Posts Tagged

Ears

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2: A Bombproof Bluetooth Speaker

Portable Bluetooth speakers have become ubiquitous, and none are more recognizable than the popular Ultimate Ears (UE) Boom range.

The UE Wonderboom 2 is an upgrade on the original Wonderboom we thoroughly reviewed in 2018


Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Review: The Toughest Speaker Around




Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Review: The Toughest Speaker Around


Read More

. The older version has excellent sound, battery life, and is nigh on indestructible.

This ruggedness seems to be front and center on the upgraded model. It retains its IP67 dustproof/waterproof rating even when the flap protecting the charging port is left open.

UE Wonderboom 2 Waterproof Speaker

The Wonderboom 2 might seem like a great case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The $99.99 price hasn’t changed and it looks very similar to the original Wonderboom.

Despite this, there are a few notable upgrades. The Wonderboom 2 is slightly larger than the original measuring 10.4 cm high with a 9.5 cm diameter. This is to house an upgraded battery claiming up to 13 hours playtime—30% more than it’s predecessor.

Another reason given for the larger frame was an upgrade to the speaker for better bass response. The punchy 360 sound of the original remains, with no distortion until you reach close to max volume.

A new addition is the Outdoor Boost mode, triggered using a button on the bottom. More than just a volume boost, it also equalizes the sound to take into account the lack of reflections from indoor walls.

UE Wonderboom 2 Outdoor Boost

UE Wonderboom 2 speakers can be paired to give true stereo. If you have an original Wonderboom, they can chain together—though you won’t get an actual stereo experience.

A notable omission for some might be the charging port. The Wonderboom 2 retains its microUSB port, and in the age where USB-C is king, this might be a mild annoyance.

In use, the Wonderboom 2 sounds excellent and feels as rugged as it looks. The IFA 2019 show floor had several models, along with a tank of water to dunk them in, and a dust tank to bury them in. We were also encouraged to drop them on the show floor while in use—in short, they were confident!

This speaker isn’t going toe-to-toe with any piece of home hi-fi gear, but then again it’s not designed for that. In our review of the original Wonderboom it survived being parked on by a car. The upgraded model looks every bit as tough.

If you are looking for a near unbreakable portable speaker under $100, the UE Wonderboom 2 is going to be tough to beat.



Source link

The Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Is the Speaker I’d Make If I Made Speakers – Review Geek

Rating:
9/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $99

The Wonderboom 2 next to the OnePlus 7 Pro.
Cameron Summerson

The new Wonderboom 2 ($100) from Ultimate Ears is a killer little Bluetooth speaker that packs a lot of punch for its tiny size. It sounds great, lasts forever, and is probably bombproof. It’s a winner all around.

Here’s What We Like

  • Excellent size
  • Waterproof and robust
  • Battery lasts forever
  • Great sound for its size

And What We Don’t

  • Charges over microUSB instead of USB-C

Ultimate Ears and JBL have long been my favorite brands on the Bluetooth speaker scene, with the JBL Charge 2+ being my go-to option for the last several years. But the new Wonderboom 2 from UE finally unseated my trusty Charge as my new favorite little speaker. It’s the best balance of portability, sound quality, battery life, and robustness I’ve ever seen (and heard). It’s the speaker I’d design if I designed speakers.

Right out of the box, I was admittedly skeptical of the Wonderboom 2’s tiny stature. But those concerns were quickly put to rest as I fired it up and started jamming to the same test playlist I’ve been using on speakers and headphones for years. For being so small, this speaker packs a surprisingly big punch.

Despite its short, tubby build, the Wonderboom 2 provides rich sound quality—more bass than one normally expects from a speaker of this size, along with equally as impressive high- and mid-response. The overall clarity and range of this speaker can’t be overstated—it sounds shockingly big for being so small. It also gets quite loud, although, maybe not loud enough for big, open spaces. But UE has a solution for that: Outdoor Mode.

The button to activate Outdoor Mode on the Wonderboom 2.
The Outdoor Mode button—it’s a little tree. Cameron Summerson

There’s a button on the bottom of the speaker with a little tree on it. Once activated, it increases the speaker’s overall volume and frequency response. This mode reduces bass, while upper mids and highs become more present; this allows the speaker to push more sound without distorting (read: it’s a lot louder). It’s a super cool feature—especially because it’s easily toggled at the touch of a button.

Speaking of buttons, let’s talk about the others found across the top and front of the device. The front houses two huge volume buttons (up and down, heh) that also serve as a battery life indicator when pressed together. The top has three buttons: a Bluetooth button for pairing, a power button, and a multifunction Play/Pause/Skip Track button in the center. I’m always happy to see media controls present on speakers, as I might not always be able to use my phone to control playback. Good on UE for throwing this little button the Wonderboom 2.

The top of the Wonderboom 2.
The Wonderboom 2’s top buttons. Cameron Summerson

Since I brought it up, let’s talk about the Wonderboom 2’s battery life, which can only be summed up as insane. I charged the speaker when I first got it, and it hasn’t hit the charger since. I initially tried to keep track of how many hours of use I got out of it (as I do with most reviews), but I lost track around hour 20 or so. It’s probably sitting at around 24-26 hours of playback at a consistent 1/3-1/2 volume, which is next-level impressive. Of course, you can expect less time the higher the volume gets (and even less with Outdoor Mode enabled), but even then, you’re probably looking at a minimum of 10 hours. The thing just never stops. The worst thing about the battery? It charges over micro USB. It’s time for manufacturers to stop doing this—USB-C is the future.

The Wonderboom 2's microUSB port
The Wonderboom 2 uses a micro USB port for charging, which is a shame. Cameron Summerson

Finally, I love the overall size of the Wonderboom 2, which stands at just over 4 inches in height, with a circumference of around 3.75 inches. This might be the weirdest thing I’ve ever said in a review, but I really enjoy holding the Wonderboom 2—it fits perfectly in my hand. It’s a strange sensation to enjoy holding a speaker, but here we are.

The speaker’s weight comes in right at 425 grams according to my scale, which is just a bit heavier than an unopened can of soda (around 370 grams). In other words, tossing it in your bag is no big deal, because it’s not very heavy.

Holding the Wonderboom.
I like to hold it, okay? Cameron Summerson

Overall, the Wonderboom 2 from Ultimate Ears is one of the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy right now—especially, at this size. It’s a great buy at the $100 retail price, but you can pick one up right now for $80, which is a bargain for such a great little speaker.

Here’s What We Like

  • Excellent size
  • Waterproof and robust
  • Battery lasts forever
  • Great sound for its size

And What We Don’t

  • Charges over microUSB instead of USB-C





Source link

Why Do Noise Canceling Headphones Hurt My Ears?

A lady peels off her noise canceling headphones and grimaces from the pain.
Gang Liu/Shutterstock

Does your new pair of noise-canceling headphones put a painful feeling of “pressure” on your ears? It turns out that your mind is playing tricks on you.

Over the last decade, noise-canceling headphones have become more common, more affordable, and more effective. But as headphones become better at filtering out external sounds, more and more people complain that they cause ear pain, headaches, and a feeling of inner-ear “pressure.” These complaints date back further than 2009, so why hasn’t this issue been resolved yet? Well, first, we have to understand how noise-canceling headphones work.

ANC Headphones Listen to External Noises and Cancel Them Out

Contrary to popular belief, active noise canceling (or ANC) headphones don’t block out noise by physically shielding your ear from external sound waves. They aren’t like fluffy shooter’s earmuffs; they’re just small pieces of plastic. So how do ANC headphones cancel out sound?

Like light, sound travels through the air in “waves.” And just as different frequencies of light are recognized as different colors, different frequencies of sound are perceived as different pitches.

The thing is, sound is a “pressure wave.” Unlike light, sound is capable of moving through solid objects, like walls, water, and a plastic pair of headphones. Low-frequency sound waves are especially good at moving through solid objects (think of a bass drum), but high-frequency sounds (like the nasty sound of a CRT TV) aren’t that great at moving through objects.

A diagram showing how noise cancellation works
Wikipedia

So, ANC headphones aim to eliminate low-frequency sounds. They do this by monitoring your noise environment with a built-in microphone, identifying the frequencies of said noises, and blasting your ears with an anti-noise wave that cancels out the unwanted external sounds.

This sounds complicated, but it’s easy to understand. An anti-noise wave is basically a mirror version of the sound that your headphones are trying to eliminate. It’s the same frequency (pitch) of the unwanted noise, but with a reversed polarity (again, a mirror version). When two sounds with opposite polarities meet one another, they’re both canceled out. It’s weird, but that’s science.

Why Do My Ears Feel “Pressure” On an Airplane?

Okay, so ANC headphones cancel noise by pumping an anti-noise wave into your ears. But why do they hurt people’s ears and cause headaches?

Most people describe the feeling of ANC headphones as a sort of “pressure” on the ears, like the changes in atmospheric pressure from ascending in an airplane or diving deep into the ocean. So, it’s important to understand how air pressure works (and its relationship with sound perception) before we try to figure out why ANC headphones put “pressure” on your ears.

Atmospheric pressure (also called air pressure and barometric pressure) is the force extended on a surface by its atmosphere. Gravity from our Earth is constantly pulling atmosphere down, so the air in low altitude climates (the bottom of the ocean) is denser than high altitude climates (a mountaintop or an airplane in flight).

Now, atmospheric density isn’t what causes painful pressure in your ears. That feeling of “pressure” is caused the difference between the air pressure of your inner ears and the air pressure of your environment. If you’re at a high altitude, then the air in your ears wants to escape. If you’re at a low altitude and under a ton of pressure, your inner ears need more air so that they won’t collapse. When you “pop” your ears, you’re just equalizing your in-ear air pressure with the air pressure of your environment, and the feeling of “pressure” goes away.

ANC Headphones Don’t Put “Pressure” On Your Ears

But your brain doesn’t just rely on ear pain and headaches to determine when there’s a change in atmospheric pressure. It also looks at how much your middle ear vibrates.

When you first go up in an airplane, your ear has more air density than your environment. As a result, your inner ear is a bit like a balloon, it’s under a lot of pressure, and it doesn’t vibrate much. This lack of vibration results in decreased low-frequency hearing, so your brain tends to operate under the assumption that a loss in low-frequency hearing indicates a change in atmospheric pressure. (This is also the reason why you can hear better in a plane after popping your ears.)

A man enjoying the sweet sound of his noise canceling headphones
Kite_rin/Shutterstock

Remember how ANC headphones aim to cancel out low-frequency ambient noises, like the sound of an engine? Sometimes, this can trick your brain into perceiving a change in air pressure.

Of course, your brain isn’t actually receiving any feelings of pain or discomfort. So, it starts to emulate those feelings to encourage you to pop your ears. Since popping your ears doesn’t resolve the lack of low-frequency ambient sound, the sense of pain and pressure can increase until you take off your ANC headphones.

Some People Aren’t Built for ANC Headphones

Some people don’t experience any discomfort while using ANC headphones. Others get used to the feeling over time, but some people can’t get past the sense of “pressure” that ANC headphones can cause.

So, if your brand new pair of ANC headphones are causing a feeling of “pressure,” ear pain, jaw pain, and headaches, then your options for dealing with the situation are minimal. You could use the headphones for about 15 minutes and hope that your brain adjusts, or you could return the headphones and reinvest your money into sound isolating earbuds or some shooting earmuffs to put over put over a regular pair of earbuds.

Just keep in mind that, even if a feeling of pain is “made up” by your brain, that doesn’t make the pain any less real. If your brain refuses to adjust to a pair of ANC headphones, then you should leave it at that. There’s no reason to torture yourself (or potentially hurt yourself) just for the sake of blocking out ambient noise while you listen to podcasts.

Sources: The Friedel Chronicles/Medium, Wikipedia, Starkey





Source link

A $263 Nintendo Switch, a $675 iPhone X, an $80 Ultimate Ears Alexa-Enabled – Review Geek

An iPhone X, a Nintendo Switch Console, and a Ultimate Ears BLAST Bluetooth Speaker
Apple, Nintendo, Ultimate Ears

Right now, the internet’s full of crazy deals and discounts. These deals range from a $42 Alexa-Enabled car charger to a $250 50″ 4K smart TV, but as always, we’ve picked out a few favorites.

If you’ve been holding out on the Nintendo Switch, now’s the time to bite the bullet. Rakuten is selling the Nintendo Switch console for just $263 (with coupon code SAVE15). If you aren’t into gaming, then you should check out Best Buy’s $675 iPhone X deal, or the $80 Ultimate Ears BLAST Alexa-Enabled Bluetooth Speaker deal.

Laptops

Is your computer on its last leg? Maybe it’s time for a discounted upgrade.

  • Apple MacBook Pro 8GB RAM 256 SSD, $1,100 ($400 off) [Best Buy]
  • Apple MacBook Air 128GB Latest Model, $1,000 ($200 off) [Amazon]
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 6 8GB RAM 256 SSD, $1,300 ($200 off) [Amazon]
  • Microsoft Surface Laptop 8GB RAM 256 SSD, $837 ($400 off) [Amazon]
  • Huawei Matebook 8GB RAM 512 SSD, $1,200 ($100 off) [Amazon]
  • Asus 2-in-1 Laptop 12GB RAM 256 SSD, $765 ($135 off) [Best Buy]
  • Lenovo IdeaPad 8GB RAM 256 SSD, $520 ($150 off) [Staples]
  • Acer Chromebook 4GB RAM 32 SSD, $190 ($140 off) [Office Depot]

Keyboards, Routers, and Other Computer Accessories

Upgrade your workspace with these computer accessory deals.

  • LG 32″ FreeSync Gaming Monitor, $300 ($100 off) [Micro Center]
  • Anker 7 Port USB-C Hub, $40 ($30 off  with coupon clip) [Amazon]
  • Acer Predator 27″ FHD G-Sync Monitor, $350 ($250 off) [Best Buy]
  • Brother All-in-One Laser Printer, $100 ($50 off) [Amazon]
  • NETGEAR 16-Port 10G Ethernet Smart Plus Switch, $900 ($200 off) [Amazon]
  • Linksys Velop Mesh Wi-Fi System 2-Pack, $130 ($70 off) [Amazon]

Phones, Tablets, and Mobile Accessories

In the market for a new phone, tablet, or car charger? We’ve got the deals for you.

  • Apple iPhone X 64GB Unlocked, $675 ($225 off) [Best Buy]
  • Apple iPad Pro 11″  64GB Newest Model, $675 ($125 off) [Best Buy]
  • Apple iPad Pro 11″ 512GB Newest Model, $950 ($200 off) [Amazon]
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7″ Open-Box, $180 ($320 off) [eBay]
  • Apple iPhone Official Lightning Charging Dock, $19 ($31 off) [Amazon]
  • Anker Car Charger USB-C and Micro-USB, $16 ($6 off) [Amazon]
  • Roav Viva Alexa-Enabled Car Charger and Mount, $42 ($33 off)) [Amazon]
  • Fitbit Versa Smart Fitness Watch, $180 ($20 off) [Amazon]

Smart Home Gadgets

Need a new smarthome device? Today’s a great day to buy a discounted Portal Plus, a Google Home Hub, or an Echo Connect.

  • Google Home Hub, $70 ($30 off) [Massgenie]
  • Amazon Echo Connect, $13 ($22 off) [Woot]
  • Portal Plus from Facebook with Alexa Built-In, $250 ($100 off) [Amazon]
  • Ultimate Ears BLAST Bluetooth Speaker with Alexa, $80 ($100 off) [Best Buy]
  • Roav Viva Alexa-Enabled Car Charger and Mount, $42 ($33 off)) [Amazon]

Video Games

Now’s the time to grab that Nintendo Switch you’ve wanted.

  • Nintendo Switch Console, $263 ($47 off with coupon code SAVE15) [Rakuten]
  • STEINS;GATE ELITE Nintendo Switch, $40 ($20 off) [Amazon]
  • Dark Souls: Remastered Nintendo Switch, $28 ($11 off) [Nintendo]
  • Xbox Live Gold: 12-Month Membership, $40 ($20 off) [Massgenie]
  • Xbox One Wireless Controller, $40 ($20 off) [Massgenie]
  • STEINS;GATE ELITE PlayStation 4, $40 ($20 off) [Amazon]
  • PlayStation Plus: 12-Month Membership, $40 ($20 off) [Massgenie]
  • RiME Steam Download, $3 ($27 off) [Fanatical]

Everything Else

Grab a cheap 4K TV or some new Samsonite luggage.

  • Ultimate Ears BLAST Bluetooth Speaker with Alexa, $80 ($100 off) [Best Buy]
  • JBL Reflect Fit Bluetooth Wireless Heartrate Headphones, $40 ($110 off) [Woot]
  • Sharp 50″ 4K Roku Smart TV, $250 ($130 off) [Best Buy]
  • Save up to 70% on Closeout Styles [Levi’s]
  • Up to 50% off Select Styles [Crocs]
  • Roav by Anker 2K Dash Cam, $75 ($55 off) [Amazon]
  • Samsonite Bartlett 29″ Luggage, $85 ($155 off) [Samsonite]
  • Samsonite Pivot 29″ Luggage, $95 ($105 off) [Samsonite]

Good deals disappear quickly, so be sure to grab your favorite deals before it’s too late.





Source link