Tech

Best Gear of June 2021

Best Gear of June 2021

Talk about extremes. The summer’s first official batch of Top Picks range from a $60 set of noise-cancelling wireless earbuds from a brand you never heard of to an $18,000 state-of-the-art surround processor from one of Europe’s premiere electronics companies. Both will surprise you.

EarFun Free Pro Noise-Cancelling Wireless Earbuds: $60


Performance
Features
Comfort
Value

Is it possible to a great sounding set of noise-canceling wireless buds for only 60 bucks? Absolutely, as long as you’re willing to forgo app control and settle for less-than-ideal noise cancellation. EarFun’s Free Pro earbuds — one of three Top Picks in our recent face-off — have a respectable 6-hour battery life with active noise cancellation (ANC) turned on, and will treat you to surprisingly decent sound quality. As reviewer Stewart Wolpin put it, “I was quite frankly stunned by the robust sound the cheap EarFun Free Pros provided. You get bouncy if over-emphasized bass in an otherwise airy, open soundstage.”

Though its ANC wasn’t as effective as the other buds in the roundup (all but one of which were considerably more expensive), the Free Pro was able to eliminate “around half of the most egregious airplane-engine drone” in Wolpin’s listening tests but lacks a useful ambient listening mode. And even though there’s no app (which could be a good thing, depending on your point of view), the buds have simple tap controls for navigating playback or adjusting volume and you can listen in mono with a single earbud. Playback doesn’t automatically stop when you remove the buds but you can charge them on a Qi wireless charging pad. If you’re only paying $60 who’s going to complain?

Adding to their allure, the EarFun buds are super light so you barely feel them and come with four sets of silicone eartips and two sets of stabilizing ear wings. The buds are also tiny, which means they don’t protrude from your ears but they can also be a tad difficult to dislodge if you push them in too deep. Caveats aside, the Free Pros offer amazing value and are perfect for everyday use.

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Robust sound
Light and comfortable
Decent battery life
Minus
Mediocre noise cancellation
Ineffective ambient-listening mode

Full Review Here

JVC HA-A50T Noise-Cancelling Wireless Earbuds: $100


Performance
Features
Comfort
Value

JVC’s HA-A50T cost $40 more than EarFun’s Free Pro earbuds and flip the equation, offering strong noise cancellation but only good (not great) sound quality. Reviewer Stewart Wolpin was impressed with the buds ability to combat external noise, putting it on par with models costing twice as much. “I experienced a dramatic cut-off of oppressive airplane drone with just some white noise humming through, and voices nearly disappeared.” JVC’s ambient listening mode was even more impressive, delivering “nearly all the clarity you’d hear with your naked ears — far better performance than I expected given the price.”

The JVC’ buds are also water-resistant with an IPX4 rating and equipped with a practical Touch & Talk feature. When you tap the earbud to activate the ambient-sound mode, the music automatically pauses and restarts when you turn noise cancellation back on. Battery life is about the same as the EarFun, providing 6 hours of playback with ANC engaged or 8 hours with it off. Like the EarFun buds, there’s no app to personalize the sound or control operation — you control track navigation and volume by gently tapping the buds.

Though not as small and light as the Free Pro earbuds, the JVC buds feel nicely balanced and stay put in your ears. You also get five sets of silicone and memory-foam ear tips to ensure a tight, comfortable fit. The HA-A50T earbuds are ideally suited for inveterate travelers who value effective noise cancellation over tip-top sound quality.

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Good noise cancellation
Useful ambient-sound mode
Decent battery life
Minus
Middling sound quality

Full Review Here

Published at Thu, 24 Jun 2021 13:01:55 +0000