Posts with «audio technology» label

Sonos refurbished speakers and soundbars are up to $170 off right now

A speaker doesn't have to be brand new to sound good. Sonos speakers get high marks in our reviews and buying guides and the company has one of the better refurbished programs out there. Right now, you can grab a refurbished Sonos Arc SL soundbar for $509, which is $170 off the refurbished price and $240 off the speaker's full $749 price tag when it was new. A decent selection of other renewed soundbars and speakers are also on sale at Sonos, with up to 25 percent off the refurbished prices.  

We named the Sonos Arc the runner-up premium soundbar in our buying guide, praising its stellar sound quality and ability to calibrate its sound to match the room its in. The difference between the Sonos Arc and the Arc SL is the lack of a microphone, so you won't be able to talk to Alexa or the Google Assistant directly through your speaker. That might be a plus for anyone interested in the extra privacy of a mic-less device. Other than the lack of microphone, the Arc SL hardware is the same. It can even calibrate its sound to the room with the Trueplay feature, which uses the Sonos app on an iOS device to measure how sound reflects off your walls and furniture. The Arc SL is Wi-Fi enabled, supports Dolby Atmos, Apple Air Play 2 and connects to your TV via HDMI ARC or eARC. Though, sadly, there's just one HDMI port. 

Buying a refurbished device from Sonos carries a lot of the same perks of buying new, including the same one-year warranty, all necessary cables and manuals plus all-new packaging. They also donate one percent of refurbished sales to environmental non-profits as part of 1% for the Planet. 

If you'd rather a speaker that does have a mic, the refurbished second-generation Beam soundbar is also on sale. It's down to $299 after a $100 discount off the refurbished rate — which works out to $200 off the brand new sticker price. The Beam is our top pick for a mid-range soundbar in our guide and has great sound quality, supports Dolby Atmos and, like all of the company's wares, does an excellent job of pairing up with other Sonos speakers. 

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/sonos-refurbished-speakers-and-soundbars-are-up-to-170-off-right-now-161504151.html?src=rss

Nothing's Ear and Ear (a) earbuds with active noise cancellation are now available for pre-order

Carl Pei's Nothing has revealed two new wireless earbuds at an event in Tokyo. It calls the Ear, the more expensive model of the two with prices starting at $149 and £129, a refinement of its older model the Ear (2). The Ear retains the brand's transparent design and looks very similar to the previous model. But it's powered by a new custom 11 mm dynamic driver and comes with a dual chamber design that allows it to deliver clearer sounds compared to its predecessor. 

It also features a new smart active noise cancellation (ANC) algorithm that can check for noise leakage between the earbuds and the ear canal and then add more noise cancellation accordingly. Plus, it can automatically apply the level of noise cancellation needed — high, medium or low — appropriate for the environment the user is in. Nothing says the model's noise cancellation rated at 45 dB is almost twice that of the Ear (2), as well. 

When it comes to battery life, the Ear's was also designed to last longer. It can last for up to 40-and-a-half hours after a full charge with its charging case, or up to eight-and-a-half hours of non-stop playback. In addition, the model comes with a new mic that enables less obstruction and interference, support for LHDC 5.0 and LDAC codec for high-resolution streaming over Bluetooth and the ability to quickly switch between connected devices. 

Meanwhile, the Ear (a) is the more fun and more affordable model between the two new releases. It's the first Nothing model that isn't just black or white — though those colors are also available — with one version's non-transparent parts and case colored in vivid egg yolk-yellow. Even though its prices start lower than the Ear at $99 and £99, it also features the same ANC technology and the brand's new smart ANC algorithm that can check for sound leakages. It even supposedly has a better battery life than its more expensive sibling and can last for up to 42-and-a-half hours of music playback after a full charge with its charging case.

Both Ear and Ear (a) are now available for pre-order from Nothing's website. They'll start making their way to buyers and will be available for general purchase on April 22. 

Nothing

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/nothings-ear-and-ear-a-earbuds-with-active-noise-cancellation-are-now-available-for-pre-order-104546636.html?src=rss

LG's S95TR soundbar with wireless Dolby Atmos is now available for $1,500

In typical LG fashion, the company is following up its CES soundbar announcement with pricing and availability info a few months later. The company's latest Dolby Atmos model, the S95TR, is now available from LG and other retailers for $1,500. That's pricey for sure, but the company has bundled the soundbar with a subwoofer and a pair of rear surround speakers. That means completing your setup won't require additional purchases. 

Inside, the S95TR houses 17 speakers, including five up-firing drivers. LG says this soundbar is the first to feature a center-positioned, up-firing speaker, which enhances dimensional audio and helps with dialog clarity. LG explains that it also upgraded the tweeters in the S95TR and it integrated passive radiators. This combo keeps high frequencies clear while also delivering 120Hz low-frequency response in a 9.1.5-channel setup. 

The company's Wowcast tech allows the S95TR to connect to compatible LG TVs wirelessly, including the transmission of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X without a cable. Wow Orchestra can utilize the speakers of an LG TV with the soundbar for "a harmonious fusion of audio channels." There's also the company's 3D Spatial Sound Technology that analyzes audio channels with a three-dimensional engine to make things as immersive as possible. AI Room Calibration is here as well, which will include the rear surround speakers in its room tuning for the first time this year. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/lgs-s95tr-soundbar-with-wireless-dolby-atmos-is-now-available-for-1500-175155520.html?src=rss

Good riddance, WH-XB910N: Sony’s confusing product names are going away

When Sony debuted its ULT lineup of speakers and headphones last week, it took the first step towards a big change on naming its products. For years, the company has used an awfully confusing mix of letters and numbers, some of which are just one letter off from products with entirely different designs. You’ll no longer have to remember something like WH-B910N to find the headphones you’re hunting for as the new names make it immediately apparent what product you’re reading about.

The ULT line of audio gear is replacing the Extra Bass brand Sony has used for several years. Described as the “ultimate step into the evolution” of its portable audio devices, ULT Power Sound is an improved progression of the low-end boost the Extra Bass products offered. ULT breaks down even further into Tower (large party speakers), Field (smaller, portable Bluetooth speakers) and Wear (headphones). I’ll concede that Field is a bit obscure at first glance, but at least Tower and Wear accurately describe the products bearing those labels. All three are a massive upgrade from SRS-XV900, SRS-XG300 or WH-CH720N, three model names that were used for previous versions of three similar models.

Sony is also revising the names for both home audio and TV products, employing its existing Bravia moniker here. The company’s new TVs are the Bravia 9 (mini LED), Bravia 8 (OLED), Bravia 7 (mini LED) and Bravia 3 (LED) instead of older names like XR-65A95L. For soundbars and speakers, the company will use the Bravia Theater name along with much more descriptive terms. For example, the new soundbars are Bravia Theater Bar 9 and Bravia Theater Bar 8, while a new four-speaker setup is the Bravia Theater Quad. Previously, comparable models had names like HT-A7000, HT-A5000 and HT-A9. I’ll admit I’m not entirely sure how Sony will distinguish the next-gen models from these. Maybe it will add “second-gen,” or perhaps a different number. Either way, sticking with Bravia for its living room devices and adding “theater,” “bar” or even a single digit is much better than the previous jumble of letters and numbers.

Although they may seem random, there was a method to Sony’s madness. To my knowledge, the company never released any type of key to its alpha-numeric mess, but some of the terminology was easy to figure out. “HT” in home theater product names is pretty straightforward, while “WF” in true wireless models likely stood for “wire free” and the “WH” for headphones was probably “wireless headphones.” What followed after the hyphens was a creation from the minds at Sony, but thankfully things like “1000X” became mainstays over the last several years. That consistency certainly helped keep track of things.

The WF-1000XM5 and WH-1000XM5 are one letter apart, but very different products.
Billy Steele for Engadget

Speaking of the 1000X lineup, that’s where some of the biggest confusion in Sony’s naming scheme resides. The company’s flagship headphones, the WH-1000XM5, are literally one letter different from its flagship earbuds, the WF-1000XM5. You likely won’t encounter any issues if you’re searching for “1000XM5 headphones” or “1000XM5 earbuds,” but in situations where both are being discussed, you’ll have to pay careful attention.

For audio gear, the two letters before the dash describe the type of product. Immediately following the dash, you get an indication of the product family or brand, whether that be “XB” for Extra Bass or “1000X” for the flagship earbuds and headphones. Then, you’d get a model or generation number like “910” or “M5.” Unless you’re keeping track of Sony's product news, it can be a chore to decipher these. And even if you are paying close attention, it can be difficult to recall exact names accurately. I’d wager there has even been confusion among Sony’s own employees. It’s a terrible naming scheme that causes massive headaches.

“The main reason for Sony’s new naming convention is to expand recognition by adopting a more memorable and understandable name for customers,” a Sony spokesperson told Engadget. The company didn’t offer any more detail about the timing of the change or if it will rename other product lines as new models are introduced. Maybe the company transferred the task of naming products from the engineers to the marketing department. Sony has already been using the LinkBuds name for a few true wireless models. So, if the company continues what it started with the ULT and Bravia series, we could be in for easily distinguishable names instead of the (presumably upcoming) WH-1000XM6 and WF-1000XM6.

Let’s hope that happens.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/good-riddance-wh-xb910n-sonys-confusing-product-names-are-going-away-161034581.html?src=rss

Sony debuts Bravia Theater line of Dolby Atmos soundbars and speakers

Sony didn't announce any new home theater audio gear at CES, so it was only a matter of time before the company would reveal its latest soundbars and speakers. Today, the company unveiled its new Bravia Theater line, a moniker that the company's soundbars and living room speakers will carry for the foreseeable future. Sony is ditching the HT-XXXX naming scheme, which should be less confusing for all parties. For the initial offering, the company has two new Dolby Atmos soundbars, a four-speaker surround system and a wearable neckband speaker. 

At the top of the list sits the Bravia Theater Bar 9. This is Sony's new flagship soundbar, but the company says it's 36-percent smaller than the former premium model, the HT-A7000. Inside, a 13-speaker setup includes three tweeters, four woofers, two beam tweeters, two up-firing and two side-firing drivers. The slightly smaller Bravia Theater Bar 8 houses 11 total speakers, lacking the the two beam tweeters from the Bar 9. Sony says the Bar 8 is 30-percent smaller than the unit it replaces, the HT-A5000

Both soundbars feature very similar spec sheets, including support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, 360 Reality Audio and Hi-Res audio content. The pair will also gain IMAX Enhanced capabilities with a pending update, but that feature will require additional wireless rear speakers and a subwoofer. Connectivity is the same on both models with one HDMI input and one HDMI output (eARC). HDMI 2.1 is supported, so you can expect 4K/120 passthrough and all the other perks that standard affords. 

Sony Bravia Theater Bar 8
Sony

There's also a host of Sony-specific features on both soundbars. That list includes Sound Field Optimization for room calibration and 360 Spatial Sound that places virtual speakers around a space for more immersive audio via virtualization. Acoustic Center Sync combines the speakers of a Bravia TV with either of these soundbars for a more realistic cinema experience where it sounds like the audio is coming directly from the screen. The soundbars also support Voice Zoom 3 from Sony's Bravia TVs, a tool that uses AI to recognize human voices and amplifies them so it's always heard clearly. 

The Bravia Theater Bar 9 and Bravia Theater Bar 8 are compatible with Sony's current rear satellite speakers and subwoofers. Those include the SA-RS5 and SA-RS3S speakers and the SA-SW5 and SA-SW3 subs. Unfortunately, there's no bundle option, so on top of a $1,400 (Bar 9) or a $1,000 (Bar 8) soundbar, you'll have to shell out hundreds more for a better setup. At the very least, you'll want a subwoofer, which will currently cost you either $350 (SW3) or $620 (SW5).

Sony Bravia Theater Quad
Sony

And then there's the Bravia Theater Quad. This four-speaker set replaces the HT-A9 that Sony introduced in 2021. Instead of four cylindrical units, the company opted for flat, square designs this time, which will allow you to mount them on a wall more easily. Like the A9, there's a separate box that holds all of the necessary connections. You'll get HDMI 2.1 here too, with one input and one output (eARC). 

Inside of each speaker, there are four drivers: one tweeter, one mid-range, one woofer and one up-firing unit. That's a total of 16 across the set, and Sony says you can add on either the SW3 or the SW5 subwoofer for more low-end thump. The Sony-developed features from the new Bravia Theater Bars are here as well, including 360 Spatial Sound, Sound Field Optimization, Acoustic Center Sync and Voice Zoom 3. Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, 360 Reality Audio and Hi-Res tunes are in the mix too, and IMAX Enhanced will arrive later via an update (you'll need a sub to use it). The Bravia Theater Quad is the priciest of the bunch, setting you back $2,500 for the initial set without a bundled subwoofer. 

Lastly, Sony has a new neckband speaker for "open-air yet personal listening." The Bravia Theater U ($300) supports Dolby Atmos when paired with a compatible Bravia TV. Two of the company's X-balanced speakers power the device, which supports 360 Reality Audio on its own. There's also 12-hour battery life, multipoint Bluetooth and a built-in mic for calls. 

Sony says the Bravia Theater Bar 9 and Bar 8 will be available for preorder this spring from Amazon and other retailers. Ditto for the Bravia Theater U. The Bravia Theater Quad is available for preorder now.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/sony-debuts-bravia-theater-line-of-dolby-atmos-soundbars-and-speakers-160034176.html?src=rss

Our favorite Sony wireless earbuds are on sale for a record-low price

If you’ve been eyeing Sony’s WF-1000XM5 earbuds but were put off by the steep price tag, now would be the perfect time to pick up a set. The premium earbuds, normally $300, are down to a record low price of $230 on Amazon, for a savings of $70. This deal only applies to the earbuds in black. The Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds were released in summer 2023 and brought major upgrades over the previous model. They boast the best noise cancellation and call quality of Sony’s earbuds lineup, and have built-in Alexa support.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds are our top pick for the best earbuds for this year. They’re more comfortable than the WF-1000XM4s, being 25 percent smaller and 20 percent lighter for a much better fit. The charging case, too, is more compact than its predecessor. In terms of sound quality, they further improve upon the already impressive capabilities of the 1000X line. The speakers are slightly larger than the previous model’s, and their Dynamic Driver X drivers make for rich, clear sound and bassier bass. Sony WF-1000XM5 scored an 87 in our review last year.

The earbuds offer Adaptive Sound Control, which will automatically adjust your noise cancellation settings to work best for the environment you’re in or activity you’re doing. You may want active noise cancellation on when you’re working from home, but switch to transparency mode when you’re going out for a run. You’ll need to enable location services for this feature using Sony’s Headphones Connect app.

The app allows for other types of customization as well, like changing the controls assigned to the touch sensors on the earbuds. Sony’s WF-1000XM5 earbuds also support multipoint Bluetooth connections, which means you can pair them with two devices at the same time. There’s a Speak-to-Chat mode that pauses audio when it senses you’ve started a conversation, and an equalizer in the app where you can adjust your sound settings.

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/our-favorite-sony-wireless-earbuds-are-on-sale-for-a-record-low-price-145310563.html?src=rss

Sony's new ULT Bluetooth speakers are bringing back the '90s bass boost button

Sony just announced a trio of new speakers in a new line of audio products called the ULT Power Series. This is an attempt by the company to reduce some of the clutter involved with its naming conventions, so say goodbye to the Extra Bass and XE-Series products. Both lines are being wrapped up into the ULT Power Series branding. To suit this new branding, each of the following speakers include something called the ULT button, which provides a bass boost.

The ULT Field 1 is your standard portable Bluetooth speaker. It’s compact and comes in a variety of colors, including black, white, gray and orange. The battery lasts around 12 hours per charge and the casing is IP67 water resistant, dustproof and shockproof. Like many of these ultra-portable Bluetooth speakers, the design lets users stand it on its end or lay it on its side, to make use of space. There’s also a built-in mic for hands-free calling. This speaker costs $130 and will be available later this spring at major retail outlets.

Sony

The ULT Field 7 is basically a beefier version of the Field 1. It’s bigger, though still portable, and includes two dedicated ULT buttons. One provides deeper bass in the lower frequency range and the other brings a powerful, punchy bass. There’s also plenty of ambient LED lighting that synchronizes with the music.

The battery lasts 30 hours, which is a fantastic metric, and includes quick-charging capabilities. It’s also being advertised as a karaoke machine, thanks to the built-in microphone port. Finally, Sony says people can string together up to 100 of these things to make a cacophony of noise that’ll really annoy the pants off of their neighbors. Those neighbors, however, are likely to live in a glorious mansion, as just one Field 7 costs $500. They go on sale later this spring.

Sony

The ULT Tower 10 is, as the name suggests, a Bluetooth tower speaker intended for living spaces. This speaker wirelessly connects to stereo systems and TVs for enhanced audio and includes the same two ULT bass boost buttons found with the Field 7. There’s also a sound optimization feature that detects local noise and adjusts the settings to accommodate the surroundings.

The speaker boasts omni-directional synchronized lighting, which Sony says “makes listeners feel like they are at a music festival.” There are two microphone inputs for belting out karaoke duets and the speaker actually ships with one wireless mic. Listeners can also connect up to 100 compatible speakers at once, including the Field 7. This is one expensive tower speaker, however, so it’ll set you back $1,200 when it releases later in the season.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/sonys-new-ult-bluetooth-speakers-are-bringing-back-the-90s-bass-boost-button-160056401.html?src=rss

Sony ULT Wear headphones review: Brain-shaking bass

Sony’s Extra Bass line of headphones has given listeners an added dose of low-end tone for years, and was generally cheaper than its high-end 1000X cans. The company is still keen on offering brain-rattling bass to those who want it, but the Extra Bass moniker and its confusing alpha-numeric product names are gone (more to come on that change). Today, Sony is introducing ULT Power Sound, a feature it’s calling the “ultimate step into the evolution” of its portable audio gear. 

ULT Power Sound will also be available on Bluetooth speakers of various sizes, but the first headphones to feature the new audio direction are the ULT Wear ($200). A direct replacement for the WH-B910, the ULT Wear contains 40mm drivers that Sony says are specifically designed for deeper bass. If the stock tuning isn’t enough, there’s a ULT button for two more levels of low-end boost. Plus, the company crammed in some of its best features from more-expensive headphones: the V1 audio chip, 30-hour battery life, Quick Attention mode, 360 Reality Audio with head tracking and more.

The first thing I noticed about the ULT Wear is its design. These headphones don’t immediately strike me as less-than-premium cans. The matte white finish on my review unit helps mask the mostly plastic construction which looked cheap on previous products like the WH-CH720N. It’s definitely a more refined aesthetic than the WH-XB910 that’s being replaced. There are certainly some nods to the premium 1000X line in a few areas, like the curves of the ear cups and headband.

Sony decided on a mix of physical and touch controls for the ULT Wear, which is another way it’s bridging the gap between its most affordable and most expensive headphones. On the edge of the left ear cup is a power/pairing button and a control for cycling between active noise cancellation (ANC) and ambient sound modes. Further up along the bottom is a third button for ULT bass boost. This item switches between off, ULT 1 (deep bass) and ULT 2 (more powerful sound with deep bass). Over on the right, the outside of the ear cup has a touch panel that you can tap and swipe on for playback controls, volume adjustments and calls.

As the ULT Wear sits in the middle of Sony’s headphone lineup, it has a few of the handy features from the 1000X line that the company’s cheaper options don’t employ. For example, placing your open hand over the right ear cup activates Quick Attention mode that lowers the volume so you can respond to a co-worker or grab your cortado without pausing your tunes. Adaptive Sound Control is here as well: Sony’s long-standing tool that automatically adjusts the headphone’s settings based on your activity or location. General niceties like multipoint Bluetooth and wear detection are present too. The convenient Speak-to-Chat function from more-recent 1000X headphones isn’t available though, which is a considerable omission in terms of overall utility.

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

Bass reigns supreme for the ULT Wear’s tuning and you certainly get a heavy dose of it. Those new specifically tuned drivers muster a lot of low-end thump before you even start exploring the ULT boosts. The out-of-the-box level was good enough for me for most genres, although the overall sound can get muddy with more chaotic styles like metal and some synth-heavy electronic tracks. For the most part though, the stock bass provides depth and range that complements full mids and cutting highs.

On Bayside’s There Are Worse Things Than Being Alive, there’s a thundering kick drum to drive the punk-tinged indie rock tunes, but the texture of the crunchy distorted guitars stands out and vocals cut through clearly. Plus, you can add Sony’s DSEE upscaling through its app, a software trick that’s designed to recover sonic elements lost to compression. And if you have access to 360 Reality Audio content, the ULT Wear supports head-tracking so that sounds stay put when you move. This offers a more realistic experience since the immersive audio in this format would otherwise move with your head.

When you hop into the ULT boost modes, things are a mixed bag. Sony has done bass boost better than most other companies here, as songs are still actually listenable across musical styles rather than just becoming a muffled mess. ULT 1, the option for deeper bass, is the best in my opinion. You don’t lose much detail using it and things like kick drums are still punchy throughout. Hip-hop tracks are a better canvas, with songs like Killer Mike’s “Down By Law” blasting bombastic, yet finessed, amplified bass. His album Michael is one of the better-sounding selections I tested with ULT 1 enabled.

ULT 2, a setting for more powerful sound alongside even deeper bass, isn’t great. During my tests, I didn’t find a single track where I thought it sounded good across driving low-end styles like hip-hop and EDM. It sounds like you’re standing in front of the subwoofer at a concert where bass is most prominent and everything else gets drowned out. And while I’m sure some people enjoy that extent of brain rattling, it’s not what I’m looking for.

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

Sony improved ANC from the WH-XB910 by installing its V1 audio processor from the 1000X series in the ULT Wear. The result is noticeably improved noise-canceling performance for a set of $200 headphones, but you shouldn’t expect distraction-blocking as robust as what the WH-1000XM5 offers. It’s good in most situations, but in some scenarios it simply dulls the roar. The ULT Wear does, however, do a decent job with human voices – much better than the Sennheiser Accentum Plus I recently reviewed.

The company didn’t go out of its way to discuss call quality on the ULT Wear, but the performance here is slightly above average. It’s not pristine, but it also doesn’t have the obvious speaker phone sound most headphones do. Low-to-mid-volume background noise is also dealt with nicely. Ambient sound mode on the ULT Wear is more natural that what most headphones offer, save for the AirPods Max. You can hear a good amount of your own voice, so you’re free to speak at a normal volume during calls. And any sounds from your surroundings come through clear, so you don’t have to worry about not hearing alerts or announcements.

Sony says you can expect up to 30 hours of battery life with ANC on or up to 50 hours with it off. The company doesn’t specify if either of the ULT modes impact longevity, and I didn’t have them on long enough to tell. After 20 hours of use with mostly ANC and several instances of ambient sound for calls, both used at around 50-60 percent volume (trust me that’s plenty loud here), Sony’s app was showing 44 percent battery left. This is more efficient than the stated figure, but I’ll update this review when the full rundown is complete.

If you crave a deep bassy thump that most headphones haven't been able to deliver, the ULT Wear does a much better job boosting low-end tone than Sony’s previous efforts. The sound out of the box is certainly boomy, but not at the cost of any detail, and the company gives you the option to add two more servings of bass when you crave it. These won’t be for everyone as a lot of people will prefer the more even-handed tuning of Sennheiser’s Accentum Plus in the $200 range. However, Sony has done well to dress up a more affordable set of headphones as a premium product, in terms of both looks and features.

The ULT Wear headphones are available in black, white and green color options for $200. Sony says they'll start shipping sometime this spring. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/sony-ult-wear-headphones-review-brain-shaking-bass-160000739.html?src=rss

Marshall portable speakers are up to 25 percent off right now

Marshall portable speakers are up to 25 percent off right now via Amazon. The sale includes the attractive and highly useful Middleton speaker, which is available for $237. This is a discount of 21 percent and marks a record low for the portable Bluetooth device.

The Middleton made our list of the best portable Bluetooth speakers, and for good reason. It’s the company’s flagship portable speaker, so it’s packed with both bells and whistles. It offers 50-watts of 360-degree sound and a rugged IP67 exterior. There are dual woofers and tweeters for the front and back, in addition to passive radiators along the side. In other words, people attending your backyard barbecue will have no problem hearing the tunes, and the same could be true of your neighbors.

The speaker also features the company’s Stack Mode, allowing it to easily pair with other Marshall speakers. This includes other Middleton units, the Willen and the Emberton II. We also enjoyed the multi-use joystick that can turn the unit on, change the volume, select tracks and adjust bass and treble.

Marshall’s Willen speaker is also part of this sale, with a current price of $90. That’s 25 percent off. This diminutive, yet powerful, speaker made our list of the best gadgets of 2023. We praised the sound quality, the reliable Bluetooth connection and the battery, which lasts over 15 hours per charge. It’s just about the perfect little speaker, especially for the price.

The sale goes beyond portable speakers. Marshall’s Minor III earbuds are on sale for $100, which is a discount of $30. These no-frills headphones feature custom-tuned 12mm drivers, touch controls and IPX4 water resistance. You can expect around five hours per charge, with the included charging case offering an additional 20 hours.

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/marshall-portable-speakers-are-up-to-25-percent-off-right-now-164056685.html?src=rss

Shure's MV7+ USB/XLR mic has a customizable LED panel and built-in audio tools

Shure's MV7 microphone has been a solid option for podcasters and streamers since its introduction in 2020. With it, the company introduced the first mic with both USB and XLR connectivity. This hybrid setup offers the ability to connect easily to a computer or more robust recording setups as needed. It's also $150 cheaper than Shure's workhorse SM7B that you've likely seen in professional podcast videos. Now the company is back with a new version of the MV7, dubbed the MV7+, with a "sleeker design" and a host of software features aimed at improving audio before you fire up any editing workflows. 

The most noticeable change is the new multi-color LED touch panel. Shure says this component is fully customizable with over 16.8 million colors for a visual indicator of your sound levels. You can also opt for "an ambient pulse effect." What's more, a tap on the LED panel mutes the MV7+ when you need to cough, sneeze or clear your throat. 

In what Shure calls a "Real-time Denoiser," the MV7+ employs digital signal processing (DSP) to eliminate background distractions. The company says this works alongside the mic's voice isolation to produce excellent sound in noisy scenarios. The MV7+ also features a Digital Popper Stopper to combat the dreaded plosives, but this microphone does so virtually without an unsightly filter making an appearance on your livestream. 

Shure says it improved the Auto Level Mode on the MV7+, a feature that makes gain adjustments based on distance, volume and room characteristics to automatically balance the sound profile. There's also onboard reverb, offering three settings (Plate, Hall and Studio) before you start tweaking things in your to-go DAW. And just like the MV7, the MV7+ still has hybrid XLR and USB outputs to connect to mobile devices and laptops in addition to a more capable audio mixer. Where the previous model had a micro-USB port for both USB-A and USB-C cables, this new model is all USB-C. 

With the MV7+, Shure is also announcing the MOTIV Mix app. In addition to tweaking the colors of that LED panel, the software provides a five-track mixer alongside the ability to adjust settings like sound signature, gain and more. There's also a Soundcheck tool to assist with the optimal gain setting and a monitor mix slider provides individual adjustments for mic output and system audio playback. The company explains that this new Mix app will be available for older mics like the MV7 and MVX2U, but for now it's only available in beta to use with the MV7+

The MV7+ is available now in black and there's a white version on the way "in the upcoming weeks." Both are $279, $30 more than the MV7 was at launch. Shure is also selling a "podcast kit" that bundles the MV7+ with a basic Gator desktop mic stand for $299. If you'd prefer the more versatile boom stand, that package is $339. A three-meter USB-C to USB-C cable is included in the box whether you purchase the standalone microphone or either of the kits. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/shures-mv7-usbxlr-mic-has-a-customizable-led-panel-and-built-in-audio-tools-142940237.html?src=rss