feature post image for Yamaha YAS-106 Sound Bar

Yamaha YAS-106 Sound Bar

Cranking up the volume on your new television rapidly exposes the weakness in its speakers. Sound bars can fix this without the need for a bulky audio setup, and the Yamaha YAS-106 Sound Bar is on the affordable side of the price spectrum. The slim device can both rest on furniture or mount on a wall and boasts two subwoofers, two woofers, and two tweeters, spaced far apart for full stereo sound and virtual surround sound. Plug it to your set with an optical cable or, better yet, with HDMI, with one input and one output to support 4K video signal pass-through, working with modern and future players/streamers including 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc players. You can also add on another external subwoofer if you’d like and control the speaker using either the included remote or a Bluetooth-linked device — though if it’s connected with HDMI adjusting volume should be handled by a normal television remote.

Grab one at Amazon – $200

Tags: Audio, Tech
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Bowers & Wilkins White Zeppelin Wireless

Less than a year ago they launched the Zeppelin Wireless, a clean version of their blimp-shaped speaker that’s without dock to mar its appearance. But if your decor’s not so dark perhaps the Bowers & Wilkins White Zeppelin Wireless might suit your home better. The speaker is just as bold and features the same five drivers, including two double dome tweeters, two 3.5-inch midranges, and a 6.5-inch subwoofer with an ultra-long voice coil for producing deep bass. It’ll also stream music from your device using AirPlay, Bluetooth with aptX, or via auxiliary cable, and can also get content online using Spotify Connect.

Available in August. Learn more at Bowers & Wilkins – $700

Tags: Audio, Tech
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Braven BRV-1M Bluetooth Speaker

It’s small enough to strap on a bike or pack and packs enough punch to probably require cranking the volume down to half to avoid disturbing the peace. Even at that, the Braven BRV-1M Bluetooth Speaker has a few extra tricks up its sleeve. A rubberized impact-resistant frame also locks out water to IPX7 standards, meaning it’ll shrug off rainfall, splashes, or even submersion to one meter deep (for 30 minutes) without a hitch. An included strap slips through and around the speaker to make attaching it to things easy, as does the included Action Mount that’s compatible with all GoPro mounting systems. Else, pop open the sealed door on the back side for access to an aux in port, a Micro USB to charge it up, a battery indicator, and a USB output to charge your other devices using the speaker’s 2,200mAh battery.

Find it at Amazon – $73 to $100

Tags: Audio, Tech
feature post image for V-MODA Crossfade Wireless Headphones

V-MODA Crossfade Wireless Headphones

Whether you prefer latency-free wired listening or cutting cords completely, V-MODA’s Crossfade Wireless headphones have you covered. Plug in the Kevlar-reinforced auxiliary cable and all electronics within the headphone switch off to achieve zero latency, ideal for gaming or DJing — or when the batteries, good for 12 hours on a charge, run out of juice. Alternately, switch on the Bluetooth antenna for freedom from cables and a 33 foot listening range from your device. They sound great either way thanks to 50mm dual-diaphragm drivers (the same as in their wired Crossfade M-100) and passive sound insulating, achieved thanks to earcups that minimally leak sound and memory foam cushions that conform to the shape of your ears. Other features include controls on both the wire and the headphones themselves, a stealthy mic for quickly taking calls, and the option of customizing the looks of your pair with 3D printed shields that replace the standard aluminum ones.

Grab a pair at V-MODA or Amazon – $300

Tags: Audio, Tech
feature post image for Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H5

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H5

Don’t let wires tie you down. Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay H5 earphones have a durable braided textile cord between them, but that’s it, otherwise relying on Bluetooth 4.2 with support for aptX, aptX-LL, and AAC codecs for audio transmission. Their sweat-resistant housing is made of textured rubber and polymer, connecting to seven included ear tips for a snug fit in your ear. A litium-ion battery in each earpiece (for balance) gives the H5 five hours of playtime per charge, which is accomplished thanks to a cubic charger that each bud clicks into magnetically. The two also snap together magnetically for wearing around your neck when not listening — and automatically powers them down to save battery.

Preorder at Amazon – $250

Tags: Audio, Tech
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Here One Smart Buds

Doppler Labs knows a thing or two about reducing unwanted noise with their first noise-reducing earbuds. Now their Here One Smart Buds do the same while letting you listen to music or take calls as well. Fire up the accompanying app to control real-world sounds, including via Smart Noise filters that can selectively cut out airplane engine noise, office chatter, and more. Likewise, listening to music doesn’t have to leave you isolated from the world by piping through ambient noises if desired for, say, biking safely on busy roads. They’ll work with both Android and iOS devices and are completely wireless so you’ll probably never want to take them off.

Shipping Holidays 2016. Learn more at Doppler Labs – $300

Tags: Audio, Tech
feature post image for Devialet Gold Phantom

Devialet Gold Phantom

No, it’s just just a Phantom with gold trim. Devialet’s new Gold Phantom does indeed boast 22-carat pink gold-plated side panels but also improves just about everything about its predecessors, including an increased power output of 4,500 Watts, a Grade 1 titanium tweeter that can hit frequencies of 27 kHz, and a hybrid analog-digital amplifier in the form of ADH Intelligence. It’s relatively compact but a single Gold Phantom is plenty powerful to fill even large rooms — perhaps too much so if you live in an apartment building and care about your neighbors emotional well-being. And it’ll stream music using WiFi, Bluetooth, Airplay, optical, even ethernet and Spotify Connect, from virtually any device or player.

Learn more at Devialet – $3,000

Tags: Audio, Tech
feature post image for Samsung Gear IconX

Samsung Gear IconX

Various startups have been peddling wireless earbuds on Kickstarter over the last couple of years. Samsung’s Gear IconX is the first by the electronics giant, and amongst the only by any major player in the market. Push one into each of your ears and you’re set, with a fit that’s customizable thanks to three sizes of eartips and three sizes of wingtips (the protruding arch) that can be mixed and matched. Even without your phone it’ll function as a fitness tracker, monitoring duration, speed, heart rate, and distance covered while feeding you this information by way of a dedicated voice guide. In a way it’s also the smallest music player thanks to 4GB of internal memory that’ll hold 1,000 songs, playing them while (optionally) keeping you aware of your surroundings with a nifty Ambient Sound mode. Controls are managed thanks to capacitive touch sensors on the side, responding to taps and swipes, and of course it works perfectly with smartphones running Android KitKat or newer. The real trick will be not losing just one.

Available by the end of summer. Learn more at Samsung – $200

Tags: Audio, Tech
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Vi AI Personal Trainer

Self-motivating is difficult: ask anyone who’s ever ended up hired a personal coach. LifeBEAM’s Vi AI Personal Trainer is the latter, minus the human (and associated long-term costs) with the added convenience of being ready to go whenever you are. Hardware-wise Vi is a hearable device with Harman/Kardon soundm, battery life that lasts over 8 hours, and physical activity tracking that includes heart rate, motion, and environment. Listen to music while you’re working out or answer calls. But the real innovation is Vi’s AI-powered personal trainer that analysis your biometrics, providing real-time insights to optimize results, improve your running technique, prevent injuries that might slow you down, and help maintain your heart rate in the target zone. One note: right now Vi’s software focuses on running so if you prefer other sports you’re somewhat out of luck, though more activities are promised in the future.

Find it at Kickstarter – $200

feature post image for Bose QC35 Wireless Headphones

Bose QC35 Wireless Headphones

As far as sound cancelling headphones go, it’s been hard (read: impossible) to find a better product than Bose’s flagship model. And now Bose’s QC35 Wireless Headphones are finally cutting the cords, employing Bluetooth in addition to an aux-in and connecting to your device with quick NFC pairing. Of course their noise cancellation is as good as ever with a dual-microphone system that counters ambient noise even in noisy environments like plane cabins. Surprisingly, battery life is barely affected, with the pair still managing a solid 20 hours of listening on a charge. And if you’d rather plug in, you’ll be rewarded with up to 40 hours of battery life, powering just noise cancellation.

Grab a pair on Amazon – $350

Tags: Audio, Tech
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