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Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism Review: Gaming in Style

Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism Review: Gaming in Style

The growth of the gaming scene in India has led to a massive upsurge in the availability of quality gaming peripherals. One particular segment that has benefited from this is gaming audio. A steady stream of personal gaming audio products has been making its way to the market, including products from top brands such as Kingston, Asus, Razer, and Steelseries.

Speaking of Danish manufacturer Steelseries, one of its latest products in India is the Siberia Elite Prism. At Rs. 16,999, it’s a fair bit more expensive than a lot of competing products such as the Kingston HyperX Cloud II and Asus Strix Pro. Unlike Kingston and Asus however, Steelseries is a specialist in gaming peripherals and is closely associated with electronic sports and professional gaming around the world. Does that give the Siberia Elite Prism a leg up over its competitors? We find out in our review.

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Design, fit and specifications
The Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism has a frequency response range of 16-28,000Hz, with an impedance of 32Ohms and a sensitivity rating of 120dB. The standard cable that is permanently attached to the headset is 1.2m long, but a 2m extension cable is also included in the box. Both of these cables are flat and tangle-resistant.

The standard connector is a UC-E6 pin, which connects to the included Steelseries USB soundcard. A couple of adapters have also been included, which convert the UC-E6 signal to either a combined 3.5mm headset plug or individual 3.5mm microphone and audio plugs. The headset has a retractable and flexible unidirectional microphone as well. The Siberia Elite Prism is compatible with Windows, OS X, iOS, Android, and the Sony PlayStation 4 out of the box, while Xbox One compatibility requires an adapter which is sold separately.

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The included USB soundcard is housed inside a compact piece of plastic that takes over digital-to-analogue conversion duties from your PC when plugged in through USB. It has no controls whatsoever on it; only ports for the UC-E6 and 3.5mm plugs and a small indicator LED. You can choose to bypass the soundcard and just use one of the 3.5mm adapters to plug the headset directly into a source device, or another soundcard or DAC. However, the included soundcard ensures Dolby virtual surround capability and a few other sonic improvements, so we suggest you stick to using it.

Controls for volume and the microphone are on the headset itself. The left casing has a switch that turns the microphone on or off, while the right one has a volume knob. The casings themselves are plastic, but feature a matte finish. The cushioning on the earpads is thick and plush, stuffed with memory foam that makes the headset an absolute pleasure to wear even for hours at a stretch. Although there is no active noise cancellation, the thickness of the padding offers effective sound isolation.

The lower headband is self-adjusting and has its own padding, while the upper headband is exposed steel, holding the entire headset together. It’s a comfortable, well-built and well-designed affair, and even though design is a matter of personal preferences, we think anyone with good taste will agree that this is a beautiful pair of headphones.

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The only real flaw is the size of the Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism, which makes it difficult to carry around. This is a big headset with no folding mechanism and no included carry case. Although light and comfortable enough, it’s still an immensely large product that might prove to be inconvenient if you’re used to taking your headphones everywhere with you.

One of the most unique features of the design of the Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism is its two 16-million-colour LED bands. Each casing has an LED band which lights up and glows when the headset is plugged in. You can use the included software to customise the colour or select pre-programmed colour combinations and light patterns. The light effects are impressive, and this is something that really makes the device stand out. It’s sure to get you a lot of attention if you use the headset in public.

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Steelseries recommends that you install its Steelseries Engine 3 software to optimise the experience of using the Siberia Elite Prism headset. Although the headphones will work fine without it, it’s still a good idea to get the software installed. It’s an efficiently designed application, and it recognised our review unit immediately on Windows. All settings reflected immediately, from changes in the LED colour to equaliser tweaks. The software is also necessary to switch on Dolby mode for virtual surround sound, and to adjust specific microphone settings such as noise reduction, auto compression, sidetone, and volume.

The Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism is Dolby-enabled for virtual 7.1 surround sound. Although there are just two channels, the tuning ensures that there is a decent and fairly immersive sense of where the sound is coming from. This is particularly useful in FPS games, since being able to accurately pinpoint the location of enemies by their sound can make all the difference between (in-game) life and death. We go more into detail on how the Elite performed in the next section.

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Performance
We tested the Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism with a handful of sources and material, including our hardware review rig running Windows, a standard Windows laptop, an Android smartphone, and a Sony PlayStation 4. Games used in the review were GTA V, FarCry 4, The Crew, and Destiny, while media used included a selection of movies and music across genres.

We started out with GTA V on our review rig. The game is known for having some of the best audio design and engineering of recently released games, and we were fairly impressed. The sound was clean, detailed and immersive. The impressive sound imaging and soundstaging abilities of the Siberia Elite Prism made for realistic depth and separation of sonic elements. The sonic signature has been properly tuned to achieve as much detail as possible, and you can hear every bit of audio with realistic depth and feel.

Moving on Far Cry 4, we were able to test the headset’s virtual surround sound capabilities. The effect can definitely be felt – turning slowly on the spot while a firefight was taking place a short distance away gave a proper sense of the effect. Although you can definitely feel the direction and depth of the sound, there’s just a little bit missing in terms of accuracy. The virtual sound stage is excellent, but it leaves the origin of the faintest sounds feeling just a little too wide and unspecific thanks to its subtlety. Most experienced gamers will still be able to pick up on these cues, though, so the slight lack of accuracy is definitely not a deal-breaker.

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We used The Crew to test the tone of the sound. The roar of car engines and other loud effects such as police sirens and car crashes were punchy and powerful for the most part, although there was a little bit of thump missing. Once again, this can be attributed to the subtlety and the finesse of the sound, which keeps the audio toned down a hint and doesn’t quite let it achieve the aggression and attack that is sometimes needed to bring out the excitement in game audio.

The Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism is also great for use with movies and TV shows, thanks to its virtual surround experience. Sound was a bit soft, but comfortable nonetheless. Since the tuning is geared towards amplifying mids and highs, it works well with movies and shows. The surround isn’t quite as effective as it is in-game, but it’s still satisfying. The headset’s only real weakness is its handling of stereo music. The sound is weak and lacking in any excitement whatsoever, feeling forced and boring at times.

Finally, the microphone is particularly neat in how it retracts and can be switched on and off, but there is nothing really special about it except that when extended, it is close enough to your mouth to ensure your words are picked up clearly. It functions well, of course, but we didn’t find anything about the microphone that sets it apart from the run-of-the-mill microphones that are on most stereo headsets these days.

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Verdict
The Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism is undoubtedly one of the best looking gaming headsets on the market right now, thanks to its sheer size, styling, and the eye-catching LED bands. It comes with its own soundcard and software, both of which work well, and plenty of adapters and extension cables to make sure that you don’t have any connectivity issues. The sound is also excellent for the most part, with detailed and immersive audio performance with games and movies. The virtual surround effect is also fairly satisfying and detailed.

There are some minor weaknesses, such as a slight lack of accuracy with the faintest of sounds in surround mode, and poor performance with music. While the latter would be a serious concern with most headsets, it’s important to remember that these headphones are designed for gaming and music wasn’t meant to be a strong point. Furthermore, this can be improved a little bit by playing around with the equaliser settings.

On the whole, the Siberia Elite Prism is a comfortable, good looking and sonically capable headset. While it is a bit on the expensive side, rest assured that you are getting a decent return on your investment. We highly recommend the Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism to gamers looking for an immersive, detailed and good-looking pair of gaming headphones.

Pros

  • Looks good; well designed
  • Extremely comfortable to wear
  • Soundcard, software and adapters included
  • Detailed, clean sound with excellent depth and soundstaging
  • Virtual surround sound works well for the most part

Cons

  • Slight lack of accuracy in the virtual surround
  • Could do with a bit more aggression and excitement
  • Poor performance with music

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Design: 4.5
  • Performance: 4
  • Value for money: 4
  • Overall: 4

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Original NDTV Gadgets

Nexus 5X, iPad Air 2, Intel Compute Stick, TVs, and More Tech Deals

Nexus 5X, iPad Air 2, Intel Compute Stick, TVs, and More Tech Deals

This week’s best deals feature a smartphone, tablets, and a PC, apart from other gadgets.

1. Apple iPad Air 2 128GB Wi-Fi and Cellular
If you are in the market for the high-end variant of the iPad Air 2, Paytm is offering a cashback of 8% on the 128GB Wi-Fi and Cellular variant. You can grab the tablet for as low as Rs. 53,217 (effective). The same variant of the iPad Air 2 normally sells at the Rs. 57,500-57,800 price point. The iPad Air 2 is powered by Apple’s A8X chip along with the M8 motion co-processor. It features a 9.7-inch Retina Display. There’s an 8MP primary camera at the back and a 1.2MP front-facing camera for video calls. This variant allows you to use a cellular connection so you can get internet access while you’re on the move.

Price: Rs. 53,217 (MRP Rs. 59,900)

Link: Paytm

2. Intel Compute Stick

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If you’re looking to setup a barebones computing environment, the Intel Compute Stick is one pretty decent option. You can simply hook it up to any monitor, attach a keyboard and mouse, and you have a working computer. Initially sold at the Rs. 8,000 price point, you can now grab the Intel Compute Stick for as low as Rs. 6,969 (effective) at Paytm using code ACC15. The Intel Compute Stick is powered by the Intel Atom quad-core processor, supported by 2GB of RAM. It comes with 32GB of on-board storage and runs Windows 8.1 out of the box. It includes a micro SD memory card slot for adding additional memory, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for wireless connectivity.

Price: Rs. 6,969 (MRP Rs. 12,990)

Link: Paytm

3. LG Nexus 5X 16GB

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The latest Nexus device from Google and LG, Nexus 5X (Review | Pictures), is down to Rs. 26,148 (MRP Rs. 31,990) for the 16GB variant. That’s a pretty decent deal if you are looking to upgrade or switch to an Android device. Nexus 5X consolas  comes with a 5.2-inch full HD display and runs Android 6.0 out of the box. The smartphone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 SoC which includes a hexa-core processor supported by 2GB of RAM. The Nexus 5X includes a 2700 mAh battery which is decent enough to last an entire day, depending on your usage.

Price: Rs. 26,148 (MRP Rs. 31,990)

Link: Amazon

4. Samsung SCX-4021S monochrome laser printer

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The Samsung SCX-4021S laser printer is down to Rs. 7,689 (MRP Rs. 13,000) this week. The monochrome multifunction printer can be a great addition to your workstation at home or office if you don’t care much about colored prints. The printer offers printing, scanning and copying functionalities using the in-built scanner. It can also directly scan and e-mail, eliminating the need to manually go through the entire process. The printer comes with an Eco button which promises to save toner, paper and power.

Price: Rs. 7,689 (MRP Rs. 13,000)

Link: Amazon

5. Lenovo wireless headphone

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In the market for a wireless headphone in the Rs. 1500 price point? Snapdeal has dropped the price on the Lenovo wireless headphones to Rs. 1,559 (MRP Rs. 4,999). The Lenovo wireless headphones come with a mic and connect to your mobile device or computer using a Bluetooth connection. There’s an in-built rechargeable battery that powers the headphones and you can easily fold them and carry while you’re travelling. If you pay using HDFC Bank debit card, you can get an additional 5% cashback on Snapdeal.

Price: Rs. 1,559 (MRP Rs. 4,999)

Link: Snapdeal

6. Vu 32-inch Full HD LED TV

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Bought a new gaming console this Diwali? You might be interested in a basic 32-inch LED TV that doesn’t break your bank account. The VU 32-inch full HD LED TV is now available for Rs. 17,990 (MRP Rs. 20,000) and if you’ve got an old TV you can even use the exchange offers (visible only on the app) to get even more discounts. VU’s 32-inch LED TV comes with two HDMI ports and two USB ports. The TV can easily be used as an additional monitor for your workstation as well. At this price, it’s a no-brainer that the Vu 32-inch LED TV offers value for money.

Price: Rs. 17,990 (MRP Rs. 20,000)

Link: Flipkart

7. Lenovo Lynx

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The Lenovo Lynx hybrid is now down to Rs. 22,899 (MRP Rs. 53,000) on Snapdeal. The 11.6-inch laptop runs Windows 8 and is powered by the Intel Atom dual-core processor, supported by 2GB of RAM. It comes with a 64GB SSD and a keyboard docking station. The 11.6-inch IPS display runs at a resolution of 1366×768 pixels. Lenovo promises a battery backup of around 8 hours, depending on your usage. The hybrid also includes 2 USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI port. The keyboard dock itself has in-built battery so it doesn’t drain the tablet’s battery. You can also upgrade the Lenovo Lynx to Windows 8.1.

Link: Snapdeal

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Original NDTV Gadgets

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.

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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.

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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.

Performance
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.

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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.

Verdict
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.

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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.

Pros

  • Good design
  • Appears durable
  • Easy to untangle

Cons

  • Only average audio
  • Relatively high price

Ratings (Out of 5)

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

 

More info: https://www.rumotoring.co.uk

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Original Article

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.

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Design
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.

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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.

Performance
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.

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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.

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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.

Verdict
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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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

Jaybird Sportsband Headphones hands-on

Jaybird Sportsband

Taking a page right from the 1980s, the Jaybird Sportsband Headphones surely stand out from most Bluetooth headphones we tend to normally see – mainly because of its blended 80s style design mixed in with a sleek, modern look. Even better, it also comes along with a lifetime warranty against sweat, so yeah, you can get through some extreme workouts with this one.

There’s no denying it whatsoever, but the Jaybird Sportsband Headphones simply has a stylish look with its design. Nowadays, we tend to see Bluetooth headphones that wrap around the back of our heads, but with this, it pays homage to the old-school style look of yesterday’s headphone style. Available in a wide array of color options, our luscious red model simply shines brightly under the sun thanks to its glossy plastic materials – though, it’s prone to the usual set of smudges and fingerprints. Luckily, it’s also adjustable to fit just about any head size, but then again, we worry that it might not be enough to accommodate extraordinarily large heads. Nevertheless, anyone flaunting this will surely attract a lot of attention.

All of its navigational controls are found on one side of the headphones, which provide us functions for pause/play/call, track forward, track reverse, volume up, and volume down. Additionally, there’s a concealed microphone nearby as well to enable the wearer to seamlessly transition to a phone call from listening to music. However, it requires a proprietary port to charge its internal battery via any USB port. Still, we’re comforted by the punchy tones emitted by its two speakers – as it never sounds shrill or irritating. Moreover, the cushions that are placed over the speakers ensure that it never feels too loose to use.

At its heart, it’s also able to deliver a robust audio listening experience that’s sure to keep those using it motivated to exercise and work out.

 

Jaybird Sportsband