Category Archives: Audio

Dali iO-6 Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Review – new headphones from high end audio company Dali

The Dali iO is luxurious wireless headphones – designed and developed in Denmark. With class-leading battery time, audio comfort and sound performance.

DALI, Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries, grew out of Scandinavia’s leading audio retail chain in 1983. Dalie strive to create loudspeakers with outstanding performance and “natural sound” at competitive prices.

In 2019, DALI offers an exciting range of speakers to suit every taste from the cost-conscious SPEKTOR series to the high-performance speaker EPICON 8. Dali has over one million satisfied customers in more than 70 countries.

A key contributing factor to DALI’s superiority is exclusive DALI driver units designed and developed from scratch by their Danish engineers and produced in their own controlled facilities. With their unique driver technologies they are able to design and build speaker systems that makes it possible for listeners to hear their favourite music exactly as the artists intended.

So the Dali iO continues its tradition with a wireless headphone that is built for extended listening with a comfortable, durable design and a natural transparent sound that never tires.

Dali have released the i04 and i06. The i06 have active noise cancellation and retail for around 399 euros. I have already reviewed the Dali iO-4 headphones. Clickhere.

What is really interesting about the new headphones, is that Dali didn’t go and re badge a Chinese headphone, they designed, built and manufactured everything from scratch. The headphones are in essence a Dali loudspeaker, miniaturised on the ear. What they did do, was buy Sony’s noise cancellation tech for the i06. So you actually have the best of both worlds with this version.

So what is my verdict on these new headphones? Go take a look now!

More info on Dali products on Amazon!

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Belkin RockStar iPhone Headphones with Lightning Connector Review – also in USB C

Welcome to my review of the Belkin RockStar iPhone Headphones with Lightning Connector. These are also available with a USB C termination. The Belkin Rockstar retail for around £40 and are available in white and black finishes.

The Key Features and Specifications

– Listen to music and take calls from your iPhone without an adapter
– Designed for Apple LIGHTNING devices without audio port, including iPhone XS, XS max, XR, x, 8, 8 Plus, 7, 7 Plus/ iPad Pro 10. 5-Inch, 9. 7-Inch and more
– Mfi-certified for compatibility with iOS devices
– Tangle-free, flat, lightweight cable keep headphones from bunching up
– Sweat and Splash-Resistant

Review

Conclusion

An upgrade to the in the box earphones. A pleasant sound with a slight V shape. Recommended.

Useful Links

More info and the latest pricing on Amazon – Belkin Rockstar Earphones.

Jabra Elite 85h Over Ear Wireless Headphones with ANC Review & Comparison

Welcome to my review of the Jabra Elite 85h Over Ear Headphones with automatic noise cancellation and SmartSound Technology. The headphones retail for around £279.

The Key Features and Specification

– SmartSound: Audio that automatically adapts to your surroundings
– Block unwanted background noise with Smart Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)
– 36 hours battery life with ANC on
– On-ear detection; Elite 85h will recognise when you remove them from your ears, auto-playing when you put them on and auto-pausing when you take them off
– Access your voice assistant with one touch for instant, Amazon Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant
– Rain-resistant with a 2 years water and dust warranty
– Personalise the headphones with the Jabra Sound+ app-access SmartSound features, customise music profiles, choose your voice assistant, track battery usage, firmware and more
– Enhanced 8-microphone technology for a superior call experience

Review

Conclusion

The Jabra Elite 85h are a comfortable pair of headphones with superb mics for calls and more. The noise cancellation is flexible, enabling you to listen to music while conducting a conversation with someone in the office! Highly recommended.

Useful Links

More info and latest pricing on Amazon – Jabra Elite 85h

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancellation Earphones Long Term Review & Comparison

Welcome to my long term review of the Sony WF-1000XM3 true wireless earphones with noise cancellation. The earphones retail for around £219.

The Key Features and Specifications

– Digital Noise Cancelling with HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1e and Dual Noise Sensor Technology
– AAC and SBC codecs
– Up to 24 hours battery life
– USB C for the case
– DSEE HX
– Firmware upgradeable with Sony Headphone app
– Bluetooth 5, NFC

Review

Conclusion

Overall an unbelievable set of wireless earphones. If you travel and need noise cancelling, these are the earphones to get. Highly recommended.

Useful Links

More info and latest pricing on Amazon – Sony WF-1000XM3.

Dali i04 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones Review – An Unbelievable 60 hours Playback Time!

The Dali iO is luxurious wireless headphones – designed and developed in Denmark. With class-leading battery time, audio comfort and sound performance.

DALI, Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries, grew out of Scandinavia’s leading audio retail chain in 1983. Dalie strive to create loudspeakers with outstanding performance and “natural sound” at competitive prices.

In 2019, DALI offers an exciting range of speakers to suit every taste from the cost-conscious SPEKTOR series to the high-performance speaker EPICON 8. Dali has over one million satisfied customers in more than 70 countries.

A key contributing factor to DALI’s superiority is exclusive DALI driver units designed and developed from scratch by their Danish engineers and produced in their own controlled facilities. With their unique driver technologies they are able to design and build speaker systems that makes it possible for listeners to hear their favourite music exactly as the artists intended.

So the Dali iO continues its tradition with a wireless headphone that is built for extended listening with a comfortable, durable design and a natural transparent sound that never tires.

Dali have released at IFA 2019 to headphones, the i04 and i06. Both are the same in every regard, except the i06 have active noise cancellation. When these go on sale, they will cost 299 and 399 euros respectively.

What is really interesting about the new headphones, is that Dali didn’t go and re badge a Chinese headphone, they designed, built and manufactured everything from scratch. The headphones are in essence a Dali loudspeaker, miniaturised on the ear. What they did do, was buy Sony’s noise cancellation tech for the i06. So you actually have the best of both worlds with this version.

So what is my verdict on these new headphones? Go take a look now!

More info on Dali products on Amazon!

Braun Audio returns with the reinvention of its classic LE speakers from 1959 – full info

After 28 years away from the audio category, Braun Audio marks its return with a timeless reinvention of its classic LE speakers from 1959.

The LE range comprises of three speakers, the LE01, LE02 and LE03, and will be available to purchase in black or white from October. The perfect combination of form and function, the range is eye-catching without being intrusive: offering the perfect balance of unparalleled performance in a minimalist form, showcasing the rigour of German craftsmanship. The clear, precise Braun sound of today has been achieved through the implementation of a bespoke developed DSP (Digital Signal Processing) pipeline in conjunction with high power ARM computing cores. It is then hand-tuned in Germany by a world-class audio engineering team.

As the LE 1 of 1959 utilised audio technologies widely upheld to be the best available of the time, the reimagined LE series leverages the cutting-edge of today’s advanced audio technologies. Balanced Mode Radiators (BMRs) used in the new LE speakers are key to delivering their exceptional audio reproduction. BMRs uniquely combine wide vertical and horizontal dispersion to deliver a near 180-degree soundstage, meaning that the units are always easy to position without the worry of a specific sweet spot of traditional speakers. Custom designed ultra-low-profile woofers, with powerful neodymium motors and rigid lightweight aluminium cones, offer a highly detailed and transient bass performance aligned with bespoke passive bass radiators. Rather than simply use off the shelf, motor-less, passive bass radiators, Braun’s engineering team has developed bespoke, high-mass and high-excursion, parts that tune the speakers to deliver exceptionally deep and punchy bass within the LE range’s slim cabinet design.

These have a dual progressive linear-suspension construction for increased control and reduced distortion. In conjunction with the LE range’s woofers and passive radiators, the use of BMRs enable truly roomfilling performance for each model of the new LE speakers. With latest generation class-D amplifiers and switching power-supplies, BMRs and low-profile aluminium high-excursion woofers mated to customised passive bass radiators, the Braun LE range delivers 21st century audio clarity, sound dispersion and bandwidth commensurate with the timeless, slim-form LE loudspeaker design.

The LE speakers have multi-room functionality, as well as ability to be wirelessly stereo paired. Individually, when positioned in landscape mode, LE01 and LE02 will perform as perfect integrated stereo speakers. When in portrait orientation, using floor stands or wall mounts, they can be configured into a stereo pair with each speaker assuming single audio channel duties (left or right). Placement EQ settings in the mobile app will tailor the playback dependent on where the speaker is in the room to achieve the authentic Braun sound. The Braun Audio app, available for iOS and Android, will also allow for additional manual fine-tuning to deliver preferred levels of bass and treble. The LE series offers more than a premium sound experience. With the Google Assistant built-in, you can play music, find answers on Google Search, manage everyday tasks and easily control smart devices around your home – just by using your voice.

The range features the latest solution for voice control performance: TalkTo by DSP Concepts. TalkTo utilises Multichannel Acoustic Echo Canceller software, which cancels out noise from the speaker so the microphones can accurately hear the user’s voice. This works in conjunction with the TalkTo Adaptive Interference Canceller, which cancels out noise produced by sources external to the speaker e.g. an air conditioner or television set. While voice assistants offer many modern conveniences, there are times when privacy is required.

Exemplifying Braun’s values of honest design, the LE range has been engineered to ensure voice control is always on your terms. Each speaker has a dedicated privacy button that physically disconnects the microphones, guaranteeing complete peace of mind. When privacy mode is enabled, the button and LEDs on the front of the speaker illuminate and are subtly visible from anywhere in the room.

With Chromecast built-in, the LE range supports over 300 streaming services, while regular software updates ensure system longevity. Each speaker’s premium machined aluminium casing is beautiful to the touch, while being highly durable. Their simple, minimalist button configuration and LED sequences are intuitive and embody the perfect blend of aesthetics and utility. This considered design extends to accessories like wall mounts and floor stands, which elegantly resolve cable management and offer the flexibility of placement around the home.

My review will be coming in due course.

Sony unveils WF-1000XM3 its truly wireless flagship noise-cancelling earbuds – Full Details incl video

Sony’s flagship noise-cancelling headphones, the WH-1000XM3 are the best noise cancelling/hi res wireless headphones on the market. Now Sony is adding another member to the family in the form of true wireless earphones.

Sony took the naming convention from the WH-1000XM3 and called its new flagship earphone the similarly Sony WF-1000XM3. Sony is promising the same quality as its WH-1000XM3.

So how do these new true wireless earphones work. Well a pair of external microphones are located on each bud and feed external noise to the dedicated QN1e noise-cancelling chip. This chip is an upgrade on the WH-1000XM3’s QN1 chip, where it intelligently blocks out background noise and ambience.

This chip is responsible for 24-bit digital-to-audio conversion.Sony has also adopted Apple’s AirPod connection arrangement, whereby both buds connect directly to the device, instead of one bud connecting to the device, and then the other buds connects to that bud. This should provide a stable connection.

6 hours battery life, 3 more full charges from the case, providing 24 hours in total. A 10 min quick charge provides 90 mins usage.

Price. Expensive. Around $230.

Image credits – Sony

Powerbeats Pro vs AirPods vs Samsung Galaxy Buds

Welcome to my review and comparison of the Powerbeats Pro wireless earphones. These are then compared to the AirPods and Samsung Galaxy Buds.

Airpods

– physical size – smallest, weight 4 grams each airpod case is 40 grams, one size fits all, may not fit you , only in white.
– no need to tap, just say Hey Siri , use Siri to raise volume etc.
– charging, qi wireless an option, 5 hours or 3 hours of calls, case holds total 24 hours battery life, can get a version with a qi wireless case, lightning cable otherwise.
– quick charge – 15 minutes in the case equals up to 3 hours of listening time4 or up to 2 hours of talk time.
– connection Apple H1 headphone chip, AirPods use optical sensors and motion accelerometers to detect when they’re in your ears. Whether you’re using both AirPods or just one, the H1 chip automatically routes the audio and engages the microphone. And when you’re on a call or talking to Siri, an additional speech-detecting accelerometer works with beamforming microphones to filter out external noise and focus on the sound of your voice.
– ease of use – easy pairing on Apple gear, than synced over icloud to all other Apple gear, quick switching, pairs to android, easily too with button, can use individually
– noise cancellation – none.
– audio quality – clear and crisp, good for audio books, voice calls excellent, very low latency.
– Cost £170 without qi case , £200 with the case.

Powerbeats Pro

– physical size – largest of bunch, huge case, Ear tips with four size options, in black and other colours soon, comfy due to design, wont fall out.

– press and hold Beats button on either side for voice assistant
– no need to tap , hey siri built in, other voice assistant like those on android, just press the Beats button.
– Charging – no wireless charging – 9 hours time , 5 mins quick charge gives 1.5 hours battery, Lightning to USB-A charging cable
– connection again Apple H1 headphone chip enhanced phone call performance and call handling from either earbud, easy pairing on apple gear, syncs across icloud
– ease of use – adjustable, secure-fit earhooks for lightweight comfort and stability
– reinforced design for sweat and water resistance during tough workouts, each side has exact same controls
– passive noise cacellations
– voice clarity on calls is excellent, the best of 3
– audio quality the best of all 3. balanced sound with a slight bass , very low latency
– Cost £220

Galaxy Buds

– physiscal size – middle of the road, ear tips in box, and wing tips, dont need them as comfy to wear and stay in.

– press and hold touch button for voice assistnat
– charging – either using cradle with usb a, or qi charging , 15 mins gets 1.5 hours
– connection – 6 hours , then another 7 hours with case
– connection – excellent, occassionally drop , easy pairing with samsung app, app does fimwares, had two, equaliser options, dynamic is best, and ambient sound option as well.
– ease of use – touch controls, can be configured, splash resistant
– passive noise cancellation
– poor voice call clarity outside
– good audio, some latency, more on some phones than others.
– cost £130 although deals are even lower

Video Review

Conclusion

The Powerbeats Pro are the best wireless earphones that cover all the basics and provide a good audio quality. Recommended.

Useful Links

Powerbeats Pro Latest info & pricing on Amazon UK

AirPods latest info & pricing on Amazon UK

Samsung Galaxy Buds latest info & pricing

Sennheiser debuts its first wireless gaming headset, the GSP 670 – Full Details

The low-latency technology, developed by Sennheiser, ensures that you experience a stable, uninterrupted near-zero delay connection that you can always rely on for PC and PlayStation® 4. Thanks to additional Bluetooth® connectivity, the headset can be paired simultaneously to compatible devices such as smartphones or tablets. Pick up calls at the touch of a button and get seamlessly switched back to the low-latency connection and your game when you hang up.

The speaker system of the GSP 670 combines over 70 years of audio know-how, while fulfilling the needs of a modern gaming headset. The result is a warm deep bass without compromising the mid-range and high frequencies. This allows you to hear every detail and react even faster. Customize the sound to your liking with the Sennheiser Gaming Suite and turn on 7.1 Surround Sound for the ultimate audio experience.

With over 20 hours run time over Bluetooth® 5, and 16 hours using the low-latency connection, the battery life of the GSP 670 will last for even the longest gaming session. In case the GSP 670 runs out of battery, you can simultaneously game and charge for uninterrupted game play. The USB quick charge allows for two hours of wireless usage after only seven minutes of charging.

The GSP 670 features the best in class microphone. Developed in house the advanced noise-cancelling microphone minimizes background noise. The flexible boomarm can be adjusted to any head shape for optimal pick up, ensuring that you will be transmitting in broadcast quality. To mute, simply lift the boomarm and you’re off the air.

Sennheiser Headphones on Amazon UK.

iFi Audio xCan Portable Power Amp vs iFi Audio xDSD Portable DAC Amp – Review & All the Differences!

Welcome to my review and comparison between the iFi Audio xCAN and xDSD.

Intro – What are they?

xCAN is a dual-mono portable headphone amplifier with up to 1,000mW of power per channel plus it also includes bluetooth. It retails for £299.

xDSD is portable headphone amp DAC that can playback high-quality digital audio file formats. Hi-Res True Native playback for all music formats from MP3 to DSD512, PCM768 and 2xDXD. It retails for £399.

Connections

xCAN – digital SPDIF or via analogue 2.5/3.5mm jack connection. iFi’s S-Balanced technology means that you gain the advantages of a balanced connection even when using an unbalanced one.

xDSD only 3.5mm jack using iFi’s S-Balanced® circuit delivers maximum performance from single-ended and balanced headphones alike. You can connect to Apple devices using the CCK Lightning to USB adapter. The design of the xDSD allows for a secure fit. See video below for more info. The 3.5mm coaxial/TOSLINK combo SPDIF input allows connections to older DAPs and CD players.

Extra Features

xCAN 3D+® opens up your music to give you the spaciousness of a live-concert atmosphere. and XBass Ⅱ® analogue bass correction system corrects headphone/speaker bass response to deliver a more natural sound to the midrange frequencies.
xDSD has 3D+ and the original XBass+

xCAN uses the parent company AMR’s Global Master Timing® (GMT)/ Memory Buffer System. solves the problem of digital SPDIF jitter.

xCAN USB C to charge
xDSD micro USB to charge

Bluetooth

xCAN – ESS Sabre 44.1/48k 16-Bit (AAC, aptX, aptX LL and SBC)
xDSD – AAC & APT-X

Battery

xCAN – 18 hours, 12 hours with bluetooth
xDSD 10 hours

Power

xCAN upto 1,000mw in balanced at 32 ohms, 6 volts max too (3 volts in s balanced mode/ 600mw)
xDSD upto 500mw but at 16 ohms, 270mw at 50 ohms, remember xCAN was 1,000mw at 32 ohms so significantly more powerful. Max voltage 3.8 volts.

Weight

xCAN / xDSD both weigh 127g

Sound Quality

xCAN the extra oomph really make the xCan squeeze every last drop out of your headphones. From my Fiio FA7 and AKG and Sennheiser HD600, all sounded excellent. Excellent bass extension, seperations and more. Genres from dance, classical and jass , rock all handled with aplomb. Like everything, all depends on the quality of the source, but then there is bluetooth. This is a good sounding option, iFi have gone to a lot of trouble to get the best sonically. Not all Bluetooth is made equally. Highly convienant having bluetooth. Having the Xbass and 3D+ really is a godsend too. Some headphones like my AKG really benefit from a slight bass boost.

For an extra £100.

xDSD gives you a decent DAC with good amp but not as powerful as the xCAN. However, partnering both together will bring a big smile on your face.

Of course, if you want a great DAC but extreme power to drive any headphone, iFi Audio have you covered with the micro iDSD Black Label, with a max of 10 volts, 4,000mW of power at 16 ohms. This costs £599, is much bigger but still portable.

Video Review and Comparison

Conclusion

The iFi Audio xCAN is a fantastic portable headphone amplifier and highly recommended. If you need a decent DAC and amp then look no further than the xDSD.

Useful Links

For more information and specs, click on the respective links below.

xCAN on Amazon UK
xDSD on Amazon UK
Micro iDSD Black Label on Amazon UK