several different reviewers agreeing about any set of earphones, but the Aukey Latitude has won over everyone with what it offers for such a low price. This set is good for sports and exercise, for regular listening, or just as a backup pair of cheap Bluetooth earbuds. Buy this, you won’t be disappointed.
For its price, the Latitude gives you 8 hours of battery life, as well as a 15-minute quick charge feature for an extra hour. It is sweat-proof and mildly water-resistant (IPX4). If you want a pair of cheap sports or exercise headphones, this is the pair to get.
Aukey has included one of the things I love in earphones: magnets. Putting magnets at the tips of the earbuds lets you attach them together around your neck, or before you put them in your pocket so they don’t tangle up with each other.
The in-ear hook isn’t everyone’s favorite design, but Aukey makes it removable, which is a nice touch. The earphones won’t sit for long without them though, especially on a run, so it’s advisable to use the hooks.
For such a low price, the JLab Jbuds Pro are the only regular-style earbuds from a good brand that you should consider. JLab claims 6 hours of battery life, but it’s a bit hard to believe. It’s more likely to be around the 3-4 hours in regular usage.
An Amazon darling, these sweatproof earphones are widely recommended by customers who have bought them. Considering the price, the Mpow Flame is worth the risk if you’re looking for the cheapest sports earphones you can buy.
The Jabra Halo Free is an excellent set of earphones for this price, and I don’t expect it to last at this price for long considering it’s almost 50% off its original selling price. But if you see it for less than $40, it’s an excellent deal, especially with the one-touch Google Now and Siri button.
Skullcandy Ink’d is one of the most-liked headsets out there, and a good competitor for the Sony MDRXB70BT. There is hardly any difference between the two, but the Sony headset sounds slightly better. If you can get the Skullcandy Ink’d for $10 less than the Sony, go for it, that’s a good deal.
Good Earphones Will Definitely Cost More
With one of these choices, you should be able to get an excellent pair of wireless or Bluetooth earphones that satisfies most of your needs. But chances are, they won’t satisfy everything you want. When you buy budget earphones, there’s always a sacrifice in sound quality, build quality, or battery life.
If you care about the listening experience and want a long-term set of earphones, you’ll need to spend more than $50. Where should you look? MakeUseOf has you covered with the best wireless earbuds for all budgets.
Headphones enhance a variety of activities. From music listening to hands-free calling, gaming, and even movie watching, a robust pair of headphones is a must for anyone. However, noise-canceling headphones elevate audio consumption. Through filtering outside sounds, these isolate the audio pumping through the cans. Need to reduce noise pollution? These are the best noise-canceling headphones available for audiophiles. Why Buy Noise-Canceling Headphones? Noise-canceling headphones offer plenty of benefits over standard headphones. Namely, noise-canceling headphones fight noise pollution. That snoring guy in the window seat next to you? Not a problem. Your obnoxiously loud roommate? Nope, you won’t hear them…
Headphones enhance a variety of activities. From music listening to hands-free calling, gaming, and even movie watching, a robust pair of headphones is a must for anyone. However, noise-canceling headphones elevate audio consumption. Through filtering outside sounds, these isolate the audio pumping through the cans.
Need to reduce noise pollution? These are the best noise-canceling headphones available for audiophiles.
Why Buy Noise-Canceling Headphones?
Noise-canceling headphones offer plenty of benefits over standard headphones. Namely, noise-canceling headphones fight noise pollution.
That snoring guy in the window seat next to you? Not a problem. Your obnoxiously loud roommate? Nope, you won’t hear them either. But there’s a bit of a catch.
Although these headphones isolate the audio playing through your headset, blocking outside sound remains the first priority. Sound quality comes after this. Audiophiles will want to find headphones that satisfy both criteria. (Noise cancelation is different from noise isolation!)
Looking for the best in noise cancellation and optimal sound quality? Check out these top picks.
The Paww WaveSound 3 is an excellent pair of cans that offers superb noise pollution reduction that won’t break the bank. It’s a pair of Bluetooth headphones that comes complete with an airplane adapter, charging cable, and carrying case. You’ll notice exquisite noise cancellation, with reduction for as high as 23 dB of ambient noise.
Additionally, the Paww WaveSound 3 headphones include a microphone for calling. While this headset currently sits at 4.3 out of 5 stars on over 1,100 customer ratings, its active noise cancellation comes up short when compared to offerings from premium headphones. Still, its sound quality rivals that of much higher-end headphones.
With wired and wireless connectivity, superb noise reduction, and top-notch build quality, the Paww WaveSound 3 ranks among the best noise-canceling headphones available on a budget.
Its over-ear form factor folds up well for travel, and Audio-Technica engineers its headphones to function in passive mode if the noise cancellation feature is switched off or the batteries die.
At the price point, it should come as no surprise that noise cancellation isn’t top-tier. Expect a bit of sound bleeding. Furthermore, the ATH-ANC7B don’t sound as polished as other headphones for the money. Altogether though, the ATH-ANC7B balances sound quality and noise reduction well.
When it comes to high-end audio, Bose consistently ranks among the upper echelon. Not surprisingly, this holds true for audiophile-quality noise-canceling headphones. The Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II, successor to the Bose QuietComfort 35, sounds fantastic and features strong noise reduction. However, they certainly aren’t cheap. Sound quality is delightful, though lower-end cans like the Paww WaveSound rival them.
These headphones offer a crisp and clear audio profile, as well as stunning noise cancellation. Moreover, Bose packs fantastic battery life and simple pairing, which is a nice convenience.
Unfortunately, these workhorse headphones come in an extremely boring veneer. And because the active EQ jacks up bass frequencies a bit when you lower the volume, you might notice bass-heavy audio at lower volumes.
But in functionality, it completely dominates. Despite minor quibbles, the QuietComfort 35 Series II stands as one of the best pairs of noise-canceling headphones on the market.
For those seeking premium audio quality and noise cancellation that bests Bose, check out the Sony WH-1000XM2. Its noise cancellation is arguably the best you’ll find, while its audio paints a lush soundscape. Additionally, you’ll find a substantial 30-hour battery life.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 boasts gorgeous sound and incredible comfort. Unfortunately, the battery is not user-replaceable. Aside from that, the touch controls are a bit cumbersome and the build quality, particularly around the hinges, is a little weak. But these noise-canceling headphones deliver where it counts: audio quality and noise reduction.
Because of their performance in these areas, the Sony WH-1000XM2 totally justifies its high price tag.
Sennheiser is a renowned name among headphones aficionados, and its HD-1 headphones are a top pick. These noise-canceling headphones are an all-around solid offering with impeccable noise cancellation, mind-blowing sound, and Bluetooth.
Disappointingly, noise canceling features don’t match what you’ll find on Bose headsets. Yet looks, comfort, and Bluetooth support in addition to its strong noise cancellation makes the Sennheiser HD-1 a major contender. Sure, these HD-1 headphones don’t come cheap. But if you’ve got the budget, Sennheiser’s HD-1 cans are one of the best noise canceling headphones for audiophiles.
With strong battery life, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 touts impressive lasting power. With included accessories such as a carrying pouch, the BackBeat Pro 2 is a fantastic option. Aside from lush performance with music, these Plantronics noise-canceling headphones work well for making calls.
While it’s a comfortable pair of headphones, the BackBeat Pro 2 is a bit heavy. Moreover, noise-cancellation doesn’t match that of Bose cans. Nevertheless, its price to performance ratio makes the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 a worthy contender in the noise-canceling headphone space.
Whereas many sets of noise-canceling headphones come in an over-the-ear or on-ear form factor, the Bose QuietControl 30 is different. Instead of a bulky set of headphones, the QuietControl 30 come in a neckband-style pair of earbuds. It’s sweat-resistant, making these noise-canceling earbuds the ideal workout companion.
Still, quality fails to surpass the likes of the QuietComfort 35 or QuietComfort 20. Additionally, there’s no wired connectivity option, so you’re relegated to a Bluetooth connection. But with many phone manufacturers abandoning headphone jacks, this may be a non-issue anyway.
The earbuds stay in your ears fairly well. Ultimately, the Bose QuietControl 30 features a snug, comfortable fit and noise cancellation in a small package.
Great for workouts
Good for calling
No wired connection option
Noise cancellation not as robust as on or over-the-ear headphones
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC provide a luxurious, audiophile-quality experience which compete with Bose headphones at an affordable price. They’re wireless with solid battery life and conveniently fold for portability.
There’s an included carrying case as well. Build materials deliver comfort, though plastic and synthetic leather components pale in comparison to high-end models from Bose and Sony. But with quality on par with the QuietComfort 35 Series II at a lower price point, the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC is a terrific buy.
Convenient folding design
Included carrying case
Wired and wireless connectivity
Excellent price-to-performance ratio
Which Noise-Canceling Headphones Will You Choose?
Noise-canceling headphones are an excellent investment. By blocking out ambient noise from around you, you can focus on the audio pumping through the headphones. Almost any noise-canceling headphones will filter out sound. However, for audiophile-caliber noise-canceling headphones, these are the best cans on the market.
Bose is a safe bet for ultimate function and uncompromising quality. You may consider the QuietComfort 25, a medium budget pair of noise-canceling headphones. Though the QuietComfort 25 doesn’t offer a wireless option, it’s far less expensive than its older sibling, the QuietComfort 35. Similarly, Sennheiser is a trustworthy name.
For those that demand a wireless in-ear style pair, Bose’s QuietControl 30 handily trounces the competition. However, its performance doesn’t rival over-ear cups. The HD 4.50 BTNC is an excellent set of noise-canceling headphones with excellent build quality.
If you’re on a tight budget, the Naztech i9BT (our review) delivers decent audio and wireless functionality. But if you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can snag even better-sounding noise-canceling headphones.
Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone in 2016. Companies like Google, Motorola, and HTC followed soon after. Suddenly, once-niche wireless headphones were thrust into the mainstream. Buying Bluetooth headphones can be confusing, though. From sound quality to getting them set up, each model works differently. There’s a lot to understand, so let’s get started. 1. Types of Wireless in Headphones When you think of wireless headphones now, you likely think of Bluetooth headphones. If your phone doesn’t have a headphone jack, then Bluetooth is your best option for listening to music. Your other choice is to use a…
Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone in 2016. Companies like Google, Motorola, and HTC followed soon after. Suddenly, once-niche wireless headphones were thrust into the mainstream.
Buying Bluetooth headphones can be confusing, though. From sound quality to getting them set up, each model works differently. There’s a lot to understand, so let’s get started.
1. Types of Wireless in Headphones
When you think of wireless headphones now, you likely think of Bluetooth headphones. If your phone doesn’t have a headphone jack, then Bluetooth is your best option for listening to music.
Your other choice is to use a USB-C headphone dongle. That’s a messier solution, and gets worse if you need to charge your phone at the same time.
Bluetooth is convenient because it’s supported in all mobile devices, as well as a growing number of other electronics. It has a range of about 32 feet, and is pretty energy-efficient.
It’s also improving rapidly thanks to the move to kill off headphone jacks.
There are a couple of other, older wireless headphone technologies still in use. Both are mostly used for TV, and both need a separate transmitter. Infrared is quite rare now, and requires a line of sight connection between the headphones and transmitter.
Radio frequency, as seen in products like the Sennheiser RS120, is more powerful.
It can work at ranges of up to 150 feet, and the signal can pass through walls, so it’s usable with a home stereo as well as a TV. However, it’s prone to interference and isn’t secure in the way that Bluetooth is.
Many modern TVs now offer Bluetooth as standard. If yours doesn’t, you can add a Bluetooth transmitter easily enough.
2. Bluetooth and Sound Quality
The sound quality you’ll get on your Bluetooth headphones depends on what audio codec they use. The codec is a piece of software that encodes the audio at one end and decodes it at the other. Both your audio player and headphones need to support it.
Early versions of Bluetooth compressed audio very heavily, producing a harsh, digital sound.
The move to improve quality began with the introduction of the advanced audio distribution profile (A2DP). This enabled streaming of high-quality stereo audio via the SBC codec. It’s now effectively the standard.
A 2014 report by SoundExpert, an audio quality testing site, concluded that at its highest possible bitrate of 372Kbps, SBC was comparable to an AAC file encoded at 192Kpbs, and that “most artifacts it produces are beyond human perception.” However, it’s mostly used at lower bitrates, so isn’t always the best quality.
The next step up is aptX. Most Android devices from the last few years support this codec. It delivers “CD-like” performance, at a bitrate of 352Kbps with lower latency. This uses compressed audio.
Better still is aptX HD, which is the high definition upgrade on the classic aptX formula. It’s still compressed, but streams at a much higher bitrate of 576Kbps, and has much lower latency.
A small but growing number of devices support aptX HD, including the Galaxy Note 9, OnePlus 5T, and LG V30. It requires specific hardware, so if your device doesn’t support it there’s no way to upgrade.
Apple doesn’t support aptX on the iPhone or iPad. Instead, it uses AAC, an enhanced variation on SBC. It uses a lower bitrate (256Kbps), but efficiencies in the codec make it comparable to aptX, if not better. Using AAC-compatible headphones with an AAC source (like Apple Music) also reduces degradation in sound quality.
We’ve mentioned latency; this is a major issue with Bluetooth headphones.
Latency is the short delay between an audio signal being sent and when you can hear it. You won’t notice it when listening to music, but if you’re watching a video or playing a game, it can cause the sound to be out of sync with the picture.
Latency varies depending on the hardware and software setups you have. aptX HD has significantly reduced latency compared to the older codecs. Apple’s use of AAC with the Airpods has minimized it to barely perceptible levels.
3. Battery Life for Wireless Headphones
Bluetooth headphones get power from their own built-in rechargeable battery.
Over-ear Bluetooth headphones have space for a large battery, charged via a USB cable. You should look for between 20 and 30 hours of battery life—the JBL Everest, for instance, promises up to 25 hours.
Bluetooth earbuds have shorter battery life. Those that use a cable to connect the two buds can typically offer around eight hours, and charge through a USB cable. True wireless earbuds, where both parts are separate, are good for around three to five hours. They come with their own special charging case. which also keeps the charge topped up when you’re not using the buds.
Remember that volume levels affect battery life. The louder your music, the shorter the battery will last. Battery life quotes on manufacturers’ spec sheets tend to reflect optimal conditions rather than real-world use.
4. Pairing Bluetooth Headphones
Connecting Bluetooth headphones to a phone or other device can be as quick as plugging them in, or it can be quite frustrating.
The W1 chip in some of Apple’s headphones has reduced pairing down to a three-second process. Open the case on the AirPods (or press a button on the side of select Beats headphones), tap an onscreen prompt, and you’re done.
Android 6.0 and above offers a similarly quick system called Fast Pair, albeit with limited support from headsets so far.
Some headphones use NFC to speed up pairing. This is a wireless technology that enables devices to communicate by holding them close to one another.
When used in conjunction with an NFC-enabled device—including many Android smartphones but not the iPhone—you can pair the headphones with the device simply by tapping them against it.
If none of this works for you, you have to pair your headphones manually. This involves locating the Bluetooth settings on your device, pressing a button on the headphones, and entering a passcode when prompted (usually 0000). It’s slower and more tedious, so you might need to refer to the manual to get it right.
5. Remote Controls for Wireless Headphones
Wired headphones often have a remote on the cable, but Bluetooth headphones don’t have this option.
Instead, they build some basic controls, along with a microphone, into one of the earpieces. This may be in the form of buttons or touch sensors. It could also be a button to activate voice controls.
For controlling AirPods, a double tap launches Siri. From there, you use commands like “Turn volume up” or “Skip track” to control your music.
Companies like Bose and Sony make Bluetooth headphones that work in the same way with Google Assistant. Jabra is among those that supports Amazon’s Alexa.
The accessibility of the controls is something you should always test when buying, or choosing to keep, new headphones. The button design and layout is sometimes determined more by aesthetics than practicality. They aren’t always easy to find by touch alone, especially if you’re in the gym.
6. Form Factor and Size
Wireless headphones come in the three standard styles: over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear. The first two look and function much the same as their wired counterparts. But the latter, in-ear, is quite different.
A recent trend in the in-ear format applies to true wireless earbuds. Unlike the earliest models, which had the two buds connected by a cable that would go around the back of your neck, many models now lack wires altogether.
The move began with Apple’s AirPods. Now, most manufacturers are on board: Sennheiser, Bose, B&O, Samsung, and more. The Jabra Elite 65t is regarded among the best in-ear earbuds.
These all work on the same principle: they come with a charging case that maximizes your play time. But there are issues, too. Latency can be an problem, so they aren’t all ideal for video. Battery life is shorter, at up to five hours. They’re more expensive than wired earbuds. And the diminutive size makes them easier to lose.
But you can’t beat them for convenience and portability.
Bluetooth Headphones Are the Future
Like it or not, headphone jacks are on their way out. Bluetooth headphones are the future.
Audiophiles may resist for a while, but for most of us, wireless is now more than good enough. It’s easy to use, affordable, and the quality improves all the time.