Review: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Manoj Ramesh Shastri - July 4, 2019

Beats has finally released its latest earphones: the​ ​Powerbeats Pro​, which combine the best of both AirPods and Powerbeats 3 into an excellent product for both everyday use and for working out. Compared to the Apple AirPods, the Powerbeats Pro look large, but there’s a good reason for that; those soft, rubber-like arms are designed to grip your ears securely without making the things too comfortable to wear, despite looking a lot less elegant than the AirPods, these headphones are insanely comfortable. It takes a while to get used to fitting them, but once in place you forget you’re even wearing them. Another thing we really like about the Powerbeats Pro is the fact that both of the earphones have their own set of physical controls. The Powerbeats Pro come in a rather bulky carry case which also acts as a charging dock – a Lightning cable is included in the box, but it matches the colour of your Powerbeats Pro. Powerbeats Pro aren’t totally waterproof, they are splash and sweat resistant, which will be good news for those who plan to use these as their go-to exercise audio. The design of the headphones actually avoids sweat dripping down onto the unit, which is another sign that a tremendous amount of thought has gone into the creation of this product. But, the most annoying thing about the Powerbeats Pro is the charging case. With a product like this, you’d expect a portable, lightweight case. In fact, you get the opposite. It’s unusually large and weighs a relatively hefty 109g without the earbuds and 130g with them inside. In comparison, the AirPod case weighs 38g and 46g respectively. On the plus side, the case holds around two full charges. It’s also worth noting that it charges via a Lightning port, instead of a much more universal USB connector, and that, unlike the latest AirPod case, the Beats case can’t be wirelessly charged. Continue Reading

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Review: Audiofly AF1120 MK2

Manoj Ramesh Shastri - May 20, 2019

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Review: Master & Dynamic MW60 Headphone

Manoj Ramesh Shastri - March 11, 2019

Master and Dynamic are a US-based audio manufacturer that pride themselves on their flawless industrial designs and well-realised tuning. Shortly following the success of their portable over-ear MH40, they promptly released the MW60, its wireless, closed-back counterpart. Alongside wireless connectivity, the MW60 brings a completely redesigned chassis that is more suitable for portable use, but also one that carries the same rigidity and flawless level of finish furthermore, though it uses the same drivers as the MH40, the MW60 sounds different due to a well-considered retune in addition to differing acoustics between their respective semi-open and closed-back designs. At $550 USD, the MW60 does represent a sizable price jump from the already premium MH40, though its exceptionally premium construction and lush sound will surely win buyers over. Master and Dynamic in the past have made some stunning headphones and the fit and finish of their end products is very hard to beat. Even by some of the biggest headphone companies would struggle to match this level of quality.

If you happen to like clean and minimalistic, you will definitely adore the made completely out of high-quality materials this headphone simply oozes luxury and elegance. No plastic to be found, as the MW60’s construction exists out of stainless steel and aluminium. The headband is wrapped in heavy grain leather, which also covers the outer parts of the earcups. On top of that, your ears will be spoiled by the soft lambskin leather earpads. Foldable hinges for easy and compact storage makes the MW60 a pleasure to travel with the MW60’s closed design and the comfortable leather earpads, which completely fit over your ears, gives the user a great seal. Meaning that this is a headphone you can fully enjoy, even when you’re in noisy environments.If you have a big head you can experience a high clamping force. But don’t let this be an issue. As with every headphone, the clamping will loosen up over time. You can always speed up this process by putting the headphones over a large shoebox when you’re not using them or by stretching the headband a little bit.During wear, the MW60 suffers from the same ergonomic niggles as the MH40, even though it’s actually a little lighter at 345g vs 360g. Chiefly, though nicely padded, its thin headband and heavy steel construction tend to form a hotspot after just a few hours of listening. And as with the MH40, I found the MW60 to have quite a narrow range of headband adjustment. I still found a strong seal and the sliders are smooth with unlimited adjustment points, though I just fit the maximum setting (I use a medium setting on most headphones). In return, the headphones fold for storage, becoming considerably more compact.e MW60’s design. Continue Reading

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Review: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9i

Manoj Ramesh Shastri - February 8, 2019

Bang & Olufsen is well known for mixing boutique design with high-end audio engineering. The Danish company’s more consumer friendly offshoot, B&O, tries to cash in on that reputation by enticing audiophiles to splash out on gadgets like its latest Beoplay H9i wireless headphones, Which launched early this year and are the successor to the company’s H9 headphones and they keep up the excellent sound quality of its predecessor, They produce a crisp and clear audio experience that caresses your eardrums rather than pounding them, even at high volumes. They produce a layered sound which will surely satisfy the most finicky of listeners. Their bass is good, but is overly thumpy, which bass fans may appreciate. The mid-range is also good, but their treble is overemphasized and fairly uneven.

Overall, vocals and lead instruments sound thin and a bit pushed back in the mix. Due to their exciting sound profile, these won’t be ideal for vocal-centric music and should be better-suited for bass-heavy genres. Also, low-bass is hyped by about 5dB, indicating that the bass of these headphones is deep and very thumpy, which should be pleasing to fans of bass-heavy genres. However, mid-bass, responsible for the body of bass guitars and kick drums, and high-bass, responsible for warmth, are under our target curve by 3 and 4dB respectively. The mid range performance of the H9i is good. The response throughout the range is decently-balanced, but there is a 10dB tilt favoring higher frequencies, which may make them sound a bit intense. The 4db underemphasis in low-mid will make vocals and lead instruments sound thin, and they may also be nudged to the back of the mix. These have a sub-par treble performance. The response throughout the range is fairly uneven. The dip centered around 6kHz will negatively affect the brightness and detail of some sibilants, but the very high and broad peak around 9-10 kHz will make those frequencies sound overly sharp and piercing, specially on already bright tracks. However, not everyone hears treble frequencies the same way, so your experience may differ. The H9i have a great frequency response consistency. These headphones seems to be using their ANC system to make the delivery of low-end frequencies more consistent. Continue Reading

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Review: Logitech Harmony Elite

Manoj Ramesh Shastri - January 11, 2019

You may know the feeling. The living room table or couch is full of remote controls of various devices, and you always happen to pick up the wrong one. For years, Logitech’s Harmony remote controls have been a solution to this problem and have deservedly dominated the market. With everything trending towards smart homes, however, completely new devices came into play that didn’t exist years ago. The Logitech Harmony Elite is said to have responded to the emergence of the new technology​.​Smart remotes are the next way to simplify your smart home life, but how do you know what the best smart remote control is for your needs? One solid option is the ​Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control​. It connects upto 15 devices at once with a variety of customizable settings to match your individual needs, and doing so is a breeze​.​If you have your device names and model numbers, the set-up is a breeze, and once it connects to the Wi-Fi, the Harmony will even find some of the devices for you.Connecting to Bluetooth devices (such as gaming systems) require additional steps that can all be done through the remote. After communicating to the app on which device you’re using and syncing with the remote, the screen will lay out instructions for proper pairing.

Once you have all of your devices connected, you can customize it all to your individual needs. Even after the initial set-up, it’s easy to go back and make adjustments, either from the remote or from your smartphone. You can make custom favorite buttons on the touch screen so even odd or unusual equipment is accessible to you, no matter what your home set-up may be. If you’re worried that it may be too complicated to set-up, never fear—the app will guide you through the whole selection process, and give you command suggestions. After that, it’s as simple as touching the button you want, with no need to point at the device you want to control. But everything isn’t joyus here, ​The app is slow, confusing and not particularly pleasant to use. Of course, it can do its job, especially when it comes to configuring the remote. But in 2018, the fact that every setting requires seconds of waiting is very inconvenient. And no, it’s not synchronized with the Harmony remote control. This is something Logitech can fix with software updates. Continue Reading

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Review: Luna Display

Manoj Ramesh Shastri - December 10, 2018

Luna Display, the little hardware dongle that turns your iPad into a second display, is now available to consumers. Luna Display was developed by the makers of the Astropad, an iOS app that turns your iPad into a graphics tablet for the Mac, and started out as a crowdfunding project on Kickstarter from the outside, it seems hard to believe that this diminutive little device can deliver on its promise of shifting millions of pixels wirelessly.

To operate the Luna Display, you need to install the Luna Display software on your Mac and on your iPad, and both apps are free. Simply plug in the Luna Display and your Mac will automatically launch the Luna Display app and tell you to launch the iPad app. A note will come on screen to tell you that your displays will blink a few times. It’s good they warn you because it would be a bit disconcerting otherwise. After a few blinks, you’ll see your Mac’s desktop showing on your iPad. The Mac will display a window entitled Luna Display Settings. This settings screen lets you tell the apps whether your iPad is to the left or right of your Mac. That works fine if the iPad is simply sitting on a table next to your notebook.
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Review: Twelve South AirFly

Manoj Ramesh Shastri - October 8, 2018

AirFly from Twelve South lets you use your AirPods or wireless headphones with any wired headphone jack. Say you are on an airplane with in-flight movies or TV—with AirPlay, you can listen wirelessly. If you happen to spend time on a treadmill or stationary bike at the gym, you can listen to TV with your AirPods.The new AirFly is a tiny Bluetooth device smaller than a box of matches and weighs just 15.6g. You can plug any audio source into its 3.5mm socket and once paired with your AirPods or Bluetooth headphones, you can listen wirelessly. Even though AirFly is small, it contains a rechargeable battery that provides power for about eight hours of listening. Pairing your AirPods is a snap and AirFly remembers them so the next time you use them, connecting is simplified. It comes with two 6 inch (15.5CM) cables. One is for charging from any USB charger and the other is a 3.5mm-to-3.5mm audio cable. These cables are short to eliminate cable clutter when in use. It take two hours to fully charge the AirFly, and when fully charged the AirFly lasts about eight hours, there is a single button on the front of the AirFly, used to turn the unit on and off and for pairing. There are two ports on the bottom: Micro-USB for charging, and a headphone jack. Continue Reading

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Review: Amazon Echo

Manoj Ramesh Shastri - March 10, 2018

Back in 2014, Amazon shocked the world with the first Echo smart hub. Five years on, you can find its Alexa smart assistant powering smart hubs in homes around the world. But, despite its ubiquity, the Amazon Echo isn’t the best smart hub (or smart speaker, for that matter) on sale. Its easily-confused AI and middling sound quality mean that there are better options out there. The original Echo was a device that genuinely changed the tech market. Sure, we were all familiar with Siri on iPhones, but the idea of having a voice controlled speaker was new. Since 2014, Amazon has introduced more Echo variations than you can shake a stick at. All of Amazon’s Echo devices are powered by Alexa, the company’s smart assistant. It’ll play music, control your smart home devices, perform internet searches, check the weather, and let you buy products from Amazon, as well as plenty more​ ​bespoke skills​. Continue Reading

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