Have tape over your webcam? Might want to fill your headphones with wax as well!

Subject: General Tech | November 24, 2016 - 12:35 PM |
Tagged: security, hack, audio, Realtec

Security researchers have discovered a way to flip an output channel on onboard Realtec audio into an input channel, thus turning your headphones into an unpowered microphone.  The ability of a speaker or headphone to be used as a microphone is not news to anyone who has played around with headphones or input jacks, but it is possible some readers had deprived childhoods and have never tried this.  While you cannot mitigate this vulnerability permanently you could certainly notice it as your headphones would no longer play audio if the port is configured as input. 

Drop by Slashdot a link, and if you have never tried this out before you really should find an old pair of headphones and experiment with ports as well as snipping off one side of a pair of earbuds.  One supposes iPhone 7 users need not worry.

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"In short, the headphones were nearly as good as an unpowered microphone at picking up audio in a room. It essentially "retasks" the RealTek audio codec chip output found in many desktop computers into an input channel. This means you can plug your headphones into a seemingly output-only jack and hackers can still listen in. This isn't a driver fix, either."

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Source: Slashdot

CM MasterPulse Pro Gaming Headset; the only drivers you need are the magnetic kind

Subject: General Tech | November 15, 2016 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: MasterPulse Pro Gaming Headset, coolermaster, audio, 7.1 headset

Cooler Master's MasterPulse Pro Gaming Headset offers virtual 7.1 surround, with 44mm drivers which have a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz.  All software duties are performed by the fairly large sized inline controls; the headset will not work on a phone or plane but will work on anything with USB audio capabilities.  Overclockers Club tried the headset out and they discovered these things are incredibly loud, even when the volume on the headset is turned down as far as possible.  This is somewhat of a negative when listening to media as you need to adjust your system volume down significantly, however for gaming they found it to be beneficial when listening for directional clues such as footsteps.  Take a read through the full review to see what you think about the MasterPulse Pro.

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"This is where the CM MasterPulse Pro set really stands out: gaming. The extensive bass response along with the ability to go LOUD allows you to crank up the volume to hear the details while still getting rocked with crystal clear and thunderous explosions. Because of the prodigious output, it's very easy to hear quiet sounds you might normally miss, while also placing things quite easily in terms of direction."

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Cooler Master MasterPulse Pro, giving the bass more room to breathe

Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2016 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: coolermaster, MasterPulse Pro, gaming headset, audio

The feature which Cooler Master would like you to focus on when listening to their MasterPulse Pro is the bass, specifically their Bass FX.  The covers on the ear cups are magnetic, allowing you to swap between a closed ear cup or open concept audio experience in an instant; apparently when open you let the bass breath like a fine wine.  Does this have any effect or is it the 44mm drivers and inline soundcard which could make these your next headphones?  Check out Kitguru and see what you think.

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"As important as having a decent keyboard and mouse is for any enthusiast PC gaming setup, having decent audio quality should also be on the priority list. Today, we are taking a look at the Cooler Master ‘MasterPulse’ Gaming Headset, aiming to offer a ‘groundbreaking audio experience’ with its new headphone drivers and patented Bass FX technology. "

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Source: Kitguru

Kingston's affordable HyperX Cloud Stinger gaming headset

Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2016 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: kingston hyper x, kingston, gaming headset, Cloud Stinger, audio

Kingston have updated their line of gaming headsets with the new HyperX Cloud Stinger, available already for ~$50.  This makes them attractive for those who do not often use a gaming headset but might want one around just in case.  The low price could make you underestimate the design, Kingston used 50mm drivers and the microphone mutes itself the moment you swing it away from your voice hole.  That said, Overclockers Club were not in love with the quality of the sound compared to expensive headphones, but for this price point they have no qualms about recommending these for casual use.

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"Overall, I'm quite impressed with the HyperX Cloud Stinger Gaming Headset. A mouth full just to say that – but after disliking the HyperX Cloud Revolver as much as I did – I'm actually quite happy with this drop in price and slight redesign. With closed ear cups I would have expected a little more in the bass-land, it wasn't the end of the world. The overall sound is nice and flat, and movies, music, and games are all quite tolerable in the closed environment."

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Shove some aluminium in your ears, Kennerton's Audio Laguz earbuds

Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2016 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: laguz, audio, Kennerton, earbuds

Though they somewhat resemble tiny microphones, these Kennerton Audio Laguz are indeed in-ear headphones.  They may not work on the new iPhone without an adapter but for anything else the standard plug will work just fine.  These $110 earbuds have tiny 8mm dynamic driver with a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz.  The metal body and stress relief should ensure these headphones last a while but the price is somewhat steep, then again TechPowerUp didn't seem to find that price off-putting.

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"Kennerton Audio's newest mid-end offering, the Laguz, is put to the test. Priced at $110, it will face fierce competition from the Brainwavz S5 and HiFiMAN RE-400. The Laguz is absolutely tiny and features a rugged aluminum design that is pretty unique."

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Source: TechPowerUp

Helicopter headphones from ARCTIC, for AirWolf enthusiasts and ... others

Subject: General Tech | August 11, 2016 - 03:51 PM |
Tagged: audio, arctic, P533 Military, gaming headset

Arctic has a rather unique product up for sale, an analog gaming headset modelled after the style you would see a helicopter pilot on TV wearing.  The P533 Military Stereo Headset utilizes the standard 40mm neodymium drivers common to many headsets with a dynamic range of 20Hz-20KHz, 32Ohm impedance and 95dB sensitivity.  The microphone boom is longer than usual and features several joints to allow you to position it exactly where you want.  The P533 also has an integrated volume control knob on the outside of the right ear cup as opposed to inline on the cord, which ends in 3.5mm jacks.  There is no doubt that the hard, rounded cups are unique looking although perhaps not what most of us are looking for.  Check out Nikktech's review of the P533, even if it is just to see the design of these things.

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"It may not be the best attack helicopter headset clone in the market today but the P533 Military Stereo Headset by ARCTIC might just be the most affordable one."

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Source: Nikktech

DIY HiFi; build yourself electrostatic speakers and show them off

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2016 - 03:38 PM |
Tagged: audio, electrostatic speaker, DIY

Instead of focusing on the troubling security holes reported on today how about you distract yourself by reading up on electrostatic speakers and how to make them yourself.  Electrostatic loudspeakers differ from conventional magnetic speakers as they use the attraction and repulsion of a thin conductive film in an electric field to create sound waves.  This allows the speakers to produce audio with very little distortion and comparatively flat frequency response but also comes with a drawback; half the audio is sent backwards and there is no easy way to reflect it to the front.  Check out the build process and material required to create your own unique high end speakers over at Hack a Day.

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"Any thin flexible plastic film can make a noise in an electrostatic speaker, but for best performance the thinner your film, the better. 5 micron thick Mylar seems to be the preferred choice."

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Source: Hack a Day

HiFiMAN's high end, high priced Edition X Planar Magnetic Headphones

Subject: General Tech | July 22, 2016 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: audio, hifiman, Edition X, planar

As opposed to the more common dynamic driver, the Edition X uses lighter and more responsive planar drivers.  These tend to provide much better sound but also come with a very hefty price tag, in this particular case an $1800 one.  That puts these headphones soundly into the audiophile and professional market as opposed to being intended for gamers.  In testing TechPowerUp found these to be not quite as clear as the HE-1000 model but they were more comfortable.  If you are looking for high end headphones or just like window shopping you can read the full review here.

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"HiFiMAN's newest high-end headphone, the Edition X, bears a striking resemblance to their flagship HE-1000. It uses the same driver design without the fancy nano materials found in the $1200 more expensive HE-1000, but is, at $1799, still the second most expensive headphone in HiFiMAN's line-up."

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Source: TechPowerUp

When is a headset not simply a headset? When it is the Avegant Glyph Mobile Personal Theater

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2016 - 07:18 PM |
Tagged: audio, Avegant Glyph, headset

Why is the AVEGANT Glyph headset referred to as a personal theatre you may ask?  That would be because these are headphones and a head mounted display in one package, unfortunately they launched while everyone was gazing at their Vives and Rifts.  Instead of providing a VR experience, this headset is intended to give you the view of a  55-60" TV as if you were sitting 3 to 4 meters away.  The headset uses a microUSB for power and microHDMI for signal and provides a resolution of 1280x720p per eye and even supports 3D-movies and 3D-Vision when gaming.  Unfortunately as Bjorn3D discovered, you need a 720p source, it cannot downscale from 1080p or other resolutions.  Check out their full review here.

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"So what is the Avegant Glyph? Quite simply it is a headset that can be used as a regular audio headset but also comes with lenses to allow you to use it as your own mobile personal theater. And regardless of some issues it actually works great for this purpose."

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Source: Bjorn3D

No that is not a toolbox, it's Braven's BRV-XXL portable speaker

Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2016 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: braven, audio, BRV-XXL, Portable Audio

Braven's BRV-XXL is a wee bit bigger than your average portable speaker, 8.2kg (18lbs) and 514x210x241mm (20.25x8.25x9.5") and Techgage conducted some tests to see if it is worth carting around.  Part of that weight is the 15,600 mAh battery, giving 12 or more hours of play and happily charging phones as well.  As well there are four speakers and a subwoofer in the BRV-XXL, offering significantly more range and volume that a more petite portable speaker.  Read on to see if it sounded good enough to offset the encumbrance penalty.

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"Braven is no stranger to portable audio, but its latest creation might be its best yet. Can you really have it all in a portable speaker? Let’s find out if the Braven BRV-XXL can allow us to answer “yes”."

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Source: Techgage