House of Marley Liberate XLBT Wireless Headphones Hardware Review

House of Marley Liberate XLBT Wireless Headphones Hardware Review

Feb 21, 2017

House of Marley. That Marley.

The legendary name is beginning to develop a bit of a following in the audiophile sphere. What’s not to like? Great construction, wireless options and beautiful sound.

Our wishlist is demanding.

This is what the new-ish Liberate XLBT Bluetooth Headphones have to live up to.

The review package HOM sent us reflected the piece in its retail housing; in the box, there is the headphones themselves, audio cable (hint, hint) and a nifty fabric carrying bag.

The headphones are a solid fit in hand, but not hefty. The band is framed in metal, but with soft leather on the interior; the insides of the cups are framed similarly. Said cups are attached to the frames by a jointed assembly held together by screws, and there are fabric and wooden accents sprinkled throughout.

The one cup houses the controls — power, volume, skip, pair/phone — as well as audio input and microphone. On the other, there is input for micro-USB charging.


Trying the set on revealed a more-or-less comfortable pair; the band is wide, and also has a sliding mechanism for adjustments. The unit can also fold up, making it easier to put it in the carrying bag.

Pairing it to an audio bluetooth source is intuitive; as soon as we got that, we were able to test the sound quality. Like other HOM pairs, the sound is crisp, even at reasonable distance. In fact, we were notable to ascertain much of a difference between the wired (yes, it can do that) output and wireless output.

It also worked well as the answering end of a phone.

One big gripe for me is the construction. After a fortnight of consistent use, I found that the screws which secure the ear cup to the frame were loosened; sure enough, they fell out completely shortly thereafter, leaving the cup to dangle uselessly from the main band by only cable.

Replacing them seems to delay the inevitable, as it happened again.

This issue (which seems to be a design flaw) mars what is otherwise one of the best sounding, comfortable headphones we have looked at. We’ll update with HOM’s response to this; hopefully, we received a bum review unit.

House of Marley REBEL BT On-Ear Headphones Hardware Review

House of Marley REBEL BT On-Ear Headphones Hardware Review

May 29, 2016

The House of Marley is well on its way to creating a noted reputation as a vendor of respectable hardware and accessories; we should know, having had the opportunity to check out a few of its newer offerings in the area of wireless electronics. As such, we can’t pretend to not looking forward to checking out its new REBEL Bluetooth Headphones.

The review pair House of Marley sent us reflects the accessory in its retail packaging; one gets the headphones, a micro-USB charging cable and — tellingly — male-to-male audio auxiliary cable. The headphones are navy blue (other color options are available), with a touch of white and black here and there. The right ear cup houses the control buttons, specifically ones for skipping/rewinding/forwarding, power and play/pause, plus a 3.55 mm audio jack. The left side contains the micro-USB charging port.

In hand, the headphones look and feel sleek, with a somewhat minimalist existence all round… one gets the sense that its design concept involves a reluctance to add on unnecessary girth. The unit incorporates a simple adjustment system for the band circumference; each cup has a slot through which the band ends can be pulled, thereby cinching its size like a belt.

Charging is intuitive; using the supplied cable, one can charge the unit (the all-but-hidden LED is a nice touch); when ready, it is paired by holding the power button to put the headphones into pairing mode. At this point, the audio source can be linked to it, and one is read to go.

The sound is decent enough, with no undue tininess or weird echoing; audio of different types — base-heavy music, jazz, podcasts, audiobooks, etc reflect well, and it is an overall competent set.

The band isn’t the most comfortable when fashioned tighter to one’s head. The cups work well, even over time. It holds a charge well too.

All in all, it works as an affordable, capable piece that isn’t overly fragile and can be used with or without wires.

Optoma Introduces Wireless NuForce BE6 Headphones

Optoma Introduces Wireless NuForce BE6 Headphones

Oct 5, 2015

Optoma is no stranger to quality offerings, and its latest product should underscore that reputation. The NuForce BE6 Headphones are a bluetooth set that reintroduces the term cord-cutting.

This wireless model gives audio enthusiasts a cord-less experience without compromising on sound quality. The BE6 is the only Bluetooth® earphones to be fully crafted from aluminum, which provides crystal-clear sound and elegant design in a lightweight form-factor, making them durable and attractive for all lifestyles. In addition, the headphones feature Bluetooth with aptX® and AAC compatibility, for the ultimate quality in audio streaming.

Optoma Product Management Senior Director Jon Grodem talks about addressing issues with the BE6.“The majority of wireless headphones are traditionally intended for exercising and working out and their designs reflect these activities,” he explains. “After comparing current products on the market, we found that most users complained both about uncomfortable fit as well as poor sound quality. We created the BE6 headphones to address these issues and provide a cross-over product that is perfect for casual, on-the-go listening, yet maintains the sound quality traditionally achieved from wired headphones.”

The headphones are rated for six hours of use, are splash-proof, compatible with Google Now (and Siri). Each set with come with a pouch and other accessories. It is slated to cost $129.


Puro Sound Labs Kids Bluetooth Headphones Hardware Review

Puro Sound Labs Kids Bluetooth Headphones Hardware Review

Feb 4, 2015

Here’s the problem: I’ve come to appreciate quality earphones the older I’ve gotten. I won’t describe myself as an audiophile, but I do enjoy the output a quality set of phones can bring. As such, I do have write a few. Wired, wireless, over-ear, in-ear, lounging, sport… you name it, and I probably have a set for the occasion.

I baby them too. They’re cased when not in use, and issued in places that negate the possibility of silly mishaps, like (gasp!) sitting on them. All because I like having options, and dislike procuring stuff twice.

You know what is kryptonite to gadget longevity? Kids.

Take my daughter for instance. Ariana Grande must be heard, ave outside hearing the SAME song played on loop, I have to reluctantly lend her a pair of mine.

Why aren’t there more gadgets available for kids? That’s a question the Puro Sound Labs Kids Headphones looks to answer.


To be honest, I expected a set of headphones full of frills and overly bright colors; the review package Puro Sound sent set me straight. The retail box contains the charging cable and AC adapter, 2 cases (soft and hard), special 3.55mm cable and the headphones themselves, with the headphones being mostly tan with an emphasis on soft gold and chrome highlights, and it has prominent buttons for toggling on, wireless pairing, volume up and down, as well as audio and microSD charging ports and an LED light on the left cup. The cups are braced by cushioned material, and are able to extend from the band for bigger heads (or hairdos). The band is also covered in soft material for a more comfortable experience; the main parts are crafted from lightweight aluminum.

These headphones, on paper, rack up up some nice features: 16 hours of usage (200 hours standby time), built-in microphone, balanced response, and (most interesting to me), a means of limiting overly loud outputs.

Getting the gear going is a matter of charging, and using the bluetooth pair button to match it to a compatible audio source. I like the crisp sound it produces, and the conduction seems topnotch. The advertised sound control is superb; I didn’t feel like I lost fidelity while keeping my ears safe. But even more importantly, the real testers (my kids) loved them, and, for once, didn’t complain about being forced to keep the volume down.

Not bad.


There are a couple things I especially like, and which make this a bit more than just a kid’s accessory, is the aforementioned microphone, which allows for usage with phone calls. Then there’s the wired functionality, which allows the unit to be used even if the battery is drained (and the supplied audio cable keeps to the noise limiting paradigm, in case one wondered).

All in all, the Puro Sound Labs Kids Headphones has a soft touch, but is great enough to have mature sensibilities. It’s priced relatively well ($79.99 on Amazon), looks good and does a lot.

Antec PULSE Lite Bluetooth Headphones Hardware Review

Antec PULSE Lite Bluetooth Headphones Hardware Review

Dec 1, 2014

Antec should be known by now for its mostly great, affordable accessories; we’ve had the opportunity to look at several of its offerings. Its line of headphones, as exemplified by the PULSE (which we reviewed a few months ago), are nice value propositions, and we expected similar of the Antec PULSE Lite Bluetooth Headphones that were sent to us to review.

So what comes in the box? Well, there’s the white headphones, matching white micro-USB charging cable, and ( I liked this small touch) a simple black drawstring carrying pouch.

The unit itself has a mostly hard plastic finish, with soft vinyl framing the ear cups. The headband is fairly thin, and is extensible by making use of a sliding mechanism that allows it to be adjusted to head size. The headphones have an interesting joint configuration at the cups, such that the cups can be turned “out” and folded up, making them more compact — and essentially, more portable — when not in use. The left cup is the business cup, housing the volume dial, micro-USB port and LED. The volume dial also serves as the Play/Pause and power button.


Altogether, it feels well constructed, and is reasonably comfortable on head.

Pairing it involved getting it juiced up, and then using the aforementioned power button to put the device into pairing mode. After pairing, we got to try out the unit in the real world. It works surprisingly well, providing decent output; it works well with different type of audio, with decent bass presentation. True audiophiles might consider some aspects of the output a bit muddy, but for the most part, it reflects sound quite well. The built-in microphone means calls can be handled if paired with a telephony device.

When compared to its big brother, the Pulse, one does notice the design differences; for example, I believe the former is more comfortable,and manages to be a better sound source overall. The range is on the low end, and I did notice infrequent interference when walls blocked line of sight. One thing I would have dearly loved is optional wired output, but hey, to be fair, more features equals less affordability.

All in all, at $48.99 (via Amazon), it won’t break the bank, and is a decent offering for the price range.

Antec PULSE Bluetooth Headphone Hardware Review

Antec PULSE Bluetooth Headphone Hardware Review

Jul 14, 2014

The push to going wireless is alive and well, and Antec seems to be quite willing to take on the challenge, especially with its a.m.p PULSE Wireless Headphones

The review box which was provided to us showed the attention paid to product packaging. The product comes with the headphones, micro-USB cord, wall plug-in pins, 3.55 mm male-to-male audio cable, a carrying case with carabiner and paperwork.

The contoured black frame is mostly wrapped in somewhat glossy hard plastic with bendable ends that fold inside, a feature one almost expects in over-ear headphones to encourage compactness and portability. The cans are covered by soft, perforated material, and there is metal on the insides of the unit. The topmost inner part also has foam padding, and the cans are jointed, which allows them to rotate somewhat on a connecting axis. The right side has a micro-USB charging port, as well as a 3.55 mm port for wired sound feed. Also nestled on the right side are the track controls, volume rocker, LED light and power button. On the head, it is quite comfortable, and the innate flexibility of the set works well in real life, even when at rest around the neck, which it can do at 6.4 ounces.


Charging didn’t take too long, and pairing it via the Bluetooth 3.0 chip to an audio source is easy and intuitive; it’s a simple matter of tapping and holding the power button till the LED alternates rapidly between red and blue, and finding the headphones and linking from the source device. It worked well with all types of audio, and the clarity was quite impressive. The bass output isn’t as sharp with some songs, but overall, it was loud enough in the ear. It streams close to the advertised 32 feet distance.

It also works with wire via the removable audio cable. This gives the set even more functionality. The “call”button, which is smoothly incorporated to the right end, is a nice touch. The call quality can be a bit jagged though.

All in all, while the exterior part of the device is prone to smudging, and the joints make me wonder about how it will hold up in the long term, I still think it is a decent value overall.

The Antec AMP Pulse Bluetooth Wireless Headphones is available for $79.99 via

BlueAnt Pump Bluetooth HD Sportsbuds Hardware Review

BlueAnt Pump Bluetooth HD Sportsbuds Hardware Review

May 9, 2014

Getting in shape (and maintaining targeted points) is always laudable; music and such can be the perfect accompaniment, but getting a good, long lasting set of headphones that are impervious to moisture and the elements can be difficult. BlueAnt looks to help fill this niche with its Pump Bluetooth (3.0) Sportsbuds.

The review sample we received shows it is a fused piece of hardware, with the two ear-hooks connected by black cord. The black version has the main pieces encased in black hard plastic, with blue coloring for the soft ear tips, and grey and blue accents elsewhere. The cord is fairly flexible, in that it is possible to bunch the Sportbuds in hand; by extension, the whole unit feels durable, is immune to most normal drops and non-optimal contact, and does not pack in too much bulk. Pulling on the “joints” where the cord meets the end parts doesn’t cause any undue looseness, either. It’s a minimalist affair that somehow retains a bit of stylishness within its otherwise sporty look. The package also contains two pairs each of three different tip sizes, a pair of Awareness tips, a cable zip, two pairs of stabilizers, documentation and a USB cable.

The left earpiece serves as the control hub of the headphones. At the base, there is a recessed micro-USB port that is shielded by a protective, rubbery flap; on the frame there is an upraised Play button bordered by volume pump2buttons, and that pretty much sums up the controls, as the Play button also doubles as the on-toggle. After the requisite charging (a shade under two hours), putting the unit on is a simple matter of a short long-press, which activates the hitherto hidden LED light to white. A longer press from being off puts it into pairing mode, and it was a cinch to do so from any and all of the Bluetooth sources I had (it can connect with up to five but only one at a time).

I loved the tip mechanism, in that they expand out to create a good seal. The whole thing feels quite comfortable. The sound was nice, and the unit gets quite loud; while I’m not an audiophile, I did detect a hint of base warble at the higher volume levels; surprisingly, the unit works well close to the advertised 100 yards distance between between the unit and source, but when obstacles like walls are present, skips can occur. The 90 mAH battery life is adequate, and I like that sweat and rain don’t bother it; indeed, I was able to rinse it off underwater and put it back on without turning the unit off. I like the call answering feature, even though it is a bit limited in that it lacks stuff like redial functionality.

On the mechanical side, I think the physical volume controls can be refined a bit, as fumbling around and then pressing on the frame can be tough on sensitive ears. There isn’t an Android-specific companion app either.

All in all, though, this is the type of unit that make you look for reasons to use it, and in that it wins. The audio is good enough to make it worthwhile the investment.

The Pump Bluetooth Sportsbuds are available on Amazon for $116.11