26Jul/17

Review: Leophile Zero Headphones

The Leophile Zero is Leophile’s latest offering and they come packed with features to compete with the big boys.  They are an around the neck style headphone with their highlight feature being Active Noise Canceling or ANC.  They feature Bluetooth 4.1, wired audio mode, vibration alerts, and boast up to a 20 hour battery life.  Included with them are three different size ear tips, charging cable, wired audio cable, manual, and leather carrying case. The headphones are mostly plastic but have a very nice leather wrapped around the neck band.  Overall they are lightweight but feel very well made.

 

When it comes to ANC the biggest players in the game are the Bose QuietComfort 35, Sony MDR-1000X, and Sennheiser PXC 550, all of which are at least three times the cost of the Leophile Zero headphones but why not compare them to the best.  When it comes to constant noises like fans, motors, engines, wind, etc., the Zero’s are on par with the others.  When it comes to random noises like people laughing, typing, etc., the Zero’s do not fair as well as the others.  After hours of comparison I would say the Zero’s are easily 85% as good as the top contenders, again at a third of the price.

When it comes ot sound the Zero’s have no problem getting loud.  The sound quality is exactly what you would expect at this price, great.  The highs are smooth with no harshness, mids are clear with no signs of being muddy, and the bass is nice and tight.  I could not notice and equalization going on at all which is a good thing.  For the most part they remained fairly flat and if anything, slightly on the bright side.

Overall the Leophile Zero’s are my new favorite around the neck style headphone.  They easily get me through two entire work days, sound awesome, and have great ANC.  The included leather travel pouch is both nice looking and convenient.  My only complaint about them is that I wish there was some way they held the ear buds when not in use so they didn’t just dangle.  This is far from a deal breaker, but maybe the next revision will have some magnets like many of the LG Tone models.

If you are interested in purchasing the Leophile Zero headphones they can be found here.

30Jun/17

Review: Lasmex C45 Headphones

In the electronic world you often see brands that you may not recognize and often those products are average or sometimes even no good at all. On occasion you will find a product the goes beyond all expectations. In this case the Lasmex C45 headphones are far better than I expected. First off, the included case is very well made and compact. The included manual is thorough and easy to follow. The headphones include a cable with built in mic and controls and a straight cable with no controls or mic. Both cables are very high quality with metal connectors. The headphones themselves have aluminum ear cups with plush leatherette padding as well as a padded headband that is not only comfortable but very flexible and durable. In fact the headband is almost as flexible as my Bose QC35 headphones which is mind blowing.

As for sound these headphones shine. Sound output is average for on ear headphones while the sound remains mostly flat with just a slight bump in the higher frequencies. Sound remains smooth and precise even at high volumes. These headphones easily put many other more expensive pairs to shame as far as sound quality. For fun, I connected these to a small CMoy BB headphone amp which made them sound even better.

Overall I am highly impressed with the build quality, accessories, and most importantly sound quality of these headphones. I can not recommend these enough.

20Jun/17

Review: Anker SoundCore Boost

The SoundCore Boost is one of Anker’s latest Bluetooth speakers which combines all of their previous technologies with some new.  The speaker is rated IPX5 water resistant and is finished in a soft touch rubber and cloth.  The appearance is simple and elegant.  It is average sized for a Bluetooth speaker and will easily slip into a bag to carry with you.  Across the top you will find the usual Power/Pairing, minus, Plus, and Play/Pause buttons along with one Labeled UP, more on that later.  Also on top are four LED battery lights and a labeled NFC receiver to make for easy Bluetooth pairing with compatible devices.  On the left side is flap that opens to reveal a 1/8″ auxiliary input, a micro-USB charging port, and a USB type A port to charge your phone or other device.  This USB port provides 5200mAh of juice and utilizes Anker’s Power IQ technology to charge your device as fast as possible regardless of what it is.  The front, back, and right side are covered in black cloth and the bottom is bare other than some small rubber feet and product information.

Turning the speaker on and paring my phone to it was extremely easy and worked just as most other Bluetooth devices do.  Once paired, the first thing I did was load my favorite playlist on my phone and cranked it to max, because why not hear all 20W it has to offer.  Surprisingly the speaker got very loud with absolutely no distortion.  To accomplish this magic, Anker has incorporated some dynamic equalization.  Most noticeable is a slight reduction in bass and high frequencies at high volume or the use of compression to boost sounds that are not as hard on the drivers.  This results in sound that is still fairly good but crystal clear where other speakers would be screaming for mercy.  This is not overdone like on other speakers I have tested such as the Bose SoundLink Mini II which has almost zero bass at max volume.  Since we are talking about bass, this where that UP button from earlier comes into play.  All my bass lovers out there, you will love this speaker and that UP button.  At low volumes the BassUp technology from Anker makes the speaker sound much more full and larger than it really is.  At mid volume bass lovers will rejoice at how much this little speaker can thump.  As the volume approaches max, the dynamic equalization starts to kick in and the bass slowly fades which is to be expected.  Overall sound is full and flat in a good way.  I would expect this quality from a speaker costing much more.

Thanks to the BassUp technology the SoundCore Boost is hands down the best sounding low volume Bluetooth speaker I have heard to date.  At mid volumes with BassUp off the sound quality is among the best and pressing that UP button makes it jump far ahead of all others in its class in the bass department.  At high volumes it gets crazy loud and is one of the clearest Bluetooth speakers I have tested.  On top if this great sound the battery consistently lasts over 12 hours and the Bluetooth range that is rated at 66ft is just crazy good.  Prior to this speaker the Bose SoundLink Mini II had the best range in my real world test in my house, the SoundCore Boost beats it by about 5 feet.  It also comes with an 18 month warranty.  Thanks to all these positive attributes it is now my favorite Bluetooth speaker of the over 50 I have tested, pushing the Specter AQSTIX (See my review here) into second place which is a more expensive speaker.  Needless to say Anker has hit a home run with the SoundCore Boost and will have a tough time beating it.

If you are interested in purchasing the Anker SoundCore Boost it can be found here.

08Jun/17

Review: Pitaka Samsung Galaxy S8+ Case

The Pitaka case is a slim, minimalistic case made of Arimid fiber.  Arimid is similar to Carbon Fiber except that it is more flexible and does not block wireless frequencies like Carbon Fiber does.  Installing this case is a breeze as it just snaps on.  It fits the contoured edges of the S8+ perfectly and does not block the very edge of the screen like some cases do for this device.  The dimple around the camera, flash, and fingerprint sensor on the rear actually makes the fingerprint sensor easier to find.

I have been using a Pitaka case on my iPhone 6S Plus for a few weeks now and it still looks like the day I received it even after a few drops.  The S8+ case now features integrated metal strips to work with their car mount so their will be no need to stick a plate to your phone or case to mount it.

Overall this case is made very well, fits perfect, and should take a beating.  If you are looking for a thin case to protect your phone, I highly recommend it.

If you are interested in purchasing this case it can be found here.

26May/17

Review: PITAKA Aramid Fiber iPhone 6s Plus Case

I normally do not use a case as I feel they take away from the feel and functionality of the phone. Also, many of them are bulky and within a few months need replaced because they start getting wore out. I have tried other minimal cases in the past that were made of plastic but they always felt cheap, didn’t fit well, or I didn’t find them protective enough to warrant even being there. The Pitaka case on the other hand is just awesome. It is so light that I am unable to notice any difference in weight. The thickness added to the phone is as minimal as possible and I have already dropped the phone on blacktop in which the phone survived with no issues and the case has no more than a very minor scuff.  The inclusion of a tempered glass screen protector is nice as well. Overall I am very impressed with this case and cannot recommend it enough.

If you are interested in one of these cases it can be found here.

04May/17

Review: Specter AQSTIX

Back in December I reviewed the Bose SoundLink Mini II and praised it as one of my favorite Bluetooth speakers of all time, at least it was, until I got to experience the Specter AQSTIX.  The Specter AQSTIX is a rugged, waterproof, Bluetooth speaker that is rated to last 12 hours on a single charge.

The exterior of the speaker is made almost entirely of a soft touch rubber and metal, providing both great looks and sturdy construction.  The great build allows the speaker to work fully submerged up to three feet under water.  Connectivity is provided via Bluetooth, Aux, or a micro-SD card.  The built in battery not only provides a rated 12 hours of battery life, but thanks to a full size USB port, can also be used to charge your mobile device.  The speaker also has a built in microphone to use for voice commands and phone calls.

Throughout my use of the AQSTIX speaker I experienced some of the best Bluetooth connectivity I have ever seen.  While outdoors I had no problem walking 30 or more feet from the speaker before experiencing any issues.  The waterproof rating also holds true as I was able to fully submerge the speaker while listening to music.  As for the 12 hour battery rating, I actually feel that it is under rated.  On the first charge I was able to get just over 12 hours of listening at over half volume the entire time.  Subsequent charge showed the same or even slightly better performance.  While I did not test the physical durability of the speaker, I have no doubt that it would handle any drop or fall from counter height and possibly even higher.

So the speaker is durable and packed full of features, but how does it sound?  First off, this thing gets loud, like put most other portable Bluetooth speakers of this size to shame loud.  It has no problem filling a room with sound, even with numerous people in it chatting.  Sound quality is also among the best I have heard from a portable speaker.  It creates a ton of bass for its size while keeping the mids and highs crystal clear even at high volumes.  The only time I heard distortion was at the last volume step.

Overall the Specter AQSTIX is an awesome speaker.  It is built well, waterproof to three feet, has plenty of input options, has the ability to charge a mobile device, looks classy, gets loud, and sounds great.   If you are in the market for a Bluetooth speaker, I highly recommend looking at the Specter AQSTIX which can be found here.

02May/17

Battle of the Buds

In a world that is going wireless cell phone companies continue to provide wired ear buds with their phones.  Also, many circumstances require the use or are more suited for wired earbuds.  That being said, I decided to compare some of the most popular ear buds as well as an inexpensive new comer to see how well they perform.  The four sets being compared include Apple Ear Pods, Samsung (included with the Galaxy S7), Bose SoundSport, and PWOW BYZ.  To summarize my findings please see the table below.

HeadphoneBassMidsTrebleClaritySound StageIsolationLow Volume SQMid Volume SQHigh Volume SQOutputBuild QualityAccessoriesTotal
Bose68895168699883
Apple76674137588365
Samsung34765246387560
BYZ37766157687265

As you can see, Bose is the overall winner, but after that the other three contenders came in pretty close to one another.  Each one has its different strengths and weaknesses, but aside from the Bose, I believe you will get a similar overall experience from the other three.  While the Bose set is not a direct competitor to the other three, comparing them with the Bose puts things into perspective.

If you are looking to replace or upgrade your set of stock earbuds going with something similar will most likely result in equal or better results per this comparison.  If you are looking for an upgrade, the Bose SoundSports make for a great replacement if you are a fan of the bud style headphones.  The headphones in this comparison can be purchased at the links below:

PWOW, Apple, Samsung, Bose

18Apr/17

Review: SPECTER EFITZ Headphones

The SPECTER EFITZ are among many in the crowded wireless headphone market and at nearly $100 they are right at the competitive price point of many of the “big” name headphone makers.  All of that being said, what sets the EFITZ apart from the others?

Prior to a few months ago I had never heard of SPECTER or any of their products, but viewing their website I quickly discovered they are serious about their products, at least on paper.  As always, I was skeptical of their claims which for the EFITZ include IP7 water resistance, premium noise isolation, 10 hour battery life, and dynamic sound thanks to Qualcomm’s aptX technology.  These are bold claims and certainly put them in competition with all the other headphone makers so I was happy to get my hands on them for testing.

Included with the headphones are five different size ear tips, a short charging cable, cable clip, and a very nice user manual.  Build quality on the EFITZ is great with plastic and rubber construction, strain reliefs at all cable end points, and even aluminum on the outside of the ear pieces.  The control unit is located a few inches down the cable on the right hand side and is a little on the chunky side compared to other headphones I have used.  The control unit houses the usual buttons, charging port, mic, etc, all of which are easy to use and work very well.  Thanks to the giant soft ear hooks, the headphones do a great job of staying in place and remaining comfortable.

After charging the headphones and spending some time finding the right size ear tips I was excited to give the headphones a try.  First off, they have great output and should please even the most demanding listener.  My initial impression was that the headphones sounded much larger than they are.  The sound reminded me of many on ear headphones but with much better noise isolation.  After a few hours of casual listening I started critically listening to some of my usual test music and again I was amazed by how large the sound stage was for in ear wireless headphones.  Sound quality overall is among some of the best I have heard from Bluetooth headphones.  Like many modern headphones they have a slight bump in both bass and treble but it is not overdone like on many other headphones.  The overall sounds is clear, precise, and controlled.  Even on complex tracks I was able to pick out each individual instrument.  The only time I heard any distortion was at near max volume which is understandable.  Something else to note about the EFITZ is the almost silent noise floor.

Using the headphones for calls worked extremely well.  I did not have a single person complain about the way I sounded or that they could not hear me.  Callers always sounded clear and often times better than using just my phone.  Controls for both music and calls are easy to figure out and the buttons are easy to find while in use.  The claimed 10 hour battery life was pretty accurate in my testing, and as for the IP7 rating, even though I would not recommend it, they survived being submersed in water for a few minutes with no issues even days later.

Overall the EFITZ are a great set of Bluetooth headphones.  Are they as good as a wired set like SPECTER’s website claims….no, but they are a solid attempt at the near impossible feat.  My only real complaint about the headphones is that I wish they included some type of case as that would complete the package.  At the end of the day I would happily recommend the EFITZ over many of the “big” name brands and can’t wait to try some more of SPECTER’s products.

If you are interested in purchasing the EFITZ you can find them here.