Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wireless Headphone reviews

Nearly every rider out there runs some type of personal music setup. Whether it's a stereo next to their practice spot or headphones running off an MP3 player, there's many ways to get the job done. Here we take a look at the Monster iFreeplay Shuffle wireless headphone & Sony's NWZ -W202 model.

Ben (Ginny) McGinnes & Shane Badman have put together reviews on both models....

NWZ-W202 Cordless Walkman review

Who's a fan of riding bikes here?

Cool.., I thought so!

And who else is a fan of listening to their favourite tunes while throwing down some wicked turbines?


So then, is it safe to assume that all of us here at some point have had our earphones ripped from our ears, and felt the blinding, white-hot rage that comes along with it?

Sony, having heard everyone's girlish tantrums have nailed it here with their new release 'wearable and cordless' Walkman.

Having worn these pretty much every day since getting them over 3months ago, I can honestly say it's been the best $120AUD I've spent... I've been whinging my arse off for ages now (to no-one inparticular) longing for a nice set uncomplicated all-in-one mp3 player/earbuds... I've rooted around with every conceivable set up... From shuffles clipped to short corded cans and even the phallusy of hi tech/ hi annoyance bluetooth headphones.

So to start off, these are an all in one (albeit screen-less) earbud/mp3 player that simply sits over your ears.. and well, plays your selected beats. The added convenience of not having to install any extra programs as well as boasting a fairly decent memory of 2GB is always a bonus.. It will automatically sync straight up with Windows Media Player, but if you're an itunes fan... Do the work around... Make some mad playlist in itunes (or select an existing one), select it all, copy it to a new folder on your desktop, then simply drag that folder over to the 'music' folder on the Walkman... Piece-a-piss. Yeah it even plays AAC apple files.

The usual over packaged headphone jive is continued here, including a huge plastic blow mould retail blister pack, three pairs of different sized rubber ear pieces.. (awesome!), a neat little charging/data transfer stand with attached lead... along with all the usual standard, pointless paperwork. So far available in 5 different colours: white, barbie pink, green, purple and 'best in black'.

Mac-o-philes.., I can't personally tell you if these will work with Apple operating systems. I've read some reviews that they will, but I don't want to be burned at the stake for misguidance. So don't quote me on this.

The best part is that you can actually bend the connecting wire to suit your ill-shaped melon - this is where the player really dictates it's authority. It might take a few minutes, or maybe hours of subtly tweaking it to sit perfectly in your ears while staying still and efficiently executing it's job of pounding the sides of your brain... But if done right, the difference is astounding in terms of comfort, sound reproduction... and well, staying where you put them. This will give you the most advantage of it's huge 13.5mm speakers, (trust me, that's a massive driver when it actually lives inside your ear).. It really has a wicked amount of bass when seated properly.

The controls all sit on the right side.. volume, play/pause, even the always open (therefore slightly worrying) USB port... It is a standard 'mini' USB connector, so I suppose that's a muffled hurrah. Another handy point is that there is no on/off button.. Weird hey?

For automatic power-off just connect both earpieces together via the inbuilt magnet. Disconnect the two earpieces (to put it on and,) power it on. Wow, leave it to the Japanese.

A new and bizarrely useful feature I've yet to see on any other DAP (digital audio player), is the ZAPPIN function... Instead of constantly hitting the fast foward clicker to find a suitable 'flat-esque' rythm. You simply hold the play/pause button in for just over a second and let go, then a sultry English... Yes, a sexy, brunette, blue eyed, female voice, informs you that she is 'zappin in' with a 3 second sample of random tracks, when you hear the track you want to roll with, press the clicker again.. Even if just to hear her voice one more time... 'zappin out'...

She'll be back...

In a perfect world I wouldn't hesitate in giving this Walkman 5 skyward thumbs.. But I'm not perfect, I sweat.. Alot. I just find the open USB connector a worrying point. Electrical power ports and moisture weren't meant to co-exist peacefully, but the silent war rages on with my imitation sideburn acting as some sort passive buffer.

Just wipe it over after a good ride, It's lasted me this long, so that's a start. I'm happy, and I really hope this player battles on.. I love it.

Hit it up here.


Monster iFreeplay Cordless Headphones for iPod Shuffle

iPod Shuffles are a popular MP3 player. Their clip on design, decent memory (available in 1GB & 2GB) & ability to take hard crashes all give them strong appeal to any flatlander. And not to mention they also have the marketing juggernaut of Apple behind them & a legion of devotees that would make Osama proud & you have a product that is hot on anyones wish list regardless of whether they know how to work iTunes or not.

Yet even using a Shuffle, there has still been the age old problem of wires. They're annoying, distracting & often waaay to long. If you're a person you rides shirtless then they tend to get even more distracting always flinging about & getting caught on things.

Monster have taken care of this little dilemma by creating a headphone that allows the Shuffle to sit in the left earpiece. Ingenious concept with much potential, but does it actually work?

In short, yes. The Shuffle sits neatly in its little dock that is cleverly moulded to allow total access to all the switches & buttons. My initial concern was the Shuffle would jump out of the dock with all the constant movement, but the design has provided an incredibly snug fit that sees it sit firmly in place until you choose to remove it.

The pin that the Shuffle docks to is gold meaning the best possible conductor for sound. The headphone unit is sturdily built & folds down to a convenient travelling piece when necessary. Weather proof to some degree the speakers have are covered in a soft fabric liner common to all street-style headphones.

The Monster comes in a one-size-fits-all model but found to fit better if you have a larger head. It sits comfortably over your ears with the thin piece bridging the two speakers going unobtrusively behind your noggin & unfortunately like the Sony model reviewed, there is no adjustability. One concern I had before buying it was that the headphone would become heavy on the left earpiece (where the Shuffle sits). While noticeable, I personally didn't find it unbearable even after several hours of constant wearing.

Photos thanks to Andras @ OG Bikes

Though it has some great points, there are also a few negatives. I found the sound quality to be ok – it wasn't bad, just wasn't great was all. I guess when you're used to using ear buds then move to speakers you'll notice the difference. Also being a lad who tends to sweat a hell of a lot, I often had to squeeze the fabric covering the ear pieces dry. I've had these headphones roughly a month & no problems from sweat so far, but I'm sure that much moisture so close to electronics can't be good? Also the left ear piece with the Shuffle can jump about on your ear if your riding style is a little energetic. Not a problem per se, but annoying when you're mid-combo & your wondering if the headphone is going to jump off (which it hasn't so far).

You can find the headphones here.

I would give these a 3/5 rating.


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