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.

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"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.

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"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

Bulletproof earbuds, really?

Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2011 - 01:16 PM |
Tagged: audio, earbuds, v-moda, vibrato remote headphones

It is hard to imagine just why you would need Kevlar reinforced cords on a pair of earphones, but that is exactly what V-MODA did with their Vibrato Remote Earphones.  There is also no indication what is remote about the headphones, but that is enough attention paid to the marketing.  Think Computers wanted to know how they sounded, not what the package said which is why the earphones were quickly out of the package and into their ear canals.  One of the more noticeable features was the length of the cable, at a total of 45" you won't feel restricted while wearing the headphones.  Another nice touch was the inclusion of a microphone on the volume control so that you can use the Vibratos with a cell phone or digital recorder.  You'll have to read the full review to see if as much thought went into the audio quality.

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"I only started using earphones or earbuds as many people call them a few years ago. So many people think that all earphones are the same and will use the ones that come with their device. I did that for quite some time before I tried a different set of earphones and since then I’ve been trying all different types of earphones. Today we have a set of earphones on the more expensive end coming in at $130. These zinc-alloy earphones feature 8mm V-MASQUE drivers, BLISS 3.0 (Bass Level Isolating Soft Silicone) hybrid silicone fittings, Kevlar reinforced cables and a 24K gold plated plug. Le t’s check them out and see if they will be the next earphones you own."

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Not 2.1 nor 5.1, these headsets go to 7.1

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2011 - 12:09 AM |
Tagged: gaming headset, audio, 7.1 headset

With 7.1 sound came the idea that you could control the vertical as well as the horizontal.  This was usually achieved with a setup that included not only an above average amount of speakers but also a knowledge of the space you were filling with sound and an obnoxious amount of money spent on a stereo system.  Is it possibly true that you can reproduce the same feeling with an $85 pair of USB headphones?   OCC says maybe ... but you won't be disappointed by the sound when you are gaming and you might just develop an edge.

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"Now that I have made it obvious why you need a headset let me introduce the one up for review. ROCCAT has had a lot of new products released for US purchase recently after being founded in Germany back in 2007. One of its newest products available over at Newegg.com is the ROCCAT Kulo Virtual 7.1 Gaming Headset. The key here is the "virtual" tag in the product name. As it turns out, the 7.1 is a function of a stereo output rerouted through an included USB sound card. Thus it is not true 7.1 quality but perhaps it is still a great headset. Let’s take a gander at how the Kulo Headset looks and also listen to the beauty that comes from those earmuffs."

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Thermaltake's Shock One headset is virtually 5.1 surround sound

Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2011 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: audio, thermaltake, shock one, 5.1 headset

It can be difficult to implement true surround sound into a headset without having a serious amount of speakers located all over the headband and ear cups, however simulated surround sound can be produced from just two speakers.  The technology behind virtual surround sound has matured and [H]ard|OCP's testing could get realistic surround sound from these headphones, after a fashion.  They needed to do quite a bit of tweaking in order to properly get the environment to sound correct but had nothing but trouble with dialog; voices were indistinct when they utilized the virtual 5.1 surround settings.  The gaming performance was also sub-par, which leads them to recommend avoiding these headsets in lieu of similarly priced competitors models.

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"While Thermaltake is a familiar brand name to PC enthusiasts, the company is one of the newest competitors in the PC gaming headset market. We take its USB model, featuring DTS Surround, for a spin to tell you if it is worth your hard earned dollar or if the competition in this segment of the PC audio market is simply too steep already."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Sound card? Never heard of it, what's it for?

Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2011 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: audio

It is becoming difficult to discuss the quality of soundcards with anyone, since very few people use them.  We've gone from needing a sound card to play back a reasonable amount of channels since the onboard audio could not handle it, to saving CPU cycles by pulling the responsibility of processing audio onto a sound card, to a point where they seem obsolete.  Putting aside the fact that many PCs are outputting audio and video over a single HDMI cable or onto a USB headset, most non-audiophiles will be satisfied with the variety of outputs available on the back of a motherboard and the processing power that the onboard audio Codec needs is minuscule.  At The Tech Report you can read about one technophiles experiences with sound cards and his recommendation focuses more on the importance of providing yourself with a decent sound system and top of the line speakers before in preference to upgrading your sound card.

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"In his latest blog post, TR's David Morgan upgrades his integrated "In his latest blog post, TR's David Morgan upgrades his integrated motherboard audio and wonders whether discrete sound cards are still relevant."

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Boost the audio performance of your laptop with Creative's new USB DAC

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2011 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: Creative, X-FI HD USB, usb audio, audio, digital audio converter

It has become commonplace to see USB headsets that can be plugged into any system and will work without drivers needing to be installed.  That has not been widely spread to actual soundcards yet but Creative is changing that with the release of the X-FI HD USB, which does need drivers but should happily function on any machine.  For under $100 you get a small box which acts as a headphone amplifier and mic receiver but can also take audio from almost any source to be recorded to your PC.  It is a really good deal for a Digital Audio Converter, especially for notebook users which is why [H]ard|OCP heartily recommends the device for those looking to easily boost their audio performance.

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"Creative's latest sound card is an external model that sports a USB interface and boasts high quality digital, analog, and dedicated headphone connectivity options. We tell you if this may be the audio upgrade that laptop users and those of you with no free expansion slots in your desktop PC have been looking for."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

A quick peripheral roundup, Corsair's Vengeance series

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2011 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: corsair, Corsair Vengeance, audio, keyboard, gaming mouse

Over at Overclockers Club is a look at Corsair's Vengeance series of keyboards, mice and headsets.  They captured several slides from a recent presentation that show a brief history of Corsair's products as well as having hands on time with the newest members of the Vengeance lineup.  From the M60 mouse with a dedicated sniper button to the K60 mechanical keyboard, they've focused on the needs of gamers, not casual users.  The Vengeance 1100 headset and it's noise cancelling microphone also gets a look.

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"The M60 is Corsair's new enthusiast grade-gaming mouse that looks to improve user experience in first-person shooters. Like the M90, the M60 utilizes an Avago 5670 DPI sensor with lift-detection for real-time adjustments. However, the M60 utilizes an aluminum unibody design with an adjustable center of gravity and PTFE glide pads. Making the Vengeance M60 potentially even more powerful as a FPS tool, there is also a red "sniper" button that lowers the DPI on-the-fly. When activated, the mouse toggles between a high-speed DPI mode and a precision mode. This serves to improve accuracy when using in-game sniper rifles, and could come in handy whenever a lower DPI is required for kills."

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Turtle Beach is still alive and kicking bass

Subject: General Tech | August 29, 2011 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: audio, headset, turtle beach, DPX21, 7.1

Old time techies will remember Turtle Beach fondly, as there was once a time when they were the only choice in sound cards other than Creative.  ASUS blew that market wide open and now we see many other manufacturers releasing sound cards, even if the majority of users now depend on onboard codecs.  Turtle Beach does still make sound cards, the Riviera being their current model, but they've also expanded into headsets.  The newest Turtle Beach headset is the DPX21 which is a package containing the PX 21 headset and the Ear Force DSS controller which allows you different connection choices as well as a host of controls.  The Ear Force has separate volume controls for the game and chat, and bass tuning, there are also two controls that tbreak suggests you avoid, one which is a sound ‘expander’ and an option to force Dolby-esque surround sound.  If you leave those two controls alone though, tbreak loudly proclaims their love of the virtual 7.1 surround sound and feel it is worth the $150 investment .

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"While the name may evoke imagery of cute turtles and soft sunny beaches, for the techie among us, the name Turtle Beach only evokes one picture: kick-ass surround sound gaming headsets. And what a lovely picture that is. Turtle Beach have been at the game for a long time, making a name for themselves by churning out impressive, high quality headsets for the current gen consoles."

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Source: tbreak