After wandering around Best Buy during the current holiday season, I was surprised to see a burgeoning selection of true wireless earbuds actually available for sale in store. "True wireless" meaning that they're just two earbuds with nothing connecting them. First to market contenders already existed since a year ago: the Earin and Bragi Dash and the like but I figured the first ones of this product type would most likely not be very good and subsequent reviews pretty much affirmed that view. But the brightly packaged and slick-looking Skybuds attracted my attention so I decided to give them a shot. I subsequently also tested out the Sol Republic Amps Air and Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless Earbuds as well to try to get a better idea on what the audio quality of these latest Bluetooth earbuds were like.
But before we get started, I just wanted to make clear that my primary use case for earbuds is to listen to music and watch videos during my commute. So sound quality and control set are the more important criteria for me. With that out of the way...
For the past couple of years, my workhorse commute in-ear headphone was the Sony XBA-3iP, packing 3 balanced armature drivers and a built-in, full-suite (playback & volume controls) smartphone controller/mic. The reason I liked it was because it was one of the few, if possibly the only, 3-driver in-ear at the time that had a relatively small casing and didn't require being worn w/the cable looped up and around the ear. I absolutely HATE wearing headphones that way mainly cause the cables never stay in place for me. It was a pretty good pair of in-ears, not the absolute best reviews, but good enough for me. Unfortunately early last year the volume control broke. But since everything else about it was still good I continued to use them, until towards the end of the year when I finally started thinking about finding a replacement.
Embarrassingly enough, by that time I had completely forgotten exactly what was broken with the Sony headphones. Just that it wasn't 100% functional thus, I should replace it. So I wound up picking up a pair of the dual-driver Puro Sound Labs IEM500s for a dirty cheap price on eBay only to eventually realize much too late that the reason I wanted to replace the Sony was for the volume control, which the Puro had none to begin with. *facepalm*
But I liked the Puro well enough to switch to it as my main in-ears. After awhile though, GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) started nipping at my heels so I started looking for yet another replacement, this time with volume controls. And so I ended up with the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear. While this had all the functionality I wanted, I wasn't completely sold on the sound signature. So back to browsing on Amazon again for another pair that had a sound more in tune with what I like. And that's how I came across the 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones with In-line Microphone and Remote. I had never heard of 1MORE before but the reviews on Amazon were really good and the price was insane for a triple-driver. At about the same time, Grado apparently decided they needed some of my money as well and released their new iGe. They were priced the same so I figured I'd do a comparison to see how they would fare against each other.
So that's what this post is ultimately about, a 4-way in-ear headphone comparison. Before I get started, I would just like to make clear that I am in no way a full-fledged audiophile. I don't inspect every detail of headphone specs or look at/compare measurement charts or whatnot. I don't even know what much of the specs even mean. I just plug in the headphones, crank up some tunes, close my eyes, and listen. I can distinguish between highs, mids and lows and possibly make out differences in soundstage if I concentrate hard enough. But I can't wax poetic about the quality of each sound range. As for how I tested, since I use these primarily during my work commute, I just plugged them straight into my iPhone 6S. No amp. I'll also comment a little about the physical aspects of each pair of headphones. So, with that out of the way, here goes nothing.
For the past year or so, I had been slowly becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the pixel density of computer monitors that I've been using for the past few years. As can be seen from last year's desk photo, I've accumulated three 24" displays over the years: an Apple Cinema Display flanked by two Dells. But after being spoiled by the high PPI displays on the cell phones and tablets of today, the low pixel density of the displays from yesteryear were starting to grate on my eyes.
In anticipation of a family outing to a Great Wolf indoor water park, I once again began pondering what to use for photos in an aquatic environment. In the past I had tried out waterproof compact cameras from Nikon and Olympus and found them lacking. Furthermore, we don't visit water parks often enough to justify putting down the $$$ for a camera that would see use at most once every few years. And they would find little use in a non-aquatic environment too since my phone has pretty much picked up all the photo duties that a compact had at one point years ago. One time I tried to make do with my iPhone in a "waterproof" zip bag. Which turned out not to be so waterproof so you could imagine what happened then. I had also tried out a LifeProof nüüd case with my iPhone 5 and unfortunately I don't recall at all how useful it was in action. At least I didn't wind up with a drowned iPhone. That, I would have remembered. Again, not something we use too often.
After last week's simple udon recipe, this week's recipe #4 is even easier, requiring just a toaster.
Not too tough to toast a piece of bread, slather it with mayo and layer a couple of slices of tomato on top. I did it w/a slice of tofu bread and Kewpie lite. The mayo and tomato makes a nice combo and I like the taste but as with last week's recipe, not particularly filling.
So for my second slice I added a couple of slices of prosciutto that I had lying around in the fridge. Could also make do with ham (or any other sliced meat of choice). Prosciutto may be wasted on this particular recipe though since the mayo tends to dominate the distinctive prosciutto taste. Anyway, final score for the original recipe: 6 out of 10.
Well this project is taking a lot longer than I originally was planning. Blame it on my well developed sense of procrastination. =p But anyway, after an almost 2 year hiatus, I'm back with Vamp-sama's recipe #3.
This particular recipe is definitely super easy. Doesn't even need the use of fire, just a microwave. For awhile I was hesitant to try it because I'm not a fan of raw egg. I know the idea is that the egg gets "cooked" a little bit when it comes in contact with the noodle when you're mixing everything together but since you don't really need to heat the udon up all that much, you're still pretty much eating raw egg. The only other issue I had when throwing this together is that I didn't defrost the udon noodles enough before microwaving them. So the udon was still stuck together afterwards and broke apart into chunks instead of individual strands.
When everything's mixed up together, it's actually not that bad. I over-soy sauced it this time so it came out a little saltier than I like but otherwise it's pretty good. The only other problem with this particular dish is that one package of udon is pretty damn little, especially for an American-sized appetite. And with the lack of anything really of substance to it, it doesn't do very much to satiate hunger. But I guess you can't really beat it in terms of simplicity and low cost. Final score, 6 out of 10.
Long time readers (if there are any left ;-p) will know that I'm a fairly extensive user of Apple products. So when the iPhone 5 officially opened up for preorder, I woke up at 3am just so I could place mine (64GB black AT&T).
Flash forward a week when the iPhone 5 is due to be delivered. I was home that day but UPS was tricky and showed up in the morning when I was out taking my kid to school instead of their usual afternoon time. So yeah, annoyed already. But, I do what I usually do when I miss an UPS shipment: call them up and tell them to hold it for me at the local distrib center (which is about a 15 min drive away). Their nightly pickup times are from 8:30 to 9:30pm. Figuring it'd be a busy evening for them, I show up at 8:00pm to an already lengthy line. It got to be my turn at a little after 9pm. Surprise, surprise, my package can't be found. Guy at counter says possibly the driver for my area hasn't come back yet and to just wait around. So that's what I do. About a half hour later, while I'm staring a hole into the counter guy's head, he updates me, "Well the driver did seem to have already been back but we still have no idea where your package is." Hrrrgghh.... But he does give my package info to their iPhone runner (just a guy who's sole purpose that night was to run around the center tracking down iPhone packages) and the wait continued. Another half hour goes by before the runner comes back and YAY, he has my package!
So I hightail it home since it's already been TWO HOURS that I've wasted on what should have been at most a half hour wait. At home, I open up the shipping box and pause for a bit when confronted with a white iPhone 5 box. Heart sinking, I flip the box around and yup, 16GB white iPhone 5. Frack. Double check the model and serial # on the shipping box with the ones on the iPhone 5 box. Didn't match. Double frack. WTF do I do now? Decided to give Apple customer service a call. "Sorry, due to extremely high call volume, blah blah blah. Try calling back later." *click* *dial tone*
So, iPhone 5 launch day BIG FAIL!