All Ears: The Latest in Listening

Five gadgets to pick up now

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50 Cent appears at a news conference announcing a partnership with Sleek Audio and the development of wireless audio headphones at the 2011 CES convention in Las Vegas, January 6, 2011.
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Sleek by 50 Cent ($TBA, www.sleek-audio.com) – First came custom cans from Dr. Dre, Quincy Jones and Ludacris. Now hip-hop heavyweight 50 Cent gets in the branded headphones game with these cord-free units sporting a 60-foot wireless range, two 50mm dynamic drivers, internal amplifier and micro-USB rechargeable battery. Built from military-grade carbon fiber, their design was reportedly overseen by the mush-mouthed MC himself.

CXC 700 ($319.95, www.sennheiser.com) – An ear-canal headphone set that lets you drown out needless distractions, e.g. reality, with three individual noise-cancellation technology profiles, customizable to current surroundings. One mode neutralizes emissions from trains and planes, another distractions like air conditioning systems, and the third all-purpose dins such as those generated by airports and restaurants. Able to function even with so-called NoiseGard features turned off, you can also activate TalkThrough features to hold a conversation without having to unplug.

EXTREME ($99.99, www.jabra.com) – While car owners questing for a capable hands-free talk solution can try the new CRUISER2 speakerphone ($99.99), PC owners seeking a reliable wireless digital calling companion might consider this VoIP-ready headset instead. Certified for use with Skype, enabling ready phoning from hotel rooms worldwide and offering superior audio to sister models the EasyGo ($59.99) and Chill ($29.99), it lets distant loved ones whisper right in your ear.

PCS-200 ($299.99, www.sonomax.com) – Custom-cast earphones typically cost a bundle, but this self-molding system, dubbed “Sculpted Eers” (that's not a typo), allegedly lets you affordably craft your own personalized models in just four minutes. Get the one-time use kit, place the earbuds in your ears and use the fitting system to inflate them with silicone for your own personalized listening companion.

SA-NS400 / SA-NS300 ($300/$200, www.sonystyle.com) – An 802.11 b/g WiFi network speaker that lets you wirelessly beam tunes around the home from a DLNA-enabled PC, Sony Blu-ray player or home theater system with Bravia Internet music options. Songs and Slacker online radio streams can additionally be controlled via iPhone or iPod Touch (using compatible NAS-SV20i and NAS-SV10i docks) and a wireless, touchscreen-sporting RMN-U1 universal remote that displays info and album art. Ships in March.