Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: Quakecon

The Densest 2.5 Hours Imaginable

John Carmack again kicked off this year's Quakecon with an extended technical discussion about nearly every topic bouncing around his head.  These speeches are somewhat legendary for the depth of discussion on what are often esoteric topics, but they typically expose some very important sea changes in the industry, both in terms of hardware and software.  John was a bit more organized and succinct this year by keeping things in check with some 300 lines of discussion that he thought would be interesting for us.
 
Next Generation Consoles
 
John cut to the chase and started off the discussion about the upcoming generation of consoles.  John was both happy and sad that we are moving to a new generation of products.  He feels that they really have a good handle on the optimizations of the previous generation of consoles to really extract every ounce of performance and create some interesting content.  The advantages of a new generation of consoles are very obvious, and that is particularly exciting for John.
 
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The two major consoles are very, very similar.  There are of course differences between the two, but the basis for the two are very much the same.  As we well know, the two consoles feature APUs designed by AMD and share a lot of similarities.  The Sony hardware is a bit more robust and has more memory bandwidth, but when all is said and done, the similarities outweigh the differences by a large margin.  John mentioned that this was very good for AMD, as they are still in second place in terms of performance from current architectures as compared to Intel and their world class process technology.
 
Some years back there was a thought that Intel would in fact take over the next generation of consoles.  Larrabee was an interesting architecture in that it melded x86 CPUs with robust vector units in a high speed fabric on a chip.  With their prowess in process technology, this seemed a logical move for the console makers.  Time has passed, and Intel did not execute on Larrabee as many had expected.  While the technology has been implemented in the current Xeon Phi product, it has never hit the consumer world.
 

CoolerMaster joins the new craze, in ear gaming headphones

Subject: General Tech | July 23, 2013 - 03:41 PM |
Tagged: audio, coolermaster, CMStorm Pitch

It seems that over the past month a new type of headphone has hit the market, an in-ear style gaming headset with an inline microphone.  While this might not make sense to many readers who game on a full system at home for those of you who game on laptops or at LAN parties might really appreciate the small size of these headphones.  The CMStorm Pitch do suffer from the same problem all inline mics share, the dreaded rub against the shirt interference and the quality of sound produced by the small drivers is not the highest quality.  On the other hand R&B Mods were impressed by the bass produced and liked the way the in-ear style blocks any outside noise from interfereing with your gaming.

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"Today we take a look at some earphones from gaming the manufacturer Cmstorm. They sent us their latest Pitch earphones that at least look very cool, lets find out how well they perform."

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Turtle Beach goes all out on the Ear Force XP Seven Tournament Grade Gaming Headset

Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2013 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: audio, gaming headset, turtle beach, Ear Force XP Seven

Turtle Beach's Ear Force XP Seven Tournament Grade Gaming Headset will function with your PC through USB and also comes with an adapter to allow use on both consoles and your TV.  It also comes with an Audio Control Unit that is rather impressive looking and offers an impressive amount of control over the headset.  Along with mute and main volume controls you can actually control the volume level of the individual surround speakers, toggle between a variety of surround sound types and also functions as an equalizer with several presets along with manual changes.  If you are in the market for high end surround sound headphones then you should check out the full review at eTeknix.

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"I feel a little privileged if I'm honest, this is our first Turtle Beach review here at eTeknix and while I'm personally more than familiar with the products Turtle Beach produce, having used a few of them myself in the past, not to mention selling them when I used to work in retail, I was stunned when I realised I was getting to review their brand new MLG grade gaming headset. Premium grade headsets are few and far between in the gaming world, each year you might see a small handful being released, more often than not they are revisions to a current model."

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Source: eTeknix

Share your personal audio device with UE Boom from Logitech

Subject: General Tech | June 14, 2013 - 04:24 PM |
Tagged: audio, speakers, logitech, UE Boom

Ignoring the unfortunate PR image accompanying the product, a wireless speaker which can connect to your MP3 player allows a group of people to listen to music in a much more social way than earbuds.  Standing 7.25" tall with a 3" diameter the speaker is big enough that you won't lose it but small enough to be easily portable.  According to the review from TechGage it is also large enough to provide quality sound, even at high volume.  The next time you are out and want to share your music you won't need to blast your car stereo as it seems this device will handle the duty commendably; pity it will sell for $200.

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"The UE Boom from Logitech boasts an impressively hip advertising campaign and a promise to make music more "social" again. But past all of the buzzwords and pretty packaging, is this cylindrical speaker worth all of the hype? We take a close look... and can't help but be blown away."

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Source: Techgage

Caution, this headset might blow your head off

Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2013 - 11:57 AM |
Tagged: Tunguska 2.0, Attitude 1, gaming headset, audio

Attitude's latest headset is named after a certain explosive event in a remote location in Russia, but in theory this does not imply danger to your skull while wearing them.  R&B Mods tried out these brightly coloured headsets, with 40mm drivers and a respectable 20-20kHz frequency range and found them to be quite functional if perhaps not made of the best materials they've seen on gaming headsets.  If comfort and audio performance is more important to you than the construction these headsets make a decent choice, though you will have to wait a while if you want the USB model.

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"Today we take a look at something brand new, I have never tested anything from Attitude one but today is the day! We are going to review several of their products but the first thing we are going to test is their Tunguska 2.0 gaming headset. This headset seems to be fairly lightweight and have some cool colors and also a braided cable….lets get on with the review."

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Source: R&B Mods

Who wouldn't want Samurai guarding their eardrums?

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2013 - 04:44 PM |
Tagged: audio, headset, Eagle Tech, Urban Zen, Samurai Song

Eagle Tech have certainly chosen a side in the form versus function debate with the visually impressive Arion Urban Zen: Samurai Song headset.  While you can use them with a PC to listen to audio these are more aimed at the mobile market as it sports a single jack and the mic will not work on a PC.  LANOC were happy with the performance of these headsets for the $50 asking price, with decent audio and a good foldable design, the only warning they offer is that when watching a movie or TV show you might find that conversations sound distant, not an echo so much as sounding as if the speakers are far away.

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"I have reviewed quite a few audio products lately each of them have their perks and quirks, but one thing always missing is a bit of customizability, something to set you apart from other users who buy the same product. Eagle Tech has recently began releasing its like or Arion branded products, and amongst those is a headset named the Urban Zen. The Zen headsets come in four different designs and a few different colors. Finally we have some options to set ourselves apart from everyone else. It is nice that we can change things up, but how will the headphones actually perform when it comes down to crunch time?"

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Source: LANOC

Sound Blaster, eh? That name sort of rings a bell.

Subject: General Tech | April 23, 2013 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: audio, Creative, Sound Blaster ZxR

Ah the good old days of soundcards and assigning specific IRQs to specific PCI slots; don't you miss them?  Onboard chipsets have come a long way from their roots, with full Dolby 5.1 sound and a minimal impact on CPU load available on almost every motherboard but there is still a market for soundcards, albeit a much reduced market.  Creative have not been releasing a lot of new Sound Blaster models recently, at least until very recently.  The Creative Sound Blaster ZxR is more than just a single card, you have a PCIe card as well as an optional daughterboard to provide optical out and a line in as well as a Audio Control Module which contains an array mic, volume control and both 3.5mm to 1/4″ inputs for a headset with microphone.  Is it $250 better than onboard audio?  Custom PC Review has the answers here.

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"That being said, today we’ll be reviewing the Creative Sound Blaster ZxR, which is the flagship soundcard in the Sound Blaster Z series of soundcards. Now a couple months ago, we reviewed the Sound Blaster Z, which is a fantastic soundcard that offered a good balance between sound quality and price, but it’s merely the entry level soundcard in the Sound Blaster Z..."

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Hot pink audio from Thermaltake, the Chao Dracco

Subject: General Tech | April 9, 2013 - 12:09 PM |
Tagged: audio, esports, Chao Dracco, thermaltake

With the obnoxious variety of headphones available companies seem to be struggling to stand out in the crowd.  Audio quality comes a close second to the aesthetics of the headphones, with bright colours and logos dominating the audio section of any retail store.  Thermaltake's eSPORTS Chao Dracco is no exception, though they are very uniquely pink.  That doesn't mean that they neglected the sound as they have used 50mm drivers with a respectable 10Hz to 22K Hz range.  Read Bjorn3D's impression of how that translates into your ear in their full review.

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"Tt eSPORTS Chao is about culture, and technology advances this culture to create massive individuality. It’s about fashion. Whether it’s hippies, punk, gothic, or hip-hop, you are Chao.  - Tt eSPORTS. This is a great aggressive catch line from a relativity new company. Let’s find out if they hold up to it."

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Source: Bjorn3D

Corsair Adds Dolby Support to Vengeance 2000 Gaming Headset with Free Software Driver

Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2013 - 09:47 AM |
Tagged: vengeance 2000, corsair, gaming headset, dolby, audio

Corsair is offering a way to add even more to their Vengeance 2000 wireless gaming headset.  They have a brushed aluminum headband, 50mm drivers and microfiber earcups, plus have the benefit of being completely wireless but now they can also support two new Dolby features thanks to a driver update.  Get more from your headset for free from Corsair, or pick up a pair for $100 if you are in the market for new headphones.

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Fremont, California — March 27, 2013 — Corsair, a worldwide designer and supplier of high-performance components to the PC gaming hardware market, today announced the release of a free software driver update which adds Dolby Headphone 2.0 and Dolby Pro Logic IIx to the Vengeance 2000 wireless gaming headset. The addition of Dolby Headphone to the Vengeance 2000 improves both surround sound quality and game compatibility. The software driver is immediately available for download www.corsair.com.

Vengeance 2000 Wireless 7.1 Gaming Headset: Untethered gaming with amazing audio fidelity
The Vengeance 2000 7.1 Wireless gaming headset uses rock-solid 2.4GHz wireless that frees and untangles gamers with battery life up to ten hours and a range up to 40 feet. Whether it’s a 5.1 or 7.1 audio source, the headset’s optimized HRTF positional audio technology gives gamers an edge with precise information about the location of opponents. The Vengeance 2000 also features custom-engineered 50mm drivers and careful acoustic tuning for audiophile-grade sound with superior clarity and tight bass response. For immersive audio and hours-long comfort the Vengeance 2000 employs circumaural, micro-fiber memory foam earpads and a padded headband. The high-sensitivity, noise-cancelling microphone increases effective team play. The headset comes with a Micro-USB charge cable that can also provide power if the battery runs low.

Dolby Headphone 2.0 and Dolby Pro Logic IIx
Dolby Headphone is a revolutionary signal processing technology that delivers up to 7.1-channel surround sound over headphones for richer, more spacious headphone audio. Dolby Pro Logic IIx processes native stereo- and 5.1-channel material to produce 6.1 or 7.1 output channels.

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The new Vengeance 2000 software driver is available for download on the Vengeance 2000 product page on Corsair.com.

Source: Corsair

AZiO's gaming headset has an optional head-kicker mode

Subject: General Tech | March 21, 2013 - 12:53 PM |
Tagged: audio, gaming headset, AZiO, Levetron GH808

Gaming headsets are about more than just decent 40mm drivers which provide decent sound.  We have seen virtual and physical 5.1 headphones, a wide variety of earcup and headband materials and occasionally vibration features so that when the artillery starts falling you can feel as well as hear it.  AZiO's new Levetron GH808 sports that latter feature with a 30mm vibration driver which will indeed rattle your brains.  HiTech Legion liked the volume control wheel integral to the headset but they would have liked one to control the vibration as well instead of it being all or nothing.  At an MSRP of $55 they are not a major investment if you are curious about how this headset would feel.

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"AZiO’s Levetron GH808 is a USB headset designed for gaming. The Levetron GH808 headset is plug-and-play, only requiring USB port on a Windows or Mac OS X system to use. Optional software can be downloaded from AZiO’s website, providing control of the GH808’s features from the desktop. Equipped with 40mm neodymium drivers and an additional 30mm “vibration” driver, the AZiO Levetron GH808 brings pulse-pounding excitement straight to gamers’ ears. Should you need to chat with your online buddies while playing, a unidirectional microphone can be pulled out from the left ear cup. The AZiO GH808 also includes a volume control knob as well as a toggle switch for enabling or disabling the bass enhancement feature."

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