Edifier NeoBuds S ANC earbuds

Edifier has just released its NeoBuds S headphones, which retains the basic design of its recent NeoBuds Pro model, but with some significant changes to the underlying technology. The manufacturer has included Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon Sound streaming protocol, which is unfortunately unavailable on any current phone designed to work with U.S. carriers.

What’s left is a pair of comfortable earbuds with strong active noise cancellation and some incredibly complicated app controls that should let anyone who’s into custom EQ settings alter the sounds to their heart’s content.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best noise-cancelling headphones, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.

What comes with the Edifier NeoBuds S true wireless headphones?
Edifier includes seven pairs of ear tips in different sizes, so there’s an excellent chance that everyone can find a perfect fit. There’s a USB-A-to-USB-C charging cable and a nylon drawstring carrying bag for the case and cable.

Each earbud features a Knowles balanced armature driver and multi-diaphragm dynamic drivers with electronics cross-over control. The active noise cancellation promises a -42dB reduction in ambient noise.

Battery life is 5.5 hours in the earbuds, with an additional 16 hours from the case with ANC turned on. Those times rise to 6 hours and 19 hours with ANC turned off.

The NeoBuds S support fast charging, but only via the enclosed cable, given that the case doesn’t support wireless charging. If you’re out of power, a 10-minute charge will give you 1.5 hours of playback.

The NeoBuds S also have an IP54 dust and waterproof rating, so they’re good to go for workouts and outdoor activities. But while the buds are sweatproof, they won’t survive a dunk in the pool.

Does Edifier offer an app for the NeoBuds S?
Edifier has an app available for both iOS and Android. Its most charming feature lets you choose one of eight colors for the light strip on the front of the NeoBuds S case. The feature adds nothing to the functionality of the earbuds, but it’s a nice touch that lets you personalize your NeoBuds in a non-flashy way.

The main panel lets listeners switch between five different playback modes: Normal, High noise cancellation, Low noise cancellation, Ambient sound, and Wind reduction.

There’s also a battery indication for each earbud and the charging case, but you’ll have to put one earbud in the case to get a reading on the case.

How good are the NeoBuds S noise canceling and ambient modes?
Anyone looking for maximum noise reduction for airplane travel will appreciate the aggressive ANC the NeoBuds S deliver. The audio is noticeably compressed versus Normal mode, but that’s to be expected from earbuds or headphones that crank up the noise cancellation.

Ambient sound lets you hear surrounding traffic noise cut, and the wind reduction is effective. Unfortunately, all playback modes shut off when you’re on a phone call, so don’t expect any wind reduction or noise reduction when calling from the beach when you’re supposed to be at the office.

The Sound effect panel lets listeners choose between Classic, Dynamic and Customized settings. The Customized settings let you tweak four sliders in four different frequency ranges and then save and name the custom EQ levels. If you listen to both deep bass electronic music and delicate psychedelic folk, you’ll be happy to tweak the music playback to fit the genre.

How does Snapdragon Sound work on the Edifier NeoBuds S?
The big news here is that Edifier has chosen to build the NeoBuds S with Snapdragon Sound, Qualcomm’s new hi-res streaming format that promises 24-bit/96 kHz sound and is designed to compete with Sony’s LDAC protocol. Unfortunately for U.S. customers, support for Snapdragon is so far almost exclusive to Xiaomi, a Chinese company whose phones are not sold through U.S. carriers.

If you’re an American customer looking at the NeoBuds S, the important news is that they support the AAC, SBC, and Qualcomm aptX codecs, along with limited support for the aptX HD protocol. Neither Samsung nor the Google Pixel support aptX HD, so those phones are limited to regular aptX. As always, all iPhones are limited to AAC.

The NeoBuds S follow the Edifier NeoBuds Pro, which were released earlier this year and do feature support for LDAC and somewhat limited support for the higher-res LHDC, currently in use only on non-U.S. brands like Xiaomi, Oppo, Huawei and Redmi. Still, NeoBuds Pro buyers will get access to LDAC on the large number of Sony, Google Pixel and Samsung phones that support it.

How good do the Edifier NeoBuds S sound?
I tested the NeoBuds S by listening to AAC playback from Apple Music on an iPhone 13 Pro Max. For pure music listening, the NeoBuds S sound fine, although I’d choose the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro or the recently reviewed AXS Audio Earbuds and 1More Evo in-ear headphones as better choices for music lovers.

On the other hand, the ANC on the NeoBuds S is far better than on the Soundcore, AXS Audio, or 1More buds, and it’s as effective as what you’d get from much more expensive Sony or Bose true wireless headsets.

Of course, without access to a Snapdragon Sound-enabled phone, we’re not really hearing the NeoBud S headphones at their best. If the Qualcomm technology is built into the next generation of Android phones, our assessment may eventually be far more positive.

Should you buy the Edifier NeoBuds S?
Edifier is taking some bold steps forward by offering Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound on the NeoBuds S. But given that most of us lack phones that can take advantage of Snapdragon Sound, the NeoBuds S are arriving well ahead of their time.

Leaving Snapdragon Sound aside, we are impressed with the strong ANC performance on the NeoBuds S, and listeners who like to create their own specific EQ settings might be swayed by the ability to create and save customized settings in the app.

But minus Snapdragon Sound, the NeoBuds S sound just OK in terms of music, and they’re saddled with iffy touch controls and a case that doesn’t even offer wireless charging.

So unless you own a phone that does support Snapdragon Sound, the NeoBuds S are very expensive for what they deliver.

 

Yamaha Launches TW-E7B Flagship TWS Earbuds

Yamaha has launched its flagship TW-E7B true wireless (TWS) earbuds in the US. Announced in June this year, the new pair of earbuds have a lot of exciting audio features that the company claims would bring listeners “closer to the artist”.

Yamaha TW-E7B features
For starters, the TW-E7B TWS earbuds feature Yamaha’s propriety active noise cancelation (ANC) tech. The company says its advanced ANC algorithm blocks out external noise without affecting the audio quality. Traditional ANC often degrades the audio by unnecessary processing of the sound to filter out noise.

Yamaha’s True Sound tech ensures the tonal balance of audio to achieve “astonishing realism, detail, and clarity”. Additionally, you have a Listening Optimizer feature that optimizes the audio output according to the shape of your ear canal. An internal microphone monitors how your ear shape affects the sound and adjusts in real-time.

These wearables also feature high-performance MEMS microphones for excellent audio during voice calls. With Ambient Sound, you can continue to listen to external noise without removing the buds. This features comes in handy when you want to have conversations with someone or are in a public place. With in-ear detection, music playback will automatically stop if you remove one bud from your ear. Replacing the bud will resume music.

The Yamaha TW-E7B TWS earbuds also come equipped with the company’s proprietary Listening Care technology. It balances unsafe high and low audio frequencies to protect your hearing. Other key features include Gaming Mode, Role Swap, TrueWireless Mirroring, and Custom EQ via the companion smartphone app.

Specs, price, and availability
As for specs, the Yamaha TW-E7B features large 10mm dynamic drivers that offer “truly musical low-frequency reproduction”. The company is promising up to 22 hours of continuous playback time on a single charge, with ANC turned on. The buds have a battery life of about six hours, while the charging case can supply 16 hours of additional playtime. Thanks to fast charging, ten minutes of charging is enough for an hour of playtime. The earbuds take two hours to charge fully while the case takes three hours.

Other highlights include Google Assistant and Siri voice control, IPX5 rating for water resistance, Bluetooth 5.2, and support for all major audio codecs and profiles. Each bud weighs 7.3 grams.

Yamaha has priced the TW-E7B at $280. The new TWS earbuds are now available to purchase in Beige, Dark Blue, Black, and White colors from the company’s official website. The retail box includes the buds, charging case, eartips in five sizes, and a USB power cable.

 

 

JVC Riptidz wireless earbuds

JVC has been a long-trusted brand of home and car A/V technology. If you didn’t have a Sony VCR back in the day, you probably had a JVC.

We know the brand, so when we put the JVC Riptidz earbuds in our ears, we know we are getting maximum effort.

No brand makes it out of the boom box era without honing its craft. Keeping that in mind, it’s not to say that JVC is a stodgy old brand. Obviously, it’s hip with the kids.

These earbuds are called “Riptidz” with a Z. That’s rad, bro. My ripped-up jorts approve. Do they sound as good as their implied street vibes?

Hell yeah they do. The JVC Riptidz are some of the best wireless earbuds I’ve had in my ears this decade. Sure, the decade is less than a year old, but I use a lot of different earbuds.

All the feelz with the JVC Riptidz

The JVC Riptidz aren’t groundbreaking when it comes to modern 21st-century design. These are what earbuds are now. They have changeable rubber ear thingies (ear gels, ear tips, whatever you want to call them).

They sit in the ear all snuggly without any pressure if you use the right size ear tip. They operate through touch controls as expected. With the ear tips, they stay in place through moderate activity. They’d probably fall out if you are engaging in pugilism.

As an in-ear type of earbud, noise isolation is acceptable. This comfortable fit creates a cavern of sound. They aren’t totally noise-canceling, but if you turn the volume up enough, they are. As I listen to everything at a solid 11, the outside world was a distant hum.

The nice thing about these earbuds is the auto connect feature. Once you remove them from the charging case, they automatically connect to your phone (assuming you’ve paired them already). There is a microphone for hands-free calling as well.

They are sweat and splashproof with an IPX5 rating. This means you can’t go swimming with them, but you can get caught in the rain walking the dogs. They take about 15 minutes to charge in the charging case.

This equates to about 90 minutes of play before recharge. This cycle can be repeated for around 30 hours before the charging case needs to be recharged. That’s enough for at least two international flights. Or queuing in line when Popeye’s drops a new chicken sandwich.

Bass dropz

Bass is the best. What you look for in bass from Bluetooth headphones is crisp and clear delivery. I don’t want any distortion or crackling. I don’t want the bass to overwhelm the vocals or accompanying instruments.

Listening to Son Real’s “Can I get a witness”, the bass was clean and loud. There was no distortion on the heavier bits. While this isn’t the most bass-heavy track in existence, it’s a good litmus for overall bass performance. It’s not Basement Jaxx, but few headphones can handle that thump.

When the bass is not overwhelming, it allows the mids and vocals to shine. The Riptidz also smooth out high, normally piercing ranges like the guitars on “Out of the Black” by Royal Blood. Here, these ranges are sharp and driving but not blasting the speaker out of your ears with high distortion.

Bluetooth 5.1 has really revised my previous opinions on wireless music delivery. Where once the idea of wireless earbuds would make my stomach turn, now it’s just as reliable as wired headphones.

Bass has always been a marker of the quality of wireless delivery. There always seemed to be some fidelity loss. With the current standard of Bluetooth as evidenced on the JVC Riptidz, that loss is nonexistent. Or so minutely decipherable that it doesn’t matter.

Strong soundz from these earbuds

Bass is the best. What you look for in bass from Bluetooth headphones is crisp and clear delivery. I don’t want any distortion or crackling. I don’t want the bass to overwhelm the vocals or accompanying instruments.

Listening to Son Real’s “Can I get a witness”, the bass was clean and loud. There was no distortion on the heavier bits. While this isn’t the most bass-heavy track in existence, it’s a good litmus for overall bass performance. It’s not Basement Jaxx, but few headphones can handle that thump.

When the bass is not overwhelming, it allows the mids and vocals to shine. The Riptidz also smooth out high, normally piercing ranges like the guitars on “Out of the Black” by Royal Blood. Here, these ranges are sharp and driving but not blasting the speaker out of your ears with high distortion.

Bluetooth 5.1 has really revised my previous opinions on wireless music delivery. Where once the idea of wireless earbuds would make my stomach turn, now it’s just as reliable as wired headphones.

Bass has always been a marker of the quality of wireless delivery. There always seemed to be some fidelity loss. With the current standard of Bluetooth as evidenced on the JVC Riptidz, that loss is nonexistent. Or so minutely decipherable that it doesn’t matter.

Strong soundz from these earbuds

Bass is the best. What you look for in bass from Bluetooth headphones is crisp and clear delivery. I don’t want any distortion or crackling. I don’t want the bass to overwhelm the vocals or accompanying instruments.

Listening to Son Real’s “Can I get a witness”, the bass was clean and loud. There was no distortion on the heavier bits. While this isn’t the most bass-heavy track in existence, it’s a good litmus for overall bass performance. It’s not Basement Jaxx, but few headphones can handle that thump.

When the bass is not overwhelming, it allows the mids and vocals to shine. The Riptidz also smooth out high, normally piercing ranges like the guitars on “Out of the Black” by Royal Blood. Here, these ranges are sharp and driving but not blasting the speaker out of your ears with high distortion.

Bluetooth 5.1 has really revised my previous opinions on wireless music delivery. Where once the idea of wireless earbuds would make my stomach turn, now it’s just as reliable as wired headphones.

Bass has always been a marker of the quality of wireless delivery. There always seemed to be some fidelity loss. With the current standard of Bluetooth as evidenced on the JVC Riptidz, that loss is nonexistent. Or so minutely decipherable that it doesn’t matter.

Strong soundz from these earbuds

If these JVC earbuds (especially the Riptidz) sound good, but you are looking for other options, the market is overflowing with them.

Considering these pairs are budget-friendly, you could look at something like the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2. For gamers, these Logitech G earbuds are on a bunch of top-10 lists and are under $50.

If you want to splurge, however, the EarFun Free Pro 2 earbuds come in under $100 and feature active noise canceling.

Both the JVC true wireless earbuds (HA-A3T), and the HA-A9T (Riptidz) offer Bluetooth 5.1, auto-on and connect, and Quick Charge. The latter provides 90 minutes of playback from a 15-minute charge.

 

LG’s new Dolby Atmos earbuds against AirPods

Perhaps you know of LG’s lineup of competitively-priced true wireless earbuds, called LG Tone (followed by a letter and some numbers). Even if you haven’t yet had the pleasure, you need to hear more about the company’s new flagship LG Tone Free T90, because the head-tracked Dolby Atmos is wild.

Historically, and despite offering various novel special features, (the LG Tone Free HBS-FN6’s case promised to kill almost all of the bacteria living on your buds with UV light; the LG Tone Free FP8 follow-ups added noise cancelation and Analogue Spatial Processing, a 3D audio filter to rival Apple’s Spatial Audio) LG’s Tone offerings have never quite hit the best true wireless earbuds sweet-spot to become the AirPods rivals LG is hoping for.

But that may have just changed.

Why? LG’s Tone Free T90 buds are the first wireless earbuds to use Dolby Head Tracking. Using this feature and its built-in Dolby Atmos support, these earbuds can track your head movements and alter the soundstage of the film or video game you’re playing to keep you immersed in the scene – yes, a clear rival to Apple’s popular Spatial Audio feature with head-tracking. But here’s the thing: Apple’s head-tracked solution only works on its top-tier AirPods Pro, AirPods 3 and AirPods Max, using an Apple source device. LG’s solution is far less fussy.

And the price? The LG Tone T90 will arrive by the end of the month and will be priced at $230 (around £190 or AU$330). The keen-eyed will note that this undercuts the AirPods Pro nicely, which currently retail for $249 / £239 / AU$399.

I’m testing this feature – and I’m not judging its other merits in this article – on an iPhone, directly comparing it to head-tracked Spatial Audio from a set of AirPods Pro. And the difference is remarkable.

Opinion: this is ballsy, affordable, device agnostic head-tracked Dolby Atmos
Cueing up Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon on Apple Music (I’m choosing Apple’s own Spatial Audio curated playlist for this test) and ensuring ‘Head Tracking’ is selected under the Dolby Atmos tab in LG’s Tone Free app, I turn my head to the right to wave as one of my colleagues walks past and inadvertently yell “That’s wild!” because Ol’ Blue Eyes’ dulcet tones have just concentrated in my left ear. As the Chairman of the Board sings “you” at the very denouement of the song, I make certain it is sung into my left ear alone.

What follows over the next few hours starts with a head-weaving exercise to rebalance the sound, then purposefully unbalance it again. Audio swerves between each ear. The exercise ends with me spinning around in my office chair, just to see if I prefer the bass in Elton John’s Rocket Man to come more through my left ear or my right. And because your source device is the focal point for movement, you can even dance along to the swooshes within the track and encourage them to glide past each ear! Turn your back to your phone and with LG’s Tone Free T90, it truly feels like the gig is behind you.

Apple’s Made For Spatial Audio Dolby Atmos playlist continues to The Rolling Stones’ Start Me Up and I’m truly imagining I’m on Eel Pie Island, watching Jagger run past me as he belts out “Don’t make a grown man cry!” – although yes, I do know the track came out in 1981, and the Stones performed at the Eel Pie Island Hotel in 1963. This is Dolby Atmos land, anything is possible.

Switch to the AirPods Pro and vocals are slightly further back and the experience is altogether more subtle – which is to say that it is less fun. Certain musical passages are slightly more detailed and expansive through the AirPods, but personally, I miss the madness of turning to face the music. It isn’t necessarily an audiophile experience (and I’m not commenting on the sound quality) but for actually being able to physically focus audio to a certain part of my skull, LG has beaten Apple here.

 

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Shaping Up To Be Samsung’s Best Earbuds Yet

Samsung‘s upcoming Galaxy Buds 2 Pro could be its best TWS earbuds yet. Leaks have already revealed a lot about the new pair. Now, with just a couple of days to go for the official unveiling, some more info about them has surfaced online. German publication WinFuture reports that the company will include a tweeter in each bud.

According to earlier reports, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro will feature 10mm drivers, which should make for fairly loud sound output. For improved high pitch sound, Samsung will also equip the buds with 5.3mm tweeters. This would ensure the best sound quality, possibly unmatched by any of the company’s previous TWS offerings.

We now also have more information about the Intelligent Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) that the upcoming Galaxy buds will boast. The improved ANC will reportedly result in a 33dB reduction in ambient noise. Even the loudest noise in your surrounding will not reach your ears once you put on the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and activate ANC. Coupled with features like 360 Audio, you are in for an uninterrupted, immersive listening experience.

The new Samsung earbuds are said to run for eight hours on a single charge (without ANC). The charging case can store enough power to supply almost three more full charges (21 hours), taking the total runtime to 29 hours. Whenever you need to top up, just five minutes of charging would be enough to run the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro for about 55 minutes.

Other notable features of the upcoming Samsung TWS pair include Ambient Mode for having conversations easily, HD Voice for removing background noise during calls, and an IPX7 rating for water resistance. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro doesn’t look too different from its predecessor launched early last year.

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro official press renders leaked
Along with additional information, the latest leak also contains the official press renders of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. The new earbuds will come in Zenith Gray, Bora Purple, and Zenith White and we can see all three variants here. Note that Samsung may offer some exclusive colorways through its online store or other retail partners.

As for the launch, you probably already know that the new Galaxy earbuds arrive on August 10. The upcoming Galaxy Unpacked launch party will have bigger attractions, though. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 should be the star of the show. Samsung will also unveil the Galaxy Watch 5 series smartwatches at the event. So there’s plenty to look forward to. We will keep you posted.

 

The Sony Linkbuds S Are the Pain-Free Earbuds You’ve Been Searching For

While the iron was still hot after announcing its brand new LinkBuds range, Sony tacked on one more family member: the Sony LinkBuds S. The LinkBuds range is Sony’s dedicated “Never Off” line of wireless earbuds, designed to be worn all-day.

In my review of the Sony LinkBuds S, I sussed out its fit, active noise cancellation and listening experience to see if it’s everything it’s cracked up to be. But what I was keen to experience was its Ambient Sound Control, a new feature that is programmed to listen and adapt to your activities to give you the best audio experience possible.

Set-up

From the moment you remove these wireless earbuds from its recyclable packaging, the set-up process is totally seamless, especially if you’re already a Sony user.

To get started, you’ll want to download Sony’s Headphones app and turn on your Bluetooth. There’s truly not much else you need to do, except pair the two by selecting your Sony LinkBuds S when it appears on the list of nearby devices.

Downloading the Headphones app isn’t mandatory, but if you want to take full advantage of these earphones’ features, I highly recommend you do.

Once connected, you can use the app to check on each earbud’s battery as well as the charging case’s, which is a very handy feature. From there, you can also choose to turn on the LinkBuds S’ Ambient Sound Control, which will take note of your location and adjust its noise cancellation or ambient noise depending on whether you’re relaxing at home or walking on a busy road.

Its Ambient Sound Control feature is ideal if you’re trying to work in a busy office, but don’t want to miss out on any important conversations happening around you. You can even opt to “Focus on Voice”, which will take in voices while suppressing noise.

Inside the app, you’ll also be able to play with the equalizer to adjust your music based on your preferences – whether you prioritise the sound of the bass pounding in your ears, or to focus on the vocals.

I did try to set up Spatial Sound Optimisation in-app, but after craning my head up and down for a good 10 minutes (and feeling very silly), I couldn’t get a result. The idea of it is meant to measure your headphones wearing angle so you can experience more precise spatial sound. But honestly, listening without it set up was still fine.

Design

I’m a big fan of the Sony LinkBuds S’ design. In a commendable move, the LinkBuds S are made from the recycled plastic parts of old automobiles, which gets a firm nod from me on the sustainability front.

Its charging case feels paper smooth and gives a satisfying snap whenever you shut it, that’s almost as addictive as playing with a fidget toy. (Although probably shouldn’t treat it like one).

The wireless earbuds themselves are considerably small and featherlight, which is ideal for smaller ears that usually have to endure bulky ear pieces that stick out like a sore thumb.

It’s nothing as outlandish as the doughnut-shaped LinkBuds, and while it’s nothing to write ballads about, its simple design is just that. They’re available in white, black or ecru (pale gold). None of the aforementioned colours are anything to scream about, but they do feel a little devoid of personality.

These Sony earphones were designed with the intention to be comfortably worn all-day, and on that front they were a success. I was able to wear them for an entire shift at work and not feel that dull ache inside my ears that usually comes from wearing a pair of earbuds for too long.

Another thing I want to add is that these guys will stay glued to your ears if you head out for a walk or a fairly rigorous run. I braved the outside world a handful of times and decided to run at my fastest down a footpath and didn’t once have to stop to push my earbuds back in.

Compared to the Sony WF-C500 earbuds that I reviewed a few months ago, I prefer the LinkBuds S’ seamless design and touch controls.

While I initially thought that the touch controls weren’t super sensitive, I later found that to be not true. During my review period, I noticed that sometimes the Sony LinkBuds S would pause my music as I moved around the house. While I could restart it hands-free by calling out to my Google voice assistant, it just kept on happening. Eventually, I realised it was because my bangs would brush against it and trigger the pause button. So if you have long hair like me, you might want to keep that in mind.

Battery life

Sony advertises that the LinkBuds S can offer up to 20 hours of playtime, which I found to be pretty accurate. While this is a little low on the battery life spectrum – especially when its marketed towards those who want to listen all day – it’s plenty for me who tends to listen for a few hours at a time. In fact, I probably only needed to charge it once a week, if not less.

Even if you are a dedicated to living your best life by ignoring the outside world, you will need to give your ears a break here and there. The Sony LinkBuds S are designed to offer six hours of continuous use before they need to be recharged in its case. While a speedy five minute charge does allow up to 60 minutes more battery life, it feels like an inconvenient or convenient amount of time to give your ears a rest – depending on how you look at it.

Your charging case will indicate when its battery is getting low by turning bright red. However, you can also keep an eye on each parts’ battery percentage by checking the app.

How do they sound?

Using the equaliser
The equaliser is one of my favourite parts of the Headphones app. It allows you to easily customise your music preferences, depending on whether you want to focus on the vocals or create a custom equaliser setting.

The default options that are consistent on the app regardless of which pair of headphones you own are bright, excited, mellow, relaxed, vocal, treble boost, bass boost, speech and manual.

Making calls
Answering phone calls is a breeze. While I wouldn’t say you’ll have a standout experience, it gets the job done. You can just tap the left earbud to receive or finish a call, which is perfect if you’re on the move.

I forced my boyfriend to call me (ah, the joys of having a tech writer as a partner) and he reported that I sounded “okay”. My mum then called me later and spoke to me for about half an hour. She said that she could hear me clearly the whole time while I didn’t have any trouble listening to her speak.

How does Adaptive Sound Control work with ambient sound and noise cancellation?
Ah, the star of the show. According to Sony, the “LinkBuds S automatically switches between Ambient Sound Mode and noise cancelling depending on where you are and what you’re doing.”

So, how does that work? Well, the Sony LinkBuds S are designed to be worn all day long – hence, how damn comfortable they are – so as you go about your activities, it’ll pay attention to whether you’re on route to work, studying at your local library or just sitting on your bed scrolling TikTok. Once the LinkBuds S has an idea about how you spend your day, it’ll start to tune out any ambient noise, like the cars racing past you on your morning walk.

There’s generally four adaptive sound modes it switches between that you can customise: staying, walking, running and transport. Out of the four modes, you can opt to set it to noise-cancelling, ambient sound or off, as well as scaling how much ambient sound you want to hear, and whether you want to take in voices as you go about your activities.

If you head into its settings, you can register and customise the modes depending on real places you visit. For instance, when I’m at home, I’ll wear my earbuds because I want to focus on a task, such as work or cleaning. Using Learned Location, Sony can pinpoint all of the places I frequent and display them on a Google map (which also means it knows where I live). But because it picks up on my location, it knows to automatically switch on noise-cancellation while I’m wearing the LinkBuds S.

As for noise cancellation, it’s pretty good. It’ll block out the sound of your nearby TV and muffle the voices of those speaking around you, but it won’t block out everything. Like snoring.

Listening to music
And lastly, how does it sound? Like a dream. I’ve been cycling through all kinds of music lately, anything from songs you can scream in the car to cottagecore instrumental.

I particularly enjoyed listening to my new favourite cottagecore playlist, since it features a lot of upbeat flute playing. The flute’s melody carries clearly over the other instruments in a way you wouldn’t notice if you were relying on your phone’s itty bitty speakers.

If you switch over to a bass heavy playlist, unfortunately it doesn’t quite reverberate through your chest like you’re attending an in-person gig. The bass is very subtle (even if you play around with the equaliser), so if you were hoping for a pair of earbuds that could resuscitate your cold, dead heart, you might want to look for another option.

The lack of good bass is pretty disappointing, considering that the Sony WF-C500 has the 360 Reality Audio feature and sits at a $100 cheaper price point. In contrast, somehow the flute playing sounds better and bounces back and forth between my ears as though I’m sitting in the crowd of an orchestral concert? The same thing goes when I hear other instruments play, such as the violin or a piano.

Should you buy the Sony LinkBuds S?

Oh yes. Price-wise, I think you’re getting a solid deal for a mid pair of earbuds. Compared to the expensive donut earbuds and the budget-friendly WF-C500, you’re sitting well in terms of sound quality and pricing, with heavy emphasis on a more comfortable and uniform design.

The LinkBuds S are priced pretty competitively, especially with active noise cancellation. If you want a pair of wireless earbuds that offer some solid hush, you’ll need to look around the $300 mark. But the LinkBuds S are the exception.

If you’re looking for a pair of earbuds that you can wear all-day minus the ear ache, there’s no better option out there.

LG‘s latest earbuds include head-tracking spatial audio

LG is today announcing two new sets of wireless earbuds. First up are the Tone Free T90 buds, which now become the company’s flagship pair. They still have the signature bacteria-killing UVnano charging case. And like the previous Tone Free FP9, the case can also double as a Bluetooth transmitter, letting you run an aux cable to devices that might lack wireless connectivity — like a treadmill — and still use the earbuds like normal.

According to LG’s press release, the noise-canceling T90s have “a new internal structure with larger drivers that helps generate deeper, more satisfying bass.” But what’s more interesting is that they support Dolby Head Tracking “across your favorite content and devices.” Here’s how LG describes that experience:

Dolby Head Tracking recalibrates the sound as users move their heads for a more natural sound experience. Listeners will feel like they are in the center of the scene and experience a whole new level of audio immersion whether they are listening to music, watching movies, enjoying favorite streaming series or playing video games.

LG claims that “the T90s are the first wireless earbuds to feature an audio virtualizer designed by Dolby specifically for earbuds” that makes for better immersion and dimensionality to the sound. Apple’s AirPods and Beats earbuds support head tracking spatial audio, as do Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro, Buds 2, and Buds Live. Google is planning to add the same feature on its Pixel Buds Pro later this year. In all cases, the audio changes as you move your head around. The T90 earbuds promise up to 9 hours of battery life (with adaptive ANC turned off), plus another 18 hours from the charging case.

The company is also making a play for the fitness crowd with its new Tone Free Fit (TF8) earbuds. Like other workout-focused buds, these have soft, silicone fins to help ensure they remain in your ears securely even during vigorous exercise. They’re rated IPX7 for water resistance, a step up from the IPX4 in the T90s, and include hybrid ANC. Battery life is also slightly higher, at up to 10 hours of continuous playback.

LG unfortunately hasn’t announced pricing for either pair of earbuds, but they’re both set for release in September.

 

JLab’s Open Sport Provides Versatility Other Open-Design Earbuds Do Not

JLab is changing how people connect to their true wireless earbuds with the introduction of the new JLab Open Sport, a design-forward shift in the open-ear and sport audio categories. The Open Sport provides a versatile alternative to open-ear or bone conduction audio products, with the ability to attach to the wearer’s ears or eyewear based on the activity at hand and the user’s preference. Available for $80 from JLab.com for preorder now and shipping mid August, the Open Sport is feature-rich and less than half the price of the existing premium open-ear audio options on the market.

JLab designed the Open Sport with versatility in mind. The Open Sport earbuds provide flexible options for running or during hard sessions in the gym, but also to excel while navigating urban environments, office settings, or multitasking at home. Since the Open Sport utilizes dual connect technology and built-in MEMS microphones in both buds, either earbud can be used independently to allow for greater awareness when situations warrant. Additionally, connect simultaneously to two devices – mobile, tablet, or your laptop and/or computer at the same time with Bluetooth Multipoint.

Out of the box the Open Sport earbuds are equipped with flexible ear hooks that can be molded to the ear shape of the wearer for a secure fit. As the leading sports earbud brand, JLab has a proven track record for developing ear hooks for sport-specific earbuds and designed the Open Sport’s ear hooks specifically to accommodate the unique needs of an open-ear audio product. Knowing that the added weight can be a distraction during workouts, JLab engineered the Open Sport earbuds to weigh under 14 grams apiece.

As an alternative fit option, the ear hooks on the Open Sport can be removed and replaced with included eyewear clips. These clips adjust in width and are designed so the Open Sport can be attached to sunglasses, prescription eyeglasses, and other styles of eyewear. They are a great alternative for people who prefer the Open Sport to sit forward of their outer ear, leaving it 100% open to unobstructed. The clips can be attached to the back of the Open Sports charging case when not in use.

JLab believes the benefits of open-ear audio should not require a sacrifice in quality of sound or technology. The Open Sport was designed to include 14.2 mm drivers in each earbud, more than double the diameter of a traditional earbud, and two EQ modes, JLab’s Signature and Balanced settings, to further ensure the ideal listening experience. Touch controls add more convenience, allowing the wearer to adjust volume, EQ modes, answer calls, and more without reaching for their phone.

For multi-device users, the surprising value and versatility of the JLab Open Sport continue with its Bluetooth Multipoint technology. The Open Sport can be connected to two devices simultaneously, so multi-device users can connect their mobile, tablet, or computer at the same time, pausing audio on one device to take a call or stream audio from a second device without having to log into their device’s settings and disconnect.

“One of our overarching goals at JLab is to help people rethink what they can expect from, and expect to pay for, new technology. The Open Sport is a unique redesign in the open-ear category. It’s great for workouts where you want to be keenly aware of your environment, but it also works great for office and home environments. We didn’t invent the idea for open-ear audio, but we put our very unique JLab spin on it, – and including the ability to connect them to your glasses – it’s a complete game-changer” said JLab CEO Win Cramer.

Built To Last In More Ways Than One

Each earbud in the Open Sport features 7+ hours of playtime, and the charging case holds an additional 17+ hours of battery life, providing a total listening time longer than the premium competitors on the market. Its IPX4 rating ensures it’ll hold up to workouts where perspiration or precipitation becomes excessive.

Full technical features include:

24+ hours playtime (7+ in each earbud)

Dual Connect technology allows each bud to be used independently

Built-In MEMS microphone in both buds

Patented Custom EQ2 sound and touch controls

Bluetooth 5.1

Range: 30+ ft

Codecs: SBC

Driver: 14.2mm custom-designed dynamic driver

20 – 20 kHz frequency response

Impedance: 16Ω

Output: 117 +/- 3dB

Input: 5v 90mA

Earbud battery: 80mAh lithium polymer

Earbud charge time: 2 hours

Charging case battery: 80mAh lithium polymer

Case charge time: 2 hours

IP Rating: IPX4 (earbuds only)

Included charging case with travel case cover and patented integrated USB charging cable

Earbuds weight: 13.9 grams each

Case weight: 27.9 grams

 

Realme Buds Q2s Review

Pros
Strong bass is always present in the music
realme Link app is easy to use
Comfortable and fits the ears very well
Cons
Not for fans of balanced sound or audiophiles
The realme Buds Q2s in this review is launched as a budget version of the original Buds Q2, without the Active Noise Cancellation. We actually tested its predecessor and came to like its features as well as the value it presented.

Design
At first glance, the realme Q2s earbuds look like a pebble-shaped astronaut’s helmet. If you’re hungry, the resemblance might be closer to a bread bun. The top half is transparent plastic while the bottom half is made up of a matte black material, likely to cover the case’s internal components. Based on our use so far, it doesn’t attract fingerprints and oils from the hand. There’s not much else on the rest of the case, save for a USB Type C port for charging and a small light for status updates.

Open up the case and you’ll find the same matte black plastic and realme text embossed into it. The buds are also nestled inside so let’s get to their aesthetics.

The earbuds themselves are also made out of a matte plastic, save for the round sections acting as touchpads – those are glossy to provide some accentuation. Extending out a bit are stems that branch out a bit to the ear tips, which are covered by a signature realme-logo Yellow fitting. The resemblance to the older Q2 is uncanny, but a minor change or two set the both apart.

The design is by no means revolutionary but this could also be a good thing for people who are accustomed to it.

User Interface and Fit
Connecting to the realme Buds Q2s is effortless. It comes equipped with Bluetooth 5.2 and a Gaming Mode for low-latency use. This mode is advertised to reduce lag to a swift 88ms. In our time of use, we never experienced the Buds having issues or disconnecting from the source.

The touch controls here are fairly simple. Due to the buds’ design, activating shortcuts through the pads is relatively hassle-free. You can configure these preprogrammed shortcuts through software tweaks.

Download the realme Link application to unlock the full potential of these realme Buds Q2s in this review. It opens up customization options, not only for the buttons but for the sound signature as well. There are only three modes to choose from (which we’ll delve into later), and there’s no specific EQ tuning to be found here.

The realme Q2s earbuds feel familiar in the ears. That’s partially because this is a safe, tried-and-tested shape that we’ve seen countless other brands use with their TWS earbuds. While it’s not a revolutionary design like the Microsoft Surface Buds, these are unparalleled in prolonged comfort. The plastic construction also keeps them light and snug in the ear, which we believe will make them perfect for cross-city walks and active users.

Audio Quality and Battery Life
This definitely is targeting a specific segment of listeners with its aggressive V-shaped, warm sound signature. There’s no way around it – the bass is STRONG. Regardless of the genre, the boom seems to punch through and consistently rattle your auditory system.

For genres like rap, EDM, and movies that rely a lot on cinematic depth, the buds’ qualities shine. It leads to a more immersive experience than you’d expect from a pair of budget earbuds. Where it falls short are areas that require technical precision, pushing back vocals and other instruments – bordering on muddy sound. To sum it up, the sound works for some and won’t for others.

The aforementioned realme Link app lets you choose between Bass Boost, Balanced, and Bright. We don’t recommend the Balanced mode because it genuinely is the furthest thing away from any semblance of balance. The first boosted mode pumps up the room-rattling thump to rival an in-ear earthquake, while our preferred Bright mode pushes the vocals a bit forward and seems to emphasize treble more. However, the bass is still the star of the show regardless of what mode you select.

Unlike its older sibling, this iteration does not have any form of Active Noise Cancellation. Passive blockage of outside sound is okay.

With regard to battery life, these are rated for 7 hours of use per charge and 30 hours total including the case. Our usage on medium volume levels more or less substantiated these claims.

Wrap Up and Conclusions
The realme Buds Q2s earbuds in this review pack quite a lot of punch in the lower frequencies. This may be its most appealing selling point when attracting bassheads and casual listeners, but those searching for refinement are better off elsewhere. Besides the sound though, realme knocks it out of the park in terms of comfort, battery life, and features, especially for the price.

These buds could be worth it for what realme is charging, but shelling out a little extra for the Q2 isn’t bad either.

HyperX Cloud Mix Buds

HyperX has been a leader in the gaming headset space for some time now, but over the past few years, the company has started trying to enter the consumer space a little more. Much of that has been through products that can be used for both gaming and other day-to-day use — and the latest product to match that description comes in the form of the HyperX Cloud Mix Buds.

The HyperX Cloud Mix Buds offer Bluetooth connectivity for use with your phone, but they also support a 2.4GHz connection for use with things like your PC, PlayStation 5, or Nintendo Switch.

Of course, there are some trade-offs though. As you might expect, the Cloud Mix Buds don’t quite have the same battery life as over-ear wireless gaming headsets. And, they’re not quite as comfortable. But that doesn’t mean you should discount them entirely. Here are my thoughts.

HyperX Cloud Mix Buds
Pros
Solid audio
Bluetooth and 2.4Ghz
Good battery life
Smart design
Cons
No wireless charging or ANC
Bass could be stronger
Charging case is a little big
Price: $149.99

HyperX Cloud Mix Buds design
The HyperX Cloud Mix Buds are good-looking earbuds, but they don’t exactly look all that unique. They’re built with a stem, like AirPods, however, the main bud fits better in your ears — more akin to AirPods Pro. That helps them create a seal, and ensures that they’re a little more comfortable and firm.

The earbuds are built from black plastic, with the HyperX logo on them. The plastic doesn’t feel cheap, thankfully, and it feels like the earbuds could withstand most day-to-day abuse.

Then there’s the charging case, which fits the earbuds’ overall aesthetic but isn’t necessarily the most portable charging case out there. The charging case is more than three inches wide, almost two inches tall, and an inch thick. Most people should still be able to fit it in their pockets, but not without some discomfort.

The earbuds themselves have touch controls that work fine, but aren’t perfect. The big issue I had with the touch controls is that they regularly triggered when I tried to adjust the earbuds in my ears, for example, pausing whatever I was listening to and forcing me to touch them again to continue playing.

Unlike typical wireless earbuds, there are a few other accessories in the box. Notably, you’ll get a wireless receiver that connects to your computer through a USB-C port, and can also plug into the bottom of the charging case for storage, which is very handy. There’s also a small single-port USB-C hub that you can set on your desk for the dongle, then connecting through a USB-C cable on the back of your computer or gaming console. It’s a nice addition, and works well.

HyperX Cloud Mix Buds comfort
The HyperX Cloud Mix Buds may be a little larger than some other options out there, but I found them to still be relatively comfortable. Now, some of that may come down to the shape of my ears — after all, other reviewers have had a different experience. But I was able to wear the earbuds for hours of use, without reaching any major discomfort, beyond what you would normally expect from in-ear headphones.

The earbuds themselves have touch controls that work fine, but aren’t perfect. The big issue I had with the touch controls is that they regularly triggered when I tried to adjust the earbuds in my ears, for example, pausing whatever I was listening to and forcing me to touch them again to continue playing.

Unlike typical wireless earbuds, there are a few other accessories in the box. Notably, you’ll get a wireless receiver that connects to your computer through a USB-C port, and can also plug into the bottom of the charging case for storage, which is very handy. There’s also a small single-port USB-C hub that you can set on your desk for the dongle, then connecting through a USB-C cable on the back of your computer or gaming console. It’s a nice addition, and works well.

HyperX Cloud Mix Buds comfort
The HyperX Cloud Mix Buds may be a little larger than some other options out there, but I found them to still be relatively comfortable. Now, some of that may come down to the shape of my ears — after all, other reviewers have had a different experience. But I was able to wear the earbuds for hours of use, without reaching any major discomfort, beyond what you would normally expect from in-ear headphones.

Still, I would have liked to see some of the features you get on traditional wireless earbuds. Noise cancellation is perhaps at the top of that list, but support for wireless charging is another must-have feature these days.

The battery life on these earbuds sits in at up to 10 hours of continuous use, and up to 33 hours in total. 10 hours on a single charge is quite good — and longer than most will use their headphones for.

HyperX Cloud Mix Buds sound
The sound quality on offer by the HyperX Cloud Mix Buds, thankfully, isn’t bad at all. It’s not super bass-heavy, and if you like that scooped sound, you may want to keep looking.

The bass response is perhaps one of the weaker aspects of these earbuds’ frequency response. Bass is there, thankfully, but the bass extension doesn’t seem to be great and as a result it can feel a little stunted. The bass that is there allows for decently loud explosions in gaming, and solid kick drums when listening to music — but again, a little more bass, and better bass extension, might have been helpful.

The mids are pretty well-tuned though. The low mids do still feel a little underpowered, and the high mids are a little more pronounced. But the mids still felt decently flat, which is good to hear.

The highs are well-defined and crisp, making for a relatively exciting sound. The highs help ensure that things like cymbals sound nice and shimmery and that dialog sounds natural.

Generally, I wish that the HyperX Cloud Mix Buds had a deeper and more powerful bass response, but they still sounds pretty good.

Conclusions
The HyperX Cloud Mix Buds offer a slightly different take on wireless earbuds, and ultimately, may be better for gamers who want a single pair of headphones. Ultimately, however, if you can afford it, it may be worth buying separate gaming headphones and everyday earbuds.

The competition
There isn’t a ton of competition in this particular segment of the market — wireless earbuds that are targeted at gamers. At $150, the earbuds may well be better than much of the competition. Again, however, if you can afford to buy separate gaming headphones and wireless earbuds, it may be worth doing so.

Should I buy the HyperX Cloud Mix Buds?
Yes, but only if you specifically want a pair of wireless earbuds that you can use for gaming and day-to-day use.