Qualcomm Introduces TrueWireless Stereo Plus and Broadcast Audio

Subject: General Tech | February 21, 2018 - 10:26 AM |
Tagged: wireless audio, TrueWireless, stereo, qualcomm, occluded, music, Broadcast Audio, bluetooth

Just ahead of MWC, Qualcomm has a pair of announcements to make regarding new Bluetooth wireless technologies, beginning with enhancements to their TrueWireless Stereo technology; a fully wireless solution for devices such as earbuds and the 'hearables' category supported by Qualcomm's new QCC5100 Bluetooth SoC, introduced at CES 2018. This update to TrueWireless Stereo promises "an easier pairing experience with no need to pair individual earbuds" along with "the ability to autonomously role switch each earbud between primary and secondary roles in order to balance power consumption more evenly between the buds for longer playback time".

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The combination of the new QCC5100 SoC with the Snapdragon 845 is said to offer improved battery life thanks to enhancements lowering power consumption, and the combination of lower latency and a better pairing experience makes this very interesting as we enter a year that will see many Smartphones powered by the new SDM845 platform. Earbuds connected via TrueWireless Stereo Plus each pair with the device individually, rather than the common method of a single earbud connection - "cross-head Bluetooth transmission" - with a second Bluetooth wireless connection from one earbud to the other stereo channel. If that sounds confusing, it really is, and with standard fully wireless options you are at the mercy of the relay connection as far as compression, latency, and channel separation is concerned.

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TrueWireless Occluded Earbuds Example Design

"Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo Plus is an additional mode of the technology designed to eliminate the need for cross-head Bluetooth transmission by simultaneously connecting the mobile device to both earbuds. In this new operating mode only the relevant audio content is engineered to relay to each bud helping to improve robustness and more evenly balance power consumption. When paired with a QCC5100 series based device and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo Plus can help to reduce power consumption by up to an additional 10 percent, typically helping to deliver an extra hour of listening time before recharge is needed. Additionally, Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo Plus supports an even simpler pairing experience when connecting earbuds to the mobile device and helps to reduce latency because both buds are connected directly to the smartphone."

Another annoucement on the Bluetooth audio front comes as Qualcomm's Broadcast Audio technology is being made available on the Snapdragon 845 platform. What is Broadcast Audio? We aren't talking LTE or even FM radio here, as it simply allows "one Bluetooth source to stream audio to numerous headsets or speakers with near perfect synchronization".

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As Qualcomm explains:

"The technology is designed to support Bluetooth to be used for one-to-many sound broadcasting – helping to extend the capabilities of traditional Bluetooth. Qualcomm Broadcast Audio supports ad-hoc multi-speaker parties, sharing headphones and listening to the same music from a single smartphone, or for group audio tours."

Qualcomm's list of features for Broadcast Audio includes:

  • Simpler set-up and pairing of devices and device management helping users to more easily manage which devices can join
  • Broadcast to numerous devices within Bluetooth range
  • Built-in robustness, automatic retransmission and packet-loss concealment
  • Encrypted audio stream designed to help reduce the risk of eavesdropping

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This integration will not be limited to the Snapdragon 845, as devices using the new QCC5100 SoC as well as others in Qualcomm's range of Bluetooth chips will support Broadcast Audio.

Source: Qualcomm

Corsair's HS50 continue to recieve kudos

Subject: General Tech | December 15, 2017 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: stereo, review, neodymium, HS50, headset, headphones, gaming, corsair, 50mm, audio

Sebastian was not the only one who listened to Corsair's new HS50 gaming headset, several other sites tested out this $50 headset and offered their thoughts.  The Tech Report contrasted this headset with their favoured Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones which cost roughly three times as much.  They found the audio to be somewhat clearer on the more expensive headset as you might expect, but Corsair's offering came very close and offer congratulations on the quality they managed on such an inexpensive pair of headphones.  Check out their review in full right here.

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"Corsair's HS50 Stereo Gaming Headset boasts solid build quality and classy looks, plus a Swiss Army knife's worth of compatibility. We gamed with the HS50 on consoles and listened to its musical chops to see whether it's a winner for $50."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Corsair

Is this the new budget champion?

True to their name, Corsair’s new HS50 STEREO gaming headsets offer traditional 2-channel sound from a similarly traditional headphone design. These are certainly ready for gaming with a detachable microphone and universal compatibility with both PCs and consoles, and budget friendly with an MSRP of only $49.99. How do they stack up? Let’s find out!

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Specifications:

  • Driver: 50mm Neodymium
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ohms @ 1kHz
  • Sensitivity: 111 dB (± 3 dB)
  • Mic Type: Unidirectional noise-cancelling
  • Mic Impedance: 2.0k Ohms
  • Mic Frequency: Response 100Hz – 10kHz
  • Mic Sensitivity: -40 dB (± 3 dB)
  • Dimensions (LxWxH): 160 x 100 x 205 mm
  • Weight: 319g
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Available Colors: Carbon, Green, Blue

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Nothing about these say “budget” when you look at the packaging and first unbox them, and they have a substantial feel to them like a pair of premium headphones - not at all like an inexpensive gaming headset.

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Continue reading our review of the Corsair HS50 STEREO gaming headset!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Logitech

Introduction and Specifications

Logitech has been releasing gaming headphones with a steady regularity of late, and this summer we have another new model to examine in the G433 Gaming Headset, which has just been released (along with the G233). This wired, 7.1-channel capable headset is quite different visually from previous Logitech models as is finished with an interesting “lightweight, hydrophobic fabric shell” and offered in various colors (our review pair is a bright red). But the G433’s have function to go along with the style, as Logitech has focused on both digital and analog sound quality with this third model to incorporate the Logitech’s Pro-G drivers. How do they sound? We’ll find out!

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One of the main reasons to consider a gaming headset like this in the first place is the ability to take advantage of multi-channel surround sound from your PC, and with the G433’s (as with the previously reviewed G533) this is accomplished via DTS Headphone:X, a technology which in my experience is capable of producing a convincing sound field that is very close to that of multiple surround drivers. All of this is being created via the same pair of left/right drivers that handle music, and here Logitech is able to boast of some very impressive engineering that produced the Pro-G driver introduced two years ago. An included DAC/headphone amp interfaces with your PC via USB to drive the surround experience, and without this you still have a standard stereo headset that can connect to anything with a 3.5 mm jack.

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The G433 is available in four colors, of which we have the red on hand today

If you have not read up on Logitech’s exclusive Pro-G driver, you will find in their description far more similarities to an audiophile headphone company than what we typically associate with a computer peripheral maker. Logitech explains the thinking behind the technology:

“The intent of the Pro-G driver design innovation is to minimize distortion that commonly occurs in headphone drivers. When producing lower frequencies (<1kHz), most speaker diaphragms operate as a solid mass, like a piston in an engine, without bending. When producing many different frequencies at the same time, traditional driver designs can experience distortion caused by different parts of the diaphragm bending when other parts are not. This distortion caused by rapid transition in the speaker material can be tuned and minimized by combining a more flexible material with a specially designed acoustic enclosure. We designed the hybrid-mesh material for the Pro-G driver, along with a unique speaker housing design, to allow for a more smooth transition of movement resulting in a more accurate and less distorted output. This design also yields a more efficient speaker due to less overall output loss due to distortion. The result is an extremely accurate and clear sounding audio experience putting the gamer closer to the original audio of the source material.”

Logitech’s claims about the Pro-G have, in my experience with the previous models featuring these drivers (G633/G933 Artemis Spectrum and G533 Wireless), have been spot on, and I have found them to produce a clarity and detail that rivals ‘audiophile’ stereo headphones.

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Continue reading our review of the Logitech G433 7.1 Wired Surround Gaming Headset!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Logitech

Introduction and Specifications

The Prodigy G231 is the budget-minded gaming headset in the Prodigy line, and with a standard analog connection Logitech has emphasized stereo sound quality in lieu of the simulated surround effects found on their pricier G633/G933 models. I tested these headphones with a variety of material to find out how well the G231 works at providing entertaining audio, and how comfortable they are in the process.

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Plain old 2-channel stereo can still offer a fantastic listening experience for music, gaming, and movies - when it’s done right. Things like the perceived “width” of the stereo sound, clarity of audio across the frequency spectrum, and dynamic shifts in volume can go far in providing an immersive experience - even without surround effects. Logitech’s existing gaming headsets (G633, G933) performed very well as stereo cans when connected with a 3.5 mm cable, and if this G231 comes close it presents a good value proposition.

Still, 7.1 channel sound, even if it is being simulated with single-driver designs like Logitech’s, obviously has a lot of fans, and for good reason. Willingness to accept 2-channel headphones for gaming will be up to the individual, and just as there are enthusiasts who would no sooner accept simulated surround as use a sound bar in their home theater, there are listeners who believe that dedicated drivers are essential to proper directional surround in a gaming headset. Multi-driver presents its own issues for a cohesive experience from a variety of content, and stereo music in particular just sounds better from a pair of high quality drivers.

Continue reading our review of the Logitech Prodigy G231 gaming headset!!