It's easy to understand why there's so much confusion surrounding the differences between earbud and in-ear headphones. The two designs are sometimes referred to interchangeably, but they are two very different types of headphones. Earbuds rest on the outer concha ridge of the ear, located in the center of your outer ear. In-ear or ear-canal headphones are placed inside the ear canal, sealing the listener off from environmental noise.
The Velodyne vPulse is one of the best pair of $99 headphones I've ever listened to on the NYC subway, but it's not one I use at home or in any quiet space. Why's that?
The vPulse's overly generous bass turns me off at home, but it sounds perfectly balanced on trains, buses, cars, or planes. What those modes of transportation all have in common is lots of low-frequency rumble, and the vPulse's pumped up bass masks some of that noise. Headphones with more accurate bass response sound fine at home, but woefully bass shy on the go.
Worse yet, the very low frequency rumble on trains, buses, and so on can't be nullified by noise-canceling or noise-isolating headphones because those noises are felt through your entire body, not just heard through your ears. Bassy headphones may not be the perfect solution to the problem, but they can be surprisingly effective. … Read more
Amar G. Bose wore two very distinct hats, he founded the Bose Corporation in 1964, and was a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor until 2001. He died on Friday at age 83. Bose was a visionary, an electrical and sound engineer, and he devoted his life to investigating our psychological and physiological responses to sound.
I remember when I heard the first Bose speaker, the 901. It was a revelation. Instead of just projecting sound forward, the 901 was designed to re-create the sound of instruments in a concert hall, where some of the instruments' sound is heard directly, but … Read more
Now that I've spent the past week using Able Planet's newly released behind-the-ear "personal sound amplifier," I've learned that I don't hear as well as I like to think. Everything sounds crisper and perkier with the device.
Of course, that isn't necessarily what I want in every environment. I'll spare you the details, but you don't really need to amplify sound when you're going to the bathroom. Nor should crossing your legs in corduroys or pulling a slice of bread out of the plastic bread bag feel so... tingly. With the rather clumsily named PS1600BTE, sometimes the smallest background noises become so bright that it's downright distracting.
In the intended noisier environments, however, these amplifiers feel like magic, even to someone who likes to think she's got stellar hearing. What's interesting is that it wasn't until I removed the device from each ear that I realized how much duller and more jumbled the sounds in noisy environments were. The PS1600BTE is like icing on a cake I didn't know existed.… Read more
Remember when expensive headphones, let's say anything over $100, were never big sellers, and only audiophiles bought them?
That's no longer true--judging by the number of Beats by Dr. Dre headphones I see on the streets and subways in New York--pricey headphones have reached the mainstream. That's radical. Bose did pretty well with its QuietComfort noise-canceling headphones long before Dre jumped into the headphone business, but the Beats stand out in a crowd.
The reasons for Dre's success aren't purely based on sound quality, it's more that the other manufacturers' headphones sorely lacked any sense of street style. … Read more
I have to admit I never really bought into noise-canceling headphones.
The name was a turnoff, they don't really cancel or eliminate noise, they reduce noise--and that's great--but so do most in-ear headphones. Better yet, those headphones don't need batteries and don't run the music signals through the noise-canceling electronics. My favorite isolating headphones sound better than noise-canceling headphones, but I haven't tested a noise-canceling headphone for a long time.
In the past, Creative's noise-canceling headphones have been pretty decent, and the nice thing about this one is that unlike the Bose and many other noise-canceling models, the HN-900 has an integrated microphone for making cell phone calls. One AAA battery gives you about 40 hours of active noise-cancellation.
At the same time Creative released the HN-900s, it also announced the impending arrival of a higher-end model noise-canceling model, the $… Read more
Have a peek at AKG's two new pairs of noise-canceling headphones, the $349.95 K 495 NC and $249.95 K 490 NC.
AKG is highlighting that these both are on-ear models that fold flat and have built-in rechargeable batteries that charge via USB. Unlike a lot of noise-canceling models, including those from Bose, these can play sound when the battery dies or if you simply want to turn off the active noise cancellation.
The marketing line on the higher-end K 495 NCs is that they "deliver high-quality audio defined by a clarity of sound across all ranges, from crisp highs to deep lows." They feature brushed-metal parts, leather earcups, and an adjustable leather headband, and ship with a small carrying case, two audio cables, a USB charging adapter, and a flight adapter.… Read more
The short answer is no. I found the Bose headphones slightly more comfortable to wear, and they effectively block out more noise than the Sony headphones. On top of that, I'm more partial to Bose's sound.
That said, there's a lot to like here. Excellent design, flavorful sound, and the NC200Ds cost $100 less than the Bose QuietComfort 15s. At $200, they're not cheap, … Read more
Able Planet makes a number of noise-canceling headphones, and the NC1100Bs are the Colorado company's highest-end model with a retail price of $299.99.
Let's start with what's good about these guys. For starters, they're comfortable and appear to have a sturdy design and a nice soft-touch black finish. While the earcups aren't quite as soft as those on the Bose QuietComfort 15, the fact that they're a bit thicker and firmer doesn't hurt their comfort level and may be more appealing to some.
Aside from their black coloring, the NC1100Bs look similar to the QC15s (and QuietComfort 2s), with the same over-the-ear design and earcups that swivel and fold flat to fit in a simple black case. The resulting package is slightly bigger than a CD wallet, which makes it easier to tote, though it's still not terribly compact. As you'd expect from a set of headphones designed for frequent travelers, Able Planet throws in a two-prong in-flight adapter.
Like with Bose's active noise canceling, the earcups' cushions effectively sealed off our ears from the noisy environment. Flipping on the noise cancellation dampened the noise even further. While the NC1100Bs aren't as effective at canceling out noise as the QC15s, they did noticeably muffle the sound of a very loud air conditioning that this reviewer has in his office (it isn't quiet as loud as the inside of an airline cabin, but not too far off).