Music Everywhere: Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT Bluetooth Headphones

August 2016

Lately, it seems, I’ve reviewed nothing but over-ear headphones, which have become lightweight enough to be serious contenders in the portable-headphone market. Still, on-ear cans have some features that appeal more to people on the go; because they block out fewer external sounds, they let you have birds with your Bach -- and they’re safer to wear when you’re out and about. Wearing over-ear ’phones, you can get so wrapped up in the music that you can’t hear that quiet car approaching from the rear. On-ear models can also be cooler and more comfortable to wear over long periods.

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Music Everywhere: Acoustic Research AR-M2 Portable Music Player

July 2016

Reviewers' ChoiceI hadn’t heard much about Acoustic Research in a long time, though the name was very familiar. When I was in college, every other student who was on a budget but appreciated great sound had Acoustic Research AR-3 bookshelf speakers. These used an acoustic-suspension design that produced amazing amounts of bass from a small box. Then AR produced an affordable ($78!), high-quality turntable, the AR-1 -- a belt-driven design that greatly reduced acoustic feedback. Since then, AR speakers and turntables have only appreciated in value, as collectors continue to seek them out.

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Music Everywhere: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

June 2016

The first pair of headphones I ever owned were Sennheisers, back when the German company’s main competitor was the US manufacturer Koss. Many competitors and multitudes of headphones later, I was happy to check out Sennheiser’s Momentum Wireless Bluetooth circumaural (over-ear) model -- noise-canceling ’phones that can be used with or without wires. The noise-canceling feature is always on. The Momentum’s price of $499.95 USD is a bit higher than those of many competing products. There are also Momentum models in an on-ear wireless version, and wired over- and on-ear versions.

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Music Everywhere: Philips Shoqbox BT2200 Mini Bluetooth Speaker

May 2016

It had been a while since I’d visited the world of miniature Bluetooth speakers, but this one called to me from the shelf: “I look like a hand grenade. Doesn’t that make you curious?” Well, yes, it did -- and so did the fact that, like most hand grenades, this one is water resistant. But the Philips Shoqbox BT2200 Mini proved to be more than a toy.

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Music Everywhere: Audio-Technica ATH-WS99BT Solid Bass Bluetooth Headphones

April 2016

Audio-Technica, one of the last big-name manufacturers to enter the market of wireless Bluetooth headphones, has put out two new over-ear models: the ATH-S700BT SonicFuel, which I reviewed very favorably two months ago, and the subject of this review, the ATH-WS99BT Solid Bass ($249.95 USD), which has problems.

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Music Everywhere: Grace Digital BT Bluetooth Loudspeakers

March 2016

Most Bluetooth speakers are all-in-one models. Though some of these have “stereo capability,” they deliver little perceptible channel separation. In the BT Bluetooth speakers, Grace Digital has instead created separate speakers that can be used as computer or desktop speakers, or to listen at home to portable music devices and smartphones. The Grace Digital BT accepts audio signals via wires or wireless Bluetooth transmission; it lists for $249.99 USD per pair but can be found for much less.

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Music Everywhere: Audio-Technica ATH-S700BT SonicFuel Bluetooth Headphones

February 2016

I’ve heard a rumor that this year’s new iPhones won’t have 3.5mm headphone jacks. Can this be why everyone and her brother seem suddenly to be making Bluetooth headphones? Less than a year ago, an Audio-Technica rep told me that A-T would probably never release a Bluetooth model. But they have released some in Japan, and this year, five models are available in the US: three in-ear and two over-ear versions of models already popular in wired versions. And right now I’m wearing Audio-Technica’s ATH-S700BT SonicFuel over-ear Bluetooth headphones ($129.95 USD).

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Music Everywhere: Astell&Kern AK380 Portable Media Player

January 2016

Reviewers' ChoiceIn August of 2014, when I reviewed Astell&Kern’s AK240 portable player, it was the flagship of the company’s line. But it seems that every time I turn around, A&K comes out with something new. First was the AK Jr, a more affordable, stripped-down player; and now, superseding the AK240 (which remains available), is the AK380, A&K’s new flagship model. At $3499 USD, it better be.

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Music Everywhere: Astell&Kern AK Jr Portable Media Player

December 2015

When Astell&Kern’s AK240 was launched, it was immediately apparent to all that it was the best portable media player around. But it sold for $2499 USD, and seemed destined for use by only the 2%. Mindful of the thousands of audiophiles who might appreciate but can’t afford the AK240’s marvels, Astell&Kern created the AK Jr, which maintains a high standard of quality at a much lower cost: $499.

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Music Everywhere: Koss BTS1 Bluetooth Speaker

November 2015

A little over a year ago, I seemed to run into Bluetooth minispeakers everywhere. Somehow, I missed the Koss BTS1. Koss is known for making affordable, high-quality headphones -- they have dozens of models -- but the BTS1 ($59.99 USD) is their only Bluetooth speaker of any size. Since the various Koss headphones I’ve tried over the past six months have all proved splendid, I jumped at the chance to review this tiny speaker.

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