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Develop a Head for Music and Games with These Headphones

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Category: Hardware Published on Thursday, 07 April 2016

You see them everywhere:

  • Walking in the streets
  • On the subway
  • On the bus
  • At the airport

Headphones have become as much a part of today's fashion as hats were in the 1930s and appear in various styles - - - wireless, wired, Bluetooth, NFC, in-ear, over-ear and on-ear.

With this in mind, we dug through the pile of new sound-recreating devices to reveal what has caught our attention.

The folks at LucidSound have developed the LS30 ($149.99), which is a Playstation or Xbox wireless gaming headset that "can be used" for music and other audio on other devices when connected using a headset cable.

Although we can't really recommend this for playing your favorite tunes, it will transport you to another universe when you're engulfed in battles with your online buddies.

Its 50 millimeter speakers and three equalizer (EQ) modes deliver the whole range of sound, from deep bass to crisp treble. You can also regulate the volume of your chats and game sounds independently using dials on the headset.

Setting it up is fairly simple, although how it's connected depends on the gaming console you're using. For testing purposes (and the fact it's the only gaming console we have), we used it with an Xbox One.

We had to use an audio cable to connect it to the console's wireless controller, make sure Dolby Digital was turned off on the console and, voila, we were connected. Also, according to LucidSound, we had to make sure the headphones were connected and turned on BEFORE turning on the controller. Doing the opposite results in audio coming from the Xbox and the headset at the same time.

Other features include:

  • Built-in mic monitoring, so you can hear yourself as well as the folks you're chatting with
  • A rechargeable battery
  • A boom microphone and an integrated microphone (for mobile use)
  • Compatibility with Playstation 3 and 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, iOS, Android, Nintendo 3DS and Playstation Vita

There was a tie for our top choice for on/over-ear headsets. The MH40 ($399) and MH30 ($329) from Master and Dynamic and the Bowers & Wilkins P5 wireless headphones ($399) deliver awesome sound.

The duo from Master and Dynamic are made of cowhide and lambskin leather and, truthfully, we forgot we had them on while we were testing them. The only differences are that the MH30s are foldable, a bit smaller (on-ear) and smaller drivers (40 mm versus 45 mm). Otherwise you're getting the same great sound whichever model you choose.

The only beef we have, although some would say it's a bit picky, is that the audio cable with a built-in microphone is only compatible with Apple devices. To the company's credit, they do include an audio-only cable that will work with other mobile operating systems and PCs.

Other features include:

  • A canvas case
  • Detachable lambskin ear pads
  • A dual 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • Detachable audio cables

The Bowers & Wilkins P5s are Bluetooth wireless over-ear headphones that can be used with the highest quality audio equipment or any Apple mobile device. They also deliver rich bass and clear treble sounds.

When you take them out of the box, all you see is leather - - - from the headband to the ear cups. You also have the choice of connecting to your audio source using Bluetooth technology or an audio cable (which we prefer). Although there were fewer dropouts than we've experienced when using other wireless headsets, they do happen when you're on the border of their maximum range.

Other features include:

  • A rechargeable lithium battery
  • Two 40 mm audio drivers
  • Two microphones that work with the iPhone
  • A padded, black-sleeve carrying case
  • Controls for iOS music players

Our choice for in-ear audio is the Shadow Wireless headset ($99.99) from Sol Republic.

These water and sweat-resistant earbuds are the most comfortable of the dozens we've used. In fact, they're one of the few models that actually stayed in our ears while we were exercising. According to the folks at Sol Republic, this miracle was achieved by the flexible rubber neckband that fits comfortably around the back of your neck.

Audio quality was excellent, rivaling it's much larger competitors. Plus you can switch between two Bluetooth devices - - - for example, a phone and a tablet.

Other features include:

  • A built in microphone and three-button audio controller that works with all operating systems
  • Up to eight hours of battery life
  • Free ear tips for life
  • The choice of four sizes of earpieces
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