These headphones are made for health-conscious headbangers

If you’re a metalhead, chances are you like your music loud – but what if you want to rock out without damaging your precious ears?

Enter Heavys, a team of “metalheads, engineers, and sound freaks” that claims to have created the world’s first heavy metal headphones, which will protect your eardrums while letting you listen to your favorite tracks as the artist intended. The team includes veteran engineer Axel Grell, who designed some of Sennheiser’s best-loved headphones.

Currently in development via a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, the Heavys headphones come with no less than eight drivers designed to mimic a full-sized home speaker: where headphones usually contain one driver inside each earcup, the Heavys headphones have four, with two tweeters and two subwoofers on each side.

This allows each driver to focus on a specific frequency range, without the need for one driver to accommodate highs, lows, and mids all at once. According to Heavys, this reduces distortion and lets you hear every detail of your music clearly.

While some of the best headphones we’ve tested make use of just two drivers, and sound fantastic while doing so, we can see how the use of separate drivers for each frequency range could be useful for metal in particular, which often involves complex, heavily layered compositions and intricate instrumentation.

The Heavys over-ear headphones are also designed to make it feel as though the sound is coming from right in front of you, rather than being blasted into each ear canal. Tweeters are placed immediately in front of the ear, with sound waves coming from different directions to simulate a natural front-oriented sound field – as if you’re watching your favorite band from the crowd.

Whether this appeals to you depends largely on what you want from your music. If you’re looking for a natural audio experience, a front-oriented soundstage will probably work very well.

However, the rise of spatial audio technologies has meant more of us have been able to experience three-dimensional sound from a pair of headphones, which makes it feel as though you’re in the center of a band, with each instrumental coming at you from a different angle – and that can make for a more immersive listening experience that some will prefer to traditional stereo sound.

The Heavys also come with all the mod-cons you’d expect, including active noise cancellation, wireless and wired connectivity, and a whopping 50-hour battery life.

Hearing matters
Heavys also claims that its headphones will allow you to listen at louder volumes without damaging your hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a big problem; the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that up to a billion young people are at risk of NIHL, with nearly 50% of teenagers and young adults in particular being exposed to unsafe levels of sound from personal audio devices.

Heavys’ patented pyschoacoustic technology broadcasts specific frequencies at different volumes that will apparently make you feel as though your music is louder without causing high pressure levels in your ears.

According to research from the Keck School of Medicine of USC, hearing loss occurs as a result of two things: the death of sensory hair cells that detect sound and convert it to neural signals, and a build-up of fluid pressure in the inner ear, which causes neurons to die.

As John Oghalai, MD, chair and professor of the USC Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery explains, “the death of sensory hair cells leads to hearing loss, but even if some sensory hair cells remain and still work, if they’re not connected to a neuron, then the brain won’t hear the sound”.

If the Heavys headphones really can mitigate these problems without making you feel as though your music is unduly quiet, they could be great for metalheads who want to turn it up to 11.

Combining this technology with the Heavys headphones’ unusual driver array, long battery life, active noise cancellation, and wireless connectivity makes for a very attractive proposition indeed. Especially as the headphones are priced at $149 (about £110 / AU$200) as part of a limited early-bird promotion.

However, we’d always recommend exercising caution when it comes to investing in crowdfunding campaigns. There’s no guarantee that the product will actually come to market, even if it reaches its fundraising goal – so think carefully before parting with your hard-earned cash.

pTron Tango TWS earbuds Review

The global TWS market has seen a hike of 33 percent YoY in 2021 and is forecast to hit a new record by 2022. Numerous companies are already indulged in manufacturing TWS audio devices across the globe. Smartphone manufacturing companies are also involved in the TWS market, but there are some of the Indian brands which are really excelling in the same sector. pTron is among the ones who have seen some huge numbers in the budget TWS earbuds market. The India-based company has a wide range of offerings and recently the company has added one more product to the lineup. The newly launched pTron Bassbuds Tango ENC with a price tag of Rs 1,299. The earbuds are currently available on the Amazon India website. pTron has recently shared the device with us for a review which would unveil how does the newly launched pTron Bassbuds Tango stacks up against the sea of other TWS on the market. Let’s have a deep dive to know more.

pTron Tango TWS Design

The pTron Tango comes with a rectangular-shaped TWS case with curved edges, the portable charging case is compact enough to fit in your pants pocket or leather pouch. While opening the case you will have a pair of TWS earbuds, which are ready to pair once you pull them out of the case. The charging case has a pair of magnets that keeps the earbuds in place.

Talking about the design of earbuds, the pTron Tango offers a compact and lightweight design which makes it comfortable to wear. The pTron Tango was launched in Black and White colour option and we have received the Black one. The overall design of the newly launched earbuds looks good and decent. Don’t keep your hope too high for a budget segment earbuds, but we can say that the company is offering a good design at this price point.

pTron Tango TWS Specifications

The pTron Tango TWS comes with 13mm dynamic audio drivers with Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity and Stereo Audio with Deep Bass. It comes with dual mic support along with a touch control feature to control your playlist, receive calls, and trigger virtual assistants like Siri and Google Assistant.

The charging case sports a Type-C fast charging that ensures quick charge, it takes 1.5 hours to fully charge the case from zero. The IPX4 rating makes it Water and Sweat-Resistant.

pTron Tango TWS performance

The pTron Tango is with us for approx more than 3 weeks and we have tried testing the device in all possible aspects. When it comes to performance no one will accept that the device looks good but the audio output lack quality. So first thing first, let’s talk about the quality. The very first thing about the TWS that I have noticed is its loudness, the audio device is loud enough to fulfill your metal music need the drivers are powerful and impressive. Here Loudness is used as a positive aspect and it doesn’t mean that the loud drivers are not capable of offering good quality audio. The TWS offers crystal clear audio, I’m saying this because I felt that and there is no tool to measure the crystal clearness. I like the equality as I haven’t noticed any distortion in the sound quality during my usage.

While coming to the battery, we can say that the earbuds are capable of delivering a battery life of 6 hours in a single full charge, and with the case, it can go up to 20 hours. The audio device also comes with an amazing ENC feature, ensuring that your music listening and video consumption sessions are not disrupted by external noise. The pTron Tango also comes with a dedicated movie mode which is included to enhance your movie-watching experience.

Thanks to IPX4 certification I have used the pTron Tango during my gyming sessions without worrying about the water damage. Having said that the experience of pTron Tango was impressive and considering the price point I was not expecting this performance from the TWS at all.

Skullcandy Push Active Sports earphones review

Skullcandy has always been a brand that tries to stand out from the crowd, and it has done just that with the new Push Active Sport true wireless earbuds.

They have a unique design and cool features to set them apart from other earphones on the market.

One of these features is hands-free voice commands so you can play and pause what you’re listening to and even adjust the volume just by asking.

First up, on the design side, they have over-ear loops to ensure the Push Active Sport earbuds aren’t going anywhere no matter what you are doing or how vigorously you’re exercising.

Naturally, the earphones have an IP55 sweat and water resistance rating.

For us, the Skullcandy earphones fit just fine and the loops were just an added protection.

The actual earbud itself is about the same size as other earphones you’d find on the market.

We found them to be comfortable with the over the ear loops.

Some users will find this takes a little bit of the pressure off their ear canals and adds to their level of comfort.

Skullcandy made an interesting choice with the button placement on the back edge of the bud rather than on the outside face.

We can see the benefits of this including no having an accidental activation if the outside of the bud was touch sensitive. That’s been a frustration with other earphones we’ve reviewed.

As it is, the button is easy to locate and it’s also programmable within the Skullcandy app so it can be adapted to whatever function you set for it including controlling your music and answering calls.

You can even program the button to activate the camera on your smartphone – the camera needs to already be open on your phone – but your selfie will show you with your hand behind your ear, unless you have the camera set to a timer.

But the most interesting feature is the call IQ Smart Feature technology which allows users to issue hands free voice commands to answer calls, navigate their music, adjust the volume and much more.

This feature needs to be activated through the Skullcandy companion app and is a handy way of taking control without the need to touch the earphones or your device.

If you want to order a coffee, for example, you can just say “Hey Skullcandy – pause” and your content is instantly paused so you can talk to the person at the counter and pay before then saying “Hey Skullcandy – play” so you can be listening to your music or podcast again.

There was no need to touch the earphones or fish your phone out of your pocket.

And it goes even further so you can turn on Stay Aware mode with your voice as well so you can hear the outside world a lot more clearly.

And if you’re a Spotify user you can also use your voice to launch Spotify Tap through the earphones as well.

Audio-wise, Skullcandy Push Active Sport earphones deliver a robust sound that’s loud and clear and with a generous helping of bass.

What we also liked was the ability to adjust the equaliser from the Skullcandy app to match what we were listening to.

You can make adjustments if you’re listening to a podcast or music or watching a movie. It’s also possible to customise your own equaliser.

We definitely heard an improvement when listening to a podcast and the music seemed a little punchier as well.

What adds to the quality is the fact it is running true wireless via Bluetooth 5.2.

Call quality was also excellent when we were wearing the Skullcandy Push Active earphones – the audio was crisp and clear on both ends.

The Skullcandy Push Active Sport are larger than your regular earphones and therefore has a larger charging case.

The case has four LED indicator lights on the front that illuminate every time you open it to let you know how much charge is remaining.

One of the strengths of the earphones is the long 10-hour battery life with a total of 34 hours in the charging case as well.

The case also has a rapid charging feature which gives you two hours of battery life after just 10 minutes of charging in the case.

And there are no worries if you misplace the earphones because they have built-in Tile technology so you can just call it from the Tile.

 

BUDGET-FRIENDLY BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES

Newmsnr Bluetooth headphones

With over 4,000 buyer reviews on Lazada, Newmsnr offers more than just hype. Get the most out of your work, study, or leisure time with its six-hour listening time and noise-reduction feature. Out of the many budget-friendly Bluetooth headphones in the market, buyers especially love this product’s crisp and full sound quality. The earmuffs are made of protein leather, making them comfortable even with prolonged use. Newmsnr has three practical connection methods: Bluetooth, audio cable, and TF card insertion.

Buyers especially love the aesthetic design, the excellent loud and clear sound output, and of course — the price tag! The reviews are pretty helpful, with various users praising how it’s great for listening to music, watching movies, studying, and working.

Check out the amazingly high reviews on Lazada and try these highly-rated Bluetooth headphones for ₱580.

P47 Bluetooth Headphones

Bluetooth headphones for under ₱200? We’ll take it! The price will probably make you think you’re settling for less, but thousands of buyers disagree. Most of us are so used to dealing with the dreaded “tunog lata” sound when it comes to low-priced headphones, but the P47 Bluetooth Headphones prove that good quality items don’t always have to be expensive.

These budget-friendly Bluetooth headphones have also received thousands of favourable reviews. Satisfied buyers talked about the model’s easy-to-understand functionalities, and have given many thumbs up on the clarity of the sound, sleek design, and battery life.

They’re probably among the most affordable Bluetooth headphones that you can buy on Lazada for only ₱164!

Though it may look too good to be true for some, these Bluetooth headphones continue to be top-rated items despite their affordability. Thousands of buyers have spoken — and with prices that won’t hurt your wallet, they’re absolutely a must-buy!

The Best Gaming Headphones for Each System Compared

A gaming headset is often a necessity if you don’t live on your own. As much as you may love a game, that doesn’t mean others want to hear its soundtrack and explosions for hours on end. This isn’t just a practical buy, though; a great gaming headset will often give you a more involving experience than anything but the most advanced surround system, complete with a neighbour-baiting subwoofer. These headsets also have integrated microphones, perfect for competitive or co-op multiplayer titles. Whether you play PC, Xbox or PS5, we have you covered in this list of the best gaming headsets.

Microsoft Xbox Wireless headset

Microsoft blew us away with the Xbox Wireless headset, simply because it outperformed expectations to such a huge extent. The audio is bassy, but this is great for lending in-game effects real weight. And aside from the big bottom-end, sound quality is excellent. This headset is also super-comfy and, as you’d expect, works perfectly with an Xbox Series console. It’s very hard to beat Microsoft’s headset at this price.

Pros

Great value
Good wireless system
Involving, powerful sound
Cons

Bass is tuned for games rather than music

Sony Pulse 3D headset

We highly recommend Sony’s own Pulse 3D headset if you primarily play on PS5. That may sound boring, but its wireless system works perfectly with the console, and you get Sony’s much-talked-about 3D audio. This basically gets you the experience of surround sound in select games, while just wearing a pair of headphones. It’s brilliant. Sound quality is excellent too. Sub-bass is a bit less powerful than Microsoft’s, but the overall audio is more balanced as a result.

Pros

Supports Sony’s 3D audio
Great sound quality
Sleek design
Cons

12-hour battery life is bettered elsewhere
Audeze Penrose

True audiophile? The Audeze Penrose is the headset to get. It has planar magnetic drivers, the same type used by the company’s ultra high-end hifi headphones. These flatter drivers deliver sound with less distortion, making it clearer and easier on your ears even at higher volumes. This is a wireless headset with a boom mic. There are separate versions for Xbox/PC and PS5/PC, so make sure you pick up the right one.

Pros

Excellent sound quality
Also good for music
Supports wireless for Xbox/PlayStation (model dependent)
Cons

The cost may be too high for some
Razer BlackShark V2

The first-party console headsets may be hard to beat this generation but the Razer BlackShark V2 is a great choice if you want cross-platform gaming and are happy to use a wired headset. It’s not just like a pair of headphones with a mic attached, though. You get a USB sound card, for superior sound processing when playing on PC. There’s a wireless version too, which uses a USB wireless dongle.

Pros

Affordable pricing
USB sound card allows for smart sound processing
Powerful audio
Cons

Latency slightly higher than the first-party console headsets

Many gamers choose to use high quality gaming headphones in order to get the most out of their gaming experience instead of having to adjust their gaming volume to suit the needs of others. We have compiled a list of the best gaming headphones to help you find the perfect pair, whether you’re looking for a pair for yourself or a friend who loves games.

 

How bone conduction headphones work – and why you should try them

Headphones have come a long way over the years and it’s now possible to buy a pair to match and compliment any music style in a dizzying array of designs. Alongside more regular models, bone conduction headphones are a neat variation on the theme and will be of particular interest if you’re a fan of fitness in the great outdoors. In some scenarios they’re also beneficial for certain types of hearing impediments.

Bone conduction headphones are placed right at the top of your cheekbones so vibrations pass through your jawbone, bypassing your eardrums. Sound is passed directly into the cochlea via the bone, rather than using vibrations moving through the air as is the case with conventional headphone designs.

An obvious benefit is that there’s nothing being pushed into your ear canal, but the real appeal with bone conduction headphones is that you can carry on with your outdoor pursuits while also remaining fully able to hear what’s going on around you. And, as mentioned, the fact the sound waves are passing through the bone instead of through your eardrums can also make conduction phones a potential solution for some people with hearing disabilities. Indeed, early hearing aid designs utilised the technology before headphone manufacturers cottoned on the idea.

Comfort levels
Another positive that comes with using bone conduction headphones is that, because they’re mounted on the side of your skull, there’s nothing uncomfortable or intrusive sitting on, or in your ears. Earbuds have become the phones of choice for many folks, but they can be intrusive and not entirely hygienic either as you’ll know if you’ve ever owned a pair. Having to reuse earbuds for long periods of time can become a rather unpleasant experience, even if the sound quality still puts you off dispensing with them.

Similarly, many of us prefer the standard old school headphone design, which sits on your head and over your ears. While this style of headphone remains as popular as ever, the downside to these is that they can be bulky to wear and aren’t always suited to outdoor pursuits. Just the way they can move around if you’re doing anything more than a light jog can become irritating in the extreme.

They also cut out external noise, which is a good thing in many ways, but not so hot if you’re keen to know what’s going on around or behind you. Bone conduction headphones aren’t a perfect solution though and they, like any other headphones can cause fatigue if you wear them for too long.

Even the best headphones you can buy aren’t always going to suit everyone. Bone conduction headphones are no different and ideally need to be tried out first to ensure that you get on with them. Buying headphones is a subjective thing and everyone has differing needs, which is probably why the headphone market is as big as it is.

Staying alert
However, the real advantage of bone conduction headphones, unlike many of the traditional headphones you can buy, is that your ears don’t get disconnected from what is going on around you. In fact, because bone conduction headphones don’t sit on or in your ears, they allow you to hear other sounds. That’s obviously going to be very useful if you’re out and about in the field, but still want to know who or what is near you.

It’s also possible to buy bone conduction headphones that have been specifically tailored to different types of activities. So, alongside the more obvious models for running and outdoor pursuits such as cycling it’s possible to purchase bone conduction waterproof headphones designed with swimming in mind.

It’s important to look closely at the specifications for bone conduction headphones though. While many are sweat resistant, you’ll need to purchase a pair that have been designed specifically for swimming needs to ensure they keep on working once you hit the water.

There are also models that have been created with more of a communications angle in mind, so if you need to make and receive calls on a regular basis when you’re out and about a pair of bone conductive headphones with plenty of talk time capability is worth considering.

Ear friendly
Another bonus of bone conduction headphones is that you have less chance of damaging your hearing. It’s easy to overlook or disregard the harmful effects of playing music too loudly, especially when it’s right next to your eardrums. In fact, like many ills, the negative effects are only noticeable after the damage has been done. Bone conduction headphones lessen the impact on your inner ear, simply because they’re externally mounted.

However, bone conduction headphones can still be problematic for your hearing if you overdo the volume, even though they’re not sitting right in your ears. As is the case with most things it’s a case of everything in moderation, so use your bone conduction headphones reasonably and they should return the favor to your hearing.

A sound choice

Bone conduction headphones do have some drawbacks. Users frequently report that audio quality suffers as a result of not being in or on their ears. It’s a reasonable trade-off though, because any loss of audio quality is compensated by allowing the user to hear other things. If you’re out for a jog and like to keep your wits about you then a pair of bone conduction headphones seem like an obvious item of running kit to consider.

The same can be said if you’re in any other scenario where it’s vital to keep an ear out for any external sounds. Many people like to listen to music while they work, which isn’t such a big deal if you’re sat at a desk and working from home. However, if you work in a situation where listing to music is permitted but you still need to be alert for whatever dangers, or managers might be at large, then bone conduction headphones could be worth considering.

Which brings us neatly around to the best bone conduction headphones of 2022 guide we’ve compiled that contains a hand-picked selection of the latest and greatest models you can buy. Unsurprisingly, the Aftershokz brand (or Shokz as they’re now known) is one you’ll frequently hear mentioned in relation to bone conduction headphones. They have a great selection to suit a variety of budgets, but you can also get solid offerings from Vidonn, Tayogo and H20 amongst others.

However, the options are less plentiful than you’ll find in the rest of the burgeoning best headphones marketplace. The same goes for the best wireless headphones and best wireless earbuds too. Nevertheless, for some audio requirements using bone conduction headphones makes perfect sense.

TMA-2 Studio Wireless+

For years, the dream of truly wireless and low-latency headphones designed for production and performance have been somewhat out of the reach of DJs and producers. Now our long-time friends at AIAIAI have cracked the code and have released a must-check-out product: the TMA-2 Studio Wireless+.

Why Wireless Headphones Now?
Traditionally, the perfect combo of low-latency, relative affordability, low interference, non-in-ear wireless headphones has been something that no company has really been able to achieve. I actually have fond memories of a set of wireless over-ear headphones from Radio Shack that simply failed to resist interference and required a bulky plug-in transmitter. They were fun, but ultimately their mediocre build quality meant that I destroyed them years before I’d start actually DJing.

At DJ Techtools, we’ve long been supporters of AIAIAI’s TMA line. Back in the early 2010s, they were the stylish and quality underdogs to headphone giants like Sennheiser. They listened to DJs and producers and continued to develop their products over time. With the launch of the TMA-2, the headphone system became fully modular – allowing DJs to mix, match, and easily replace components in the lineup. Even if one part gets damaged due to use and/or abuse, you can replace it without junking the whole thing.

The TMA-2, but Wireless.
I’ve been trying out a set of these TMA-2 Wireless+ headphones for a few months now as they finished development, and it has been a pretty great experience. “What’s new” is actually the H10 headband (which has W+ Link ultra-low latency wireless, Bluetooth 5.0, and cable connection methods) and the X01 transmitter (for sending audio on W+ link).

What’s to like about them
Generally, in the DJTT store, we try to stand behind every single product we carry. Instead of other massive mega-shops, there’s a testing period where we check out a piece of gear and use it in our own studios/DJ booths/gigs before we decide “hey, this is good, let’s sell it”. That’s what happens when you have a gear store that’s actually run by real DJs and producers. The TMA-2 Wireless+ system checked a lot of positives for me.

Here’s the highlights from my review notes:

Most important: the latency is stable and reliable – AIAIAI claims 16ms, and I never found that to be “too slow” for DJing or production. Generally, humans detect auditory latency gaps at about 20-30ms.
Impressive battery life on both headphone and transmitter (it easily was able to last through a 3 hour DJ set, and still had 75% battery on the transmitter. Obviously volume and other factors will impact battery timing, though).
Predicable (in a good way) sound quality that reflects the legacy of TMAs even in Wireless+ mode. Apparently, the dual-antenna setup in W+ means that it can transmit uncompressed audio “multiple times in parallel” – which helps avoid dropouts and quality reduction

USB-C charging on both the transmitter and headphones means it’s fast and easy – no looking for a proprietary cable.
The on-headband buttons took some getting used to to figure out which one did what, but having the ability to adjust volume (in W+ and Bluetooth modes) and pause/play/next (in Bluetooth mode only) wirelessly is incredibly useful.
Fit for all-day wear: I lost my Airpods and used the TMA-2 Wireless unit for an entire work day – they functioned great as wireless Bluetooth headphones and were comfortable to wear for the entire day with the studio cans.
They’re plenty loud for studio use, and AIAIAI is working on increasing the volume for DJ use as well.
If you consider grabbing a set of the TMA-2 Studio Wireless+ units, I’ve plopped our own store embed below. Meanwhile, keep reading to hear my thoughts on the “next” thing from AIAIAI, likely to be the DJ version of these headphones.

What’s Next: TMA-2 DJ Wireless+
AIAIAI has mentioned to me that they’re still refining the experience of the TMA-2 DJ Wireless+ experience. It’s an interesting, good-to-see approach in our industry in that they actually care about the experience of DJs in events before releasing a product. With my feedback and feedback from other DJs in their beta program, it seems like there’s still some revision to be done before they’re selling the complete package targeted directly at DJs.

That didn’t stop me from throwing some DJ cans on the TMA-2 H10 headbands and testing it myself during a gig back in December. First and foremost, it’s an absolute joy to be able to use headphones wirelessly during a DJ gig – especially if you’re a performer who likes to move around the booth. Say goodbye to that moment where you’ve accidentally wrapped a long headphone cable around yourself and have to spin in a circle to release it. Feel free to walk over to the the side of the stage for a moment or even come around to the front of the booth to say hi to someone who came to your gig. The experience is comparative to the change between wired and wireless earbuds, akin to the move between wired earbuds and wireless Airpods.

Do These Earbuds for Sleeping Actually Work Better Than a Speaker?

Technology plays a role in keeping us awake and wired, but also in attempting to help us fall asleep and rest. The role companies want gadgets and gear to play in assisting people sleep is a curious one. Innovations around temperature and light are interesting, but one of the most popular seems to be around using audio.

The innovations in audio for sleep extend from apps and audio content to speakers and earbuds. Both Endel’s AI soundscapes or Bose Sleepbuds are great examples. And, judging by my inbox, I can tell that companies are increasingly competing to figure out the best way to use audio as a sleep aid.

A new entry into the space of nighttime audio is the Kokoon Nightbuds. The product is a pair of Bluetooth earbuds specifically designed for use while sleeping. The part that goes in your ear is extremely thin and lightweight. It accomplishes this by moving electronic components to a module on the back of your head via minimal wires.

In the name of better sleep, I’m willing to try most things at least once, so I gave the Nightbuds a chance. I’ll admit that when I first saw them, I was incredibly skeptical. They do not look comfortable from the pictures on Kokoon’s website. In the end, the Kokoon Nightbuds are both better and worse than they appear.

Pros:

Long battery life
Can be used for any type of audio or phone calls
Cons:

Mostly uncomfortable while sleeping
Unimpressive companion app
Lackluster audio quality

Why Use Earbuds for Sleep?
There’s no one reason to consider wearing earbuds during sleep, but probably the biggest is that a spouse or partner sleeping in the same room doesn’t want to hear what you’re listening to at night. That might be a guided relaxation audio or the latest Taylor Swift album. Either way, you’re probably trying to be considerate by using earbuds. That’s admirable.

I typically use a wireless speaker when I play audio at night. I’m fortunate that my wife doesn’t mind. I’m not someone who needs to use earbuds while sleeping, but I was curious if Nightbuds would prove comfortable enough that I could prefer using them over a speaker. If they did, maybe I would start using them to sleep on an airplane or on nights that I wanted a more engulfing audio experience to lull me to sleep.

Nightbuds Features

The features included on the Kokoon Nightbuds are all in service to using them in bed. For example, the reason for the less than ideal module residing behind the head is so that the parts that go in your ears can be as thin and minimal as possible.

Kokoon says the in-ear part of Nightbuds is only 5.4 millimeters thick so they can work well for people sleeping on their side. There’s an infrared light sensor on the right bud that is used to measure heart rate and heart rate variability. The MyKokoon app will show sleep analytics around efficiency, duration and quality.

Nightbuds have physical volume buttons along with a microphone so they can be used to make phone calls—during the day. They also have a stated 10-hour battery life. I found the battery to be better than that, but at minimum, they should have no problem lasting as long as you want to sleep each night.

A highly touted feature is the ability for the Nightbuds to detect when you fall asleep and automatically fade out sound or fade to white noise. In practice, I didn’t notice the auto fade—which is kind of the point. It also didn’t specifically help me to remain asleep. Caregivers of all kinds may want to stay aware of issues throughout the night. They could probably still use Nightbuds, but I would avoid activating the fade to white noise.

Sleeping With Earbuds on the First Night

Slipping the earbuds in each ear the first time was easy enough. There is a range of silicone ear tips to fit different ear sizes. I selected one of the smaller ones so the fit would be as unobtrusive as possible. There’s a module that connects each side with a thin wire. It’s unfortunate. But, it’s not even its presence that I found to be annoying—it’s the wire coming out of my ear that was irritating at night. The module is where the power and volume buttons live and presumably house much of the battery and wireless electronics.

Going into this review, I wasn’t expecting much, since even just resting on my bed with AirPods in my ears hasn’t really worked for me at all. Those earbuds are too uncomfortable to use on top of a pillow. So I was pleasantly surprised, the first time I laid my head down with the Nightbuds in my ears, that they felt mostly invisible. Lying on my side, my ear touched the pillow first, instead of a bulbous earbud.

I rolled onto my back, and I could feel the module piece of the Nightbuds, but not as much as I had expected. Overall, my first experience with the earbuds was much better than I anticipated. It was certainly much better than any pictures made them look.

My experience wearing Nightbuds to bed the first night was much different than simply trying them on for a few minutes. After four hours, and waking up several times, I had to take them off. Each of my ears ached slightly from laying on either side. The wire behind my head caught on my pillow enough to be a distraction as I tossed and turned.

My second night with the Nightbuds was not much better. While I found them ever so slightly more comfortable to wear to bed, I still needed to take them off halfway through the night. Frankly, it’s an exhausting product to try and test.

The Nightbuds do seem pretty comfortable if you can side sleep all night. And, while I like sleeping on my side in theory, I toss and turn too much to have an apparatus around my head.

I’m not sour on the idea of sleeping earbuds, but after several more attempts, these are not the right ones for me. I’m sure they could be the right ones for a particular person, but it’s probably someone who doesn’t move much throughout the night. In general, if you can use a speaker to listen to audio at night, I would recommend that.

Nightbuds Audio
To get the best audio quality from the Nightbuds, you’ll need to use rubber ear tips that create a seal in your ears. Doing so may put more pressure on your ears and ultimately be less comfortable while sleeping. I would recommend forgetting about trying to get the best fidelity and stick with whichever ear tips are the most comfortable.

Even with a seal, the bass is severely lacking compared to other similarly priced earbuds. The overall sound is balanced, but it feels narrow in range. The earbuds don’t sound hollow or low quality, but the bass doesn’t resonate much and the treble doesn’t sparkle. This might come off like I’m down on how the Nightbuds sound, but I think they’re fine—for sleeping.

The in-ear part is incredibly thin and lightweight, so it seems like a matter of physics that these earbuds can’t push as much air as larger earbuds can. At night, listening to relaxing sounds or even people speaking, I never considered the sound to be an issue.

MyKokoon App
Kokoon Nightbuds have two possible uses. The first is audio listening to help people get to sleep and stay asleep. The other is utilizing them to analyze sleep. It’s a solid idea, but the execution of data being shown within the app is mostly a mess.

The very first issue is that it’s not clear when, or if, the earbuds will track data. Will it also track my sleep if I take a long afternoon nap with the earbuds in? The instructions indicate leaving the app running to track data, but it’s not clear what specifically is meant by that. For example, does that include not turning off the screen on an iPhone so the app isn’t paused in the background? The questions around whether it’s recording data are exacerbated by results showing up at different intervals. When I did see some results displayed in the app, they were hard to interpret. I didn’t find the visualizations to be clear.

Beyond data tracking, the app also provides audio content. The content is sparse, but it’s certainly enough to get started and potentially use on repeat if you like it. There are musical soundscapes, guided meditations, coaching and stories. One particular piece of audio I found interesting was the three shipping forecasts. It contained someone reading out weather and sea conditions for maritime travel. At first, it seemed like a joke. But, after a few minutes, it seemed very much like content for people who turn on the Weather Channel to fall asleep.

The nice thing is that you can use the Nightbuds to listen to any audio on your phone, whether that’s streaming music, an audiobook or a podcast. If you want multiple audio layers, the MyKokoon app will play ocean wave sounds on top of your other selected audio.

Should You Buy Kokoon Nightbuds?
The Kokoon Nightbuds will be most useful for people who sleep on their side. But, I generally wouldn’t recommend these for someone simply curious about sleeping with personal audio. Despite the technical feat that went into making these in-ear buds slim and light, I think the connecting wires and back module are too much of a compromise to recommend to just anyone blanketly.

There is one exception, however. If you absolutely need earbuds for sleeping, for whatever reason, then these are certainly worth considering. It’s a faint distinction, but the Nightbuds’ ability to play any type of audio and having a long battery life might fit your circumstances.

Shokz OpenRun Pro review

I didn’t believe in bone-conduction headphones until I replaced my AirPods Pro with AfterShokz Aeropex for running. The secure fit and open-air listening experience complemented my workout needs, even if the audio quality paled compared to the best sport headphones worn inside or over your ears.

Enter the $179 Shokz OpenRun Pro, a step up from AfterShokz Aeropex (which have been rebranded to OpenRun) and the first launch since the company’s rebrand. The Pro version promises stronger bass, improved microphone quality, larger buttons and longer battery life.

Shokz OpenRun Pro review: Price and availability
The Shokz OpenRun Pro cost $179, which is $50 more than the Shokz OpenRun, but still competitive with the best headphones. The OpenRun Pro cost the same as the Apple AirPods 3, for example.

You can preorder Shokz OpenRun Pro now, though release timing hasn’t been confirmed. The OpenRun Pro headphones only come in black at launch, with more colors coming later this year.

Shokz OpenRun Pro review: Design and comfort
The design of Shokz OpenRun Pro is very similar to the standard OpenRuns. If my OpenRun headset wasn’t blue, I’d have a difficult time distinguishing the two at a glance. Though the OpenRun Pro dons the new “Shokz” logo, dropping the “After.”

A pair of vibration drivers are built into the ends of over-ear hooks that connect to each other via a thin yoke. The band is designed to snake behind your head, almost reaching your neck. For me, that means wearing Shokz OpenRun Pro under my hair or below a ponytail. The yoke doesn’t offer any flexibility, so I couldn’t adjust the size to fit my head snug as I’d like, but I’d trade that off for barely-there feel any day. The OpenRun Pro weighs just about an ounce. Sometimes I’d forget I was still wearing them long after I finished a workout.

No matter how much I moved, I couldn’t shake the OpenRun Pro off. The reason I ditched AirPods Pro for running is because the noise-cancelling buds kept falling out of my ears at the track. As was my experience with the regular OpenRun headphones, the OpenRun Pro didn’t budge during my runs.

Since Shokz OpenRun Pro is rated IP55 sweat-proof, the headphones are safe for most kinds of workouts, even if you get caught in a little rain. The rating doesn’t cover swimming, but Shokz OpenSwim (formerly AfterShokz Xtrainerz) offer a fully-waterproof alternative.

Shokz OpenRun Pro review: Controls and voice assistants
The Shokz OpenRun Pro uses the same physical buttons for controls as the standard OpenRun. A single multifunction button sits on the left driver housing facing out, while the volume rocker (which integrates the power button) is on the underside of the rectangular section behind the right ear hook. The OpenRun Pro’s rocker is almost twice as large as the Open Run’s rocker, solving my biggest complaint concerning the OpenRun’s usability.

As for the MF button controls, a single tap means pause or play while a double tap skips to the next track. Holding down the MF button summons a voice assistant — either Google Assistant or Siri, depending on your paired smartphone — for queries or additional controls. I had no trouble waking Siri to respond to a text during my workout. Some more full-featured headphones can alert you to notifications via your voice assistant, but I don’t care for that, especially while I’m in the middle of listening to my running playlist’s power jams.

Shokz OpenRun Pro review: Sound quality
Wireless bone-conduction headphones don’t sound as strong as most wireless headphones. Compared to even the best cheap earbuds, there’s a certain degree of definition lost when music isn’t fed directly into your ears. But the Shokz OpenRun Pro come the closest of any bone conduction headphones I’ve tested (including the Bose Frames) to delivering all-encompassing sound.

Shokz OpenRun Pro excelled with electronic synth riffs, maintaining precision and sophistication throughout Van Halen’s “Jump.” Rihanna’s “We Found Love” sounded sexy, yet still punchy. Vocals aren’t as pronounced as I usually like, though the witty verses of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Can’t Hold Us” held their own against the soaring piano line.

Now let’s talk about bass. Shokz says the OpenRun Pro gained two bass enhancers compared to the regular OpenRun headphones, so I expected a better thump. The improvement is actually quite subtle. I only noticed deeper levels in true bass-heavy tracks like Frank Ocean’s “Pyramids,” though the OpenRun Pro can’t match the song’s complexities carried through over-ear headphones.

Yet I’m hesitant to truly compare bone conduction headphones to over-ear or in-ear headphones. The use-cases are different, with bone conduction catering specifically to those who want to be able to hear what’s happening around them. While the best noise cancelling earbuds block noise, bone conduction lets it all in. I don’t want that in the gym, but when I’m outside running, being able to hear people and vehicles is crucial to safety. Even during a dog walk, being a female in a busy city forces me to pay attention to my surroundings at all times.

Shokz OpenRun Pro review: Call quality
The basic OpenRun Pro headphones struggled with call quality, creating a noticeable echo and picking up on far too many ambient noises. Shokz answered by adding a dual noise-cancelling microphone to OpenRun Pro.

I ran several call tests (some unintentionally, forgetting I had the OpenRun Pro on) and each time the receiver could tell I wasn’t speaking through my smartphone’s microphone. While some detected a faint echo, or the voice of a loud passerby picked up during a walk, the general consensus gave the OpenRun Pro a thumbs-up on call quality.

Shokz OpenRun Pro review: Battery life
Another notable upgrade the OpenRun Pro has over the OpenRun is battery life. The OpenRun Pro is rated for 10 hours rather than 8 hours, offering more listening time between charges. Better yet, the battery can last up to 10 days when the headphones are turned off. With a couple of workouts lasting about an hour, the OpenRun Pro I tested needed juice after one week, with the built-in assistant reminding me of the battery level every time I turned the headphones on.

I wish the headphones would automatically turn off when I wasn’t listening to music for an extended period of time because, again, I forgot I was wearing the OpenRun Pro often. Fortunately, a 5-minute quick charge gave me about 1.5 hours of listening time in case I realized OpenRun Pro was dead when getting ready to workout. The case is protective, but it doesn’t have built-in charging like AirPods, Powerbeats or Galaxy Buds cases.

Shokz OpenRun Pro review: Verdict
Different styles of headphones serve different purposes, and the Shokz OpenRun Pro’s purpose is important enough to earn the headphones a spot in my rotation of audio hardware. While I like the regular OpenRun model for outdoor runs, the OpenRun Pro’s improvements to call quality and battery life make it a stronger champion for bone conduction technology.

Whether for ear health or spatial awareness, bone conduction is becoming a capable alternative to headphones that blast sound directly into your ears. In situations where it’s important to hear what’s happening around me, it’s bone conduction or bust.

 

Libratone Air+ 2 Review

Libratone is a Scandinavian audio brand focusing on earphones and speakers, but with the Air+ second-gen, it’s out to break new ground. The Air+ 2s are a flagship earphone, delivering a feature set aimed to compete with the heaviest hitters in the industry: ANC, app support, IP water-resitance, and, of course, high-quality audio. Libratone isn’t a brand we were familiar with here at MMORPG, so we went in completely blind, ready for anything.

Specifications
Current Price: $229 (Amazon)
Key Features:
Noise-canceling
Ear Tip fit test
Reliable connectivity
Dual-mic
Smart audio tuning
Rich and clear sound
Ultra-lightweight design
Multiple devices
Battery time
Wireless charging case
Dust, sweat, and splash-proof design
Customizable tap function
Use one or two earbuds
Wear detect
Drivers: Dynamic, 5.3mm
Bluetooth Version: 5.2
High-Res Codec Support: aptX
Active Noise Cancellation: 30dB (max)
Battery Life:
Earbuds: Up to 6 hours
Case: 18 hours
Total: 24 hours
Wireless Charging: Yes
Multipoint Connect: Yes (3 devices)
IP Rating: IP54
In the Box:
Libratone AIR+ wireless earbuds (left and right)
Charging case
USB-C charging cable
3 ear tip sizes (S, M, L)

Libratone Air+ 2 – First Impressions and Key Features
The Libratone Air+ 2s are the successor to the Air+ 2020 revision that first hit Amazon in September of 2020. They follow the same AirPods-like design, with the oval-shaped bud and triangular stem. This new version is a step-up in quality, both in features and design. It’s also a step-up in price — $229 versus $139, minus any sale — making it Libratone’s most premium headphone to date.

That bump in quality comes with a new fit and finish in keeping with the category it’s now competing in. The buds are small and sleek, perfectly sized to fit securely and comfortably, while still being unobtrusive. The Air+ 2s are available in black or white, the former actually being closer to a midnight blue. There are also polished badges on each bud with the company’s cute little bird logo. They look good and don’t stand out as much as AirPods, which I like.

Libratone Air+ 2 – First Impressions and Key Features
The Libratone Air+ 2s are the successor to the Air+ 2020 revision that first hit Amazon in September of 2020. They follow the same AirPods-like design, with the oval-shaped bud and triangular stem. This new version is a step-up in quality, both in features and design. It’s also a step-up in price — $229 versus $139, minus any sale — making it Libratone’s most premium headphone to date.

That bump in quality comes with a new fit and finish in keeping with the category it’s now competing in. The buds are small and sleek, perfectly sized to fit securely and comfortably, while still being unobtrusive. The Air+ 2s are available in black or white, the former actually being closer to a midnight blue. There are also polished badges on each bud with the company’s cute little bird logo. They look good and don’t stand out as much as AirPods, which I like.

Inside, the Air+ 2s sport 5.3mm dynamic drivers. The company doesn’t share much about these units, other than they use a hi-polymer diaphragm and the usual neodymium magnets, but what really matters is how they sound and — spoiler alert — they sound great. We’ll get to this more in the listening and daily use section, but when it comes to audio quality, the Air+ 2s definitely don’t disappoint with their clear, detailed, and mildly customizable sound.

The stem design of the earbuds affords some advantages straight in-ears can’t offer. Like most true wireless buds these days, controls are all handled through capacitive touch, but instead of having to tap on the buds themselves, you can tap on the bottom of the stem. You can hear this, or course, but it’s much nicer than having to press a bud into your ear canal just to change tracks.

It also means improved call quality. The Air+ 2s use two microphones in each bud to detect and cancel noise from the environment and to pick up your voice. The stems also allow the vocal mic to be positioned closer to your mouth. That extra inch of distance might not seem like much, but it does help, limiting how obscured that microphone can become and consistently leads to clearer calls.

Inside, the Air+ 2s sport 5.3mm dynamic drivers. The company doesn’t share much about these units, other than they use a hi-polymer diaphragm and the usual neodymium magnets, but what really matters is how they sound and — spoiler alert — they sound great. We’ll get to this more in the listening and daily use section, but when it comes to audio quality, the Air+ 2s definitely don’t disappoint with their clear, detailed, and mildly customizable sound.

The stem design of the earbuds affords some advantages straight in-ears can’t offer. Like most true wireless buds these days, controls are all handled through capacitive touch, but instead of having to tap on the buds themselves, you can tap on the bottom of the stem. You can hear this, or course, but it’s much nicer than having to press a bud into your ear canal just to change tracks.

It also means improved call quality. The Air+ 2s use two microphones in each bud to detect and cancel noise from the environment and to pick up your voice. The stems also allow the vocal mic to be positioned closer to your mouth. That extra inch of distance might not seem like much, but it does help, limiting how obscured that microphone can become and consistently leads to clearer calls.

Battery life is also decent, coming in at 6 hours per the spec sheet. The case offers three more recharges, bringing that to 24 hours total. As always, this depends on how loud you’re listening, but I found it to be mostly accurate in my case. You can easily check the charge level on the case by pressing a button on the back which lights up a ring around the USB port. The ring also doubles as a charging indicating, turning off when the case is fully charged.

Libratone Air+ 2 – Fit and Comfort
The Libratone Air+ 2s are shockingly comfortable. The oval-shaped buds are perfectly sized to rest in the ear while the silicone tip secures into the ear canal. As a stem-based bud, they don’t sit perfectly flush, but because of how they do sit, and the shape of the bud itself, they don’t press into your ear, even when laying on your side or resting your head in your hand. I even fell asleep with a bud in and woke up the next morning, never having woken once, with the bud still securely in my ear. The Air+ 2s are the hands-down most comfortable earbuds I’ve ever used.

They are, without exaggeration, an earbud you can forget you’re even wearing. More than once, I’ve gone about my day forgetting I have one in my ear having paused it and gone about my business — not good for my day job, but a testament to how comfortable and stable these earbuds are.

You can use these even through vigorous workouts and not have to worry about them shaking loose. Once they’re in, they’re solid.

Libratone Air+ 2 – Listening and Daily Use Impressions
I’ve been lucky enough to spend a bit of extra time with the Libratone Air+ 2s due to the holiday season and the resulting breaks to my writing calendar. I’m glad I did, because these buds surprised me. Having never heard of Libratone before this review, I really didn’t know what to expect. I can tell you what I absolutely did not expect, was that these buds would completely uproot my rotation of wireless earbuds and become the sole pair I’m reaching for every day.

They did it. They won. These buds unseated my Jabras, and Sonys, and Samsungs, and Bowers & Wilkins. Through a blend of sound quality, features, comfort, and constant reliability, they became my go-to daily accessory and have lived in my pocket for a solid month. And this coming from a guy who really didn’t like stem-style earbuds before!

So yes, I’m surprised. Now let’s get into why they’ve become my go-to pair of earbuds.

First off, they sound great. Out of the box, they have a balanced sound signature. They’re not overly bass-heavy and have a lot of detail in the mids and just enough sparkle in the highs to sound crisp and airy. Inside the app, you can also choose between an automatic Smart EQ, Neutral, Bass, and Treble presets. None of these are overdone, but instead help the earbuds to lean more toward those frequencies. I found myself swapping between the Neutral and Bass tunings when I wanted a little more punch in my music, but the bass isn’t bloated and doesn’t overwhelm the other frequencies. It’s not as tight and textured as some of my wired earphones but is definitely very good against the rest of the true wireless market.

The quality of the ANC is also surprisingly good. I found myself turning it on when I wanted to work at my PC. It completely cut out the sound of my PC fans and even some of the sound of my kids roughhousing downstairs. Let’s be honest with ourselves about the earbud market: these days, everyone is offering ANC, even down to $40 earbuds.

I was also impressed with the automatic setting. Usually, I turn ANC all the way up and forget about it. Here, I let the buds sense my environment and adjust it down which actually made it quieter than with ANC turned all the way up. It did this by bringing down the volume of the cancellation frequency to match what the buds could hear through their microphones. This isn’t a unique feature but is definitely a good implementation of it.

Just as importantly, these earbuds just work. They’re comfortable enough to forget you’re wearing. They connect quickly and stay connected. They fall asleep to save battery power and instantly wake back up again without having to fuddle with reconnecting. They have enough battery life to listen for most of a workday and simply putting them back in the case over lunch pushes them the rest of the way. Even the touch controls are reliable and aren’t prone to miss-taps, pausing or skipping tracks when you only meant to readjust them in your ear.

But they’re not perfect. Let’s take those touch controls. To prevent inadvertent taps, controls are limited to double and triple taps only. While good on paper, that means you never have access to all of your controls at one time. It’s Choose Two between volume, track controls, and adjusting your sound mode (ANC, transparency mode, etc).

I also wish that there was more fine-grained control of the equalizer settings. Presets are nice, but for users comfortable with getting in there and adjusting their own frequency bands, it can feel a bit limiting.

And finally, it has to be said, though I think the feature set is sufficient against most true wireless earbuds, at this price, it does fall a bit short. The Sony XM4s have advanced features like LDAC support and DSEE Extreme upscaling, and spatial audio. The Air+ 2s only have aptX, an earfit test, and customizable tap controls, but for $229, you’re not really getting anything here you wouldn’t find by turning to the competition.

Final Thoughts
The Libratone Air+ 2s are undoubtedly great earphones. Their biggest strong points are how comfortable and consistent they are. You’re able to put them in and forget you’re wearing them (as I did many times). Add in great sound and high-quality ANC and you have a recipe for an excellent pair of earbuds that’s ready to earn a lot of fans.

As an audio reviewer, I have more earphones than I can use. I currently rotate between the latest Jabra, Samsung, and Sony flagship earbuds. Or did. The Air+ 2s have completely taken over my rotation since only my second day testing them. They’re the kind of buds that you can rely on to be consistently great and are the only bud that’s won me over to such a degree this entire year.

But, that price. At $229, they’re more expensive than the Jabra Elite 7 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, or even the Apple AirPods Pro, and are closing in on the Sony WF-1000XM4. That’s a tall order for a brand without the same name recognition as its biggest competitors (at least in the United States). It demands the consumer take a leap of faith, especially so because the buds also aren’t clear winners in any single area and instead excel as a whole package. Yet, they remain great, unseating those competitors in my daily use even outside of the review process. I can’t help but feel like they would benefit from a lower price.