BuddyPhones Volume Limiting Headphones Hardware Review

BuddyPhones Volume Limiting Headphones Hardware Review

Oct 5, 2015

Plenty of parents have had this nightmare, right? I cannot be the only one.

Mine happened just the other day. My daughter was listening to one of her music videos. As usual, at full volume, because if folks two counties over cannot hear what she listening to, life isn’t complete.

In any case, I didn’t understand why she wasn’t using the headphones she begged for. You know, the ones that would save the world from noise pollution.

“Oh. Yeah…”

After a while, I was getting irritated. All she had done was lower the volume a little. Again, why not just use the headphones? Sweet heavens, child.

I walked into her room to confront my banshee offspring. Weirdly enough, she had the headphones on. Yep. The loud music I was hearing was blaring through the headphones. My kid was on a personal mission to destroy her hearing.

Without detailing the rest of the interaction (rock head on rock head), I am beginning to worry about my kids, especially when I see them doing foolish things I do… I mean did. Seriously, controlling volume is serious business, which is why I like conceptualized ideas like the BuddyPhones Volume Limiting Headphones.

The review package reflects the item in its retail state; it contains the blue and white headphones, documentation, and, cutely enough, a bunch of child-friendly customization stickers. The headphones themselves have a relatively small profile; the band is mostly plastic, with cushiony ear cups and flat, matching cable. The cable is attached permanently, and on the plug-in end, there is an additional port for an extra 3.5mm male end.

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The band does extend just like one would expect, and it felt comfortable on my head and the heads of my designated testers.

The set’s claim to fame is the built-in chip which keeps the output to a sedate 85db; this mechanism is always on, so there is no need to remember to toggle it. In practice, this translates to gentle audio, good transference that is usable while being within auditory health standards. On all heads, it worked quite well over time.

The band does feel a bit rigid, and the specific build gives me pause with regards to being used by the heavy-handed, but it works well. I would have preferred a non-permanent cable though. The stickers are a nice touch, and there are several base color options to pick from.

And then there’s the price — $24.95 on Amazon — which makes it even more attractive.

For peace of mind (and quiet), it could be quite invaluable.

Zipbuds SLIDE Earbuds Hardware Review

Zipbuds SLIDE Earbuds Hardware Review

Aug 25, 2015

The more mobile I get, the more I appreciate a good set of headphones.

As the kids get older, there’s only so much Taylor Swift I can listen to; the house sometimes feels like one crazy karaoke machine.

So, retiring to the quietest part of the house can be quite rewarding. The pure joy of it makes me smile. Get me an e-book (or mind-bending game), some sweet tea and some headphones with which to listen to accompanying music, and that quiet spot becomes mine.

Y’all feel me? That’s why cool stuff like the Zipbuds No-tangle Slide Earbuds are just what the doctor ordered.

The review unit the manufacturer sent us highlights the set in retail form; one gets the unit itself, extra eargels, and documentation. Specific to the headphones, we got the snazzy “p.o.p.” color, which is a colorful combination of orange and black with purple and chrome highlights (three other color combos are available). The construction does get interesting, comprising of a defined black cable and an orange one; the unit has a merging clip that allows the two to “zipped” or “unzipped” seamlessly, such that the space between the ear pieces can be adjusted. Down its length, it adds in a microphone, and the standard 3.5 mm input jack is angled for ease of use.

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The design of the cable also discourages tangling, which is an important claim to fame for this set.

With the expandable ear gels, this set ends up feeling very comfortable; the ends fit into the ear nicely, creating a pretty good seal that helps enhance the sound fidelity even further.

The sound quality is pretty nice indeed, and head-to-head, the unit compared well to some premium units I was able to compare it to. Any tinniness is well hidden, which is somewhat surprising, and on calls, and the microphone works well.

An included case would be nice, but I do admit to feeling greedy just thinking about extras.

All in all, these things are easy to enjoy. At $49.99, it is so easy to feel like one is getting over.

Perfect for my quiet time.

Jabra Sport Wireless+ Headphones Hardware Review

Jabra Sport Wireless+ Headphones Hardware Review

Mar 26, 2015

As we like to say, being connected is a privilege, more and more aspects of our lives are becoming portions of IoT, and our smartphones are becoming the de facto hubs. This is so very obvious in the area of fitness and health, where accessories are quite the rage.

With Jabra’s Sports Wireless+ Bluetooth Headphones, we get to see a formidable option from an industry vet.

The review package Jabra sent was nicely boxed. The set is pretty light in hand, almost surprising so. The physical presentation basically consists of two three-quarter moon ear loops and a rubber-coated cable that connects the two in the behind the neck earphone style. The ear loops come in the main black-with-yellow accents that is synonymous with Jabra, The right piece houses the soft controls: a power button, volume buttons, FM button (hint, hint), microphone pinhole and covered micro-USB port. There’s even LED lights which help signify power and bluetooth status. Each ear loop measures in at 2.5 x 1.7 x 0.5 inches, and the whole set weighs 0.88 ounces. The retail box also contains a pack of ear gels, USB cable and a nifty carrying case.

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After charging and powering on, pairing the 3.0 Bluetooth to an audio source is fairly easy; long-pressing the power button for several seconds puts the headphones in pairing mode, and they can then be discovered and connected to. That easily, I was able to start listening to music and podcasts from the trusty M8. Of special interest to me, obviously, is the fit. For a pair of sports phones, they work well, and the behind the neck styling is not too bothersome. yes, the loops did feel ever-present but not so much so that they were lingering distractions. They work well for running, and I wasn’t able to dislodge it by head-banging. the advertised military-grade specs (dust, durability and dust protection) definitely come into play, and the unit does feel durable.

This accessory boasts some decent extras beyond the core functionality. There is the built-in FM tuner, teased via soft buttons. Honestly, I was shocked at how well it worked. It didn’t catch every FM channel when compared head-to-head with a dedicated radio, but the ones it did catch sounded pretty good. It handles phone calls well, though I did get some feedback from talking in the microphone.

I also like the little things, like the fit adjust clip and the several ear gels that help in getting the most comfortable insertion.

One point that might irk some folks is that there isn’t any Android app; the app works well without it, bu if one wants the added on benefit available with some other Jabra products, they’ll have to forego it for now. Also, the range is fairly limited.

When it’s all said and done, it does well in it’s main job, and reasonably well in a few extra aspects at well. At just under $90 (on Amazon), it isn’t a prohibitive proposition.

Not bad at all.

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.

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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.

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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.

MEElectronics Sport-Fi M3P In-Ear Headphones Hardware Review

MEElectronics Sport-Fi M3P In-Ear Headphones Hardware Review

Oct 13, 2014

When it says MEElectronics on the package, we mostly expect quality. For sports people, the Sport-Fi M3P Headphones are definitely worth taking a look at.

Yep.

It’s a relatively demure pair of wired headphones, even with the pink unit MEElectronics sent us to review. it has ample cable (51 inches of it); it sprouts from the L-shaped gold-plated standard 3.55mm audio jack, flowing and delta-ing into the expected two wires that end with earbuds. The cable ends right before the actual earbuds are coated in black rubber, and possess a firm curve that is relatively adjustable; this “memory wire” is stainless steel and affords the unit the ability to conform to natural ear shape. The earbuds themselves are pink, and possess that memory material that expand in the ear.

Along the cable is a black accented piece that has controls and a microphone. In addition to the headphones, the retail packaging also has 4 pairs of earbud tips, a shirt clip and documentation. The headphones also come in black, purple, blue, green and white.
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This piece is an unapologetic budget offering aimed at active folks, and as such, the big question is how it works in the wild. The combination of the memory wire featureset and the moldable ends works quite well to create a relaxed fit; jogging, headbanging and such didn’t dislodge it in my experience. The memory wire’ design ensures a disciplined fit that isn’t rigid enough to cause discomfort, and the seal created by the tips followed the same concept.

And the sound? Well, it is quite adequate. It didn’t blow me away in terms of fidelity or clarity, but it is decent enough to enjoy music on, and the bass is pretty good. I liked the unity of the sound output. Phone calls are handled well via the built-in mic, though the audio can be muddy if the mic isn’t held close to mouth.

With sweat resistance added to the mix, the price is what might really set these apart; at $19.99 ($14.99 via some online shopping portals), these headphones mostly outperform their supposed price-point station.

V-MODA XS Headphones Hardware Review

V-MODA XS Headphones Hardware Review

May 12, 2014

In the sound/music accessory department, it is war.

Specific to headphones, there are almost too many options to count, with offerings from different types of vendors within different price ranges; OEMs understand that people are becoming completely dependent on mobile devices for sound output. The 3.55 mm jack rules, and after that, design, functionality and value are big considerations. With V-MODA’s XS Wired Headphones, we get to see whether quality can translate from looks to actual output.

First, the White and Silver review unit V-MODA sent us reflects the laudable design elements. The package itself contains an orange felt-lined hard case, documentation, the headphones and detachable coaxial cable. The entire structure is defined by the cans, which are attached to the greyish band via subtle, jointed metal pieces. The earpieces themselves are solidly constructed, with soft gray cushioning and a stylish plaque bookending the mostly white piece. The cable is kevlar-reinforced, and shares design concepts with the main section. Visually, it leans towards the stunning, and it feels quite well-constructed and sturdy. On the ear, they feel remarkably comfortable, and one quickly sees that V-MODA’s stated desire to make a band that aesthetically aligns closer to the head actually comes to fruition. It boasts military testing, and one walks away believing it. v1

Yes, it’s cute, but headphones are not meant to be housed in museums; they have to do what they are supposed to do well. In testing, it was a relief that the XS actually does it right sound-wise. The on-ear design creates a nice (if not complete noise-canceling) experience. With different types of music and podcasts, the sound is robust, reflecting distinct instrumentation; calls were a bit muffled, but usable.

The little things are what set it apart… the ports on each earpiece, the plastic pieces to seal them when not in use, the angling on the end of the cord, the caribiner on the hard case and such. The combination of style and functionality is underscored by the attention to detail. They are not the cheapest on the market, but they I suspect they’ll be somewhat easy to justify.

The XS Headphones are available on Amazon for $199.

RHA MA-350 Headphones Hardware Review

RHA MA-350 Headphones Hardware Review

Oct 1, 2013

RHA is a British company that is looking to make waves in sound consumption via headphones. Their M350 noise isolating in-ear headphones fill the budget space, and we recently had an opportunity to take a pair for a spin.

In hand, I was quite enamored of the light weight of this set of headphones. I definitely can’t describe them as flimsy; it simply feels that the lightest set of durable materials are used to craft them. They were light enough for me to actually lose them having on my neck (don’t judge me). Since the inner study is made out of machined aluminum encased in fabric, it’s no easy feat being light and tough simultaneously, and the fact the set is very flexible and forgiving is definitely a huge benefit. It boasts machined aluminum as a core component, so the toughness is to be expected.

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The subtle black finish gives it a comfortable look, and the accents are thankfully not over done. The coaxial pin is a straight affair; I tend to like angled pieces since I prefer my devices to be in cases, but this one didn’t have much bulk around it, so it was thin enough to sink in completely without impedance. A small plastic piece marks the confluence of left and right wires, and the ear pieces themselves feel solidly crafted, with detachable buds. The buds have a great moldable quality that allows them to adhere in the ear quite well.

Sound-wise, these bad boys hold their own. The fidelity is good, and the ear bud design lends itself to the quality as they do create a pretty good seal that kills noise interference.

There are not any volume controls on the unit, which was somewhat disappointing. Switching the buds with the included silicone pieces presents a challenge, but minus those quibbles, it’s hard not to be pleased with the overall quality of such a decent set of headphones.

As an intro product, these do a good job of making RHA stand out.

The MA-350 Headphones are available from Amazon for (at the time of this review) $39.95.

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MEElectronics M9P Headphones Hardware Review

MEElectronics M9P Headphones Hardware Review

Sep 13, 2013

M9P Headphones are off the shelf of MEEleoctronics, and I was looking forward to getting these in to review.

This presentation of these accessories is unusual… in a good way. They are described as flat cable, and the cable on these are indeed flat, which is an interesting testament to the craftmanship involved. The light plastic coating feels tough without being uncomfortably unyielding; the cable itself it black on one side, and tamed red on the other The end pin is angled, which makes it usable with cased hardware, and on the other end, the cable split is capped with tipped, labeled ear pieces. here is also a black remote control on the right line, and a lapel clip further down.m9p1

I liked the handy case as well; it matches the colors of the headphones, and is stamped with company logo and website information. It’s small, pocketable and perfect for storing the headphones and the extra tips the maker was smart enough to include. The officials specs include 97 dBm sensitivity and impedance of 16 ohms.

These are described by the manufactures as being the second iteration of this piece, and to have “engaged bass and superior clarity” with regards to sound output. I like to test headphones with “natural” activities: kids playing in the background, sitting in a motionless car and with different types of music. Dre instrumentals reflected well; it didn’t blow out the bass meter, but it handled itself quite respectably, even with a disgruntled lawn mower roaring in the foreground. I found myself enjoying the bass tweak a good deal, as it was not overcooked. The plastic coating comes into play again outdoors, as it helps the headphones to be impervious to sweat and moisture, and I did not experience them retain the heat. They are not advertised as having a noise canceling feature, but I was suitably enamored of its ability to block out tertiary sounds.

The control buttons worked well, too, though I did not much care for its placement as high up on the right side.

When it’s all said and done, The M9P’s biggest weapon just might be the price. Pound for pound, is feels like a relative steal at its sub-$50 price range, and the projected durability is another plus.

Compelling hardware, inviting price and great pedigree. It usually equates to little risk of disappointment. Such is the case here, no doubt.

The M9P headphones are available at the MEEleectronics and Amazon websites for (at the time of this review) for $39.99.

Phiaton PS 20 NC Headphones Hardware Review

Phiaton PS 20 NC Headphones Hardware Review

Jul 30, 2013

Phiaton has major cred when it comes to personal audio accessories, so getting an opportunity to review the PS 20 NC wired headphones is something to be looked forward to, even if it isn’t Phiaton’s newest product.

The packaging is tidy, and the review piece came with a standard extra bud tips of different sizes and single AA battery for the noise canceling box.

They are solidly crafted, and feel somewhat weighted in hand without being cumbersome. The rubber coated cables are quite thin, and emanate cleanly from the central control piece in either direction. On the one end, the ends are firmly pieced together, with brass-colored metal serving as a sort of frame for the multifaceted ear buds. The other end tapers into the standard 3.5mm pin. It looked slick in ebony, though I admit to being a bit taken aback by the bronze 2013-07-18 14.05.29highlights.

I don’t claim to be the world’s biggest audiophile, but I do like to think I have an ear for good hardware. My home, during Wii time, is the perfect environment for testing the professed noise canceling feature. With the abject cacophony that accompanies Lego Batman, this set of headphones are/were quite capable of setting me adrift on memory bliss of, uh… you? Seriously, the design of the ear buds and their expansive attribute work better than advertised, as being gloriously awash in only Dre instrumentals can attest to. Yep, they cancel extraneous noise quite capably even without being activated; the Everplay feature allows for music to play on in the event of battery depletion. The half in-ear design just worked well in my ears.

One thing that did irk me a tiny bit is the somewhat unwieldly nature of the cable. The provided pouch was excellent, but just stuffing it in there was not optimal, and it kind of felt like there wasn’t a natural way to wind them up without getting tangled.

Still, for a fairly mature offering, this piece seems quite deserving of the “premium” tag. It is a clear sign that wired sets are not going to be completely supplanted any day soon, and also proves that great audio accessories do not need to be delicate.

The Phiaton PS 20 NC wired headphones are available on Amazon for $99.99 at the time of this review.

Jabra Revo Wired Headset Hardware Review

Jabra Revo Wired Headset Hardware Review

Apr 19, 2013

When we talk of Jabra, I’m sure bluetooth telephony comes to mind. Jabra has been in the wireless game for a while. Long enough to have major juice. Still, I figured that having the opportunity to review a wired headset from Jabra would still be an experience, so I jumped at it. Jabra Revo Wired Headset was supposed to deliver great sound with nice aesthetics to boot.

We’ll see.

The review piece came in a great looking, solid case with yellow and black accents. In a time when manufacturers scrimp on packaging regardless of price, it’s nice to see nice frills. It contained the headset, 3.5 mm male to male auxiliary cable, a storage bag and documentation (which included an exclusive unlock code for the Jabra Sound 2013-04-17 17.30.24companion app).

The headset itself was a thing of beauty. The design angles demanded it be touched, and the greyish hues mixed well with black leather and burn orange cabling. At the risk of sounding like a lovestruck extra on Gone With the Wind, it was a sight to behold. The memory pieces on the audio outputs were indeed soft, and the padding on the headband hinted at an enviable attention to detail. The joints and extensibility were design decisions I appreciated. And it seemed tough enough; drops from about four feet didn’t faze it. I also liked the extra inlet for the new sweetheart or pesky kid brother to load up an extra headset.

But what about it’s real mission? Well, I am going to be very honest. I don’t consider myself an audiophile; I do like high end headset and speakers, and dislike warped sound. I’m a stoic guy, and am rarely prone to inappropriate public displays or inexplicable shouts of joy. I don’t fall for the hype.

The sound quality blew me away.

The sound was rich, belying the stated Dolby Digital collaboration. I thought it somehow separated the elements of the sound even while melding them together, all the while creating a hauntingly precise musical experience. It worked flawlessly with two music applications (including Google Music) and Netflix. The on-device controls worked for playing/pausing, as well as hanging up calls. The built-in microphone worked for calls, as did the volume buttons.

The Jabra Sound app was a cool extension which opened up a fairly basic music app and equalizer. Basic, because without stuff like shuffle, true music heads might sneer. It did have share functionality, so I won’t talk too much shade about it. The volume buttons did not work on my default third-party music app, but that was a minor quibble.

For a high-end piece of kit that lives up to its reputation, this headset is definitely an understated option. If wired headsets are one’s preferred option, these might do the trick. If they are not one’s preferred option, be warned: it just might be.

InterRupt Review

InterRupt Review

May 13, 2011

I like to run to keep in shape, and music really helps me go that extra mile, but it’s hard to run while a car is plowing into you. So, I had to give up wearing headphones while running because it was too hard to keep mentally motivated while constantly monitoring everything you can’t hear. I had hoped InterRupt would be a solution to my problem.

Basically, InterRupt monitors the sounds of the environment through your phone’s microphone while you are listening to music with your headphones on. If a sound should exceed a certain threshold, InterRupt plays that sound through your headphones so you can hear what’s going on. Think of something like the sound approaching car while you’re jogging or cycling, for example, or the sound of your boss trying to get your attention at work. It’s one of those million dollar ideas that you wish you’d thought of.

The key thing to remember about InterRupt is that you need to have it set correctly for it to work right. After the app calibrates to your environment, you set the threshold to a level where the noise should cut in. The trick is in getting it just right.

One of the biggest problems was that I usually keep my phone in my pocket while I’m out jogging, muffling the microphone so that it can’t “hear” what’s going on outside. Fortunately, InterRupt will also monitor the input from the microphone on your headset, assuming you’ve got one. I don’t.

During my testing, my only recourse was to keep the sensitivity high enough to hear outside while setting the threshold low enough that it wasn’t triggering on the sound of bouncing around in my pocket. This almost worked. Mostly, I just ended up listening to the sound of the phone pounding against my leg while my shorts ruffled against the microphone.

Another problem with InterRupt is that it barely gets your attention, even when working perfectly. Sometimes a sound is so brief that it triggers, but the slight delay means you don’t hear it, like the sound of someone saying, “Hey!” Unless it’s a steady sound, you’ll never hear it. You learn to ignore the slight intrusions, especially as it doesn’t cut the volume or pause your music, it just plays the ambient noise over top of it.

If the option to cut the volume, pause your music or play an alarm were included, would it make this app better? I don’t think so. It would still work exactly as it does, only it would add the extra annoyance of fiddling with your volume or playback, giving you one extra distraction from what you’re supposed to be doing.

I still believe InterRupt is a great idea, but it doesn’t solve any problem I couldn’t fix by simply turning down the volume enough to hear over my headphones.