The House of Marley Liberate headphones don't look or feel like any other $100 pair. Most are flimsy plastic things, while the Liberate's metal, wood, hemp cloth, and vinyl construction gives it the feel of a more expensive design. The Liberate features 40mm drivers and an unusually flexible cable with an iPhone/iPad-compatible mic and inline controls. The headband isn't hinged and the earcups don't fold flat, but the upside to those design choices is the Liberate will probably withstand rough treatment better than most hinged models. Then again, the Liberate's cable isn't user-replaceable, … Read more
Like anyone who regularly reviews headphones, I've noticed that the majority of them have no unique features or qualities. So for example, it's rare to find headphones in the T 51 P's price class that aren't made in China, but this little $289 Beyerdynamic is made in Germany. The lightweight, 174 gram, mostly metal design doesn't have a hinged headband, but the ear cups fold flat for easy storage in the supplied, beautifully designed carry case. The headphone lacks a mic or inline controls, marking it as a design intended for the serious audiophile who … Read more
Apple has two new iPads, and they've never been more similar.
The iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina Display are both out in stores, but unlike a year ago, the large and small are, under the hood, more alike than different. Both have Retina displays, in the same resolution no less. Both have A7 processors. Both come in storage sizes up to 128GB. Both come in cellular versions. One starts at $399, the other starts at $499.
So, which iPad should you get?
Let's assume you're already reading this article because you want to buy … Read more
As a die-hard magazine fan, I've enjoyed having Next Issue on my iPad. It's a subscription service that brings me unlimited periodicals for a flat monthly rate ($9.99 or $14.99 depending on whether you want weeklies as well).
However, I've bemoaned some fairly major shortcomings in the app, such as no Retina support, text-view mode, bookmarking, article sharing or printing, and more. The folks at Next Issue seem more concerned with adding titles to the library (which now includes an impressive 120-plus) rather than improving the user experience.
So I was hopeful that the just-released … Read more
It wasn't that long ago that desktop "computer" audio was synonymous with awful-sounding, cheap 'n' cheerful plastic speakers, but over the last few years Audioengine, Emotiva, Adam Audio, and many others started making seriously good high-quality monitors, with prices starting around $200 a pair.
I mostly focus on desktop speakers a la carte, but this time out I'm checking out PSB Speakers' ultracompact Alpha PS1 monitors paired with the almost-as-small SubSeries 100 sub. This three-piece system reaches lower into the bass than any of the aforementioned monitors without breaking the bank. Alpha PS1s run $299 per … Read more
The ALO Island is a USB-powered digital audio converter/headphone amplifier, and it's a honey! Functionally, it's not so different than many of the other USB digital converter/amps I've covered on this blog, but it's a bit bigger. The others are about the size of a thumbdrive; the Island is a 1.25x1.25x3.25-inch aluminum "brick," but it's still small enough to be considered a portable device. It handles low- and high-resolution files, up to 192kHz/24-bit. The Island sells for $299 in the US direct from the ALO Web site, … Read more
I didn't know the price of the M-Audio M3-8 when I first started listening, I just assumed it was $900 to $1,000 for the pair of speakers. No, the street price is closer to $600 for a pair, around the same price as for one of the reigning wireless champions, such as the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air or Bose SoundDock 10. And the M3-8s deliver so much more of the sound of your music than those two wireless models, it's not even close. For one thing a pair of M3-8s produce stereo, and the sort of … Read more
Pop quiz: you have 15 minutes to spare while you wait for your turn in the dentist's office -- now what? You're already caught up on your Facebook feed and the front page of Reddit looks the same as it did 10 minutes ago. So why not take this opportunity to test your mental mettle?
I've put together a small collection of my favorite puzzle games for Android, many of which are free. While some might be incredibly simple in their premise, they can still challenge that gray matter. And, thanks to features such as achievements and … Read more
Bass-emphasized headphones are now the norm, so much so that when I get to listen to more accurate headphones they really stand out. Not that I have anything against bass, readers of this blog who crave feel-it-in-your-bones bass had their turn with the JBL Synchros S700 headphones, so now it's time to go for a higher-resolution/clarity model with the new Phiaton Fusion MS 430 M-Series headphones ($179).
The earcups' carbon fiber inserts are a sleek styling touch, but the ear cushion's comfort levels are good, not great. While the headband padding may be a little lean for … Read more
Every now and then I get e-mails from readers who like to listen loud -- really loud. One recent one asked, "Can you recommend a nice pair of tower or bookshelf speakers capable of keeping the party going?" Well, there's loud, really loud, and there comes a point where it's so loud your neighbors call the police.
The guy's budget was limited to around $600 for a pair of speakers, so I immediately thought of Klipsch; its larger bookshelf and tower speakers can play really loud, and sound good while raising the roof.
I rang … Read more