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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.

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    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.

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    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.

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      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.

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      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.

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      Mike Vardy

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

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      Last Updated on August 4, 2020

      The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

      The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

      No!

      It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

      But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

      What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

      But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to master the Gentle Art of Saying No:

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      1. Value Your Time

      Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”

      2. Know Your Priorities

      Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

      For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.

      3. Practice Saying No

      Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

      4. Don’t Apologize

      A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.

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      5. Stop Being Nice

      Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets.

      Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

      6. Say No to Your Boss

      Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no,” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning.

      But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

      7. Pre-Empting

      It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

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      “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

      8. Get Back to You

      Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them:

      “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

      At least you gave it some consideration.

      9. Maybe Later

      If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

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      “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

      Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.

      10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

      This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

      Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

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      Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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