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Audio

  • FM transmitters are best for consumers who want to bring the convenience and sound quality of iPods, MP3 players and other mobile music streaming devices along with them in older model automobiles that can't accommodate such technology. These transmitters work through your car stereo by pinpointing the clearest available FM signal and broadcasting music from your device. There are other features available with some transmitters such as hands-free phone use and USB ports to charge your device and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. Some of them even have remote controls for easier use of all available functions.
    February 03, 2016
  • Two-way radios, or walkie-talkies if you prefer, are one of the least expensive ways to communicate between parties. You can rely on them when cell phone service is spotty, they can keep families in touch with one another, and they're a crucial tool for staying safe in the wilderness or even on the water. There are two-way radios for every budget, with some of the cheaper models running a mere $20 for basic call capabilities; while the more expensive versions come with a whole list of additional features like weather radio channels, privacy codes to prevent unwanted outside interference on your signal and even GPS receivers. The best two-ways offer greater talk range, and while most manufacturers claim such range abilities in the 20 mile range, or further even, these potential communication distances are only realistic on open water or flatlands with little to no obstacles to the signal. In more common surroundings, be it urban or rural, everything from trees to concrete will hinder your signal's true power and thus talk range is lessened greatly. The average range in this case is about two to four miles, and if your two-way is making clear, static-free transmissions at this distance, then you've got a good product.
    February 01, 2016
  • Singing can be one of the best -- not to mention the most fun -- ways for children to develop language and of course music skills. In addition, it can be a great group activity that can bring families together. As manufacturing costs have gone down with respect to karaoke machines in general, a new product category has developed in recent years aimed squarely at kids. The best of these machines integrate both fun, kid-oriented design and color, and quality hardware that won't break after the third time your kid drops the mic on the floor. Most machines take CD-G discs, which contain music as well as lyrics on a separate track. The microphones that ship with these systems vary in quality, but for many the overall experience using the machine is more important. Some picks on this list are for older kids, and some are better suited to younger kids all the way down to toddlers. All in all, they represent a snapshot of the best karaoke machines currently available for kids.
    January 29, 2016
  • Earphones are by far the easiest and most cost-effective way to listen to music. Earphones offer not only the conveniences of portability and durability, but also tend to represent a higher value for money, in terms of absolute sound quality with regards to sound resolution and expression of detail, than full-sized headphones. They lack the more refined aspects of sound presentation that can only be reproduced by proper speakers or open headphones, like a sense of 3-dimensional space, but some high-end multi-driver earphones can simulate these aspects very effectively. They also function as multi-purpose listening devices, as they can be used with cell phones to increase call quality and isolation from unwanted noise; some even feature microphones and volume and/or track controls to this end. Some people even use earphones at concerts to help protect their hearing. The earphones in these lists have been chosen as the best for their particular price points and target audience, offering different solutions for casual listeners, audiophiles, studio engineers, and performing musicians, and ranging in price from pocket change to serious investment. The best way to shop for an earphone is to try as many of them as possible; if that is not an option, it's generally wise to set a price limit, and pick the best earphone for your listening style and preferred genres. Also keep in mind that, while sound is usually the most important feature, how much you enjoy the earphone is also going to depend on how happy you are with the amount of money you spend; if you pick an earphone from these lists, and feel that you've been ripped off, odds are you are either spending more than you personally wanted to spend on earphones, or your pick is missing some feature or characteristic that you were expecting, but perhaps didn't take into consideration. There are two different types of driver technology used in modern earphones: dynamic drivers and balanced armatures. Most earphones, and indeed most headphones and speakers, use a dynamic driver, a moving diaphragm that vibrates in its entirety in order to produce different frequencies. They tend to be the most effective at producing pounding low frequencies, and higher-end dynamics give bass a tactile presence and texture that very few balanced armatures can match. Most of the earphones discussed here use dynamic drivers, unless otherwise noted. Balanced armatures are a more complex type of speaker, having only very small moving parts, most widely known for their use in hearing aids, cochlear implants and other aural-assistive technologies, applications for which their small size makes them ideal. However, as armature technology has evolved, the quality of sound they can reproduce has increased drastically, and they are now featured in the majority of high-end earphones due to their tonal accuracy and decreased distortion. Balanced armature drivers tend to perform best in the mid and high frequencies, generally producing cleaner, more well-defined notes than dynamic drivers. Newer, more expensive earphones tend to feature balanced armature drivers, and sometimes quite a few of them; our pick for Best High-End Earphone, the Shure SE846, utilizes four balanced armature drivers per side. Some modern earphones, like the K3003i, feature a hybrid design, using a dynamic driver to handle the bass frequencies and incorporating balanced armatures for mid and high frequencies. These earphones have been hand-picked as the best value for money and overall performance; I feel confident that anyone following the buying guidelines above and taking time to carefully consider their choice will be very satisfied with their purchase.
    January 19, 2015
  • The primary market for Bluetooth speakers is the portable segment: portable speakers are becoming more and more popular as people have access to a wider selection of music through the internet and social media, and everyone loves to share their tunes. Whether you're looking for something basic to make and receive calls, or want something a little louder to take to the beach or park, there are Bluetooth options for nearly any portable application.We've sifted through the chaff and found the best portable speakers that can be had for $100 or less. The products listed here have been chosen based on their sound quality and overall usability, as well as features like battery life, durability, and portability. They are listed here in order of absolute sound quality, but remember that the most expensive is not always the best for everyone's needs, so be sure to consider how you will be using your speaker, and making your selection accordingly, before shelling out your hard earned cash! In the end, all of the speakers listed here are safe buys, and will make an excellent companion for sharing your tunes and taking them with you on the go.
    January 19, 2015
  • As the most easily obtained physical source material for music, as well as the most popular format for high resolution playback, CDs are still indispensable for truly serious listeners, and a CD player of some sort is typically at the center of any home sound system. Whether serving double duty as CD and DVD / Blu-Ray player in a home theater, or feeding a dedicated amp in an audiophile headphone rig, a CD player is the heart of most audio systems, and finding a good one can be tricky. Sure, you could go to Best Buy or Radio Shack and pull the cheapest one off the shelf, but it’s probably not going to last, and likely won't sound too great either, assuming you are using quality speakers or headphones. These lists serve as a guide for buyers new and old, for home audio/theater enthusiasts, audiophiles, or even just regular people who want a product that is made well and sounds good. The products listed here have been chosen after hours of careful listening and research, and should provide excellent solutions for most, and a jumping point for further research for anyone who is new to audio as a hobby.
    January 19, 2015
  • Headphones are easily the most popular way to enjoy music, and since the dawn of the portable cassette player, not to mention the more recent dawn of the MP3 player, the market has been growing remarkably fast. This is great for enthusiasts, consumers, and professionals alike, because more competition means better products, lower prices, and more innovation. With the ever-increasing popularity of portable media devices, coupled with the new technologies that arise from their development, the market has taken an explosive upturn in just the last 4 years, and there are now headphones for just about any kind of activity imaginable, catering to a wide variety of listening styles, feature sets, and form factor preferences. Headphones comes in all different sounds, sizes, form factors, and prices, and before even beginning research, it is best to decide exactly what you will be using your headphones for; this is a factor that should influence your choice just as much as your preferred sound or price range, because ultimately it will have just as much importance in whether or not you are satisfied with your purchase. Choosing the right headphones means knowing how big you are comfortable with them being; there are some excellent Bluetooth headphones, and the Bluetooth feature makes them incredibly portable, and yet I would seriously hesitate to recommend it to someone who will use their headphones mostly for jogging or exercise, because they are enormous! Likewise, we would hate for someone planning to do most of their listening at home to compromise the level of fidelity they are able to experience simply because they liked what they heard about headphones listed in the Running section. Setting a price limit for yourself can be very useful as well. Audio products are subject to drastic diminishing returns at around $100-$300, depending on how acute one's hearing is, and only those with well-trained or exceptional naturally endowed hearing abilities will be able to notice differences in levels of detail and refinement between headphones above this price range. Many enthusiasts and audiophiles begin their lengthy, often expensive quests for the perfect headphones by doing exactly what you are doing right now, and while we always encourage people to try as many products as possible, we would hate for someone to spend more than they need to just to find a sound they can be happy with. All that being said, audio preferences are, first and foremost, subjective, and ultimately what matters most is that you enjoy your music, so if you find a sound you really like, stick with it! Most headphones, even those described using similar terms, or possessing very similar frequency response curves, sound very different when the sound hits your ears, so if you've got something that really sounds good to your ears, it's usually a good idea to either keep what you've got, or perhaps upgrade within the same line of products. Again, we always encourage people to try as many products as possible, especially before buying one, but if you find yourself 99% satisfied with a particular product, it's usually futile to go back out and find something totally new in an attempt to correct the one tiny flaw you have found in an otherwise great headphone. So please, read on, and enjoy! Remember that the best way to learn about headphones is to hear them, so be sure to look up your local HiFi or audiophile store and pay them a visit to see what models they have in stock; the people who work at such places are usually very knowledgeable, and may wind up being an even more valuable resource to you than anything you read on the web.
    January 19, 2015
  • Quite possibly the second most popular entertainment appliance behind the television, the radio is often the go-to solution for music and information whether you're on the move or hanging out at home. With so many different types to choose from, it's really a matter of deciding on the reason why you need to buy a radio. If you're looking for something to listen to in your home or office, you're probably going to want to consider a good table-top model. These often plug into the wall (though many certainly run on batteries as well) and they remain stationary on a table or desk, supplying hours of listening pleasure. If you want something to take with you; portable radios are small, compact units that get good reception and can broadcast your favorite station from the pocket of your coat or even the palm of your hand. Perhaps you want something for your morning routine, then a shower radio can give you all the news and music programming along both ends of the AM and FM dial in a compact unit that fits right on your showerhead. These are waterproof products that can withstand the steam and wet conditions of any bathroom. Maybe AM and FM aren't your thing and you prefer something that gets you internet channels as well, there are radios for that, offering alternative programming whether it be from a subscription service or just a signal that can be picked via Wi-Fi. Jobsite radios go even further; built for rugged, high impact work environments, these units offer full AM/FM fare in addition to a list of other uses like charging phone and power tool batteries, AC power outlet availability, and compatibility with MP3 players and mobile devices for more sound source options. Weather radios are similar to a jobsite radio in that they too can power and play alternate devices, but these radios come equipped with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) band stations that provide up to the minute weather alerts and safety notifications to keep you informed in the event of a major emergency. Whichever kind of radio you're looking for, we've got five of them that we feel are the products worthy of your hard earned dollar. Check out these lists below to read more about what's available and why it's the best there is at the moment.
    November 21, 2014
  • DJing has undergone a recent change from the days of two turntables and a mixer. Controllers have arisen as an all-in-one practical way of playing music. However, the fact of the matter is DJs still widely use turntables to rock a party. Popular software programs often require a hardware box that is meant to bridge the gap between the digital and analog world. Turntables and mixer are connected to a hardware box, bridged to the laptop, and ultimately out through the speakers. This makes the turntable a musical mainstay, not just to play your favorite jazz or classic rock record. And of course there are DJs who strictly play analog! Some prefer to stay averse from the changing, sometimes trendy technologically advancing scene and keep their style close to the original style of DJing. The turntables listed were chosen because they are all durable, feature modern upgrades, and are direct-drive, meaning the platter and spindle are directly connected to the motor which requires less maintenance. Furthermore, consistent match in speed between spindle and platter is needed for the demanding nature of scratching and beat matching that entails applied pressure to the vinyl. Anti-skate technology popularized by Technics have been mastered by other brands such as Reloop and Stanton. Wider ranges of pitch control give DJs unprecedented control over mixing and sampling. Combine this with MIDI capability, an auto beats per minute counter, and USB connectivity in some models, and its apparent that the wave of new features are staggering and promote new avenues to creativity.
    November 21, 2014
  • While most of us listen to music on our smartphones with headphones, sometimes you want to break out your tunes for all to hear. This growing trend of using smartphones as a primary music library has resulted in the rapid expansion of the portable speaker market.There are many to choose from, but the top-rated portable speakers are lightweight, powerful, and compatible with many different types of portable devices.We've chosen portable speakers that can be used completely free of wires, with rechargeable batteries and the ability to connect devices using Bluetooth. All of the following picks are also compact and highly portable, sometimes being small and light enough to fit into a jacket pocket. With so many good options to choose from we've left many popular models out, but each of the following speakers offers some of the best sound quality and portability currently available. As a result, most of our picks aren't focused on being especially budget-friendly, but still offer good value for money.
    November 11, 2014
  • These little digital marvels offer loads of storage space for days of recording time. Perfect for everyone from students to journalists to Moms who just need to remember shopping lists and their children's daily schedules, digital voice recorders are convenient and compact so that you can take them on the go. With built-in microphones that are sensitive enough to seek out only the vocal content you want to record and eliminate background noise at the same time, these recorders are often voice activated so that they only work when someone is speaking. You also want a device that has USB connectivity so it’s easy to hook up to any PC or Mac so you can download and manage your recordings. Some devices are outfitted with additional features such as file editing, variable speed play back, external microphone ports, and they can even record and play multiple file formats from MP3 to WAV among others. Whether you're looking for a digital recorder to capture a busy sound environment with numerous voice speaking or you just need a device to record the audio from an important lecture, we have a variety of products at both ends of the price spectrum that we've determined to be the best you can buy.
    October 29, 2014
  • The proliferation of MP3's as the preferred method for enjoying our favorite music has made the compact disc all but obsolete. Much like the way the audio cassette was phased out by that bright and shiny new CD; MP3's are the latest advancement in technology and, therefore, all the major manufacturers are offering their own versions of the MP3 player. These mobile devices come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but they all have a few core commonalities. They're built to be portable, lightweight and easy to carry with you on the go. They have varied storage capacities to hold hours upon hours (and in some cases, days) worth of songs. Many of these devices can play various file formats beyond just MP3's and some of them can even play movies as well. There are players for every budget, some are available for as low as around $30 while others can get rather pricey; and there are players for every lifestyle, whether you want one to have with you on the way to work in the mornings or you need a player for jogging or swimming laps (that's right, there are waterproof players you can have in the pool). The bottom line is, if you're in the market for a good MP3 player we've found the best ones you can buy at any price. 
    October 28, 2014
  • Bringing music outdoors can be difficult as running wires from your indoor stereo involves drilling holes through the walls of the house, and mounting speakers. If ground-based or free-standing outdoor speakers are used, cables must be buried to keep them out of site. These issues make wireless speakers a potentially better choice for outdoor areas such as the patio, poolside, and garden.Although Bluetooth connectivity is becoming increasingly popular for wireless streaming, many wireless speakers still use either a 900 MHz or 2.4 GHz transmitter. While the 2.4 GHz frequency can reduce interference overall, it might not be as well-suited for a household that already has multiple devices operating on this band. Either way, good wireless outdoor speakers must have the ability to connect and maintain a reliable wireless link with decent range.These best wireless outdoor speakers are weather-resistant and rugged enough to withstand impacts; our picks range from those suitable for occasional use outdoors to those made for permanent installation outside. Sound quality is evidently important, although the standard to which sound quality is held outdoors is quite different than in a closed, controlled environment. Bass response is typically where outdoor speakers struggle, and since many wireless outdoor speakers can be battery-powered, sometimes they have issues providing enough power for loud volumes. In the interest of representing multiple price points, not all of the following picks are suited for a large open space, but they can all provide decent sound quality for the money.
    June 11, 2014
  • You may think the boombox went out of style with neon tube tops, breakdancing, and big hair. But you'd be mistaken, because the boombox never really left...it's just gotten a makeover. Today's boomboxes offer more than just AM/FM radio and big sound. Gone are those cassette tape decks and instead you have your choice of CD players, mobile device connectivity, even USB ports and memory card slots that can play your content over high-quality speakers. Some of these boomboxes can even play DVD's and many of them are built with rugged waterproof housings that are suitable for any type of environment; be it a jobsite, the mountains, or the local park. If you're looking to relive those days of strutting down the street with your tunes playing on your shoulder, check out our list of the best boomboxes you can buy. Each one chosen based upon the following criteria; portability, sound source options, functionality, audio quality, additional features, and price.
    February 13, 2014