Michael Nichols / National Geographic
By Mikko Takkunen
July 22, 2013

Features and Essays

Water is in the air nearly everywhere on earth, even in the most parched desert. But that doesn't help much when you're thirsty because the H20 only exists in its vaporized form, as opposed to its handy liquid state. To solve that dilemma, an Israeli startup based in Rishon LeZion has developed a portable water generator, which extracts water from the air by sucking it in and cooling it down, much like an air conditioner, but a lot more efficient. "We bring the air to the dew point and recycle the cold air so we can reuse it to cool the water even more," Water-Gen CEO Arye Kohavi told TIME. Called the Atmospheric Water Generation Unit, the generator-powered device can produce up to 450 gallons of clean water a day for as little as eight cents a gallon. (It needs about 310 watt/hour of energy to make a liter -- just over a quart -- of drinking water.) Available in either ground or vehicle configurations, the units are no lightweights, weighing in at about 1100 and 175 pounds, respectively. Ok, so chances are you won't be hauling them around on your next camping trip. But the units are quickly gaining traction in the military sector and are currently being tested by armed forces from seven countries, including the United States, India, France and Mexico. While Water-Gen isn't the first to market such a device, Kohavi says his units are more energy efficient because they reuse the cool air generated while converting water vapors to liquid to create even more water. He's also working on adapting the technology for personal use in clothes dryers and dehumidifiers.  
Michael Nichols / National Geographic

Michael Nichols: The Short Happy Life of a Serengeti Lion (NGM) Death is always near, and teamwork is essential on the Serengeti—even for a magnificent, dark-maned male known as C-Boy | From the August 2013 issue of the National Geographic magazine

Brent Stirton: Living With Lions (NGM) Africa’s lions may number no more than 35,000. In Kenya a program called Lion Guardians points to a way to save the beleaguered cats

Yuri Kozyrev / Noor for TIME

Yuri Kozyrev: Continuing Chaos in Tahrir Square (LightBox) Kozyrev returned to Egypt in the first days of July to capture the abrupt, almost neck-snapping changes that exploded in Cairo after the ousting of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi

Spencer Platt: Egypt (Il Post)

Moises Saman: Guinea Mining: From Conakry to Simandou (Photo Booth) The West African republic of Guinea is one of the poorest in the world, but it holds reserves of natural resources that are worth a fortune

Robin Hammond: Inside Mugabe’s Zimbabwe (Panos Pictures)

On Wednesday's Tonight Show, Cameron Diaz revealed to Jimmy Falon that she can't wait to prank Drew Barrymore’s Baby Frankie. "I'm gonna initiate her," Cameron said. Barrymore and her husband husband Will Kopelman are already the proud parents of their older 19-month-old daughter Olive, and recently revealed that they'll be having a second daughter [caption id="attachment_75804" align="alignnone" width="300"] Cameron Diaz pranks Jimmy Fallon's 6-week old daughter by putting her hand in warm water. Youtube[/caption] "We are the proud parents of our second daughter, Frankie Barrymore Kopelman,” the couple said in a statement. Though, this isn't Diaz's first attempt at pranking the parents of a newborn. On Wednesday, Diaz and Fallon laughed about the time she pranked his 6 week old daughter Winnie by putting her hand in warm water.                                 MORE: Roller Golf with Cameron Diaz [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GK-OLk8arbA#t=17]
Phil Moore / AFP / Getty Images

Phil Moore: Civilians flee as Congo army pounds M23 rebels (NBC photo blog)

Tomas Munita: In South Africa, Concern Over Attacks (NYT) Violence aimed at foreigners

David Guttenfelder: The Sweet Sounds of Endangered Birds (NYT Lens) Pivoting from combat photography to photographing song birds, David Guttenfelder contends that other species need a voice too | Originally from National Geographic magazine’s July 2013 issue

Misha Friedman

Misha Friedman: Tuberculosis Takes Lasting Toll In The Former Soviet Union (NPR)

Stanley Greene: Sniper’s Life in Aleppo (NOOR)

Moises Saman: Nowhere People: The Refugees of Syria (LightBox)

Rina Castelnuovo: Bereaved (NYT) Palestinians, and Israelis, who have lost loved ones in terrorist attacks, clashes, suicide bombings and military service | Related text here

Americans like to eat out. Every day, 44% of us have at least one meal at a restaurant. Which is understandable, given the longer hours we spend at work and the heavier load of commitments we have to family and friends. All that convenience of not cooking at home, however, has a price. In a recent report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), researchers found that 44% of foodborne illness outbreaks were tied to restaurants, compared to 24% that occurred at home. That means that you’re twice as likely to get food poisoning eating at a restaurant than you are at home. But are some types of restaurants that are “safer” than others when it comes to avoiding illness? Should you avoid fast food chains in favor of higher priced meals? The CSPI report didn't analyze outbreaks by restaurant type, says Sarah Klein, senior attorney for food safety at CSPI, but other data suggests that you shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that the greasy diner and drive-thru are more likely to make you sick. MORE: When the World’s Top Restaurant Serves Up a Bug In a 2008 report on food safety, CSPI revealed that there was little difference in health department inspection reports — those letter grades you see in the windows of restaurants in cities like New York and Los Angeles — among lower-priced restaurants and higher-priced ones, suggesting that paying more doesn’t necessarily equal a cleaner kitchen. “There’s a difference between quality and safety,” says Klein. “Things that are likely to gross you out are not necessarily the things that are likely to put you in the hospital.” So, yes, while unwelcome critters like roaches and rats can certainly carry nasty bugs (and it goes without saying they're health department no-nos) they may not always be as bad as, say, using the same cutting board for raw and cooked foods, which can spread salmonella and E. coli, or employees neglecting to wash their hands after they use the rest room, which can introduce E. coli into the kitchen. MORE: How To Stop The Superbugs It’s entirely possible that these violations may be more likely to occur in medium-priced or higher end restaurants, just because kitchen staff handle food more than they do fast food chains. After hundreds were sickened by in an E. coli outbreak in 1993 at Jack-in-the-Box restaurants in Washington that was traced to undercooked hamburger, most chains, fearing litigation, have instituted more stringent food safety protocols – many of which bring food handling by employees to a minimum. Most fast food arrives frozen, in pre-packaged units, and cooking units can’t be turned off until the meat inside reaches the proper temperature. “One of the things that gives nutritionists palpations is that we’ve said at CSPI that McDonald’s [and other fast food restaurants] may be the safest places to eat out,” says Klein. Large corporations also use their purchasing power to ensure that manufacturers follow strict sanitation practices and provide reliably safe products – if an order for millions of dollars is on the line, growers and food makers are more likely to pay attention to keeping contaminants out. MORE: Bad Food: Illnesses from Imported Food Are on the Rise, CDC Says At higher-priced restaurants or local facilities run by a family, however, there are many more opportunities for contaminants to sneak into food. Fresh ingredients in general are more prone to contamination by bacteria, since they aren’t processed or treated in order to retain their natural flavor. Fruits, vegetables, fish, diary and meat products also often come from various sources, which can have equally variable standards for sanitation. Once in the kitchen, they have to be stored at the appropriate temperature and washed, chopped, or cooked properly as well. “Things are cooked to order and there are a lot of handling steps that go into that process,” says Klein of non fast food restaurants. But these higher end establishments also have higher profit margins, which they should be re-investing in food safety training for its employees. But the data suggests that maybe they need to be putting more effort into those programs – across all restaurant types, the most common health department violations involved unclean food surfaces, followed by improper storing temperatures for raw and cooked foods. The third most common violation? Employees not washing their hands after handling raw meat or using the restroom. MORE: Food Safety: CDC Report Shows Rates of Foodborne Illnesses Remain Largely Unchanged So if you’re worried about getting sick while eating out, don’t assume that more expensive meals will protect you from dirty dining. Take a look at the overall environment of the restaurant – are the restrooms clean? Read reviews to see if recent diners have become ill. And make sure cooked foods are fully cooked – if it doesn’t seem properly heated to you, don’t be afraid to send it back.
Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

Gilles Sabrie: Off-Hour Escapes For China’s Workers (NYT)

Kacper Kowalski: Rising Above China (Panos) Aerial photographs taken in China

Sim Chi Yin: Rocky Transition From Farm to Town in China (NYT)

Jimmy Lam: Chronicling China’s Changing Cities (NYT Lens)

Carolyn Drake: Two Rivers (LightBox) The Surreal World of Central Asia

Charles Fréger: Behind the Painted Elephant (NGM) In India the animal is a treasure—and sometimes also a work of art

Full-time rapper and part-time headphone brand Dr. Dre likes to say that “people aren’t hearing all the music.” A more accurate assessment: people aren’t buying the right headphones. Today, the audio industry is saturated with marketing. Clueless consumers snap up name-brands at $300+ price points while merrily scrolling past better, cheaper pairs. The problem? We’re conditioned to shop by brand, rather than by true audio experience. It’s time for change. We set out to separate the sound from the unsound. Which brands deserve our attention, and which should customers avoid? After gathering the specs, review scores, and features for nearly 3,000 headphones—from budget earbuds to full-featured DJ pairs—we scored every product out of 100, based on the following factors: 75% - expert reviews (CNET, Wired, TechCrunch, What HiFi, Good Gear Guide, PC Mag) 25% - specs and features (frequency, sensitivity, noise canceling, etc.) The results might surprise you. In the words of Dr. Dre, “Sit back, relax, and strap on your seatbelt—you never been on a ride like this before.” The Rankings [protected-iframe id="c5c1a554dff2a08b82e037e15ea55f9b-1359921-52105875" info="http://head-phones.findthebest.com/w/5BxIwfugZvL" width="550" height="400" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"] Blown Out (average score in parentheses) 18. Plantronics (57) 17. Beats by Dre (58) 16. Skullcandy (62) With apologies to celebrities, NBA players, and extreme sports athletes around the globe, our analysis was not kind to Beats by Dre or Skullcandy. Yes, each brand has a handful of decent products (ex: Beats’ Solo HDs, Skullcandy’s Navigators), but the average, mid-range product from either company likely isn’t worth your money. [protected-iframe id="ed01d0f349f444ae2fa5efee8471802c-1359921-52105875" info="http://head-phones.findthebest.com/w/kp5Hl6XPa3H" width="550" height="400" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"] Tone Deaf 15. Koss (68) 14. Creative (68) 13. Philips (72) If you know exactly what to look for, all three of these brands offer solid, reasonably-priced options (ex: some of Philips’ Fidelio line; Creative’s Aurvana, over-ear headphones). The problem: they also offer dozens and dozens of less solid, less reasonably-priced products. If you’re a gambler, you might get a cheap thrill when you scoop one of these off the shelf—like ordering rare fish at a back-alley restaurant or betting on the Dallas Cowboys. For the rest of us, it’s not worth the risk. Unsound 12. Bose (73) 11. Apple (74) 10. Panasonic (74) Unlike Philips and Creative, Bose and Apple have a “less is more” headphone strategy, marketing just three or four flagship products at inflated prices. If you want a comfortable fit with top-tier noise canceling, Bose’s QuietComfort 15s actually stand up to most of the hype. Unfortunately, many of their other products have received mixed reviews, and regardless, you’ll end up paying a premium on anything that comes in a box labeled “Bose.” Then there’s Apple. They’ve been something of a joke in the headphone industry until recently, when experts gave the new EarPods a polite nod and some decent review scores. While it doesn’t quite make up for years of blown out iPod buds, it was enough for a middle-of-the-pack finish. [protected-iframe id="1dc38a05d903650e0adeffbcc542d31b-1359921-52105875" info="http://head-phones.findthebest.com/w/70HRWfYUwiF" width="550" height="400" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"] Sounds Good 9. Audio-Technica (74) 8. JVC (75) 7. Sennheiser (78) If buying Philips or Creative is a reckless gamble, then snapping up one of these brands is a responsible risk, like investing in an index fund or predicting another Justin Bieber arrest. Though none of these brands are a sure-thing, each has a distinct strength. Audio-Technica produces some of the best studio headphones on the market, and often at sub-$150 prices. Meanwhile, JVC makes many of the best cheap earbuds available: good for couch potatoes and loose change scavengers. Finally, Sennheiser’s best products are universally praised by audiophiles and DJs alike. Sounds Great 6. AKG (79) 5. Sony (80) 4. Pioneer (83) Both AKG and Pioneer make consistently stellar headphones for DJs and audio technicians. Even better, they don’t charge a superfluous $100 just because the box says “studio” on the side. That leaves Sony, perhaps the most surprising high-performer, especially next to all these headphone industry stalwarts. With hundreds of products in almost any price range, color, and style, Sony’s biggest accomplishment is consistency of quality. Super Sonic 3. Klipsch (84) 2. Grado (89) 1. Shure (90) They’re three of the pricier brands, but Klipsch, Grado and Shure headphones are the most reliable buys on this list, with outstanding performance and consistently glowing reviews from experts. If you’re cash-strapped, a cheap pair from Sony or JVC will be fine, but those looking to take a new step in audio enjoyment should start here. [protected-iframe id="ac6a0002074172a4cb80f913d7916427-1359921-52105875" info="http://head-phones.findthebest.com/w/cvnrkLfX5GJ" width="600" height="400" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"] This article was written for TIME by Ben Taylor of FindTheBest. MORE: The 5 Best In-Ear Headphones [time-brightcove videoid=3390570610001]
Photograph by Ed Drew courtesy of the Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco

Ed Drew: Tintypes of War in Afghanistan (Photo Booth) The first tintypes made in a combat zone since the Civil War.

Taslima Akhter: Portraits of Pain (TIME) Three separate photos galleries related to the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh

Brian Sokol: Nepal’s Brick Factories (NYT Lens)

Adam Dean: Burma’s Menacing Monks (Panos Pictures)

Christian Rodriguez: On a Trapeze, Reaching for an Elusive Dream (NYT Lens) Daily life at two Vietnamese circuses

Rachel Dennis: ‘Third gender’ dancers bedazzle tourists in Thailand (CNN Photo blog)

Arief Priyono: Indo Islam (zReportage) ‘Pesantren’ are Islamic boarding schools in Indonesia

On the morning of March 27, President Barack Obama met Pope Francis in Rome. That afternoon, on the other side of the Tiber River he paid another visit, to Italy's newly elected prime minister, Matteo Renzi. "I met Obama the same day that he had met the Pope, and at the end of our meeting we were alone for about 10 minutes while they were organizing the cars," Renzi, 39, recalls in an interview with TIME. "He had told me that he had been really impressed by the meeting they had had." Both Obama and the Pope feature in TIME's list of the one hundred most influential people in the world. And the President's admiration for Francis shines through in his piece for the special TIME 100 issue of the magazine published today. Describing the Pontiff as a "leader who makes us want to be better people," Obama said he reminds us that "we are bound by moral obligations to one another." "If you ask my opinion of [the] Pope, as a Catholic, I say that I'm deeply struck by the capacity that the church had of understanding and changing. Not only the resignation of Ratzinger, but also that Ratzinger was succeeded by Bergoglio—two very different models," says Renzi. "From a political point of view, Pope Francis is a reference point that, in my opinion, is very sensitive to a several themes: social justice, fairness, a focus on the least fortunate, much more than other popes in the past. And from this point of view I share Obama's judgment." Renzi's remarks come as he attempts to revive the Italian economy. Weighed down by record levels of public debt, the country has struggled as growth across the region hit the buffers, exposing deep structural flaws in what is the eurozone's third largest economy.
Matt Black

Matt Black: The Kingdom of Dust (Audiovision) The living and working conditions of farmworkers in California

Preston Gannaway: Out in the ‘Hood: Young, Gay and Hoping for Something Better (LightBox) The life of Tavaris “Teddy Ebony” Edwards

Carlos Javier Ortiz: Too Young To Die (PDN) Project on gun violence in Chicago |Related text here

Sam Comen: Lost Hills (LightBox) Photographer Sam Comen wanted to find a new way to explore the American historical narrative, so he turned to the small town of Lost Hills, Calif. to illustrate the duality of the immigrant-American experience

Will Seberger: Access Denied (zReportage) Mexicans denied entry the U.S.

Michael Friberg: A Part-Time Home Where the Buffalo Roam (NYT magazine) Campers in Yellowstone

Daniel Barter and Daniel Marbaix: States of Decay (Guardian) Beauty in derelict buildings | Barter and Marbaix toured the United States to capture crumbling buildings that were once schools, prisons and asylums

Lucia Griggi: Riding the Surf (LightBox)

Richard Gilligan: DIY (Guardian) Do-it-yourself skaters

Richard Renaldi: Touching Strangers (NYT Lens)

Michael Hesse: Playing Bingo (Guardian) Hess has spent years photographing the faded glory of Britain’s bingo halls and social clubs.

Articles

Time & Life Pictures

Shooting the Messengers (GQ) Ed Caesar on the end of war reporters and journalism

Egyptian Journalist Was Killed by Army Sniper He Filmed, Family Says (NYT)

Amy Eldon Turteltaub: Remembering My Brother Dan Eldon: A Journalist Who Died To Tell the Story (Huffington Post)

Facebook announced a new service Thursday designed to make it the primary social media resource for journalists covering breaking news, a direct shot across the bow at Twitter. FB Newswire is a tool accessible via Facebook that features an updated stream of newsworthy and embeddable public content. This includes photos, videos, and status updates about categories ranging from hard news to lifestyle to celebrity to sports. Journalists can grab that content to use it in their own stories across the web. Newswire is powered by Storyful, bought by Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp for $25 million in 2013, which promised users that it will be vetting all of the content it is providing. Thus far, FB Newswire has provided content on stories ranging from Kim Kardashian's views on the Armenian massacre: https://twitter.com/fbnewswire/status/459361211172528128 To Obama taking pictures with a robot: https://twitter.com/fbnewswire/status/459348955244290049 Twitter, one of Facebook's primary competitors, has come to be known as a major breaking news resource for the media. It has built that news-friendly model with strategic hires and tool integration.
Rolling Stone / handout / EPA

Judging Rolling Stone by Its Cover (NYT)

When Good Pictures Happen to Bad People: Why We Hate That We Like The Rolling Stone Cover (TIME)

Michael Shaw: SFO Asiana Accident: The Power of David Eun’s “I Just Crashed” Tweet (BagNewsNotes)

Allen Murabayashi : The Unintended Power of the Asiana Crash Photo (PhotoShelter)

On Wednesday's Tonight Show, Cameron Diaz revealed to Jimmy Falon that she can't wait to prank Drew Barrymore’s Baby Frankie. "I'm gonna initiate her," Cameron said. [caption id="attachment_75804" align="alignnone" width="300"] Cameron Diaz pranks Jimmy Fallon's 6-week old daughter by putting her hand in warm water. Youtube[/caption]   Barrymore and her husband husband Will Kopelman are already the proud parents of their older 19-month-old daughter Olive, and recently revealed that they'll be having a second daughter "We are the proud parents of our second daughter, Frankie Barrymore Kopelman,” the couple said in a statement. Though, this isn't Diaz's first attempt at pranking the parents of a newborn. On Wednesday, Diaz and Fallon laughed about when she pranked his 6-week-old daughter Winnie by putting her hand in warm water. MORE: Roller Golf with Cameron Diaz [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GK-OLk8arbA#t=17]
Katie Orlinsky / Getty Images

Finding Chris Hondros: Film to explore life of slain war photographer through images (Yahoo) The crowdfunding page for the documentary here

Sean O’Hagan: On Not Answering the Question: What Makes a Good Photograph? (Photoworks)

Fred Ritchin on Rencontres d’Arles 2013 (Aperture blog)

Les Rencontres d’Arles 2013 – review (Guardian)

Dog Food for the Mind and Soul (NYT Lens) A zine, put out by a small international group of photographers and writers, unearths and remixes the philosophy of the cynics of ancient Greece

Bruce Davidson’s Civil-Rights Photographs (Photo Booth)

UNICEF’s first international photographer: David ‘Chim’ Seymour (Unicef) video 6 minutes

Steichen’s Family of Man Restored: New Life for a Photographic Touchstone (LightBox) After a three-year process of cleaning and retouching, the well-worn prints of Edward Steichen’s celebrated 1955 exhibition have been masterfully restored and are on permanent public view at Clervaux Castle in his native Luxembourg.

Double exposure: photography’s biggest ever show comes back to life (Guardian)

Renovating and contextualising The Family of Man for the future (BJP)

Photo Exhibit Spanning Decades Reveals Our Collective War Story (NPR Picture Show) War/Photography is a genre-defining exhibition currently on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington

Joan Rivers Refuses To Apologize For Joke About Cleveland Kidnapping Victims
Adam Berry / Getty Images

‘Wall on Wall’ exhibit displayed on former Berlin Wall (NBC photo blog) Photographer Kai Wiedenhoefer’s exhibit features the barriers along some of the tensest borders of the world, including Baghdad, Korea, Cyprus, Mexico, Morocco, Israel, Belfast, and even former East Germany itself.

Black Star Shines Anew (NYT Lens) Images belonging to the Black Star photo agency — whose luminaries photographed many of the indelible images of the 20th century — are collected in a new limited edition book

Fan Ho: Hong Kong Yesterday: The Pearl of the Orient in the 1950s (LightBox)

Alice Austen’s Type of Town (NYT Lens) An avid chronicler not only of her native Staten Island but of New York City and beyond, Alice Austen pushed herself and Victorian boundaries

Photo Legend Don McCullin Discovers the Potential of Digital in ‘Seeking the Light’ (PetaPixel)

Shahidul Alam Wresting the Narrative From the West (NYT Lens)

Magnum AGM News (Magnum Photos)

On Wednesday's Tonight Show, Cameron Diaz revealed to Jimmy Fallon that she can't wait to prank Drew Barrymore’s new baby, Frankie - just as she pranked Fallon's newborn at a party. Diaz and Fallon laughed about when she pranked the talkshow host's 6-week-old daughter Winnie by putting her hand in warm water: [caption id="attachment_75804" align="alignnone" width="300"] Cameron Diaz pranks Jimmy Fallon's 6-week old daughter by putting her hand in warm water. Youtube[/caption] But Barrymore's new arrival is Diaz's latest target. The E.T. actress and her husband Will Kopelman recently revealed the birth of Frankie Barrymore Kopelman. Now, said Diaz, "I'm gonna initiate her." MORE: Roller Golf with Cameron Diaz [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GK-OLk8arbA#t=17]
vimeo.com/goliga

Instant Parr (Goliga Vimeo) video | Instant Parr is an event-based limited-edition Martin Parr photobook

Instagram Watch: Welcome, Alec Soth (American Photo) One of the bigger names in American fine art photography goes mobile

Davide Monteleone wins Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award (BJP)

Featured photographer: Todd Sanchioni (Verve Photo)

Featured photographer: Faseeh Shams (Verve Photo)

Featured photographer: Juan Arredondo (Verve Photo)

Koci Studios Reviews Google Glass for Photography and Video (kocistudios.com)

Interviews and Talks

Water is in the air nearly everywhere on earth, even in the most parched desert. But that doesn't help much when you're thirsty because most of that H20 is in its vaporized form, not its handy liquid state. To solve that dilemma, an Israeli startup based in Rishon LeZion has developed a portable water generator, which extracts water from the air by sucking it in and cooling it down, much like an air conditioner, but a lot more efficient. "We bring the air to the dew point and recycle the cold air so we can reuse it to cool the water even more," Water-Gen CEO Arye Kohavi told TIME. [caption id="attachment_75681" align="alignleft" width="133"] Courtesy Water-Gen[/caption] Called the Atmospheric Water Generation Unit, the generator-powered device can produce up to 450 gallons of clean water a day for as little as eight cents a gallon. (It needs about 310 watt/hour of energy to make a liter -- just over a quart -- of drinking water.) Available in either ground or vehicle configurations, the units are no lightweights, weighing in at about 1100 and 175 pounds, respectively. Ok, so chances are you won't be hauling them around on your next camping trip. But the units are quickly gaining traction in the military sector and are currently being tested by armed forces from seven countries, including the United States, India, France and Mexico. Water-Gen isn't the first company to market such a device, but Kohavi says his units are more energy efficient because they reuse the cool air generated while converting water vapors to liquid to create even more water. He's also working on adapting the technology for personal use in clothes dryers and dehumidifiers that could speed drying time by as much as a third.
Balazs Gardi / basetrack.org / Creative Commons

Fred Ritchin (Mother Jones) Can Photojournalism Survive in the Instagram Era?

Tomasz Lazar (LA Times Framework photo blog)

Michael Nichols (NGM) On photographing Serengeti lions

Michel du Cille (Washington Post) Veteran photographer recounts his first Afghan war assignment

Under Extreme Hazard: On the Front Lines in Syria (AP YouTube) Photographers Rodrigo Abd, Manu Brabo, Narciso Contreras, Khalil Hamra and Muhammed Muheisen and Middle East Regional Photo Editor Manoocher Deghati talk about their experiences

Manoocher Deghati (AP YouTube) Deghati, AP Middle East regional photo editor, discusses the dangers and complexities of covering the Syrian uprising, and the responsibility of managing a staff of photographers in the field.

Manu Brabo (AP YouTube) Brabo on covering Syria

Khalil Hamra (AP YouTube) AP photographer Hamra on covering Syria

Full-time rapper and part-time headphone brand Dr. Dre likes to say that “people aren’t hearing all the music.” A more accurate assessment: people aren’t buying the right headphones. Today, the audio industry is saturated with marketing. Clueless consumers snap up name-brands at $300+ price points while merrily scrolling past better, cheaper pairs. The problem? We’re conditioned to shop by brand, rather than by true audio experience. It’s time for change. We set out to separate the sound from the unsound. Which brands deserve our attention, and which should customers avoid? After gathering the specs, review scores, and features for nearly 3,000 headphones—from budget earbuds to full-featured DJ pairs—we scored every product out of 100, based on the following factors: 75% - expert reviews (CNET, Wired, TechCrunch, What HiFi, Good Gear Guide, PC Mag) 25% - specs and features (frequency, sensitivity, noise canceling, etc.) The results might surprise you. In the words of Dr. Dre, “Sit back, relax, and strap on your seatbelt—you never been on a ride like this before.” The Rankings [protected-iframe id="c5c1a554dff2a08b82e037e15ea55f9b-1359921-52105875" info="http://head-phones.findthebest.com/w/5BxIwfugZvL" width="550" height="400" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"] Blown Out (average score in parentheses) 18. Plantronics (57) 17. Beats by Dre (58) 16. Skullcandy (62) With apologies to celebrities, NBA players, and extreme sports athletes around the globe, our analysis was not kind to Beats by Dre or Skullcandy. Yes, each brand has a handful of decent products (ex: Beats’ Solo HDs, Skullcandy’s Navigators), but the average, mid-range product from either company likely isn’t worth your money. [protected-iframe id="ed01d0f349f444ae2fa5efee8471802c-1359921-52105875" info="http://head-phones.findthebest.com/w/kp5Hl6XPa3H" width="550" height="400" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"] Tone Deaf 15. Koss (68) 14. Creative (68) 13. Philips (72) If you know exactly what to look for, all three of these brands offer solid, reasonably-priced options (ex: some of Philips’ Fidelio line; Creative’s Aurvana, over-ear headphones). The problem: they also offer dozens and dozens of less solid, less reasonably-priced products. If you’re a gambler, you might get a cheap thrill when you scoop one of these off the shelf—like ordering rare fish at a back-alley restaurant or betting on the Dallas Cowboys. For the rest of us, it’s not worth the risk. Unsound 12. Bose (73) 11. Apple (74) 10. Panasonic (74) Unlike Philips and Creative, Bose and Apple have a “less is more” headphone strategy, marketing just three or four flagship products at inflated prices. If you want a comfortable fit with top-tier noise canceling, Bose’s QuietComfort 15s actually stand up to most of the hype. Unfortunately, many of their other products have received mixed reviews, and regardless, you’ll end up paying a premium on anything that comes in a box labeled “Bose.” Then there’s Apple. They’ve been something of a joke in the headphone industry until recently, when experts gave the new EarPods a polite nod and some decent review scores. While it doesn’t quite make up for years of blown out iPod buds, it was enough for a middle-of-the-pack finish. [protected-iframe id="1dc38a05d903650e0adeffbcc542d31b-1359921-52105875" info="http://head-phones.findthebest.com/w/70HRWfYUwiF" width="550" height="400" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"] Sounds Good 9. Audio-Technica (74) 8. JVC (75) 7. Sennheiser (78) If buying Philips or Creative is a reckless gamble, then snapping up one of these brands is a responsible risk, like investing in an index fund or predicting another Justin Bieber arrest. Though none of these brands are a sure-thing, each has a distinct strength. Audio-Technica produces some of the best studio headphones on the market, and often at sub-$150 prices. Meanwhile, JVC makes many of the best cheap earbuds available: good for couch potatoes and loose change scavengers. Finally, Sennheiser’s best products are universally praised by audiophiles and DJs alike. Sounds Great 6. AKG (79) 5. Sony (80) 4. Pioneer (83) Both AKG and Pioneer make consistently stellar headphones for DJs and audio technicians. Even better, they don’t charge a superfluous $100 just because the box says “studio” on the side. That leaves Sony, perhaps the most surprising high-performer, especially next to all these headphone industry stalwarts. With hundreds of products in almost any price range, color, and style, Sony’s biggest accomplishment is consistency of quality. Super Sonic 3. Klipsch (84) 2. Grado (89) 1. Shure (90) They’re three of the pricier brands, but Klipsch, Grado and Shure headphones are the most reliable buys on this list, with outstanding performance and consistently glowing reviews from experts. If you’re cash-strapped, a cheap pair from Sony or JVC will be fine, but those looking to take a new step in audio enjoyment should start here. [protected-iframe id="ac6a0002074172a4cb80f913d7916427-1359921-52105875" info="http://head-phones.findthebest.com/w/cvnrkLfX5GJ" width="600" height="400" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"] This article was written for TIME by Ben Taylor of FindTheBest. MORE: The 5 Best In-Ear Headphones [time-brightcove videoid=3390570610001]
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