Confused by what some new products have to offer? Read on to become an expert in all things audio!
Headphone app integration
Headphones are now packed with tech, so they’ll often come with apps to help you track and customise their performance. The Sony WF-1000XM3 true wireless in-ears, for example, use the Sony Headphones Connect app. It’ll let you see the battery level of each earbud, tweak the built-in equaliser and flip the functions of the controls. There’s even a Sound Quality Mode, for prioritising clear sound over the strength of the Bluetooth connection.
Voice assistants are the smarter way to control your digital life. With a few simple commands, you can pick an album or playlist, skip tracks and change the volume without touching your device. The big three are Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant. They’ll also read you the news, pick out new recipes, and control smart bulbs and thermostats.
True wireless earphones offer total freedom. No wire to your music player, no wire between the earbuds – just easy, unrestricted listening. They connect to your device via Bluetooth, so you’ll need to make sure it’s compatible. Some also include active noise-cancelling, which cuts out certain sounds from the outside world that could disrupt your listening.
Dolby Atmos is home cinema technology where the sound travels both horizontally and vertically, surrounding you. That means you can hear aeroplanes soaring overhead, the birds in the trees and rumbling thunder as a storm emerges. It works in a number of ways: you can have speakers placed in your ceiling; speakers that fire upwards; or opt for a product that recreates the effect with virtual technology.
Create a haven of great audio
There’s a huge range of ‘smart’ speakers and soundbars – usually, this means they have a voice assistant that’ll perform tasks, like reading news and weather reports, controlling smart bulbs and thermostats, and almost anything to do with music playback.
When it comes to headphones, it’s all about the ideal fit. Choose from in-ear, on-ear and over-ear, and features like Bluetooth and active noise-cancelling. Just think, when you can filter out unwanted noise you’ll be able to enjoy your music in peace more often!
Great sound isn’t just for the home. A personal music player is ideal for taking your tunes on the road, and some can play hi-res files too – those are the ones with a greater sample rate than CDs. Given music playback is its main focus, a good one will likely sound a lot better than your smartphone.
The term might seem a little archaic these days, but a good hi-fi is anything but old-fashioned. There are loads of great all-in-one systems, as well as separates, that do everything from play CDs and radio stations to streaming services such as Spotify. There’s something for all types of listener.
Few people would have predicted such a big resurgence in vinyl but the turntable market has grown along with it. There are loads of great-sounding traditional decks, as well as automatic players with Bluetooth on board. Just make sure the one you choose plays all the speeds in your collection – 78rpm is rare and not all record players can go that fast.
From water-resistant portables to mains-powered behemoths, there’s a Bluetooth speaker to suit just about any space or need. Many of them will let you pair two or more together for even bigger stereo sound. And look out for physical connections such as aux-in too – that means you can plug in other devices that don’t feature Bluetooth.
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