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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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.

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"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.

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"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.

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"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