Headphones and home theater gear hitting this spring
Spring is sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the music is?
Whether you're looking to buy new gear for your living room or to take on the road these are some of the more interesting products to hit this season.
Momentum On-Ear Wireless
Price: The Momentum Wireless is $500, while the Momentum On-Ear Wireless is $400.
The outlook: Sennheiser has refreshed its Momentum line, making some design tweaks and adding two wireless models, the Momentum Wireless and Momentum On-Ear Wireless.
Both models also feature active noise cancellation, NFC tap-to-pair technology for compatible devices, aptX codec support and a new folding design.
The noise cancellation, which isn't too heavy, is always on (there's no switch to turn it off), but battery life is still good at 22 hours.
I had a listen to the new models, which are shipping very soon, and the over-ear Momentum Wireless is a more balanced, audiophile-oriented headphone while the Momentum On-Ear is a zippier, more exciting model.
I preferred the sound of the Momentum On-Ear Wireless but liked the fit of the over-ear Momentum Wireless, which features plusher, slightly larger ear cups than the original Momentum. (Some people complained that the ear cups on the original were too small.)
The outlook: Harman bills its Synchros S210BT as the world's first in-ear Bluetooth headphones with motion sensor control.
It's a sweat-proof model that's due out this April for $200 and features a two-way hybrid driver design.
Here's what JBL has to say about the motion sensor control, which I wasn't able to try:
"No longer will you become frustrated by the task of trying to change
tracks or answer calls with controllers that are both small and
difficult to locate on earphones. The
JBL Synchros S210BT offers an elevated consumer experience, made possible
by wave-to-control technology. The JBL Reflect Response BT frees your
workout from distraction with the world's first motion sensor sports
earphones -- controlled with a simple wave of the hand. You can command
audio to playback or pause, along with control tracks and pick up calls."
Battery life is rated at 8 hours, which is fairly decent.
Availability: Q2 2015
The outlook: Our favorite receiver of 2014 is soon to get an update with new streaming capabilities -- Google Cast and Sony's own SongPal Link. Add the potential for home automation and this looks to be both sonic- and feature-rich.
The outlook: We were fans of the special-edition Marshall 50 FX, the more expensive, souped-up version of the Marshall Major. Now Marshall is bringing out the Major II; while it may not be quite as good as the 50 FX, it's close and a good value at a little over $100. It's due to arrive in April.
Philips Fidelio M2BT
The outlook: Philips has a new entry in the Bluetooth headphone market: the on-ear Fidelio M2BT, which is due out this spring for $280.
This is the follow up to the Fidelio M1BT, which was the wireless version of the popular Fidelio M1 ($80), which I reviewed and liked.
I got a chance to play around with the M2BT and it's definitely a very good on-ear Bluetooth headphone that stacks up well against the likes of the Beats Solo 2 Wireless. The only problem is that its list price is almost as expensive as that of the Solo 2 Wireless ($300). Hopefully, the M2BT's street price will come in under $250, which is what the Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth costs.
LG Music Flow
Price: Not announced but already available in Australia for AU$350; expect a similar price when it's released in the US.
Availability: Q2 2015
The outlook: Yet another multi-room system, the LG Music Flow H5 has one advantage: the app enables you to listen on your phone, so you can seamlessly switch between private listening and whole home audio.
Sony MDR-ZX770BN Bluetooth headphone with active noise cancelling
The outlook: Over the last few years Sony's put out a number of wireless Bluetooth headphones, some better than others. Now we get four new models -- the MDR-ZX770BN ($230), MDR-ZX770BT ($150), MDR-ZX330BT ($100) and MDR-AS600BT ($100) -- which form the core of Sony's entry-level and mid-range Bluetooth headphone lineup.
The MDR-ZX770BN (pictured) features both active noise canceling and Bluetooth.