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When I was first asked to pick my favorite B&H items for our Things We Love project, I was at a loss. Not because I thought I’d lack in material, but just the opposite: I couldn’t narrow it down. You see, here at B&H we’re fortunate enough to enjoy excellent access to products, and I’ve done my part to help the company I call home by pouring into it a substantial percentage of my salary and getting lots of cool stuff in return.
Over the years, I’ve accumulated quite a bit of gear: 5.1 channels of Pioneer’s Andrew Jones speakers, a 1080p BenQ projector, and a veritable Gordian knot’s worth of cables, not to mention numerous other odds and ends. And while I’ve had success with pretty much everything I’ve bought, when it comes to my favorite purchases, I decided to pick the two products that help make my daily commute a little bit easier: my Peak Designs Everyday Messenger bag and my MEElectronics M6 PRO earbuds.
A little bit of background: Outside of B&H, I’m a full-time student, and dragging myself between home, work, school, and home again here in New York City requires spending lots and lots of time on the subway, which is a quick, inexpensive, and aromatic way to move around our vast metropolis. Doing so successfully requires not only mental fortitude and sharp elbows, but a way to block out the noise of the train and my fellow New Yorkers and, so far, I haven’t found much better than the M6 PRO earbuds from MEElectronics.
What makes them great? First is the sound quality. I’m far from an audiophile, but some of my coworkers are huge audio nerds and use the exact same ’buds. Why? Their flat, even sonic output makes for faithful sound reproduction without favoring any part of their 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency range. Trebles are clear, not screechy, and bass is full and present but not overpowering. If you’re interested in hearing a recording as the producer, engineer, and artist intended, these unassuming earbuds (or as MEElectronics refers to them, in-ear monitors) do the job for not much money at all.
Once I’m on the subway, however, the ambient and not-so-ambient noise can make it difficult to discern the details in Goldfrapp’s Seventh Tree. That’s where the other features of the M6 PROs come into play. While they won’t block noise nearly as aggressively as headphones with active noise canceling, a whopping seven sets of eartips let you find your favorite way to block out the rest of the world. Three pairs are standard silicone, and another three are flanged if that’s your thing. Finally, one pair of Comply T-series tips lets you experiment with memory foam, and in my estimation, does the best job when it comes to noise isolation.
Another plus? The M6 PRO earbuds can be detached from the cable, making them easy to repair and easy to switch between the standard, remote-free cable and the included cable with in-line remote. The remote has a Play/Pause/Call button, a microphone, and a volume slider that works with iOS and Android. I’d prefer buttons that regulate your device’s volume rather than just lowering what comes out of the ’phones, but that isn’t an option on Android and some dedicated MP3 players. If you’ve got either, you’ll appreciate this detail.
Best of all for the subway commuter, jogger, or anyone else who hates it when their earbud falls out, is the over-the-ear design. Instead of hanging straight down, the M6 PROs curve over the top of your ears, making them less susceptible to movement. That design can be great for situational awareness, too: When things on the subway aren’t going so smoothly, boy does it make it easier to listen to the conductor’s announcement when you can pop a ’bud out, hear their poor excuse for the delay, and press it back in while silently cursing the “train traffic ahead of us.” Quite frankly, I don’t see any way I’d go back to the standard design.
A big part of subway etiquette has to do with taking up as little space as possible. Don’t block the doors. Don’t lean on the poles. Avoid manspreading, and always take your bag off to make room for others. Nothing invites disapproving scowls quite like wearing an enormous backpack on a crowded train, so the shoulder bag and messenger bag have taken over their double-strapped cousins as the stuff-conveyance of choice in NYC.
While Peak Design’s Everyday Messenger is designed as a camera bag, with clever origami dividers that keep your bodies and lenses safe and sound, I use it as a plain ol’ laptop bag. It’s got a padded rear pocket that’s more than large enough to hold my beloved Dell XPS 13 laptop (yet another thing I love) and a cavernous main compartment with a clever latching buckle that lets it grow as you fill it, to a genuinely shocking degree. That way, it can be as slim or as bulky as I need it, without raising the ire of my fellow passengers.
While the Everyday Messenger doesn’t claim to be waterproof, I’ve used it in some fierce storms with nary an issue. The laptop compartment and secondary access zippers are both waterproof, with zipper garages (those little folded-over pieces of material) to prevent leakage. The two side pockets are open to the elements, but don’t have much in the way of room. One does have an internal clip for a detachable keychain, a handy detail for people like me who never remember where they put their keys.
The bottom of the bag is stiffened for sturdiness and is covered with some sort of rubbery, waterproof material that shows absolutely no signs of wear over the year I’ve used it, even after doing time on the grimy floors of the A line. The top’s got a handle, but the shoulder strap is what makes this bag unique. It can be configured for a ton of different applications, and while there’s a slight learning curve (check out Peak’s videos for help), once you settle on what works for you, you can set it and forget it. Stabilizer straps let you secure it tightly against your back if you’re running or biking.
And while all these features are well and good, what you may like the most is how great the bag looks. New Yorkers are a critical bunch and, to some, your bag reflects who you are. Mine is charcoal with red accents, and looks as good the day I got it. In fact, I’ve seen a few others with the same bag since, which in my mind is the best compliment this unforgiving city can give.