When I attended my first Consumer Electronics Show in 1990, Microsoft was a relatively small company that had had one real hit (MS-DOS) and was struggling to gain traction with its other applications. I don’t think the company even exhibited at CES back then.
Emotiva made its name by offering high-end audio electronics that look like they cost thousands but actually cost hundreds. With the X-Ref line, it’s trying to do the same in speakers. The company has offered speakers in the past, but X-Ref is its first concerted effort to deliver a broad line of speakers at prices low enough to attract budget-minded-yet -serious home theater enthusiasts. The line includes two tower speakers, two LCR (left/center/right) speakers, two bookshelf speakers, one surround speaker, and two subwoofers.
After trying several Bluetooth headphones, I’m surprised this category hasn’t taken off yet. With Bluetooth, you’re unencumbered by pesky cables. You can leave your cell phone in your pocket, on a table, etc., and control volume and track forward/reverse wherever you roam, as long as you don’t stray further than 30 feet. And unlike almost all mic-equipped headphones, Bluetooth headphones work as well with Androids as they do with iPhones.
Most headphone amps aren’t made for the way we use headphones. Even many small models are too big to slip comfortably into a pocket. And most require power from an AC wall wart or a USB port. What use is that when you’re stuck in seat 34B of a Boeing 757, miles above Enid, Oklahoma, struggling to get better sound from your smartphone?
Every year, magazine editors around the world solicit ideas from their writers for the compulsory “holiday gift guide.” Every year, we scrounge the Internet in search of items we think our editors will go for. ’Cause the more gift ideas the editors buy, the more money we make.
After hearing the enthusiastic sales pitch from SOL Republic, one of the latest of many new entrants into the headphone biz, I was disappointed when I heard the company's first model, the Tracks $99 on-ear. While the Tracks is beautifully made and incredibly comfortable for an on-ear model, its extremely bass-heavy balance made me feel like I was locked in the trunk of a Honda Civic with two 12-inch woofers and the complete works of Deadmau5 cranked way up.
When I received the company's first in-ear monitor (IEM), the $99 Amps HD, I wondered if the company would be able to achieve the blend of design and sound quality it originally promised - or if it'd be another well-crafted but sonically intolerable product.
When we heard about the Sync by 50 headphones from SMS Audio, our hearts soared. We hoped that company founder and hip-hop star 50 Cent — or Fiddy, or Fif, or Cent, or Curtis, or whatever the hip-hop cognoscenti are calling him this week — would tap his fabled entrepreneurial skills and no-nonsense business attitude to create the world’s first hip-hop headphones that don’t at least kinda suck.
I HAD AN EPIPHANY of sorts last week when I was doing lab measurements for our review of the Creative ZiiSound D5x. Pretty as the product is, it took me about 45 minutes to get it to mate with Creative’s supplied USB Bluetooth dongle. Then it took me another 30 minutes to get it to mate with the DSx subwoofer. In the latter case, I’m still not sure what I did right — it just suddenly started working.