Posts with «speakers & headphones» label

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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Samsung's Music Frame speaker is now available for preorder for $400

When Samsung announced its unique Music Frame speaker at CES, the company left out two key pieces of information: price and availability. It's following up now that the device is nearly ready to ship. The Music Frame is up for preorder starting today for $400. Samsung says it's planning to starting shipping the speaker the week of April 8, so you shouldn't have to wait too long to use it. 

While the Music Frame will complement Samsung's Frame TVs, the speaker holds printed artwork rather than housing a display. But, you can swap the bezels for a different color as needed. Still, the idea if for otherwise obtrusive home theater gear to blend in rather than stick out. Music Frame is equipped with two woofers, two tweeters and two mid-range drivers and offers Dolby Atmos sound. The company says that having the woofers fire out the back and the other drivers face the front leads to a clear, natural sound profile. 

Samsung's SpaceFit tech is used to calibrate the audio to the room you place the speakers in so that their "wide radial sound range" stays in prime operating condition. Plus, Music Frame is compatible with the company's Q-Symphony tech that utilizes TV speakers as part of a home theater setup. You can also install two of them beside your TV for a stereo pair, with the ideal companion being the Frame. Samsung says Music Frame can also be used as rear speakers in the living room or as a standalone subwoofer. 

The Music Frame is a smart speaker too, offering access to Bixby and Alexa with a spoken cue. Plus, it's ready to be wall mounted or can sit on a table using the built-in stand. What's more, Music Frame can be used as a standalone Bluetooth or Wi-Fi speaker. That connectivity enables wireless Dolby Atmos, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, Chromecast and AirPlay. Samsung's Tap Sound feature allows you to play whatever is on a compatible phone on the Music Frame by gently tapping the device on the speaker.

During my brief demo at CES, I was pleasantly surprised by the sound quality of this speaker. It's more powerful than I expected, with crisp, clear highs and mids. The bass was more subdued, but that could've been due to the clamor of the crowded demo area, so I'll reserve judgement there. I was also only able to hear selected music tracks, not the speaker being used with a TV. 

As part of the preorder process, Samsung is offering a $50 credit on its website if you preorder there before April 11. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Bose's new QuietComfort headphones are $100 off right now

Beyond the sound's quality, we want two things when it comes to headphones: a lightweight design and noise canceling. Bose's aptly named QuietComfort wireless headphones make a case for both and, right now, do so at a record-low price. The 2023 QuietComfort headphones are currently available for $249, down from $349 — a 29 percent discount. The sale applies to all colors: Cypress Green, Moonstone Blue, Black and White.

The newest iteration of the Bose QuietComfort wireless headphones improves on the QuietComfort 45. While many of the features (which we'll get into) are quite similar, the 2023 model offers adjustable ANC models and an option to save custom modes. The headphones are our choice for the best noise-canceling wireless headphones for 2024.

Bose's QuietComfort headphones also offer a soft earcup and padded band for that comfort component. They provide 24 hours of battery life with a 15-minute charge providing another two and a half hours of juice. As for sound quality, the QuietComfort headphones offer high-fidelity audio and adjustable EQ for even greater customization.

The Ultra QuietComfort model is also on sale, with a 12 percent discount dropping the cost to $379 from $429. They offer Breakthrough Spatialized Audio, Bluetooth 5.3 and "luxurious comfort." If headphones aren't your thing, Bose's QuietComfort Ultra Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds are available for $249, down from $299. Plus, you can grab the SoundLink Flex Bluetooth Speaker for $129 instead of $149.  

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Samsung debuts Music Frame speaker to pair with your Frame TV at CES 2024

Samsung's The Frame TV has become a key part of its home entertainment lineup since the product debuted in 2017. The company has upgraded it a few times over the years, but at CES 2024 in Las Vegas, Samsung revealed a new audio accessory to accompany the TV that doubles as a showcase for art and photos. The company calls it Music Frame (HW-LS60D): a wireless speaker that once pulls double duty as home decor, much like its television counterpart. This unit doesn't have a screen, though, instead it holds printed photos or art that you'll need to swap out manually. However, the basic idea is the same: a piece of home theater gear with the appearance of a picture frame.

Inside are two woofers, two tweeters and two mid-range drivers. The speaker array is capable of Dolby Atmos audio and it leverages Samsung's SpaceFit tech to calibrate the sound to the room. The company says the Music Frame has a "wide radial sound range" so that it can deliver quality audio wherever you're sitting around it. The two woofers are rear firing while the other four drivers are front firing, a setup the company explains contributes to the speaker's clear, natural sound. Music Frame is compatible with Samsung's Q-Symphony technology that uses TV speakers along with any additional home theater audio gear to boost overall sound quality. 

The Music Frame can be used as a standalone Bluetooth or Wi-Fi speaker or as part of a home theater setup alongside a Samsung TV or soundbar. You can also install two of them on either side of a Frame TV for as a stereo pair or employ the Music Frame as rear speakers or even as a subwoofer. The device is ready to be wall mounted and it has a built-in stand if you'd rather set it on a table. Samsung also packed a full IoT hub into the Music Frame and made the speaker voice-enabled so you can employ your go-to virtual assistant to control music and more.

No word on pricing or availability for the Music Frame just yet, but that's usually the case for Samsung's CES product announcements. Those key bits of info typically come closer to the devices shipping, which is almost always after their January unveiling. 

We're reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Samsung HW-Q990C soundbar review: An all-inclusive Atmos setup

Shopping for a home theater setup typically means buying a soundbar, subwoofer and rear speakers separately. Some companies may include a sub with the soundbar, but you don’t always get everything you’ll need for the most immersive sound in the same box with high-end models. Samsung includes all of those additional speakers with the HW-Q990C soundbar ($1,900), though you’re obviously paying a premium. The company offers Dolby Atmos along with a range of audio options and two HDMI inputs, beaming crisp 11.1.4-channel sound into your living room. The Q990C is a significant investment, but it’s also one-stop shopping.


As the Q990C is Samsung’s high-end soundbar in its current lineup, it’s also the biggest. It’s 48.5-inches wide, which is actually about three inches less than the Sony HT-A7000. Of course, companies need the extra space on the flagship models to pack in all of the speakers. In Samsung’s case, the Q990C houses 11 front-facing drivers (including some side-firing), four up-firing drivers and an internal subwoofer. The separate wireless sub is also substantial at 16 x 16 x 8 inches and weighing in at 26 pounds. The wireless rear speakers aren’t huge, but they do have a three-driver setup with front-, side- and up-firing drivers where other companies might only have one.

Samsung opted for a mesh plastic covering for both the soundbar and rear speakers. It’s easier to keep clean than the typical speaker fabric. Samsung also kept things simple on the soundbar itself, putting just four buttons up top. Here, you’ll find a multi-function button that either turns the speaker on or cycles through the input sources. Volume controls and a microphone mute. From the front, a small display on the right side will show you input information, volume level and other settings. Instead all 90-degree angles the Q990C’s side panels follow the position of the side-firing speakers.


The initial setup for the Q990C is among the easiest I’ve ever completed for a home entertainment bundle. Once you power on the soundbar and connect it to the SmartThings app, the subwoofer and rear speakers are automatically added when you turn them on. There’s no waiting for anything to sync and I didn’t have to connect each thing individually. There are buttons on the sub and rears if you need to manually connect to the soundbar, but I never had to use them. The whole thing was quick and frustration-free, which gets you to the music and movies soon after unboxing.

Like many flagship soundbars, Samsung has included two additional HDMI inputs on top of the HDMI eARC jack you’ll use to connect your TV. Many more affordable, more compact models only have the eARC connection so you have to rely on your TV’s ports, but the pricier models typically offer additional options for connecting directly to the soundbar. Samsung says you can expect 4K/60 and HDR10+ passthrough on the Q990C, but not 4K/120 as the unit doesn’t have HDMI 2.1. That’s a big omission in a $1,900 soundbar being sold in 2023.

There’s also an optical input on the Q990C as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. The latter brings Tidal Connect, Spotify Connect and AirPlay to the mix. It also allows you to connect wirelessly to a compatible Samsung TV for audio. This means you can get Dolby Atmos to the soundbar with no cables running from your television, which is handy if you’ve already mounted the display flush with the wall. And if you have a compatible Samsung phone, you can enable Tap Sound which connects to the Q990C via Bluetooth when you gently touch the speaker with the handset. As an iPhone user, I wasn’t able to test this.

SmartThings app and other features

One of the rear speakers
Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

In addition to helping with setup, the SmartThings app is where you can tweak the Q990C’s settings. The current input and volume controls are the most prominent on the device screen, with sound modes, EQ and woofer level just below. There are also options for SpaceFit Sound, which automatically tunes the audio to the room, and Active Voice Amplifier, which combats room noise by optimizing on-screen dialog. The advanced settings menu offers voice and bass enhancement alongside a Night Mode, but all of these are on or off toggles with no further customization. SmartThings allows you to choose either Bixby or Alexa for the voice assistant you want to employ on the soundbar.

Samsung lets you choose between Standard, Surround, Game Pro and Adaptive Sound modes. The first doesn’t tweak the audio at all and it’s the only mode where the fully adjustable EQ is available (just bass and treble on the rest). For all of the others, the Q990C upscales 2.0, 5.1 and 7.1 audio to the 11.1.4-channel output the soundbar offers. Of course, all Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content is beamed out at 11.1.4, too. Surround mode is self-explanatory while Game Pro creates more immersive audio with 3D-optimized sound specifically for gaming. Adaptive Sound is the option I used most as it analyzes audio in real time to keep dialog sounding clear across a range of volumes for movies, news and sports. I found it the best-sounding preset for music, too.

In addition to selecting a sound mode in the app, you can cycle through them with a dedicated button the included remote. It also gives you access to SpaceFit Sound, Active Voice Amplifier, Voice Enhancement and more with a Sound Control button that’s labeled with the settings/gear icon. A Channel Level button lets you adjust the volume of each speaker, with Center level, Side level, Wide level, Front Top level, Rear level, Rear top level and Rear side level among the choices. There’s also a button for Tone Control, putting bass and treble tweaks just a few button presses away. These are all in addition to the standard power, input, volume (overall and subwoofer only), mute, pairing and playback options soundbar remotes typically have.

Sound quality

Thanks to the Q990C’s upscaling abilities, nearly every movie or TV show sounds more immersive than if you were listening in stereo or even with a 5.1 setup. Netflix’s Drive To Survive, which is offered in Dolby Atmos if you have the priciest Ultra HD plan, is still amazing with this soundbar for those of us on the more affordable monthly rate. The whir of the cars as they zoom past, pitlane noise and crunching crashes make the meticulously-shot series even better. Marvel shows and movies on Disney+ are available with Atmos and they sound amazing.

I can confidently say this is the closest I’ve come to a movie theater-like experience in my living room. The additional drivers in the rear speakers undoubtedly elevate the overhead sensation, contributing significantly more to directional audio than normal single-driver units. Fight scenes like the one that opens The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are loud and chaotic, but they sound more like you’re watching in real life, taking in the thud of each punch, the fire of every gun and the drone of choppers navigating the canyon.

The Q990C is also a great option for music. Crisp, clear highs and powerful, punchy bass compliment nearly every genre. Even at lower volumes, tunes like Sia’s “Everyday Is Christmas” come across layered rather than compressed. Vocals cut through clear and the bassline doesn’t overpower. The same goes for Turnpike Troubadours’ A Cat in the Rain where each member of the band stands on their own, with snare hits and country-rock vocals slicing through the mix. Bass from the large subwoofer is present but restrained, only as bombastic as it needs to be and never muddy or dull.

The full set that comes with the Q990C

The sound on those albums was impressive and I wasn’t even streaming them in Dolby Atmos. Tunes in the immersive format sound even more incredible on the Q990C. TesseracT’s prog-metal War Of Being is soaring and atmospheric, with the staccato guitars and slapped bass on tracks like “The Gray” showing off the dimensional quality of Atmos Music. Less intense genres like Tyler Childers’ Rustin’ In The Rain come across more like live performances than streamed albums. The sound is full, crisp and envelopes the room with guitars, piano, steel guitar and perfectly calculated drum hits, all supporting Childers’ trademark eastern Kentucky vocals.

This soundbar system works well in a multi-room setup, too, and you don’t need other Samsung speakers to do it. Thanks to AirPlay, you can easily select the Q990C and other speakers on your Wi-Fi network. I was able to consistently link the soundbar with a HomePod in another room with just a few taps in Apple Music. The audio performed consistently once the two speakers were linked and I never heard any dropouts or clipping when they were used in tandem.

One audio feature that I wasn’t able to test is Q-Symphony. This uses the speakers inside Samsung TVs in addition to the drivers in the soundbar setup. The company promises it “can optimize all the channels” for a “masterfully orchestrated sound experience.” I don’t have a Samsung TV, but the soundbar system sounds great without it. What’s more, this sort of thing isn’t unique to Samsung devices as Sony offers a similar tool called Acoustic Center Sync with its soundbars and TVs.

The competition

Sony’s HT-A7000 is the best alternative to the Q990C. It also does Atmos and music very well, but everything you add to it is an additional purchase. At current prices, the soundbar, the cheapest sub and rear speaker options will cost you $1,600 while soundbar alone is $1,000. There are better choices for both the woofer and rears, but those significantly raise the price.

The A7000 offers a lot of what the Q990C has on its spec sheet. That includes the two HDMI 2.1 inputs with 4K/120 passthrough. Sony includes compatibility with both Hi-Res and 360 Reality Audio alongside various pieces of virtual surround tech and a number of sound modes. The key differences between this and the Q990C is that the A7000 is a 7.1.4-channel setup, versus 11.1.4, and the aforementioned HDMI 2.1 support.

The Q990C is currently on sale for $1,400, but it’s unclear if that price cut is permanent. The $500 savings make the all-inclusive Samsung setup even more attractive, if you can live without HDMI 2.1.


Samsung’s latest flagship soundbar is a sonic powerhouse. And, perhaps more importantly, it comes with the subwoofer and rear speakers you’ll need to make the most of it in the box. For the cost of what you’d pay for a soundbar alone from some of the company’s main competitors, you get the complete package, and one that’s easy to set up and customize as needed. The sound quality is great and Atmos content is as crisp and immersive as ever, so long as you have space to accommodate the bundle. The lack of HDMI 2.1 hinders performance for gamers, and that’s a glaring omission on a premium soundbar these days. The Q990C isn’t cheap, even at the current discounted price, but at least you’re getting everything you need in one go.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

JBL Authentics 300 review: Alexa and Google Assistant coexisting

Several companies have taken shots at Sonos over the years when it comes to multi-room audio and self-tuning speakers with built-in voice assistants. These devices are a lot more common in 2023 than they used to be, so there’s a whole host of options if you’re looking for alternatives to the Move or Era. JBL is the latest to give it a go with new additions to its Authentics line of speakers. While audio may be its primary use, these devices are the first to run two voice assistants simultaneously without having to switch from one to the other. And on the Authentics 300 ($450), you get a portable unit that doesn’t have to stay parked on a shelf.


Most wireless JBL speakers fit into three categories. They’re either rugged and compact, modern-looking boomboxes or internally-lit party units. For this new Authentics series, the company opted for a more refined design: all black with a gold frame around the front speaker grille. It’s certainly an aesthetic that fits in nicely on a shelf, without the raucous palette of some of the company’s smaller options. All three of the Authentics speakers look almost exactly the same with the main difference being size, although the 300 does have a boombox-like rotating handle the other two don’t. That’s because it’s the only portable option in the range with a built-in battery.

JBL describes the Authentics look as “retro,” but I’m not sure I agree. Sure, there’s a classic vibe thanks to the ‘70s-inspired Quadrex grille the company has employed in the past, but the finer details and onboard controls are decidedly modern. Speaking of controls, up top you’ll find volume, treble and bass knobs that illuminate the level as you turn them. Pressing in the center of the volume dial gives you the playback controls. There are also Bluetooth, power and Moment buttons along with a thin light bar that indicates charging status when the speaker is plugged in. Around back is a microphone mute switch, along with Ethernet, 3.5mm aux, USB-C and power ports.

Software and features

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

The features and settings for the Authentics speakers are managed inside the JBL One app. Here, you’re greeted with a list of the company’s products you own as well as their connected status, battery level and whatever media is playing on the device. After selecting the Authentics 300, JBL dumps you into the specifics, with battery level once again visible up top. A media player is just below, complete with the ability to sync Amazon Music, Tidal, Napster, Qobuz, TuneIn, iHeartRadio and Calm Radio so you can play them directly inside this app.

JBL offers some limited EQ customization. There’s a manual slider with options for bass, mid and treble, but that’s it. You won’t find any carefully-tuned presets or the ability to make more detailed adjustments along the curve. To get to your tunes quickly, JBL offers a feature called Moment. Accessible via the heart button on the speaker, this allows you to save a favorite album or playlist from the app’s list of supported streaming services. You can also specify volume and auto-off timing during setup.

Lastly, a word on streaming music over Wi-Fi. The Authentics line supports a range of options here, including AirPlay, Chromecast, Alexa, Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect, all of which are more convenient than swiping over to the Bluetooth menu and pairing the speaker every time you use it. With Wi-Fi, playing music on the Authentics devices are just a couple of taps away inside of the app where you’re browsing and selecting music or podcasts from. The speakers also support multi-room audio via AirPlay, Alexa and the Google Home app

Double assistants, double the fun

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

JBL says the Authentics series is the first set of speakers to run two voice assistants simultaneously. Each of the three units can employ both Alexa and Google Assistant without you having to pick one or the other beforehand. This opens up availability across compatible smart home devices and it means your speaker choice isn’t as limited by your go-to assistant.

The speaker never had trouble hearing my commands and it didn’t mistake a query for one assistant with a question for the other. When you ask Google Assistant for help, a white light shows at the top center of the speaker grille. Summon Alexa and that LED burns blue until your convo is over. When you mute the microphones with the switch on the back of the 300, that light glows red and remains until you turn them back on. As is the case with any smart speaker, the voice command limitations are the general hindrances of the assistants themselves rather than any shortfalls of the speaker.

Sound quality

The Authentics 300 really shines with more mellow, chill music like jazz, bluegrass and acoustic-driven country. There’s a warm inviting sound with great clarity across those styles. When you jump to the full band chaos of metal and hardcore, or even the guitar-heavy but mellifluous tones of Chris Stapleton, the speaker’s tuning overemphasizes vocals and the lack of bassy thump creates a muddy overall sound.

Sure, you can dial up the bass with the physical controls or the EQ in the app, but that doesn’t add the kind of deep low-end that would open up the soundstage. It does improve the overall tuning of albums like Stapleton’s Higher, but there’s still an overemphasis on vocals. You can really hear the impact on The Killer’s Rebel Diamonds as Brandon Flowers almost entirely drowns out the backing synth on “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine” from Hot Fuss.

At times though, the Authentics 300 is a joy to listen to. Put on some Miles Davis and the speaker is at its best. Ditto for the bluegrass of Nickel Creek, the mellow country tunes of Charles Wesley Godwin and classic Christmas mixes. However, the inconsistency across styles is frustrating. Interestingly, JBL says the Authentics speakers offer automatic self-tuning every time you power them on, but I didn’t notice much difference as I moved the 300 around.

Battery life

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

JBL says the Authentics 300 will last up to eight hours on a charge. Within two minutes of unplugging, the JBL One app already had the battery level down two percent while playing music via AirPlay 2, at about 30 percent volume. That may seem like a low level, but it’s good for “working music” on this speaker. After 30 minutes, the app was showing 88 percent, but things slowed down and I managed to still have 24 percent remaining when the eight-hours were up. During a test over Bluetooth, the percentages fell in a similar fashion, but I had no problem making it to eight hours at 50 percent volume (Bluetooth was quieter than AirPlay at 30 percent).

JBL does offer a Battery Saving Mode to help you maximize playtime when you’re away from home. This setting “optimizes” both volume and bass to extend battery life, according to the company. There’s also an optional automatic power off feature that kicks in at either 15 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour when you’re not connected to power and audio is no longer playing.

The competition

JBL offers two alternatives to the Authentics 300 within the same speaker range. The smaller Authentics 200 ($350) is more compact, but not portable, while the larger 500 ($700) is a high-fidelity unit with support for Dolby Atmos. Both still run two voice assistants at the same time and have both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, along with everything else the Authentics line offers. In order to support that immersive audio, the Authentics 500 has more drivers than the other two, with three 25mm tweeters, three 2.75-inch mid-range and a 6.5-inch subwoofer. I look forward to seeing if the extra components and added 170 watts of output power improve sound quality, but it only has slightly lower frequency response than the 300 (40Hz vs. 45Hz).

If you’re looking for something portable that can also pull double duty at home, the Sonos Move 2 is a solid option. It’s too big to haul around with ease, but it does support both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi along with improved sound and better battery life compared to version 1.0. There’s also startling loudness and a durable design. What’s more, it’s the same price as the Authentics 300 at $449. For something more stationary and immersive, you could get the Sonos Era 300 without paying more. My colleague Nathan Ingraham noted the excellent sound quality on this unit during his review, but he did encounter inconsistent performance when it came to spatial audio. There’s also no Google Assistant support on this model.


When I try to come up with a final verdict on the Authentics 300, I find myself running in circles. For every thing I like about the speaker, there’s immediately something that I don’t. The company certainly deserves some kudos for being the first to run two assistants at the same time and for figuring out how to do that with no confusion or headaches. However, the inconsistent sound quality is a major problem, especially on a $450 speaker. And while the device offers better-than-advertised battery life, it’s larger size makes portability an issue. So unless you absolutely need to seamlessly switch between Alexa and Google Assistant, there are better-sounding options.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The best Black Friday speaker deals from Bose, JBL, Sonos and more

Engadget has tested out a ton of speakers over the years and now Black Friday sales are making many of our favorites much more affordable. It’s perfect timing too: Bluetooth speakers make great gifts for anyone who likes music, and a new smart speaker in your home may help tame the chaos of the holidays by letting you set timers and reminders while playing a chill mix to calm you. We found deals on Bluetooth speakers from Bose and JBL, smart speakers from Amazon and Sonos, and more — some are even down to their lowest prices ever.

Bose speaker deals

Bose SoundLink Flex

Bose Portable Smart Speaker

JBL speaker deals

JBL Clip 4

JBL Boombox 3

JBL Flip 6

JBL Xtreme 3

Sonos speaker deals

Sonos Era 100

Sonos Beam sound bar

Sonos Roam

Sonos Arc sound bar

Sonos Ray soundbar

Amazon Echo speaker deals

Echo Dot

Echo Pop


Echo Studio

Marshall speaker deals

Marshall Emberton II

Marshall Acton II

Marshall Willen

Ultimate Ears speaker deals

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3

Ultimate Ears Hyperboom

Ultimate Ears Epicboom

Speaker deals from Anker, Razer and Tribit

Soundcore Motion 300

Razer Nommo V2 Pro

Tribit StormBox Micro 2

Your Black Friday Shopping Guide: See all of Yahoo’s Black Friday coverage, here. Follow Engadget for Black Friday tech deals. Learn about Black Friday trends on In The Know. Hear from Autoblog’s experts on the best Black Friday deals for your car, garage, and home, and find Black Friday sales to shop on AOL, handpicked just for you.

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JBL's Charge 5 speaker drops to a record low in an early Black Friday deal

One of JBL’s best-sounding portable speakers is on sale via Amazon, with the Charge 5 matching a record low price of $120 in an early Black Friday deal. This Bluetooth speaker usually costs $180, so this represents a discount of 33 percent. We’ve seen this speaker go on sale before, but the price hasn’t been this low since July.

This sale is not just for the plain-jane black speaker, as you have your pick of colors, from gray, red and turquoise to unique patterns like camouflage. All told, choose from six colorways for the speaker.

JBL’s Charge 5 made our list of the best portable bluetooth speakers, and with good reason. The sound quality is great and we praised its “bright output and capable low end.” The battery lasts up to 20 hours per charge, which is a decent metric, and the whole thing is actually waterproof, with an IP67 rating. This means that if it accidentally falls in the pool during a backyard soiree, you won’t have to head immediately to Best Buy for a replacement.

There’s also a built-in powerbank that lets you use the speaker to charge other devices, and this unit boasts access to JBL’s proprietary PartyBoost feature. This lets you combine multiple wireless speakers to instantly create a stereo setup. As a matter of fact, the only potential downside to this portable speaker is the original asking price, as $180 is pretty steep. For today, at least, that issue has been solved.

JBL also has a number of wireless earbuds and headphones on sale right now, to complete the personal audio package. You can snag the company’s new high-end Quantum 910 headphones for $230, a savings of $70, or the budget-friendly Tune 230NC earbuds for $50 instead of $100.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The best wireless headphones for 2023

Over-ear, noise-canceling headphones typically offer the most comprehensive set of features we want for our listening pleasure. The best of these options combine stellar sound quality with powerful active noise cancellation (ANC) and other handy tools, like a reliable Bluetooth connection, to create as complete a package as possible. Of course, some companies do this better than others. At Engadget, we review a ton of Bluetooth headphones each year; for this guide, we tested out a number of different models with a variety of features, including noise cancellation, customization options and sound quality. Our favorites tick all of the most important boxes we'd expect quality wireless headphones to check, plus they span a range of prices so you can decide how much you’re comfortable spending.

Finding the best Bluetooth headphones: What to look for

When it comes to shopping for a good pair of wireless headphones, the first thing you’ll need to decide on is wear style. Do you prefer on-ear or over-ear headphones? For the purposes of our buyer’s guide, we focus on the over-ear style as that’s what most noise-canceling headphones are nowadays. Sure, you can find on-ear models with ANC, but over-ear designs are much more effective at blocking sound. Speaking of noise cancellation, you’ll want to determine early on if you even want that. If you frequently crank up the beats in noisy environments, you’ll want to not only make sure it’s there, but also make sure it’s good. If you plan to use your new headphones in quieter spaces, skipping ANC can save you some money.

The next area to consider is features. We recommend trying to get the most bang for your buck, but as you’re shopping around you should determine which items are must-haves and what you can live without. And don’t take basic things like automatic pausing and Bluetooth multipoint connectivity for granted, as not all companies include them. We also suggest reading reviews to see how well a company’s more advanced features work. This will help you decide if those are something you’re willing to (likely) pay extra for. Pay close attention to battery life estimates and don’t be easily swayed by lofty promises about call quality.

Sound can be subjective, so we recommend trying before you buy if at all possible. We understand this isn’t easy at a time when we’re doing most of our shopping online. But trying on a set of headphones and listening to them for a few minutes can save you from an expensive case of buyer’s remorse. We also recommend paying attention to things like Spatial Audio, Dolby Atmos, 360 Reality Audio and other immersive formats. Not all headphones support them, so you’ll want to make sure a perspective pair does if that sort of thing excites you.

How we test wireless headphones

The primary way we test headphones is to wear them as much as possible. We prefer to do this over a one- to two-week period, but sometimes embargoes don’t allow it. During this time, we listen to a mix of music and podcasts, while also using the earbuds to take both voice and video calls. Since battery life for headphones can be 30 hours or more, we drain the battery with looping music and the volume set at a comfortable level (usually around 75 percent). Due to the longer battery estimates, we’ll typically power the headphones off several times and leave them during a review. This simulates real-world use and keeps us from having to constantly monitor the process for over 24 straight hours.

To judge the best Bluetooth headphones, we consider audio quality by listening to a range of genres, noting any differences in the sound profile across the styles. We also test at both low and high volumes to check for consistency in the tuning. To assess the quality of phone calls, we’ll record audio samples with the headphones’ microphones as well as have third parties call us.

When it comes to features, we do a thorough review of companion apps, testing each feature as we work through the software. Any holdovers from previous models are double checked for improvements or regression. If the headphones we’re testing are an updated version of a previous model, we’ll spend time getting reacquainted with the older set. Ditto for the closest competition for each new set of headphones that we review.

Best headphones overall: Sony WH-1000XM5

Sony’s 1000X line has been our top pick for best wireless headphone for a long time now. Until another company can pack in as many high-quality features as Sony, and do so with a mix of excellent sound quality and effective ANC, the crown is safe. With the WH-1000XM5, Sony redesigned its flagship headphones, making them way more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. We also noticed in our tests that the company made noticeable improvements to the active noise cancellation, thanks to a separate V1 chip in addition to the QN1 that was inside the M4. There are now eight total ANC mics as well – the previous model only had four. This all combines to better block background noise and high frequencies, including human voices.

The 1000XM5 still has all of the features that typically make Sony’s top-of-the-line headphones showstoppers. That includes 30-hour battery life and crisp, clear sound with balanced tuning and punchy bass. A combo of touch controls and physical buttons give you on-board access to music, calls and noise modes without reaching for your phone. Speak-to-Chat automatically pauses audio when you begin talking, and like previous Sony headphones, the M5 can change noise modes based on your activity or location. Plus, this model offers better call quality than most of the competition. The only real downside is that they’re $50 more than the WH-1000XM4 at full price ($400).

  • Noise cancellation: Yes

  • Multipoint: Yes

  • Battery life: 30 hours

  • Weight: 0.55 pounds

  • Water resistance: None

Read our full review of Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones

Runner up: Bowers and Wilkins Px7 S2

I’ll admit I didn’t expect Bowers & Wilkins to make the year's best headphones list, or even be in contention for a spot. However, the company’s revised Px7 headphones impressed me during my review. The Px7 S2 are pricey at $399, but Bowers & Wilkins pair impressive sound quality with solid ANC performance. In fact, the Px7 S2 are my favorite headphones right now in terms of sound. There’s also a more refined design that doesn’t look overly plasticky and the ear cups fit comfortably even after hours of use. Call quality, ambient sound and automatic pausing aren’t the best here, but they get the job done. At the end of the day, the design, sound quality and excellent noise cancellation make the Px7 S2 a strong pick in the current true wireless headphone field.

  • Noise cancellation: Yes

  • Multipoint: Yes

  • Battery life: 30 hours

  • Weight: 0.67 pounds

  • Water resistance: None

Read our Full Review of Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 Headphones

Best cheap headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT

Audio-Technica has introduced affordable wireless headphones in the past, and while they didn’t offer active noise cancellation, they’re still worth considering. The company’s latest is the M20xBT, a Bluetooth version of the A-T’s popular M20x wired cans. For just $79, you can expect a comfy fit and up to 60 hours of battery life. Bluetooth multipoint connectivity allows you to connect to multiple devices at once and physical buttons provide reliable on-board control. The design isn’t as refined as the company’s pricer models like the M50xBT2, but you get the bulk of what makes Audio-Technica’s cheaper options so good.

  • Noise cancellation: No

  • Multipoint: Yes

  • Battery life: 60 hours

  • Weight: 1.42 pounds

  • Water resistance: None

Another solid option: Bose QuietComfort 45

The Bose 700 was one of our top wireless Bluetooth headphones last time around, but the company recently revived a workhorse with the QuietComfort 45. The design is mostly unchanged from the previous QC models, which could be a deal breaker for some. Once you get past that though, the QC45 combines Bose’s excellent active noise cancellation with clear and balanced audio. You can expect up to 24 hours of battery life on a single charge and a comfortable fit that doesn’t get tiresome during long listening sessions. We’ve already seen them on sale for $50 less than full price, which makes the QuietComfort 45 even more compelling.

  • Noise cancellation: Yes

  • Multipoint: No

  • Battery life: 24 hours

  • Weight: 0.96 pounds

  • Water resistance: None

Read our Full Review of Bose QuietComfort 45 Headphones

Another solid option: Technics EAH-A800

Back at CES 2022, Panasonic announced the EAH-A800: a new set of active noise canceling headphones under the iconic Technics brand. While most of the features are what you see on any number of wireless headphones, one figure stood out. The company says you can expect up to 50 hours of battery life on the A800, and that’s with active noise cancellation enabled. These are currently in my stable of review units for detailed analysis, but I have already tested them on a long flight. The ANC is impressive and they’re comfortable enough to avoid becoming a burden after several hours. Sound quality is also quite good (there’s LDAC support, too) and there are enough features here to justify the premium price tag.

  • Noise cancellation: Yes

  • Multipoint: Yes

  • Battery life: 50 hours

  • Weight: 0.65 pounds

  • Water resistance: None

Another solid option: Master and Dynamic MW75

While Master & Dynamic is known for its design prowess, the company’s over-ear headphones were due for a refresh. With the MW75 that debuted in June, the company opted for a look that takes cues from its MG20 gaming headset and mixes them with a combo of aluminum, leather and tempered glass. The company’s trademark sound quality returns with multiple ANC modes and ambient sound options for a range of situations. At $599, the high-end looks don’t come cheap, but if you’re looking for something beyond the pure plastic fashion of most headphones, M&D has you covered.

  • Noise cancellation: Yes

  • Multipoint: Yes

  • Battery life: 28 hours

  • Weight: 0.75 pounds

  • Water resistance: None

Another solid option: Sennheiser Momentum 4

I’ll be honest, I had a hard time choosing between the Px7 S2 and the Momentum 4 wireless headphones for the runner-up spot this time around. However, Bowers & Wilkins gets the edge in terms of design even though the Px7 S2 and the Momentum 4 are very evenly matched on great sound quality. They’re the two best-sounding sets of Bluetooth headphones I’ve tested this year – and it’s not even close. Sennheiser does have an impressive 60-hour battery life in its favor and improved ANC performance. Those two items alone might be enough for you to overlook the very generic design.

  • Noise cancellation: Yes

  • Multipoint: No

  • Battery life: 60 hours

  • Weight: 0.65 pounds

  • Water resistance: None

Read our Full Review of Sennheiser Momentum 4 Headphones

Other headphones we tested that didn't make the list

AirPods Max

Apple’s AirPods Max are premium, well-designed headphones that incorporate all of the best features you find on standard AirPods: solid noise cancelation, spatial audio and easy Siri access. However, their $550 starting price makes them almost prohibitively expensive, even for those with iOS devices. There are better options available at lower prices.

Sony WH-CH720N

The Sony WH-CH720N headphones are a decent option if you must have noise cancelation but can only spend so much. Even though the ANC struggles in certain environments, it’ll be good enough most of the time. Otherwise, these cans have decent sound quality and a comfortable design.

Beats Studio Pro

The Beats Studio Pro have a lot of noteworthy improvements like better ANC, sound quality and spatial audio. While they are better positioned to compete with the likes of Sony and Bose, they don’t quite knock any of our top picks off our list.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones are up there with some of the best wireless headphones we've reviewed this year. However, while the new Immersive Audio feature sounds great at times, it's inconsistent and actually makes some songs and albums worse. Bose certainly made improvements on these cans, namely in default sound tuning, clarity and warmth, but they're not enough to justify the QuietComfort Ultra's $429 price tag.


How can you tell the quality of headphones?

I typically look at three factors: design, sound quality and features. In terms of design, I’m usually looking to see if the build quality of the headphones feels cheap and plasticky. Plenty of companies use plastic, but they can do so in a way that doesn’t look or feel like budget models. For sound quality, I want to hear a nice, even tuning where highs, mids and lows are all well represented. No overly boomy bass or scooped out mids. I also want good clarity where you can pick up fine details and an open, immersive soundstage. Features is typically a distant third, but if a company doesn’t cover basic functionality (automatic pausing, transparency mode, multipoint Bluetooth, etc.) it can be an indication of overall quality. 

How do I choose the best quality headphones?

“Best” can be pretty subjective, but I always recommend going to a place where you can listen to the headphones you’re thinking about buying before you commit. Sometimes this isn’t possible, so you’ll want to check return policies. I also recommend doing some research to determine what your priorities are in a new set. Are you an audiophile who wants the best sound quality? Is powerful active noise cancellation (ANC) the most important? Would you rather have conveniences like automatic pausing?

Which brand has the best headphones?

Sony consistently tops our list with its 1000X line. This is mostly due to the combination of sound quality, ANC performance and the truckload of features these headphones pack in. I’ll be the first to tell you that there are better sounding options and other companies, like Bose, offer more effective noise cancellation. But when you add everything up, no one comes close to the full slate of tools Sony puts in its premium headphone line.

Do expensive headphones sound better?

Exorbitant price tags don’t mean better audio quality. Bowers & Wilkins’ headphones are on the high end for wireless noise-canceling models and they sound amazing. However, Audio-Technica’s M50xBT2 is much more affordable and doesn’t have ANC, but these headphones have a warm, natural sound profile that I find very inviting. At the end of the day, it will come down to personal preference, but you don’t need to spend a lot to find great headphones.

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Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones review: A new spin on a reliable formula

There are a few things you can bank on when it comes to Bose headphones. The first is powerful and effective active noise cancellation (ANC) that’s been the best in the industry for years. You can also reliably expect that the company’s new set of cans will be comfortable over the course of a long flight or extended work session. Bose continues to check both boxes with the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones ($429), but the marquee feature here is the company’s unique take on spatial audio. However, more immersive sound and a refreshed design, along with everything else the company is known for, comes at a higher price.


After debuting a refreshed design on the Bose 700 headphones in 2019, the company returned to its old aesthetic on subsequent models. With the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, Bose did a mix of the two, but it mostly stuck to the traditional look of the QC line. The outside of the ear cups are where the blend of the 700 and previous QuietComfort models is most apparent. They have a similar shape to those on the 2021 QC 45s, but the physical buttons are almost entirely gone, more like the 700s.

Bose removed the three-button setup for playback and volume, instead assigning play/pause, skipping tracks and changing audio modes to a single multi-function control. Just below it on the right ear cup, the Bluetooth pairing button also handles power. The company moved the on-board volume adjustment to a touch-sensitive strip that you can glide your finger across to raise or lower the level. Bose also allows you to assign a shortcut to the volume slider that’s activated by long pressing on it. Even though it’s touch-based, the slider reliably recognized my thumb swipes.

Another notable design change is the headband and hinge. Bose gave these a refined look by using metal instead of relying entirely on plastic. The hinge is better integrated in the headband so there are no visible screws until you fold the ear cups in. Those ear cups can also rotate flat, consistent with previous models over the years. Even with all the changes, Bose managed to keep things extremely comfortable during long listening sessions. Both the earpads and the inside of the headband are soft and cushiony, and I didn’t notice the extra weight.

Software and features

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

All the settings are found inside the Bose Music app. Once connected, the software serves up battery life and a volume slider right up top, with quick access to audio modes, Bluetooth connections, EQ, Immersive Audio, shortcut customization and tips underneath. The app also has a media player that mirrors whatever you’re playing elsewhere, so you don’t have to leave to control tunes when you’re tweaking headphone settings.

For audio modes, Bose gives you three by default: Quiet, Aware and Immersion. The first is just active noise cancellation, while the second is full transparency. Immersion is both  maximum ANC and Immersive Audio. Bose also offers the ability to create your own modes with an adjustable noise canceling, the option of wind block and Immersive Audio. Once you create a new mode, favoriting it will make it accessible via the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones’ on-board controls.

For Immersive Audio, there are three options to choose from. You can disable it entirely for the stock Bose tuning, and to save battery life, or you can opt for Still or Motion settings. The former keeps the audio at a fixed point and it is best for when you’re sitting. The latter allows the audio to follow you as you move around, using head tracking to keep the sound in front of you at all times.

In order to use that long press on the volume slider shortcut, you first have to enable it in the Bose app. From there, you can assign a handful of actions to the gesture. These include hearing the battery level, cycling through the Immersive Audio presets, accessing a voice assistant or playing content from Spotify. If none of those seem particularly helpful, you can always leave it turned off.

Sound quality and Immersive Audio

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

While the headline feature is Immersive Audio, Bose has also improved its stock tuning on the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones. Before I even activated spatial audio, I could tell the sound was considerably warmer and clearer, with more bass right out of the box. Overall sound quality is one area Bose lagged slightly behind the likes of Sony and Sennheiser, but the company is certainly catching up.

Bose’s take on spatial audio doesn’t rely on specialized content like Dolby Atmos in Apple Music or Sony 360 Reality Audio. Those formats have been engineered to specifically make the instruments sound like they’re playing around you. Bose uses a combination of headphone components and its newly developed signal processing for Immersive Audio. Thanks to virtualization, it works with any content and that makes it more convenient.

Like the dedicated spatial audio formats, the first thing you’ll notice is the sound is louder. Immersive Audio lends more overall presence to music, but there’s also heightened clarity and detail. Rather than surround you with sound, Bose claims to put you in the acoustic sweet spot, as if you were sitting in the perfect position in front of a set of high-end speakers. Indeed, the company achieves this as albums like TesseracT’s prog-metal War of Being have an atmospheric depth while preserving finer details – from the texture of the singer’s growl to subtle nuances in the drums.

At times, Bose’s spatial audio can make songs sound worse. On Tyler Childers’ “In Your Love,” the vocals are sharp and tinny, and the reverb is accentuated to the point it becomes a distraction from the rest of the music. And the vocals are now several notches louder than the instruments. When it hits, this audio tech is a joy to listen to, but because Bose is relying on signal processing rather than carefully engineered content, the results can vary greatly.

Another area Bose continues to improve is transparency mode. On the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, the company offers noticeably clearer audio when piping in your surroundings and allowing you to hear your voice. It’s still not as good as what Apple manages on the AirPods Max (no one comes close really), but Bose is making strides. That certainly helps when you’re taking a call or need to be tuned into your environment.

Stellar noise canceling performance is nothing new on a set of Bose headphones. The company is consistently the best in terms of allowing you to block out the world and the same holds true with the QC Ultra Headphones. Constant rumbling from an air conditioner or white noise machine is reduced to barely a whisper. The headphones do a great job with TV sound and human voices too – even the lethal combination of a nine-year-old playing Fall Guys.

Call quality

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

Bose promises “amazingly clear calls” on the QC Ultra Headphones, a claim that’s on par with nearly every headphone company these days. While I wouldn’t describe the audio quality for calls that way, it’s suitable for everyday voice and video calls when you just need to hear and be heard. It doesn’t sound like you’re on speakerphone, but it’s not pristine either. That’s better than what a lot of the competition offers and near the best you’ll get on wireless headphones.

Battery life

Bose says you can expect up to 24 hours of use with ANC turned on. If you opt for both noise cancellation and Immersive Audio, that figure drops to 18 hours. However, during my tests using the latter option, both the Bose app and macOS were showing 30 percent remaining after 20 hours. So while it’s true that the company’s new spatial audio impacts battery life, the QC Ultra Headphones still surpass the stated numbers.

To help you conserve battery, the QC Ultra Headphones will automatically turn off when they aren’t being worn and no audio is playing for 10 minutes. There’s also a quick-charge feature that gives you two and a half hours of use in 15 minutes. That’s with ANC on and Immersive Audio off though. If you need spatial audio during this time, Bose says you can expect 30 minutes less battery life after the fast top off.

The competition

While Bose has done a lot to catch up, it still doesn’t offer the suite of features that Sony does on the WH-1000XM5. No company does and that’s why the M5 is consistently at the top of our best wireless headphones list. The QuietComfort Ultra Headphones do offer more effective noise cancellation, but there’s nothing akin to Sony’s Speak-to-Chat automatic pausing or the ability to change audio modes based on your activity or location. The M5 also supports Sony’s DSEE Extreme that uses AI to upscale compressed audio and increase depth and clarity. The results are far more consistent than Bose’s Immersive Audio.


With the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, Bose remains near the top of the headphone heap. While Immersive Audio is great at times, the results are inconsistent and can be downright bad with some albums and songs. Still, the default tuning is improved and puts these headphones closer to the level of Sony and Sennheiser sonically, mostly due to added bass, increased clarity and enhanced warmth. Bose needed to nail its new trademark feature to help justify the higher price, but it failed to do so. The QuietComfort Ultra Headphones showcase a number of improvements over previous Bose models, but they’re not good enough to dethrone the king.

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