Tag Archives: audiobook

Audiobooks: The Lowdown on Headphones

6th February 2013

At the end of the year, I listened to a lot of audiobooks. Between October and December, I listened to at least 15. Those who listen to audiobooks and know that even a short book can be a 6-hour listening time know that it’s a commitment.

I thoroughly enjoy audiobooks, but I was running into a problem: headphones. When I could listen without them, I did, but at the gym, on walks, and cleaning house, headphones make so much more sense. And I have a confession: as much as I love Apple products, I absolutely hate the earbuds. (I hear the EarPods are better, but I have not tried them out.)

When a friend at AT&T* (thank you!) offered me two sets of headphones to try out, I jumped at the chance. The headphones? Skullcandy Supreme Sound Merge and Plantronics Backbeats Go Wireless.

 

headphone1

headphone4

Fits flush on the opening of the ear.

The Skullcandy Supreme Sound Merge are wired, and they work as well as any wired earbuds I’ve tried. The wire itself is flat to reduce tangling. I will say, I just pulled these out of my bag after a week of not using them, and they pulled out without any knots or untangling. That’s a plus. Also, these earbuds are comfortable. There are several different covers, and the smallest were awesome. Unlike the earbuds I’m used to, I could wear these for a long stint without feeling like I had an earache.

I’m not an audiophile, but I will say the sound is a bit tinny on these. For me, that isn’t a huge issue, but if you’re a sound guru, you may want something a bit fuller. For comfort (and this includes not having to push these back in my ears), these are excellent for the price. These also fit in the ear without sticking out much, so wearing earrings or sunglasses isn’t an issue.

Pros:

  • Comfort
  • Price ($20-$30)
  • Discreetness
  • Tangle-free

Cons:

  • Sound
  • Still pull out easily if jogging

headphones2

Image via att.com

Image via att.com

headphone3

Fits the ear well but does stick out about a quarter of an inch.

The Plantronics Backbeat Go Wireless are just awesome. One of my biggest complaints of headphones (other than comfort) is how easily I rip them out of my ears or device. This annoys me so much, even though I know it’s just because I swing my arms like crazy. Still, if it’s bothersome, it’s bothersome. The Backbeats Go Wireless are wireless in that they have no main wire or lead out to the device. There is a wire that connects the left ear piece to the right ear piece. It fits easily behind your head or under your chin.

This little set of earbuds is pretty impressive for a number of reasons. First, they manage to fit the mini USB charger into one of the ear buds without making it too large to be comfortable. Second, the sound is awesome. Partially, I think that’s because they do a good job of sealing the ear and giving a fuller sound, but the Skullcandy set had the same setup, and the sound doesn’t compare. Once charged, there’s a side button on the in-line control panel to power these on and connect with your device via Bluetooth. The in-line remote is super easy to use and located a few inches below the right earbud. Some reviews hit these on battery life, but I’ve gotten excellent battery life out of these (nearly five hours). Of course, I don’t use these much for actual calls, which could make a difference if you utilize the headset for call purposes. Speaking of phone calls, I did make and receive a couple, and the sound was fine – no tunnel effects, though I did take one bud out because I felt so muffled.

The downside to this set is that when you do have to charge these, it takes a while. The other drawback is the size of the buds themselves. They’re small, particularly with what I mentioned above regarding charging capabilities, but they’re still large enough with the smallest bud covers that I continually have to secure them in my ear a bit more, even with the stabilizers. Therefore, I can’t recommend these for jogging without some adjusting. But for house cleaning, walking, and sitting at a desk, these are unobtrusive and comfortable with a great sound experience. I’ll be frank: these are my new go-to headphones. I kind of geek out about them. 🙂

Pros:

  • Wireless
  • Great sound
  • Long battery life
  • Fit

Cons:

  • Ear stabilization
  • Charge time
  • Price ($99)

So all you audiobook listeners out there, have you tried either of these? Tempted? Treat. Yo. Self.

 

*AT&T provided me with these headphones; however, that did not affect my review. The links provided are for convenience. I do not receive any compensation for any clicks or views.

Audiobook Review: Dr. No by Ian Fleming

15th November 2011

Bond is in the doghouse because of a botched assignment in From Russia With Love. Of course, being in a British doghouse involves M staring daggers at Bond and speaking in harsh metaphors, along with sending him on an easy case in Jamaica to lie in the sun and hold down the fort after two agents disappear.

Strangways and the other agent are thought to have run off together, but having met Strangways on a case in Live and Let Die, Bond isn’t so sure. When he discovers Strangways was investigating several odd deaths in connection with Crab Key Island, Bond’s suspicions are increased.

The island is home to Dr. No and a natural moneymaker – guano – along with a small reserve home to roseate spoonbills, owned by the Audubon Society. Dr. No is not someone you want to mess with. Quarrel, another recurring figure from Live and Let Die, and Bond encounter trouble right away: auto accidents, poisoned fruit, and what is one of the most tense scenes I’ve read in a while – a killer centipede.

Dr. No is one of the best-paced Bond novels I’ve read so far, with Bond and Quarrel prepping and investigating before checking out Crab Key in person. Once on the island, they meet Honeychile Rider, who is innocently trolling for shells. Quickly, they are discovered and have to fend for themselves in Dr. No’s deadly island traps.

I enjoy this challenge more and more as time passes, and honestly Simon Vance is the voice of Bond for me. I don’t even want to pick up the print copies because I miss his voice reading to me. I know Jennifer of Literate Housewife agrees. 🙂

 

If you want to join in the Shaken Not Stirred Audiobook Challenge, we are most likely taking December off – join us!

See my other Bond reviews here:

Casino Royale

Live and Let Die

Moonraker

Diamonds Are Forever

Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming

6th October 2011

With its two fighting claws held forward like a wrestler’s arms the big pandinus scorpion emerged with a dry rustle from the finger-sized hole under the rock.

There was a small patch of hard, flat earth outside the hole and the scorpion stood in the centre of this on the tips of its four pairs of legs, its nerves and muscles braced for a quick retreat and its senses questing for the minute vibrations which would decide its next move.

The moonlight, glittering down through the great thorn bush, threw sapphire highlights off the hard, black polish of the six-inch body and glinted palely on the moist white sting which protruded from the last segment of the tail, now curved over parallel with the scorpion’s flat back.

The scorpion had decided. Greed had won over fear.

Thus begins Diamonds Are Forever. Quite a vivid image and quite a lot of symbolism as well. With Simon Vance once again narrating in perfect pitch, I was immediately ready for this fourth installment of Bond’s adventures. Diamond mining, mob activity, scorpions, and more Felix Leiter…what could possibly go wrong?

The premise: M sends Bond on a mission to help smuggle diamonds into the States, to try to infiltrate the pipeline and gather information in order to shut the operation down. Taking on another’s identity, Bond meets with Tiffany Case to get his instructions. Case, with a backstory of her own, is wary of Bond but fills him in on how he should proceed to get the diamonds out of the country. Once he’s there, he’s to hook up with one half of the Spang brothers, a mob outfit running diamonds. There he meets up with Felix Leiter.

If you’ve followed any of my other posts on Fleming’s Bond series for the Shaken, Not Stirred Challenge, you know Felix Leiter is a favorite character of mine. We last saw him in Live and Let Die, and after the number done on him, I wasn’t sure we’d see him again. Thankfully, he’s back, but his injuries have relegated him to Pinkerton’s, working in the private sector.

Bond and Leiter have a great relationship, and other than Bond’s relationship with M, it is really the only fleshed-out friendship we see. It is certainly nice to have some continuity. Leiter is trying to take down the Spang brothers because of some rigged gambling. The two decide to tackle their own assignment, helping each other if possible.

The problem with Diamonds Are Forever is that once again, Fleming takes us on what feels like a Disneyland tour of the States. He did it with Live and Let Die, too, so I wonder if it’s because he’s less familiar with the locale. On his home turf, Bond is relentless, intelligent, and meticulous. In the States, he’s a bit lax, taking risks that British Bond would not. From New York to Las Vegas, Bond trips along, and honestly by the end of this book, I knew he would get out of whatever fix he was in, saving Tiffany Case along the way, leaving me with the question: Why is he there? He’s 007, for Pete’s sake. Shouldn’t there be some international intrigue? Shouldn’t the Spang brothers be connected to the Soviets, producing massive warheads? I don’t know. It just felt off, and after such a promising beginning, I was disappointed.

As for the film, do we even need to go there? Just know that after Casino Royale and the edgy Bond we were treated to…well, even Connery can’t stand up to it.

Next up: From Russia with Love , which I hear is quite excellent. Can’t wait…

Audiobook review: And Then There Were None

30th June 2011

*You can purchase the audio from Audible or the print version from Indiebound.

Ten little Indian boys went out to dine;

One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Indian boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Eight little Indian boys travelling in Devon;
One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.
Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in half and then there were six.
Six little Indian boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.
Five little Indian boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.
Four little Indian boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
Three little Indian boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.
Two Little Indian boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Indian boy left all alone;

He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.

Ah, folk songs and nursery rhymes. So sweet. So simple. So nice to fall asleep to… Wait, no they’re actually not. Ten people die in the one above – and pretty nastily, might I add. Jack and Jill and Humpty Dumpty – well, we know what happens to them. Rough stuff, peeps. Best not to think about it.

Agatha Christie, though, oh ho, she thought about it, and the rhyme above now scares the pants off me, thankyouverymuch. You see, ten people, introduced in the first chapters of the book, are all heading to Indian Island, under very different pretenses. Invitations to see old friends, offers of employ, and free vacations to check out a new place have all been issued to lure these particular guests. Yet, when all the guests arrive at the house on Indian Island, no hosts are present. Instead, each guest has a room with the above nursery rhyme hung on the wall, and there are ten little china Indian figurines centered on the dining room table…until they begin disappearing as rapidly as the guests die off.

And that, my friends, is how to set the scene. No one else is on the island, and there is no hope of getting off it, leaving the ten people to think about just what they did to land themselves in such a deadly predicament, each hoping against hope he or she will be the one to survive. [insert scary echoing laugh here.]

I listened to this on audiobook as a way to get myself to the gym. Not only did I go to the gym, I stayed on the machine much longer than normal then decided to return to lay out by the pool and listen. I have read a lot of mysteries in my time, so I kept waiting for the moment when I would figure out the identity of the murderer. Not gonna happen. Not only did I not guess, but I was blown away by the ending of this book and listened to it a couple of times in disbelief that my mystery-genius-ness failed me. And Hugh Fraser? He was excellent in keeping the characters separate without driving me crazy with different pitches. It’s difficult to describe, but he gave each character a slightly unique inflection while still not disrupting the flow of the reading. I have already added some of Hugh Fraser’s other narrations to my wish list on Audible.com.

I know some of you out there are big Agatha Christie fans. I read several in high school, but it was a pretty (cough cough) long time ago. Any recommendations on which I just have to read next? And have audiobooks made you do anything out of character recently? After all, it’s the last day of June, which IS Audiobook Month…

jenn aka the picky girl