With the weather turning cold, holiday season is right around the corner. While many are thinking about keeping their ears warm, others might be thinking of keeping their ears filled with their favourite tunes and podcasts. So instead of toques, let’s look at headphones and wireless earbuds to meet different budgets.
Dr. Dre meets Mickey Mouse
For the audiophile and Disney enthusiast ahead of Disney’s Mickey Mouse’s 90th anniversary: special edition Beats Solo3 Wireless Bluetooth headphones driven by Apple’s W1 chip.
It has a sleek all-grey body with a Mickey Mouse motif. The heavily-cushioned pivoting ear cups can be customized to your ear so they’re comfortable.
The battery is rated for up to 40 hours and when it runs dry, the Fast Fuel feature gives you an extra three hours after just a five-minute recharge.
These headphones offer seamless, quick set-up. The multifunction on-ear controls feature dual mics that let you take crystal-clear calls, control your music and activate Siri.
They come with custom felt case inspired by the touch and feel of Mickey Mouse ears, a 3.5-mm RemoteTalk and universal USB charging cable, and a special anniversary collectable pin and decal.
They’re available on pre-order from theSource.ca, launching Nov. 11 from The Source and Apple for $399.99.
Budget-conscious active noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones
If you’re in the market for a full-featured over-the-ear model on a tight budget, check out the Mixcder E7 active noise cancelling (ANC) Bluetooth headphones with mic.
This model features a built-in battery designed to stay powered for 20 hours (a little less with ANC enabled), with a recharge taking just a couple of hours.
The soft earpads provide excellent cushioning around the ear and padding in the headband exerts just the right pressure, avoiding the head fatigue common in many larger headphones.
The 40-mm driver units offer a good immersive sound experience: respectable bass, decent mids and highs on par with mid-range and some higher end wireless headsets. Sound quality is also above average when the ANC technology is added to the mix.
It also has a quality built-in mic for clear voice calls.
It’s rare to find full-featured wireless headphones with ANC at an entry-level price. You can get a pair on Amazon for under $70, with a one-year warranty and lifetime support, audio and charging cables and a carrying case.
Elite in-ear experience
If you’re looking for the ultimate truly portable in-ear experience, check out Jabra Elite 65t.
Their finely-tuned drivers are only six mm in size. Partnered with the four-microphone array, you get superior call and voice quality.
The Jabra Sound+ app provides passive noise cancellation. Ambient noise can be controlled, including howling wind. You can predefine your settings so you don’t need to set up each time your environment changes. The app also offers other features like customizing your music profiles.
Unlike its predecessors, this third generation 65t is designed to run for up to 15 hours on a single charge. A 15-minute charge gives you 90 minutes more play.
The Elite 65t also supports Bluetooth 5.0 so if you have a newer smartphone, you’ll have better Bluetooth range and lower power consumption.
It switches on automatically when removed from the charging case and auto-pauses when either earbud is removed.
Jabra Elite 65t retails for $219.99 and is available from Jabra, Amazon and Best Buy. It comes in three colours, has a two-year damage warranty against dust and water, and is compatible with Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant.
Truly wireless, truly affordable and wicked
If you want Bluetooth earbuds but think the price is too high, check out the Wicked Audio Arq.
You get an oval, sweat resistant exterior with a soft rubberized finish that’s great for travel and active lifestyles.
Arq has a built-in mic and hands-free features like pause/play and answer/hangup.
The 10-mm drivers offer high fidelity deep in the bass, nice in the mid-range but perhaps a little light on the highs.
They sit comfortably in your ear with three different cushion sizes to choose from. When properly placed, they offer good noise isolation.
Battery life is rated at three hours. You get 20 charges or 60 hours by storing them in the carry case. The case is a bit oversized due partly to the integrated battery that also allows you to charge other devices like your smartphone.
Both earbuds are programmed as a “Master,” allowing them to be used independently.
Wicked also offers an integrated circuit that prevents charging malfunction.
Greg Gazin, also known as the Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg, is a syndicated veteran tech columnist, communication, leadership and technology speaker, facilitator, blogger, podcaster and author. Reach him @gadgetgreg or at GadgetGuy.ca.