MP3 players may be losing market share to music phones, but one thing is certain: portable audio isn't going anywhere. And to enjoy it to the fullest, you need some decent headphones. Of course, not everyone likes pushing earbuds into their ears, which is where the still-compact on-ear headphone comes in. One such set is the AKG K 518 LE headphones, which retail for $139 and offer a sleek design and balanced audio quality.
Skullcandy has made quite a name for itself in the headphone world, thanks largely to its focus on funky fashion and durable designs aimed at extreme-sports enthusiasts. Indeed, the company is known for a variety of things, and we seriously doubt you'll find subtlety among them.
If ever a product could illustrate this point, it's the Skullcandy Smokin' Buds earphones ($30), with an in-your-face name worthy of their loud design. As we've come to expect from the company's earbuds, these 'phones aren't terribly impressive in terms of sound quality, but they do offer a solid … Read more
The Klipsch Image S4i earphones are nearly identical to their sibling, the Image S4. They not only provide the same comfortable fit and stellar sound quality, but also offer the added bonus of an integrated mic and call answer button, as well as volume controls and remote playback for the iPod. Call quality through the inline mic is solid, though not overly spectacular for a wired headset. At $99, the Image S4i costs $20 more, which is probably worth it for those with an iPhone. For more information, read our full review of the Klipsch Image S4 headphones.
Some people prefer earphones that blend in so much no one can tell they're even being used, while others like their ear cans to stand out from the crowd. If you fall into the latter crowd, the Skullcandy Icon 2 headphones will probably be right up your alley. This on-ear model lists for $29.95 and features Skullcandy's typical eye-catching design. The earphones offer a couple of fun and useful extras, but the sound quality won't impress many users, and the fit may prove to be an issue for active pursuits.
In recent years, Monster Cables started to expand its business to include a handful of headphones, the first models coming from a collaboration with hip-hop producer Dr. Dre. The company's offerings now comprise a couple of in-ear sets, including the top-of-the-line Turbine Pro In-Ear Speakers, a $299 number that features the same heavy, metal earpieces as found on the first Turbine earphones. While we wish Monster had incorporated an integrated mic and iPod controls at this price point, it's hard to overlook the Turbine Pro's high-end look and feel and top-notch sound.
We've long been fans of the Sonos Digital Music System, which lets you stream all manner of digital audio throughout your home. The latest BU250 bundle is an enthusiastic CNET Editors' Choice, in part because it can be controlled either via the included touch-screen controller or with any iPhone or iPod Touch (running a free Sonos Controller app). Unfortunately, it costs $1,000--not bad for a two-room system, but still out of reach for many consumers--and it needs to be connected to external speakers or audio components to hear the music.
The new Sonos ZonePlayer S5 aims to address both of those issues. It boasts an all-in-one design with built-in stereo speakers, so it's plug and play. And it costs $400--not cheap, but well within the price range of refined iPod speaker systems we've seen from Bose, B&W, and other luxury brands.
JayBird first made a name for itself as a Bluetooth company, pushing out a line of stereo headphones with discreet-yet-secure designs that were made with the iPod in mind. So it was both surprising and not when the company elected to move into the wired market with two in-ear models aimed at the fitness-minded. What was surprising was the seemingly backward step in technology, but the move is actually in line with JayBird's focus on active users. Of the two new sets, the Tiger Eyes Earbuds ($89) are the slightly less expensive and more stylish model.
Before all of September's iPod and Zune hoopla devoured my attention, I was in the middle of telling you folks about the Altec Lansing inMotion Classic speaker dock. Now that the dust has settled, we've posted a full CNET review of the Classic, along with the customary First Look video and photo gallery.
If the thought of clicking over to the full review just seems like way too much trouble, then let's just cut to the chase. For the $130-ish dollars you'll spend on this iPod- and iPhone-compatible portable speaker, the inMotion Classic packs a surprisingly … Read more
Not to sound like a broken record, but the stock plastic earbuds that came packaged with your shiny new MP3 player aren't doing you any favors. After loading up your device with music, the next thing to do is replace the headphones. Of course, if you're not absurdly picky about audio quality, we can understand not wanting to spend $100 or more on a new pair. That's where options such as the Creative EP-630 come in. These sound-isolating earphones offer a comfortable fit and improved audio for just $39.99.
Altec Lansing has a long history of producing some stellar little speaker systems designed around the iPod. Their latest portable speaker, the inMotion Classic, continues the company's tradition of delivering quality audio in a compact and stylish design.
I've reviewed a number of Altec Lansing's iPod speakers, including last year's inMotion Max and im600, so I thought I had a pretty good idea what to expect from a seemingly basic, $149 speaker dock. I was wrong.
So far, my initial impressions of the inMotion Classic are excellent. For a budget-minded portable speaker that stands only 4 inches high and measures just 2 inches thick, this thing cranks. Sure, it's not as thin as the im600, or as impressive-looking as the inMotion Max, but the engineers have juiced the two 3-inch speakers on the Classic for all they're worth.
There are no EQ settings on the Classic, but the overall sound is crisp with a surprising amount of meat on the low end compared with other fold-flat speakers we've tested from Logitech and Griffin.… Read more