Whenever I’m on an airplane, as soon as passengers are allowed to use electronics, at least a half-dozen pairs of Bose’s Quiet Comfort headphones pop out of carry-on bags. Despite increased competition, Bose’s noise-canceling headphones are pretty much the standard for air travel.
Portable speakers are known for being portable first, and sounding great...well, almost never. Bose is aiming to change that perception with the SoundLink Mini, a diminutive 1.5-pound speaker that connects to any device via Bluetooth. With seven hours of playback on a single charge, and surprisingly good bass, the SoundLink Mini is an itty-bitty powerhouse, whether it’s on your desk or hanging out in the backyard.
Along with your iPhone, your earbuds are probably the thing you always have on your person. The trouble is, most earbuds don’t really sound that great. But as we found out, even mediocre earbuds can sound a lot better with a better seal in your ear.
It’s been years since Apple updated its venerable Logic digital audio workstation (DAW) software, and more than a few Mac musicians were despondent about Logic's fate. But out of left field, Apple shipped a significant update that has largely restored faith in the future of the application. Logic Pro X is perhaps the best, most refined version yet, with a cleaned-up interface, even more great instruments and effects, and a price that truly cannot be beat.
Eton's FRX3 is a jack of all trades. It's a radio, with AM, FM, and NOAA weather bands. It's an LED flashlight. It's an alarm clock. It's a portable speaker. You can power it with three AAA cells, the hand crank, the built-in solar panel, or by plugging it into a USB port or AC adapter (a cable is included, but the AC adapter is not). Oh, and the internal rechargeable battery can charge your iPhone too.
Several attempts have been made to design a tiny keyboard for laptop-toting musicians. Generally, the results haven’t proven all that impressive: either the unit boasts too few keys, or the keys are too small for comfortable playing, or both. The iRig Keys aims to combat the former (and more musically compromising) complaint by shoehorning in three full octaves worth of keys, one more than the two-octave standard for this general form factor. As a result, of course, the unit ends up considerably larger than its most direct competitor; at about 20 inches long it’s small enough to fit in some backpacks and maybe large messenger bags, but only just.
The way we listen to music has changed dramatically over the last decade. The rise of the MP3 and shrinking costs of storage mean that for the vast majority of us, our music collections live on a hard drive somewhere, rather than in crates or on shelves.
Let me tell you, back in the day, when we bought an effects pedal, by golly, if it was a distortion pedal, it stayed a distortion pedal. These two newfangled pedals can be reprogrammed to just about any effect you desire. (Without even needing to trudge through the snow, uphill, both ways.)
If Jony Ive designed a Bluetooth speaker, it might look like this. Then again, if Jony Ive designed a soup can, it might look like this. The HiddenRadio blends into its surroundings, with no visible buttons or controls. You twist it on its sturdy base to reveal the speaker, and control the volume the same way: more speaker showing means louder music, and you just twist it all the way closed to turn it off. It connects via Bluetooth 2.1 or a hidden aux-in jack, and we got the best results leaving the audio device at around 80 percent volume, and then fine-adjusting by twisting the HiddenRadio.