As we dive into 2017, we're seeing sweet noise-cancelling headphones, powerful Bluetooth speakers, excellent earbuds and other volume-blasting gadgets on the horizon that have us racing for our wallets. If you're looking for even more awe-inspiring audio accessories, we've got earphones that can filter out the sounds you'd rather not hear, a speaker that can save a dead car and a couple of high-quality headphones to make us rethink our favorites. So join us on a tour of the audio tech we're looking forward to this year, and get your calendar out, as we've got release dates so you know how much time you have to save up cash.
JBL's cylindrical Pulse speakers light up based on the audio they're playing and the company's third iteration is one of the cooler-looking speakers we've seen in a while. Those familiar with the Pulse 2 may barely recognize this year's edition, as the entire speaker is now imbued with hues, not just certain sections of it. JBL's also changed the materials, moving from a mesh design to a glossy hard plastic shell that makes it resemble a futuristic lava lamp.
Here's a first: Sennheiser's Ambeo Smart Surround Earphones actually record and play back 3D audio. How do they do it? The company placed high-quality microphones inside of the earhooks, so the cords manage to stay free of any bulk. Once you connect them to smartphone that uses a Lightning or USB Type-C connector, you'll be ready to capture immersive audio and play it back.
I've found a new pair of headphones to save up for: the Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT wireless Bluetooth over-ears. The headset features the audio firm's new proprietary technology, Pure Digital Drive, which keeps the audio signal sent to the drivers in digital rather than converting to analog. These headphones put on a show for me, delivering the sweet buzzing bass of Radiohead's "Burn The Witch."
Portable, on-the-fly audio remastering sounds too good to be true, especially at the price point of $169. But that's what you get with the AfterMaster Pro, a new gadget coming from AfterMaster Audio, a group of music industry vets who have worked on records by artists such as Tom Petty, Madonna and Katy Perry. All you do is hook up a TV or portable device's HDMI or aux ports to the Pro and press its button for sound quality to open up and magnify. We heard a sample of the AfterMaster Pro that brought life back to a Justin Timberlake concert special and made us want to call one in for further review. Available in black, blue, gold, pink, purple, and silver.
The 3D audio firm Ossic allowed us to test out the latest samples of its Ossic X headset, which immerses the wearer in sound. This implementation allows for directional sound in virtual reality, but it shined the most for me when I tested it out on Frank Ocean's Thinkin Bout You. I've heard this song probably a hundred times, but never before did I feel wrapped inside of it.
If I had a car, I would keep Dreamwave Audio's Survivor Bluetooth speaker inside of it. Not only does it feature a flashlight (with SOS signal mode) on one end, but it's got jumper cables on the other side. Its IPX5-certification means it's able to handle splashes. Oh, and if you're wondering about how it sounds? The Survivor packs dual full-range drivers, a pair of tweeters and a Hi-Fi digital amplifier, so your tunes will be as strong as this boombox is rugged.
Doppler Labs' Here One augmented listening earbuds - which filter the world around you - sounded almost too good to be true when I first wrote about them. But when I placed them in my ears and activating the selective listening regions, I was pleasantly surprised that the hype is to be believed. Not only can you select which direction you want to hear from, but you can also limit the sounds you hear to be from your immediate vicinity.