All posts in “Music”

Grado Labs Adds The Reference Series To Its Growing Lineup Of Stylish Headphones

If we showed you a pair of headphones from Grado Labs, those who don’t know the brand might think it’s just another low-end offering. However, audiophiles will recognize the signature design right away. The manufacturer has impeccable timing as the holidays are about to hit. Their recently unveiled Reference series would make excellent stocking stuffers for music lovers.

The new lineup features two models: The RS1x and RS2x. Although both share some similarities, there are also distinct differences buyers might want to consider. For starters, each uses a dynamic transducer with an open-air configuration.

In fact, most high-end brands like Grado Labs use the same setup. Notably, it delivers better sound quality and enhances user comfort. Thus, the Reference series is engineered for longer listening sessions. Nevertheless, here are details of what sets the duo apart.

The RS1x touts a housing crafted out of a combination of a maple sleeve, hemp core, and cocobolo outer ring. Within these are 50-mm X Drivers tuned accordingly to the material. Up next is the RS2x, which flaunts a hemp core with the sleeve and outer ring in maple. Also, the latter packs Grado Labs’ 44-mm X Drivers.

Grado Labs notes that the cables are now more durable than before. Furthermore, the super annealed copper improves acoustic clarity. You then have a black leather headband with white stitching.

If this is your first time listening to this type of design, just don’t be surprised to hear ambient noise mixed with your audio. Grado Labs certainly knows how to make the Reference series appealing for casual listeners and those who demand only the best.

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Images courtesy of Grado Labs

The Nocs Design NS1100 AIR TWS Earbuds Uses Advanced Audiometry For Personalized Audio

Thanks to Apple, true wireless (TWS) earbuds are now the most popular audio products around. Argue all you like, because even if Onkyo was the first to market it, but the AirPods pushed everyone else to follow. Meanwhile, Nocs Design engineered the NS1100 AIR to address the fact that we all hear sound differently. Here’s how it works.

Think of it like the adaptive EQ feature of Apple’s AirPods. However, instead of letting artificial intelligence and computational algorithms tune the earbuds, you have full control over its settings. Nocs Design uses Audiodo Personal Sound technology via a companion app on your smartphone.

Before your first use of the NS1100 AIR, complete the calibration steps to configure the earbuds properly. Using cutting-edge audiometry, it analyzes the nuances of your hearing. Since our ears are unique in shape and sensitivity to sound, a personalized audio profile should make a remarkable difference.

After approximately 3 minutes, Nocs Design believes the TWS earbuds are ready for action. Each bud packs a 9.2-mm graphene driver to produce optimal acoustics even audiophiles won’t complain about. To make your listening experience even more immersive the NS1100 AIR touts hybrid active noise cancellation.

Meanwhile, the Airoha chip enhances the Bluetooth 5.0 dual-mode connectivity to ensure low latency and crystal-clear audio. Personal safety is crucial when you’re out in public, so one-touch transparency mode lets you hear your surroundings. Just tap the earbuds again to enable ANC.

The NS110 AIR delivers up to 9 hours of playback plus additional charges from the case for a total of 30 hours. Nocs Design even adds a special nano-coating to give it IPX4 protection against dust and moisture. Don’t be afraid to take it with you outdoors or use it during workouts at the gym

Buy now


Images courtesy of Nocs Design

Marshall Bolsters Its True Wireless Earbuds Lineup With The Motif A.N.C.

A while back, we pointed out a trend wherein almost every audio brand will eventually offer true wireless earbuds. Most established companies back then were probably on the fence and thought it was just a marketing gimmick doomed to fail. Fast-forward to 2021 and we now see Marshall join the fun with the Motif A.N.C. and it looks awesome.

Among the TWS earphones Men’s Gear has been featuring so far, we’re loving the manufacturer’s aesthetic direction here. Much like the majority of its speakers, headphones, and other products, it carries the distinct Marshall theme. Moreover, the Motif A.N.C. boasts a water-resistant construction.

One popular feature most buyers go for in a pair of true wireless earbuds is active noise cancelation and transparency mode. Since Marshall is going up against the likes of Apple, the Motif A.N.C. is matching it as well. To efficiently filter out unwanted noise, it comes with three sealed-fit silicone tips.

Choose the most comfortable among the bunch and let the ergonomics take care of the rest. Be sure to use the size that doesn’t move around so the buds don’t fall out. Control your music or make/receive calls with a touch of the “M” badge on the housing. We also love the knurling on the short stems.

Matching the look of its world-renowned speakers is the charging case, with the familiar Marshall script up front affixed to the lid. Lift this up to reveal a printed text that reads “EST. 1962” in gold. The Motif A.N.C. is compatible with wireless chargers and adds another 20 hours on top of the 4.5 hours battery life of the earbuds.

Purschase yours now


Images courtesy of Marshall

Under Armour: Get These UA Project Rock Training Headphones

The Project Rock collection was made for athletes like you. It includes support gear like over-ear headphones tuned to blast out powerful bass without distraction, while still giving you the ability to hear your surroundings.

If you’re prone to sweating in your workout clothes until they’re plastered to your body, these sleek headphones are designed to withstand sweaty workouts with an IPX4 rating (for recreation/activity).

The squishy earpads and wide headband mean that even if you have long locks protruding from behind your ears, no worries–these are comfortable enough to wear all day or during five-hour flights so whether it’s Bluetooth connectivity wirelessly streaming music or ARtificial hearing providing hearing clarity when there’s too much noise around.

Satisfy your hard-hitting needs with the Project Rock collection of sports headphones. With JBL Charged Sound that has deep bass for all workout music styles and Bionic Hearing technology that allow athletes to hear their surroundings without hearing distractions. 

The UA Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones are built to help you find boundaries, then push right through them. With easy Bluetooth technology, zero distraction training gear approved by Dwayne Johnson himself, the hardest worker in the room – ANY room – these headphones are perfect for any workout or performance.

It’s like never leaving the gym or your workout because you’ve got these buds humming in your ears, and when you do want to hear the outside world again, not a word is missed. They make everything sound great; we’re talking boost in bass and clarity in vocals with adaptive noise-cancelling technology and the UA Storm Super Grip for stability.

And if it gets sweaty in there? No worries: UA SuperVent ear cushions are breathable, light, and fast-drying so that sweat dries quicker than an average person can say squat surfer. Life doesn’t get better than this!





OnePlus Ups Its True Wireless Earbuds Game With The Sleek Buds Pro

After being hailed as the best bang for your buck manufacturer for its “flagship killer” smartphones since it debuted in 2014, OnePlus seems to have lost its identity over the years. These days, Xiaomi sub-brands Redmi and Poco appear to have taken the lead. Not about to throw in the towel, the company releases the Buds Pro.

With most modern handsets shipping without the 3.5 mm headphone port, Bluetooth is becoming the technology of choice. Apple’s push for wireless audio seems to have taken hold. This is evident as its rivals scramble to market their own true-wireless earbuds. The Buds Pro is OnePlus’ range-topping answer to the AirPods Pro.

The Cupertino-based tech group’s influence is clear as the Buds Pro sports stems. Some of us are not big fans of this design since it looks like regular earphones with the wires cut off. Nonetheless, these are considerably shorter than others out there.

Smart Adaptive Noise Cancellation technology makes your tunes even more immersive. It actively blocks out unwanted sound up to 40 dB, Furthermore, it automatically adjusts according to the ambient audio around you. Calls remain crystal clear thanks to the microphones calibrated to filter out wind and more.

The OnePlus Buds Pro features 11-mm dynamic drivers for outstanding acoustics. IP55 ingress protection, make it suitable for indoor and outdoor workouts. Warp Charge technology and wireless charging give you versatility and 38 hours of battery life with the charging case.

Tech industry pundits agree that OnePlus’ popularity has waned over the years. Moreover, the introduction of its Nord catalog confused a lot of longtime users. Anyway, even though Oppo now controls most of its operations, the badge might stick around for a while. The Buds Pro tells us it’s not over yet.

Purchase now


Images courtesy of OnePlus

Oswald Mill Audio Unveils The Sophisticated K3 Turntable For Discerning Audiophiles

In the way of functionality, the fundamental aspect of turntables has remained the same for over a century. Over the years, even as audio technology evolved from analog to digital, there remains a market for vinyl records. Meanwhile, modern manufacturing gives way to even more attractive aesthetics like the one showcased by the K3 from Oswald Mill Audio.

Although the trend these days is to take a minimalist approach when it comes to design, this high-end turntable is built to draw attention. As such, owners should place the device somewhere with a lot of foot traffic. On the other hand, it’s acceptable to have it in your man cave or entertainment room as well.

Oswald Mill Audio is yet to disclose the pricing, but others claim it’s something north of $200,000. Audiophiles will tell you that the remarkable craftsmanship, outstanding performance, and high-end materials that go into each K3 justifies the cost.

From a manufacturing perspective, there’s a lot going on for this turntable. Unlike others of its kind which have your typical outline, Oswald Mill Audio’s new model is one chunky boy. You’ll also notice the striking structure of its tonearm.

Credit goes to Frank Schroder for the use of a cutting edge SLM (Selective Laser Melting) technology to shape the aerospace-grade aluminum alloy into its intricate form. It also uses a heavy-duty direct drive motor system to spin the platter.

The latter comprises a 25-mm main bearing spindle, an inverted bearing, and a pressurized oil column for unparalleled accuracy. Oswald Mill Audio offers the K3 as a standalone turntable with an outboard Xenon tube rectified power supply. You can also get it with a stylish stand that houses the outboard components.

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Images courtesy of Oswald Mill Audio

Yamaha YH-L700A: A Premium Pair Of Headphones For Immersive Music And Movies

Before you splurge for a new pair of headphones, it’s best you consider the options available right now. It’s likely many have been swayed by Apple’s massive marketing campaign for the AirPods Max. With the massive success of its audio lineup, it’s easy to overlook what others have available. We want to talk about the YH-L700A from Yamaha and makes it worth your while.

From a design perspective, these over-ear headphones are as stylish as they come. Yamaha is only offering these in black, which is perhaps the only downside here. It wouldn’t hurt to at least have it in shades of white or grey. Anyway, all that really matters here is the audio quality and stuff it can do differently from its contemporaries.

Backed by years of experience when it comes to acoustics, the Yamaha YH-L700A has a big shoe to fill. As with any modern model out there, passive noise isolation just doesn’t cut it anymore. Thus, proprietary active noise-canceling is the answer here.

Moreover, you can toggle the settings to allow ambient sounds in when needed. When you’re listening to more than just music, Yamaha presents its 3D Sound Field tech. With the help of a gyroscope, the headphones track your head’s movement.

This turns any stereo audio from your videos even more immersive. Just pick the appropriate setting and let the YH-L700A take care of the rest. It supports Hi-Resolution Audio when you plug it in via the 3.5-mm cable. Each earcup swivels to fit every user’s unique head shape for comfort.

The Headphones packs 40 mm dynamic drivers tuned to produce an impressive sound stage. The Yamaha YH-L700A boasts up to 34 hours of battery life with regular use. There are hardly any caveats here save for the lack of other color options.

Purchase it now


Images courtesy of Yamaha

Advanced Ingress Protection Makes The JBL Endurance Peak II Earbuds Ideal For Workouts

Due to almost every other audio company flooding the market with true wireless earphones, choosing the right one is more difficult than ever. As always, we’re here to help. If by chance you’re looking for a pair that can stand up to even the most rigorous of activities, JBL has the Endurance Peak II. These sports-ready buds come in three colors: Black, blue, and white.

Electronics and moisture are a bad mix, which is why ingress protection on gadgets is must-have these days. Another issue with these types of earphones is they tend to fall out from movements. Instead of relying on a snug fit from the silicone eartips, JBL is equipping the Endurance Peak II with bendable ear hooks they’re apply calling Powerhook.

With these two features, those earbuds are ready to go the extra mile. 10-mm drivers deliver awesome audio, while JBL Pure Bass Sound technology generates those chunky lows. Feel the beat boost your workouts and push you to take the extra rep or go for one more rep.

Hands-free stereo calls mean lesser interruptions. Moreover, conveniently continue your exercise and command your favorite voice assistant directly from the Endurance Peak II. Intuitive touch controls will feel like second nature the longer you use these earphones.

Just like the name implies, battery life is a reliable 6 hours per earbud with an additional 24 hours from the charging case. in the box, you get the Endurance Peak II true wireless earbuds, the charging case, 3 pairs of ear tips in different sizes, enhancers, and documentation.

Buy it now


Images courtesy of JBL

Astell & Kern Lets You Swap Out DAC Modules On The A&futura SE18 DAP

Astell & Kern is a name renowned among audiophile circles for its top-tier craftsmanship and outstanding acoustics. They supply individuals who demand only the most accurate sound reproduction out of their players. Here to deliver just that is the A&futura SE18 digital audio player or “DAP” as they call it. Go ahead and admire its sleek design

If you’re not picky when it comes to how the device looks, there’s a bunch of brands to buy from. However, for those whose tastes in aesthetics are as discerning as their preference for accuracy, Astell & Kern checks all the boxes and more. So, put on your headphones, plug them in, and enjoy

Its defining feature is the interchangeable all-in-on modules. The manufacturer ships it with the ESS ES9038PRO 8-channel DAC by default, but you can swap it out for other compatible components. This setup helps block out unwanted RF and power noise that may interfere with your music playback.

A&futura SE18 might be what manufacturers refer to as an entry-level model under its catalog. Still, given the price point of the devices, these are definitely on the premium end. The DAP measures 5.4” x 0.78” x 3.03” (H x D x W) and tips the scales at 13.41 ounces.

The sleek housing is aluminum with a matte finish in Moon Silver. You have a 5-inch 1920 x 1080 full-HD touch display. The Astell & Kern A&futura SE18 runs on a customized version of Android which allows for intuitive controls. It supports all the popular audio files including lossless high-fidelity formats.

Another cool aspect of the A&futura SE18 is the LED-backlit volume wheel. Even without looking at the screen, the volume level and bitrate of your music track are represented by different colors. Internal storage is 256 GB with support for microSD expansion up to 1 TB.

Buy – $1,499


Images courtesy of Astell & Kern

Razer Adds Chroma RGB Lighting To The 2021 Hammerhead True Wireless Pro

Razer prolific use of RGB lighting on almost all of its products has been the subject of jokes among the gaming community. In fact, the feature is what fans look for each time the company launches something new. After giving the Hammerhead earphones the TWS treatment, the brand if finally releasing a model with its Chroma technology.

Back when it entered the smartphone market in 2017, many pointed out a missed opportunity when the device shipped without a backlit triple snake logo. Eager to please its legion of followers, the second-generation handset was packing RGB lighting.

History repeats itself once more as we check out the 2021 version of the Hammerhead True Wireless Pro. The latest pair still retains the stem which the tech industry refers to as an attempt to copy the silhouette of the Apple AirPods. Still, it’s just a minor gripe if you look at the bigger picture.

As we were hinting before, the iconic serpent emblem is now flashier than before. With Razer’s Chroma RGB system built in, users can personalize their Hammerhead True Wireless Pro with up to 16.8 million colors to choose from. Tweak the settings for different lighting effects to stand out from the crowd.

Hybrid active noise canceling with THX high-fidelity acoustic enhancements give you an immersive listening experience. To help during long listening sessions, Razer includes three SecureSeal and three SmoothComfort silicone tips. There’s also a pair of Comply foam tips for optimal comfort.

The Activate Gaming Mode setting prevents latency issues, so game audio matches the action on screen. The Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro promises a 20-hour battery life depending on settings and usage patterns.

Buy – $199.99


Images courtesy of Razer

Muzen Audio Is Building A Premium Rugged TWS Speaker Called The Cybershell

With its work on The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, gamers held CD Projekt Red in high regard. After years of development and delays, Cyberpunk 2077 was finally released in September 2020. Sadly game-breaking glitches rendered it almost unplayable on multiple platforms. Despite the disastrous launch, its massive marketing campaign continues to influence designs like that of the CyberShell.

What looks like a fancy futuristic desktop decoration is a fully functional true wireless speaker. Just like how modern TWS earbuds work, you can pair two for stereo sound. So far, we like how Muzen Audio went with physical controls instead of touch.

Moreover, It just feels more immersive when you can mechanically toggle various settings. The CyberShell measures 3.6” x 2.2” x 7.5” (W x D x H) and weighs about 2.3 lbs. The manufacturer is also taking into consideration the build quality here. To match the striking and edgy aesthetics of the speaker, plastic is a no-go.

Instead, they’re using a zinc alloy metal structure, which really makes it a premium option. According to its crowdfunding page, this likewise helps the speaker’s stability and acoustics. For versatility, hook it up to your source via USB-C, 3.5 mm aux cable, or go cordless with Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connectivity.

Meanwhile, moisture won’t be a problem thanks to the IPX5 waterproofing. Our ideal setup would be to grab two CyberShell speakers for our desktop. The RGB lighting makes it a great match for any high-end gaming rig.

The 3,100 mAh lithium-ion battery should last up to 13 hours with average use. Muzen Audio is also offering a Shell Dock, which we’re guessing is for charging the speakers. The first batches of the Cybershell speakers are shipping out later this year.

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Images courtresy of Muzen Audio

Sony promises WFH comfort and sleek design with the SRS-NB10 neckband speaker

Even though most of its competitors have established a foothold on many market segments once dominated by Sony, its presence remains strong. These days, the bulk of its operations now focus on gaming, displays, and imaging, among others. Here to remind us of its proficiency when it comes to audio, we have the SRS-NB10.

Consumers who find earbuds and headphones unbearable might want to consider this alternative. As much as audiophiles hate to accept it, the shift to true wireless technology is unstoppable. To date, Apple’s AirPods lineup leads the pack, while everyone else uses similar platforms from other competing brands.

What Sony hopes to do with the SRS-NB10 is cater to a specific subset of users. We’re sure some of you hate how earphones or headphones feel after a long listening session. Prolonged usage can leave your ears or head sore.

Therefore, the Japanese consumer electronics giant goes for a wearable solution that feels more natural. It aptly describes the SRS-NB10 as neckband speaker designed with all-day comfort in mind. With many of us now working from home, making and receiving calls can be a chore

Just slip it on around your neck and you’re free to move about. Multi-point connection via Bluetooth lets you pair it up to two devices at the same time. Sony says it can seamlessly switch between the two when you need it to.

A full charge can last up to 20 hours and its USB-C quick charging tech will give you 60 minutes of runtime after a short 10-minute top-up. The upward-firing speaker grilles sport a premium fabric cover for a classy touch. Finally, don’t let moisture get in the way as the IPX4-rated splash-resistance protects your SRS-NB10.

Buy – $149.99

Images courtesy of Sony

Essential Vinyl: 30 Albums Every Record Collector Must Own

Although streaming reigns supreme in the music world, the physical medium has returned with a vengeance. Vinyl record sales have been at an all-time high since the advent of the streaming age. And everyone from…

The post Essential Vinyl: 30 Albums Every Record Collector Must Own first appeared on Cool Material.

Bang & Olufsen imparts an opulent touch to home entertainment with the Beolab 28

Folks enjoying the finer things in life are now seeing a growing selection of options from the world’s leading brands. Bang & Olufsen is a premium audio company that has been spoiling us with a growing lineup of stunning products. Thus, if your home entertainment setup needs an elegant touch, maybe the Beolab 28 will meet your discerning tastes.

As with any product the Danish brand comes up with, these sleek and slim stereo loudspeakers use only the finest materials. Along with outstanding craftsmanship, the Beolab 28 will certainly impress anyone who can pick these out from the room’s décor.

Yes, just like other speakers from Bang & Olufen (both wired or wireless), the aesthetics are intended to double as decorative pieces. Additionally, buyers are even free to personalize their Beolab 28 with a  wide selection of materials, finishes, and mounting options.

The outer cover is fashioned out of wood and is available in Light Oak, Smoked Oak, Walnut, Grey Mélange, and Grey. The inner cover is available in two fabric colorways: Grey Mélange and Grey. Next is the aluminum hardware in Natural, Bronze Tone, and Black Anthracite.

Finally, you can choose between a wall mount base or a freestanding configuration for the Beolab 28. Controls are located at the top of these wireless speakers, but it is also compatible with the Beoremote One BT, Beoremote Halo, and the Bang & Olufsen companion app.

A cool feature is the motorized outer covers which redirect sound based on the user’s preference. It can fill an area anywhere between 150 to 500 square feet with rich acoustics. Also, each Beolab 28 unit houses one 1-inch tweeter, three 3-inch full-range, and one 6.5-inch woofer.

Buy – $14,750

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Images courtesy of Bang & Olufsen

This Beautiful Guitar Amp Will Improve Your Space and Make You a Better Player

If you’re practicing guitar at home, you need an amp. Our current favorite is the Spark Pearl, a special edition of Positive Grids’ #1 best-selling guitar practice amp that adds stylish presence to any room…

The post This Beautiful Guitar Amp Will Improve Your Space and Make You a Better Player first appeared on Cool Material.

Boombox Candle

When it comes to boomboxes, there is no option more iconic than the JVC RC M90–aka The King. Whether it’s the soaring secondary prices, the feature on LL Cool J’s Radio album cover, the presence…

The post Boombox Candle first appeared on Cool Material.

Fender American Acoustasonic Guitars

The past year or so has made it possible for all of us to pick up new hobbies we’ve been putting off forever whether it be painting, bread making, or finally learning to play the…

The post Fender American Acoustasonic Guitars first appeared on Cool Material.

Oppo bolsters its smart wearable catalog with the Enco X earbuds

After making a name for itself with the launch of the Find X, Oppo is becoming one of the leading Android OEMs across the globe. This Chinese brand is competing with the likes of Huawei, Xiaomi, OnePlus, POCO, and Samsung in the mid to flagship ranges. Following its growth, the company announced its foray into smart wearables with a Wear OS smartwatch. Now it’s entering the TWS race with its Enco X earbuds.

At first, we were thinking this might be just one of those average true wireless models. Thankfully, Oppo is not heading in that direction but is instead offering class-leading features with the Enco X. They might know their way around smartphones, but when it comes to high-end audio a little help will go a long way

As such, they are co-developing their firs premium earphones with Dynaudio. With years of experience under their belt, the company sound engineers are sure to deliver the best. The Enco X undergoes extensive testing and recalibrations until it meets their strict standards.

Instead of relying on established codecs such as SBC, aptX, and AAC among others, Oppo is using LHDC. Audio experts point out that this wireless transmission technology retains more detail than the others. Therefore, users will enjoy clarity, dynamic range, and an immersive output.

Another aspect where the Oppo Enco X likewise shines is the triple-microphone setup. This ensures your calls are audible as it filters out unwanted background noise. Average runtime on a single charge is 5.5 hours and up to 25 hours with the charging case. You can grab it in two colors: White or black.

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Images courtesy of Oppo