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Pricey Lightning headphones will make you care less about headphone jacks [Reviews]

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Audeze EL-8 headphones
With a Lightning connector and an $800 price tag, the EL-8 headphones from Audeze are very Apple.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

They don’t call them “headphones” for nothing.

Slipping on a pair of quality closed-back headphones puts you in a rarefied headspace where sound envelopes you completely and nothing matters but the music. Just close your eyes, cue up the perfect tracks to suit your mood, and drift away.

The Audeze EL-8 Titanium headphones, which use a Lightning connector to plug into your Apple device, will take you to that special place. But you’ll pay a steep price for your trip to aural bliss.

Four dramatically distinct options for playing music from your mobile [Deals]

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Prop it up and belt it out with this all-in-one speaker stand.
Prop it up and belt it out with this all-in-one speaker stand.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

These days, there are as many options for speakers and headphones as there are stars in the sky. Out of such a bewildering array of audio choices, we’ve picked four of the brightest, each one unique and distinct.

From a Bluetooth speaker that looks like a cajon to DJ-grade headphones, this audio gear makes the grade. And we’ve got hot deals on each of them. Take a look — and a listen.

Nyne’s big, bulky speaker is a boombox for the Bluetooth age [Review]

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Nyne's new boombox is the biggest Bluetooth speaker we've ever seen. It's called -- what else? -- the Rock!
Nyne's new boombox is the biggest Bluetooth speaker we've ever seen. It's called -- what else? -- the Rock!
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

As a teenager in the 80s, I love a good boombox. The bigger, the better, like Radio Raheem’s.

That’s why I was keen to check out Nyne’s new Bluetooth Boombox, called — what else — the Rock. It’s the biggest Bluetooth speaker I’ve ever seen, promising to put out 65 watts of raw music power.

But does it rock — or not?

Rugged headphones are on-ear and on-point [Reviews]

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NAD VISO HP30 on-ear headphones offer RoomFeel technology.
NAD VISO HP30 on-ear headphones offer RoomFeel technology.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Best List: NAD VISO HP30 Headphones

I thought I knew myself pretty well by now. Boxer briefs instead of boxers or briefs. Surf before turf. Toilet paper over and not under. And over-the-ear headphones well before on-ear or in-ear.

But the NAD Viso HP30s have me questioning my allegiances to over-the-ear.

Twist this giant knob to make your music sound better

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Twist the night away with this headphone amp's gigantic dial.
Twist the night away with this headphone amp's gigantic dial.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Best List: The Element headphone amplifier by JDS Labs

“Take the conn, Jimmy.”

“Aye aye, Captain.”

Every single time I lay my hands on The Element’s giant, super-precise dial of sonic control, that Star Trek scene rolls through my head. Which is a little weird for me, since Captain Kirk and I have the same name, but I overlook this small snag as I dial in the perfect volume on my JDS Labs headphone amplifier.

Voice-boosting TV speaker makes sure you never miss a word

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grace-digital-voice-enhanced-tv-speaker - 1
This TV speaker could Grace your living room or bedroom.
Photo: George Tinari/Cult of Mac

Grace Digital’s Voice Enhanced TV Speaker promises to enhance the sound of your television and potentially give it a volume boost. The sound was engineered with voices in mind because, more than anything when watching TV, dialogue is what you need to hear. As a bonus, a Bluetooth connection lets the speaker work with any Bluetooth-enabled computer or smartphone.

I hooked up Grace Digital’s Voice Enhanced TV Speaker to my television and gave it a whirl.

Ear-hugging headphones deliver good jams for your dollar

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Lust List JLAB
Sometimes what you really need is a well-built pair of inexpensive headphones. Jlab's Flex fills that bill perfectly.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Best List: Flex headphones by JLab Audio

If you are on a budget and routinely trash your headphones, JLab Audio’s Flex is just what you have been looking for: a decent pair of cans built to withstand regular abuse.

The Flex headphones come folded down compactly into their included case, and for $70 deliver pretty impressive sound quality.

Amazing $2,000 speaker is worth every penny

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Looks, power, and ease of use - what more do you need?
Looks, power, and ease of use - what more do you need?
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Best List: Phantom speaker by Devialet

A whispered conversation in a library is about 30 decibels. A normally loud chat comes in at around 65 decibels. A jackhammer at 50 feet is 95 decibels, and also the loudness at which our ears can get damaged with prolonged exposure.

The Phantom speaker I’ve been using as my main television and Bluetooth speaker for the last couple of weeks tops out at 99 decibels. This sucker gets loud, without any distortion, real quick. It’s easy to use, looks amazing in any room, and will change your experience of music and movies from the moment you turn it on.

While it looks like something out of the future depicted in a Kubrick film, has an ungainly outdoor-style power cable, and is heavier than you’d think, the Phantom is simply the best home speaker I’ve ever encountered.

For two grand, it had better be.

‘Music brain’ queues up perfect tracks to get you laid

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The Prizm smart music player thinks it knows what you want to hear, no matter what you're doing.
The Prizm smart music player thinks it knows what you want to hear, no matter what you're doing.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac CES 2016 full coverage Music can set the mood for everything and the Prizm, a new music player described as “the music brain,” is hoping to reinvent the way we listen to music.

It listens to sounds in the room you’re in and identifies who’s in the room, then selects the perfect track for the situation. Lots of people making noise late at night? Prizm thinks it’s party time and plays techno music. Nothing but heavy breathing or kissing sounds? It’s time for some Barry White.

Tiny audiophile earbuds deliver big, clear sound

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Small and unassuming, with incredibly clarity and tone.
Small and unassuming, with incredibly clarity and tone.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Best List: Reference X20i In-Ear Headphones by Klipsch

Have you ever wondered whether a pair of $550 earbuds is worth the price? I have, but never really had the scratch to put it to the test.

Klipsch, however, sent me a pair of their high-end earbuds, the Reference X20i In-Ear Headphones, to test. When I opened the wooden box and slid the headphones out of their leather pouch, then slipped their oval-shaped eartips into my sound holes, I went to the Star Wars: The Force Awakens soundtrack. The orchestral music seemed like a great way to see if these really expensive headphones match their price tag.