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Sound Advice: Selecting the right earbuds depends on how you plan to use them

Don Lindich, Tribune News Service on

Published in Tech Advice

Q. I saw your recent article about the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+ earbuds and am very interested. Prior to the article I planned on buying the $149.99 Technics EAH-AZ40 earbuds, but getting the $139.95 Cambridge Audio earphones for $59.95 strikes me as too good of a deal to pass up. I don’t want this to be all about the money though and it is not what is at issue here — I just want to make the right choice. Do you think I would hear a big difference between them? Can I still get the Cambridge earphones for $59.95/pair?

—L.R., Castle Shannon, Pennsylvania

A. Both models have excellent sound quality and stand out in the $150 price range, with excellent reviews from both the technology press and end users. Comparative sound quality is more of a matter of different sonic character than one being better than the other. The Melomania 1+ just plain sounds good, which is a hallmark of British audio products in general. The large drivers and advanced amplification modules create sound that is natural, musical and eminently listenable, with a very long battery life of nine hours. The Technics are incredibly precise and provide sound that has a very clean and defined character, with excellent bass and a bit less warmth than the Cambridge Audio product. Both products have dedicated apps, but with Technics you get a few more features and controls than the Melomania 1+ app. For example, the EAH-AZ40 has six microphones and voice enhancement for making phone calls especially clear, wind noise reduction, and the ambient noise mode allows you to have conversations and hear what is going on around you while you are listening to music. I have recommended these earphones specifically for runners for this reason.

I think it is your statement that it is too good of a deal to pass up, and that money is not the issue, that provides the proper advice here. At under $60 with free shipping it’s hard to go wrong with the Melomania 1+, and it is the kind of deal I only see every few years. I would buy them at that price while they are still available, and add the EAH-AZ40 to your collection afterwards. Then you can use the EAH-AZ40 when the features such as the ambient mode and wind reduction are what you need, or perhaps their sonic character complements the evening’s musical selection. There is no reason you can’t own and enjoy two pairs of earbuds, especially when both have different strengths and one set is only $60. See them at cambridgeaudio.com and technics.com.

Q. I have an Audio Technica turntable with a USB output and a Dell PC. What do I need to digitize vinyl?

 

—J.H., Bethel Park, Pennsylvania

A. You need a USB cable and software at a bare minimum. The turntable probably came with the USB cable, and there are several software options for PCs. I recommend you start with Alpine VinylStudio. You can download a trial version for free at http://alpinesoft.co.uk and if you like it, you can purchase the base version for $29.95 and the Pro version for $49.95. It is available for both Windows and Mac computers.

I also recommend you get an external hard drive of at least 2TB specifically for music. Format it, then set the software to record to folders on the hard drive. It will keep it organized and accessible for use with other computers you may own in the future, and by limiting it to music files you minimize the chance of the files getting corrupted or lost.

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