Want headphones more impressive than Als? Check out the Roccat Kave headset

Subject: General Tech | March 30, 2012 - 01:38 PM |
Tagged: audio, roccat, cave headphones, 5.1 headset

 With four mini-jacks to provide surround sound and a USB connection to control the lighting, a pair of these would put even an NFL coach to shame.  A control is also attached to the USB cord, which allows separate control of each of the front, rear, centre and bass speakers, pushing this beyond the capabilities of many 5.1 headsets on the market.  Hardware Secrets were impressed by the audio capabilities of the earcups and the microphone as well as the compactness of the headset when folded up.  They did feel that at a price of $120 Roccat could have included a carrying bag; it would also be nice to see them back in stock.

HS_roccat.jpg

"Roccat is releasing the Kave, a large foldable headset with 5.1 surround sound and a separate unit for volume control. The connectors include four minijacks (3.5 mm for the sound channels) and a USB (for the control unit and headset lighting). Let's describe the Kave and then proceed to its evaluation."

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Don't snub the Corsair Vengeance 1300 headset just because it is analog

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2012 - 05:08 PM |
Tagged: audio, corsair, vengeance 1300

While many USB headsets make the claim that they need no drivers to work, an analog headset is about as Plug and Play as you can get.  Corsair's Vengeance 1300 is no different and will start working once you plug it in.  You do of course lose some of the features of  digital sound, no 5.1 emulation on this headset, just stereo sound is available.  Hardware Secrets found them very comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time as well as very portable so for those who find themselves on the road they make a very solid choice.  Check out the review here.

HS_C1300.jpg

"Corsair first entered the gaming-grade headset market with the HS1, a digital model we already tested. Now they put on the market the Vengeance line, comprised of an analog model (the 1300) and its digital equivalent (the 1500). We will test the Vengeance 1300, beginning with a look at its physical characteristics and then proceeding to its performance."

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Don't assume the price dictates the audio quality; try real studio quality headsets from Audio-Technica

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: audiophile, headset, audio, audio-technica, ATH-A900

At an MSRP of $250, the Audio-Techinca ATH-A900 headphones are not intended for the casual gamer and as you can tell by the 1/4" connector they are designed for someone who owns a high end microphone amp.  On the other hand if you need studio quality audio and will be wearing the headsets for hours at a time then the high end features built into these headphones are worth the investment.  The 53mm drivers are in an enclosed earcup which helps bring the bass up close and personal and are designed with much sturdier materials than other popular headsets.  To contrast the difference [H]ard|OCP tried Beats by Dre Studio headphones which cost more than the ATH-A900s and in every case they felt the ATH-A900s were vastly superior.  As far as [H] is concerned the two headsets aren't even in the same class.

H_AT_ATH.jpg

"Audio-Technica's open headphones are known to gamers for the wearing comfort and huge soundstage that these provide, but the open back models simply lack bass and isolation. Today, we will see if a pricey pair of the company's closed back audiophile headphones can offer the compromise many of you are looking for in PC audio."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASUS Xonar Essence One, not all ears need apply

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2012 - 05:03 PM |
Tagged: audio, asus, Xonar Essence One

The Asus Xonar Essence One is an external soundcard and DAC designed specifically for use with high end earphones.  This is designed for use by people with very discerning ears, if you are not much of an audiophile or only use $50 headphones you will be missing out on the benefits Xonar Essence One offers.  If you are quite willing to discuss the merits of unbalanced and balanced outputs however this device is worth investigating.  The quality parts contributed to the premuim price of $600 but they also raised the audio quality enough for the ears of the Kitguru reviewer who highly recommends this for professional musicians and audiophiles.

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"Today we are looking at the latest ‘audiophile’ grade Asus Xonar Essence One external soundcard and digital to analogue converter. The Essence series of products have targeted the enthusiast and audiophile user now for some time, using high grade components such as BurrBrown DAC chips. Today we analyse the latest Xonar Essence One from ASUS in a very challenging environment, paired up with a flagship, limited edition Valve/Tube CD player and award winning Audeze LCD2 headphones."

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Source: Kitguru

Axiom wants to kick your bass

Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2012 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: audio, axiom, EP125 V3, subwoofer

If you require a little more audio quality than a pair of inexpensive 2.1 speakers can offer you should head on over to the Guru of 3D for their review of the Axiom EP125 V3 subwoofer,  intended to be paired with the bookshelf speakers that Guru reviewed earlier.  You can tell this is a little more than a simple add on subwoofer when you see the aluminium speaker. On the back it sports an XLR output and combo XLR/TRS inputs which will allow you daisy chain multiple subwoofers together.  A crossover switch toggles between 80Hz and 150Hz for those who need fine tuning on this 125W sub.  Keep in mind, Guru 3D is not done yet as they still have to add in the VP100 Center channel speaker and paired QS4 rears channel satellite speakers to achieve total surround sound.

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"Recently, we reviewed the Axiom M3 v2 bookshelf speakers and found them to be great speaker for the price point but bookshelf speakers are only capable of reproducing the higher areas of the sonic spectrum.

Bookshelf speaker based audio systems require a subwoofer to produce the lower frequency ranges that the bookshelf speakers cannot accurate reproduce. Axiom produces a subwoofer which is said to be an excellent match sonically for the M3 speakers."

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Source: Guru3D

Asus Shows Off New Networking and Audio Equipment At CES 2012

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 05:34 AM |
Tagged: wireless router, motherboard, audio, asus

At CES 2012 this week, popular motherboard manufacturer Asus showed off quite a few products. Among the new products, the company is releasing a wireless gigabit router, wireless repeater and Ethernet bridge, a new motherboard, and the Republic of Gamers (ROG) Xonar Phoebus audio sound card set.

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The two new wireless products are the Asus RT-N66U, which is a dual band Wireless N Gigabit router, and the Asus EA-N66 Wi-Fi Ethernet bridge. The RT-N66U is a dual band Wireless N router that promises up to 900 Mbps over Wi-Fi thanks to two simultaneous Wireless N streams of 450 Mbps maximum each. One stream is done at 2.4 GHz and on the other stream data is broadcast and received on the 5 GHz spectrum. Asus has bundled the router with 26 dbm Wi-Fi amplifiers to extend the network's range. Other hardware includes three Wi-Fi antennas on the rear of the device, a four port Gigabit Ethernet switch, WAN port, two USB ports, power button, power input, and reset button. The front and top of the router shows off a stylish black pattern, blue status LEDs, and the Asus RT-N66U "Dark Night" name/logo while the back/bottom of the router contain plenty of ventilation ports and a stand to hold the router vertical. On the software side of things, the router features QoS, or Quality of Service, traffic management that the company claims can address up to 300,000 data sessions, eight SSIDs (for setting up guest networks, for example), and the company's ASUSWRT firmware. Downloading files without needing a PC and remote management of USB devices are also features.

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The EA-N66 is a wireless Ethernet bridge and Wi-Fi access point. Under the hood of the rather (shall we say) stylized design, it is capable of using either the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz wireless spectrum in 450 Mbps bands. Asus claims that when the repeater is paired with their new router, "the EA-N66 gives gamers incredible network speeds and coverage for multi-player gaming sessions."

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As Asus demonstrated for us at CES, their new Rampage IV Formula motherboard features a SupremeFX III sound card chip connected to the rear audio ports by traces on their own PCB layer. This "moat" of traces (that light up red, even!) being on a separate PCB layer helps to eliminate interference caused by the other electrical components on the board. Now, you get isolated sound without needing to take up a PCI-E slot. In the video below, Asus shows off the feature.

The Rampage IV motherboard also comes with a bundled headphone amplifier dubbed the ThunderFX. It provides up to 120 dB of amplification and can support up to 600 Ohm high end headphones. The amplifier is EMI shielded and with ENC support, the ThunderFX has dedicated channels for headphone audio and in-game voice chat. Further, the box is compatible with both PCs and game consoles (PS3 and Xbox 360), and enables regular PC gaming headsets to be used with the consoles. Last up, it has three audio presets for FPS, RTS, and Racing games.

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Asus is also showing off the Xonar Phoebus sound card and breakout box for gaming under the company's Republic of Gamers brand. The set includes a PCI-E sound card capable of driving 600 Ohm headphones and a SNR (signal to noise ratio) of 118 dB. The card itself is shielding using, according to Asus, "carefully selected materials and perfectly shielded" to block EMI (electromagnetic interference) and and isolate itself from other issues caused by the other components in the case. The other piece of hardware is the Xonar Phoebus control box that integrates array microphones to reduce environmental noise when using voice chat and VOIP calls by "up to 50 percent." It further allows volume control and has Dolby Home Theater V4 surround sound and the GX3.0 gaming engine to enhance headphone audio when gaming.

ASUS_Xonar_Phoebus_control box.jpg

More information can be found here. Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Asus

Thermaltake's tiny Isurus headset is perfect for your next road trip

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2012 - 03:16 PM |
Tagged: audio, thermaltake, isurus, headset

Thermaltake has made a very portable headset, utilizing an earbud style with an omnidirectional microphone on the headset cord.  That results in a headset which is significantly more portable than an over the head design.  As it uses analog plugs, the headset is compatible with just about any device, not just your PC. Bjorn3D did note that there were some sacrifices to make the Isurus so portable, it lacks an inline volume control and the microphone tends to pick up more background noise than would be preferable.

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"Thermaltake Isurus is a great headset for those like to travel and are seeking a portable and compact headset. This headset is far more versatile than regular bulkier headsets and can be used for so much more than gaming."

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Source: Bjorn3D

Gaming earbuds from Thermaltake for those who don't want to muss their hair

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2011 - 05:08 PM |
Tagged: audio, in-ear, gaming headset, thermaltake, esports

For some people having a band across the top of the head to keep their headphones on can be a problem, being uncomfortable or too distracting when making videos or any other reason.  Thermaltake have come up with a solution for anyone who wants unobtrusive earphones and microphone with their eSPORTS Isurus.  It features in-ear headphones and an inline microphone as well as a carrying pouch and several in-ear plastic moulds.  XS Reviews was a little disappointed that they needed to play with their equalizer when switching from gaming to music and between different styles of music, but after the adjustment the sound was quite good.  For under $30 the Isurus seems like a good deal for those searching for this type of product.

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"Similar to the recently reviewed Azurues mouse, the Isurus gaming headset is part of the Tt eSPORTS lineup, the range announced by Thermaltake at CES in 2010 to provide additional gaming peripherals for the “world e-sport gaming area” due to “constant request” from distributors and end users."

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Source: XSReviews

Need style in your portable speakers?

Subject: General Tech | November 30, 2011 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: audio, portable speakers, krator, N4-20U05 Neso 04

If you are on the road doing a presentation for clients or even just stuck playing DJ from a laptop with no real sound system it can help to have a nice looking set of speakers.  Pulling out a pair of old cream coloured boxes you've been dragging around for the past 5+ years just doesn't make the best of impressions.  Krator and their N4-20U05 Neso 04 stereo speakers on the other hand have a shape that is likely to bring positive comments from those who see them.  As an added bonus, apart from weak bass performance, XSReviews found these speakers to be quite good for the low cost.  Shame that you need to power them but at least it is over USB and not mains.

XSR_krator-1.jpg

"Krator are a Taiwanese company who are “on a mission to transform the landscape of consumer audio and computer gaming” and have recently released a stylish new range of speakers, including a new set in the Neso 04 range, inspired by raindrops."

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Source: XSReviews

Corsair offers your ears two kinds of Vengeance

Subject: General Tech | November 18, 2011 - 12:47 PM |
Tagged: audio, gaming headset, corsair, vengeance, vengeance 1300, vengeance 1500

The Vengeance 1500 USB gaming headset is the higher end model of their newly released headsets, with 5.1/7.1 channel sound, a 50mm driver and Dolby Digital support.  The Vengeance 1300 uses analog plugs, not USB but still offers 5.1 surround and 50mm drivers.  As the 1300 is analog it does not require drivers whereas the 1500 does require software in order to emulate 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound.  From Neoseeker's findings, you need a discrete sound card that supports Dolby Surround in order to get the most out of the 1300, while the 1500 will sound the same regardless thanks to its USB connection and software.

NS_Vengeance1500.jpg

"We've got two of Corsair's newest headsets in the Neo labs today, the Vengeance 1500 and Vengeance 1300. The higher-end model, the Vengeance 1500, supports audio formats such as Dolby Digital and Virtual 7.1 Surround. The Vengeance 1300 on the other hand is an analog headset that performs best when paired with a high-end audio card that can push the unit to its threshold. Find out if any of these options are suitable for your audio headphone needs while you're camping in front of the computer (or in your game)."

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Source: Neoseeker