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  • Nov 24, 2018

    Evolution of Sound, Headphones, and the Holiday Shopping Frenzy | #184


    Black Friday has come and gone, but the best deals of the year are still going on through Cyber Monday and the rest of what has now been dubbed Cyber Week. Mike Etchart opens the show with a few holiday shopping season forecast statistics for 2018 that may surprise you. Then, we discuss the history of headphones with Brent Butterworth from Wirecutter. Next, Brent tells us about a $50 pair of headphones that you can’t pass up from Tribit, the XFree Tune, and why journalist have such a hard time touring the Chinese factories that make all of our favorite electronics. Cranking up the volume, we chat about the secret, dark art of noise canceling headphones, and why the Anker Soundcore Space NC may be the best bang for 100 bucks on the market. Closing the show, Brent fills us in on the Puro Sound Labs headphones and his top pick for portable Bluetooth speakers – the Tribit XBoom. Don’t miss this episode if you’re in the market for some new sound!


    ·[00:00:00] Shopping Season Forecast Statistics

    ·[00:06:28] History of Premium Headphones

    ·[00:12:30] Tribit, Chinese Factories, and Tuning

    ·[00:19:51] Dark Arts of Noise Canceling Headphones

    ·[00:28:32] Anker Soundcore Space NC

    ·[00:35:52] Puro Sound Labs and Tribit MaxBoom


    [00:00:00] Shopping Season Forecast Statistics
    With Black Friday behind us, we move into Cyber Monday and the rest of Cyber Week. Mike shares a few holiday shopping season forecast statistics that might surprise you. From a predicted $7.7 billion in sales for Cyber Monday alone, to the first trillion dollar holiday season, the industry is set to break records. Also, 40% of all holiday shopping is expected to happen during Cyber Week, with 60% of consumers making purchases online. 29% of deal seekers will shop only on Amazon, while 46% of all online orders will be completed on mobile. Find out more about the predicted habits of consumers this holiday season.


    [00:06:28] History of Premium Headphones
    Headphones are always a wonderful gift idea this time of year, but they may be the most confusing and overwhelming category in consumer technology. Here to demystify the buying experience is SoundStage! Solo Editor, Wirecutter audio writer, and JazzTimes audio columnist, Brent Butterworth. Around 2008, high end headphones started becoming popular, following the release of a $300 pair of Beats headphones, but what brought on this new market? We discuss the history of high quality portable audio, starting with the revolution that was the iPod. Plus, find out why hundreds of headphone brands are able to thrive in today’s Amazon dominated retail climate.


    [00:12:30] Tribit, Chinese Factories, and Tuning
    Paying an arm or a leg for great sounding, high quality Bluetooth headphones or speakers is a thing of the past. Wirecutter’s Brent Butterworth tells us we need look no further than Tribit for affordable options; their $60 Bluetooth speaker, the MaxBoom, gets the job done in spectacular fashion, and the XFree Tune is an amazing set of Bluetooth headphones for just $50! While some may think hardware is a determining factor in a pair of headphones’ quality, Brent reveals that it has much more to do with how well tuned they are. Also, discover why Brent is excited to spend some time touring a few Chinese factories next year, and why it’s a big deal.


    [00:19:51] Dark Arts of Noise Canceling Headphones
    When you think of high quality, noise canceling headphones, you probably think of Bose. SoundStage! Solo’s Brent Butterworth explains how Bose’s purchasing of patents gave them the throne of this specialized segment for over 15 years. But now, there is a new contender with Sony’s release of the WH-1000XM3. Also, Brent divulges the secret inner workings of noise canceling headphones, explaining that while Bose and Sony can reduce outside noise by over 20 decibels, you really only need 10 db of reduction to drown out the sounds of an inflight airplane. Find out why Wirecutter says the Sony WH-1000XM3 are a better buy than the Bose QC35.


    [00:28:32] Anker Soundcore Space NC
    So you want a pair of noise canceling headphones, but don’t want to drop $200-$350 on them? Well, you’re in luck! Wirecutter’s Brent Butterworth fills us in on a rare find – Anker’s Soundcore Space NC. These $100 headphones are packing features, comfortability, great sound, and above average noise canceling ability. Check them out on for a steal-deal. Then, Brent discusses the proliferation of Bluetooth headphones, and why their minor drop in audio quality doesn’t outweigh the benefit of getting rid of that pesky cord. Bluetooth technology has come a long way, and with aptX HD technology, which is paying dividends for cord-independent audiophiles. Learn more about the headphone industry’s shift away from wired connections.


    [00:35:52] Puro Sound Labs and Tribit MaxBoom
    While we grown-ups may be apt to blast our poor little eardrums with loud noises, any parent knows how unsafe that is for our little tikes. That’s why Puro Sound Labs has a line of headphones that max out their sound at 85 decibels, the accepted maximum safe level for children. Also, Wirecutter’s Brent Butterworth wraps up the show with his pick for best value Bluetooth speaker this holiday season. Find out why the Tribit MaxBoom is an amazing value at $60, packed with features and high quality sound, and the $30 Tribit XSound Go is the perfect stocking stuffer.


    Explore More with Helpful Links:

    ·Special Guest: Brent Butterworth | Audio Journalist, Wirecutter / SoundStage! Solo / JazzTimes

    ·Website: Tribit

    ·Website: Tribit XBoom

    ·Website: Tribit XSound Go

    ·Website: Tribit XFree Tune

    ·Website: Puro Sound Labs

    ·Website: Anker

    ·Website: Soundcore Space NC

    ·Website: Sony WH-1000MX3

    ·Website: Bose QC35



    This episode was produced by Entertainment Right Now (ERN). If you found value in this episode, and you’d like to hear more, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes and be sure to subscribe to our podcast so you don’t miss a beat. Your feedback helps us to reach more enthusiasts around the world! If you have a question you’d like us to answer, please leave a comment below or e-mail us at



    Host: Mike Etchart
    Producer: Dave Milligan
    Production Asst.: Joanne Bolden
    Audio Engineer: Dave Milligan
    Copy Editor: Cody Castleberry
    Contributor: Geoff Morrison

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  • Popular Technology Radio

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    POPULAR TECHNOLOGY RADIO provides you with the most authoritative insight and information on today’s emerging technologies and products in a fast paced and entertaining one-hour weekly show. Mike Etchart, along with a gang of tech experts and gadget geeks, bring you a wide array of topics including the latest news and information on in-home and hand-held technology, music, photography, entertainment, gaming and more.

    Get expert advice on stereo components, home recording equipment, smartphones, computers, digital imaging, dashboard apps, and exciting new gadgets. Plus, you’ll hear the latest industry buzz, rumors, and cold hard facts. POP TECH RADIO helps you make sense of the barrage of choices available in the marketplace; Mike provides you with vital, comprehensive advice from leading experts. 

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