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Blackbox i10 noise-cancelling headphones, Atomic Floyd MiniDart headphones + mic

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

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f you’re ready to dump your cheap iPod headphones to get some audio quality, here are two – three if you include our reference pair – to consider.

By now everyone knows that iPods – and pretty much every MP3 player – comes with rubbish headphones, whose spec is chosen so that they won’t sound actively awful while not putting too much cost onto the final product. Which means that if you want to enjoy your music you’re usually left to buy some real, proper headphones.

Such are the Blackbox i10 noise-cancelling headphones (£79.99) from Phitek, which are only for the iPhone, iPod (non-shuffle models) or iPad: they attach to the 21-pin socket on the bottom. Unfortunately, it’s Apple products only; they won’t connect to the Samsung Galaxy Tab. These are headphones intended to get the most out of your listening experience, specifically by including noise cancellation.

The principle of noise cancellation is straightforward enough: a microphone on the headphone cable detects the ambient sounds, and feeds its inverse into the signal being delivered to the earpieces. Thereby cancelling out external noise, within the limits of the microphone’s frequency response and the electronics’ capacity to respond to changes.

Alternatively, there are Atomic Floyd’s newest designs, the MiniDarts (Apple Store link, not Amazon so far), also built with iPods and iPhones in mind: it has a straightforward 3.5mm jack but also includes a microphone, activated by a button, which can be used to control playback – pause, play, skip forward one track, skip back to the start. The MiniDarts come with a comely red lead, which should make them stand out if you misplace them.


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Laser-activated nanotube speakers could be invisibly embedded in windows and walls

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment

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It is known that intense sound can be produced by electrically-powered nanotubes stretched into sheets, but researchers from University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) have furthered this principle by arranging sheets of carbon nanotubes into “forests” which produce high-quality sound when struck with lasers. This is an exciting advancement in the field of acoustics since it is thought these forests could be used to form invisible wireless speakers that could be embedded into walls, windows, computer screens, cars – the list is endless.

The acoustic properties of electrically-powered nanotubes have been known for some time. Previous studies have shown that sheets of carbon nanotubes are able to produce sound when heated with alternating electrical current. However, the UT Dallas NanoTech research team has found that striking tones can be generated by vertical arrays of nanotube forests, which visually resemble black velvet. Furthermore, they discovered that high-quality sound can be generated when these forests are excited with laser light that is modulated in the acoustic frequency range.

“Nanotubes assemblies of various types are black and highly conductive,” said Dr Mikhail Kozlov, a research scientist and the study’s lead author. “Their dark, conductive surface can be effectively heated with laser light or electricity to induce variations in the pressure of the air around the nanotubes – which we perceive as sound. It’s called the photo- or thermo-acoustic effect, and it’s the same principle Alexander Graham Bell used to produce sound on the first telephone.”


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December 12, 2010 Leave a comment

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Jabra caught on to a sweet design with the original Jabra Stone. They announced a revision of the original called the Jabra Stone2 which is slated to launch exclusively for AT&T on November 21st for $129.99. I am not sure why they decided on an AT&T exclusive to limit the market for the headset but who knows what they are thinking.

The new Jabra Stone2 has the same design but adds a new glossy finish along with a voice command system that lets you answer and place calls using only your voice. So you can simply say “call Pizza” and you will be on your way to getting a pizza delivery. The other cool thing is that it will read out to you the name programmed in your phone like voice caller ID. I am not sure if that will work on BlackBerrys but hopefully they found a way around previous restrictions.

You can catch the full feature breakdown after the jump or read more on the Jabra Stone2 product page.


Voice Control

  • Make calls using the sound of your voice (For example, “Call Dad”)
  • Answer an incoming call by simply saying “Answer”
  • Reject a call by saying “Ignore”

Voice Guidance

  • Hear the name of an incoming caller through the headset (For example: “Mom Cell” or “David’s Work”), exactly how you have the caller programmed into your phone.  If the caller’s number isn’t saved to your phone, the headset will read out the phone number.
  • A “Connected” audio alert means the STONE2 is paired with your mobile device
  • The STONE2 signals a “Low Battery” audio alert when it needs to be charged.  Battery levels also appear on the iPhone® to avoid guessing when the headset battery is running low
  • The STONE2 talks users through an easy set-up process of pairing the headset to a mobile or smart phone (including the iPhone)



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The Best Wireless Surround Sound Systems

December 11, 2010 Leave a comment

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For those of you looking to buy a brand new surround sound system, there are several new offerings in the market. What’s more, buying a wireless surround sound system today doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to spend a fortune as the top class systems from manufacturers like Samsung, Panasonic, Bose, Sony, Creative Labs etc., are available in reasonable price of $230-$350.

So, it is time to take a look at the top wireless surround sound home theatre systems of 2009.


1. Samsung HT-Z310T Home Theater Surround Sound System

It is a 5.1-channel Wireless home theater surround sound system that comes with built-in FM/RDS tuner as a part of the package. It is provided with four powerhouse wireless satellite speakers (2-front and 2-rear).

The assembly has a total power output of 1000 watts, and also comes with DTS, Dolby Digital, and Dolby Pro Logic). However, it is just a single disc changer system. This wireless HT system is capable of reading any media that you throw at it, right from DivX down to high quality DVD in HD mode.

Furthermore, it also comes with an Ipod Dock that can sync your Ipod playlist, and you don’t need to burn DVDs, thanks to its play ready USB host. As far as pricing goes, the Samsung HT-Z310T is a superb option at just $230.

2. Acoustic Research Wireless Home Theater System

The Acoustic Research WHT6024 is one of its very kind, wireless home theatre systems featuring full-frequency CD quality to wireless speakers first time around. So, forget those low quality sub-par system speakers and enjoy the goodness of the unparalleled 2.4 GHz high technology speakers producing sound that has been never heard before.

It costs just under $350, which is not too economic, nevertheless a reasonable price for such high quality, making it a worthy investment as your new wireless surround sound home theatre system.

What’s more, the Acoustic Research WHT6024 comes with interference immunity, zero signal drop-out, true compressed CD quality wireless as well as point to multi-point transmission.

3. Sony DAV-HDX275 Bravia 5.1 Wireless Surround Sound Home Theatre System

Sony has always been a strong contender in the world of LCDs and home theatre systems. Just a while back they came out with the Sony DAV-HDX275 Bravia 5.1 wireless surround sound home theatre system that produces 1000 Watts output. But, if you’re longing for more, you can pick the WAHT-SA1 rear speaker unit, which can be purchased separately.

It is built with the multi-room S-AIR Technology (S-Air Ready), and also features digital cinema auto calibration capability as well. This powerhouse wireless home theatre can perform 1080p upscaling via HDMI port, and the TDM-iP10 iPod Cradle allows you to play music from your iPod effortlessly.

As usual the Sony electronic goods are a costly affair and the Sony DAV-HDX275 Bravia 5.1 Wireless Surround Sound Home Theatre System can be yours for $375, if you pick it from Amazon



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Wireless Outdoor Speakers – How Do They Work?

December 10, 2010 Leave a comment

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You’ve seen wireless remote control cars, wireless phones, and now, wireless outdoor speakers. What is it with wires that manufacturers are simply getting rid of them? Well, wires are a clutter, for one thing. And they tend to break easily too. How many times do you have to throw away a good speaker system just because the wires got broken? Well, these are just some of the reasons why you should get wireless outdoor speakers for yourself.

They may not be technical masterpieces, but they work real well. And even if these devices were made for the great outdoors, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use them indoors at all. When you buy speakers like these, it normally comes with its own transmitter system. That transmitter can be plugged into your audio device. It is known to work with an iPod or any other type of media player, a CD player, or even a television set. When the system is switched on, it would send signals from your main audio device to the wireless outdoor speakers. Keep in mind that the signal would travel into the air. It may seem like magic but it really isn’t.

If you’re interested in having a look at some of the great prices for wireless speakers, then check out

Once associated and working seamlessly, you’ll get great, crystal clear, high quality stereo sound from your speaker. Of course, it all depends upon who made the speakers and how well they crafted it. Now, all you have to find out is the range of the signal and you could make the portable speaker system work for you. Try walking around the house and outside the garden just to see if the signal could reach there. If it does, then you can enjoy loud music everywhere. Your favorite list of songs would play not just in your ears but over the air through the wireless outdoor speakers system that you own. Cool, isn’t it?



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Acoustic Research AR-1 loudspeaker

December 8, 2010 Leave a comment

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Experienced reviewers know that shows are the wrong environments for critical audiophile listening. Convention centers—especially the one at Las Vegas—are huge, cavernous airplane hangers, not the intimate listening rooms reviewers thrive in. Extraneous sounds from subwoofer blasts and the constantly milling crowds leak in to sully the music. Booths set up by manufacturers on the show floor have very thin, flexible walls, and no bass treatment.

So the floor of the Las Vegas Convention center was the last place I expected to hear a pair of loudspeakers produce three-dimensional imaging. But there I was at the 1998 International Consumer Electronics Show, stopped in my tracks by transparent, open sonics from the prototypes of a new floorstanding, three-way, tower loudspeaker with a powered woofer—the Acoustic Research (AR) AR-1, then called the P315HO. My notes from that day: “Although the level of its internally powered woofer was set too high, this speaker had very transparent mids and highs, unusual imaging, and made vocalists sound unusually natural…be sure you get this product for review.”

That night, over dinner, I mentioned the AR-1’s transparency, relatively low price (then intended to be $1999/pair), and unusually high voltage sensitivity of 96dB/2.83V/m—a perfect match for single-ended triode amplifiers. That got Sam Tellig’s immediate attention! Afraid of being scooped, I quickly requested the review assignment, filed a show report, and waited upon the arrival of review samples. These arrived and I started on the review.

At the 1999 Winter CES, this speaker again sounded clear and transparent. But AR had changed the midrange drivers, equalization for the internal amplifier, rear service panel, added a tweeter protector, increased the price from $1999 to $2495, and changed its name to “Hi-Res Series AR-1.” having already finished the review, I hurriedly obtained the Show samples of the new speakers and filed this report.


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Sony’s wireless streaming boombox: the wi-fi hi-fi

December 7, 2010 Leave a comment

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If your PC holds your master music collection, you’ve either got to listen directly to the speakers it’s connected to, or transfer tunes onto a portable device. But what if you just want to head out to the front porch, or spend some time working in the garage? Sony’s got an answer: the VAIO WA1 is a wireless boombox that streams music from your PC to anywhere around the house. The WA1 is compatible with SonicStage, iTunes, Windows Media Player and suitable for Internet radio… And it looks pretty sexy, too.

“When it comes to entertainment content, and specifically music, people are moving quickly to a digital and PC-centric environment,” said Hiro Ishikawa, Senior Product Manager for VAIO at Sony Australia. “The VAIO WA1 offers a tech-savvy, stylish way to listen to your digital music collection, while ensuring you don’t compromise on the sound quality.”

Compatible with ATRAC, MP3, WMA and AAC music formats, the WA1 streams digital music virtually anywhere in the house via an existing wireless home network or a peer-to-peer wireless connection with the included USB wireless network adaptor. The WA1 is compatible with all VAIO and non-VAIO PCs and can be managed with various music applications including SonicStage, iTunes and Windows Media Player.

As well as being able to stream wirelessly from a PC, the WA1 is designed like a modern-day “boombox” and is semi-portable, offering up to four hours of battery life. Integrating 128MB of onboard RAM, the WA1 stores about one CD’s worth of music. Additionally, the WA1 is geared to stream the popular emerging audio technology of Internet radio and has a line-in stereo input for portable audio device connectivity.



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