Since in-ear headphones sit in or near the ear canal, they don't interact with the pinna, the bends and curves of the outer ear that direct sound to the ear canal. The pinna also serves as an acoustic filter, enhancing the frequency range of human speech, and it also supplies directional cues, so we can localize where sound is coming from. That's how our ears and brains process sound in real life, but in-ear headphones don't interact with the pinna, so they can't sound as realistic as full-size headphones or speakers. In-ears can still sound great, … Read more
Are you still using the earbuds that came with your smartphone or MP3 player? I'll wager they're not the most comfortable headphones to wear, and I guarantee they don't help block outside noise (unless you crank the volume, which is ruinous to your hearing.)
Do your ears all kinds of favors and switch to in-ear headphones. Like these: Newegg has the Sennheiser CX 485 in-ear noise-blocking headphones for $19.99 shipped when you apply promo code EMCNDHD65 at checkout. (As always, you need to be a Newegg newsletter subscriber to use the code.) That's a full … Read more
I was shaken and stirred by the Bowers & Wilkins P5 on-ear headphones back in 2010. It set a new standard for sumptuous sound and build quality for very small, on-ear headphones. Designed with portable music players and phones in mind, the P5 was definitely a step up from most ear buds, and the sound was easy to listen to over the long haul. The P5 ($300) is still around, but B & W recently introduced a similar, but less expensive model, the P3 ($200).
When I unboxed the new one I decided to first judge it without directly comparing … Read more
I've attended New Music Seminars in NYC before, but this year's event definitely had more passion and spirit. The subheading of this year's festival, "Appetite For Disruption," hinted at the possibilities. The shindig's hub, the old Webster Hall concert venue, hosted nonstop action, and there were more goings-on at 17 clubs and music halls in Manhattan and Williamsburg (Brooklyn).
Guest speakers ran the gamut, from heavyweights like Bob Pittman, CEO of Clear Channel; Lyor Cohen, CEO and chairman of the Warner Music Group; Steve Boom, Amazon's VP for Digital Music; Steve Savoca, head … Read more
As some of you may recall, about two months back we partnered with our good friends at Outdoor Technology to bring the CNET audience an awesome deal on Bluetooth headphones. Not only did we sell out, but Outdoor technology was kind enough to give the CNET audience extra product so no one went home empty-handed. This week, Outdoor Technology is back with an even better deal on its top-selling DJ Slims wireless headphones! Grab a pair of the awesome DJ Slims for less than $45 with free shipping.
It's time for all of you to jump on the Bluetooth … Read more
Hi-fi has a dated, almost "Mad Men" ring to it, but it predates Don Draper's 1960s time frame. Sound-quality advances in hi-fis first grabbed the public's imagination 10 years earlier, in the 1950s.
A hi-fi system could be configured in a variety of ways, but the basic setup had a turntable, amplifier, and a pair of speakers. That sort of rig, with a CD player, still works for today's audiophiles, but they're probably 1 percent of all music listeners. For the other 99 percent, their "hi-fi" is in the car, or maybe … Read more
Despite recent advances in audio technology, there's only so "big" sound can get when it comes from a smallish speaker. And a lot of the more popular speaker docks are, well, smallish.
The problem is, if you want big, rich, room-filling sound from your iPhone or iPod, it'll cost you at least $200.
Or not, if you jump on today's deal -- a Cheapskate exclusive! While supplies last, you can get the Fluance FiSDK500 iPhone/iPod speaker dock for $169.99 shipped when you apply coupon code FISDK5 at checkout. Regular price: $229.99.
This … Read more
First things first, I'm referring to soft-to-loud dynamic range compression, not MP3 or other types of lossy data compression. Dynamic range compression has been around for almost as long as recorded music has existed, but over the last decade or so the public has demanded ever higher levels of dynamic range compression. The so-called lowest common denominator approach to mixing and mastering music boosts all of the softer/quieter passages to be loud all the time. That process obliterates all of the original details, subtleties, and nuances of the instruments and vocalists. Once the mix has been compressed, it … Read more
It was probably 10 years ago when I heard my first custom headphones, and I couldn't get over the sound. It was an Ultimate Ears UE-5 model, and the level of detail was so much better than any previous headphones I'd tried. The custom earpieces' superior noise-isolation dividends were also part of the appeal, because as the background noise level goes down, the apparent detail goes up. With less environmental noise overpowering the subtle/quiet details in the music, I could listen at lower volume levels. Once you've experienced what custom-molded headphones can do, it's hard … Read more
I've reviewed my share of portable headphone amplifiers, but ALO's new Rx-MK3B just might be the best on a number of counts. First, the amp is compact, just about the same size as an iPhone, but twice as thick. ALO invested two years of engineering and development time in the Rx-3B, and makes it in the U.S.
The Cypher Labs AlgoRhythm Solo is a portable digital-to-analog converter designed only for use with iPhones, iPads, and iPods, but it won't work with computers (it's not a USB DAC). There are precious few portable DACs that can … Read more