Category Archives: Audio

OnePlus Icons Review

OnePlus Icons Review

OnePlus was founded in December 2013, though the company first burst onto the scene in 2014 when it launched the OnePlus One. The self-proclaimed “flagship killer” promised top-end performance at entry level prices. Now, OnePlus is making a push into the audio space as well, and the brand has launched its second pair of earphones, the OnePlus Icons. While the OnePlus Silver Bullet earphones were priced fairly affordably at Rs. 899, the Icons, at Rs. 2,999, are clearly at the upper end of what can be called “budget”.

The OnePlus Icons are a nice looking pair of in-ear headphones, but are they comfortable enough and most of all, do they sound good enough to justify the price tag? Or should you consider spending as much or a little more to buy something nicer, or save your money and pick up a cheaper pair?

Design, specifications, and comfort
The design of the Icons is eye catching. The angled earpieces look nice and help ensure a good fit as well, and the metallic bands behind them look good. In your hand or in your ears, these look better than the earbuds that ship in the box with most phones.


The design and build quality of the OnePlus Icons is quite good for the price, and the woven cable feels like it will take a while to fray. It was also really easy to untangle, so from a durability perspective, we quite liked the Icons.

The earphones come in a fancy looking box, with multiple earpieces in different sizes, and a stylish looking pouch. It’s a little small to carry the earphones in, and after a couple of days it picked up a lot of wrinkles and bulges as a result, but the small size makes it easy to carry around.

The OnePlus Icons use an 11mm dynamic driver and uses an aluminium composite diaphragm, with a frequency range from 20-20,000Hz, and 32Ohm impedance. It comes with an inline microphone and remote, so you can adjust volume or take calls using the Icons.


Unfortunately, the looks of the Icons are certainly superior to the comfort that this set provides. We tried all the different sizes to see what would be most comfortable, and unfortunately, the answer was none at all.

Simple in-ear designs, or hooked shapes like the Bose sets, were significantly more comfortable to wear for extended periods; watching a full movie while wearing this set was extremely uncomfortable, and worse, the earphones also popped out at times. The only consolation was that the sound isolation was pretty good, even when nothing was playing.

A little discomfort would not matter if the OnePlus Icons sounded great, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. The sound you get from this set is tinny. Turn up the volume and the clarity goes out the window right away, and it sounded only average at lower volumes.


The bass performance is relatively okay, but not great, and the midrange and treble just sounds dull. Bass is given a lot of importance in India, but frankly, there are plenty of much cheaper options that will get you the exact same sound, so you’re really paying for the looks of the headphones.

Trying it with various music styles there wasn’t any genre where the Icons truly got to shine. Watching movies wasn’t great either, as vocals felt oddly flat and lifeless, and the clarity of the headphones really could have been better.

Unlike the smartphone market, where there was a lot of room for price disruption, low-cost but high-quality audio brands already exist and have a fair amount of mindshare.


There are many headsets that deliver better audio than the OnePlus Icons, whether you’re looking for clean, punchy bass, something with a bright, sparkly sound, or something that is comfortable enough that you’ll forget you’re wearing it. Although Rs. 2,999 isn’t much if you’re getting really good headphones, in the case of the OnePlus Icons, you’re paying for the design, and not the audio. If you’re comfortable with doing that, this is a good pair, but otherwise, they’re average at best.


  • Good design
  • Appears durable
  • Easy to untangle


  • Only average audio
  • Relatively high price

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Design: 4
  • Performance: 3
  • Value for money: 3
  • Overall: 3


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Original Article

Sony MDR-XB950BT headphone

Sony MDR-XB950BT

Being a musician, I’m continually looking for the excellent sound, that superb balance of bass, treble and mids. I used to be just a little skeptical when I obtained the Sony XB950BT headphones to check. when I saw additional Bass written throughout the large Sony box, I imagined this could be standard bass-boost fare. I could add that i am a video editor, and so I used to be watching at these headphones from the factor of how good it helps me obtain the ultimate to-visual stability.

The headphones come neatly packed in a sturdy field with the usual micro-USB charging cable and a 1.2mm cable. The black matte finish with streaks of muted red around the cans give these headphones a demure sense of sophistication. not like different flashy, brightly-colored over-priced headphones these don’t draw the eye out, as an alternative they only make a tremendous deal of the ear and therein lies all the difference. Given the average Indian trip, with its dust and filth, any vivid colour goes to seem pale and dirty within weeks. The metal grey band with padding for head help makes it a at ease wear.

The ergonomic ear-pads are cozy and believe me when I say this. I commonly sit down and work on video edits for 4-5 hour stretches. These headphones are over-the-ear cans which are very nice to put on unlike some sick designed pieces which end up hurting the ear greater than making it a enjoyable expertise.

The headphone ear-portions swivel fully on their axis to make it effectively foldable. once I used to be now not utilizing them it was once convenient to hold them round my neck, folded-up flat, cans down – makes the entire change while using the packed-out Metro.

The headphones have a volume toggle, a play/pause toggle, a bass-improve button, a micro-USB port, a EP in and a built-in mic all neatly situated on the edge of the headphone can hiding it from undeniable sight yet making it effortlessly accessible.

I put this headphone piece by means of quite a lot of levels of sound mixes and song genres. I used to be keen to peer how it will participate in in interplay with more than a few environs with differing decibel levels of noise.

Sitting in office, I started off by way of playing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, a ritual I comply with when trying out new headphones. inside the first 7 minutes of the primary movement, I knew that this set was not going to disappoint. by means of the arpeggios of the soloist and the swaying tempo, each instrument in the track was clearly and uniquely decipherable, rich and in full tone, an awfully enjoyable expertise.

Via different genres of the quiet understated folks songwriter, unbiased song and bass heavy hip-hop tracks I liked what I used to be listening to. via all of the tracks that I performed – guitar heavy rock, the gentle-nuanced notes of the upright bass or the crisp shrill notes of the trumpet, this headphone set delivered clear, processed wealthy sound. Coming to vocal heavy music, i tried it with Allegri’s ‘Miserere mei, Deus’ a piece written for 2 choirs, an a cappella type.

It delivered, rendering superb clear tones, giving that mild bass undertone when the male choir kicked in. The efficiency on this track fairly had me impressed.

On the trip back dwelling, I took an auto for the duration of height-hour traffic and did a road-experiment of sorts.

The headphones gave clear smooth wealthy sound, even delivering powerful tones for tender jazz pieces for the period of the loud hustle-bustle of 6.30pm Outer Ring street visitors. There’s an additional rationalization though. at the same time this headphone is apt-
X suitable ( aptX is an audio codec which is designed to encode a CD best/44.1kHz audio flow without a loss in first-rate by way of a high knowledge switch price) my MacBook pro ( OS X Mavericks) is using a SBC audio codec. I’m nonetheless trying to figure how you can exchange the codec to apt-X. I also discovered that the Nexus 5 which I notably use for music is just not apt-X compatible too ( as far as i know).

I located the bass-increase button a bit of redundant. Out of the two weeks that I used the headphones I didn’t once want the bass-raise. rather when I tried it out, the bass-enhance simply seemed like a badly equalised bass player, alarmes drowning out the readability and sharpness of the entire monitor. This bass-improve is valuable only in circumstances where the track will not be equalized properly, like dwelling-recordings, etc.


There are some disorders I located while utilizing the headphones. whilst enhancing a video task for a mobile-overview, I observed that there was once a common latency. in the beginning I although it was once simply as a result of a gradual render however after I regarded closely I found that have been was once a 7-10 frame lag. this is very likely because of the onboard processing.


Sony MDR-XB950BT

Absentia Tesseract VR First Impressions: A Promising Start, but Lots of Room to Improve

Absentia Tesseract VR First Impressions: A Promising Start, but Lots of Room to Improve

The competition for virtual reality headsets is heating up, and there are some clear frontrunners emerging – the Oculus Rift, whose Kickstarter project sparked the fresh wave of interest in the category is going to launch next year, while HTC just clarified that the HTC Vive will be available from April. Sony’s PlayStation VR will also release next year, and on the mobile front, the Samsung Gear VR is already on sale.

One problem that is shared across all the different gadgets in this space is that they’re all going to be pretty expensive – the Gear VR is the cheapest, at $99 (approximately Rs. 6,600), but it only works with certain high end Samsung phones – which, coupled with the limited exposure to VR means that the technology will remain a niche for some time, particularly in countries like India.

However, there are plenty of new headsets under development as well, including the Tesseract by Absentia, which is tentatively going to be priced at Rs. 12,000 for the HD version, and Rs. 20,000 for a QHD version.


The Absentia team brought its headset to Delhi for Comic Con, and we also tried the headset for an extended session the next day.


How does the Tesseract measure up when compared to the Vive, Rift, or Gear VR? We’ve used the Rift Dev Kit 2, the Gear VR Innovator Edition, and the first iteration of the Vive – Oculus has shown off updates to the Rift, and HTC will be updating the Vive prototype before the consumer goes on sale in April, so the actual devices you can buy will be a lot better than the models we tried. However, that’s the case with the Tesseract as well, and the team talked to us about some major changes that are expected in the next six months. With that in mind, here are our first impressions of the headset.

First and foremost, the display used is impressive. The QHD screen is crisp and sharp, and the simple lens adjustment made it easier to use this headset while wearing glasses than the other two. There is no screen door effect to speak of – when the image is holding still, you would still need to peer carefully to be able to tell.

In terms of design, the unit felt closer to the Gear VR Innovator edition than the other two – it was light, and once we were strapped in, the weight wasn’t noticeable. This display can be worn comfortably for long periods without any real issues. It uses the standard strap arrangement that the other headsets use, and is connected to your computer with an HDMI and a USB cable. This is all pretty standard, but one big difference is that there is no companion camera to track your movement.



You can’t walk around in the virtual world and have your actions mapped automatically – you’re still reliant on the controller. There’s no head-tracking either – this was the case with the first generation Rift Development Kit, where you could look around but not lean in. The second Dev Kit added a camera and LED sensors on the body of the headset. This means that you could lean your head forward to take a closer look at something, or flinch away from something. It doesn’t sound like a big change but it really helps with the immersion to be able to do this. That makes sense when you think about it; the ability to look around gives you 2D motion – allowing you to move in and out of the scene as well goes from 2D, to 3D.

The Absentia team says that there is a second inertial motion unit on the headset, which should allow this kind of tracking, but this is still a work in progress; the team tells Gadgets 360 that it will be implementing this feature by early 2016.

Adding support for head tracking (and not just point of view tracking) will go a long way towards improving the immersion with the headset.


According to the team, it uses a 5.5-inch QHD LCD display, giving a pixel density of 463ppi. Absentia also says that the FOV of the screen is 110-degrees, with a refresh rate of 90Hz. While we could not measure these figures, visually speaking, once the lenses were adjusted to account for the distance from each eye, there were no problems at all. The screen did not flicker, and filled up our entire vision. Once we were wearing headphones, we weren’t looking at a screen, we were inside GTA 5.

Another feature that will be implemented early next year is compatibility with game consoles, starting with the PlayStation 4. The PS4 supports HID controls, and the Absentia team believes that this method can be used to integrate your point-of-view tracking with the PS4, so that the Tesseract can be used with the console, along with PCs.

The lack of cameras to track your movement feels like a major shortfall right now. That would probably not stack very well with a lot of existing content, but it restricts the kind of experiences that are possible with the headset. The most moving part of trying the HTC Vive, for example, was Tilt Brush, a 3D painting app, where you could draw in the air, and walk around the through the art you were creating. You could draw in neon lights, of textures like snowall, on a 3D canvas that you could walk through. It’s a near religious experience and one that won’t be replicable on the Tesseract.

The focus on existing PC games is a double edged sword. On the one hand, it allows the Tesseract to work out of the box with an impressive array of games, which will no doubt help with adoption – the lack of VR content is a big challenge right now. However, it also means that the headset will not be as optimised for pure made for VR experiences, which could lead to a compromised first impression. Of course, we’re still some months away from the Tesseract’s actual launch, and there is plenty of time left for the device to evolve. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey warned in a comment on Reddit that a lot of shitty headsets are coming, and a handful of good ones. From what we’ve seen, the Tesseract has the potential to be one of the good ones, as long as it keeps evolving right now.

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Original Article

Pure Mayhem Pure Flexi Headphones

Pure Mayhem

The Pure Mayhem Pure Flexi headphones are some distance from the finest build quality; they’re simple and plastic-y, but with a rate tag of £25 (from it’s simplest to be expected. The design is a simple black plastic headband, with a yellow pleather cushion on the top and earpads produced from the equal fabric, incorporating the Pure Mayhem monogram on the outsides.

The design and colour scheme are immediately reminiscent of the classic Sennheiser HD414 headphones, but there are absolutely worse models one might ape. They’re no longer overly garish in the method of some Skullcandy or Beats with the aid of Dre offerings, and they’re more than stylish adequate to wear in public.

Remedy-shrewd, they fit quite good, with protracted use offering no annoyances. You won’t suppose as if they may be no longer there with the aid of any manner of means, however they equally won’t clamp down hard ample after just a few hours to make you suppose like you’re in whole don’t forget both.

Some of the key features of this pair of headphones is the infinitely adjustable nature of the earcups. rather than the ratchet procedure customarily implied via most over-ear headphones, the Pure Flexi’s method is a sliding motion that can be used to position the cups in any role, together with detaching them altogether will have to the mood take you. nonetheless, effortless though this can be, the lack of outlined settings will pressure any person with OCD traits to the point of distraction.

Pure Mayhem Pure Flexi Headphones: Audio great and Specs

They’re also now not wonderful at reducing out ambient noise. There’s no lively noise-cancelling technology, and the seal over your ear isn’t excellent enough to block out what’s occurring round you. moreover, which means that listening at any type of high quantity is going to intent audio leaking, so these would now not be the great guess for taking up the tube.

Audio excellent was moderately spectacular for the reason that the cost – it wasn’t radically tinny, and the tonal stability was once pretty good. the only thing we noticed used to be a moderate tendency closer to distortion on the low finish, however it’s so moderate as to be barely valued at citing. The treble and midranges are all vibrant, clear and punchy ample, and the Pure Mayhem cans fared as well with classical as they did with guitar and vocal-led rock tracks.

They don’t have the depth of the Sennheiser HD 429s, which also have sharper treble. nevertheless, with the exception of that, there isn’t nearly as much of a drop in high-quality from the more pricey brand as you’d expect.

The Flexis additionally rivaled the low-priced-watching, bass-heavy Skullcandy UpRocks both in terms of design and audio capabilities. Bearing in mind that this is the first effort of a tiny design collective, it’s a reputable fulfillment.

The headphones have a 1.2m lengthy twine that’s a just right dimension for cellular gadgets and private stereos, providing a cozy length with out extra trailing cables, despite the fact that users wanting to plug them right into a computer or hi-Fi process could struggle. they arrive geared up with a standard 3.5mm jack, as well as a one-button far off and microphone for handsfree calling.

In terms of tech specs, the Pure Flexi headphones boast a frequency response of 15Hz~20KHz and a sensitivity of 113dB+3dB, with 40mm drivers and an impedance of 32 ohms.

Pure Mayhem


Sony MDR XB950BT Review

 Sony MDR XB950BT Review

If you’re an audiophile who wants the purest and clearest reproduction of the source being played, then it’s likely that you’re not interested in Sony’s XB (extra bass) headphones. We tried out the Sony MDR XB950BT – the top of the XB line, which also supports Bluetooth playback. That’s a combination which has probably sent purists running for the hills, but the results are surprisingly decent.

Available only in bright red, and at Rs. 12,990, these headphones are clearly not for everybody, but all things considered, they are actually pretty reasonably priced. If you’re not interested in bass-focused headphones, then the XB950BT doesn’t really offer anything that will change your mind, but if you’ve heard and liked any of the headphones in the XB family before, then you’ll be pleased to know that this is one of the better offerings from Sony within this line.


The Sony MDR XB950BT looks eye-catching – some would call it tacky, with its bright red metallic paint and oversized, angular and bulky shape. It’s clearly a case of Sony trying to stick to its classic design identity, while also being “contemporary” and “cool”, and frankly, the result is something that doen’t really work for us; it’s a subjective choice though, so perhaps you’ll love how the headphones look. The black version of this headphone looks much nicer to us, but unfortunately, has not been released in India.

The body of the headphones uses a mixture of metal and plastic – the headband itself is made of metal, and is durable and springy, so you can wear it quite comfortably. The rest of the body is made of plastic, which sounds reasonable giving the pricing of the headphones. While the overall look is very typical of Sony’s MDR family of headphones, the ear pads on the MDR XB950BT are different, more recessed and more comfortable than other MDR headphones.

The cups have a limited amount of mobility which allows you to stow them flat, but they don’t fold in the way the previous generation headphones all did. It’s not a major loss, but can be a little awkward if you’re already used to an XB headset.


Buttons and ports are lined up along the edge of the cups, and are easy to find and use. On the right ear, you have a volume rocker, and a toggle switch to control your playback and answer calls. The left cup has an inline omnidirectional mic, a 3.5mm input, USB port, and two recessed buttons – a long one for the bass boost (which works only in active mode – more on that in a bit) and the power button.

Using the headset is pretty simple – in passive mode, you can simply use the 3.5mm cable to connect it to your phone or PC, which is simple enough. Otherwise, you can use it in active mode, which also allows you to use the bass boost button.

Hold the power button down to switch the headset on, or if you have an NFC device, hold that against the right cup. Keep the power button pressed if you need to pair another device, and later the button down to power the headset off.

In terms of specifications the headphones check various boxes: frequency response from 3-28,000Hz, impedance 40ohm at 1Khz, and sensitivity of 106 dB/mW, with a 40mm dynamic dome type driver. Couple that with battery life of around 15 hours, and aptX and NFC for Bluetooth, and you’ve got a pretty compelling package; assuming of course, that the bright red design appeals to you. The only thing missing from the checklist really is active noise cancellation, but the cup fits tightly around your ears and does a pretty good job of isolating you as long as something is playing, even at fairly low levels.


As you’d expect from this headset, given its size and its price, the playback can get really loud. There’s very little audio leaking from the headset though; we were able to listen to music with the levels turned fairly high up, and not annoy the people sitting next to us as long as we kept wearing the headphones.

The headset definitely emphasises bass, but the rest of the spectrum isn’t thrown out of balance, unless you’ve hit the bass boost button while listening wirelessly – in which case you’ve actively chosen that particular sound. The earlier generation XB800 wired headset had a bigger bass signature, but it tended to overpower the rest of the spectrum, so having the ability to decide how much bass you want is a nice touch here. The two sound fairly similar, once bass boost is on.

The XB line has wildly varied performance across devices, and this is one is pretty good, but the sound stage is not very wide. Once again, this isn’t a purists headphone, and listening to acoustic guitar with the bass boost on is a disaster. Modern pop music, or hip-hop songs on the other hand sounded clear and punchy, which is exactly what some people are looking for. The sound does lack some clarity in the higher ranges, but the headphone does seem to get better with burn-in over time. The bass boost on the other hand feels a little like overkill.


Meanwhile, the headset is also pretty decent for calls – the mic doesn’t seem to have too many problems picking up sounds, although this can be a little tricky if you’re outdoors as the calls were a little noisy according to the people we were speaking to. Indoors, though, it worked just fine.

The Sony MDR XB950BT is one of the better headsets in the XB family – it is clearer than many of its siblings, but it can still turn up the bass with the press of a button if that’s what you want. At Rs. 12,990, it’s an expensive set if you’re not an audiophile; purists are used to paying much more for their gear, but let’s be honest – this set is not for purists.

That being said, the comfort, durability, and battery life of this set are excellent, and if you are looking for bass-led sound, then you can certainly do a lot worse than this set.


  • Bass heavy, but not muddy
  • Excellent battery life
  • Reasonably durable build


  • Bass boost drowns out other frequencies
  • The headphones look cheap and plasticky

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Design: 3
  • Performance: 3.5
  • Value For Money: 3.5
  • Overall: 3.5

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Original Article