Category Archives: headphones

Lizn and Hear the Conversation at CES 2018

True wireless earphones have been around for about eighteen months and products are beginning to innovate away from making the earphones technically better and physically smaller. As an example, Lizn‘s “hearpieces” are wireless earphones but also have some properties of a hearing aid. Todd listens to Michael to find out more.

The clue to Lizn’s USP is in the name itself – it’s a play on “listen”. C’mon, keep up. As well as being discreet Bluetooth wireless earphones, the earphones have directional amplification to help the wearer hear conversation in difficult circumstances. The dual microphones use advanced sound processing to enhance the consonants in speech which helps understanding in noisy environments.

The earphones come in three different colours, ruby red, caffe latte and anthracite grey. They’re on pre-order for US$149 with an expected retail price of $199, and should be available in April.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at

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Audeara “Hearing Test” Headphones at CES 2018

We’ve covered Audeara’s headphones on GNC before but they’re so interesting that they’re worth a second shout as it’s CES and all manner of advanced technology is on show.

Audeara are the world’s first full fidelity headphones with an built-in hearing test to protect user’s ears and deliver a completely personalised listening experience.

Everyone has a degree of hearing loss. Not just as a result of every loud gig they’ve been to, every busy street they’ve walked down, or every police siren that’s ever gone past but also damage can be sustained purely by listening to their headphones too loud. More and more young people have some loss of hearing, with an increasing number with the same hearing health usually associated with a 60 year old.

Audeara headphones can be used to test and retest hearing over a lifetime and adapt music to the user’s individual needs. They make music better, not louder, and provide perfect sound as it’s personalised for each person’s hearing. The first time the headphones are worn, the user undertakes a hearing test – the results of which, are subsequently stored in the headphones themselves. The headphones use this hearing profile to adjust the sound signal as it passes through them. They adjust the right ear differently from the left, making sure each part of the signal reaches the user’s brain in a way that’s heard as a perfect reflection of the intended signal.

What makes the Audeara headphones especially powerful is that all the technology is inside the headphones themselves. After the first test, the app isn’t required again unless the user wants to retest. This means headphones are no longer passive magnets for signal conversion, instead, they’re sophisticated tools for personalised sound reproduction.

The A-01 headphones are on pre-sale for AU$399 (that’s Australian dollars) with delivery expected in February 2018.

There’s video explaining the technology here.

Brainwavz B200 Earphones Review

Headphones are packing in more and more features – Bluetooth connectivity, in-line remotes, microphones, even digital assistants like Alexa and Google. But sometimes you just want to strip it all back and focus on the sound. You want to listen to the music, not just hear it, and that’s what Brainwavz are serving up with the B200 earphones. Sitting in the mid-to-upper end of their audiophile B series, the B200s promise “a balanced and accurate sound signature, with little to no colouring in the mids and a slight focus on the upper mids sound…delivering an overall sound the artist would have intended when producing the song.” That’s a big promise so let’s hear if the B200 earphones deliver.

Based in Hong Kong, Brainwavz have been around since 2008 and have built a range that includes earphones, headphones, Bluetooth ‘phones and accessories including stands. Prices go from US$20 for basic earbuds to $180 for the top of the range B400 earphones

The B200s arrive in an understated black box with red-highlights. Opening it, inside is a zipped pill-shaped travel case, with matching red highlights. Unzipping reveals the earphones neatly wrapped in a velcro band, a shirt clip, and a selection of ear tips. There’s one set of red Comply memory foam tips, plus 10 silicone rubber tips in S, M, L (two pairs of each size in total). It’s a satisfactory package.

Unwrapping the earphones and looking closer, there’s a gold-plated 3.5mm audio jack with the cable coming out at about 30 degrees. The main cable feels like it’s braided and then covered in a soft-touch rubber. The cable then splits to the left and right ears with a cinch slider to keep the wires under control, and suit audiophiles, they’re of equal length. Unlike many earphones, the wires go up and over the back of the ear. The wires have a thin moulding on them to hold the over ear shape. The earphones themselves have almost a coffee-bean shape to them, with slightly curved facets. It’s all plastic, so aficionados of bare metal need look elsewhere. It’s all very understated.

The B200s are very comfortable to wear, even for extended periods. I’m not sure what makes them comfortable because the eartips look like every other eartip. It might be that the wire goes upwards over the ear rather than down. Who knows? There’s a little bit of a knack to getting the buds in and the wire looped over but helpfully L and R are stamped on the inside of the earphone. Sound isolation is good too with very little of the outside world leaking in.

Getting the heart of the matter, what are the B200s like to listen to? Frankly, they’re pretty good and give the listener a lovely balanced sound with excellent clarity and what I feel is just about the right level of bass. They’re particularly rewarding if you can get away from Spotify et al and listen to a uncompressed source – remember those CD things? I’ve been listening to John Legend’s Darkness and Light and it’s just glorious.  No question, Brainwavz deliver on their promise and who needs an inline control when it sounds this good? Less is more.

Taking a quick look at the tech specs…
Drivers : Dual Balanced Armature
Rated Impedance : 30 Ω
Frequency Range : 12 Hz ~ 22 kHz
Sensitivity : 110 dB at 1 mW
Cable : 1.3 m Y-Cord, Over the ear, OFC Copper
Plug : 3.5 mm, Gold plated

Wrapping up, the Brainwavz B200 earphones sound great and will complement almost any music genre. They’re very understated – no-one’s going to be recognised the brand from across the street. tThe B200s were announced for the UK market back in June, but since then Brainwavz have updated the B200 model to version two which includes detachable audio cables and a transparent body. As a result, the pictures of the B200 earphones on the Brainwavz website look different to the ones shown here but I’m sure they sound just as good. The B200s v2 are priced at GB£90 / US$120 and if you get in quick you’ll find a few Christmas discount codes. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Video review below.

Thanks to Brainwavz for supplying the B200 earphones for review.

1More E1001 Triple Driver Earbuds

As I unpacked the box for the 1More E1001 triple driver headphones, I realised that there was good chance that these earbuds might be something a little bit special given both the attention to detail on the packaging and the price at just under GB£100. Was I disappointed? Let’s take a look and find out.

Starting with the E1001’s box, it’s designed to look like a much-loved hardback book, with detailing on three sides to give the impression of pages. Held shut by a magnetic catch, opening the outer cover reveals pencil-drawn draughts of the headphones construction. On the right are the earbuds, and lifting the tray reveals accessories in neat boxes.

The largest box holds additional eartips for the E1001s. In total, there are six sizes of silicon earbuds going from 10 mm up to 14.5 mm, plus three sizes of foam tips at 11, 13 and 14.5 mm sizes. With having a range of sizes, swapping based on use is realistic: one size for listening at home on the sofa and a larger size for walking in the park.

Other boxes contained instructions, a pleather case for the headphones, an aircraft adaptor and a clip for holding the cable in place. The clip does make a big difference when using the E1001s on a call as otherwise the microphone picks up too much background noise. Both the adaptor and the clip are finished in brush gold effect.

Returning to the headphones themselves, the body of the earbud is made entirely from metal; there’s no plastic here.  With two contrasting colours on the earbuds – soft gold and blue grey – the E1001s live up to expectations with a lovely finish. If gold’s not your colour, there’s a silver version to lower the bling level. The earbuds point forwards slightly and I had no problems with comfort and fit.

The cables running from the earbuds are equal length, and the right side has an inline control for volume, next track and taking calls. The control sticks with the grey and gold colouring. 1More keep it simple when it comes to the control – don’t expect to be able to manage two calls or anything fancy, but it does work on both iOS and Android. The lower part of the cable is braided and ends in TRRS 3.5mm jack. The total length is about 1.2 m from jack to earbud.

With the physical review completed, let’s move onto the important bit….what do they sound like? In one word, stunning. Tuned by a Grammy-award winning sound engineer, Luca Bignardi, they deliver an accurate listening experience which is frankly wasted on smartphones and mp3s. I hooked up the E1001s to a Yamaha amp with Pioneer CD source and listened to albums all over again. I particularly enjoyed listening to acoustic tracks, especially R&B like Keb’ Mo’ where you can hear every slap of the guitar, every nuance in the vocals, every thump of the bass. There’s tremendous clarity and detail in the sound coming out of these earbuds and the triple drivers deliver where it’s needed. Unless I’m going to the gym, these are my current favourites for listening.

Priced at GB£99.99 and US$99.99, these aren’t cheap but in terms of bang for buck, the E1001s are great value. If you are interested in buying from the UK, there’s currently a coupon on the website to get 20% off, which is an even better deal. When you consider 1More released its first headphones in 2015, it’s astonishing that it’s now producing earbuds of this quality in 2017: the established players in this market should be concerned.

Thanks to 1More for providing the E1001 triple driver headphones for review. Unboxing video below.

Hooked by iClever Bluetooth Headphones

With the new BTH20, iClever‘s improved both the fit and audio quality for its next generation of Bluetooth wireless earphones. These headphones are a good match for my ears and the soft silicon rubber hooks keep them in place during the most vigorous exercise, so I like them. Let’s take a look a closer look and see what iClever’s done; we might even listen to them too.

Starting with the fit, the new headphones achieve better comfort by maximising the contact surface. Additionally, by using an offset for the inwards leaning hook, it lines up better with the ear folds. The outer part of the earbud is a small cylinder that is half covered in silicon rubber and fills out the ear a little bit more than usual. The thin hook comes out from the far end of the cylinder and the narrowness lets it get into the folds and creases. In my humble opinion, these are the best earbuds at staying in place but obviously people’s ears vary a good deal so YMMV, as they say.

Both the earbud itself and the ear hook part can be switched for different sizes – the BTH20 comes with three of each, say, small, medium and large, meaning that there are nine possible combinations for the best aural fit. The headphones are very light too at only 13g (says the spec sheet). Fitness fans will be pleased to hear that the ‘phones are sweat resistant. Give them a wipe down after a session but don’t dunk them in the sink.

The left and right earphones are connected via a round cable with an inline control close to the right ear. The three buttons on the control manage volume, music and phone calls, though some of button combinations can be challenging to get right. Additionally, the control houses the microUSB port for charging and there’s a very small status LED which can be orange or white depending on activity. There’s a short tangle-free USB to microUSB cable for charging in the box. Battery life is quoted at 8 hours, which seems about right based on the couple of afternoons I listened on the earphones without recharging.

Pairing the headphones with a smartphone was straightforward (as it should be) and I did notice that the BTH20 were quick to establish a connection when turned on. For telephone calls, callers came through to me clear and I didn’t have any complaints from them about hearing me, which you’d expect with noise-cancelling phones. I still always find it a little disconcerting to hear people in both ears….

Finally, let’s take a listen. It’s time for the summer hits and without a doubt, Despacito is the summer hit of 2017, sitting at #1 in the UK and breaking the YouTube streaming record. And it sounds good on the BTH20, which really suits the big summer hits – there’s plenty of bass without overwhelming the vocals and well-defined treble keeps the hi-hats crisp. The BTH20 really delivers on those by-the-pool numbers – One Dance, Cheerleader, Get Lucky – they all sound fantastic.

Finally, the price. It’s GB£19.99 from and US$19.99 from which I think is very good value. Yes, there are cheaper Bluetooth headphones out there but the combination of fit and sound quality is hard to beat.

Any improvements?….colour other than black would be cool as these deserve to be noticed. Apparently there is a silver version but it’s currently unavailable.

Wrapping up, the iClever BTH20 Bluetooth headphones are currently my favourite headphones for “out and about”. The sound is good, the fit is great (for me) and the price is right. Perfect for the summer holidays! Put them in your bag.

Thanks to iClever for providing the BTH20 for review. Unboxing video below.


Audeara Headphones Adapt To You

It doesn’t look like this project needs the publicity given they’ve blown through their AU$100,000 target on Kickstarter but the Audeara headphones have a fairly unique selling point: they give you a hearing test and then adjust sounds levels across the frequency range to compensate for your personal physiology and hearing loss. That’s clever.

Designed by a team of doctors and engineers, the A-01 headphones carry out a simple hearing test the first time they are used via a mobile app. The results are recorded in the headphones themselves and is used to modify the sound signal before it is played in the ear, and each ear can be different too. Once the headphones are programmed, there’s no need for the app and the profile is used whatever the sound source.

Everyone has some degree of hearing loss. Obviously it tends to be worse in older people, but some suffer damage through their occupation or attending too many loud music concerts! The Auderea headphones can compensate for any loss, making the sound better, not simply louder, and they also incorporate active noise-cancellation for noisy environments. As everyone is different, everyone hears differently and every profile is different, but the A-01 headphones gets the sound as close as possible to the original.

For those concerned about hearing loss, the test results are stored in the app as an audiogram. By retesting hearing on a regular basis and looking for changes between the results, early indications of hearing impairment can be spotted and a medical assessment arranged.

It certainly sounds interesting and there are more details over on Kickstarter along with some early bird offers if you get in quick. Deliveries are expected in July 2017 but as with all things Kickstarter, exercise caution. Current offers are around AU$299 which is about U$230 or GB£185.

Syllable D700 Wireless Sports Earbuds Review

Syllable logoWireless headphones make a great deal of sense for sports and fitness fans as there’s nothing more irritating than getting caught up in the cables and trashing the headphone jack. As a result, Bluetooth headphones are popular with these people, even before Apple took the decision to ditch the stereo socket. Aiming squarely at this market segment are the Syllable D700-2017 wireless sports earbuds. Let’s take a look.

Syllable D700

The D700s are earbud-style headphones with an over-the-ear hook and a single cable running between the two sides. There’s an in-line remote close to the right side, which does all the usual stuff – on/off, pair, volume up/down, take call and so on.The remote has the microUSB charging port on one side too. Included in the box are additional ear buds for those with small or large earholes and flat ribbon USB charging cable which is far less prone to tangling. The connecting cable is available in three colours; yellow, blue and black, these are the black ones obviously!

Syllable D700 Sports Earbuds

The D700s support Bluetooth 4.1 and a range of profiles like A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP. There’s no need for the details but broadly these acronyms mean that you can play and control stereo music over the headphones. Getting paired with a smartphone or tablet is the usual simplicity; in this case hold down the middle (power) button on the remote to put it in pairing mode, wait for it to pop up as an available device in the Bluetooth config on the phone, tap on it and job done. Syllable might want to improve their quality control as the headphones advertise as “SYLLALBE D700”. Duh!

Syllable Earbud CloseupThe build quality seems good and I had no problems over the few weeks I’ve been testing. For the most part, the D700s are covered in a soft-touch coating and the over-the-ear loops are a pliable plastic, though you can’t bend them to shape. The earbuds are mounted on a tube which goes up and down to allow for different ear canal to top of ear dimensions. On first inspection, it looks like the earbuds point upwards but once you put them D700s on, the angle of the loops on the ears tilts the earbuds Syllable D700 On Earforward. (The picture on the right has been slightly airbrushed). They can be a little fiddly to put on because the earbud can move and swivel on the tube but that’s balanced against a better fit for you ears.

In terms of comfort, I found the D700s a little bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes everything just seemed to line up and the fit was great, really great. Other times, I’d be fiddling away with one ear to get it comfy and sitting right. Regardless, the over ear loops ensured that they stayed in place during exercise. YMMV, as they say.

For audio quality, the D700s are impressive for the price point, though it’s important to ensure that there’s a good fit with the earbuds. If the buds are too small, the sound is thin and weak, but if you get a good seal, the bass is massively improved and overall the music is much richer and well defined. I tried a range of audio sources, across a number of musical genres and the D700s makes a good effort with all of them. Don’t forget that these headphones are to be used during exercise, so audiophile quality is not a prime requirement but they don’t disappoint for the price.

With respect to phone calls, the D700s were able to pick up speech well, even with the remote located round the back of my neck. Sometimes the remote’s microphone would get blocked by clothing and needed to be freed up for the caller to hear me. Generally not an issue while wearing a t-shirt or a vest, but something to remember if you’re in a hoodie.

The manufacturer says battery life should be around four to five hours and around an hour recharging. I wouldn’t disagree.

Overall, the Syllable D700-2017s sound good and stay on the ears, though they can be a little tricky to fit at times. At GB£13.99 on they’re definitely worth considering for the gym.

Thanks to Syllable for providing the D700s for review.

OnePlus Teasing USB C Headphones?

OnePlus LogoOnePlus are up to their usual tricks of teasing new product announcements but in this case it doesn’t look like there will be long to wait. In tweet linking to a YouTube video, OnePlus says, “We’re preparing something special. Discover what’s next for on August 25.”

The video shows a vinyl record overprinted with what appears to be an earbud and cable, and a large “V2”. As there’s been much discussion lately about the loss of headphone sockets and their replacement by USB C, the speculation is that OnePlus are going to announce a USB C set of headphones. Judge for yourself.

The company has long offered a competitive range of headphones, including the higher end Icons. My money would be on a new version of those, though I’m less confident about the USB C connector. Whatever it is, there’s not long to wait…

3D Sounds Labs Keeps Audio in Place at CES

3D Sound Labs LogoStereo headphones have been around since the middle of the last century and 3D audio in headphones from the 1990s. Impressive as the spatial effect from 3D can be, the sound is still always relative to the listener as the headphones are on the wearer, whereas speakers position the sound relative to the room or other space.

Until now, that is. 3D Sound Labs new headphones keep sounds in their place, even as the wearer moves their head. Scott finds out more from Maxime Sabahec of 3D Sound Labs on how their headphones keep sounds still.

The 3D Sound One headphones use motion sensors to understand the position of the wearer relative to the sound stage. The embedded gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer send information back to the PC via Bluetooth which then adjusts the positions of the sound in real-time as the person moves. This realism increases the immersive experience and while it’s good for movies, it’s great for VR.

The 3D Sound One headphones are available now for US$299 from Amazon and the 3D Sound Labs website.
Scott Ertz is a software developer and video producer at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Style and Function with New Philips Headphones at CES

Philips LogoPhilips has a range of new headphones, each addressing different consumer needs, from the runner to the fashionista. Daniele listens in with Steve Punter of Philips to find out more about the latest ‘phones.

First up are the new Wireless Freedom sports earphones, which are Bluetooth wireless headphones so there’s no cables to get tangled in gym equipment or yank out earbuds. Perfect for runners, they’re light with a four and half hour battery life. US$69

Next is the new Everlite range, lightweight “gravity-defying” on-ear headphones, that look great and fold-up neatly for toting around. With a built-in mic, these work well with smartphones, and have colours to match the latest iPhone models. US$49

Finally, the new noise-cancelling headphones have Active Shield Pro which can cancel up to 99% of the outside noise. Along with Bluetooth and a 15 hour battery life, the headphones have a touch sensitive pad on the back of an earcup which controls the playback and volume of the music. US$169

All these headphones will be on sale over the coming months.

Daniele Mendez is a video producer at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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