Sennheiser Launches “Let Your Ears Be Loved” Campaign

Sennheiser UrbaniteSennheiser has launched an advertising campaign that includes some contests. Participation requires both online and offline activity. It is called Let Your Ears be Loved. The purpose is to feature Sennheiser’s Urbanite headphones. The ads that go along with the contest are unique.

The target audience of the ads are the generation of Millennials who Sennheiser’s believes want headphones that not only sound good but also look good. As such, they created an idea that emphasizes how much one’s ears will love the Urbanite headphones.

Personally, I find the ads uncomfortable. Each features a “love scene” in which a person who is dressed like an Urbanite headphone is pampering a giant ear. The headphone has a German accent. In one ad, the ear is lying across a massage table and the headphone is providing the massage. In another, the ear is in a bubble bath, and the headphone is outside the bath tub and holding a washcloth.

To me, it’s a little icky. That being said, I’m in my 40’s, and not the demographic that Sennheiser is trying to attract with this particular ad campaign. Maybe Millennials, people who are between the ages of 18 and 25, see the ads completely differently than I do. I’ll give Sennheiser this: the ads are very creative!

Part of the “Let Your Ears Be Loved” campaign are contests in which someone will win free Urbanite headphones. To participate, you must go to the website and select one of the “romantic” videos to watch. Next, share that video on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. After you do that, a clue will appear on the Sennheiser website. The clue gives you an idea of where in New York City to go looking for a golden ear. Those who find a golden ear will receive free Urbanite headsets. This contest runs from September 12 through September 21, 2014, in New York City. A similar contest will be held in London starting October 20 and ending November 2, 2014.

Or, you could participate in the “Show Me Your Ears” portion of the campaign. Take an “ear selfie” and post it to Instagram. Tag that selfie with @Sennheiserurbanite and #Earlove. The best ones will win free Urbanites. This contest is limited to people who live in the United States, Canada, and members of the European Union. Visit the Sennheiser website for more details.

Sennheiser Announces Urbanite Range and Momentum In-Ears

Sennheiser has been busy over the past few days announcing two new products, Urbanite headphones and Momentum In-Ear earbuds, both of which look outstanding.

Sennheiser Urbanite HeadphonesThe new Urbanite headphones are aimed at the fashion-conscious Gen Ys, with a high quality product that emphasises bass.

“Sennheiser Urbanite headphones are for the generation of Millennials who know more and demand more. They love their tunes heavy and love to look good, but are smart consumers who won’t compromise on quality. They want bass but want it done right,” says Tim Voelker, Director of Sales and Marketing. Ok, so Sennheiser are taking the fight to Beats. Good luck.

The Urbanite range has two models, the standard on-ear and an over-ear, the Urbanite XL, with larger earpads. There’s a wide choice of colours, including denim, with some colours exclusive to each model. To control music on the go, the Urbanites have an in-line remote with microphone, and there are versions for both Apple iOS and Android devices.

Priced at GB£149.99 and GB£199.99 for the standard and XL respectively, the Urbanite headphones are available now.

The Momentum In-Ear buds extend the Momentum range from over-the-ear, through on-the-ear to into the ear and if they’re anything like the Momentum On-Ears that I tested earlier in the year, they should be both amazingly well designed and sound fantastic.

Momentum In-Ears

Available in black and red and made in stainless steel with chrome detailing, the In-Ears use proprietary Sennheiser transducer technology which “carefully replicates the sound signature that characterises the Momentum range: a powerful bass response, detailed vocal projection and a great sound stage.”

The Momentum In-Ears have a three button in-line remote with integrated for both controlling the music and taking phone calls. The earphones will come in two versions, one for Apple iOS devices and one primarily for Android devices, though it should work with Windows too.

The Momentum In-Ears will be available in time for Christmas for €99 and US$99.95.

Blue Releases Mo-Fi Headphones

Mo-Fi labelBlue has been a leading innovator in microphone technology and design for 20 years. They have something new for music lovers to enjoy. Their Mo-Fi headphones were designed to bridge the gap between mobility and high-fidelity.

The Mo-Fi is the first headphone that combines a built in audiophile amplifier and ultra-premium drivers to deliver true high-fidelity performance. It can do it on every device including A/V receivers, laptops, tablets and phones. It delivers the power and quality of a hi-fi system inside the headphones.

Mo-Fi’s unparalleled listening experience is made possible by its powered design – the first of its kind. The built in audiophile amplifier offers six times more power than typical mobile devices. It is perfectly matched to ultra-premium 50mm hi-fi drivers. This enables Mo-Fi to handle rapid peaks, driving beats, and dramatic musical crescendos in a way you’ve never heard before.

Users of Mo-Fi can choose from three amp settings: On, On+, and Off. The On setting activates the amp to deliver powerful, detailed, sound. The On+ setting engages the amp’s analog low-frequency enhancement circuit. It delivers incredibly deep and smooth bass. The Off setting puts Mo-Fi in passive mode. It allows people to connect Mo-Fi to a home A/V receiver that already has high-output amplification for headphones.

Mo-Fi was also designed with comfort in mind. It has a multi-jointed headband that provides total adjustability for a variety of head shapes and sizes. The earcups are shaped like ears and stay parallel at all times. This creates the best seal for solid bass response, improved isolation, and reduction in sound bleed. Mo-Fi also has a headband adjustment knob that allows listeners to dial-in the perfect pressure and tightness.

These very unique headphones have a rechargeable battery that can be charged via micro USB. It can do 12 to 14 hours of actual play time. Mo-Fi even can detect when the headphones have been removed and it will automatically turn off of to save power. If the battery runs out Mo-Fi will continue to play in the Off setting.

Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear Headphones Review

Sennheiser LogoI was watching an ABBA retrospective on BBC4 last night and to my surprise, there was Benny and Bjorn wearing Sennheiser HD414s in the recording studio. Lest anyone think that I’m a complete Sennheiser nerd, the HD414s have bright yellow earpads and are very recognisable. With the trip down memory lane complete, let’s take a look and a listen to an entirely more modern set of headphones, the Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear.

Momentum On-Ear

Extending Sennheiser’s Momentum range, the On-Ear is is more compact version of the original over-ear Momentum, and is aimed squarely at the fashion-conscious, iPhone-toting music lover. Although lighter and small, the On-Ear retains much of the luxury and audio quality of its bigger brother but with smaller cups that rest on the ears rather than enclosing them completely.

It’s the attention to detail on the headphones that really stands out – the adjustment, the fixings, the stitching, the soft Alacantara material on the headband and ear cups. The Momentums are a pleasure to handle, hold and wear. I found them comfortable but the trick to extended listening was to keep the cups slightly forward. Too far back and my ears started to get sore.

Ear AdjustmentScrewsStitchingEar Cups

Audio-wise, the Momentum On-Ears are everything that you’d expect from headphones in this price range. Excellent definition and clarity, with musical subtleties coming through beautifully. As might be expected, on lower bit-rate MP3s the On-Ears easily showed up the limitations of the format, while with higher bit-rates, the sound filled out nicely revealing the detail. Plugged into an amp (a Yamaha DSP-AX763) with a CD player source (a Technics SL-PG580A) , the music was incredibly good. I could really listen to the tracks rather than just hear them. It’s hard to get over the audio experience in words, but let’s just say I’m impressed.

ConnectorIncluded in the box with the headphones is a semi-rigid case, a soft carrying bag and two leads. One has a standard 3.5″mm stereo jack for connecting into digital music players or amps, but the other lead has an in-line iRemote for use with Apple products such as the iPhone. The leads have a neat little moulding on the headphone-end that secures the connector into the headset so it doesn’t come out unintentionally.

The Momentum On-Ears come in a range of seven colours – high-gloss black, classic brown, red, ivory, blue, green and pink. There’s a new Samba edition to tie in with World Cup in Brazil this summer which has yellow cups, bringing us back to the original 414s.

Priced at £169.99, these aren’t pocket money, but they are lovely headphones. As with all things hi-fi, there will always be better and more expensive headphones but the Momentum On-Ears seem to occupy a good spot, balancing cost and audio quality. Try them out for yourself.

Thanks to Sennheiser for the loan of the Momentum On-Ears.

HHI Offers Real-Time Encoding and Decoding Solutions

HHI logoThe Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) featured solutions for high-efficiency real-time video encoding and decoding at NAB 2014. They also showcased their Hybrid 3D camera and ASP.

The Fraunhofer HHI Full HD 60Hz HEVC real-time software encoder provides a significant bitrate reduction for full HD video input at 60 Hz. They demonstrated the entire encoding chain at NAB. The real-time input comes over SDI from an ARRI Alexa camera and also from file play out together with audio. The HEVC encoded video output, packaged as a MPEG-2 transport stream, is fed over IP to the Fraunhofer HHI player system (which decodes it).

The Fraunhofer HHI 4K 60Hz HEVC real-time decoder offers real-time decoding of video content at resolutions up to 4K 10bit at 60Hz. A demonstration of it was also presented at NAB. The player takes the MPEG-2 transport stream input over different interfaces. Those interfaces include: Fast/Gigabit Ethernet (UDP/TCP/multicast), DVB-ASI, or from a file. Audio and video output is over HDMI 2.0 on an 84” 4K TV.

The Hybrid 3D is a cost-effective 3D production with trifocal camera material. It features the first After Effects plug-ins for generation of stereo content from trifocal film material. Fraunhofer HHI’s trifocal camera system enables stereo material to be produced just like a classic 2D production. It eliminates the need for special 3D camera expertise. The After Effects plug-in streamlines the post-production process.

ASP stands for Automated Stereo Production. It is a mirrorless side-by-side camera system with integration of high-end zoom lenses and compact smart cameras. Highly complex algorithms enable real-time correction and configuration of key parameters for stereo quality (like color matching, stereo geometry, stereo baseline and convergence).

Sony introduces 9.1 surround wireless headset

sony-headphonesThese days many of us have a 5.1 system set up in our homes, consisting of a center channel, two front and two rear speakers, along with a sub-woofer. Some folks go the extra mile to implement 7.1, which most modern A/V receivers are capable of handling. But what about 9.1 built into a wireless headphone set?

That’s what Sony promises. “Get a cinematic sound experience all to yourself in the comfort of your home with the new MDR-HW700DS digital surround wireless headphones system”, the company claims.

The dual band connection, 2.4GHz and 5GHz, allows for smooth wireless transmission without any disruptions, with a goal of giving users the freedom to move around without having to compromise the sound quality. There is also a selection of audio types to choose from, including cinema, game and voice.

“Both good for the eyes and the ears MDR-HW700DS is crafted for a comfortable fit over long periods of use with the pressure-relieving luxury ear cushions. The 50mm driver units provide deep bass and impressive sound power. Continuous use is no problem with a battery-life of up to 12h and fast recharge. All this is packed in luxurious and executive design. The headphones are outstanding in their compatibility with the 4K technology. The MDR-HW700DS allows native 4K video content to be passed through in its original quality to a 4K TV or projector, allowing you to experience the full 4K quality while listening via the digital surround wireless headphones system”, Sony explains.

The new headphones will be available later this month. Retail pricing was not included in the announcement.

vMix Debuts Live 4K and Social Media Integration at NAB 2014

vMix LogovMix is a video mixing software that provides live HD video mixing. Version 12 of vMix has already been released, ahead of NAB 2014. It was created by StudioCoast, which is an Australian company. In order to use vMix, you must have a computer that runs on Windows 7 or Windows 8 platforms.

vMix has many interesting features. You can do live mixing, switching, and streaming of SD and HD (up to 1080p) video sources. The sources of the video can be from cameras, video files, DVDs, images, and more. It supports AVI, MP4, H264, MPEG-2, WMV, and QuickTime. It also supports audio files that are MP3 or WAV.

There are ten different transitional effects that you can use. You can customize 4 transition buttons in order to have easy access to your favorite effects. vMix comes with built-in Audio Mixer which allows you to mute, follow, and delay any audio source. A VU meter is included to help ensure that each input level is broadcast ready.

Another cool thing about the vMix is that it allows for simultaneous recording, streaming and output. You can use it to stream to Ustream and YouTube Live. It is also possible to stream to 3rd party software like Skype or Google Hangout. Those are just a few of the multitude of features in vMix!

You can do social media integration through vMix Social app. This makes it easy for you to send Tweets and Facebook comments directly to live on air graphics and lower thirds. Select content from a tablet or smartphone or have it sent automatically.

You can check out vMix and vMix Social at the StudioCoast Pty LTD booth at NAB 2014. They will be at booth C8312. Staff of vMix will be demonstrating live 4K production and Twitter integration on a portable production box.

Orca Gear to Launch at NAB

Orca LogoPro gear and accessory firm Orca has announced that their official launch will take place at the upcoming NAB Show in Las Vegas on 7 April.

With over 30 years’ experience in the film industry, Orca’s research and development team has created a top-flight range of gear bags and accessories. The team produced the entire Orca line specifically for the audio-visual industry, designing a range of smart bags and accessories, carefully crafted to carry and protect video, lighting and sound equipment.

Integrating with their new Trolley System, Orca’s designs include the Audio Bag, Shoulder Video Bag, Light Case, and Backpack, incorporating aluminium frames and multiple access points for both protection and convenience. Additional offerings will include the Rain Cover and LCD Hood, and the full product line will be on show at NAB.

Band Pro Film & Digital have confirmed that they will carry the range following Orca’s NAB launch. Amnon Band, Band Pro’s President and CEO, remarked: “These are the best bags I’ve seen in a long time.  We’ve always prided ourselves on carrying nothing but the best, and that’s what Orca products are.  I’m really impressed with their entire product line.”

Drop in with Orca at the Band Pro Film & Digital’s booth #C10408

Audio Technica shows off new headset lineup

audio-technicaAudio Technica, as the name implies, is in the business of, well, audio products. Now the company is showing off its latest range of headphones, beginning with the standard ear-buds that most of us use daily. The new model is designed to conform to the user, and also includes an in-line microphone to handle those pesky telephone calls as well. It even utilizes a unique volume control that makes it cross-platform compatible — a concession to Apple’s proprietary controls.

The company also trots out its new gaming headset. This is an over-ear style, with a microphone built into it. That new model, the first gaming headset from Audio Technica, is based on the AudioPhile line, and that name alone should explain the quality here. You can find out more by visiting the site, and also watching the video below.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network

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Auro 3D Immersive Sound

Auro 3DDon and Todd get a demo of Auro 3D‘s immersive sound experience which until recently was only available in movie theatres. The newly launched consumer version of the Auro 3D audio system adds a height component into the sound mix, giving the equivalent of 9.1 sound. Coming from a digital cinema background with over 150 theatres already using the system, Auro 3D is being introduced into home theater, gaming, mobile and automotive markets.

Especially watch this video if you want to see Don and Todd looking like smurfs while discussing the merits of smooth jazz and alcoholic beverages….

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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