What do you expect from your headphone these days? To give you good sound surely, and maybe a wireless connection to give you freedom of movement during your weekly jogging – but what about a camera?
Soundsight Headphones do just that! You can record video up to 720p HD resolution and take pictures up to 1080p HD all of that by just taping the left side. You may think why? But now a days it is all about sharing and been able to do that freely as possible. The headphone will last up to 4 hours with the camera in constant recording, 18 hours when using noise cancellation and 24 hours on standby. The headphones on-board memory is 8G and they come with a Bluetooth connection (through partner Tectonic Audio Labs) that promises to provide HiFi studio sound quality equal to when the headphone are wired. The headphones also have noise cancellation, USB audio output and has a frequency range between 16 to 20,000Hz.
Headphone are big business at the moment with news that Bose has just filed a lawsuit has reported in the media (Forbes) against Beats for patents infringing on the noise cancellation. This comes on the back of the other big news that Apple have now officially completed the purchase of Beats.
The headphones will come with a free standard app to download on your devices to edit your sound and video. Until the 30th of July you will be able to download the premium version for free and after that it will cost you $4.99 (£3.90).
With the app you will be able to “utilize the patented ColorTune™ auto-suggest feature to match video colors to music notes with a simple touch of the hand, trim, apply film-look filters, edit and Clip&Mix™ music from your device for video content through the SoundSight application”.
You can pre-order now at Soundsight for $349 (£205) for delivery by Christmas. Otherwise, if you want to wait and see what they’re like, they will be in retail by Spring 2015 for $499 (£293).
Like the amplifier in Spinal Tap that goes up to 11, when it comes to anything to do with sound bigger numbers are usually better. So, forget about your puny 5.1 or 7.1 sound systems, these latest wireless headphones from Sony offer a 9.1 audio experience – but without actually having all the speakers. They use what Sony calls Virtualphones Technology to reproduce the effect of multi-channel speakers.
The unit’s ‘Cinema’ mode has been created with the support of Sony Pictures Entertainment and the company says, “This mode ensures an authentic cinema sound experience and virtual sound arena that is based on an analysis of the prestigious sound mixing stages used for the production of major motion pictures.” Which in non-PR speak means it should sound like the director intended.
The transmitter unit can be used as an HDMI switchbox for up to three sources so you can enjoy audio from multiple devices. It also supports 4K sources so you can send uncompressed audio to the headphones, and has a conventional stereo line-in though of course the latter won’t give you the full surround-sound experience.
These then aren’t just a set of headphones, they’re a positive feast of audio technology, so what are the reviewers making of them?
Bonkers bass and voices in your head
Trusted Reviews was impressed by the sound quality, “…their dynamic range is sensational, with bass handling proving able to do full justice to the sort of bonkers low-frequency rumbles employed by most modern action movies.”
It also praised the surround-sound capabilities, “…the scale of the film – or game – soundstage it produces creates a world much larger than the physical presence of the headphones.” However, the way dialogue is delivered came in for some criticism, “While dialogue appears to stand forward of most of the mix and is extremely clear, it still feels distractingly dislocated from what you’re watching. The words spoken sound like they’re in your head, rather than like they’re coming from the mouths of the actors on the screen.”
“The 50mm drivers offer enough bass to immerse the user for up to 12 hours before the cans need fast recharging.” notes Pocket-lint although it hasn’t done a full review as yet.
People who have actually bought the headphones seem impressed too, with one Amazon reviewer in the US saying, “Sound quality is stunning. I especially like that putting the headphone on, turns them on and powers up the HDMI box all at once.”
Another US Amazon customer praises the unit’s ability to combat interference, “The headphones work on the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band. Switching bands automatically if you desire. My neighborhood is crowded on the 2.4 band, so I use my Apple devices, including an airport express and airport extreme, all of them on the 5 GHz band. I had only heard just a few skips, probably when the headphones change channels automatically. Otherwise signal is perfect, without any noise whatsoever.”
We’ll leave the last word to Trusted Reviews, “While the HW700s are only good rather than spectacular music performers, they’re capable of completely transforming gaming or movie sessions where you either don’t currently have any surround sound kit or else you regularly find yourself wanting to play or watch stuff in antisocial circumstances.”
If you’re impressed enough by all this to think that you might want to buy the Sony MDR-HW700DS headphones they’ll be available in the UK from this month. You’ll need to find £450
Over-ear headphones have become the must-have accessory for fashion conscious audiophiles over the last couple of years. This audio quality revival was started, in part, by Dr Dre and his Beats headphones. Since then a number of imitators have made their way to market, but are they any good, and are Beats still the benchmark? Well, we got our hands on a pair of headphones from Beats, Fanny Wang (no we didn’t make that name up) and Sol Republic, to see who makes the best set of over-ear and on-ear headphones for the fashion conscious music lover.
Sol Republic Master Tracks Sol Republic might not be a name that you’re a familiar with, originally founded by Kevin Lee, the son of Monster Cable founder Noel Lee and a longtime Monster executive, his new headphone venture is to offer affordable high performance headphones to the masses.
Compared to the competition, Sol Republic’s design team has gone out of their way to standout from the crowd. First of all their headphones use special removable speakers, where the actual speakers can be slid off from the headband, it’s not exactly a game-changer, but it does mean you can replace the headband or individual speakers without having to shell out for a brand-new pair of headphones – so that’s something.
This does mean that the headphones use a proprietary cable that fits into both cups, which isn’t ideal as you won’t be able to use any spare cables that you might have lying around the house.
Elsewhere the Master Tracks are incredibly lightweight, which is actually really important, as no one wants a pair of headphones that are so heavy you get neck strain, and compared the competition they’re the lightest. As well as the headphones, you get a nice carry case and a 6.5mm jack converter.
Sound quality-wise the Master Tracks do a sterling job, basslines are crisp and full of depth, high notes come across with a great fidelity and mids punch just like you’d expect. We’d concede the overall sound quality is not as good as the Beats, but this is mainly down to the lack of noise cancelling technology. But for the £100 saving compared to the Beats, the quality difference is marginal and certainly not worth the extra money.
Overall the Master Tracks have great build quality, especially the indestructible headband, great looks, and a reasonable price tag.
Sol Republic Tracks HD Sol Republic, like all three companies, do a diet version called the Tracks HD, they’re very similar to their more expensive sibling, but don’t enclose the ear but rather sit on top of them.
Apart from that there’s very little difference, except of course the price and how loud they go. For every day listening they’re very good, but if you’re listening to stream or a YouTube clip that’s not very loud, there isn’t a lot of headroom to make it louder. So for some situations where you need to drown out background noise, like trains or planes, they might not be loud enough for – but for half the price, and the ability to dismantle them, they’re a great travel companion.
Beats By Dre Studio HD Beats are the most expensive pair of headphones out of the six we tested, but does the extra money get you a better listening experience? Well: yes and no. There’s no doubt that the packaging, design and build quality, at first, does seem a lot better than the competition, but there are some disadvantaged to the Beats, too. Monster has made the decision to add noise-cancelling technology, so the headphones will require two AAA batteries to work. So, if you run out of juice on a flight or train and can’t replace the batteries – they will not work at all.
Now, for a pair of headphones that cost over £250, that’s a glaring omission. I personally picked up a pair when they came out a couple of years ago and unfortunately they developed a loose connection and stopped working altogether. But the annoying thing is the noise-cancelling tech is actually amazing; it completely blocks out exterior noise to the point that if you’re on a plane or train you won’t be able to hear the usual humming that fast travel creates.
Cable-wise, Beats has done the sensible thing and use a standard single jack headphone cable. The headphones come with two cables: a normal one and an iPhone-enabled cable, so you can handle calls, change tracks and adjust the volume. Comfort-wise they’re very good, although compared to Sol’s Master Tracks they are a bit on the heavy side, and after a couple of hours you will need to take them off to give your head and neck a rest.
Overall the Beats By Dre Studio HDs are great, but I can’t help but feel their decision to complicate the listening experience with noise-cancelling technology is a double-edged sword – it’s clear to us that the build quality is unlikely to see the headphones last more than a few years with daily use, and for the current asking price that just isn’t acceptable. Especially when you can get a pair of in-ear Apple headphones for 10th of the price and they’re likely to last considerably longer.
Overall, we love the Beats, they offer the best overall sound quality, but their decision to add noise-cancelling tech might detour some from picking them up. There’s also a big question mark about the quality of some of the internal wiring and components, which for the price is more than a bit worrying.
Beat By Dre Solo HD Beats also do cut down version, the Solo HDs and for half the price you’d expect them to loose a bit of quality, and you’d be right, they don’t keep the noise-cancelling technology, and again the cups don’t cover the ear, but sit on top of them. Compared to the Track HDs they have quite a bit more punch than you’d expect. They also keep the crab like folding mechanism for when you want to put them away in a travel bag, both reducing their size and protecting the all-important ear cups.
For the money, they’re very good, and don’t suffer the same problems as their more expensive cousin, whereby they completely stop working when they’ve run out of batteries.
Fanny Wang’s Over-Ear 3000 Headphones From the moment you open the Fanny Wang’s you’ll immediately think “low-rent Beats,” it’s a sea of cheap, shiny plastic and while that might seem harsh, there’s little or no difference in application, design or quality compared to the Beats or Sols.
Where the Wangs do score points is the high quality cable that comes with the headphones. It’s also has a splitter jack, meaning you can daisy chain pairs of headphones together, perfect for a couple who want to watch a DVD on the train, but don’t want to disturb the rest of the passengers.
Another advantage the Over-Ear Wangs have over Beats Studio is their ability to work even without battery power -when Monster’s headphones run out of juice, they go silent until you replace their AAAs. While the audio quality and volume levels are both compromised in Fanny Wang’s design, you can still continue to hear music through them.
The Over-Ear Wangs also have a three-position power switch, which for some reason offers separate “on” and “bass” positions. Fanny Wang explains this as being a “selectable Bass Boost” to let users have the choice between balanced or skewed sound, but the standard “on” position sounds so unimpressive that it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to listen to it.
In both sound quality and comfort the Over Ear Wangs pale in comparison to both the Beats and the Sols. The padding around the cup just isn’t quite as soft or malleable as their competitors. Sound quality isn’t too bad, but they just don’t do anything to improve certain aspects of the music, something the Beats do very well. Basslines are muddy, mids do punch but they lack some clarity, while highs are actually surprisingly good.
Fanny Wang’ Over-Ear headphone’ can’t compete with Beats Studio or Sol Republic Master Tracks on design or sonics. If you’re obsessed with the way Beats Studio look and sound, then the choice should be obvious.
But we’d actually recommend the Sol Republic’s Master Tracks; they’re incredibly light, look great and are well made. We especially like the modular design, meaning if you blow a speaker, or break the something, you can simply replace the broken part.
Fanny Wang’s On-Ear Headphones Fanny Wang also have an On-Ear variant of their headphones, and compared to the more expensive version they don’t drop as many functions and features as you’d expect. The bass button is cut, as is the noise-cancelling technology, but you do get the daisy chain headphone cable, that makes the headphones ideal for anyone who is looking to share sound – so perfect for friend or couples to who want to watch a DVD together on long journeys.
They’re still made of the same plastic as the Over-Ear Wangs, but you do get some incredibly sturdy hinges where the headphones collapse on themselves, which compared the Beats, is almost certainly going to last longer when it comes to everyday wear and tear.
Whether tinkling the ivories or keeping it real on the wheels of steel, music is a wonderful pastime and if there’s that special someone in your life who is that way inclined then we have some gadgets on hand that are going for a song.
Impacktor – the Drum Synthesizer From app developers Beep Street, Impacktor is a one of those apps that makes you revel the fact that we live in the future. The cheapest item on the list, I still find it one of the most impressive. Impacktor takes table drumming antics and reinterprets the vibrations into actual sounds. Virtually any surface becomes a playable percussion instrument. It doesn’t just do drum sounds and is capable of all sort of electronic industrial sounds. There’s even a 6-track audio recorder built in so you can layer some beats and export it to the DAW of your choice.
iRig Mix Staying near the app theme, is IK Multimedia’s app-cessory, the iRig Mix. The iRig range is dedicated to enhancing the music making capabilities of your iDevices – they have microphones, keyboards and stompboxes. The iRig Mix is a lightweight and portable DJ mixer that allows you to have party in your pocket. You can mix off just one iOS device but for maximum fun you can throw in a couple of other devices and crab scratch your way to glory. You can even route microphones or guitars through the thing.
€74.99 (ex. tax) from electronic and music retailers around the world
EB-50 In-Ear Monitors Unlike conventional speakers, monitors are essential for musicians and you need audio fidelity – to trust that what you are hearing is what you are playing – and then to tweak accordingly. The build-quality of the EB-50s is phenomenal and they’re great for recording, mixing and mastering. The drivers use neodymium magnets for greater sound definition, which are encased in a multi-layer, anti-resonant material to eradicate any of the internal vibrations that leads to distortion in lesser designs. These are then housed in a non-resonant military-spec aluminium body.
The Musical Fidelity EB-50 in-ear monitors are available in the UK now with the SRP of £149.99 but I’ve seen then online for less. For further details, go to www.musicalfidelity.com
Korg KAOSSILATOR 2 The KAOSSILATOR 2 is a mini synthesizer with an intuitive touchpad.Ever so slightly bigger than a mobile phone, the new battery powered synthesizer comes with an enhanced sound generator that lets you create synth and drum combinations across a range of genres, from R’n’B to D’n’B. There are 150 sounds built-in and you can of course make many more all by rubbing and tapping – which adds a fun new dimension to how you make music.
KAOSSILATOR 2 is out now with a RRP of £155.99 For more information head to www.kaoss.co.uk
TC Helicon VoiceLive Play Maybe my favourite thing of the list the TC Helicon lets your inner diva shine with its super sophisticated vocal processing FX. There are 200+ presets loaded and it’s infinitely tweakable so you can customise to your heart’s content. You can also hook it up via USB to your computer so it works directly with most DAWs. There’s even some built in looping (especially when using it with the MP-75 mic) so you can start a Reggie Watts or Hyperpotamus tribute act.
It’s handy that someone invented Hallowe’en to fill that awkward gap between the end of the school holidays and Christmas – and if you want to get a few chills and thrills before the festive season here’s a few ideas for you.
For grown-ups If you want to be able to find your iPhone 4S in the dark, then pick up one of these glow-in-the-dark cases from iLuv. Black and yellow would be my colour of choice for the spooky holiday, but you can also choose white and yellow or pink and blue. Made from silicone, they cost £19.99 from iluv.co.uk. They are currently on sale with 75% off so they can be picked up for just £5 for a limited time only!
While you’re at it, upgrade your boring old white earphones with a range of gothic-inspired earphones from Quarkie. Choose from rusty bolts, glittery blue cat eyes and vibrant yellow snake heads – more interesting than a witch’s hat or vampire teeth! There are seven designs in all, and Quarkie has promised that it has paid as much attention to ensuring the sound is high quality as it has to making the designs as unusual as possible.
Quarkie’s Audio Art range cost £69 each from quarkie.com
Or make your own spooky thriller movie trailer featuring your Facebook friends at http://www.biotechthriller.com/
If you’re taking the kids to see the film ParaNorman over half term, they might be interested in the new games Spil Games has produced in conjunction with the film at paranorman.girlsgogames.co.uk/
The web app, which can be accessed via iPad and iTouch as well as other mobiles, features a number of Halloween-themed games – the top-rated of them is ‘Devilish Dress Up’, which lets players experiment with different Halloween costumes (Search ‘Devilish Dress Up’ on www.girlsgogames.co.uk).
Online, from the ParaNorman collection, ‘Mix a Monster’ is particularly good fun – players combine ingredients in the magic cauldron to create terrifying monsters:
Young children will enjoy searching for Nicky the friendly ghost using a ghost-shaped UV torch in the cute book Ghost Hunter. Nicky is hiding in 11 exciting scenes – and the torch reveals him and the other invisible ghouls lurking on each page.
It’s a cute book, with a nice story with a moral ending, and the added attraction is that UBV torch, which may attract children who are not so keen on books. It certainly worked on the six-year-old reluctant reader in our house. Available from Top Hat Publishing and it costs just £7.19.
..and for big kids!
Halloween – 12 Tricks or Treats lets Android and iOS users celebrate the haunted holiday early by recommending the best and most chilling paid for Halloween-themed games – for free.
Launching on October 19, a new free game will be delivered through the app every day until Halloween. The app is the brainchild of MagicSolver, and the company tells us it has assembled an expert editorial team to search the app stores to find the best and most chilling games available, so Android and iOS fans don’t have to. Expect spine-chilling animations, hair-raising graphics and creepy sound effects
Halloween – 12 Tricks or Treats is free to download from Apple iTunes App Store and Google Play.
If you like your Halloween monsters a bit cuddly, take a look at these Annoying Monsters. Scare and annoy colleagues and friends with these monsters and their loud screams! Choose from Pestering Percy who makes everyone jump out of their seats, Aggravating Alfred who loves to scream – and loves to be poked in the eye – try it, he’ll give you the shock of your life.
Finally there’s Infuriating Egor, If you leave him too long he’ll start to snore. Press his hand to record a spooky message and he’ll repeat it in a squeaky Each large monster costs £15 – see www.annoyingmonsters.com for more.
Summer might still be hanging around, but it’s not long until the days will start to cool off again, and students will be back at college or university. If you’re hitting the books this autumn, or you know someone who is, here is a list of 5 must-have gadgets that will help you through the academic year ahead.
Noise-cancelling headphones used to be the territory of the gadget elite, but market competition and cheaper technology has made them a popular choice among the general population too. If you have a long commute to university, or simply need to block out the sound of noisy flatmates, noise-cancelling headphones like the Audio Technica ATH-ANC7b QuietPoint® Active Noise-cancelling Headphones are a sturdy, budget choice. Noise-cancelling headphones start at around £25, but the cheaper versions can vary in quality. Audio Technica’s headphones retail for around £70.
The Apple iPad has become a must-have accessory for students and professionals alike. There isn’t much you can’t do on an iPad, and its portability makes it perfect for reading, writing and browsing online. You can also purchase a wide range of apps through the Apple Store to enhance your studies – and make the most out of your down time. The new iPad starts at £399, or £499 with built-in 3G capabilities.
Save multiple trips to the library and spare change on photocopying with an all-in-one printer and scanner, like the HP Deskjet 3050A. Scan and copy pages, and enjoy the convenience of wireless and e-mail printing. The HP Deskjet 3050A’s e-printing capabilities means you can email documents from any device, including iPad, iPod Touch and smartphones. Despite its multi-purpose design, the printer is small enough to fit almost anywhere. The HP Deskject 3050A retails for £40.
The Kensington laptop lock slots into your computer, and enables you to attach your machine to a nearby table, pipe or similar sturdy object. The principle is similar to that of a bike lock, and it can prevent opportunistic theft of your most valuable items. Several variations of the Kensington lock are available. You can also purchase slot adapters to use with flat-screen monitors, docking stations, tablet PCs, printers, and any other compatible device. Locks start at around £14.99.
GadgetTrak isn’t technically a gadget in itself, but it will help protect your much-loved devices. You can install this software on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or Android, and use it if your device gets stolen. Once installed, GadgetTrak will locate your device, and even sends you a photo of the thief. GadgetTrack have different products for iOS, other mobile devices and laptops. Protection starts at £2.50 for the iOS app.
If rugged adventure is music to your ears, make sure your headphones are in tune.
There’s no point having the most cutting-edge mp3 technology at your disposal if your headphones give up the ghost at the mere sniff of a storm. Speaker and earphone specialist Klipsch has addressed this rather niche niggle with Image S4i Rugged, its latest in-ear headphones uniquely engineered to weather the elements.
At the core of its all-weather design are tough, ruggedised rubber mouldings on the exposed surface of each ear bud. This simple, yet effective feature dismisses moisture from whatever the heavens or your activity throws at you.
Crucially, Klipsch has made every effort to safeguard sound quality via an 8.5mm dual magnet micro-speaker, which spans a wide frequency range while retaining a sharpness of detail for realistic sound reproduction.
Image S4i Rugged features the company’s patented oval ear tips, which naturally fit the contours of the ear canal to pipe your extreme sports playlist straight down your lugs with “superior noise isolation”. So you can carry on scaling that rock face uninterrupted by the ambient noise from low-flying eagles or riding your dirt-bike without the fear of fast-approaching storms compromising bass sound quality.
Should your choice of outdoor pursuit leave you without a hand spare to answer calls or skip unwelcome tracks on your iPhone playlist, Image S4i Rugged communicates seamlessly with your Apple mobile via an extra-large three-button remote. A concealed directional mic is ready for hands-free calling too.
These features may favour the iPhone user, but the headphones are compatible with virtually any device with a standard 3.5mm jack. A bold colour selection – yellow, orange, blue and red – mean there’s no risk of this diminutive accessory blending in, but as far as rugged designs go, they may be sturdy-looking, but they essentially retain a sense of style. And they certainly won’t go missing at the bottom of your backpack.
At a suggested retail price of £89.99, they may not sit at the budget end of the market, but if you prefer a musical soundtrack to fuel your outdoor adventures, here’s one solution that promises to match you pace-for-pace.
Forget Dr Dre, it’s all about Ian Taylor! The former Aston Villa football player has just launched his new iT7 headphones, and they look to be the talk of the terrace as the Premier League season nears kick off.
To quote the man himself, “Listening to music whilst training has always helped my stamina and concentration, and these headphones are the best way I’ve found of combining my favourite music with sport. Training with music helps you to keep your eye on the ball, and whether you listen to Supergrass, Sinatra or are secretly listening to Steps, there are no penalties!” Indeed.
Along with the standard iT7 model, there is also the upmarket iT7x version, which includes better noise reduction technology to ensure that your music or conversations are uninterrupted by any unwanted outside noise. The Bluetooth-enabled headphones have been designed specifically to operate for long periods of use thanks to the ultra-economic battery life – they offer a music playback time of up to 7 hours, talk time of up to eight hours, and a standby time of up to 180 hours.
Both headsets are stylish and packed with all the right specs, the Ian Taylor-designed headphones are sure to be top sellers, which begs the question – could these headphones be just the start of many more examples of gadgets from other footballers? We’re awaiting the Vidal Sassoon Alex Ferguson hair-dryer with baited breath…
Priced at £99.99 for the iT7 and £149.99 for the iT7x, the headphones are available from Tesco Phone Shop. For more information or to purchase them online visit www.tesco.com/phoneshop.