Play with ASUS' Vulcan ANC headset and you'll never hear the neighbours complain

Subject: General Tech | September 18, 2012 - 06:27 PM |
Tagged: audio, gaming headset, noise cancellation, asus, Vulcan ANC

No matter how loud you have the ASUS Vulcan ANC headset you will never hear anyone around you complain thanks to the active noise cancellation feature.  While it does mean you will occasionally need to feed the headset some batteries as well as keep them plugged into the 3.5mm audio out on your computer.  However doing so will mean you can game in peace without worrying about background noise disturbing your concentration.  At $120 they are not inexpensive, however Neoseeker found the sound quality more than acceptable and were even happier with the noise cancellation performance.

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"As you may have already guessed, the ANC stands for Active Noise Cancelling. That's correct, the ASUS Vulcan ANC is the first active noise cancelling headphones made specifically for gamers. If you've got a loud computer, or a roommate that won't stop talking, simply put on your Vulcan ANC headset and turn the noise cancelling on! The removable mic adds versatility and does let the pro gamer headset come across as a headphone more geared toward audiophiles."

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Source: Neoseeker

It's not a tempest in a teacup; it is a Storm in your earcup

Subject: General Tech | September 10, 2012 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: audio, coolermaster, CM Storm, gaming headset, CoolerMaster Storm Sirus, Storm Ceres, Storm Sonuz

Cooler Master's Storm series of headsets have only been around for a few short years but in that time they have greatly expanded their product lineup.  Hi Tech Legion is talking a look at at few of the current models, including the $40 Ceres 400, the $70 Storm Sonuz and the $88 Storm Sirus 5.1.  Each headset has its own characteristics, with different sized drivers, impedance and sensitivities in each of the models which is good for those who know what they are looking for, from the surround of the Sirius to the large bass loving drivers of the Sonuz. See which one took top spot in HTL's ears here.

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"The CM Storm Ceres 400 is a stereo gaming headset carrying an MSRP of $39.99. The Ceres 400 is equipped with 40mm drivers for competitive performance and an integrated noise-canceling microphone for clear chat communication over heavy online firefights. The CM Storm Sonuz on the other hand has a pair of massive 53mm drivers for pulse pounding, bass heavy action and a detachable microphone for ergonomic flexibility retailing for $69.99. Representing the top tier in CM Storm's lineup is the Sirus headset which features true 5.1 surround capability through four independent drivers for the front, center, rear and sub as well as a bundled USB external audio processor which Cooler Master dubs the tactical mixing console, processing independent channels and provides desktop control functions at users' disposal mid-game. All three CM Storm headsets come with a two year warranty and are available worldwide."

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Does every rapper need a headset now? Ludacris' new Soul line of gaming headsets

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2012 - 05:39 PM |
Tagged: ludacris, gaming headset, soul sl150, soul sl300, audio

While Dr. Dre partnered with Monster to create his Beats line, Ludacris went to a company called Signeo to design his headsets.  While priced similarly to Dr. Dre's offerings, [H]ard|OCP starts the review by pointing out that there are already many counterfeit models on the market and Signeo does not offer serial number verification like Monster does to ensure that you did get what you paid for.  Aesthetically [H] found the headsets to be very similar to the Beats line but preferred the audio quality of the Soul headsets.  They do warn the SL150's do let ambient noise in, so if you want noise cancellation you should pay the extra for the SL300 model.

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"Rapper Ludacris is the latest celebrity to endorse a line of trendy headphones and ear buds. Will his name and manufacturer Signeo's product design come to signify quality audio products with cutting edge looks or are these just two more pairs of glossy plastic headphones with exaggerated bass beats?"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Buzz bugging you buddy? Hack your speakers and get rid of it for good

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2012 - 05:42 PM |
Tagged: audio, corsair, corsair sp2200, DIY, hack

Some people you know might refer to your favourite music as noise, but you know better; what is worse than that is when you can hear noise in your music.  The annoying intermittent buzz/crackle coming out of your speakers is something a lot of us have experienced and it has a wide variety of sources, from bad cables to electronic noise effecting the signal sent from your onboard audio to defects in your speakers ... and many more reasons.  At Hack a Day is a good solution to rid yourself of noise that is caused by the speakers, this guide is specifically aimed at the Corsair SP2200s but could be applied to a wide range of speakers.  Follow along with this step by step process to use the headset amp as a pre-amp and clean up your music.

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"[Michael Chen] liked the sound he was getting out of these Corsair SP2200 computer speakers, with one big exception. They were giving off some unpleasant crackling sounds. He figured this might be as easy as replacing a faulty potentiometer, but soon found out the fix was going to be more complicated than that. All said and done he ended up reworking the design of the speakers’ amplifier board."

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Source: Hack a Day

Attention audiophiles, ASUS has heard your pleas and answered with three sound cards

Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2012 - 02:18 PM |
Tagged: audio, asus, DGX, DSX, xonar, ROG Phoebus, pcie

While many of us are perfectly content with the quality of the audio output from the motherboards onboard audio codec there are others who because of incompatibilities (looking at you PunkBuster) or who are gifted with good ears who are still in the market for a discrete sound card.  A forum member recently pointed out that the sound card on the Hardware Leaderboard was so old it didn't ship with Win7 drivers so ASUS's timing on releasing three new sound cards couldn't have come at a better time.  The ASUS Xonar DGX 5.1 is the lowest cost of the three cards at $40, though currently on NewEgg the Xonar DSX 7.1 card is only $37 after MIR.  Finally is the Republic of Gamers Xonar Phoebus at $200, with a long list of features for those who want the best.  Drop by [H]ard|OCP to see how these three cards do when put to the test.

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"Asus recently released it's new flagship gaming sound card, the ROG Xonar Phoebus, as well as updated PCI-Express versions of its popular DG and DS sound cards. All three of these cards feature quality components for products in their respective price ranges. Today, we will tell you exactly what each card may bring to your PC audio experience."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

A little something for the budding musician, the Behringer Guitar Link

Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2012 - 07:22 PM |
Tagged: audio, recording, guitar

If you have musical aspirations and are looking for a way to record your guitar, bass or vocals then the Behringer Guitar Link.  This $65 device allows you to plug in an instrument as well as a pair of headphones in one end of the device, with the USB end going directly into your PC for recording and manipulation.  The headphones ensure that you can hear what is being recorded as you are taking your amp out of the loop.  Techware Labs takes you through the software, which includes an amp simulator from Native Instruments called AC Box Combo a freeware multi-track DAW tool called EnergyXT2.  Check out the full review here.

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"The Behringer Guitar Link is positioned to be an inexpensive recording solution for guitar, but can be used for bass and microphone as well."

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Try Virtual 7.1 sound without denting your wallet

Subject: General Tech | June 15, 2012 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: gaming headset, audio, 7.1 headset, TekRepublic TH Pro 7.1

At only $40 the TekRepublic TH Pro 7.1 gaming headset is an inexpensive way to try out virtual 7.1 audio.  The software it comes with allows a nice amount of control over the DSP Mode and Output Mod as well as letting you move the perceived positioning of the virtual speakers.  It also allows you control of an equalizer and a range of effects you can apply to your audio.  Modders Inc also reported the microphone to be of decent quality for the investment.  Check their full review if you are in need of a reasonably priced USB headset.

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"Tek-Republic, being somewhat of the new kid on the block, is a company based out of Pasadena, CA that is at the moment primarily focusing on gaming headsets and mice. We have the good fortune to take a look at the Tek-Republic TH Pro Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound USB 2.0 gaming headset."

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Source: Modders Inc

Trimming the price but not the quality from their KNS series of headsets

Subject: General Tech | May 25, 2012 - 02:29 PM |
Tagged: audio, headset, gaming headset, KRK Systems, KNS 6400

If you are looking for a decent pair of circumaural headphones that simply offer great performance and do not delve into simulating 5.1 or 7.1 sound and have a budget of around $100 then check out KRK Systems' KNS 6400.  One of the best features of both this headset and its more expensive brother are the cords, which are not integral but can be replaced if they become damaged or if KRK Systems follows TechPowerUp's suggestion of selling custom cables for those with specific needs.  The audio quality is not top notch when compared to more expensive headphones but for $100 KRK Systems seems to have done very well.

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"KRK Systems is well on their way to becoming a big name in the headphone business. Today we will be taking a look at yet another interesting set of closed back headphones, namely the KNS 6400s which feature the same mechanical design as the KNS 8400."

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Source: TechPowerUp

Creative's new SoundCore3D chipset and Recon3D line analyzed

Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2012 - 01:05 PM |
Tagged: audio, Creative, Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty, SoundCore3D

The newest flagship card from Creative is the Fatal1ty branded Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe 1x card, which is the first to feature their new SoundCore3D chipset which brings 192kHz sampling rates at 24-bit to SoundBlaster.  It comes with a microphone and like many of the high end cards on the market comes with a front panel which adds RCA stereo inputs jacks, DSP mode selection buttons, and analog volume and recording level knobs which can be pushed in flush with the face of the panel to both lock them and allow you to close the door on your case.  [H]ard|OCP tried out Rightmark Audio Analyzer as well as their own ears to try to gauge the quality of sound produced by this new SoundBlaster series, which you can read about right here.

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"Creative's latest Sound Blaster flagship sound card features its new SoundCore3D chipset along with a powerful headphone amplifier, a beam forming microphone, and the return of the company's popular front panel audio I/O bay. Is this card a worthy successor to its Audigy and X-Fi brethren?"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Have you ever wanted an audio codec decoder?

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2012 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: VIA, Realtec, decoder, codec, C-Media, audio, Analog Devices

There are a wide range of audio coder/decoders on the market, from a variety of vendors providing codecs for both onboard audio as well as for discrete cards which can prove confusing to even veteran PC builders.  With Analog Devices, Realtec, C-Media, VIA and several other smaller vendors providing a wide range of codecs and controllers you can easily be lost in the alphabet soup of model names.  Perhaps you wish there was a handy reference that would give you a list of the basic capabilities of these codecs, like the Channels available, input and output resolution, the maximum sampling rates and the signal to noise ratio?  Hardware Secrets has heard your plea and assembled a list of the more common codecs on the market today which you can refer to here.

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"Audio codec is a small chip measuring 0.25 sq. in. (7 mm2) located on the motherboard in charge of the analog audio functions. Knowing the specs of a codec will permit you to compare the audio quality of different motherboards, allowing you to choose the right product for your needs."

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