Advertising
Advertising

Lifehack Product Review: Andrea SuperBeam Headphones

Lifehack Product Review: Andrea SuperBeam Headphones
    Andrea SuperBeam Headphones

    As a person who makes Skype calls and podcasts regularly, there’s nothing like getting a quality pair of headphones to make the experience that much more enjoyable. I’ve tried my fair share of headphones — mostly earbuds in recent months — and still my trusty AKG headphones from my days as a college radio station employee.

    So when Andrea Electronics offered me a pair of its new SuperBeam Phones (SB-405 model), I was intrigued and they sent me a pair to try out.

    Advertising

    Once they arrived, my intrigue was soon met with disappointment.

    I’m afraid I wasn’t overly impressed with them, although there are some positive points I’d like to shed some light on before diving into why they left me wanting.

    Advertising

    What I Liked

    The Andrea SuperBeam Phones are definitely lightweight. They don’t feel bulky and can be carried around either in the handsome case they come with or loosely in a backpack and they add very little heft and take up a small space.

      Neatly packaged inside the case.

      You can mute the phones directly on the headphone wire, as well as increase and decrease volume. pretty standard stuff, but handy nonetheless. The ability to plug in either through a traditional line-in/headphone jack or via USB (an adapter comes with the headphones) is useful, especially considering my MacBook Air does not have a microphone input other than through USB. That said, there is an extension you can buy for the SuperBeam phones (Andrea provided me with an adapter to test as well) that allows for the headphone and microphone signal to be used in one jack — ideal for use with mobile devices.

      Advertising

      I did like the fact that the phones had a built-in USB sound card that enhanced the sound quality of the phones. The software is easy to install — and also required to take advantage of the built-in card — and definitely improved the overall performance of the phones from an audio standpoint. When using the SuperBeam to make calls and conduct interviews, I didn’t hear any background noise seeping in…and I work at home with two kids.

      What I Didn’t Like

      The enhanced performance with the sound card is a bonus, but having to download software to take advantage of it certainly isn’t. I understand the need to do so, but it’s something that will turn off plenty of users who either don’t want to go down that road or might be disappointed by the results.

      Advertising

      The weight of the phones was what I liked, but they felt, well…cheaply made. The pieces that held the very small earphones to the headpiece felt as if they would break with the slightest abuse (and headphones do get tossed around from time to time, even my old AKG ones). The construction of the Andrea SuperBeam Phones didn’t feel hardy enough for my taste — I expect earbuds to be flimsy, but not headphones — and especially not at the price these are selling at.

      Which brings me to pricing. These headphones retail for $149.95 USD, while the earbud version runs $20 less. These do not feel like $150 headphones, nor do I feel they perform as such. Perhaps if the construction of the phones had a less disposable feel to it, then the price would be a bit more reasonable. But even with the enhanced quality that the sound card enables, these are overpriced in my book.

      Final Thoughts

      I really wanted to like the Andrea SuperBeam headphones. The craftsmanship that they have put into the software and the built-in sound card is to be commended. I only wish they had put as much thought and craftsmanship into the exterior of the device as they did to the interior — and to the pricing as a result.

      Full disclosure: The contributor received no monetary compensation from the product manufacturer/company in return for this review. Should you wish to submit a product/service for review consideration, please submit via this contact form.

      More by this author

      Mike Vardy

      A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

      4 Simple Steps to Brain Dump for a Smarter Brain What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero 35 Quick and Simple Tips for Better Productivity Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks Why Is Productivity Important? 10 Reasons to Become More Productive

      Trending in Communication

      1 15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Truly Happy 2 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 3 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake 4 7 Science-Backed Books About Spirituality That Will Change Your Life 5 20 Things Life Is Too Short to Worry About

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on January 15, 2021

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

      Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

      Posture

      First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

      • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
      • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
      • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
      • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

      All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

      Facial Expressions

      Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

      • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
      • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
      • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

      If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

      Advertising

      1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

      A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

      The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

      This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

      2. Relax Your Face

      New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

      The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

      To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

      Advertising

      3. Improve Your Eye Contact

      Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

      The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

      To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

      3. Smile More

      There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

      Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

      4. Hand Gestures

      Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

      Advertising

      It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

      5. Enhance Your Handshake

      In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

      “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

      It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

      6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

      As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

      Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

      Advertising

      Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

      Final Takeaways

      Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

      If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

      More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

      Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next