Some weeks ago in this column I waxed lyrical about a pair of in-ear headphones that had revealed previously hidden sounds in favourite old songs (Shure SE 215s if you missed it). Well, I have now found headphones that have opened up an even more dramatic aural landscape. The Denon AH-MM 400s are in a completely different price bracket (€490 compared with €120 for the Shures) and are beautifully designed over-ear headphones, so you would expect them to be in a different class. As indeed they are. The only caveat is that I'm not sure I'm inclined to wander around Europe's great cities encased in a pair of cans, however well designed.
The design is nevertheless pretty close to perfect, with aluminium alloy housing, American walnut ear cups, and soft pads that cover the ears to prevent sound leakage and block intrusive external noises – I tried Springsteen's E Street Band cranked up on my hi-fi while the sublime soprano of Alison Krauss floated around inside the Denons. There was no interference at all.
These headphones are also solid, light (they weigh in at a mere 310g) and flexible. The carbon drivers deliver a substantial bass, very clean mid range and tight, balanced treble. The stereo field is broad and finely detailed, the distortion is imperceptible, and although there has been some criticism that the volume is not loud enough I strongly disagree, and salute the manufacturers for making headphones that won't damage your eardrums. The headphones also fold up and slip into a carrying pouch, and the package includes a detachable cable with a remote and a microphone as well as a 6.3mm plug adaptor for hi-fi amplifiers.
So, whatever your taste in music, be it grand opera, Led Zeppelin (and I haven't heard John Bonham's industrial drumming to better effect) or the fragile beauty of the Modern Jazz Quartet or Art Tatum's solo piano pieces, there's a good chance you'll find some satisfaction with these cans. And on second thought, maybe I do feel more inclined to wander around in public encased in them. It's like being inside a portable concert hall, and public opprobrium is a small price to pay for that.
G303 Daedalus Apex
While the world of PC gaming tends to be confined to slouching teenagers, I know at least a few travelling execs who play Grand Theft Auto or Sid Meier's Civilization just to wind down at the end of the week. With this in mind, Logitech's G303 Daedalus Apex is a premium all-purpose gaming mouse that is sleek in design and efficient in its functions. Of course it can also be used as a straightforward computer mouse but that somewhat misses the point. There are six buttons on the Daedalus Apex – a left click, right click, a clickable scroll wheel,
a dots-per-inch sensitivity shift, and two thumb buttons. It allows you to operate equally well on any surface. In Europe it is priced at €84 and in the US at €62, so if you're looking to save a few euros you know where to shop.
A folding bike that is electric, has a maintenance-free chain, gears and cables enclosed in the frame, a range of more than 40 miles and that costs around €3,900? A pretty attractive proposition for the cycling techie. The Gocycle G2, which is also most aesthetically pleasing, is the second generation, and the original nickel metal-hydride battery has been replaced by a lithium-ion one that provides the extended range. There is also a new integrated dash display that tells you about battery charge, gears and speed, and a torque sensor operates the 250W motor when you start pedalling. It has a top speed of 15mph and, although 16kg is light for an electric bike, it's still quite a weight to lug around on public transport. Still, the pros outweigh the cons, as it were.