The sounds of summer are upon us, so this issue we focus on the best ways to listen to music anywhere – but especially outdoors.
The latest in-ear headphones from Bang & Olufsen feature great sound in a fully waterproof design, so suitable for beach or poolside. The design comes in three colours: anthracite oxygen, gold tone and black anthracite. The charging case is brushed aluminium. The earphone itself is small, despite having a 9.2mm speaker driver, giving impressive sound while still being small enough to fit the ear comfortably, even for a long time. It also works well for making and receiving calls, thanks to three microphones on each earbud which efficiently reduce background noise.
The latest Bluetooth tech means it can connect to two separate devices, so you can listen to tracks from a music player but take calls when your phone rings.
The problem with Bluetooth speakers is while you want them to be as small as possible for convenience and portability, audio quality usually suffers. The Roam bucks this trend. It’s small enough to carry easily in one hand, about the size of a water bottle, and light at 430g, but it sounds terrific. It’s also tough enough to handle a drop or two of rain, or even survive unscathed after being submerged in water a metre deep for half an hour. Because it’s a Sonos, it’s smart enough to know when you are in range of another Sonos speaker and will switch to wi-fi automatically, with the press of a button transferring to the next speaker. Sonos includes Trueplay in its latest products, which means it adjusts the sound according to the environment, often with dramatic improvement. Here, Trueplay is done automatically. And just in time for summer, Sonos has added great colours to the range which was previously just black and white. Choose from a calming blue (wave), luscious green (olive) or a perky red (sunset).
We is the name of a new affordable sub-brand for Loewe audio-visual products. In the first launch is an eye-catching portable Bluetooth speaker. The cylindrical device has speakers at both ends, though tiny feet at one end tell you which way is up. The audio is excellent, with plenty enough volume for the great outdoors, but strong accuracy and a good balance of midtones and bass. Choose from storm grey, cool grey, aqua blue and coral red. There’s also a larger model in the same colours, called We Hear 2, with an extra three hours’ battery life.
When it comes to noise-cancelling headphones, you can count the brands that get it right on one hand: Bose, Apple and Sony. Of the three, Sony’s noise-cancellation is the most enjoyable. It’s better than ever in this latest, fifth, edition of its over-ear headphones. Even with noise-cancelling switched off, the audio is improved with better bass thanks to a new internal design. The sleeker look is the biggest change yet for Sony’s headphones. Smart effects include Speak to Chat – that sounds tautological but just means that when you start talking, the headphones automatically pause playback so you can hear the person you’re talking to. The only downside is you can’t sing along to your favourite track with this feature turned on.