Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker

I’ve had the original Bose SoundDock for several years and I love it. Also love the Bose customer service. When I called them after I lost a dock adapter, they sent me one for free. This is why I know the new SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker is great: it’s a great product from a great company which takes care of its customers. It comes in three finishes: nylon, leather and special edition.

You’ve got your music on your phone, and you’re ready to play. Enjoy deeper, more powerful sound than you thought possible from a speaker this small. The SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile speaker II works wirelessly with Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices, or your tablet or laptop – and goes wherever you do for music when you want, where you want.

Buy it here: Bose® SoundLink® Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II – Nylon

If you want an even smaller Bluetooth speaker, Bose has the SoundLink Mini.

Enjoy better sound on the go, everywhere you go, with the Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth speaker. It delivers full, natural sound from an ultra-compact speaker that fits in the palm of your hand. The speaker connects wirelessly to your smartphone, tablet or other Bluetooth device. A lithium-ion battery gives you hours of unplugged play time. And the included charging cradle keeps the speaker fully charged while serving as its convenient home base. The SoundLink Mini speaker is engineered with a solid, aluminum housing and skid-proof rubber bottom, so it can stand up to everyday use. Take your music, videos and games places they’ve never been before.

Buy it here: Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker

If you have the original Bose SoundDock, then you can still use it via Bluetooth. All you need is a small Bluetooth adaptor from CableJive, called the dockBoss air.


CableJive dockBoss air

I have this little gadget and I love it. It allows me to play my iPhone’s music to my Bose Sounddock, untethered, via Bluetooth. It’s super convenient and easy to use.

Wireless Bluetooth Music Receiver for audio docks made for iPhone 4/4S including, iHome, Bose, Logitech, JBL, Phillips, Sony, 30-pin iPod/iPhone speaker dock. Wireless range 33 feet, 10+ meters (free space). No batteries, no maintenance. Powered by the dock you connect it to. Uses the Bluetooth A2DP protocol to easily stream your audio.

Buy it here: CableJive Wireless Bluetooth Music Receiver Adapter for Bose SoundDock and other iPod and iPhone Audio Docks including iHome, Bose SoundDock, JBL, Logitech, Sony and other 30-Pin Audio Docks for Wireless music. Connect dockBoss air adapter to your speaker dock and control your music from your phone up to 30 ft. away.


CableJive SoundDock and iStubz cables

Back in 2008, I bought a SoundDock cable from CableJive, which allowed me to connect my 1st gen Bose SoundDock to my Mac. Since we bought our SoundDock, Bose has come out with a 2nd gen SoundDock, which has a built-in auxiliary input, making the cable unnecessary. Still, we weren’t about to buy a new SoundDock when ours was working perfectly well, and with the addition of a cable, we could make it work with our Mac, allowing us to have nice, premium sound.


I remember looking around for months for a cable that could do the trick. I knew it was technically possible, but no company I knew of made such a cable. Finally, I discovered CableJive. Back then, they were just going into business, judging by their website and lack of customer service. After placing my order, I got no confirmation whatsoever. I had no idea whether they received my order or not. The phone number they listed on the website wasn’t working, and nobody answered my emails. Thankfully, the cable arrived in the mail a few days later, and has been working ever since.

The build quality of the SoundDock cable leaves something to be desired though. The sleeve that fits around the cable at the end that has the thick, iPod-style adaptor is loose, and the plastic that contains the circuits that make the connection with the Bose SoundDock isn’t anchored well into the sides of the adaptor, making it flop around in there. Overall, I’d call the cable flimsy, and considering the price we paid for it at the time ($48), overpriced.

I can only hope their build quality has improved since then, and I’m glad to see that at least they’ve lowered the price to $40. It’s still a hefty price to pay for a flimsy little cable, but like I said, no one else makes them, and if you’ve got to have it, you’ll pay the price or go without.

Now I see they make these iStubz cables, which are basically short sync cables for the iPod and iPhone. The ones that ship with the phone are too long for most people’s needs, cluttering up one’s desk. I like the idea, and I also like the price ($8).



Now here’s my question: why is the iStubz cable, which is more complicated to make (I assume) than the Bose SoundDock cable, only $8, and the SoundDock cable $40?

Images used courtesy of CableJive.


A look at noise cancelling headphones

I’ve recently had the chance to try out three noise-canceling headphones:

I looked at these criteria as I used the headphones:

  • Effectiveness of noise-canceling technology
  • Quality of sound
  • Fit and comfort
  • Price

What may or may not surprise you is that all noise-canceling headphones block only low sounds, like the rumble of jet airplane engines. They do not block all sounds. They also rely on passive noise reduction, due to their around-ear design with thick cushions. In other words, don’t expect them to block all sounds, or you’ll be disappointed.

I only looked at around-ear designs, because I cannot stand on-ear designs. They make my ears numb after a half hour or so of wearing them. I need something that fits around my ears and doesn’t press down on them in order to get the comfort I need for prolonged wear.

One thing to keep in mind with around-ear headphones is that some will make your ears hot after a while. If care isn’t taken with the materials used in their construction, the heat that emanates from your ears will build up inside the headphone chamber and raise the temperature, making you uncomfortable. Heat and lack of air circulation are two things that will caused increased bacterial growth in your ears. Yes, this isn’t appetizing, but keep it in mind as you look at headphones and your own headphone-wearing habits.

All three of these headphones come with carrying cases, adaptors (2-pin and 6.3mm) and cables, so don’t let that be a differentiating factor. While I’m on this subject, keep in mind the Bose and Philips headphones only use one AAA battery while the Creative headphones use two AAA batteries. That is a differentiating factor.

Bose Quiet Comfort 2

The Bose Quiet Comfort 2 is priced at $299 and is the pricier of the three. There are more expensive noise-canceling headphones on the market (Sennheiser has a couple of more expensive models), but the Bose headphones are the most well-known of them all.

Its noise canceling capability was decent, but for the market leader, nothing special. It reduced the sound of jet aircraft, but all voices around me remained clearly audible, though just a little muted. I suppose I could describe the technology as elegant, since it allows one to carry on a conversation with someone while wearing the headphones, but I’m sorry, at $300 you ought to be able to adjust the level of noise-canceling in order to block as much or as little of the ambient noise as you want. They didn’t have that capability and disappointed me.

The quality of the sound was tinny. The noise-canceling technology did a number on the lower sounds coming out of the headphones as well, so everything sounded a bit like a tin-can telephone.

I could find nothing wrong with the fit. It was great. It didn’t press down on my ears, it didn’t press down on the top of my head, and the cushioning was just right.

Creative Aurvana X-Fi

These headphones retail at $249 currently, but beware, they’re still listed at $299 at Apple Stores. I have to say I was doubtful of Creative’s ability to offer great headphones, and also suspicious of their price point (frankly, they haven’t earned the right to charge $300 for headphones), and I was proven right on both counts.

The noise-canceling technology was very similar to the Bose QC2 headphones. Same comments apply, and the quality of the sound was just as annoying. I found that the noise-canceling button distorted the sounds significantly, much more so than the Bose headphones.

Creative added two buttons to the headphones, one called X-Fi Crystalizer, which is supposed to give detail and vibrancy, and X-Fi CMSS-3D, which adds spatial characteristics to the sounds. I sat at home for an entire evening, playing with the buttons, turning them on and off, trying to see what and how much the affected the sounds that the headphones produced. I found them to be gimmicky. They did nothing for me. Oh sure, they changed sounds slightly, but not enough to warrant their fancy names and the price of the headphones.

What really annoyed me was their fit and comfort. They pressed slightly on my ears, but their real crime was the quality of the materials used in their build. Within 5 minutes of wear, my ears got hot. Didn’t Creative do any real testing before releasing these? Who did they test them on? Any real person would have noticed that their ears got hot while wearing them, and would have said something.

Philips SHN9500

These headphones offer an equivalent level of noise-canceling technology. Having already explained how I feel about it, there’s no need to go over it again. I found the quality of the sound to be better than with the other two headphones. Quite acceptable, as a matter of fact, and it wasn’t severely affected when noise-canceling was turned on.

What I also liked was the presence of a Mute button on the headphones, which will turn off any sound coming through them, and also turn off noise-canceling. This allows you to hear someone better while you have the headphones on, without needing to remove them. You might say, well, why not just turn off noise-canceling? Because that’s a slider button, while the Mute button is a push-button with a very light action. Quite thoughtful on their part.

The fit and comfort of the headphones was another surprise. They fit nicely, and they’re made of quality materials. My ears do not get hot while wearing these, even for extended periods of time.

The biggest revelation for me was the price: $70 at Costco when I got them less than a couple of weeks ago. Now I see they’re $90 — they must be popular.

All in all, the Philips SHN9500 headphones have the right combination of features, comfort and price to make me happy. These are the headphones I would recommend to you.

More information

Photos used courtesy of Bose, Creative and Philips companies.