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Bose showed me the QuietComfort Headphones Ultra and the ANC blew me away
3:00 pm | September 17, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones: Price and release date

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

(Image credit: Future)

When they hit the market, the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones will cost £449.95 in the UK, $429 in the US and AU$649.95 in Australia, which puts them in line with the more premium options among the best headphones

Due to conversion rates and what is probably down to cheaper import costs, the headphones will cost $125 / £100 / AU$195 cheaper if bought in the States than in the UK. In Australia, it’s only a difference of about $10 / £8 / AU$15.

The Ultra cans will be available to buy in just two pretty boring colorways of black and 'white smoke' from early October, according to Bose. If you’re worried about missing out, you can pre-order them now from the brand’s official website.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones: Sound quality

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

(Image credit: Future)

While the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones might not have left me awestruck with their design refresh, it's in audio innovation where Bose truly shines.

The introduction of the firm’s Immersive Audio tech is what really sets this product apart. Bringing spatial audio to your ears, this feature creates a more expansive, multi-dimensional soundstage and in doing so offers a more rounded and realistic overall sound – almost like whatever you’re listening to is being played live in the room with you. The other great thing is that this works for any device you’re using, and doesn’t require any additional specific tech or subscriptions. 

It works so well that I can imagine this release will redefine the way audio companies make headphones. Mark my words: expect more spatial sound tech baked into other major audio companies’ headphones in the very near future. 

What's particularly impressive is the flexibility this immersive sound tech offers, with two modes to cater to different scenarios. Within the app, you can toggle the Immersive Audio from off to  'Still' mode, which keeps the soundstage fixed in front of you even when turning your head, to 'Motion' mode, which dynamically adapts to your movements so the soundstage follows you while on the go.

My overall first impressions of audio quality were that the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones didn't boast the same heavy, booming bass that Bose is renowned for. Instead, the music sounded remarkably clean, nicely balanced, and – thanks to that new audio tech – incredibly immersive. 

The headphones’ active noise cancelling (ANC) tech has also been given an upgrade in the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones over-ears and works seamlessly with the Immersive Audio tech to deliver an even richer listening experience with minimal interference. This comes in an all-new noise cancellation mode: Immersion, which Bose says is its most powerful ANC ever.

I was able to test just how good this ANC really is at blocking out external sounds during my hands-on time, where I pitted the headphones against various loud noises. In a demo, Bose blasted out loud recordings of everyday occurrences, such as train noises and the like while I listened to various tracks on an iPhone. The results were impressive: I couldn’t hear any of the external sounds over what I was listening to. Saying that, I would like to try this test again in the real world, outside an environment controlled by Bose, to see how well this new Immersion mode really performs.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones: Battery life

When it comes to battery life, the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones promise up to 24 hours of power per charge while Bose Immersive Audio is turned off, and up to 18 hours when it’s switched on.

Since I was only able to get a short amount of time with the headphones at the launch event, I obviously wasn’t able to test these claims during my demo, but this will be something I can test thoroughly in a full-length review.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones: Design

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones

(Image credit: Future)

The QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are a completely reimagined version of their predecessor, the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which are ancient as far as gadgets go at over four years old. As you’d expect, the Ultras bring a slew of new design features, including refreshed proprietary signal processing, a new robust chipset, some advanced microphones and a whole new look.

While Bose maintains its trademark build quality, offering sturdy and visually appealing headphones with a sleek, minimalist aesthetic, I do think they’re missing that premium flair you’d expect from a pair of cans in this price range. They also feel a little chunkier compared to their predecessor, foregoing that sleek curved band shape that many loved about the 700s. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still minimal in appearance, they just don’t have that luxe appeal I was hoping for.

Another niggle that I noticed – during my hands-on time – is that the headphones were prone to retaining fingerprints, with every touch leaving unsightly visible smudge marks. Not a great look.

So how do they feel on? The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are certainly comfort by name, comfort by nature. They’re a great fit, sliding over your ears to fully envelop them while leaving enough space to breathe. I can imagine you’ll be able to wear these over-ears for long periods of time without feeling like they’re clinging to your head too hard or causing a case of sweaty lugs like some headphones can.

The Ultras have also been given an improved set of physical controls, with Bose removing most of the capacitive touch controls found on the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. In this model, the right ear cup touts a power/Bluetooth pairing button, a one-off capacitive touch strip for volume control and shortcuts, and a multifunction button for managing listening modes, calls, and playback. 

On the opposite side, the left ear cup houses an LED indicator, a 2.5 mm jack, and a USB-C charging port, rounding out the functionality. Everything seemed to work well in my tests, responding to commands rapidly and feeling intuitive to the touch.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones: Early verdict

Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones next to phone

(Image credit: Future)

It's still early days, and we'll need more in-depth testing to truly gauge how impressive these headphones are, but one thing is sure – Bose has seriously stepped up its audio game with the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones. 

Bose was once all about excellent noise cancellation. And it still is. But now, it seems, there’s an additional focus: a level of immersive sound that makes any audio source come alive with more detail and realism. 

Bose certainly continues its tradition of innovation with the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, and I can’t wait to hear how my favourite music sounds on them.

Anker Soundcore Space One review: a bargain Beats alternative with ANC
4:00 pm | September 1, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Two-minute review

Anker is that name you seek out when your budget is a little tighter than ideal but you still want something good quality with a few neat features. The Anker Soundcore Space One reflect that ethos perfectly. While they don't offer sound as meaty as the best headphones, they're clearly punching above their weight at just $100/£100. 

A quick glance instantly shows you that the Anker Soundcore Space One are trying to be like Beats. They have a very similar build and they're about the same kind of weight. Outside of people like us, most people wouldn't immediately notice the difference visually. Available in a few different colors, that attitude is even more obvious. While these are more on a par with the best cheap headphones, the Anker Soundcore Space One still offer some key features.

There's powerful ANC with easy to use options via the Soundcore app. Up to 40 hours of listening time is possible here with ANC enabled while a massive 55 hours can be achieved with it switched off. In our time, that proved accurate too. A quick five-minute charge gives back four hours working out a pretty useful backup.

The 40mm dynamic drivers aren't great out of the box but spend some time with the HearID function via the app and you'll soon get the Anker Soundcore Space One sounding just how you want them to. As is often the way with cheaper headphones, bass is the highlight here but sound on the whole is crisp and clear. 

LDA support is available for Android phones while there's Hi-Res audio certification for both wired and wireless use. All the key boxes are ticked here. The only main one that the Anker Soundcore Space One falters on is wear detection. 

During our time testing, it was very patchy. Sometimes it would work and other times, you'd realise too late that you'd missed a half a song to interact with the world. With a strong transparency mode, this is less relevant when talking to people but if you're pausing while relaxing at home, it's a bit of an irritant to not be able to rely on it.

Still, we'll let that one go a little bit as we eye up the price of the Anker Soundcore Space One and enjoy other options like Multi-point that you may not get elsewhere at this price. Overall, the Anker Soundcore Space One are a bit of a bargain. The kind of headphones to make you question spending hundreds on more premium brands, Anker's got things ticking along nicely here.

Anker Soundcore Space One review review: Price and release date

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • Released August 2023
  • $99 / £99

The Anker Soundcore Space One are shrewdly priced at $99 / £99. Currently available in the US, UK, and Europe, they're available direct from Soundcore as well as from third-party retailers. 

Colors wise, you have three options – black, blue, and a white that's more like cream. One of their nearest rivals is the Sony WH-CH520 at $59 / £50. There's no ANC though. 

For ANC, consider the JBL Tune 750BTNC at $99/£99. Battery life is way lower at 15 hours with ANC on and they're showing their age with Bluetooth 4.2 support, but they sound great. 

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Specs

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Features

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • ANC is good for the price
  • Hi-res audio support
  • Multi-point pairing 

The Anker Soundcore Space One is a veritable checklist of everything you'd likely need or want from headphones. There's Hi-res audio support along with LDAC for Android users -- something you don't always see in this price range. 

Alongside that, there's the Soundcore companion app that isn't overwhelming nor too basic. You'll need to dive in for a few minutes to set up HearID to get the most from these cans' audio but it's worth it. It's like an eye test for your ears with you simply choosing the option that sounds best for you before a new EQ is devised for your needs. 

Elsewhere in the app, you can adjust the ANC. For the most part, leaving it on adaptive ANC is the best move. It adjusts fairly well based on your surroundings but there's also a custom option for times when you need to crank it up even further. Transparency mode can also be enabled here allowing you to easily converse with others without taking them off. Delve further and you can use Easy Chat options to allow you to lower the volume at the touch of the ear cup for when you need to speak to someone, or even use speak to enable so no input is needed from you.

The latter is in beta and much like wear detection, it's not to be relied on. In our time of reviewing it, the Anker Soundcore Space One has already been updated to improve wear detection but more work needs to be done.

Wobble aside and the Anker Soundcore Space One smashes it out the park with its ANC. At this price, you rarely get ANC that feels much better than passive noise isolation but these are special. Whack ANC on and you won't hear conversations nearby you. You'll hear traffic as you walk but it's still blocked out sufficiently so that it doesn't disrupt your listening experience. While the Anker Soundcore Space One may not be perfect, they're more than good enough for blocking out all the most irritating sounds that life brings with it.

  • Features score: 4/5

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Sound quality

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • Strong bass 
  • Hi-res support
  • Mostly crisp and clear

Dive into the Anker Soundcore Space One and expect the sound quality of a $350/£350 pair of cans and you'll be disappointed. When it comes to the finer touches like detailed mids and the right amount of treble, the Anker Soundcore Space One doesn't really hit the spot. It's fine but nothing special.

However, when it comes to a strong level of bass and a wide soundstage, you can't go wrong with these cans. Focusing on bass is a familiar concept for many budget headphones but when Daft Punk's Around the World kicked in on our 90s playlist, we were delighted at how thumping it felt and what a wide soundstage experience there was. 

For more vocal-heavy songs like John Legend's All of Me, you still get a crisp experience. Similarly, podcasts and other types of spoken word sound just fine and suitably clear.

If you're more of a nuanced music listener, the Anker Soundcore Space One won't hit the spot in quite the same way, but for cans to wear on your commute or walk, they're just right. 

There's always Hi-Res audio with LDAC support for Android users too if you want something a little richer.

One quick note – bear in mind that the sound quality is based on you spending the time setting up your HearID profile. Out of the box, the Soundcore Space One doesn't sound anywhere near as good so it makes a crucial difference. 

  • Sound quality score: 3.5/5

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Design

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • Look a lot like Beats
  • Comfy headband
  • Folding design 

Glancing at the Anker Soundcore Space One next to a pair of Beats and it's surprisingly hard to tell the difference. They're clearly influenced by them right down to the logo on each earcup looking similar. They're not quite as stylish with fewer curved edges but there's not much in it.

Crucially, the Anker Soundcore Space One are well-padded. The ear cups get a bit warm when it's hot but they keep your ears comfy for however long you use them for. Similarly, the headband feels great with no clamping force wrecking your day. Extending the headband makes a kind of crunch noise but it doesn't sound worrying and it's simple enough to find the right fit for you. 

Both ear cups fold in so you can easily store these headphones without them taking up any more room than they have to. A small travel pouch is included for a bit of extra protection but solely in your bag folded should keep them safe. 

  • Design score: 4/5

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Value

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • Very well-priced
  • Likely to be new leader
  • Always hope for more discounts 

The Anker Soundcore Space One are excellent value for what they offer. Better than the always tempting Sony WH-CH520 thanks to offering ANC, and far better than the ageing JBL Tune 750BTNC, there's not much out there at this price that could currently beat the Anker Soundcore Space One. 

To do so, you'd need to spend a lot more money to compete and that's hardly the point here, is it? 

The Anker Soundcore Space One's temperamental wear detection is an irritant but we're hopeful that future updates rectify it. You never know, that could be in time for a price cut too given Soundcore gear is often in sales.

  • Value score: 5/5

Should I buy the Anker Soundcore Space One?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

Anker Soundcore Space One review: Also consider

How I tested the Anker Soundcore Space One

Anker Soundcore Space One

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested for two weeks
  • Compared against Beats Studio Pro, JBL 670NC, Sony WH-1000XM4
  • Listened to Apple Music and Spotify on an iPhone 14 Pro,and a MacBook Pro

I tested the Anker Soundcore Space One against the Beats Studio Pro, JBL 670NC, Sony WH-1000XM4. I used them in the home office, in my living room while others were busy doing things, and walking around my local area during busy and quiet times. 

I used the Anker Soundcore Space One just how I would use my regular pair of headphones – for everything! That meant using them on my morning walk alongside busy and noisy traffic, as well as quieter walks in more rural areas where I got to test transparency mode (and ANC) against sociable dog walkers saying hello. 

Besides those active times, I also used the Anker Soundcore Space One as my main headset when taking work calls, watching Twitch streams, YouTube videos, and even some cheeky lunchtime gaming on my MacBook Pro. 

When listening to music, I focused on different genres including classical, jazz, the latest hits, and my favorite 90s playlist. This was across both Apple Music and Spotify. I also listened to podcasts on Spotify. 

I've been testing and reviewing audio products for over 10 years now. If I placed all the headphones and earphones I've reviewed in one room, there wouldn't be much space for me. I'm a big fan of music and always having something to keep my ears distracted from environmental sounds like my neighbour's never-ending DIY projects. 

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: August 2023
Status Between 3ANC review: stunning and with solid ANC, but forget tailoring
1:00 pm | August 19, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Status Between 3ANC: Two-minute review

How to differentiate yourself in a sea of Apple AirPods impersonators? Create a bold, angular, wide-stemmed design in "bone", with easy on-ear volume that could never be mistaken for an Apple product – that's how. Then, pack the earpieces with three drivers per earbud (dual-balanced armature drivers; one 10mm dynamic driver) and add six mics in total, dotted around the striking design, to boast a whopping 38dB of active noise cancellation. 

It's a compelling proposition. That last claim alone makes these some of the best noise-cancelling earbuds on the market. If all you want to know is whether that noise-nixing assertion holds water, we don't mind spilling the tea early: it does. You can only choose "on" or "off" mind, but when the ANC toggle is switched to on, the rest of the world all but melts away – yes, it's that good. Also, they're surprisingly comfortable and the sound quality is more than acceptable; big, expansive and zealous, although lacking an extra ounce of dynamic sensitivity. 

This New York outfit says it never compromises on the drivers within its products – and it shows. Battery life is also highly competitive, at eight hours with ANC switched on (the same as that offered by the new Sony WF-1000XM5) and 30 hours in the case (which betters the 24-hour total in Sony's latest progeny). Plus, it's nice to see wireless charging and an IPX5 water-resistance rating on the spec-sheet, too.

The thing is, gazing at this same spec sheet (and the companion app), you can't help but notice a few omissions. There are no fit or hearing tests; no branded, spatial audio side-sauce such as 360 Reality Audio, THX, Dolby or Dirac; no sound zones; no auto-off and no voice-enhancing sidetone or "Hear My Voice" tech during calls. 

Status Between 3ANC earbud held in hand

The bud may look an oddly sharp shape, but the Status are very comfortable (Image credit: Future)

Neither do you get LDAC, aptX Low Latency or, in fact, support for any of the higher-resolution Bluetooth codecs, which is a shame. However, you do get multi-point connectivity to two devices, which works well. 

All of this leaves us with a strange proposition. These are some of the best wireless headphones in certain aspects: specifically, active noise cancellation, in a unique design that's also comfortable and includes easy on-ear volume tweaks. In addition, sonically, the eight-band EQ customisation tab is one of the most responsive and useful I've ever tried. 

Build quality and security are spot on; I actually had compliments about them while out and about, which is a first. Also, even the shiny lower part of the stems refuses to collect fingerprints. The thing is, that excellent ANC isn't adaptable beyond "on" or "off", and neither is the Ambient profile – which certainly works, but does add a little warmth to your music. 

The wireless connection to our various devices never faltered, and when watching movies, we experienced very little lag, which makes these Status earbuds a perfectly viable and solid proposition. But Status has billed these flagship earbuds as "supreme triple-driver acoustics, now with ALL the bells & whistles" – but compared to the class-leaders at this level, a few extra accoutrements are missing. 

Whether or not you care when the ANC is this good is up to you, though… 

Status Between 3ANC earbuds in their case, on colorful background

The earbuds slip into their case easily, tails first, which feels reassuringly secure (Image credit: Future)

Status Between 3ANC review: Price & release date

  • Released on April 12, 2023
  • $249 (approx. £249 / AU$399)  

The Status Between 3ANC earbuds arrived in April 2023 with a premium price tag of $249. This is a fair price hike over the April 2021 Status Between Pro they succeed, which launched at $169 / £120 (around AU$235).

At the time of writing, we're still waiting to hear when the Status Between 3ANC will be released in the UK and Australia. 

The keen-eyed will note that Sony's flagship WF-1000XM5 launched just after, priced just a little higher, at $299.99 / £259 / AU$499 – but there isn't a lot in it, and both parties know it. Status is trying to play with the big boys, over that there can be no mistake. 

At this level, other rivals include the excellent Technics EAH-AZ80 (which boast triple-device connectivity and some of the best call quality we've ever experienced) and, of course, the five-star Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, still sitting pretty as some of the best earbuds for active noise cancellation we've had the pleasure of testing. 

Status Between 3ANC earbuds out of their case, on colorful background

The neck may look long, but the buds sit securely – with no twisting or constant readjustments necessary (Image credit: Future)

Status Between 3ANC review: Specs

Status Between 3ANC app, showing three screens

The app is uncluttered and the eight-band EQ tab is a joy, but it does seem a little feature-light compared to rivals (Image credit: Future / Status)

Status Between 3ANC review: Features

  • Solid, efficient; does-what-it-says-it-will ANC
  • Good call quality
  • No auto-off or scope for on-ear control tweaks 

It might be more prudent to list what you're not getting here. There's no support for higher-resolution codecs or special spatial audio sauce (Sony's Tidal upscaler, 360 Reality Audio – aka 24 object-based channels arranged in a 360-degree soundstage, is off the menu, for example), and so your Spotify tracks will be just that – as good as 320kbps can sound. 

Also, you'll find the Status app perfectly acceptable and clean, but devoid of tutorial, fit-test, auto-off, in-call vocal enhancements, or scope to alter the on-ear touch controls. In fact, said app is essentially just three pages: a homepage, Headphones page and a firmware update screen. The homepage provides a nice picture of your product along with battery status. There are two toggles for ANC or Ambient Sound Mode – and despite our eagerness to tell you how good the noise cancellation is when deployed, on or off is your lot in terms of tailoring. 

Under this, you'll see a Sound Mode tab. Click it and you're off two the second screen, to select between "Status Signature", "Status Audiophile", "Original Between Pro" (for fans of the older-generation model, presumably) or a custom EQ setting of your choosing. Of the presets, the third option is the warmest – and, for some, may feel just a tiny bit fuzzy around the lower registers. Audiophile and Signature will suit different ears and are genuinely fun to experiment with, although it would be nice to see a visual representation of them on the eight-band tab you get when choosing your own. 

The third screen is purely for firmware updates and will likely tell you you're all set. Hardly extensive and exhaustive, is it? 

Luckily, what the Status Between 3ANC do, they do very well indeed. There's a small physical button on the top of each earbud that switches between Ambient or ANC modes (switching both off is only possible via the app; it's announced vocally, too); but a tap of either bud's main upper stem, above the driver housing, easily plays or pauses your music. Double-tapping skips back or forward, depending on which bud you tap, and my favourite feature is a press-hold of either bud, which ups or lowers the volume. 

It may sound a simple feature, but the fact that volume tweaks are easy, reliable and don't require the mastering of four-tap morse code skills (Sony WF-1000XM5, I'm looking at you) to alter loudness is nothing short of joyous. I wish more brands would do this, over prioritising access to our voice assistants. I can't be alone in wanting to alter the volume of my favorite tracks without consulting my phone far more often than I ever want to ask Siri the price of cheese? 

Again, though, the most recent Sony proposition offers a choice of 20 increments of Ambient Aware, on a slider, whereas here it's just "on" or "off". And that doesn't really shout "all whistles and bells" to us, splendid although that ANC is. 

  • Features score: 3.5/5

Status Between 3ANC earbud held in hand, above their case

The two-tone top plate looks stylish in an 80s, Jem and the Holograms type of way – and you can adjust volume with a simple hold-press (Image credit: Future)

Status Between 3ANC review: Sound quality

  • Meaty, immersive listen
  • Bass can sound fuzzy on occasion – but can be tweaked in the EQ tab
  • Detail and dynamic build can be bettered by Technics and Sony

As mentioned above, there aren't any higher-resolution codecs onboard here. Nevertheless, there's plenty of bite and excitement from the get-go in an expansive and nicely layered presentation.

It's a meaty and enthusiastic performance when streaming Sean Paul's Gimme the Light, with various additional vocals arriving at each ear in a cohesive performance.

Switch to Aerosmith's Water Song / Janie's Got a Gun, and it's a similar story – up to a point. The 10-second "Water Song" intro (involving a glass harmonica, wind gong and bull-roarers) is accurate across the frequencies, but doesn't build from barely perceptible to quiet and pensive, as it can through more dynamically agile earbuds. These buds are energetic almost to a fault. 

And there's a minor shortfall when it comes to the bass, which is a shade off excellent for depth through the leading edges of notes, which means it can come off a little lightweight or fuzzy (tubby would be an overstatement) without EQ adjustment. 

When streaming Amaarae's Fancy, the virtual placement of audio through the intro is divine, toying around our chin and throat; but when the beat drops, it's just a shade off excellent for a regimented low-end, until we up the bass through a custom EQ profile. This really does help, but bass-fiends may well need more – and here, the Status buds may fall short. 

In direct comparison, the Technics EAH-AZ80 are able to offer a little more clout and depth. For dynamic build (the rise and fall of each musical note) it's also a marginal win for Technics, although that's a more closely run race. That said, for me, the Status Between 3ANC earbuds are incredibly secure and easy to use – and possibly because I have such a great seal betwixt ear tip and ear canal here, the ANC offered by the Status edges it. 

  • Sound quality score: 4/5

Status Between 3ANC earbuds in their case on colorful background

The case isn't the smallest you've ever seen, but it stands up, repels fingerprint smudges, and is of a decent quality (Image credit: Future)

Status Between 3ANC review: Design

  • Striking earpieces – you may get compliments
  • On-ear volume control is a joy
  • Rock-solid connectivity

These earbuds fit me very well indeed – and they're striking. If you ever wanted to look like an extra on Jem and the Holograms, these are the buds for you. The smallest size of ear tips and silicone "fitwings" come pre-fitted, and they fit me perfectly; but  there's a medium and a large set to choose from, too. Also, because the fitwing (which covers the lower portion of the driver housing and makes it more bulbous if your ear needs that) and the ear tip aren't physically attached, they can be switched around independently as necessary. 

Note that these extras are a little tricky to fit, so it's best not to do it on your commute. However, once you get it right, I vouch for the security here. 

It's odd that while Status' earbuds are so distinctive, angular and design-conscious, the case is functional and – let's face it– pretty commonplace. Status' squiggle branding doesn't feature on the buds at all (of which I'm grateful), but it does make an appearance atop this box. That said, the case doesn't collect any greasy thumb-prints, it shuts with a reassuring snap, stands up so you can easily charge up wirelessly or using the USB-C port, and it does feature a useful line of three LEDs to denote battery left within it. Does Sony's WF-1000XM5 case look more expensive? No. But the Technics EAH-AZ80 case does. 

For me, the earbuds are a joy to wear and use. As mentioned above, but it bears repeating: while you'd have to master four quick taps to either up or lower the volume in Sony's newest flagship earbuds, here a simple hold-press does the job and without any registering tones invading your music. Although it's worth noting that there's no option to turn off the notifications that do feature (mostly where ANC and Ambient are concerned). 

The physical buttons on the top edge of each earbud make switching between ANC profiles a certainty rather than guesswork, but more than all of this, the Bluetooth connectivity is rock-solid. Calls? Yes, good. There was a little wind-noise intrusion on a blustery day by the sea, but for the office they'll certainly suffice. 

  • Design score: 5/5

Status Between 3ANC review: Value

  • ANC is solid – but cannot be tailored 
  • Design-conscious wearers will find value here
  • Rivals offer a more tailored experience

The simple truth here is that Technics' EAH-AZ80 earbuds, which can be yours for just a little more, will give you simultaneous connectivity to three devices, not two – and with a clean, comprehensive companion app to boot. Also, you'll get voice-isolating tech for calls, an extra mic per earbud, LDAC support, and the option to tailor both the ANC and Ambient levels and the on-ear controls to your heart's content. 

Does the Bose QCE II edge it for active noise cancellation in direct comparison? Actually, for me, no – but other members of the team have stuck resolutely to Bose's option because, again, these buds offer a slider to tweak the amount of noise you'll hear, which you won't get with these Status earbuds

The fit is excellent and the sound quality is good – I loved the separation, stereo-imaging and verve – but the bass weight does need a bit of help, and dynamically they're a shade off excellent. 

In the end, it comes down to your priorities. Are you prepared to forego fit tests, ANC tweaks, buds that know when you're talking and cut the music, and hearing tests to get solid, dependable noise cancellation in a striking build? Because toggle that ANC on and there's most definitely a fraction of a second where extraneous noise floats off into the ether, leaving you with your playlists. The answer, of course, is known only to each of us – and, luckily, we're all so very different. 

  • Value score: 3.5/5

Should I buy the Status Between 3ANC?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

Status Between 3ANC review: Also consider

How I tested the Status Between 3ANC

Status Between 3ANC earbuds worn by TechRadar's Becky Scarrott, outside

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested for two weeks, listened against the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, Sony WF-1000XM5, Technics EAH-AZ80 
  • Used at work (in the office; walking through London; on a train), at home and in Weymouth, Dorset
  • Listened to Tidal, Apple Music, Qobuz and Spotify streams and downloads on an iPhone XR, Sony Xperia 1 IV and a MacBook Pro

As always when testing earbuds or headphones, one has to invest time and energy. After a thorough 24-hour run-in period, the Status Between 3ANC became my commute and office companions, as well as my musical providers on a trip to the UK coastal town of Weymouth, Dorset. 

I wore them throughout the working day and on the busy (read: noisy) London overground train network. I also wore them in an aerial silks class to check what I like to call the "upside-down loss risk". 

The Status Between 3ANC came to work on weekdays (walking brusquely to the station; boarding a train and the London Underground; at the office) and for a particularly blustery walk on the Weymouth Dorset promenade – a great way to test any wind-interference from mics during calls.

When testing the audio quality across the frequencies, I listened to various playlists (spanning everything from reggaeton to prog-rock) on Apple Music and Tidal, but also to podcasts and albums on Spotify – and YouTube tutorials (largely on harnessing the power of Chat GPT, if you were curious) from my MacBook Pro. 

I’ve been testing audio products for five years now. As a dancer, aerialist and musical theater performer in another life, sound quality, fit and the user experience have always been a priority for me personally. I also know full well the benefits of powerful active noise cancellation when done well. 

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: August 2023
Red Magic Cyberbuds Dao TWS hit international market with advanced ANC, low latency
3:00 pm | July 31, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

The gaming sub-brand of nubia called Red Magic is best known for its smartphones, but lately branched into gaming monitors and various peripherals. It delivered its first TWS earphones in 2020 and now it's following up with a more upscale model dubbed Cyberbuds Dao TWS. These gaming earphone are hitting international markets today with the latest Qualcomm Bluetooth technology, long battery life and RGB light effects. These wireless earphones have the latest Qualcomm S5 chip for sound over Bluetooth, which supports lossless and high-res music, Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) audio,...

Sony WF-1000XM5 review: smaller and sonically special, but rivals are gaining
7:00 pm | July 24, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Sony WF-1000XM5: Two-minute review

Sony's WF-1000XM5 are the most hotly anticipated earbuds of the year, and because the leaks regarding their smaller size have proved genuine, it's an open goal for Sony, right? They're 25% smaller and 20% lighter than the older class-leaders, but boast the same kind of sonic talents. Five sweet stars, surely?

Not quite. You'll see that we've knocked a whole star off in our rating above, which means we have some explaining to do. 

They're still a compelling proposition, and some of the best noise-cancelling earbuds on the market, but it is our job to review objectively and thoroughly – and if certain priorities (including near-silence in the office) are paramount there may actually be alternatives that suit you better for the same money, as sacrilegious as that may sound. And we're about to tell you why.

First, a quick run-down of the improvements found in Sony's newest progeny: you now get Bluetooth 5.3 and three mics per earbud, including two feedback mics, as well as Sony's new dual integrated Processor V2 to unlock the potential of the HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN2e (you got two mics and one processor in the WF-1000XM4). This little setup is able to deliver three times more data than before. Still with us? Good. 

Battery life is carried over from the older-generation model at a very respectable eight hours for the earbuds and 24 hours total in the case. A 60-minute quick-charge gives three hours of playtime too.

You also now get four pairs of unique and premium-feeling polyurethane foam tips, including a new 'SS' size for smaller ears, which you don't get with Sony's older buds. There's a bone conduction sensor to detect the user speaking, plus the mesh on feed forward mic is better thanks to a redesign. Also, the packaging is now zero-plastic and made from sustainable bamboo, which is nice to know. 

Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds in the palm of a hand

Has Sony made the Golidlocks 'just right' earbuds for size? I believe so (Image credit: Future)

Despite the additional super-small ear tip option (which I had to select for my annoying right ear) within Sony's particularly picky fit test and the excellent, deep, agile, zealous Sony sound, competition in 2023 is incredibly harsh. Specifically, we found the active noise cancellation simply didn't nix as much noise as two other rival models at the level. That, and the fact that the team – using different review samples in different continents – experienced more than one or two connectivity drop-outs during testing, which didn't happen with said competitors, means we're unable to give them full marks across the board. 

Multi-point connectivity (but note, only to two devices, not three), LDAC and adaptive sound control are all here as you'd expect in a top-tier set of earbuds, which means your physical location or activity can be automatically detected and tailored, if you want. You also get Sony's 24-bit audio processing and DSEE Extreme real-time 'upscaling' engine, so Spotify tracks are going to sound a heck of a lot better, while 360 Reality Audio also takes your Tidal tracks to new heights. 

The Sony Connect app is a very similar affair to the one you'll find with the Sony WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds and Sony WH-1000XM5 over-ears – and you're right to say that the latter are some of the best wireless headphones on the planet right now, so if it ain't broken, don't fix it, particularly when Sony's loyal fanbase loves it so. The thing is, some of the team found it a little busy and cluttered given the competition, and felt the experience might have benefitted from a redesign to make it quicker to access noise cancellation (which is on the second screen, under a very small drop-down menu) and the fit tests – which are easily lost under the top-right 'tutorial' header, for example. 

The build quality and battery life are all exemplary; there's less protrusion than with the older XM4 and the Sony WF-C500, and the build and finish do feel more premium compared to the new and splendid entry-level Sony WF-C700N noise-cancelling option. But there's the rub: the C700N are so good for sound and feature set, one does wonder whether the significant extra outlay you'll need to make acquire the flagship WF-1000XM5 is worth it in the 'sound per pound' stakes – particularly given our minor issues with them. 

Sony WF-1000XM5 earbud held in a hand on white background

The shiny plastic is limited to the circumference – and they're lovely and svelte  (Image credit: Future)

Sony WF-1000XM5 review: Price & release date

  • Released on July 24, 2023
  • Priced $299.99 / £259 / AU$499 

This is business as usual for Sony's flagship buds: the Sony WF-1000XM4 launched at $279.99 / £250 / AU$449.95 in 2021 – so far, so standard. 

At this level, the closest competition would be the excellent Technics EAH-AZ80 (which boast triple-device connectivity and some of the best call quality we've ever experienced), and of course the five-star Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, which sit pretty as the best earbuds for noise cancellation we've ever had the pleasure of testing. 

Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds and case held in hand

  (Image credit: Future)

Sony WF-1000XM5 review: Specs

Sony Headphones Connect app three screens on gray background

The app is capable of greatness, but it can come off as feeling a little cluttered (Image credit: Sony)

Sony WF-1000XM5 review: Features

  • Excellent immersive 360 Reality Audio
  • ANC is standard rather than excellent
  • Call quality is much improved, but can still be beaten

Sony's earbuds always excel when playing Tidal tracks, because this opens the door to Sony 360 Reality Audio support – aka 24 object-based channels arranged in a 360-degree soundstage, which Sony launched back in 2019. Yes, you have to take photos of your ear, which is a little finicky, then link your Tidal account under the oft-forgotten 'Services' section of the app. But it is emphatically worth it when the processor – and thus the detail, directional filters and placement – is this good. 

Also advised: Sony's WF-1000XM5 tutorial, which is found under those little three dots in the top right of the homescreen, beside the picture of your product. This measures the "air-tightness" of your chosen ear tips and is remarkably strict, asking me to downsize on one ear in the name better noise cancellation and sound quality. 

You get the option to pause audio when they're removed (which you won't get with the cheaper WF-C700N) and the toggle to "capture voice during a phone call" is similar to Technics' ‘Just My Voice' tech and one I really enjoyed, because it helped me avoid shouting during calls in a busy street. Also good is Speak to Chat, which detects your voice and pauses playback when you stike up a conversation with anyone nearby.

As you'd expect, Sony's Headphones Connect app is the star of the show. And as with the entry-level C700N, Adaptive Sound Control, optimized according to what you're doing, means that these headphones learn how you use them and try to help. Don't like that it deploys ANC when you're 'Staying'? Fine, tap the cog in the app's Headphone Settings and you can deploy Ambient sound or turn all noise profiles off – and until you change it, that should happen whenever you're sitting at your desk. 

When Ambient is deployed, you can select from 1-20 on a slider (I typically select 12 when 'Walking' to my train and 20 when 'Running') and these work really well. 

But is the ANC better owing to that new extra mic and processor? For me, it's fine rather than eyebrow-raising. Noises are largely softened and massaged, but the AC unit above my head in the office remains present in my mix. Does the Bose QCE II beat the performance here? It does. 

Call quality is much better in this iteration and you can even answer calls by nodding your head (or reject them by shaking it) if you're wearing the earphones and looking at your smartphone, which is a fun touch if your arch-enemy is calling. Is the call-quality as good as the Technics EAH-AZ80? For me, not quite – on a very blustery day, the Technics clarity edged it, but it was a closely run race. 

  • Features score: 4.5/5

Sony WF-1000XM5 earbud held in a hand

Is four taps of this right earbud too much of an effort to level up the volume? Maybe (Image credit: Future)

Sony WF-1000XM5 review: Sound quality

  • Zealous, exciting listen
  • Tidal tracks are masterfully delivered with 360 Reality Audio
  • Trebles can be beaten 

If you've skipped straight to the sound part (I applaud you and) it's good news. Sony says it has worked hard on crisp bass weight and clout here and it isn't joking. If you're all about that bass but you want earbuds rather than cans, the WF-1000XM5 should be on your list. 

Those with a Tidal account are in for a special treat thanks to that 360 Reality Audio, but even when streaming lossy Spotify tracks (or much better Apple Music streams), the WF-1000XM5 eat it all up and put on an agile, meaty, enthusiastic performance. 

When streaming Dave and Central Cee's Sprinter, the texture of the delicate Spanish guitar is never lost at to the distinctive, nuanced and three-dimensional rap vocals vying for our attention. It's a beautifully layered and expansive mix that goes right down into an impressive bass floor with snap and nimbleness.

Melissa Etheridge's Come To My Window is another showcase for the sonic talents of the XM5s. They actually expose minor shortfalls in this rock anthem: was Melissa a little close to the mic then? Did the Wurlizter come in perhaps just a tiny bit early? It's all in the recording, but these are the kind of stunning details that are missed by lesser earbuds. 

John Coltrane's Moment's Notice reveals trumpets, drums, upright bass and keys all beautifully placed and held in a cohesive mix, with each musical passage given space to shine but held resolutely in check. 

In direct comparison, the Technics EAH-AZ80 are a close match for it, though. Is the treble in the Technics product a little more present and sparkling joy? For us, yes. But is the low end in the Sony product just a shade more dynamically nuanced? That's a much closer debate. Rather than one option being categorically better than the other, here I would direct you to ask yourself this: do you prefer an integrated, refined, hi-fi sound? The Technics product will suit you better. Want enthusiasm, bass and fun? Go for the Sony. 

  • Sound quality score: 4.5/5

Sony WF-1000XM5

OK so they're not winning any novelty design awards, but the Sony WF-1000XM5 are a compact proposition (Image credit: Future)

Sony WF-1000XM5 review: Design

  • Beautifully compact, ergonomic earpieces
  • On-ear volume control takes some work
  • The team experienced connectivity drop-outs

Simply put, these earbuds fit me. One male member of the team found them almost too small, and that the ear tips actually stayed in his ear when he removed the units, but for most listeners I am willing to go on record and say these will probably fit you – and comfortably so. 

This should come as no surprise that Sony is making great strides in terms of the size of its earbuds, with the WF-C700N and Sony LinkBuds S another firm favorite for my smaller ears. The case is functional and shuts with a reassuring snap, and the brushed plastic doesn't collect any smudgy fingerprints either. You could look at the Technics EAH-AZ80 case and think its cool metallic top plate looks more premium however – and you'd be right. Sony isn't winning any novelty awards with this case, but it holds its precious cargo securely and slips into a pocket very easily. 

The top plate of each earpiece is easy to find during wear and the customisable touch capacitive functions work very well – although for me, four quick taps to either up or lower the volume (along with tones to issue the touch) is a little hard work and affects my enjoyment of the music a tad. You can turn off certain notifications and voice guidance in the app, but not these tones. 

It's also worth noting that there are plenty of options to tweak the EQ in the app, using the 'Find Your Equalizer' system, which asks you to select the best sound for you from a selection of numbered profiles, then more, and then more still. The optimized profile created can either be applied or ignored entirely, but it's fun to play with. 

Our main issue with the build here is a strange one: occasional drop-outs when streaming music. When listening in our busy publishing house office, music simply paused and resumed a few times. And it didn't happen with our control sets of earbuds (namely, the Technics and Bose models listed below). 

Sony has said this may be due to connection set up and indeed, in the Sound tab of the Sony Headphones Connect app, you can select the Bluetooth connection quality between 'prioritize sound quality' or 'prioritize stable connection'. But having to downgrade on sound quality to get a stable connection does seem counter-intuitive when a set of earbuds boasts such sonic talent – and also, our issues persisted even when opting for stability. Sadly, other members of the team in other territories also experienced the issue. It's odd, although we must specify that the bulk of our testing was also conducted using an early beta version of the app, which could account for some of the issues.

  • Design score: 4/5

Sony WF-1000XM5 review: Value

  • Sony lovers and bass fiends will struggle to find better
  • Tidal subscribers will also find value
  • Competition is gaining though

Sony is still a class-leader and its progeny must be given due diligence. If you know and love your current Sony earbuds and know your way around the Sony Headphones Connect app, you'll find no fault with it here.

But it's also important to notice that rivals are gaining – and some have even bettered the Sony earbuds' spec-sheet this time around. Take for example Technics' EAH-AZ80 earbuds, which can be yours for the same money as the Sony WF-1000XM5 and will give you simultaneous connectivity to three devices, not two – and with a clean, comprehensive companion app to boot. 

For us, the Bose QCE II edge it for active noise cancellation in direct compariosn with the WF-1000XM5 and as such, that might affect the value of Sony's newest and greatest to the potential buyer.

For us, the sound quality befits Sony's rich and storied heritage, but we did experience a few connectivity drop-outs during testing, so they're a shade off perfection. As always, the customers buys with their wallet, but while it is our job to point out viable alternatives, we certainly don't think buying Sony's newest would be money poorly spent. 

  • Value score: 3.5/5

Should I buy the Sony WF-1000XM5?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

Sony WF-1000XM5 review: Also consider

How I tested the Sony WF-1000XM5

  • Tested for two weeks, listened against the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, Sony WF-C700N, Technics EAH-AZ80, Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2
  • Used at work (in the office; walking through London; on a train) and at home
  • Listened to Tidal Masters, Apple Music Lossless tracks and Spotify on an iPhone XR, Sony Xperia 1 IV and a MacBook Pro

As always when testing earbuds or headphones, one has to invest time and energy. And thanks to Sony, the WF-1000XM5 became my musical companions for four weeks – after a thorough 48-hour run-in period. 

To better test the comfort levels (and battery life claims) of Sony's flagship WF-1000XM5, I wore them throughout the working day and on the busy (read: noisy) London Underground network. I also wore them in a yoga class to check what I like to call the earbud-loss risk. 

They accompanied me to work on weekdays (walking brusquely to the station; boarding a train and the London Underground; at the office) and on a particularly blustery day on the Weymouth Dorset promenade – a great way to test any wind-interference from mics during calls.

When testing the audio quality across the frequencies, I listened to various playlists (spanning everything from classiscal to death metal) on Apple Music and Tidal, but also to podcasts and albums on Spotify – and YouTube tutorials (mostly about nuclear fission, if you were curious) from my MacBook Pro. 

I’ve been testing audio products for five years now. As a dancer, aerialist and musical theater performer in another life, sound quality, fit and the user experience have always taken priority for me personally – but having heard how wonderful ANC can be when done well, I know what to listen for. 

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: July 2023
Nothing Ear (2) review: affordable earbuds to rival Sony and Beats
11:30 am | July 5, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Nothing Ear (2): Two-minute review

The Nothing Ear (2) are the latest true wireless buds from cool tech brand Nothing, which mixes out-there design with the tech credentials of OnePlus found Carl Pei.

The Nothing Ear (2) stick with the same form factor as the Nothing Ear (1), but bring some welcome upgrades in the form of a smaller and more robust charging case, added features, slightly bumped up specs and some cool personalization options.

Since then, Nothing has also launched the Nothing Ear Stick, another set of true wireless buds which also sound much better than their sub $100 / £100 price tag would suggest.

The Nothing Ear (2) design is undeniably eye-catching, with a transparent casing and sleek black, white, and red detailing. They fit well too, I found them to be among the most comfortable and stable buds I’ve ever tested.

The ANC performed well, and overall the buds deliver a really enjoyable listen. Features-wise there’s a lot going on, including a high-res audio codec for some handsets, and multipoint pairing for all. 

The only major downside is that the battery life isn't the best – and I imagine some people won’t like the design too, but for what it’s worth I’m a big fan.

There’s a lot to love here, but the Nothing Ear (2) are entering a competitive space. While they come very close to being in our best earbuds or best noise cancelling earbuds guides – they're being edged out at the price by the five-star Sony WF-C700N, which are cheaper and are kind of mind-blowing when it comes to the sound. But they're pretty generic looking – if you want to stand out, the Nothing should be very tempting.

Close up of Nothing Ear (2) earbuds on a table, out of the case

If you’re looking for buds that are a bit different to the sea of AirPods clones on the market, you might just love the Nothing Ear (2). (Image credit: Becca Caddy)

Nothing Ear (2) review: Price & release date

  • Released in March 2023
  • Priced at $149 / £129 / AU$219

The Nothing Ear (2) are a little more expensive than the Nothing Ear (1) were when they first came out in 2022, priced at $100 / £100 / AU$150. This makes sense considering there are some solid upgrades in these latest buds, which pushes the Nothing Ear (2) just into the mid-range category. Although it is worth mentioning Nothing had since bumped up the price of the Nothing Ear (1) to $149 / £129 / AU$219 as well.

At this price, there’s fierce competition from buds like the JBL Live Pro 2 at $149.95 / £129.99 / AU$199.95 – which we highly commended for their amazing ANC and powerful audio – or the phenomenal Sony WF-C700N at $119 / £99 / AU$199.

However, the Nothing Ear (2) buds stand their ground, delivering good features and a great design that might not put them head and shoulders above their rivals, but worthy of a position next to them. 

They are obviously much cheaper thatn the AirPods Pro 2 and Sony WF-1000XM4. Do the Nothing Ear (2) perform better? No. But they do offer a range of features and outshine certain top-performing, all-rounders in some categories at half the price.

Nothing Ear (2) review: Specs

Nothing Ear (2) case open on a wooden table

The interior of the charging case is simple, with little color-coordinated dots for each bud. (Image credit: Becca Caddy)

Nothing Ear (2) review: Features

  • Personalized sound profile
  • Easy-to-use app
  • Below average battery life 

One of the biggest differences between last year’s Nothing Ear (1) and the Nothing Ear (2), is the latest buds bring you a more personalized listening experience. From within the app – which is just as stylish as the buds themselves – you can take a sound personalization test, which promises a more immersive experience while allowing listening at reduced volumes without losing detail. I certainly noticed some added clarity to music after taking it, but would say the difference is subtle. 

You’ll also find a customizable EQ with some presets, ways to change the touch controls and some other handy features you can switch on and off, including in-ear detection – pop a bud out and music pauses – as well as multipoint pairing, which allows you to listen from one device and then quickly switch to another with ease.

The Nothing Ear (2) are Android and iOS friendly. The buds paired quickly with both my iPhone 13 Pro and Nothing Phone (1). There are new Bluetooth specifications in the Nothing Ear (2) buds compared to their predecessors, too. The LHDC 5.0 codec brings high-res audio to some Huawei, Oppo and Nothing smartphones – everyone else gets the standard AAC and SBC codes. There a few extra perks if you’re using a Nothing Phone (1) too, such as automatically engaging a low-latency mode when gaming. 

The buds' accompanying charging case juices up wirelessly or via USB-C. I was disappointed by the battery life from these buds. Four hours from the buds with ANC on is absolutely rock bottom of the market, though 22.5 hours in total with the case isn't bad at all. You’ll get nearly double that battery life from similar-priced rivals such as the Earfun Air Pro 3 and JBL Live Pro 2.

  • Features score: 4/5

Close up of Nothing Ear (2) stem

The buds make the most of their stems with a cool, techy aesthetic. (Image credit: Becca Caddy)

Nothing Ear (2) review: Sound quality

  • Good noise cancellation
  • Enjoyable sound for everyday listening
  • A little tiring in mid-range vocals

The Nothing Ear (2) buds are not all style over substance. They sound great most of the time, bringing lots of energy and excitement to my favorite tracks. 

I found they had a balanced sound overall and I enjoyed listening to a range of genres with them. For this reason, I’d recommend them as a solid pair of buds for everyday listening.

Powerful and energetic tracks tended to be my favorites to listen to with the Nothing Ear (2). The electronic sound effects in Crystal Castles’ Baptism really popped, the vocals were clear and the bass was thumping without being overpowering – I hit a few new personal bests at the gym when I took these buds and it’s easy to see why. I liked pop music with a heavy bass line too, like The Weeknd’s The Hills and FKA Twigs’ Two Weeks

However, these buds aren’t the best in sonic performance and can’t beat the best options out there – like the Sony WF-1000XM4 – for sheer sound alone. I didn’t feel like there was much of an expansive soundstage here, the audio very much felt like it was coming from inside my head rather than delivering a more natural experience. Of course this is not unexpected from in-ear buds, but some do it better than others.

What’s more, I had issues with some vocals, and the mids more generally, sounding a little brash and tinny at times and distanced at others. This meant I felt a little fatigued by certain tracks that I’d normally love listening to, such as Miley Cyrus’ Flowers

The good news is you can also fine-tune the audio with the app’s EQ settings, which allowed me to smooth out some of the issues I was having. I also enjoyed cranking up the bass and power with the More Bass setting. You can also manually tweak the EQ. This is fun, and you should play around with it because it really added something to certain genres.

With a Nothing phone you’re meant to get the LHDC codec for high-res audio. I did notice a greater level of detail when I used the device, but found the difference to be marginal.

Active noise cancellation was impressive. It’s at a level I’ve come to expect from buds around this price, where it significantly dampens down ambient sound around you. When working in a coffee shop, the conversations close by were all but silent. Higher pitched sounds, like a panini-making machine alarm, were significantly muffled but audible. Commuting is a similar story. Expect to be wrapped up in a bubble of silence most of the time. However car horns and the rumble of heavy lorries on busier roads did seep through.

You can select from High, Mid, Low or Adaptive ANC. Adaptive wasn’t drastically different, but was the option I used the most. You can also select personalized ANC, which is based on your hearing sensitivity and the personalized test I mentioned earlier. Again, I’m not sure I noticed a great deal of difference before and after, but regardless, ANC worked well and it’s a kind I prefer, allowing me to stay vaguely aware of my surroundings.

You won’t get the silence of better noise-cancelling buds, such as the Apple AirPods Pro 2 or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, but I wouldn’t have expected that at this price. What you’re getting is ANC that’s more than good enough to make your commute and busy working space more peaceful, which is all most people want.

Like the Nothing Ear (Stick), there’s Clear Voice Technology here, which means there are three high-def mics working to filter out background noises and amplifying your voice so your calls sound clear no matter where you are. I found this to be the case for the most part, although wind did affect the clarity of my voice at the other end.

  • Sound quality score: 3.5/5

EarFun Air Pro 3 review: Design

  • Gorgeous, distinctive look
  • Lightweight (4.5g per bud) and comfortable
  • Unusual charging case design

The Nothing Ear (2) are the most comfortable buds I’ve tested this year – which is saying something considering the amount I’ve twisted into my ear canals over the past few months. 

They also stay put too, even when I took them to the gym during a particularly sweaty workout. What stands out here is that although they stay put, they didn’t give me an uncomfortable build-up of pressure feeling, which some people experience with other brands. In keeping with the customization theme here, there are S, M and L tips to choose from, and an ear tip fit test too. 

The design is the standout feature of the Nothing Ear (2) buds. They look incredibly cool with a mostly transparent outer casing, which means you can see the tech inside along with some simple black, white and red detailing. I’ve tested so many buds that I’ve become a bit desensitized to them (don’t hate me, many do look identical). But the Nothing Ear (2) buds felt special to unbox and use. Granted, other people I asked weren’t so keen, but each to their own.

We didn’t rate the charging case of the Ear (1) last year, saying that it was too big compared to rivals. It’s not been significantly redesigned here, but it’s a little smaller and lighter. Like the buds themselves, it has a transparent design. It’s also rectangular, which is a refreshing change to others on the market. Although it does mean it might not slip in your pocket quite as easily. 

Despite the plastic casing, the buds and case feel very robust and well-made. The buds also have an IP54 rating (the same as the AirPods Pro 2), which means they’re splash proof and perfect for sweaty workouts. The case also has an IP55 rating, which is handy, and not all that common amongst rival buds – it means they can take being splashed.

The Nothing Ear (2) buds have a simple, short-stemmed design. The stem is touch sensitive and this is where the Nothing Ear (2) touch controls live, which you can activate through a series of single, double and triple pinches, which I found handy and responsive. I also liked the tactile feedback and little sounds which accompanied the controls. You can also change these from within the Nothing app.

If you want buds that look different, these are the ones to buy. I loved the look of them, but would have given them a 5/5 rating even if they weren’t my cup of tea because they’re such a refreshing change. 

  • Design score: 5/5

Close up of Nothing Ear (2) buds on somone's hand

The Nothing buds started a small revival of see-through tech. (Image credit: Becca Caddy)

Nothing Ear (2) review: Value

  • A fair bit of competition at this price – but nothing looks as good
  • Good features for a mid-range pair of buds
  • ANC works well here

The Nothing Ear (2) buds don’t outshine all the competition at this price. But if you’re looking for distinctive, stylish headphones that sound good, offer quality ANC and have great features, they’re a solid choice. 

For battery life, sheer sound performance and immersive ANC you’ll need to look elsewhere. However, although some buds at a similar price offer better specs in a few of those areas, you’d have to pay almost double the price to knock the Nothing Ear (2) out of the water completely.

Even then, you’ll be getting a similar experience in terms of comfort and no one is offering a design that is quite so swoon-worthy – no, not even you, Apple.

  • Value score: 4/5

Should I buy the Nothing Ear (2)?

Buy them if...

Don't buy it if...

Nothing Ear (2) review: Also consider

How I tested the Nothing Ear (2)

Side profile of woman with Nothing Ear (2) bud in her ear

I enjoyed wearing these buds and found them to be incredibly comfy – even during workouts (Image credit: Becca Caddy)
  • Tested for two weeks
  • Used in a home office, at the gym, working in a coffee shop, on public transport and walks in the countryside
  • Tested with Spotify and Apple Music on iPhone 13 Pro, Nothing Phone (1) and MacBook Air

The Nothing Ear (2) buds went everywhere with me for two weeks. They became my new musical BFFs working in my home office and with me in the gym doing a mix of high and low-intensity training. These were perfect opportunities to test the ANC to see if it could help me focus and the fit and comfort levels to see if they’re suitable for all-day listening and can withstand some sweating at the gym. 

I took the Nothing Ear (2) buds to a crowded coffee shop and on many short and long distance bus and train journeys. This was when ANC was tested against loud conversations, screaming babies, and low, rumbling vehicle noises. 

I also used the buds while walking through the countryside on wet and windy days. Again, this allowed me to test the fit, the ANC, and the sound quality and see how well I could hear (and be heard) during calls. 

To check the sound quality, I listened to a wide range of playlists, including smooth jazz, shouty punk and epic movie scores, on Apple Music and Spotify using my iPhone 13 Pro and a Nothing Phone (1). I also listened to podcasts on Apple Podcasts and audiobooks on Audible. I paired the buds up with my MacBook Air and watched some TV shows on Disney Plus (The Mandalorian) and YouTube tutorials. 

I’ve been writing and testing tech for more than 10 years, focusing mainly on the tech you wear – smartwatches, heart rate monitors, fitness trackers and earbuds – which is why I’m interested in what’s comfortable to wear, easy to fit into your routine and intuitive to use day in and day out.

Read more about how we test.

  • First reviewed: June 2023
I tried Sony’s new cheap ANC headphones, and they’re officially a bargain
5:00 pm | June 4, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

The new Sony WH-CH720N noise-cancelling headphones are a direct replacement for the previous CH710N model, adding new features, plus sound and noise-cancelling upgrades. With a price of $129 / £99 / AU$259, they're aggressive from Sony, bringing a lot of flagship-level features from the best noise-cancelling headphones to lower budgets.

But do they bring flagship-level performance too? Well, I mean, obviously not the same as the Sony WH-1000XM5, which cost more than three times as much – but I've been using my trusty Sony WH-1000XM3 for years now, and they were the flagship back in 2018, and recently dropped as low as $180 / £160 in places where they're still on sale (they seem to be finally on the out, sadly). 

So I thought there's a chance that the new headphones might be able to match this older model, which would be incredibly exciting at this price. I took them both out to play in the traffic of the city, because the noise cancellation is where there tends to be the biggest gap between models at different prices.

And the short answer is: the old 1000XM3 were a clear step above the Sony WH-CH720N for blocking noise – and it's the same story for sound quality. The CH720N came out of it looking good for the price still, but it's the extra features where they really shine – they're not the Prometheus of headphones, stealing fire from the expensive gods, which is kind of how the fantastic Sony WF-C700N come across.

The noise cancellation of the CH720N very effectively puts its boot down on the loud sounds of city traffic, to be clear. I walked along the road listening to music that I could hear clearly, and I didn't have to crank the volume loud in order to make out the instruments – at only about 25% volume, I could listen happily. So they pass the core test with flying colors.

But standing at one intersection and switching between the CH720N and 1000XM3 revealed that the older model was able to move into a whole higher gear when it came to blocking the edges of the sound. The clearest example was that with the CH720N I could hear traffic from an adjoining busy road about 200 feet away. With the XM3, that road ceased to exist as far as my ears were concerned.

Sony WH-CH520N headphones worn by TechRadar Editor Matthew Bolton, near a road, who has a pair of Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones around his neck too

The roads were very busy at all times other than the moment I took this photo, I swear. (Image credit: Future)

It seems to my ears that the CN720N are close in effectiveness to the XM3 for higher-end sounds, but let in more at the bass end, which means the rumble of that further road came in disproportionately clearly compared to closer sounds that ripple across more of the sound range.

I haven't had a chance to test them on a plane yet, which is always a major challenge for noise-cancelling headphones, but I will soon, so I'll have a more complete picture of their noise-blocking chops for my full review. But I suspect the verdict will be same as now: very good for the price, but if you spend more, you get a real step up.

The sound quality is a similar story to the noise cancellation, in that I've enjoyed listening to the CH720N and they impress in a bunch of ways, but the 1000XM3 are an obvious improvement.

For some reason, the CH720N set themselves to Sony's 'Excited' EQ preset out of the box, and that made them heavily bass-loaded, which I didn't actually hate, but just felt OTT. But after heading into Sony's excellent app and turning off the EQ adjustment, I found they're supposed to deliver a pretty much ideal balance. Bass is warm but level-headed, mid-range is robust and individual instruments stand out in it well, and treble has plenty of clarity to make the little details pop.

It's also a fairly relaxed presentation – even with the ANC on, I didn't find them fatiguing to listen to at all over a whole afternoon of using them nearly non-stop.

Sony WH-CH520N headphones play/pause buttons on the underside of an earcup

The WH-CH520N come in white, black or blue. (Image credit: Future)

But. Switching to the 1000XM3 got me a sound that's clearly more dynamic. Sounds start and stop with extra snappiness, there's a greater depth between elements in dense soundstages, and so it's all just more natural and more refreshing to the ears.

However, the CH720N's bargain status isn't solely about performance. It's about having support for the Sony app and its EQ adjustments, and other sound mode options – including 360 Reality Audio and DSEE upscaling of mediocre-quality tracks (looking at you, still, Spotify).

They have Bluetooth 5.2, so could support Bluetooth LE Audio and Auracast in the future, if Sony can persuade itself to support the same next-gen standards as everyone else. They have multi-point pairing for easy switching between devices. They have a USB-C port and a 3.5mm jack, with a good-length cable in the box. They promise 35 hours of battery, though I haven't had a chance to test that yet.

All that stuff in combination with solid noise cancellation and nice sound is why they're officially a bargain. There are compromises, such as the plasticky feel of the finish and buttons, and lack of sensors to auto-pause when you take them off, but I can live with those.

Our full review is on the way, but if you're looking at mid-range noise-cancelling headphones, they should absolutely be on your list.

Sony WH-CH720N: Price & release date

  • $129 / £99 / AU$259
  • Released in spring 2023

The Sony WH-CH720N are extremely competitively priced at $129 / £99 / AU$259 – you don't get many noise-cancelling headphones from big brands at that kind of price, generally. Much like their earbuds sibling, the Sony WF-C700N, they really over-deliver on features in general compared to most other options in this price range.

Most of the WH-CH720N's competition is from the likes of Anker Soundcore or 1More, though JBL is probably the best known competitor – most notably with the JBL Tune 750BTNC, which costs pretty much the same.

vivo TWS Air Pro announced with ANC and 30 hour total battery life
3:13 pm | May 31, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

Alongside the vivo S17 and S17 Pro, we also got a new pair of wireless earbuds with the vivo TWS Air Pro. These wireless earbuds are identical to the recently announced iQOO TWS Air Pro with 14.2mm drivers, active noise cancelation (ANC) and a 30 hours combined battery life with their charging case. vivo TWS Air Pro The buds pair over Bluetooth 5.3 and support AAC and SBC audio codecs. You also get an IP54 rating for water splash resistance, dual pairing, a Find my Earbuds function and a low-latency game mode. Pricing is set at CNY 299 ($42) and you can already pick up a pair...

Beats Studio Buds + announced with improved ANC and longer battery life
7:02 pm | May 17, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

As expected, Apple introduced its latest Beats Studio Buds + today with improved Active Noise Cancelling (ANC), longer-lasting battery life and a cool new transparent version. The new Beats earbuds feature a custom "Beats Proprietary Platform” chip which supports one-touch pairing with Apple devices, Hey Siri and Apple Find My support as well as device switching via iCloud. Beats Studio Buds + Transparent edition The new bit here is that the buds are also compatible with Google Fast Pair, Google Find My Device tracking as well as audio switching between a wider range of devices...

Realme Buds Air 5 Pro arrive with ANC, LDAC support and 40 hours of playback
8:11 pm | May 10, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Alongside the Realme 11 series, we also got the latest member of the Buds Air family – Realme Buds Air 5 Pro. The new flagship wireless earbuds from Realme bring 11mm woofers and 6mm planar drivers, active noise cancelation (ANC) and support for the high-bitrate LDAC codec. Buds Air 5 Pro in Sunrise City and Starry Night Black The earbuds pair over Bluetooth 5.3 and are IPX5 splashproof. Realme claims its ANC system can drown out up to 50dB of noise around you thanks to the six microphones split between the two buds. Battery life is rated at up to 11 hours on the buds with ANC off...

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