Powerbeats Pro thoughts

Beats says its Powerbeats wireless earbuds are the most popular fitness headphones in the world, and the new Pro model sheds the cable that links the left and right buds together. They retain the look and identity of Powerbeats, but Beats didn’t just snip the wire; it redesigned the entire product in the move to a true wireless design. The Pros are 23 percent smaller and 17 percent lighter than the regular Powerbeats neckbuds, and Beats is offering color options beyond white: the Powerbeats Pro will come in black, white, dark green, and navy… More here.

These are no doubt very impressive, but when seen face on they look a little silly. Not as silly as AirPods, but then again nothing looks that silly.

Jabra Elite 65t In-Ear True Wireless Headphones review

AirPods AirPods AirPods!

Sometimes it feels as though there are AirPods and a tiny selection of competitors that make up a slither of the market. When I go to the gym I see AirPods, on the train there are AirPods and seemingly everywhere else. Those little dangly white things hanging out of people’s ears like a statement, one which is growing all of the time.

AirPods 2 will soon arrive and are basically the same with a few bits tucked inside to keep the momentum going, but is there another choice? Maybe.

The Jabra Elite 65t has had some good press of late, but also appear to be a little strange looking in the marketing shots. They look big on paper and almost feel like a previous generation of design when compared to Apple’s offering.

See how happy they make me…

When I first opened up the box, however, I was surprised at how small they are, and even more surprised at how small they look when in my ears. They are noticeable, of that there is no doubt, but they look much more subtle than the dangly white things.

Sound quality

So, I went through the very short pairing process and they were immediately connected. I put them in my ears and played some bass-heavy music, and I was impressed. Not impressed on a technical level because a nerdy audiophile would no doubt tell you that the sound reproduction is not great, but neither is the sound from AirPods or most other wireless EarPods. The fact is that of all the wireless buds I have tried these sound the best to me.

There is an associated app that lets you equalise the music, but in reality you will likely end up using the default setting or perhaps the ‘Energize’ mode. The rest sound a little forced to me and unnatural. You can also enable a feature called ‘HearThrough’ which is supposed to help you hear outside sounds. Truth be told I could not tell the difference, but maybe I need to be in louder places to experience the true effect. Finally, volume will be more than loud enough for those of you who like to crank your music right up.

Controls

The controls are a bit fiddly because of the way the buds fit in your ears. I found myself having to push a little too hard which would distort the sound, and strangely the sound could be affected when eating or drinking due to the movement in my jaw. There are a few controls to learn which are not so intuitive, but like anything you will soon get used to those.

Comfortability

They are comfortable after sitting in your ears for some time, but you need to make sure that you select the right inserts. I was surprised that the small ones fitted my ears just right and that the entire bud sat snug and at no point came close to falling out. Even better, you will forget they are in which is not always the case with much of the competition.

Battery life

Brilliant. Five hours of music plus another ten hours through the case, and it is true as well. That is superb.

Build quality

They feel fairly sturdy and I suspect they could easily survive a drop or two. The only concern I had was with the charging case which feels quite cheap and with an opening mechanism that never feels tight.

What’s worse than AirPods?

Well, the charging case, as I said, is a bit flimsy. Annoyingly when you want to only use one bud you have to use the right one. I always prefer the left one, but the main controls are on the right bud so there is no choice here. Connectivity is very good and the best I have seen outside of the AirPods for my iPhone X, but on a couple of occasions the left bud would not make any sound until I took them both out and started again. Audio on videos can lose sync quite easily so I would suggest that if you watch a lot of YouTube on your phone with headphones these may be worth avoiding on that basis alone. Strangely, I suffered no lag in Netflix or Prime, but there is a technical reason for the loss of sync and it is something to do with not supporting a new standard, one that I cannot remember at this time. Sorry.

What’s better than AirPods?

The sound quality is better in my opinion, but this is very much a personal take and one which every person will have a slightly different view on. They look better when worn and, for me, they are much more secure in the ears when running or exercising. I can use Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant through them and it works well. It works well because I obviously don’t use Siri. They are cheaper if you shop around, down to as low as £129 in the UK.

Conclusion

Are the Jabra Elite 65t In-Ear True Wireless Headphones better than AirPods?

Yes.

Sometimes Apple deserves a little credit

Spotify, Google, Pandora and Amazon have teamed up to appeal a controversial ruling by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board that, if it goes through, would increase payouts to songwriters by 44%, Variety has learned…

…The four companies all filed with the court separately. Sources say that Apple Music is alone among the major streaming services in not planning to appeal — as confirmed by songwriters’ orgs rushing to heap praise on Apple while condemning the seemingly unified front of the other digital companies. More here.

There is more to this story, but it is unusual for one company to stand out from the rest. It’s not always the others who are right.

Apple Music vs. Spotify

An individual Apple Music subscription costs $9.99 per month in the United States, with slight price variations in other countries and territories. Likewise, an individual Spotify subscription or “Premium” plan costs $9.99 per month, with some regional variations. In addition to its paid plan, Spotify also offers a free ad-supported service that allows users to shuffle-play songs, although premium features remain off limits… More here.

This might sound sad, but I don’t use Spotify purely because I don’t like the interface. Visuals aside it is ‘very’ difficult to choose between the two.

Subscriptions are winning

New digital services are turning the UK into a country of subscribers rather than entertainment buyers as music follows video and games to become a majority ‘rental’ market for the first time, according to figures revealed in the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) Yearbook, published today (March 5).

Revenues for paid-for music subscription services rose 38% in 2018 to £829m with the result that subscription now accounts for 62% of total recorded music revenues. Ownership formats like CDs, vinyl LPs and downloads now only account for 38% of revenues… More here.

This doesn’t surprise me because potentially they offer better value than buying media individually.

Apple ruined A-Punk by Vampire Weekend for me

In fact, it’s such a common nuisance that a song made up of 10 minutes of silence with a name that begins “A A A A A” — so that it becomes the first song in your library — topped the the iTunes charts back in 2017.

It apparently has been driving iPhone users crazy since iOS 3, based on discussions in Apple’s support forum. I found one thread dating back to 2011 that still had complaints added to it late last year.

And the issue is not just with cars. Some complain about the problem when connecting to Bluetooth headphones, as well… More here.

I have listened to the first few seconds of A-Punk hundreds of time and now I hate it! My whole family hates it. Get in the car, plug in the iPhone via USB and it starts to play, every single time! Would it kill Apple to add a random play feature at some point? First world problems…