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Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 review: glorious wireless headphones with top-end features and sound, but OK ANC
4:12 pm | September 29, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Headphones Wireless Headphones | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2: Two-minute review

Shure's Aonic 50 Gen 2 look the business. And not only that, they back up their not-here-to-mess-around aesthetic with Qualcomm's Snapdragon Sound support, so aptX Adaptive, aptX HD, regular aptX and LDAC are all here – aka all of the current top-tier wireless audio coding. 

But there's more! The Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2's bid for inclusion in our best wireless headphones guide culminates in a special USB-C port not just for charging. It means hi-res USB audio is also on the menu (look over here, iPhone 15 and Apple Music users!) thus completing a veritable banquet of connectivity options, from wireless Bluetooth audio pinged from your phone, older sources in a more traditional wired hi-fi system, right up to USB-C audio from your MacBook Pro at work. If that sounds good to you, add these headphones to your list. 

However, the star feature of these hotly anticipated second-generation Shure cans (let's be clear here, the three years and five months since the originals is eons in the world of headphone iterations) is Shure’s new spatialized audio technology. The feature provides three distinct modes: Music, Cinema, and Podcast. And the good news is that these are a delight across the board, offering oodles of separation and crispness to vocals during movies and podcasts especially, but unearthing extra sonic articles in even your heavy-rotation music playlists too. 

To stake a claim for the best noise-cancelling headphones currently on the market, Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 feature advanced hybrid active noise cancellation. As you'd expect, mics inside and outside the earcup allow the Aonic 50 Gen 2 scope to fine-tune your auditory environment, but you can also help it along thanks to four selectable modes: Light, Moderate, Max, and MaxAware. 

For us, the performance here was just a shade under excellent. On the one hand, the clamping force is strong with this one (possibly even a little too forceful for those blessed with larger skulls) and levels of passive isolation are top-notch. But on occasion we found the more ambient-aware options (MaxAware aims to offer the best of both worlds – blocking unwanted noise and maintaining awareness of your surroundings) added warmth to our music and a marginal sweetness to the upper mids. Essentially, the overall efficacy of the noise-nixing here can be beaten by the class-leaders at the level. 

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2's app, ShurePlus PLAY, three screens showing the features of the headphones, on gray background

Shure's ShurePlus PLAY app is one I'd go to battle for (Image credit: Future)

Picking up on the comfort, at 340g they feel just a tad heavy over longer listening sessions, despite the ample padding. For reference, the Edifier Stax Spirit S3 weigh 329g they're comfortable for all-day use. OK, Apple's AirPods Max weigh 44g more than the Shures at 384g, while Sony's WH-1000XM5 are quite a bit lighter at 249g – so depending on what you're used to, there may be an adjustment period here. 

When it comes to sonic performance, Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 is a set of over-ears for the EQ curious. There is very good sound to be had here, if you're prepared to work for it just a little. Those with neither the time nor the inclination to play with those presets might find the sound out of the box a little light on lower mids, treble-heavy and even a fraction cluttered timing-wise, albeit expansive and detailed. 

The ShurePlus Play app is your friend here and honestly, I'd go in to battle for this companion app – it is slick, easy to navigate and makes more sense than several offered by rival products. It'll even corral your music under one tab, for easy streaming across various services. Pairing is also a breeze and these headphones skip happily from one device to another thanks to multipoint connectivity that really works. 

In summary, the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 are solid all-rounders. If I'm nitpicking (and it is my job to do so), those who want perfect sound quality from the box may not have the patience for these headphones and the ANC is fine rather than fantastic – but those who love immersive spatial audio during movies, podcasts or playlists are well served here. And if you want USB-C hi-res headphones with the option to go wireless? They're an excellent choice. 

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 headphones held in a hand on multi-color background

An understated build, but a quality one, to be sure. (Image credit: Future)

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 review: Price & release date

  • Released in September 2023
  • Priced $349 / £349 / approx. AU$540

The Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 arrived in the third week of September 2023, having been announced on August 31.

They are priced aggressively for the elite over-ear headphones sector. To explain, that MSRP is actually cheaper than the launch price of the inaugural April 2020 Shure Aonic 50, which were aimed very much at the upper end of the consumer market and evaluated accordingly at $399 / £359, around AU$580.

This clever new pricing strategy from Shure undercuts the asking fee of some of the best and most notable over-ear headphones in the business by a tidy $50 – see the Sony WH-1000XM5 ($399 / £380 / AU$649), the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 ($399 / £379 / approx. AU$575) and the Edifier Stax Spirit S3 ($399 / £330 / approx. AU$640) for starters.

The Illinois audio specialist has put the Aonic 50 Gen 2 right in the way of the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless too, which will set you back $349.95 / £300 / AU$549.95 too. Smart – if the performance is good enough.

Shure Aonic 50 headphones held in a hand showing detail on the earcup

All physical buttons, all on the right earcup – and it works. (Image credit: Future)

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2: Specs

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 in their hard travel case, on a wicker chair

Note the 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable for optional wired listening and USB-A to USB-C, for both charging and audio. (Image credit: Future)

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 review: Features

  • Excellent spatial audio processing options
  • Very useful EQ presets
  • USB Audio supports up to 32-bit/384kHz

Firstly, stamina: 45 hours is very good (although not as good as the 80-hour staying power of the Edifier Stax Spirit S3, granted, but the comparison is skewed since the Edifier headphones are devoid of ANC) and I can confirm that this battery claim holds true.

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 headphones are a walk in the park to pair, too. Multipoint? Easy – and once you get used to that fact that the physical buttons are all on the right earcup, altering volume, playback and ANC profiles works a charm. 

One lovely little perk here is PausePlus. Imagine you're listening to death metal at the office with Max ANC deployed and your boss approaches (just a random example, no reason). If PausePlus is toggled to on, simply pressing the multi-function button to pause the music also deploys ambient sound, so you can hold a polite conversation with your superior and pretend you were only listening to the latest episode of Revisionist History podcast.

Next up, Shure's Spatializer – no, nothing to do with turning vegetables into edible ribbons. In the app, under the device tab (see? It makes sense, it's a feature on the device) you can select spatial audio processing optimized for music, movies or a podcast. I found they brought all of these sources to life, adding depth, value and enjoyment to the whole testing process. 

The EQ presets are a similar story – in fact I suggest using both EQ and spatial audio liberally. There's a dedicated Equalizer tab, and although you can go manual if you want, Shure has sensibly opted to call its presets names such as Bass Cut, Bass Boost, Treble Cut and Vocal Boost. My particular favorite is Treble Cut for music, since I do find these headphones a little heavy-handed through the higher frequenciess, but the point is that Shure has bucked the trend of creating profiles for specific music genres (how often have you wondered whether 'jazz' is the correct preset for the acoustic mix you're listening to, or whether soft-rock is really the same as 'rock'?) and it's an excellent move. 

Now, ANC. It's acceptable. It isn't a complete bubble of silence. You deploy it by moving a physical slider all the way up on the right ear cup for ambient, or all the way down for ANC. But you can also open the app to select either the Environment Mode Level on a slider, or Light, Moderate, Max, or MaxAware ANC options. I was unable to perceive a lot of difference in the ANC options during the course of my testing save for MaxAware, which also filters in ambient noise. For softening the extraneous sounds of the office, they do a job – but the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 or Sony WH-1000XM5 still do that job a fair bit better. 

Call quality is aided by a "Hear myself on calls" toggle and it does exactly what it says on the tin, making calls feel a lot less like your head's stuck in a bucket as you speak. 

  • Features score: 4.5/5

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 case, held in hand with a garden in the background

A svelte but durable hard-shell case with a useful strap. (Image credit: Future)

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 review: Sound quality

  • Expansive and revealing separation and clarity 
  • Can come off treble-centric on occasion
  • Not the most musically cohesive listen

Kicking off with Ritchie Sacramento by Mogwai on Tidal (a FLAC file) with a wired USB-C connection to my Mac, the twinkling chimes and expansive ambient soundscape is pensive and more detailed than I remember it through lesser headphones. The driving beat underpins everything and as sonic articles jangle and dart between each ear, a rare talent for clarity through the mids is revealed.

Paolo Nutini's Loving You is a delight, with Nutini's textured voice held centrally among agile guitars and easy drums.

Switching to an Apple Music file on iPhone, Jamie T's Sticks 'n' Stones is energetic and immersive to the point that I feel Jamie and friends all congregating around me at Hampton Wick Station. It's here I notice the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2's tendency to over-celebrate the treble though – and as a result, the mix can sound a touch disorganized and jumbled on occasion; the placement of each musical strand seems as if it relies on the frequency being played. Here, female backing vocal "ah"s come forward a little too readily when T's lyrics should be the star of the show, for example.

It's a relatively minor issue and one only noticeable in direct comparison against the likes of the Focal Bathys and Edifier Stax Spirit S3, but it's our job to notice. Otherwise, we're treated to a detailed mix with plenty of dynamic rise and fall through the mids and a decent serving of snappy bass weight. 

Deploying the Treble Cut EQ option is the panacea for the upper registers, but it really is worth switching out these profiles depending on your music. If you're someone who believes headphones should just sound good without having to lift a finger, you may not like this solution – and it's a fair point. 

  • Sound quality score: 4/5

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 headphones detail with cups rotated to lie flat, on a wicker chair

The Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2's cups glide silently to lie flat – but headband adjustments are a bit clicky. (Image credit: Future)

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 review: Design

  • USB port on the right earcup, 3.5mm jack on the left
  • Design lies flat, but doesn't fold
  • Longer hair can get caught in the hinge points when fitting them

Do you miss foldable headphones – the kind that concertina up for easier portability? Well, you won't get them here. The large Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2's earpieces here lie flat in the same way that the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, Focal Bathys or newer Fairphone FairBuds XL do, and the hard-shell case is a little more svelte than the Focal's, but it'll still take up a bit of room in your bag – unless you want to use the strap to latch it to a carabiner on the outside of your backpack, perhaps. 

The build here is classy and the hinges rotate silently and at a glacial pace (be careful; the anchor point is towards the back of the headband and I caught my hair a few times) which is why it's a little strange that the headband itself is a little noisy if you need to alter the sizing. 

The padding on both the earcups and headband is ample and personally, I love that the physical buttons are all one earcup, since I'm right-handed, although those with larger fingers (or lefties) may find this a little fiddly. 

What is a little strange is the location of the cable ports, with one on each earpiece – but this is a relatively small issue. 

There's hardly any sound bleed; people on desks next to me couldn't hear my tracks at 50% volume in the office unless I lifted an earcup away from my head. On this, the clamping force is relatively strong; if you're running for a train you'll be glad of it, if you're relaxing in a comfy chair, perhaps not so much. There's no IP rating for water resistance here, so try not to wear them to the shower.

In summary, the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 are a handsome, sleek – if marginally heavy, at 340g – set of over-ears. They're not winning any design awards for originality, but the branding on each earcup is classy and if you prefer physical controls and sliders over touch capacitive functions (I do) you'll enjoy them. 

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Shure Aonic 30 Gen 2 on a black table, outside

In case you're wondering whether the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2's headband is nicely padded, yes it is.  (Image credit: Future)

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 review: Value

  • Spatial audio is a high-end option
  • USB-C audio connection adds flexibility
  • The merely acceptable ANC may not be what you want

First off, these headphones are not particularly expensive given their features and the price of competitors. That said, if you want the best ANC over-ears money can buy, spend it elsewhere, on the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless or the Sony WH-1000XM5. There is active noise cancellation here, and the presets are fine, but it isn't a class-leading experience. 

Buying headphones almost always involves a compromise somewhere (omission of a particular hi-res codec, poor call quality but great sound, lack of water resistance), but for the wealth of connectivity supported both with wires and without, the spatial audio profiles and the outstanding EQ tweaks, Shure's Aonic 50 Gen 2 are almost impossible to equal.

The battery level is more than sufficient at 45 hours, the build is classy, the companion app is excellent and the multipoint pairing experience has never let me down. 

The flies in the ointment? Occasionally the treble is a little forward in the mix and the ANC is a shade off excellent. Depending on your priorities, this either doesn't matter or is a deal-breaker. It's up to you. 

  • Value score: 4.5/5

Should I buy the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 review: Also consider

How I tested the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2

Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 worn by TechRada'r's Becky Scarrott, in profile, in a garden

Wear headphones while the sun shines. (Image credit: Future)
  • Bulk of testing done using an iPhone 12, running ShurePlus PLAY app, firmware version
  • Tested over two weeks, listened against the Edifier Stax Spirit S3, Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless and Focal Bathys
  • Used on long walks on public streets, at work in a busy office, on a train, and at home
  • Listened to Tidal Masters, Apple Music, Qobuz and Spotify on an iPhone 12, a Sony Xperia 1 V, and via USB-C connection on MacBook Pro

To test headphones is to invite them into your life – how the case fits in your bag is just as important as how they slip onto your head. These cans became my daily musical companion – after a thorough run-in period. And just as Shure is a trusted name in audio, I now trust these headphones to work every day, regardless of how you're connecting to your music source, without fail. 

The Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 accompanied me to work on busy weekdays (walking brusquely to the station; boarding a train and the London Underground; at the office) and walking along the blustery seafront on the UK coastline – a great way to test any wind-interference from mics during calls.

To check the audio quality across the frequencies, I listened to various playlists across various music genres (spanning everything from grime to classical) on Apple Music and Tidal, but also to podcasts and albums on Spotify – plus of course YouTube tutorials (on how to change my car's brake light, mostly) from my MacBook Pro. 

I’ve been testing audio products for over five years now. As a dancer, aerialist and musical theater performer in another life, sound quality and the user experience have always taken priority for me personally – but portability, security and comfort come a close second. 

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
Nothing Ear (2) earphones get new black color, advanced EQ options
6:33 pm | July 6, 2023

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

Nothing today announced several new things for its line of audio products. First of all, the Nothing Ear (2) now comes in a slick new all-black finish, similar to its predecessor. Next, the Ear (2) also gets a new advanced equalizer option. Along with the simplified presets and 3-band EQ, there is now an Advanced tab where you can access the new 8-band EQ. More than the EQ itself, it's what you can do with it is impressive as this is easily one of the most elaborate EQ we have seen on a mainstream audio product. Aside from being able to adjust each of the eight bands, the user...

JBL Endurance Peak 3 Review: getting closer to the perfect workout companion
2:20 pm | May 16, 2023

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

JBL Endurance Peak 3: One minute review

The JBL Endurance Peak 3 are made for extreme circumstances. Their secure fit, IP rating, and even extended battery life are probably overkill for the general treadmill user, though they work plenty well there too. 

What they’re perfect for is any activity where you need to be sure they’ll stay in place and can handle whatever weather conditions you might experience, whether that’s hiking in inclement weather, climbing up the side of a mountain, skiing, or even going for a run.

What’s more, this third iteration builds upon and improves on the JBL Endurance Peak II, already among the best running headphones out there, for an almost perfect workout companion by adding a transparency mode and a better IP rating. 

Whether you would consider these among the best workout headphones is going to depend on what you need them for. If you’re a long-distance runner going at a steady speed for hours on end, there are options that you’ll probably find more comfortable. However, as we’ll see in this review, I think the JBL Endurance Peak 3 are superb earbuds for athletes and those with an active lifestyle. 

JBL Endurance Peak 3: Specifications

JBL Endurance Peak 3: Price and Availability

  • How much does it cost? $99.95 / about £82.99 /AU$199.95
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK and Australia

The JBL Endurance Peak 3, released in February of 2023, might include a transparency mode but mostly keep a lot of things the same as the previous model including, thankfully, the price. Instead of taking the opportunity of a slightly expanded feature-set to raise the price, JBL decided to keep this newest version at that under-$100 /  £100 price tag.

Sure, you can spend much less on a pair of workout earbuds sporting ear-hooks for that secure fit such as the JLab Go Air Sport, which go for a criminally low $30 / £29 / AU$69, but their IP55 rating isn’t quite as robust as the IP68 rating of the JBLs. More importantly, at least for those who need workout earbuds outside the gym, the JLab don’t come with a transparency mode.

However, many of the best options will set you back much more, like the Beats Powerbeats Pro. These earbuds go for $249 / £219 / AU$349, yet they don’t have the battery life, IP rating, or transparency mode of the JBL Endurance Peak 3.

  • Value score: 5/5

JBL Endurance Peak 3: Design

JBL Endurance Peak 3 workout headphones

(Image credit: James Holland)
  • Ear-hook design gives very secure fit
  • Can be uncomfortable after long periods
  • IP68 rating to withstand most weather conditions

If there’s ever been a case of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” the JBL Endurance Peak 3 are it. Or at least, that’s the approach that JBL seems to have taken here as they look identical to the Endurance Peak 2. The earbuds have that same thick stem that attaches to the earbud and a large bendable ear hook that fits around the ear for a fit so secure it would require some extreme force for it to come loose. Each earbud also has capacitive touch controls, though they require a little pressure to engage.

The charging case, which matches the color of the earbuds (you can either grab these in black or white), is similarly bulky to the point that it takes up a similar amount of space as at least two Beats Fit Pro cases. In essence, everything about the JBL Endurance Peak 3 is big. This is not for someone who wants something slim to pop in while on a treadmill.

The downside to wearing earbuds this big, especially the ear hooks, is that they can get uncomfortable after a while. That’s due to the fact they not only fill up the opening to the ear canal but are continuously pressed in by the ear hook.

On the bright side, the JBL Endurance Peak 3 are built to withstand the elements with their IP68 rating, a vast improvement over the previous model’s solid IP55 rating. That means this newer version is virtually waterproof and can withstand quite a bit of debris as well. If you’re a rock climber, skier, or do anything where you have to factor in weather conditions, an IP68 rating is a godsend. Just keep in mind that these are not great for swimming if only because Bluetooth has an extremely short functional range in the water.

  • Design: 4.5 / 5

JBL Endurance Peak 3: Performance

JBL Endurance Peak 3 workout headphones

(Image credit: James Holland)
  • Mostly good sound
  • Bass is pronounced but indistinct
  • Transparency mode is finally here and works well

As is the case with any pair of earbuds whether they’re for the gym or a commute, it doesn’t matter how well all the different elements are if the sound quality isn’t there. And, while the JBL Endurance Peak 3 are nowhere close to audiophile-quality, they sound pretty good. The high-end can be a tiny bit bright but not to the point of pain, even after using them for 30-45 minutes. The mids, to compensate, are a little recessed but full enough to sound pleasant. And, as seems to be the case with many workout earbuds, the bass is big.

The thinking, at least from what I can gather from the way manufacturers present their products, is that this built-in bass boost is to help motivate during workouts. While that doesn’t resonate with me, it might with some. However, as we’ll discuss in the next section, you can EQ in a bass boost if you want that. It doesn’t need to be quite this pronounced. On top of that, no matter the genre of music I listen to, that big bass starts to sound muddy and to lose some definition to the point where I would use the EQ to roll off some of that low end. That said, some people may enjoy that extra low-end oomph. In essence, they sound good or at least good enough for the price and can be easily EQ’ed into a sound that works best for you.

The transparency mode, selectable in the JBL app as well as through the on-unit controls, is the main improvement these earbuds have received over the previous version. And, they’re a welcome addition. Billed as Ambient Sound Control here, there are just two settings: Ambient Aware and TalkThru. While there’s no additional controls as I have found with other brands, both modes are effective. 

Ambient Aware brings in just enough outside ambient sounds that I’m aware of surroundings when going for a jog – especially important when I have to worry about passing vehicles – though I do have to balance the volume of what I’m listening to to not drown out the sounds of my environment. TalkThru is a more aggressive mode where the volume of your source is limited so that you can easily hold a conversation without removing the earbuds or pausing the music.

Like almost all earbuds these days, you can use the JBL Endurance Peak 3 to take calls as it employs four mics to pick up the voice. It’s not going to be as crisp as when I hold the phone up to my face as the voice comes through slightly veiled and with a tiny bit of echo, but it’s still loud and understandable. Really, that’s not much worse than most of the other models as I’ve found very few to give the same experience as talking directly into the phone.

  • Performance: 4 / 5

JBL Endurance Peak 3: App

  • Easy to use
  • Relatively powerful EQ
  • Some limited customizations of gestures

The JBL Headphone app is streamlined and easy to use with just about everything you need accessible on the landing page for the earbuds. You just scroll down to find the feature you want to mess with.

At the top, just under a picture of the JBL Endurance Peak 3 and a reading of each earbud’s battery life sits the Ambient Sound Control, which you can turn on and off and switch between Ambient Aware and TalkThru. 

Next is the EQ. There’s a toggle to turn it on and off, three presets and a custom button along with the presets. I wasn’t a huge fan of the presets but the EQ itself is reasonably powerful. You can boost or cut up to 6 dB and can create up to 10 different adjustable points on the EQ graph. So, you can create a 5-point EQ profile or a 10-point one depending on what you’re trying to do. Additionally, you can create more than one custom EQ profile, something that I typically don’t see in these sorts of apps.

Following the EQ is Gestures where you can customize what the touch controls do on each earbud. However, you can’t select for each type of press as there is a dropdown menu to let you choose from a preselected bundle of gestures.

There’s VoiceAware on hand as well with a slider that will adjust how much you hear your own voice, a nice feature for making a call in noisy environments. And, lastly, you can choose between Audio Mode and Video Mode. This is a nice feature for anyone who might stream something on their phone. Instead of dealing with delayed audio, you can choose Video Mode for reduced latency. Or, if you’re just listening to music and want better sound quality, then choose Audio Mode.

  • App score: 4/5

JBL Endurance Peak 3: Battery life

JBL Endurance Peak 3 workout headphones

(Image credit: James Holland)
  • Ten hours of battery in earbuds
  • Charging case adds another 40 hours
  • Ten minutes of charging gives an hour of use

Battery life has come a long way in earbuds but having enough juice to last hours on end is important for something you might want to use for more than just a 45-minute session at the gym. Luckily, the JBL Endurance Peak 3 last an impressive ten hours on a single charge. Of course, using features like the transparency mode will affect that. But, when tested without any features, mainly turning off the Ambient Sound Control, I found these to last as advertised. Every hour they ran, the battery life would drop 10%.

Additionally, the charging case adds another 40 hours of battery life. As it should, considering how bulky it is. What’s more, if you somehow manage to drain the earbuds, ten minutes of charging will give you an additional hour of use.

  •  Battery: 5 /5 

Should I buy the JBL Endurance Peak 3?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

How I tested the JBL Endurance Peak 3

To test the JBL Endurance Peak 3, I not only used them for a couple weeks while working out, which included jogging around busy areas with them and doing bodyweight exercises with them, but I also spent plenty of time head-banging to see how secure they were. I also listened to various types of music, paying attention to all elements of the music. I took a look at and tested every feature in the app and ran some battery tests to see if they work as advertised.

Having spent the last few years reviewing all sorts of audio gear, I’ve gotten a feel for what to look for and how to put a piece of kit through its paces to see whether it’s worth the recommendation. And, I’ve spent even longer playing and listening to music critically.

First reviewed: April 23

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal review
1:33 pm | February 8, 2023

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

Two-minute review

Those people and businesses that are protective of their liquid assets will probably exclude the Danish luxury brand Bang & Olufsen from their product choices.

Bang & Olufsen has a long and impressive history of delivering excellent audio technology for those that care more about quality than price, and its new Beocom Portal headphones haven’t strayed from that path.

However, compared with gaming-orientated or audiophile-luring headphones, these have been designed more with hybrid workers in mind. And are being promoted by Bang & Olufsen as “the next big step in our efforts to grow our business-to-business portfolio which is an important strategic focus area for Bang & Olufsen”, according to John Howard, Head of Enterprise at Bang & Olufsen.

In service to those objectives, these Bluetooth-connected headphones are Zoom-certified out of the box and come with support for all the commonly used communication platforms.

Therefore, irrespective of the particular standardisation of the purchasing business, these should be suitable.

One caveat of deploying these types of devices away from the office is resolving technical issues without onsite support. The Beocom Portal headphones come with Beocom link USB wireless Bluetooth adapters (with aptX Adaptive Codec), pre-paired for use and supporting both USB Type-A and USB Type-C ports on the host device.

If the connecting technology is already Bluetooth enabled, Bang & Olufsen has apps, Apple and Android, that can establish the pairing easily with the minimum of fuss.

These headphones aren’t exclusively Bluetooth, as they include the cables to connect them to both USB and 3.5mm audio systems. The USB-A to USB-C cable also doubles to charge the Portal headphones, although no charger is included for those that don’t have access to a USB-A system.

Once these are connected, the user can experience the “uncompromised Bang Olufsen signature sound”, or clear communication and audio rendering for those who don’t speak PR.

It achieves this by using an array of beamforming microphones to isolate and amplify the voice of the user while cancelling out background noise, though cancelling can be disabled if required. A prerequisite for those that spend their days calling others, along with long-wear comfort, these are things that business headphone designers can no longer ignore.

While these might look very similar to the previous Beoplay 500 design, plenty of business-friendly changes make these more suitable for hybrid workers.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal price and availability

The Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal isn’t cheap or even attractively priced, and those expecting otherwise aren’t familiar with this brand.

The only choice here is that they come in Black Anthracite, Navy or Grey Mist colour schemes.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)
  • Value score: 3/5

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal design

  • Designed by Jakob Wagner
  • Stylish and lightweight
  • Simple to operate

For those unfamiliar with the name, Jacob Wenger is an American industrial designer and entrepreneur that founded his own design firm, Jacob Wenger Design, LLC, and it specializes in high-end custom furniture and product design.

Therefore, while it might be a leap to suggest that he designed the Beocom Portal headphones, his design team was responsible for their ergonomics and visual styling.

Unsurprisingly, these have all the hallmark deference of a product design exercise where every sharp edge has been eliminated and replaced with a sweeping curve.

What makes these stand out from other headphone makers' products are some simple refinements that elevate the user experience.

Where most headbands have a notched connection to the driver covers, on the Beocom Portal, they move smoothly, allowing for a great degree of positioning. It’s a tiny thing, but it makes for even greater comfort. The breathable fabric used for the headband is another factor in making these easy to wear throughout a working day.

In other respects, the control mechanisms of the Portal follow a pattern that anyone who has experience with B&O Bluetooth headphones will be familiar with.

Each of the metal surfaces on the cup faces operates as a touch input, but the subtle nuances of this design are that strictly what gestures do entirely depends on the mode of operation.

For example, if the wearer is taking a call, then tapping on the left cup will end the call. But the same action will pause a track playing over Bluetooth. Some actions overlap, and some are entirely different. These peculiarities might take some learning by the user, but it’s logical.

However, the controls assume oddly that music lovers never repeat tracks or fast forward.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)

What the designers avoided was using touch on the cups for volume controls, instead using a rocker/slider on the left cup to control noise cancellation and one on the right side to adjust volume levels.

Each side also has a single pressable button, with the right one doubling as the power and Bluetooth pairing control and the left side mute.

The physical controls have their limits, and we’d strongly recommend installing the Bang & Olufsen Beocom app on your phone, as this allows you to easily switch between different modes and levels of noise cancellation. And, this tool can also update the onboard firmware should the makers release updates.

Both the USB-C connection and 3.5mm audio jack is placed on the right side, assuming that the computer will be on that side of the user if they’re using wired technology.

Bang & Olufsen opted for a design that doesn’t have a boom microphone, instead a beamforming array to identify the wearer from other sounds and focus exclusively on that source. The quality is more than acceptable and well within the spec required for making and receiving calls, but it isn’t the clarity needed for broadcast work, like a podcast.

Overall, these are exceptionally classy headphones that work well in a business context, although some audiophiles might take exception to the inability to reverse skip tracks and move through audio accurately.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)

Design score: 4/5

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal features

  • AAC and aptX Adaptive
  • Google Fast Pair and Microsoft Swift Pair
  • Good battery life

The Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal that was sent to us for review came with the following hardware:
Frequency range: 20 – 22,000Hz
ANC: Adaptive ANC with Transparency Mode plus Dolby Atmos
Drivers: Electro-dynamic driver w/ Neodymium magnets
Drive diameter: 40mm
Driver sensitivity: 95dB @ 1kHz / 1mW
EQ: Presets and custom settings via Bang & Olufsen App
Designer: Jakob Wagner, LLC
Fit: Circumaural
Dimensions (WxHxD): 167.3 x 178.7 x 92.6mm

The Bluetooth technology in the Portal is version 5.1, which goes beyond the standard ABC codec with both AAC and aptX Adaptive.

Due to the audio compression used, variable between 5:1 and 10:1, the aptX Adaptive is the preferred method of connection for best audio fidelity, as it offers up to 420 kBits of data at 48 kHz.

That’s for a single source, but it is possible to have multipoint connections for those transitioning from a PC to mobile phone use.

By default, the headset will automatically try to connect to the last device that was paired, and it supports both Google Fast Pair and Microsoft Swift Pair technologies.

Ironically, the best audio quality available is undoubtedly over USB. When connected using the provided cable, these will be seen by the connected PC as rated for Dolby Atmos playback.

Another high-quality sound option is the audio jack mode, but it has a few limitations since it won’t work if the Portal isn’t powered by the battery or through USB. But with power available, even when using audio jack input, the noise cancelling and some controls will work as expected.

Noise cancelling on these is good, but not quite as amazing as we’ve experienced on some of the more expensive options from Sony. The effect is that low-frequency rumbles are all but eliminated, but higher ranges are muffled. This allows you to realise someone alongside is speaking to you in person but removes most unwanted background sounds that you might experience in an office. There are five levels of ANC, enabling the user to find the one that makes them less distracted by those around them while not entirely deaf while wearing them.

You can also adjust the level of your own voice feeding back into the headphones, which can be helpful if you are raising that to cope with a bustling environment.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

The B&O Android application provides full control over the features of these headphones (Image credit: Mark Pickavance)

The similarities between the Beocom Portal and Beoplay 500 series headphones might lead some to think they are the same product, but some distinct differences exist, especially in respect of the battery.

Where the Beoplay 500 offer 19 hours of talk time with Active Noise Cancellation, the Portal has extended that to 23 hours and listening to music at a moderate volume level offers 47 hours with Active noise cancellation (connected to the Beocom Link A or C dongle).

That extra time should make the Portal last through at least three working days, as they turn off after 15 minutes without an active audio stream.

The quoted times are dependent on the sound being relayed through the headphones, as high-impact audio, like rock music, will use more power to output compared to a flute solo.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

Both USB-A to USB-C and 3.5mm audio cables are included (Image credit: Mark Pickavance)
  • Features score: 4/5

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal Sound

  • Best over USB
  • Balanced soundscape

When phones get more than 10,000 mAh, they’ve got enough battery for extended use without a recharge, and this one has 10800 mAh of battery inside.

According to Doogee, the V30 should operate for more than three days of typical use without needing a recharge, and it might make it to a fourth.

The included 66W charger can recover 50% of its battery capacity from empty in around 30 minutes, although if you use the 15W wireless charging, it will take four hours to reach the same level.

There are rugged designs that offer more battery, but they trade weight for that advantage, and the physical mass of the V30 isn’t so great that it becomes impractical.

The available capacity is enough for a camping holiday, and the power efficiency of the platform makes the most of it.

  • Sound score: 4/5

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

(Image credit: Bang & Olufsen)

I could wax lyrical about the balanced frequency response, how they feel after you’ve been wearing them for hours and the generally wonderful build quality, but none of these things obscures the fiscal elephant in this room.

If you want some high-quality headphones that are equally impressive user for work or play and carry this logo, then be prepared to open your wallet wide.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal score card

Should I buy a Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider 

Astro A30 review: stellar if not completely out of this world
7:25 pm | February 4, 2023

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

Astro A30: One-minute review

Astro always aims for the stars, and its latest offering, the Astro A30, is no different. While the brand doesn’t always get there – specifically with its more budget-friendly offerings – the tactic at least gets it to the moon, and that's especially true here. 

The Astro A30 looks great and inherits some of the A40’s customizability. And, it’s a quality purchase as well, delivering in audio performance, comfort, and versatility – even if you do have to pay a slightly hefty price to get it. However, it’s not devoid of shortcomings, although some of those can be remedied by mere EQing, and despite having all the right elements, it doesn’t do enough to really stand out.

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Still, it's great where it matters. It's also among the latest models to join this new breed of gaming headsets that tries to do it all, which I'm absolutely here for, especially since it also means that it could potentially save users money (and perhaps even lower their carbon footprint).

Is the Astro A30 going to win the race to the stars? Probably not, but it’s still a stellar choice and one of the best wireless gaming headsets right now.

Astro A30: Price and availability

  • How much does it cost? $229.99 / £229.99 / $429.95
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, the UK, and Australia
Astro A30: SPECS

Interface: 2.4GHz transmitter, Bluetooth, 3.5 mm aux cable
Platforms: PS5, PC/Mac, Xbox Series X|S
Mic: Removable boom mic, Built-in mic
Surround sound: 3D audio
Weight: 326g

I wish the Astro A30 wasn’t so steeply-priced. At $229.99 / £229.99 / $429.95, it is a hefty purchase for most people, particularly because we’re in the middle of high inflation. That isn’t to say it isn’t worth it because you are getting a versatile pair here that can be used for PC and console gaming, and can moonlight as headphones. 

But, there are other gaming headsets with very similar features and capabilities at a more affordable asking price. The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 Wireless is a terrific example. For just $179 / £174 (about AU$310), it also delivers slightly better sound quality and promises a longer battery life.

If you have cash to spare, however, and are a fan of Astro headsets, like the legendary Astro A50, you might prefer the Astro A30. It’s also a good one to add to your collection if you’ve got one going.

  • Value: 3.5 / 5

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Astro A30: Design

  • Comfortable and customizable but some clamping force
  • Plastic yoke is easily scratched
  • Mobile app support

Personally, I adore the Astro A30’s look and design. I appreciate the uniqueness of its rounded square ear cups since many of the newer releases from Astro’s rivals have gone with an oval design. Plus both its speaker tags and ear cups are magnetically attached so you can swap yours out to match whatever aesthetic you’re currently into.

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

There are things that I wish were better, however. The plastic yoke that attaches the ear cup to the band is easily scratched – so much so, I’ve had to gently remove shaved bits of it whenever I accidentally scrape it against something. And, I tend to be a little OCD about my gear so I’m usually very careful and take good care of them.

On top of that, the Astro A30 has a bit more clamping force than most of the gaming headsets I’ve tested in recent months. Coming from someone with a regular-sized head, that’s saying something. To offset that, I put the headset over my cats’ food bin and kept it there for 24 hours. That seemed to fix the issue.

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

I don’t think either of those things is a massive deal-breaker. Besides, the Astro A30 has a slew of excellent design features that more than make up for those. The memory foam ear cups, for one, are plush, comfortable, and soft to the touch. The physical controls are intuitive and easy to remember. And, the overall fit is great, so as long as you break it in a little, it should stay comfortable for hours.

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Another fantastic feature worth highlighting is the mobile app support. The Astro A30, as I’ve mentioned, isn’t just for PC and console gaming. It moonlights as a great pair of headphones as well, one you can use with your phone, wearables, and tablets to consume other forms of entertainment via Bluetooth. With your phone, you can download the Logitech G mobile app and manage your audio mix, check on battery life, and most importantly, personalize the audio with its five-band EQ.

  • Design: 5 / 5

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Astro A30: Performance

  • EQ and dual-audio mixing
  • Good sub-bass and balanced high end
  • Clear microphones

One cool thing about the Logitech G mobile app is that its five-band EQ, which is available for the Astro A30, is actually pretty powerful. It lets you cut or boost a frequency by 12db, which has allowed me to fix the minor complaints I have about its default audio performance. I could offset the sibilance a little, for example, that’s present at default due to the high end being a little too pronounced. 

Another cool feature here is the dual-audio mixing. Not only does the Astro A30 offer multi-connectivity and multi-platform compatibility, but also lets you hear audio from two different sources at the same time. It does a good job of balancing them as well. I personally don’t have a lot of use for such a feature, but very few gaming headsets offer it so it gives the A30 a bit of an edge.

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Not that it needs extra frills to be great. The Astro A30’s audio performance hardly needs assistance, delivering good sub-bass extension, good mids, and a fairly balanced high end. Listening to tunes like Kendrick Lamar's DNA, Naseebo Lal & Abida Parveen's Tu Jhoom, and Rihanna's Lift Me Up has been enjoyable, though perhaps not perfect.

When listening to music, I’m definitely not getting a lot of rumble here, even with bass-heavy tunes and even when I’m EQing – that rumble is at around the 60Hz frequency, and the mobile app’s EQ band stops at 125Hz. Meanwhile, the high end tends to be a little pronounced so some sibilance appears when listening to things with a bit of sizzle. Finally, there tends to be strong low-mids, so depending on what you’re listening to, things might sound a little muddy.

As far as soundstage goes, the Astro A30 is not the most intimate headset as it feels like there's some distance between the listener and the music. It’s not bad, but it also feels like you're watching musicians from the audience instead of standing on stage or in a small room with them.

You’ll get a slightly different experience when you’re playing your favorite PC games. I’ve found when playing Control, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Rocket League that the lifted high end allows games to sound more detailed and the boosted low-mids make everything sound a little fuller. As for the soundstage, that little bit of distance actually helps immerse you in the game.

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Adding to its versatility – and ability to moonlight as a pair of headphones – is its dual-mic design. The removable boom mic tackles your communications during gaming, while the built-in mic allows you to keep things compact when you’re at the airport or train station. They’re a great pair of microphones too. The boom mic comes through clearly and has decent background noise isolation, despite the frequency range not being very wide and having a little less high end. Meanwhile, the built-in mic has a little more high end, though you will sound farther away and the background noise will come through a little louder.

There’s certainly decent battery life here, giving you about 27 hours of playtime, but honestly, for a pair of headphones that doesn’t have RGB lighting, I expected more. Its longevity seems to extend a bit when on Bluetooth, however.

  • Performance: 4.5 / 5

Should I buy the Astro A30?

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If our Astro A30 review has you considering other options, here are two more gaming headsets to consider...  

Astro A30: Report card

  • First reviewed February 2023

How I tested the Astro A30

When testing PC gaming headsets, I pay very close attention to audio quality, testing its frequencies, volume, soundstage, and sound imaging. Because a lot of gamers prefer a lot of rumble to really get into the most intense moments of their game, I also feel for any rumble a gaming headset can offer. If there's EQ-ing offered via software or app, I play around with that as well, especially if a headset's default sound performance isn't quite on par.

I also don't just test with games; because most gamers use the same headset for watching movies and listening to music, I see how well one fares play other media as well. I also test it with different inputs, especially if it has multi-platform compatibility.

Of course, equally important are a gaming headset's comfort, versatility, build, and mic performance, especially for gamers who stream or play a lot of multiplayer games. If it's a wireless headset like the Astro A30, I test its wireless performance and range.

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