Proactive Computing | Optimizing IT for usability, performance and reliability since 1997

Category: #AudioGear (Page 1 of 6)

Auto Added by WPeMatico

How to Connect AirPods to an Apple TV

The Apple TV can send audio directly to your AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max wireless headphones, letting you watch videos, play games, or work out with Apple Fitness+ without disturbing anyone else in the room. Here’s how.

Read This Article on How-To Geek ›

Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Tim Brookes

Creative’s Sound Blaster USB-C DAC Can Fix Your Coworker’s Annoying Zoom Audio

When you buy something that claims to have noise cancellation features, it generally means either isolating the audio you hear, or isolating the audio other people hear from your microphone. But Creative Sound Blaster’s PLAY! 4 DAC can take it one step further: cleaning up other people’s crappy microphone audio for your discerning ears.

Read This Article on Review Geek ›

Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Michael Crider

Beats Flex Review: Best Budget Buds

The Beats Flex in black on a black backgroundCameron Summerson

I’ve reviewed a lot of true wireless earbuds over the last year, but it’s been a hot minute since I took a set of neckbuds for a whirl. The Beats Flex have been an excellent reminder that this type of earbud is still such a great choice if you want a solid set of ‘buds that won’t break the bank. They’re excellent for just $50.

Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing amazing or standout about these earbuds. You don’t get ambient mode or ANC. There’s no ear detection. There is, however, automatic play/pause thanks to the magnets that keep the buds together when they’re not in your ears. But otherwise, they’re just a very standard set of wireless earbuds.

The simplicity and low price are what makes the Flex so appealing in the first place, though. They’re a great upgrade from the normal wired earbuds that ship with many phones, like the standard EarPods that used to come with iPhones. If you’re still using an old set of wired buds, this is the best upgrade path for you (assuming you’re not willing to drop at least double the price on a set of true wireless buds, of course). They sound pretty good, are incredibly comfortable, and last about 12 hours on average. That’s a lot of ticked boxes for $50.

Sound Quality: Better Than Basic

The Beats Flex in black on a black matte background, one earbud and the Beats logo in focusCameron Summerson

There was a time when the name “Beats” meant “these headphones have way too much bass.” That time has come and gone (despite the common misconceptions that I still hear about this subject), with the Flex going lighter on bass than most other Beats I’ve heard recently.

That’s not to say they’re missing a defined low end. It’s still very much present, though you may be underwhelmed if you’re the “give me all the bass you can stuff into my brain” type of listener. I find the balance to be very good for most listening purposes, but I personally prefer a bit more low end in music than what the Flex offers. That said, it’s not something I’ve noticed myself missing after just a few minutes of listening to the Flex.

As for treble and midrange, that’s really where these ‘buds have the biggest impact. The balance between the two is very good, with chimey highs and a very well-balanced midrange that leads to an excellent overall listening experience—especially if you like podcasts or watch a lot of videos with earbuds in.

Overall, the Flex sound good. They may be lacking in low end for users who prefer bassier headphones, but the “average” listener can appreciate the overall balance offered here. The cost to sound quality ratio is very good with the Flex.

Comfort: I Forgot How Comfy Neckbuds Can Be

One of the best things about neckbuds is that the actual buds are quite light, which makes for a pretty comfortable fit. True wireless buds have a lot going on under the hood, so they’re often weightier than non-TW earbuds, which leads to more ear fatigue and discomfort.

The Flex are no different here. The buds are light, there’s plenty of length to the connected cord so it doesn’t constantly pull on the buds, and even the controls on either side are lightweight enough that I don’t even notice them. Overall, these are probably some of the most comfortable neckbuds I’ve worn in … well, as long as I can remember, really. A+.

The USB-C charging portCameron Summerson

Speaking of the controls, let’s take a quick look at those. Like pretty much everything else about these, they’re pretty simple. The power button is on the right side, and … that’s literally it. The left side houses the USB-C charging port—a nice departure from other Beats, which rely on Apple’s Lightning cable for charging—the volume rocker and multifunction button. The multifunction button is play/pause with a single press, track forward with a double press, track back with a triple press, and calls up your device’s digital assistant with a long press.

Highlighting the mic, volume rocker, and multifunction button on the left side.The mic, volume rocker, and multifunction button on the left side. Cameron Summerson

Once you get used to wearing the buds, finding the controls becomes second nature. It took me a bit of time to get accustomed to how high up the controls are, but once I figured it out, it was smooth sailing from then on out.

The most bothersome thing I encountered with the controls was turning the buds on. There’s no “powered on” sound, so you have to hold the button for a couple of seconds and hope they turn on. There is, however, a connected tone, so at least you’ll know when they connect. There’s just a weird disconnect between turning them on and waiting for them to connect where it’s not clear if they’re actually on.

Also, there’s an app for Android. (This isn’t really about comfort, but whatever.) It’s also a simple sort of app—there’s no EQ or customizable controls, really. You can toggle the automatic play/pause feature, which also applies to calls. You can also rename the buds if you want. And that’s pretty much all there is to the app. Still, it’s worth having installed—you can use it to quickly see the remaining battery percentage of the buds if nothing else.

As an aside, I also noticed that the buds connected much faster to my Pixel 5 with the app installed, which helps cut down on the previously mentioned power on/connection tone delay. There’s no app for iOS because the features offered here are native on iOS thanks to the M1 chip in the Flex.

Conclusion: Excellent Earbuds for a Fiddy Spot

Highlighting the Beats logo on both earbudsCameron Summerson

I think the best customer for the Beats Flex is anyone looking to replace a set of wired earbuds with something wireless that won’t break the bank doing it. The target audience here isn’t the person looking at AirPods or other true wireless earbuds that are more than twice the cost of the Flex, and the audio quality/features reflect that.

But if you’re in the market for some reliable, comfortable earbuds that sound pretty good and will easily get you through a day, the Beats Flex are your huckleberry.

Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Cameron Summerson

Samsung Wins the Wireless Earbuds War with Retro Clamshell Cellphone Charging Cases


It turns out the big news from last week wasn’t that Samsung finally ditched the bizarre bean design for its wireless earbuds, it’s that the company plans to dominate the ‘kids of the late ‘90s’ demographic with a charging case cover that camouflages the Galaxy Buds Pro as a retro clamshell cellphone.

Read more…

Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Liszewski

Skullcandy Crusher Evo Review: Brain-Rattling Bass

The Skullcandy Crusher Evo headphones in black lying on a white desktopCameron Summerson

Someone less smart than me once said “it’s all about that bass, no treble.” I believe one half of this statement to be true (have you ever listened to music with no treble? No thanks.)—it really is all about the bass. I mean, when it comes to headphones, anyway. And if you like bass, the Skullcandy Crusher Evo are for you.

What makes the Crusher Evo special is a unique “Sensory Bass” slider on the side of the left cup. This in effect allows you to customize the amount of bass in music far beyond what would normally be allowed by a simple software EQ.

With the Sensory Bass slider all the way down, you get the amount of bass a reasonable human being can appreciate. With it all the way up, it can literally rattle your vision. No one needs this much bass. But if you want it, but golly you can have it. I find the sweet spot to be about one-quarter of the way up, which should give you some sort of indication of just how aggressive this slider is. It’s nuts.

And while the bass slider is the Crusher Evo’s standout feature, they honestly sound pretty damn good in their own right, too. I’ve been exceptionally impressed with all the Skullcandy stuff I’ve tried over the last year, and the Crusher Evo is no exception. They’re shockingly well-balanced to be such a bass-heavy set of cans. Even with the bass slider up, it doesn’t drown out other frequencies.

A closeup of the bass slider and charging portThat’s where I keep the slider most of the time. Almost all the way down. Cameron Summerson

My go-to test song for headphones is Fireflies by Owl City (ugh), and I was surprised at just how well the Crusher Evos responded to the chorus. The bass is obviously present, but all the little nuances throughout the chorus are still very present and represented. Despite being very bassy, the balance is excellent.

Similarly, Widower by Make Them Suffer, one of my favorite tracks on my headphone testing playlist, really displays how articulate these cans can be. It’s a heavy-as-a-tank sort of track with low guitars and growling vocals juxtaposed by chimey, pristine piano and strong double-bass drums. Everything comes through beautifully (well, as beautiful as a song this heavy can be, anyway). The extra bass hit at the start and end of the chorus is not just present but bone rattling. I love it.

So, while the bass slider is what makes these headphones unique, they’re not just a one trick pony. They genuinely sound good.

Fit and Features

It’s uncharacteristic for me to start a headphone review with the audio section, but since the bass slider is the main selling point of these particular cans, it just made sense to me. As with most headphones, though, the audio quality is just one piece of the “are these really good?” puzzle—there’s also the fit and available features to consider.

A closeup of the padding on the earcupCameron Summerson

When it comes to fit, these are around-ear headphones, which is almost always my preference for headphones since they don’t crush (heh) my ears. The cup pads are comfortable enough for extended wearing and don’t mess with my glasses, both of which are big wins in my book. The padding on the band it s a little denser than the cups, but still soft enough to be comfortable on my bald head. Band padding is important when you don’t have built-in padding on your head. 😉

As for the layout, aside from the bass slider, these are pretty straightforward. Volume and play/pause are on the right cup, with the power button, bass slider, and USB-C charging port on the left. There’s also a 3.5mm audio jack for wired listening. Nothing really special going on here—just the standard affair. It works. It’s fine.

A closeup of the bandCameron Summerson

Like many other recent Bluetooth headphones, the Crusher Evo features a personalized sound profile option that will fine-tune the audio experience for your ears. It’s a quick audio test that then builds an optimized audio experience. While I didn’t find the difference to be dramatic, it’s definitely noticeable. They sound better with my personalized profile enabled, with more audible frequency ranges hitting the ol’ eardrums than without the feature enabled. I recommend using it—you can get it in the Skullcandy app (Android/iOS).

So, what is the Crusher Evo missing? One standout feature for many users: Active Noise Cancelling. In order to get ANC and all the other features in the Crusher Evo, you’ll need to step up to the Crusher ANC, which cost $120 more (retail pricing). It’s a pricey upgrade to be sure, and I find the passive noise isolation of the Evo to be enough for my use. If ANC and an insane amount of bass are must-haves for you, then the Crusher ANC may be worth the extra money.

Tip: I’ve seen the Crusher ANC as low as $200 in the past, so if you’re vigilant you can score a solid deal. The black model is only $210 at the time of writing!


A white mannequin head wearing a solid white mask and the Crusher EvoThat’s Brian. He helps me test headphones on occasion. He also likes the Crusher Evo. Cameron Summerson

Between the on-the-fly bass adjustment that can rattle your skull enough to alter your vision, the excellent 40-hour battery life, good overall sound quality, and comfort for long periods of time, I’m sold on the Crusher Evo. They’re a fantastic set of cans, especially for the price—they retail for $199, but are generally $180 or less on Amazon, where they also have a five-star rating. That tells me I’m not alone in my assessment—these are just good cans.

Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Cameron Summerson

What Is a Headphone Amplifier, and Do You Need One?

Headphone amplifiers are among the most misunderstood products in audio. They aren’t magical, and to the average person, they’re no more useful than a paperweight. But some wired headphones actually require a dedicated amplifier to reach their full potential, leading to an unbelievable improvement in sound quality. If your fancy new headphones sound a little underwhelming, a headphone amp could be the fix you’re looking for.

Read This Article on Review Geek ›

Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

Fender packs Mustang tones inside its new personal guitar amplifier

a3c15070-5597-11eb-9e1d-0bc5438654eaFender is launching the Mustang Micro, a new personal guitar amplifier that uses tones sourced from Mustang’s range of GTX amps. Like so many personal amps, the box is designed to plug into your guitar, from which you can tee off with wired or Blueto…

Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By:

The Gear New Streamers Need Before Hitting “Live”

Streaming is loads of fun, but it’s not exactly something you can just jump into. There’s a lot to take into account when it comes to streaming, from the software you’re using to the hardware currently in your PC. It can be a lot to research if you want to do it right, but don’t worry—we’ve got the basics covered for you.

Read This Article on Review Geek ›

Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Eric Schoon

AirPods Max review: Expensive headphones with untapped potential

5c3b6610-4493-11eb-befb-0b1948212105The AirPods Max weren’t exactly a well-kept secret. Rumors that Apple was working on a set of high-end over-ear headphones have been making the rounds since 2018. In fact, we pretty much knew what they would look like and how they would be built. Sti…

Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By:

How to Control Noise Cancellation on AirPods Pro With a Shortcuts Widget

You can toggle noise canceling on AirPods Pro using the Force Sensor on the stem of the AirPods Pro, or tapping the button in Control Center. Or you can do it right from the home screen on iPhone or iPad using the Shortcuts widget.

Read This Article on How-To Geek ›

Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Khamosh Pathak

« Older posts