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.

 

FIFINE K658 USB Dynamic Cardioid Microphone

As already mentioned, K658 is a dynamic cardioid mic which means it works best for capturing the audio in a unidirectional pattern in front of the microphone. Thanks to this polarity, K658 captures little to no noise from the surrounding. If the user speaks directly into the mic from around 10-12 cm away, most chatter or any other kind of noise in a radius greater than four meters away from the mic is almost non-existence.

FIFINE K658 comes with a metal tripod and a plastic shock mount. The tripod is good for podcasting since it allows vertical adjustments to the mic for getting the optimal angle. For streaming though, the tripod is too short and a boom arm is recommended. The mic comes with a 3.8” to 5.8” adaptor, maximizing the compatibility of the mic with boom arms. The plastic shock mount is well-made too. It is not as good as the pricy metal ones in eliminating movement noises but it gets the job done.

The build quality and physical aesthetics of the mic are pretty satisfying. The metallic body is smooth to touch but solid and sturdy. The main capsule is protected by an inner metallic mesh and an outer pop filter. The pop filter can be easily unscrewed with the hands for cleaning and maintenance.

FIFINE K658 is powered by a USB Type-C port and it has a headphone jack for listening to and monitoring the audio output. There is a gain control dial on the mic that allows hardware volume gain control and on the top of the dial rests the touch-sensitive mute button. The mute button is so sensitive and accurate that it cuts and restores the voice without any hearable noise. K658 is equipped with rainbow-colored RGB lighting. There is a touch-sensitive button under the mic that turns the RGB lights on or off. Unfortunately, FIFINE provides no software services with the mic, thus, there is no way to fine-tune and change the lighting and there are no other options except for rainbow color or off.

FIFINE K658 is a good budget streaming and podcasting microphone. The build quality, RGB lighting, hardware audio control options, and recording quality are good, but the mic lacks software for doing audio fine-tuning or RGB lights control as well as additional recording patterns. Some other budget microphones such as HyperX QuadCast S or Blue Yeti not only come with their own software but also provide multiple recording patterns (Stereo, Omnidirectional, Cardioid, and Bidirectional) in a single mic that adds recording flexibility to the table.

LucidSound has announced their new LS100X Wireless Gaming Headset

Founded in 2016, bought out by PowerA in 2020 – it’s safe to say the LucidSound name is here to stay. And that’s great for fans of gaming headsets, for it is they who have been able to deliver some pretty tasty options to the market. The latest is the new LucidSound LS100X Wireless Gaming Headset.

A feature-rich gaming headset that promises to be lightweight, comfortable and utterly perfect for long gaming sessions, the LucidSound LS100X Wireless Gaming Headset will cater for players on Xbox, PC and mobile.

Crafted specifically with the Xbox Series X|S audience in mind, but fully compatible with Xbox One, PC and mobile, LucidSound have gone about carefully considering consumer feedback in order to create the ultimate high-value wireless headset with a groundbreaking collection of features.

Whether you are on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows 10/11 or mobile devices via Bluetooth, the Designed for Xbox LS100X is available now at LucidSound.com as well as Amazon. Expect to pay around $99.99 for it.

We’ve been hands on with a multitude of headsets and accessories over the years, so what’s special about this one? Well, the LucidSound LS100X is wireless for starters, but thanks to an Extended Play Battery Life you’re looking at 130 hours of playtime through Bluetooth and 72 hours via the USB adapter. That’s huge numbers.

Further, it’s lightweight, it’s got memory foam padding and tons of comfort in the headband. You’ll also find quick access controls on both earcups, a dual-mic system and some custom tuned 50mm drivers.

In all, the key features of this one include:

Comfortable Marathon Gaming – With the LS100X, the fun doesn’t have to stop thanks to its impressive Extended Play Battery Life that gives gamers up to 130 hours of playtime when connected via Bluetooth or up to 72 hours in Game Mode when connected via the Wireless USB adapter. Gamers can finally play multiple marathon gaming sessions in a row without having to break just to charge their headset. Plus, the headset is engineered to look and feel great during all that playtime. The ultra-lightweight frame and memory foam padding on both the earcups and headband provide a superior level of comfort.
Built for Xbox, PC, and Even Mobile Gaming – This versatile headset features two ways to connect to your favorite consoles, PC, and mobile devices. In Game Mode, LS100X connects seamlessly to the included Wireless USB Adapter, providing a low latency interference-free connection that is strong even in crowded Wi-Fi environments. Switching to Bluetooth Mode allows the headset to connect to a device through Bluetooth. This can be a mobile device, PC, or a compatible Bluetooth enabled device. With two connection types to choose from, gamers can pick one that meets their audio needs and switching between the two is as simple as holding down a button.
Competitive Gaming Edge – The LS100X features Quick Access Audio Controls located on the left and right earcups, providing a simple method to quickly adjust a variety of audio settings for the headset. This along with the dual-mic system, optional mic monitoring, and voice prompts to operate the headset, gives gamers a personalized audio experience without having to fumble with small dials.
More – This headset comes with custom tuned 50mm drivers, which provide amazing sound quality in games and voice chat. Users can choose from 3 different EQ modes: Signature, Bass Boost, and FPS to give gamers the biggest advantage depending on what they are playing or listening to. For the best audio experience when playing on Xbox or PC, the headset offers premium spatial sound through Windows Sonic.

 

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.

 

The Logitech G Aurora Collection

Logitech have launched the Aurora Collection, a set of bright, customisable PC gaming peripherals built to be “gender inclusive”. Fortunately, that seems to be more than just pastel colours and cynical “For girls” marketing – the G375 headset, G705 mouse, and the G715 and G713 keyboards are all proper gaming-spec accessories, and they’ve been crafted by mostly female design and engineering teams based on feedback from women PC players.

The G705, then, is a wireless mouse designed for smaller hands, while the G375 headset – also wireless – is proportioned to fit smaller heads and has more space in the earcups to accommodate earrings. It’s safe to say I’m not the Aurora Collection’s target audience, but having used the G705, the G375, and the G715 wireless keyboard as my main peripherals for a few days, I can say all three are pretty swish playthings regardless of how you identify. What’s more, their light, soft-cornered aesthetic is a nice break from the blacks, greys and harsh angles that have become standard design language for gaming gear. Anyone who’s ever cringed their face inside out at a peripheral resembling Megatron’s running shoe may indeed find these more to their tastes.

Mostly, anyway. Before getting into some impressions, I’ll say that there’s not much inclusive about the Aurora Collection’s pricing: the G705 mouse is cheapest of the bunch but still sells for £85 / $100, with the G735 headset reaching £189 / $230. In the middle are the wireless G715 (£170 / $200) and wired G713 (£145 / $170) keyboards, so everything here asks for properly premium-tier money. Only some of the very best gaming keyboards, best gaming mice and best gaming headsets are more expensive, and most simply aren’t.

Of the three I’ve tested, the G715 feels the most worth it. It’s not far removed from the outstanding G915 Lightspeed Wireless, specifically its TKL variant, sharing the same rock-solid wireless connection tech and a generous smattering of media keys and control buttons. The G715 is also fully mechanical, with your choice of quiet linear switches or clicky tactile switches. Mine came with the latter, and it’s a lovely keyboard for typing as well as playing, though I did make ample use of the G375 to muffle out the click-clackiness.

Like the rest of the Aurora Collection, the G715 is easily customisable too. Not just by way of macro commands and key reassignments – though you can do all that too, through the Logitech G Hub app – but with an instantly removable plastic top plate, and matching keycaps that are sold direct from Logitech’s website. The idea being that if you get bored of pure white, you can throw in some green or pink accents to personalise the look. Replacement ear cushions for the G735 are also available in matching shades, and Logitech has even reissued the Blue Yeti microphone in pink and white, so you can have a fully colour-coordinated peripheral set.

It’s a neat bonus feature that takes the Aurora Collection even further away from typical dreary colour schemes, though the G715 would be a great keyboard even without it. Maybe not a perfect one – the RGB backlighting is pretty uneven – but it feels nice and crisp, and there are enough core features that you could maybe justify the price if you truly loved the aesthetic as well. It also comes bundled with a cloud-shaped wrist rest, which I did initially think fell on the wrong side of twee, though it proved comfortable enough to override my hangup.

I’ve been liking the G705 mouse as well. That’s despite it having maybe only two-thirds the mass of my everyday gaming mouse, the Razer Basilisk V3, and generally catering more to those of a more petite hand-build. I could get a decently comfortable resting position, mind, thanks in part to the thumb rest and surprisingly grippy matte texture on the left- and right-click buttons. Even the tiny thumb buttons were easily usable – I don’t recall ever hitting the wrong one by mistake.

As with the G715, the soft edges and white/pastel colours hide some respectable gaming credentials. A trip into G Hub provides full control over DPI settings, the single strip of RGB lighting, and the full array of button assignments and macro options, and even if you leave everything as default then the G715 still feels smooth and accurate enough for more demanding, twitchy games.

Still, it also doesn’t do anything exceptionally well, which at £85 / $100 is a problem. And I can’t really see where they money goes in the G375 headset, either. It does sound great, which is no small matter, and there’s enough padding that I could wrap it around my (also not small) head for hours at a time without complaint. I don’t wear earrings but that I’ll gladly take that extra roominess in the earcups, thank you very much.

Otherwise, however, it’s nothing truly special. There are loads of headsets with comfortable fits and detailed sound, many of them on sale for a lot less, and often with better microphone quality to boot. I could still come through intelligibly on the G375’s boom mic (which, like the ear cushions, can be replaced with a green or pink version) but with nothing like clarity and sharpness of, say, the HyperX Cloud II. Logitech have included their Blue VO!CE microphone tech to help out, but I actively dislike how it sounds here. It made me louder, which might’ve helped if I were playing in a room filled with background noise, but also added a heavily processed effect to my voice without clearing it up.

As with the G715, the soft edges and white/pastel colours hide some respectable gaming credentials. A trip into G Hub provides full control over DPI settings, the single strip of RGB lighting, and the full array of button assignments and macro options, and even if you leave everything as default then the G715 still feels smooth and accurate enough for more demanding, twitchy games.

Still, it also doesn’t do anything exceptionally well, which at £85 / $100 is a problem. And I can’t really see where they money goes in the G375 headset, either. It does sound great, which is no small matter, and there’s enough padding that I could wrap it around my (also not small) head for hours at a time without complaint. I don’t wear earrings but that I’ll gladly take that extra roominess in the earcups, thank you very much.

Otherwise, however, it’s nothing truly special. There are loads of headsets with comfortable fits and detailed sound, many of them on sale for a lot less, and often with better microphone quality to boot. I could still come through intelligibly on the G375’s boom mic (which, like the ear cushions, can be replaced with a green or pink version) but with nothing like clarity and sharpness of, say, the HyperX Cloud II. Logitech have included their Blue VO!CE microphone tech to help out, but I actively dislike how it sounds here. It made me louder, which might’ve helped if I were playing in a room filled with background noise, but also added a heavily processed effect to my voice without clearing it up.

 

 

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.

 

Blue Yeti Microphone

The Blue Yeti Microphone continues to be a perennially popular USB choice for content creators of all types and for good reason. It’s well built, it sounds good enough, and priced at $129.99 / $119.99 doesn’t break the bank either. If you’re ready to take the next step towards a professional streaming setup then this model can get you started well, as it’s easily one of the best microphones on the market all things considered.

I think it’s safe to say that the Blue Yeti is one of the most iconic looking microphones of all time. This tried and true design has been around for well over a decade now after all. This model is retro in its visual language, but all the better for it. On the front of the Blue Yeti you’ve got the company’s logo, followed by a dedicated mute button and a volume wheel for monitoring. Turning the device over, and you’re greeted by a gain dial, and the four-way pickup pattern knob, too.

The Blue Yeti certainly feels premium in its overall build quality thanks, in part, to that 2.2 lbs weight. This is likely due to the thick all-metal chassis. There’s a durable confidence to the microphone itself, and the rubber feet also do a great job of securing the Blue Yeti in place when sitting on your desk. The travel in the dials and button presses here are satisfying as well, so you’re not getting a light or cheap feeling bit of kit here, that’s for sure.

I’ll keep things concise when I say that the Blue Yeti sounds good. Simply put, you aren’t going to fool anyone into thinking you’ve got a dedicated XLR / interface setup here, as this USB microphone certainly has a sound profile to it. It’s highly likely that you’ve heard the Blue Yeti before if you’re immersed in the Twitch or YouTube gaming landscape, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

While the actual quality doesn’t set the world on fire, the biggest strength that the Blue Yeti has over the likes of the Blue Snowball, for example, is the versatility that you can get from the 4-way pickup patterns. The brand does a great job in clearly illustrating what these different options are best for. There are options for your standard Cardioid, as well as Stereo, Bidirectional, and Omnidirectional. What would seem unwieldy to some users has been made clear cut by including diagrams in the box.

Cardioid is of course recommended for podcasters, voiceovers, streamers, and singers (being the most direct) with the other pickup options being clearly and cleverly conveyed. This means no matter your age or experience, there’s no need to be intimidated by the options the Blue Yeti gives you; simply turn that dial, plug in a pair of headphones and you’re away. It’s that ease of use that I can certainly commend here.

I used the Blue Yeti in a variety of different situations from recording voiceovers, to testing vocals in Cockos Reaper, and streaming gameplay while talking to my friends for an extended period of time. The Blue Yeti gets the job done, it sounds good for what it is at the price it’s being offered, but for those looking for a more dedicated serious setup, you may need to expand your search in my opinion.

Despite not being floored by the audio quality of the Blue Yeti compared to some other microphones I’ve had my hands on over the years, I believe that this model more than earns its reputation for the competitive price point. As a simple-to-use plug-and-play USB microphone with this amount of options that is built so well, the Blue Yeti is a sure-fire hit for anyone starting out with streaming or wanting something that sounds significantly better than what a gaming headset mic can offer.

For the past two months, I’ve been using the Blue Yeti Microphone as one of my main devices for streaming, talking to friends while gaming, having meetings with my colleagues, and testing out in the likes of Audacity and Cockos Reaper.

 

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.