Tesoro Kuven.pro; mythical helmet or 5.1 surround headset?

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2014 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: audio, Tesoro, Kuven.pro, gaming headset

The Tesoro Kuven.pro 5.1 gaming headset uses multiple speakers in the earcups to provide 5.1 sound as opposed to emulating it via software.  While this does have the advantage of bypassing the occasional issues caused with software emulation, placing speakers so close together inevitably causes its own confusion, though not enough to put Legit Reviews off of them.  The controller that comes with the headset allows you to adjust the master volume as well as the volume of each channel separately and mute the microphone but does not function as an equalizer.  Overall Legit Reviews described the sound as flat, a negative listening to music but an advantage when gaming, which is what this headset is for.  The earcups are also rather comfortable, making this a good choice for the gamer who spends long nights gaming and needs to ensure they don't bother the neighbours.

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"Today we’re looking at a true 5.1 gaming headset from the likes of Tesoro Technology, an up and coming gaming peripheral company based in Northern California that’s been around since 2011 and not to be confused with the petroleum refining company Tesoro Corporation. The headset is officially called the Kυνέη.pro, in the Greek spelling of the mythological Helm of Darkness owned by Hades, the Greek god of the underworld. However, Tesoro also spells the product name as Kuven.pro."

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Tech Talk

Plantronics updates their RIG Surround headset

Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2014 - 02:24 PM |
Tagged: audio, plantronics, RIG Surround

It feels like a while since Plantronics released a new headset into the currently crowded marketplace but the 2014 version of the Plantronics RIG Surround has some interesting changes from the previous model.  The RIG Surround mixer used to be a simple volume and balance control but has now been upgraded to what is essentially an external soundcard with extra functionality.  It is best used with a cellphone as the mixer can give you better sound from your cellphone as well as enabling you apply EQ profiles and answer your phone with a single button push.  When connected to a PC the lack of an analog passthrough means that the sound you hear will be dependant on the mixer and not the soundcard in the PC which can reduce the audio quality somewhat but you can bypass it and plug the RIG directly into your PC to enjoy the full capabilities of the headset.  The microphone is removable for when you do not need it which also helps portability.  Check out Legit Reviews opinion on the new version of the RIG right here.

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"We are very excited to be taking an early look at the upcoming Plantronics RIG Surround. It’s not only because Plantronics has a stellar reputation, but because we’ve had great firsthand experiences with their other gaming headsets. The Plantronics RIG Surround primarily consists of two components – a headset and an external sound card called the RIG mixer that also allows gamers to attach their smartphone and use the setup like a home call center."

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Audio Corner

Corsair Unleashes Corsair Gaming RGB Keyboards, RGB Mice, and Headsets

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 10:22 AM |
Tagged: audio, input, corsair, K95 RGB, K70 RGB, K65 RGB, M65 RGB, H2100, H1500

Corsair is launching a new website focused on their gaming products, along with new products and a contest.  The contest has a grand prize of a complete system while three runners up will get a set of Corsair peripherals including the ones announced below.  Those colourful peripherals below include three different keyboards ranging from the largest with additional macro keys to the smallest with no numpad.  There is a new mouse and a pair of headphones, with the H2100 offering wireless performance while the H1500 will still need an umbilical.  Check the hole list after watching their lauch video.

Fremont, CA — September 22, 2014 — Corsair, a leader in PC hardware, today launched Corsair Gaming, a new division within the company dedicated to the elevation of PC gaming and the development of high-performance PC peripherals. Forged from Corsair’s engineering know-how and developed alongside eSports professionals and gaming enthusiasts, Corsair Gaming products are driven by a philosophy of performance, style, and comfort. Corsair Gaming’s first salvo is the immediate world wide release of the much-anticipated range of RGB keyboards and mice.

“For 20 years, Corsair has equipped gamers with high performance, precision hardware to build their dream PCs. Corsair Gaming now introduces new ways for PC gamers to optimize how they play,” said Andy Paul, Corsair President and CEO. “We’ve brought together our engineering expertise and our passion for gaming to build a line of products that delivers performance, customized for however you play.”

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K95 RGB, K70 RGB, and K65 RGB Gaming Keyboards
With their color-customizable, 16.8 million color backlighting, the K95 RGB, K70 RGB, and K65 RGB are the headliners of the Corsair Gaming brand. All three keyboards use only German-made Cherry MX RGB mechanical key switches as part of an exclusive-to-launch partnership with Cherry.

Each key switch is built with the exacting precision of Cherry’s self-cleaning, corrosion-proof Gold-Crosspoint electrical contacts, and with over five billion sold, Cherry MX mechanical key switches are the premier choice of professional gamers and enthusiasts who demand uncompromising reliability and performance. Combined with Corsair Gaming’s distinctive aircraft-grade aluminum baseplate, Cherry MX RGB key switches deliver a professional-level gaming keyboard that ensures both consistency and accuracy with the touch of every key.

The K95, K70, and K65 RGB keyboards exhibit Corsair’s hallmark features: sleek design, ultra-precision components, and sturdy aircraft-grade aluminum construction that guarantee long-lasting performance.

Powerful Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) software enables the creation of unlimited lighting effects and macros, from solid colors that can highlight key groupings, to smooth gradients, dramatic waves and captivating ripple patterns. These customization options let gamers match their PC system lighting, find gaming keys faster, and provide critical visual feedback for executing in-game objectives.

Corsair Gaming understands that gamers demand choice when it comes to their hardware, so the K95, K70 and K65 RGBs cater to you every need – including size. All three support complete macro programmability on any key, with the K95 RGB offering an additional array of 18 dedicated macro keys and dedicated media-keys. In contrast, the compact 10-keyless K65 RGB removes the number pad and media keys for a desk-space-saving design, while the K70 RGB offers the standard keyboard layout and media keys that has already made its predecessor the choice for serious gamers.

  • 100% German-made Cherry MX RGB mechanical Red, Blue or Brown key switches (K65 RGB available with Red key switches)
  • 16.8 million multicolor per-key backlighting for virtually unlimited customization
  • Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) enables users to create and customize their own lighting patterns, animations, and macros
  • Aircraft-grade black anodized brushed aluminum for superior rigidity
  • 100% anti-ghosting with full key rollover on USB
  • Onboard memory stores performance and lighting settings
  • Two-year warranty
  • K95 RGB: $189.99 MSRP
  • K70 RGB: $169.99 MSRP
  • K65 RGB: $149.99 MSRP (available exclusively from Best Buy in the US, and other retailers worldwide)

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M65 RGB Gaming Mice
The M65 RGB gaming mouse – available in black or white – continues Corsair Gaming’s focus on RGB color customization. This high-end gaming mouse goes beyond the industry standard with built-in three-zone 16.8 million color backlighting. Housed on a durable aluminum unibody chassis, the 8,200 DPI, gaming-grade laser sensor helps gamers make their mark, with a sniper button ensuring the most critical of shots stays on target. Charging the battlefield with a rubber-grip metal high-mass scroll wheel, eight programmable buttons, and adjustable weight turning zones, the M65 RGB mouse balances precise control and intelligent tracking with innate comfort and style.

  • Three-zone backlighting with up to 16.8 million colors for virtually infinite customization
  • Custom-tuned 8,200 DPI gaming-grade laser sensor for pixel-precise tracking
  • High-capacity Omron switches rated for 20 million clicks for years of precise triggering
  • Aircraft-grade aluminum baseplate for light weight and durability
  • Adjustable weight system helps set the center of gravity to match play style
  • Eight strategically placed buttons, including a dedicated sniper button with improved positioning
  • On-the-fly DPI switching to instantly match mouse speed to gameplay demands
  • Two-year warranty
  • $69.99 MSRP

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H2100 and H1500 Gaming Headsets
The Corsair Gaming H1500 and H2100 Headsets are part of Corsair’s new line of high-performance gaming equipment. Joining the K95, K70, and K65 RRB Keyboards and M65 RGB Mice, the H1500 and H2100 Headsets fully immerse gamers – and their ears – in battle. In both wired and wireless options, the Corsair Gaming Headsets offer Dolby 7.1 surround sound for accurate positional audio that captures the acoustic environment of every moment of gameplay. The H1500 keeps gameplay closer to the system, while the H2100 enables gamers to play for over 10 hours with up to 40 feet of unrestricted movement, combining epic audio and optimum comfort without the hassle of wires.

  • Genuine Dolby 7.1 surround sound for complete immersion
  • Micro-fiber wrapped memory foam earpads for comfortable gaming sessions
  • Advanced unidirectional noise-cancelling microphone
  • Oversized 50mm neodymium drivers for crystal clear audio
  • H2100 headset offers wireless freedom up to 40 feet and over 10 hours per charge
  • 2-year warranty
  • $79.99-$99.99

Source: Corsair

It's a roundup in your ear

Subject: General Tech | September 9, 2014 - 12:07 PM |
Tagged: audio, roundup, earbuds

For those who prefer to leave their circumaural headsets at home and travel with earbuds, sooner or later they sustain enough damage that you need to shop for a new pair.  The least expensive model that is easily available is a decent choice but for those with specific requirements there is a round up over at The Inquirer of what they feel the best earbuds currently on the market are.  From those who like to listen to audio while swimming to those who want their earbuds to look fancy or even glow in time with the music, this round up has them all.

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"RATHER ANNOYINGLY, we find ourselves in the market for some new earphones more often than we'd probably care to admit, whether it's because we left our last pair on the bus, stood on them, put them in the wash by mistake, or because we've managed to dodge all of the above but we've had them for years, and the audio quality has declined over time, something that shouldn't really happen, but it does."

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Audio Corner

Source: The Inquirer

Diamond's Xtreme Sound XS71HDU looks good but how does it sound?

Subject: General Tech | August 14, 2014 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: audio, diamond multimedia, Xtreme Sound XS71HDU, usb sound card, DAC

The Diamond Xtreme Sound XS71HDU could be a versitile $60 solution for those with high end audio equipment that would benefit from a proper DAC.  With both optical in and out it is capable of more than an onboard solution, not to mention the six 3.5-mm jacks for stereo headphones, 7.1 surround support with rear, sub, side, mic, and line in.  The design and features are impressive however the performance failed to please The Tech Report who felt that there were similar solutions with much higher quality sound reproduction.

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"We love sound cards here at TR, but they don't fit in every kind of PC. Diamond's Xtreme Sound XS71HDU serves up the same kinds of features in a tiny USB package suitable for mini-PCs and ultrabooks. We took it for a spin to see if it's as good as it looks."

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Audio Corner

Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Redefining Price/Performance with AMD Motherboards

Motherboards are fascinating to me.  They always have been.  I remember voraciously reading motherboard reviews in the mid-90s.  I simply could not get enough of them.  Some new chipset from SiS, VIA, or ALi?  I scoured the internet for information on them and what new features they would bring to the table.  Back then motherboards did not have the retail presence they do now.  The manufacturers were starting to learn to differentiate their products and cater to the enthusiasts who would not only buy and support these products, but also recommend them to friends/family/the world.

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Today motherboards are really the foundation for any PC build.  Choosing a motherboard is no longer just picking up some whitebox board that has a 440 BX chipset.  Now users are much more active in debating what kind of features they need, what kind of feedback has this manufacturer received from consumers, what kind of ratings the board has on Amazon or Newegg.  Features like build quality or overclocking performance sway users from company to company and product to product.

In the past 15 years or so we have seen some pretty rigid guidelines for pricing of motherboards.  The super cheap “PC Chips” style motherboards existed below the $90 range.  The decent, but unexciting motherboards with the bare minimum of features would go from $90 to $150.  The $150 and beyond products were typically considered enthusiast class motherboards with expanded features, better build quality, and more robust power delivery options.  Thankfully for consumers, this model is being shaken up by the latest generation of products from AMD.

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MSI insures that everything is nicely packed and protected in their black and red box.

I mentioned in the previous Gigabyte G1.Sniper.A88X review that AMD and its partners do not have the luxury of offering a $150 and above FM2+ motherboard due to the nature (and pricing) of the latest FM2+ APUs.  I am fairly sure the amount of people willing to spend $200 on a motherboard to house a $179 APU that seemingly overclocks as well on a cheap board as it does a more expensive one (meaning, not very well at all) is pretty low.  If there is one bright side to the latest Kaveri APUs, it is that the graphics portion is extremely robust in both graphics and OpenCL applications.  The hope for AMD and users alike is that HSA will in fact take off and provide a significant performance boost in a wide variety of applications that typically require quite a bit of horsepower.

Click here to read the entire MSI A88X-G45 Gaming Review!

Turtle Beach goes long with the Ear Force Z SEVEN Gaming Headset

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2014 - 02:39 PM |
Tagged: turtle beach, gaming headset, Ear Force Z SEVEN, audio

At some time in the very near future, if this naming trend does not reverse itself, the wraparound portion of headphones will have to be enlarged to be able to display the entire brand name legibly.  The latest lengthy moniker is the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z SEVEN Gaming Headset with removable unidirectional microphone and Audio Control Unit.  The mic is self explanatory but the ACU is an external sound card with voice morphing and headphone equalizer presets and has outputs for PC, Mac and Xbox; it is not a booster amp.  Overall Legit Reviews found this headset to be a great generalist but not as good for specific usage such as taking advantage of positional in a game.  Read on to see if they peak your interest.

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"Turtle Beach is perhaps a name better known amongst console gamers since you can easily find their Ear Force lineup of headsets somewhere close to where the boxed console games are in certain stores. Most Turtle Beach Ear Force headsets are compatible with computers or any electronic device with a 3.5 mm jack nonetheless because most gamers or even most people make due with one set of headphones for all their devices. The Turtle Beach Z SEVEN we have for review is actually part of a much larger family of SEVEN headsets. Read on to find out more about it!"

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Audio Corner

Attitude One's colourful Alamz headsets

Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2014 - 12:32 PM |
Tagged: audio, gaming headset, Almaz, Attitude One

Attitude One joins the crowded headset market with their new foldable Almaz headset with a detachable microphone which is designed to be lightweight enough to carry with you everywhere.  The bundled cables are compatible with both Android and Apple devices as well as one you can plug into your PC and simply leave for when you arrive home.  The price of €110 quoted by TechPowerUp seems a bit high but the two year warranty somewhat alleviates that investment.  If you need a portable lightweight headset with earcups this might be worth investigating as an option.

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"Attitude One is a new player on the gaming scene, and today, we take a close look at their first headset, the Almaz. The Almaz can be configured to act as either a headphone or headset because of its detachable microphone and multiple cables."

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Audio Corner

Source: techPowerUp

Sound like a pro with Blue Microphones' Spark Digital Lightning

Subject: General Tech | June 18, 2014 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: audio, blue microphones, spark digital lightning, microphone

The Spark Digital Lightning condenser microphone contains its own DAC which means that all the signal processing is done before the audio is sent to the device which you are recording to or broadcasting from.  That saves processor cycles on a PC but also means you can use this with a phone and other mobile devices and still produce audio of a decent quality.  It comes with a shock mount and your choice of either USB and Lightning cords or USB and the old style 30-pin Apple connector.  You can control volume, gain and mute directly on the mic as well as switch on a Focus option which alters the bias voltage of the condenser capsule similar to a low frequency filter.  Check out Benchmark Reviews full look at this ~$200 microphone that can almost compete with studio mics bearing a much higher price tag.

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"The Spark Digital from Blue Microphones is an all-in-one solution for high quality digital audio production. All the signal processing is done inside the body of the microphone, and the interface to your computer is through one of several available serial connections. The Spark Digital supports USB 1.1/2.0, the relatively new Lightning connection, or the older Apple 30-pin interface, through the use of separate cables for each connection type."

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Audio Corner

Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: Gigabyte

FM2+ Has a High End?

AMD faces a bit of a quandary when it comes to their products.  Their APUs are great at graphics, but not so great at general CPU performance.  Their products are all under $200 for the CPU/APU but these APUs are not popular with the enthusiast and gaming crowd.  Yes, they can make excellent budget gaming systems for those who do not demand ultra-high resolutions and quality settings, but it is still a tough sell for a lot of the mainstream market; the primary way AMD pushes these products is price.

Perhaps the irony here is that AMD is extremely competitive with Intel when it comes to chipset features.  The latest A88X Fusion Control Hub is exceptionally well rounded with four native USB 3.0 ports, ten USB 2.0 ports, and eight SATA-6G ports.  Performance of this chipset is not all that far off from what Intel offers with the Z87 chipset (USB and SATA-6G are slower, but not dramatically so).  The chip also offers RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 support as well as a 10/100/1000 Ethernet MAC (but a physical layer chip is still required).

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Now we get back to price.  AMD is not charging a whole lot for these FCH units, even the top end A88X.  I do not have the exact number, but it is cheap as compared to the competing Intel option.  Intel’s chipset business has made money for the company for years, but AMD does not have that luxury.  AMD needs to bundle effectively to be competitive, so it is highly doubtful that the chipset division makes a net profit at the end of the day.  Their job is to help push AMD’s CPU and APU offerings as much as possible.

These low cost FCH chips allow motherboard manufacturers to place a lot of customization on their board, but they are still limited in what they can do.  A $200+ motherboard simply will not fly with consumers for the level of overall performance that even the latest AMD A10 7850K APU provides in CPU bound workloads.  Unfortunately, HSA has not yet taken off to leverage the full potential of the Kaveri APU.  We have had big developments, just not big enough that the majority of daily users out there will require an AMD APU.  Until that happens, AMD will not be viewed favorably when it comes to its APU offerings in gaming or high performance systems.

The quandary obviously is how AMD and its motherboard partners can create inexpensive motherboards that are feature packed, yet will not break the bank or become burdensome towards APU sales?  The FX series of processors from AMD do have a bit more leeway as the performance of the high end FX-8350 is not considered bad, and it is a decent overclocker.  That platform can sustain higher motherboard costs due to this performance.  The APU side, not so much.  The answer to this quandary is tradeoffs.

Click here to read the entire review of the Gigabyte G1.Sniper A88X!