Portable headphones come in two main styles: in-ear and on-ear. The former comprise the ultratiny earbuds and canalbuds that you place at least somewhat inside your ears, while the latter often feature a headband and circular earpads that rest over the ears. iPod accessories maker iFrogz offers several models in both varieties, including the in-ear Ear Pollution Plugz headphones featured here. Unfortunately, this $15 set rather lives up to its name, offering audio quality about on par with the stock 'buds included with most MP3 players. On the plus side, the earphones offer a hint of style, an ultracompact design, … Read more
Portable headphones come in two main styles: in-ear and on-ear. The former comprises the ultratiny earbuds and canalbuds that you place at least somewhat inside your ears, while the latter often features a headband and circular earpads that rest over the ears.
iPod accessory maker iFrogz offers several models in both varieties, but the on-ear Ear Pollution Toxix headphones are the subject here. Thankfully, the $20 set doesn't totally live up to its name, but neither does it sound particularly good. The earphones offer a hint of style and a lightweight design, so they could work in a pinch … Read more
So secretive, that Apple. In its typical fashion, the company coyly declined to answer our initial inquiries about the production force behind its branded In-Ear Headphones, and now the earbuds' product page seems to be indefinitely marked with "Coming Soon." What gives, oh purveyor of iPods? Also this week: MP3 players with customizable interfaces.
Q: I just bought a new iPod Touch, which is fantastic, but I have been waiting a while for Apple to release their new In-Ear Headphones, the ones announced in September for $79. The audio quality seems like it would be fine for me, and I would really like to have the microphone and playback controls on the wire. I had read that Apple would release them in October, but it is now November 6 and they are still listed on Apple's Web site as "coming soon." I have been completely unable to find any info on this mystery. Do you know when or if they will be released? Thanks very much for your help.--Aleck , via e-mail
A: Unfortunately, Apple is being rather tight-lipped about this product. The company's rep asserted that Apple will not be releasing review samples until the earphones actually hit shelves, and she was unable to provide an estimate as to when that might be--no doubt because the headphones are being manufactured by an unknown third party. The best thing I can say is just keep an eye out at the Apple Store, although the fact that the product is this late to market is rather uncharacteristic of Apple and raises some concern regarding the production of the line. If they're not available by Black Friday, I'd consider looking at alternatives. Radius has a $50 pair that I found to be suitable, the Atomic Bass for iPhone. There's no integrated controls in those, though.… Read more
ZAGG, the company that makes those screen protectors for mobile devices, is diversifying its product catalog by getting into the overcrowded earbuds market. Its new ZAGGaudio line features a pair of over-the-ear headphones, USB laptop speakers, and the Z.buds earphones.
Not unlike the recently reviewed V-moda Vibe II earphones, the Z.buds do double duty as a hands-free headset for devices with a 3.5mm jack, e.g. the iPhone. They also kind of look like the original Vibe 'buds. However, they're about half the price of the Vibe II's selling at the company's site for $… Read more
V-moda has gained quite a reputation for its stylish, low-profile earbuds. The good word has been helped along by the fact that these 'phones are not just lookers, but they offer impressive sound quality as well. The latest model to be pumped out of the V-moda factory, the Vibe II, is no exception. This $128 pair offers: solid sound quality; a sleek design with a unique cable and a built-in mic for use with the iPhone and other music phones; and an updated plug housing that's designed to withstand more wear and tear than previous models. Just make sure … Read more
This morning saw the release of several new Sony audio products aimed at frequent fliers and other on-the-go users. The company announced a pair of ultracompact, travel-friendly speakers and three sets of headphones: one with noise-canceling, one with Bluetooth, and one with inline volume controls. You can find out all the details about the SRS-M50, MDR-NC7, DR-BT160AS, and MDR-EX36V in our photo gallery.
The iPhone is a great multimedia device, but it's not perfect. One of the most glaring oversights for this music phone is the lack of stereo Bluetooth (A2DP) compatibility. As a result, you're limited to clunky adapters or wired headsets if you want to enjoy music and conversation to the fullest.
Now, you can count on another wired option from Radius, the Atomic Bass earphones for iPhone. These headphones will only set you back about 50 bucks, and they retain the built-in mic found on the set included with the phone while offering improved audio and comfort. In … Read more
Razer is a gaming brand, and as such, it markets its Moray headphones as in-ear noise-isolating "gaming" earphones. And while there really isn't anything that distinguishes them from other soft earbud-style headphones in their price class, they do indeed pair up quite nicely with the PSP, DS, and MP3 players.
Razer describes the Morays, which come in white and black, as having "powerful bass-driven stereo sound and mid-/high-range clarity." That's a somewhat accurate statement, but if you're used to listening to your music through high-end earbud headphones, like those offered by Shure … Read more
I can't begin to tell you how many MP3 players I've yanked off my desk and onto to floor because the cable of the test headphones was too short to allow me to enjoy the full range of motion around my capacious cubicle. Suffice it to say that it's a lot. (And it has taught me that MP3 players are surprisingly resistant to damage when hurled onto a carpeted surface.) But that and related issues are easily remedied by employing a cord extender. What about the opposite problem? You can't very well take a pair of scissors to your earphone wiring. What you can do is purchase a pair of earbuds with a short initial cable. Also this week: find out how to get stereo audio into a single ear.
Q: I was wondering if you know any earbuds that have a short cable. The headphones I normally use for my iPod has a cable that is too long. I've looked at the Sony MDR-AS50G, but am a little hesitant to buy it as I have a big head. Are there any other options that are on par with those headphones, or will I be stuck using my primary headphone? Also, I was thinking of buying the 4th generation iPod Nano and I wanted to know if any of the lanyard-style headphones for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation Nano will work with the 4th generation. Thanks for the help.--Oscar, via e-mail
A: What you want to look for is a set of headphones with a modular cable. These sets have a shorter initial cable directly attached to the earbuds, and then often come with an extender for times when you need a longer cord. Some examples: the Sony Active Line, the Shure SE Series, and the Audio-Technica ATH-CKM50A.
As for the second part of the question, I doubt the lanyard-style headphones for previous iPod Nanos will work for the newest Nano, because they generally snap onto the bottom somehow, and so they must conform to the exact shape of the player and the distance between the dock connection and the headphone jack. These factors have been different for each generation of the Nano.
Q: I only have hearing in one ear. I seem to remember seeing people wearing a high tech "single piece" headphone in order to hear local conversation as well. Do these exist and what are they called? Do they output "stereo" in that one channel?--Chris, via e-mail… Read more
All the political madness must be getting to my brain, because I apparently think MP3 Mailbox Monday is better suited to Tuesday this week. Luckily, the date doesn't affect the usefulness of the information herein. Namely, what's the deal with satellite radio lately? XM and Sirius officially merged this year, but things have been decidedly quiet other than that, with few exciting new product announcements. For subscribers, there's been some confusion over whether to upgrade equipment now or hold out for a possible combination of the signals or new gadgets that can receive both services. Some answers to that below.
Q: While searching for what is "new" for Sirius radios, I ran across your Aug 15, 2007 article on the Stiletto 2, and thought you would be a person in-the-know. I recently found out that my S50 radio will not handle the best-of-XM service being offered by Sirius. I guess that will teach me not to be the first in line to buy semiportable satellite radios. Sirius is being very helpful in working with me to get a new radio (unfortunately they are not going to do it for free), and they are pushing the Stiletto 2.
My thought is that with Christmas coming, I am sure there is something new on the horizon. However, I can not find any rumors or articles discussing what they plan to do next. I would assume a portable radio that would handle both XM and Sirius signals, but I do not know how far down the road that is. Have you heard of what is coming next with Sirius portable radios? Should I go with the Stiletto 2, or wait?--Jesse, via e-mail
A: Although Sirius is offering the Best of XM access that you described, at this point, I haven't heard anything about Sirius XM combining the signals for the two services. Currently, the companies use two different compression and access systems, so the individual receivers are only compatible with the one service they are advertised for. However, Sirius XM has stated that any currently sold receivers will work with any service going forward, whether it is combined or separate.… Read more