Tag Archives: Audio

My Review: Bose QC 35 Headphones

Long time no write I know. Soz.
Welcome to my review of the Bose QC35 headphones. This is my first ever Bose product, and, I must state now that I am not the original owner of these. I don’t have any of the original packaging, just the carry case, headphones themselves, audio cable, airplane adapter and USB charging cable.

Slight spoiler alert, I’m not too bothered about not having the original packaging; it doesn’t look like I’ll be selling these any time soon.

Background

So, this is the first product of Bose’s I have ever tried, and I wanted them ever since I tried them in a Bose store, but then I didn’t get a very good sense of how these headphones really performed, just that they had a very nice first impression.
Fast forward just under a year, someone was selling them for quite a discounted price, so I jumped at the chance.

Features and specs

When you buy these knew, you get the headphones, weighing in at 300G, quite a nice carry case with plenty of space for the headphones and all cables. I can’t say anything about the presentation in the box because I didn’t get it.

They are Bose’s current top of the line noise cancelling model; the next model up from the QC 25’s, and let me tell you, it’s a much needed upgrade. Instead of using AAA batteries for the noise cancelling tech, Bose has integrated a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which offers up 20 hours of listening time, and charges via micro USB. But, I think what enticed me more towards these headphones instead of any of the other Bose models, was the added convenience of Bluetooth.
It doesn’t feature aptex connectivity, but does feature NFC (for one-touch paring if your device supports it). The battery life doubles to 40 hours if you’re listening via the 3.5MM jack. It also features a 3 button remote for control of music, volume and calls on the right ear cup. The 3.5MM jack is on the left cup, and the micro USB on the right. The music controls only work via bluetooth, and there is no in-line remote on the cable.
You can clearly feel the microphone used for calls on the right ear cup, but that isn’t the only microphone in the product. Bose’s sound sucking technology uses microphones inside and outside the ear cups to truly isolate you from any sound.
Design wise, the headphones look similar to their predecessors. The switch on the right cup acts as an on/off switch and to pare a new Bluetooth device. The headband is quite chunky, and is padded with leather, as are the ear cups. And I will tell you now, they’re comfortable. The outside of the cups are aluminium too, which is a nice touch.

You can also download the Bose connect app for your smartphone, but this doesn’t offer up any audio tweaks, it allows you to update the software, adjust the sleep timer, change their bluetooth name, voice prompt language and use Bose’s “music share” feature to share audio to another pare of headphones at the same time. That really is it for the app.

Speaking of voice prompt’s, the headphones have text-to-speech technology that lets you know how much battery you have left when you turn them on, and which device it is connected to. It can also tell you the name of the person who is calling when the phone rings. The headphones can connect to 2 devices at once, but remember up to 10 devices. When you are connected to 2 devices, simply start playing music on your first device , and if you stop and start playing something on the other one, the headphones will switch. Handy if you are listening to your iPod (other portable music players are available), and get a phone call. If you want to force it to connect to a 3rd device while it is already connected to 2, simply slide the switch to the right until it tells you it is looking for the device you want, and if it finds it, it will disconnect one of your other devices.

To start paring, simply hold down the on switch, and the headphones will tell you “ready to pare”. Simply look for the Bose’s under your bluetooth menu on your device, and select them, and bingo, you’re connected. How easy was that?

So, what do I think?

Now that I’ve covered everything I can think of to cover about the features, design and specifications, it’s time to get into why you’re reading this. What I think of them.

Quite simply put, I think they’re well worth their £300+ price tag. The first thing I thought when I sat down to do some proper listening was wow.
These have made me appreciate the music I’m listening to, more than other headphones have, … and I own a lot of headphones.

I thought the active noise cancelling would impact the sound of the music greatly, but Bose seem to know what they’re doing in that department. (I’d hope they would, they’ve been the market leaders in this field for years). Even without the active noise cancelling turned on, they still do block out quite a lot of noise, but slide that switch on, and you get whisked away to a world where only the music you’re listening to exists.

The noise cancelling does apply pressure on your ears, but this is normal, and once you get used to the strange sensation of being at one with your music and your own thoughts, you don’t notice at all; only when you turned the headphones off while still waring them do you notice how much they have been blocking out.

The noise cancelling tech is very good at blocking out low rumbles, e.g. engines, but I find that it also does well with blocking any noisy environment. In fact, it’s so good at blocking noise that when you’re on the phone, the headphones allow the phone mic to pass through so you don’t end up shouting at the person on the other end of the phone. The only scenario which the headphones don’t perform well with is wind. Because there are microphones on the outside, the wind does cause you to hear wind noise in your headphones, but I’ve read that this is the case with any active noise cancelling cans.

Sound wise, they just sound excellent with anything that I’ve thrown at them, and I’ve thrown a lot at them. I’ve given them 320K spotify streams, 256 AAC iTunes match files, 320K cd rips, and very high quality FLAC files, and it’s handled all with ease.

These headphones use a digital equaliser that adjusts the sound on the fly for you, and even at lower volumes, you don’t lose any quality.

The first album i pressed play on was a 320K CD rip of Ed Sheeran’s latest album ÷ streamed via bluetooth from my MacBook air using iTunes. From the first upbeat opening guitar chord of ‘eraser’ to the closing piano chord of ‘save myself’, I was hooked. (And not just because it is a fantastic album that even after several listens I’m still as impressed as release day).

The headphones kicked the album up a notch. I’ve listened to this album on a lot of different sources and these headphones certainly knew what they were doing with it. Bass frequencies were certainly prominent but not so overpowering that it’s uncomfortable to listen to. You certainly get to experience the broad frequency spectrum that these headphones can offer.

I tend to listen to a lot of hiphop and r&b; songs that pride themselves on their baselines, so I was eager to see what these headphones would make of say, drake’s 2016 Views album. So that’s exactly what I played next.

Again, I was impressed by the headphones ability to make you lose yourself in what ever you’re listening to. Certainly, in a song like Too Good, drake’s tone can be easily determined on top of the rest of the music. Similarly in a song like ‘One Dance’ it is hard not to tap your foot.


I’ve listened to a lot of different music through these over the past couple of months (also the series 13 Reasons Why on Netflix); as anyone will tell you my shuffle is varied; I’ve been listening to iTunes shuffle while I write this, so I’ve heard everything from Lethal Bizzle to Takethat), and the only thing I have really come across is that it is very quick to notice when you are listening to a lower quality of recording; baselines aren’t as tight, and the rest of the spectrum can sound a bit muddy; still listenable though. This isn’t really a problem, unless you start listening to anything below 320K mp3 or 256K AAC.

Something good to round off this sound section though, they are very quick to highlight background elements in a track, say, background reverb on vocals, or a guitar or piano. Acoustic recordings sound very good.

When I Switched to a cable instead of using bluetooth, I didn’t notice a dramatic step up in quality, which speaks volumes about how good these things are via bluetooth, and how good bluetooth audio technology is these days. I’ve tried bluetooth headphones in the passed where the switch is definitely noticeable.

The lack of an EQ doesn’t bother me really; I’ve found myself not wanting to ever tweak anything.

Battery life is very respectable, although I haven’t done any timed tests, I am finding Bose’s claims to be very accurate, as I have only had to charge these things a handful of times since I got them, and I’ve certainly put these things through their paces; listening for hours at a time. They are really comfortable to ware for long periods ; I could easily use these on a long hall flight.

The head band is very adjustable, to make sure that what ever the size of your head, the headphones will fit snuggly around your ears.

Verdict

I’ve ben trying out these headphones for the passed couple of months and I can honestly say I’m impressed. From the research and from what I’ve read, the QC 35’s were the upgrade the QC 25’s didn’t know they needed. Apart from the batteries. I can imagine that got irritating. I wouldn’t know, having never owned a Bose product before.

To summarise, very worth the price tag, and if you are in the market for a high end set of noise canceling headphones, certainly consider these, as I believe they offer superior sound quality.

A bit expensive I know, but if you want to pick them up on Amazon, click here.

Thanks for reading, and see you in the next one.

My review: Chromecast audio

When google announced this little box of tricks that connected to your speakers and turned any normal system into a fully connected one, I was intrigued to try it out.
I’m going to run through getting it out the box, setting it up and how I find the range of apps available. My main one that I will be using though is spotify connect however I will me trying out other services like google music.

Google music

Speaking of Google music, I’ve been having a bit of trouble with uploading my own collection. The music manager application is completely inaccessible to mac and windows users due to the way its designed and built. I tried the web app for chrome and on mac it’s a little bit difficult as chrome isn’t the best of browsers to get around, but I managed to get a few tracks uploaded. However, I tried uploading a big folder but I can’t see the status of the upload; progress, ETC. Anyway, back to the main point of this post.

Unboxing

It’s a very nice google style box; the same type (just a bit smaller) that my nexus came in. You don’t get a lot in the box but the device itself is presented first. If you don’t know what one looks like, it’s a small round disk, with grooves on it like a vinyl.
A picture of the Chromecast audio
It has an input for the micro USB cable, a 3.5 output jack and a button which I think resets the device although I’m not sure. Surrounding the device in the box is a small 3.5MM to 3.5MM cable; trust me it’s small. Once you’ve lifted the device out there is a very nice power adapter and a longer usb to micro USB cable then I was expecting. Good quality as well. And that’s it.
Setup was the easiest thing I think I’ve ever done, plug the device in to power and your system, choose add a device in the Chromecast app, choose Chromecast audio, join the WiFi network it has created, play a test tone, enter a name, join your WiFi and then you’re ready to start casting things. It is as simple as that.
Of the apps I had installed on my phone, I could cast from: Google play music, spotify and TuneIn radio.

First impressions and review

Spotify was my first choice as it’s the service I use the most and pay for. I loaded up a playlist, hit the button to choose a spotify connect device and my Chromecast appeared straight away. One double-tap, and pleasing tone later, music stopped playing from my phone and through my speakers. Honestly it was so easy I found myself thinking “surely it can’t be this simple”, but it really is.

I went into the Chromecast app just to play around and see what settings I could tweak and fchange. You can change the name of your device, the WiFi network, timezone, time format, language, turn the feedback sounds on and off, turn on and off guest mode (more that in a bit) and turn on something google is calling “high dynamic range, for AVRs and HiFi systems”. I turned this on as I had it connected to my 2.1 system at the time and it made one hell of a difference. Before it sounded a bit flat and boring but this made the sound louder and boosted all the frequencies. As I write this (not at the time of posting) I’ve got it connected to our sound bar playing a spotify station and the ‘high dynamic range’ is making a big difference there as well. I then moved on to tune in because I thought “Hey! £35 internet radio!” But alas, this was not to be had. Every station I tried to cast brought up an error saying that I couldn’t cast it. I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to use this as a radio but Spotify is good enough.
Screenshot of error in TuneIn radio
I also tried a couple of tracks that I had stored in my google music library and no problem there, tap cast and they start playing. I also just tried Rdio and the app is a little bit difficult to get around but I managed to get that playing through the Chromecast audio no problem.

I would like to see more apps, e.g. it would be nice to have an app that could cast your music stored on your phone, but I suppose google users have that with play music. Also, Google did try and get Apple music support on board but it never came through. I have yet to try this with android but as soon as I do I will be back with my experience.

Verdict

It’s a lovely little device that works like a dream, as long as you have a Rdio or SPotify subscription or are a google play music user. It does exactly what it says on the tin though, it’s turned my speakers from boring offline speakers to WiFi-enabled ones that I can play Spotify one without paying over the odds for a dedicated streamer or something like a Sonos system.
Thanks for reading, and keep watching out for more reviews in the future.
Thanks!

My Review: AKG K451 headphones

Introduction

Hello there and welcome to another tech review. This time I’ve got the AKG k451 on the go headphones. I picked these up for just under £40, and I’m really excited to try them out.

Background

I had been interested in buying a new set of headphones for a while. I’ve got an in ear pair that I like, and a pair of Sennheiser PX 200-II’s which are really good for travelling with but I’ve gotten a bit bored with how they sound.
I first came across these headphones while browsing WhatHifi as I like to do. I read their review and was quite impressed that they hadn’t actually been able to fault anything. I thought “surely these things are going to cost quite a bit!” But was pleasantly surprised when I clicked on the Superfi link in the “Where to buy” section and saw £38.99. I proceeded to purchase them with free delivery (always nice) and it is now Wednesday (2 days on), and I’m expecting them to be delivered well, about now. Side note: I like delivery companies that let you know exactly what’s going on with your parcel and text you with the delivery window. According to the tracking info, I’m stop 62 and am next on the driver’s journey. Massive shout to UK Mail for providing such a brilliant service. In fact, there goes the door bell now. I should probably go and get that. Ok, got them, let’s get these bad boys out of the box.

What’s in the box

So, once I’d gotten in to the box, we have a nice hard carrying case which includes all the paper work that you get with the headphones which is well, I have no idea. I’ll get someone sited to tell me and update this post accordingly. Update: It’s your warranty card and a peace of paper that tells you what the remote’s functions are on the cable. Also in the case you get a cable without the remote and mic should you want to use that. Ok, so under that we have the headphones themselves which have been very cleverly cable tied in to the packaging. As has the cable with the remote and mic. Several cable ties later, I have the headphones and cables out and assembled. The headphones themselves look very nice, but we’ll get in to my full review later on. Also in the box you get an adapter to convert the normal 3.5MM plug to a 6.3MM jack should you want to use that. One thing I will note which I think is a nice touch though is just above the ear cups themselves there is braille (A L and a R) to indicate left and right, obviously. The cable looks to be a really nice quality and is 1.2M in length. Each end has a 3.5M connecter, something that I like an I wished my Sennheiser’s had.

First impressions

My god!!!!!! I just happened to be sitting on the sofa with my mac writing this post when the headphones arrived so I unboxed them and plugged them straight in. I had iTunes playing in the background but the song that was playing had just ended so I was waiting for it to transition. My playlist was on shuffle so i had no idea what would come up. It turns out it was Marvins Room by Drake.

The pounding baseline soon braced my ears and I was blown away. The headphones fit really comfortably and are very well padded. I wrote the unboxing section listing to voiceover and my iTunes in the background and I am very impressed. For their size, you wouldn’t really be expecting them to sound as well as they do, but they do. Alex and voiceover’s sounds don’t sound half bad with them either which is always a plus. They go bloody loud. However they do block out background noise very well; I have my music at a moderate volume, and I can barely hear myself tapping away on the keyboard. Like WhatHifi, I haven’t found anything to fault them on yet but I’ve only had them about half an hour. I’ll use them for the next day or 2 and then get back to you with a more in-depth review.

My full review

Ok so I’ve been using these headphones for a bit now and have decided. I really like them. Even as I sit here in the same situation I was originally; iTunes in the background, on the sofa, I’m still impressed by the quality of sound these headphones produce. However I will say they do leek a little bit, especially at the high volumes, but that’s kind of to be expected with headphones this size and this design. My Sennheiser’s don’t leek noise as much but personally I don’t think they go as loud.
They fit really comfortably; the headband allowing for plenty of adjustment. The headband itself is nicely padded, giving the AKG’s extra comfort. They also just feel sturdy on your head; they’re not going to fall off in a hurry. I do like a pair of headphones that can fold, I just think it looks neat when the headphones aren’t in use and the AKG’s manage to tick that box rather finely, however I still haven’t really figured out if I’m putting them in the case the right way yet. Update: I think I’ve figured out how to get them in the case. They do fit in there but it’s a bit awkward to get them in. When the cups are folded, there are spaces for them
to go face down and the case just zips shut.
I’m still impressed with the level of comfort they have to offer and the way they fit snuggly over your head and don’t grip. They aren’t like other headphones I’ve tried that hurt your ears when you wear them for a considerable length of time either. Honestly, they are that comfortable that when I plugged them in to my DAB radio to listen too while I was in bed last night, I ended up falling asleep wearing them. For a good few hours. I suppose I just got lost in the sound.
I’ve been listening to a varied range of genres over the last day or so with them and I have to say, they do perform exceptionally well with a wide range of music styles. I played probably one of my favourite albums to come out in a good while (X By Ed Sheeran); just on iTunes, and that’s when i truly noticed how well these headphones performed with acoustic music. Bass is well presented and the headphones do a good job of separating different instruments in the mix. You can also appreciate effects like reverb more.
After that I thought I’d try them with a very different genre of music. So I put on Royal Blood by Royal Blood and I found out it’s not just acoustic music these headphones do well. The pounding drums and guitar lines are very well presented however they leave plenty of space for the vocals to come through.
I have yet to play anything other than iTunes 256 KBPS AAC and Spotify’s “extreme” quality (equivalent to 320 KBPS) however, and I really need to get my FLAC collection out to really make the most of how they sound. That’ll be next week though so I’ll stick a bit at the bottom of the post when i do dive in. Even now just listening to iTunes again, I’m noticing how well Daft Punk’s ‘get lucky is presented. A very good buy I think.

Conclusion

Am I telling you to buy these headphones? Should you run out and snap some up for yourself? That’s not for me to decide. I’m just putting forward my review and experience of them. If you want to purchase a pair on my judgement then go right ahead. All I’m saying is if you’re looking for a pair of foldable affordable headphones that sound great then go right ahead.
I’m really happy with my purchase and hope if you go ahead with it you will be too.
I know I don’t post here very often but that’s because I run out of things to say quite quickly which is why I like my twitter more because it forces me to get to the point.
If you enjoy my blog posts however, and want to see more of them, give me a subject to talk about. Either tweet me, or contact me through the contact page.
Thank you very much for reading, and see you next time.

Update

Ok, it’s been a few weeks now (sorry), (well I did go on holiday; and yes, I did take the headphones), and I’ve been listening to them pretty much exclusively. In fact, I’m listening to them now and I’m still as impressed as I was when I first received them. I did say I would update once I’d listened to some high resolution audio with them, I don’t really know what I thought I was going to tell you, “It sounds, … the same as the difference between if you listen to a 320K MP3 and flac file on any good hardware” (it does sound bloody good). In fact, I’m sitting at my actual desk on my windows PC listening to foobar shuffling my flac library at the present time of writing this. (Which is a Saturday at 22:06, cause you know, all the 18 year old kids sit updating their blogs on a Saturday) … I digress. In case you care, I’ve got the headphones plugged into my Behringer UCA222, using the cable without the inline remote. If you didn’t care, too bad, you can’t unread it. I did have one problem though; when I was using these with my nexus7, I noticed the volume controls on the remote weren’t working but when I complained on twitter, a very kind person informed me that that’s an android problem so it’s nothing to do with the headphones. I have listened to a few more albums with these though and I’m still in love with them. I’ve also been listening to a few audio books and movies and it’s not just music they perform well with. As I mentioned before, TTS doesn’t sound bad through them either, especially on iOS, which is my preferred book reading medium these days. Anyway, that’ll do for now, so I hope you’ve enjoyed this little update, and see you all in the next one.