TDK iPhone dock line up

One of my favourite stops on my trip to IFA last year was the TDK stand, where I got to geek out about high quality audio and play with various headphones (the TDK ST-800 are still one of the swishest pairs of headphones I’ve tried). So I’m looking forward to TDK’s new range of iPhone docks(and indeed most smartphones), especially as they are priced at level I can afford.

The new line includes:

TAC3122

TAC7221 App-Enhanced Portable Stereo Speaker (£69.99)
Stay at home? An App-Enhanced portable stereo speaker with hidden handle protects your iPod or smart phone from damage and you can pop it on your bookshelf or office desk.

TAC4525 Dual Charging Alarm Clock (£69.99)
Pretty much all these docks can be used as Alarm Clocks but this one is *really* keen on making sure you don’t oversleep. The Dual Charging Alarm Clock including FM radio, snooze, sleep functions, and a dimmer. It also has *two* docks, great for those two smartphone having families. The front facing dock features a funky hinge and there’s an additional USB charging port in the back.

TAC4221

TAC4221 Space Saving Alarm Clock (EU MSRP: €59,95)
As above … but smaller!!

TAC3521 App-Enhanced Rechargeable Travel Speaker (£84.99)
Winter is coming, but first summer is on the way. The Rechargable Travel Speaker should be an enjoyable addition to park and beach parties. There’s a folding design and slim profile so it’s easy to throw into a backpack. As it’s TDK, there’s powerful stereo sound with dedicated bass ports that produce deep sound (so many portable docks have terrible bass sounds).

TAC3122 Ultra-Portable Travel Speaker (£59.99)
Space at premium? The Ultra-Portable Travel Speaker is as you’d expect, a compact folding speaker with a very small footprint. Built-in app-enhancement means you can have a swish alarm clock on you at all times.

TDK BA-100 in-ear headphones: Intimate listening

Way back at IFA we took at look at TDK’s new “Life on Record” series of headphones and boomboxes and couldn’t wait to get a pair of BA-100s in our ears (that’s literally not true as we’ve waited up until last week). But was it worth the wait?

BA-100

From the packaging onwards, you can tell TDK put a lot of thought into making this a premium pair of headphones. Flat cables seem to be all the rage these days and the BA-100s are likewise equipped. The design of the BA-100 has a hooked feel – similar to Klipsh S5i and can be worn conventionally, or looped over your ears if you are so inclined. As you’d expect with headphones in this price range, there are a range of silicon tips so you can pop the in just right. This is obviously key as once you get the seal just right these headphones have the power to really bang. I’m probably the world’s worst person when it comes to cable snag, so the detachable design of the BA-100, where you can vary cable length, was greatly appreciated.

The headline feature of the BA-100s is the balanced armature micro drivers, fresh out of TDK’s Audio Research Lab. TDK claims they are aiming to elevate the personal listening experience and I experimented with some podcasts (Comedy Bang Bang if you’re interested) and some albums (Relax by Das Racist and The Cold Vein by Cannibal Ox if you wanted to know just how cool I am) and in both cases found it to be a truly immersive experience. The basslines on things like “Iron Galaxy” or “Punjabi Song” really kicked, whilst listening to the high audio quality of some of the improv bits on Comedy Bang Bang really drew you into the world of the scene that the hip, alt-LA comedians had created.

The only downside was the lack of inline remote control for iOS devices and the like. Whilst this isn’t a big deal, and certainly not a deal breaker, I’ve become addicted to Siri of late so it was a little bit annoying switching back to using my hands for my phone (oh how quickly we grow complacent!).

TDK

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
Plug type:
Driver type:
Driver Diameter:
Frequency response:
Sensitivity at 1kHz:
Input impedance:
Cord length:
3.5mm gold-plated
Balanced armature
8.5mm
20 – 20,000 Hz
118dBSP@1V
16 ohms ±10%
1.2 m

TDK’s new In-Ear and On-Ear headphones

Audio giant TDK has been rather quiet this year, until making noise at the IFA Berlin with its twelve (12!) new In-Ear and On-Ear headphones. Read on to get the low-down on our favourite eight: the ST700, NC150, ST550, ST450, MP100, BA200, EB950, IE500, and the EB750.

TDK-headphones

ST700 High Fidelity On-Ear Headphones £119.99

The pin-up of the TDK line, the ST700 use high performance 40mm drivers to deliver a balanced sound that TDK says has a “rich bass and pristine vocals”.

They’ve been designed as practical-premiums, with a lightweight frame and low-profile folding design to ensure you can take them anywhere.  They also boast those soft-touch cushion ear-things for added comfort and ambient noise blocking

NC150 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones – £39.99

These are some of (if not the) cheapest active-noise cancelling headphones you’ll find on the market. Great for aeroplane use, they even come with a dual plug adapter for use in the sky. They take a single AAA battery for noise-cancelling.

ST550 Around-Ear Headphones £32.99

The ST550 are full-size stereo headphones with increased bass sound isolation for immersive film viewing. They come with a single-sided 2m cord for home audio use, as well as an additional 5m cord with inline volume control for TV viewing.

 ST450 Around-Ear Headphones £24.49

Like the ST450, but slightly less premium. The 5m cord with inline volume control is included.

MP100 Around-Ear Headphones £16.49

The cheapest on-ear headphones TDK is releasing this year. Aimed at the comfortable music listener, they feature an adjustable cushioned headband and “ultra comfortable earcups”.

BA200 Dual Balanced Armature In-Ear Headphones – £169.99

If a set of in-ears cost £169.99, it’s time to take notice. These bad boys were developed for on-stage purposes using a proprietary technology, which includes inline crossover and impedance stabilising circuitry to ensure the same TDK Life on Record sound on any device. Whatever the audio source, the sound stays the same.

According to TDK, “the BA200 headphones are designed and developed around two professional quality dual balanced armature drivers, with one dedicated to bass, the other to mid/high frequencies to produce optimally mastered bass, mid range and treble for any genre at any volume.”

EB950 In-Ear Headphones with iPod/iPhone Control £59.99

These in-ear headphones have iPod/iPhone controls – the same type you’d find in the official Apple ones. You’ll get a better sound quality with these, though. It also includes an adapter for other non-Apple devices, such as laptops or other smartphones, to enable universal listening.

 

IE500 In-Ear Headphones £24.49

Neodymium speaker with ceramic housing, although we particularly like the braided cable that stays tangle-free while listening.

EB750 In-Ear Headphones – £16.49

Mega bass-boost – but again, it’s that braided tangle-free cable we like best.

Latest Gadgets at IFA 2011: Best of the best part one

It’s that time of year again, when the biggest and best in the tech world cram themselves into the labyrinthine Berlin Messe and proudly display their latest and greatest products. There’s *a lot* on display here and we’ll be looking in depth at some of the releases over the next few weeks. But until then here’s a quick run down of some of the more eye catching releases.

Best-of-IFA

One of the heavy hitters of home entertainment, Epson as you’d expect unveiled a series of new projectors. More unexpected however, was their sudden embrace of 3D after their refusal to jump in last year – apparently now the time is right. Even more surprising was the pricing – full details will be unveiled on Monday but they are clearly hoping to win over hearts and minds with some wonderful aggressive pricing.

Also unexpected was the launch of the Epson MG-850HD, which features a little iDevice dock enabling you to project slideshows and movies or play music, which was a nice feature on a budget device.

iDevices are never far from sight at IFA (I’ve never seen so many iPads as I did on my press bus) and Gear4 went to town with a range of cool new iToys. My favourite was Pocket Loops a keyboard attachments that you can slot your iPhone directly into.

They also had a range of Angry Birds iPhone docks that looked amazing – if you like Angry Bird. The AirZone home stereo speaker featured AirPlay, which is clearly the future of iPod docks.

They were most excited about the Renew SleepClock that monitors your movements in bed using beams of some description and wakes you up at the optimal point in your sleep cycle. Whilst similar devices utilising this technology exist, most involve wearing some sort of strap or bracelet so this is a lot more natural. They refused to let me nap in the little bed to test it out however.

The Alesis IO dock was there for the serious iPad musician and slots the iPad into a host of MIDI and high-quality audio inputs and outputs. The limitations of the 30-pin connector however, means that you can’t record simultaneously, which is a shame but this minor grip notwithstanding you can get some serious music made using this dock.

I was quietly mixing up a storm with Numark’s iDJ iPad peripheral. The jog wheels and fader are not the world’s best but are more than adequate for rocking a small house party and crossfading your Jive Bunny megamixes. There is a USB version that looks identical bar the connectors, although frustratingly you don’t appear to be able to use them interchangeably. Rather than simply buying one device and having two cables, flitting from laptop to iPad as you see fit, you apparently need to buy a dedicated controller for each. Boo! Still it’s a great device.

If you want to hear all those great sounds TDK had some amazing headsets on offer. Leading on from the wonderful sounds of the ST800s that we recently tested, the also had the high-end inner ear BA100 and BA200s on show – with balanced armature and dual balanced armature engineering. The sound quality was, as you’d expect, superlative.

To be continued …

Boom, shake, shake, shake the room with a revival of the 80s boombox from TDK

First it was the clothes with big shoulders, playsuits and animal prints, then Sony brought out an updated version of the Walkman, and now it’s the turn of the boombox – yes it’s true. The eighties seems to be achieving cool status, and the latest item to be brought into the 21st century is the boombox. Audio expert TDK is behind this latest move with its Life on Record range.

TDK

You remember, those huge ‘portable’ sound systems that cool dudes would carry round on their shoulders (sometimes if they were ultra cool, they would be skating at the same time). Now they’re back (the boomboxes, not the skating cool dudes) – but these three-speaker boxes of tricks have an added bonus up their sleeve, because you can dock your iPod into them. The three-speaker boombox has 2 x 10-watt plus 1 x 15-watt Class D biamplification, two 6-inch coaxial speakers, and an active subwoofer for the third speaker.

There is also a two-speaker boombox, and both versions have inputs for USB, 3.5mm and auxiliary ports for connections to an iPod, iPhone, smartphone or USB flash drive. If you like to make music rather than just listen to it, you can also plug in a guitar or microphone and mix with other music sources.

“In designing our new line of TDK Life on Record audio products, we focused on what people love about analogue products – the warmth of sound – and merged that with modern digital technology. The result is a unique line that combines premium sound quality with bold designs and crafted finishes,” said Steve Swenson, global brand manager for TDK Life on Record.

The range also includes the Life on Record Sound Cube, which is pretty portable at 17lb and has a handle on top.  Its cube design enables the two powerful 5 1/4-inch coaxial drivers to point the sound to fill a room.

You can also connect your Cube to your portable audio player. It has USB, 3.5 mm, and auxiliary ports, so you can use your iPod, iPhone, smartphone, USB flash drive, and even an external drive.

And for a real blast from the past, TDK has also launched a belt turntable so you can play your old 45s and LPs. Its “floating” design isolates the platter and needle from external vibrations, and integrated optical feedback circuit ensures consistent playback by continually monitoring the speed and automatically adjusting for any variation. The USB Belt-Drive Turntable also has an integrated pre-amp, USB output and software that lets you import and convert tracks to a PC in MP3 format.

Prices are as follows: 3 Speaker Boombox – £499; 2 Speaker Boombox – £399; Sound Cube – £299; USB Belt-Drive Turntable – £349; Belt-Drive Turntable – £299

For more details head to www.tdk-media.com