Budget headphones that are just good enough, Ozone Rage ST

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2015 - 02:01 PM |
Tagged: audio, ozone, Rage ST, gaming headset

With a pricetag of $40 many may be a bit leery of purchasing the Ozone Rage ST Headset as it is significantly lower in price than most gaming headsets which implies lower quality too.  It does use the 40mm drivers common in most headsets with a response range of  20-20kHz but the microphone is omnidirectional as opposed to unidirectional which means you will send background noise.  Modders-Inc tried it out and were pleasantly surprised; while it has none of the extra features that $100+ headsets do, the overall quality was worth the price of admission.  If you are in need of a headset but are strapped for cash, these are a good choice for you.

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"Despite the stereotype, gamers are social creatures too. Competitive games after all requires another person to play with, but as expressive as some gestures may be such as virtual teabagging, it is not nearly as effective in conveying what you really feel when you shout out expletives through a headset. It feels very natural in fact that one almost feels …"

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Source: Modders Inc

Cooler Master updates their headset lineup with the CM Storm Sirus-C

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2015 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: Sirus, headphones, gaming headset, cooler master, CM Storm, audio

Many, many moons ago Josh reviewed the CM Storm Sirus Surround headphones, the first of their line and good for gaming, if not for music.  Cooler Master have released an updated version called the Sirus-C which keep the infamous gold plated USB plug while shrinking the inline sound card and reducing the number of drivers in the earcups to two, a 44 mm full range and 40 mm sub. TechPowerUp provided an overview of the new headset and came to the conclusion that these would better serve a console gamer looking for a good plug and play audio solution, but feel there are better choices for the PC gamer.  This especially holds true with the current asking price of $156 on Amazon, as there is a lot of competition at that price point.

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"CM Storm's newest do-it-all headset is put to the test. The Sirus-C is compatible with all major console systems and features its own in-line USB sound card. The design is like previous Sirus headsets on the outside, but it now uses a dual-driver setup on the inside."

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Source: techPowerUp

HiFiMAN's HE-400i Planar Magnetic Headphones for those with the ears to hear

Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2015 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: audio, hifiman, HE-400i

When HiFiMan refers to the single-sided planar magnetic driver in the HE-400i headset they are describing the positioning of the magnets within the drivers, single sided only have magnets on the side of the driver that is facing away from your ear.  As you might expect from this design decision this is not an inexpensive gaming headset but a high end audiophile headset and the $500 price tag further emphasizes this.  TechPowerUp had a chance to don these earphones and try them out, connected to JDSLabs C5D and O2 headphone amps and were more than impressed.  Indeed the bass reproduction of the HE-400i came near to matching the HE-560 which is twice the price.  If you have a decent headphone amp and discerning ears then HiFiMan is brand to take under consideration.

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"HiFiMAN has always been known to produce some pretty interesting high-end headphones. Today, we take a look at the new HE-400i. It uses the same magnet array technology HiFiMAN introduced with the critically acclaimed HE-560."

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Source: techPowerUp

Gigabyte's Force H3X is great for gaming but perhaps not podcasting

Subject: General Tech | March 2, 2015 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, audio, Force H3X, gaming headset, analog

Gigabyte's Force H3X gaming headset sports the 50mm neodymium drivers we have become used to, with a decent frequency response range of 20Hz to 20KHz.  The microphone is a bit different, using two 2mm pickup drivers on each side for a total of four but from the testing Modders Inc performed it did not help with the quality of your recorded audio.  This does not matter so much on a gaming headset but this is perhaps not the best choice for a budding YouTube star.  For audio in gaming Modders Inc does give the headset good marks and they also found it to be very comfortable over long periods of time, definitely worth checking out if you are in the market for a new headset to game with.

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"Don't you hate that when you are camping with a sniper rifle and all of the sudden some one sneaks up behind you and puts a knife through your head? Of course! We have all been there. Don't you wish you heard that guy who was sneaking up on you? Maybe then you could have switched to a Desert Eagle …"

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Source: Modders Inc

Just what kind of lining can you expect on the Kingston HyperX Cloud II headset?

Subject: General Tech | February 16, 2015 - 06:29 PM |
Tagged: kingston, HyperX Cloud II, audio, gaming headset, dsp

As regular subscribers of the PC Perspective Podcast are aware, not every headset is created equally and while poor to moderate sound reproduction on the speakers can be ignored to a certain degree, poor sound capture quality on the microphone cannot.  Kingston's original HyperX Cloud was not too bad for sound capture and most of the ears which were attached to people that reviewed the headset found it quite enjoyable.  Techgage tried out Kingston's follow up product the stereo Cloud II with inline DSP to allow virtual 7.1 surround sound recently, focusing more on the audio reproduction than capture.  From their review it does indeed sound like Kingston has put out another audio winner but as they did not do much testing of the audio capture quality we are not sure if this product might make it onto a podcast near you.

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"Sequels… they’re either blockbusters (The Empire Strikes Back) better than the original or busts (Caddyshack II) that should have never seen the light of day. In the world of PC peripherals, it’s rare when we see a direct follow-up to a product. Kingston, though, bucks the trend with its new HyperX Cloud II gaming headset. Is it a blockbuster, or a bust?"

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Source: Techgage

A flagship A88X board for well under $200, remember the ASUS Crossblade Ranger

Subject: Motherboards | February 12, 2015 - 03:01 PM |
Tagged: motherboard, Kaveri, Intel Gig-E, FM2+, DDR-3 2133, crossblade ranger, audio, asus, A88X

It has been a while since Josh reviewed the ASUS Crossblade Ranger so it seems appropriate to put up a reminder that there are some impressive AMD boards out there with The Tech Report's review of the board.  This board has just about everything except an M.2 port, from the Asus SupremeFX 2014 with high end caps and EMI shielding to HDMI, DVI, and VGA display outputs to a BIOS button on the backplate which allows you to update the upgrade the motherboard's firmware without a CPU or RAM installed.  Check out the full review to get a list of the other features as well as a glimpse into the personality traits the board displayed during testing.

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"Asus' Crossblade Ranger is a tweaker-friendly, top-of-the-line motherboard for AMD's Socket FM2+ processors. We kicked the tires and turned up the clocks to see whether the Ranger lives up to its top billing."

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Kingston's new HyperX member, the Cloud II Pro gaming headset

Subject: General Tech | January 28, 2015 - 05:14 PM |
Tagged: audio, kingston, hyperx cloud II pro, gaming headset

Kingston's HyperX Cloud II Pro Gaming Headset can work as just a normal over the ear headset thanks to the removable microphone and 3.5" jack but provides more functionality when you use the inline 7.1 audio DSP connected to a USB port.  The speakers are rated at a frequency response of 15Hz–25,000 Hz and the microphone at 50–18,000 Hz but be aware that the quality of your voice is significantly better when not connected via USB.  The 7.1 audio emulation software works as advertised although the reviewer at Modders Inc prefers to use stereo.  Check out the full review right here.

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"Two years ago, I walked into the Emperor's Ballroom in Caesar's Palace hotel in Las Vegas Nevada wearing khakis and a golf-shirt, feeling woefully underdressed for the venue as I did not exactly pack a ball gown nor do I look good in one. The room had high ornate coffered ceilings, triumphal arches, elaborate carpeting and real marble floors, all …"

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Source: Modders Inc

Steelseries colourful Siberia Elite Prism headset

Subject: General Tech | January 9, 2015 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: audio, gaming headset, Siberia Elite Prism, steelseries

Don't worry if the orange ring on the Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism headset turns you off as that is an LED which can be changed to one of 16.8 million colours which will shift or breath in time to your music.  The headset has a frequency response of 16-28000 Hz and the unidirectional microphone is retractable for when it is not in use.  The headset uses 3.5mm jacks and comes with adapters to allow you to plug it into a variety of mobile devices or into the USB soundcards which ships with the device when you are using it on a PC.  The soundcard is not as good as a dedicated DAC but does add functionality to the headset as well.  The noise cancellation will be appreciated in noisy environments but the headset is not for the completely antisocial as there is a 3.5mm jack on one earcup to allow a friend to plug in and share your music if you so desire.  You can see MadShrimps full review here.

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"Siberia Elite Prism is a slight improvement over the original Elite version which features better comfort for the ear-cups, a new, more flexible microphone, a slightly different color scheme for the white version but also a better design of the top frame. The bundled sound card can be used with PCs and laptops via USB, but the Elite Prism also comes with the necessary cables in order to connect the headset on analog to sound cards and mobile gadgets. SteelSeries Engine 3 makes configuration possible with a custom equalizer and many more…"

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Source: MadShrimps

CES 2015: Calyx Audio PaT USB DAC and Headphone Amp for PC and Mobile

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2015 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: mobile, headphone amplifier, DAP, DAC, ces 2015, CES, audiophile, audio

For the audio enthusiasts at CES this year Calyx Audio (Korean maker of audiophile-grade audio components) has a new prototype to show along with last year's Calyx M music player, and for an audiophile product the pricing is very aggressive.

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Render of the Calyx PaT (dimensions in mm)

The PaT is a similar product in some ways as Calyx Audio's existing $199 USB DAC called the "Coffee", but this unit will be much smaller and will cost half as much at $99. And the reduction in price and size is only half of the story as the PaT also works with mobile devices as an outboard DAC/headphone amp. Apple iPhones and iPads will be supported, and Android devices with USB audio-out support as well (probably via USB OTG).

The PaT supports up to 16-bit, 48kHz files (AIF, M4A, PCM, OGG, and MP3) and will also control track playback and volume via hardware control buttons on the unit. The PaT requires no external power or battery, taking what little juice it needs directly from the connection to your mobile device. As for amplification, in typical Calyx fashion even this miniature board is using a discrete class A/B headphone amplifier. Since the PaT relies only on the power passed through the USB connection it is only capable of outputting 0.8 V, which by comparison is slightly lower than an iPhone 5 which outputs about 0.9 - 1.0 V.

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The tiny prototype PaT in action

The PaT may be just a working board at this point, but the company has scheduled the release for February 2015, when the devices will be available in various colors of thin aluminum enclosures.

In the world of computer audio much more attention has been focused lately on advancements in sound, with special shielding and isolation on motherboards, special gold-plated USB ports for DACs, and customizable op-amps a trend. While the market for dedicated sound cards isn't what it once was, high-end PCI-E and USB cards from Creative (Sound Blaster) and ASUS (Xonar) are still widely available. Most of these products are for desktop users, but there is a growing number of portable devices that allow mobile users to experience great sound, too. For myself, great sound means faithful reproduction of 2-channel music, and it's nice to see attention paid to that area without the added effects of digital signal processing (DSP). Calyx seems interested only in engineering products that play back music as close to the source as possible, and I can't argue with that!

The Calyx PaT is scheduled to launch in February for $99, but like most high-end audio components it will take a little research to track it down. The USA distributor of the Calyx brand has a website with product and contact information here.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

Source: Calyx

Time to upgrade your alarm clock?

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2014 - 02:56 PM |
Tagged: audio, bluetooth, clock

The Edifier Tick Tock Bluetooth alarm clock will remind the older readers of the windup alarm clocks of long ago but this one has a few new capabilities.  Apart from the digital display and 5 programmable alarms it is an FM radio with a pair of omnidirectional 4W speakers with a frequency response of 90Hz-20kHz.  That gives it much better sound quality than your average clock radio although the bass is poor, understandable considering the size of the drivers.  In addition to the FM you can input audio via an auxiliary input or pair it with a Bluetooth device so you can also fall asleep listening to the Tick Tock.  It is currently in stock on Amazon for $50 and might make a good gift.  Check the review at Madshrimps if you know someone who needs help with their sleeping patterns.

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"Do not be deceived by the mousy look of the retro Edifier Tick Tock Bluetooth retro alarm clock; thanks to the dual drivers, it is able to produce decent quality sound without distortions and at pretty high volumes. The bass is a little on the low side which is perfectly understandable but considering the overall size of the device, we cannot consider this as a negative point."

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Source: MadShrimps