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Small size, big sound

Tested: Klipsch X11i In-Ear Headphones

The typical beef with earbuds is that they sound worse than similarly priced over- or on-ear headphones. That’s not to say audio engineers haven’t figured out how to squeeze spectacular sound out of a diminutive package, there’s just usually a hefty premium for having your cake and eating it too. Klipsch’s X11i are the company’s top of the line offering in-ear offering. We spent the last few weeks with a pair to see if they were capable of producing the high-end sound worthy of their high-end price.

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Nip your audio in the bud

Cheap Beats: The Best Budget Earbuds

Earbuds, rather than full-size headphones, are essential to many a man mostly because they are so very compact. If you’re a commuter or jogger or some other type of person who can’t balance one-pound earmuffs on your head all day, and you don’t want to spend a pretty penny on something that you’re likely to lose or break, these are for you. They’re the best budget earbuds we’ve heard of, so listen up.

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Putting products on a pedestal

Introducing: Gear Patrol Shorts

We’ve all experienced it before — that overwhelming desire to stop and marvel at something. For some, the response is sparked by the sight of art, a beautiful landscape or even particular members of the fairer sex (uncouth, we know). Certain things in this world simply demand more than a passing glance or two. For people like us, though, it’s all about great things that live at the intersection of impeccable design and remarkable engineering. Chances are you feel the same way.

Today, we’re introducing a new way of telling stories — one with fewer words and a higher focus on bringing products we test to life through the magic of short-form video, one perfect for a quick moment of inspiration (or awe) that’s mobile friendly and ready to go. We’re calling them GP SHORTS.

Click to watch our first take.

canon-logoThis post brought to you by Canon. When only the best will do, expect Canon. Long Live Imagination.
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What's that, now?

Sweet Sound of Silence: 10 Best Noise-Canceling Headphones

A respite from noise might seem thin on paper, but spend a few hours on an inescapable airplane with crying babies, heaving green-faced passengers or even a chatty cathy neighbor and get back to us on what you’re willing to pay for a little peace and music. What’s more, NC options have some of the best sound profiles available, making them true gems for audiophiles and the easily distracted alike. Considering the vastly small market for noise-canceling headsets available at the moment, the problem isn’t necessarily narrowing down the field — it’s choosing the best one for your audio needs. From pioneering audio staples to buzzing newcomers, these are the noise cancelers worth turning your ears to.

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What's that?

Tested: AKG K391 NC Headphones

The term “noise canceling headphones” almost always summons images of big puffy over-the-ear numbers. As wonderful as those can be, they’re bulky to pack if you’re traveling light, and during workouts, they suck — providing a feeling akin to sweating with scones strapped to your head. Austrian headphone maker AKG’s K391 NC offer up noise canceling features in a compact package. We tried out a pair.

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To each their own

Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Headphones

The world may not be in black or white, but a glance at today’s most popular gadgets would make you think otherwise. Wouldn’t it be grand if technology could mirror your tastes and preferences (Swarovski crystal crusts excluded) — and not cost a bloody fortune? Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro headphones ($195) are just that. Even in their stock form, a metal frame, metal ear cups, metal y-forks and a removable 2.5mm connector give the made-in-Deutschland set a premium feel.

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Aquaman's Walkman

Sony Sports W Series Waterproof MP3

It’s widely known that swimmers and rainy weather joggers (and really all audiophiles hindered by humidity) are more than a little jealous of the ease with which their fellow athletes can take in tunes while exercising. Sony’s whipped up the next in their line of wet-weather answers: the Sports W Series Waterproof MP3 Player, a…

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Grow a Pear

Pear Mobile

The holidays are here again. Time for family, friends and wondering what to do when Grandma pulls that five-stick-o-butter apple pie hot and fresh from the oven. Finding ourselves wedged between the gorging holidays with New Year’s resolutions right around the corner, we’ve all hopefully considered some version of an exercise regimen. Personal trainers, however,…

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Canned Goods

Roundup: Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $250

The headphone market is packed tighter than Chris Farley in a navy blazer, thanks in part to the explosion of digital music — salud, iTunes, Spotify and The Pirate Bay — not to mention the business savvy of a few enterprising rhyme spitters (what up Dre?). Lucky for you, we’ve scoured the headphone market in…

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Cantastic

Sony MDR-1 Headphones

Sony just announced their MDR-1 line of high-end ear-thumpers that combine gorgeous retro styling with serious audio chops and advanced connectivity. The top-of-the-line cans are available in three different models, all of which boast 40mm neodymium drivers with an impressive response range of 4Hz-80kHz. While the basic MDR-1Rs stick to traditional wires, the Bluetooth equipped…

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Ignorance is bliss

Phiaton PS 20 NC Earphones

Noise canceling headphones bring sanity to an otherwise cacophonous world, but often at the price of cranial bulk. Phiaton’s PS 20 NC ($129) earphones erase that downside with a “half in-ear” design and proprietary “Noise Blocker” technology that removes 95% of ambient noise. Spec-wise, audio nuts will appreciate a frequency response of 15- 22,000-Hz which…

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If a tree falls in the woods while everyone's wearing noise cancelling headphones...

Tivoli Audio Radio Silenz Headphones

Stylish radio maker Tivoli Audio is now venturing into the headphone world. Forgive Tivoli Audio Radio Silenz ($160) headphones their ridiculous name; they are a nice addition to the ever growing noise canceling market. The ‘phones have all the normal fixins: active battery noise cancellation that can be switched on and off, high performance 40mm…

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Sound, your way

Logitech Ultimate Ears Personal Reference Monitors

There are custom headphones and there are custom headphones. With Logitech’s Ultimate Ears Personal Reference Monitors ($1,999), the bar has officially been raised on what should be considered top-notch audio personalization. Not only can you decide on every detail right down to the a choice of four wood veneers, but the specific fit and sound…

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As good as they sound

Pioneer SE-MJ591 Headphones

While shiny plastic finishes and big bass beats are the current calling card for a “good” set of cans, there is something to be said about the oft-understated audiophile approach. Pioneer’s just-introduced high-end headwear, the SE-MJ591 ($300), co-mingles a subtle matte finish with brushed aluminum accents and a spec sheet that will have heads bobbing….

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Headed Up

Denon AH-D7100 Artisan Headphones

Whether your music tastes run to Mahler, Parker, Bowie, or Phoenix, the right set of cans will make the experience more enjoyable. Initial reports suggest that Denon’s recently announced flagship AH-D7100 Artisan headphones are the best over ear offering to date from the lauded audio company — even surpassing the venerable AH-D7000s. Interestingly enough, the…

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Walk around with home theater sound

Velodyne vPulse In-Ear Headphones

High-end audio manufacturer Velodyne, known for making some of the best subwoofers on the market over the past few decades, is now bringing the bass even closer to your ears with the vPulse In-Ear Headphones ($90). As you’d expect, the vPulse’s provide incredible sound quality for the price thanks to 10 mm drivers encased in…

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Meze-merizing

Meze Classics Headphones

We’re not designers by trade, but we’re pretty sure there’s a rule that says the addition of wood only makes products more beautiful. The Meze Classics headphones are a perfect example, and lend credence to our lumber-loving design ethos. The Meze headphone line is the creation of award-winning industrial designer, Antonio Meze. Available in three…

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Keep the Hi-fi, ditch the high price

Fiio E17 Alpen USB DAC Headphone Amplifier

Anyone on a budget looking to wade into the world of portable headphone hi-fi should take a good Pei Mei stare at Fiio. In the audio community, the upstart brand is known for providing unbeatable value, and their latest E17 Alpen USB DAC Headphone Amplifier ($140) is no exception. Boasting inputs for mini USB, AUX,…

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A touch more advanced

Parrot Zik Headphones by Philippe Starck

Headphones are the new status symbol in a world where everyone owns the exact same phone. So it’s not surprising that Parrot, maker of a wide range of random accessories for mobile devices including a remote controlled helicopter drone and the Asteroid car audio receiver, decided to enter the fray. Like the $1,500 Zikmu iPod…

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Ready for the next 20 years

Koss Porta Pro KTC

Flash back to 1984. Prince still went by Prince and was ruling the music charts. Ralph put the macho in Macchio by laying the hurt on Cobra Kai. A former hollywood actor was just reaching the middle of his tenure in the oval office. And Koss introduced what would become one of the most iconic…

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Forget one-size-fits-all

Sonomax Sculpted Eers Headphones

Typically, buying a set of custom molded earbuds from brands like Ultimate Ears (now a subsidiary of Logitech) or Etymotic can take months. That’s because consumers must first visit the Audiologist to have inner-ear molds made, which are then shipped to the headphone company for production. Sonomax’s Sculpture Eers Custom Molded Headphones ($199+) ship with…

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Home sweet home theater

Gift Guide 2011 | 10 Picks for the Home Theater Buff

As rabid movie, music fans and gamers, we’re always on the hunt for gear that can push our home entertainment experience to 11 (much to our better half’s chagrin). This roundup includes some of our favorite home theater products out today that we’d love to host in our living room. Continues after the jump.

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Sound Footing

Woo Audio Aluminum Headphone Stands

Full-sized, over-the-ear headphones (known as Circumaural cans to you purists) typically provide a level of audio fidelity that measly earbuds can’t match. The trouble is they don’t exactly store nicely when not in use on your desk. These Woo Audio Aluminum Headphone stands ($60-$75) can help remove clutter from your workspace or listening station by…

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You Mess 'Em Up, It Ties 'Em Down

CableGuy by Michiel Cornelissen

Dutch designer Michiel Cornelissen has devised a clever product to tame Apple’s ubiquitous ear buds. The CableGuy ($13) features four slots for holding the ear buds and 3.5mm plug in place, leaving room in the middle to wrap up the pesky cord in a nice ‘n tidy fashion. There’s also a built-in clip for attaching…

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Coming Soon: Portable B&W

Bowers & Wilkins C5 Headphones

We’d be hard pressed to find an answer if you asked us to identify two pieces of audio gear we love listening to more than our Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin or PS5 headphones. But, we doubt you’d ever see us using them. Neither are exactly portable. That may soon change though with the upcoming release…

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Upstaged

Marshall Major Headphones

Famous amp maker Marshall shook up the audio world when they released the Marshal Major and Minor headphones. A little over a year later, they’ve now added some phone-friendly additions to their flagship Major ($120) cans in the form of an integrated mic and remote. Both features function as you’d expect, allowing users to answer…

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Free (Jay)Bird

Jaybird JF3 Freedom Bluetooth Headphones

Jaybird’s new JF3 Freedom Bluetooth Headphones ($100) are built from the ground up to be the workout accessory you’ve always wanted. Their Bluetooth connectivity allows them to connect to your iPhone, or any stereo Bluetooth device wirelessly, which is a huge plus for anyone whose nearly been garotted by their current wired set mid-lift. They’re…

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Wireless Black Belt

AKG K 840 KL Wireless Mini Headphones

Wireless audio. A convenient technology that, like many modern conveniences, comes at the peril of quality. When it comes to a great pair of cans, we’re a picky lot here at GP and tend to keep ours plugged into an amp via cables — for better or worse. So, when AKG asked us a few…

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Hassle Free Buds

a-Jays Four Tangle-Free Heaphones

Claiming any pair of headphones is tangle-free takes some cojones. Wires are wires after all, and the universe tends towards entropy (seriously: that’s the second law of thermodynamics people). Still, the Swedes are particularly talented at leveraging design, and in the case of the a-Jay Four ($75) ear buds, a unique a 5mm flat cable…

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Headphone Wranglers

BudTrap

Let’s be honest with ourselves. Wrapping headphones around a phone or iPod keeps them organized for exactly 4.26 seconds. Ok so we’re exaggerating — but you get the point. If you’d prefer not to waste another minute of your day untangling headphone cords, then dig into that coin collection and buy a pair of BudTrap…