Able Planet’s “health improving” headphones

Able PlanetAblePlanet is an audio company that makes a lot of hearing hardware, aids, microphones and more. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company showed off personal sound amplifiers —  which is not, strictly speaking, a hearing aid, but more of a boost to sound that will help in environments where listing can be an issue.

However, the new headphone line was the most interesting thing — the company claims that its headphones allow the customer to listen at a lower decibel rate than standard versions, meaning that the user is saving their hearing, or “improving health”.

You will need to watch the video below to really understand how AblePlanet is making all this happen, but it is really fascinating technology.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live

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Nuvo Tech introduces a new wireless home audio system

Nuvo Tech is known for high-end, professionally installed home audio systems. Now the company is making a move to become more friendly to the masses with a wireless, consumer-based home audio system to compete with devices like Sonos.

The new setup is not weak either — it can simultaneously stream to up to 16 different locations. To do this, the system uses a dual-WiFi system with antennae. There are two different models of players, depending on the wattage you want. The higher-end version also has bluetooth for streaming content from a phone or tablet. The base station plugs directly into your router.

Prices start at $199 and head up, depending on the setup you want. For more information you can watch the video below and also head over to Nuvo Technologies.

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

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Sennheiser Momentum Headphones

Sennheiser

Sennheiser has been producing headphones for over 50 years and has created some classics along the way (HD414s anyone?). Each year, Sennheiser brings something new to the table and this year was no different. Todd chats to Ivan, Sennheiser’s Head of Product Development to find out what’s hot.

On show is a new addition to the Momentum range: the Momentum Black open headphones in a stylish black leather, accented in red with a red cord. Cleverly, the headphone jack converts between both straight and 90 degree configuration to suit the owner’s preferences, and there is a interchangeable remote for use with digital music players and smartphones.

Undoubtedly high-end phones with a price of $349, but if you are interested, they’ll be in the stores real soon.

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

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Griffin MicConnect for iOS at CES 2013

Griffin MicConnectJeffrey Powers goes all Pop Idol when he chats to Jackie from Griffin Technology about the newly announced MicConnect, which connects iOS devices to XLR mics with phantom power.

The Griffin MicConnect is a small brick adaptor with an XLR socket (input) on one side for the microphone and a 3.5 mm jack on the other to connect into an iPhone, iPod or iPad. A 3.5 mm socket provides for headphone monitoring of the sound source and for condenser mics, the unit takes two AA batteries to provide phantom power (48V).

(As an aside, I’m not 100% clear if this is iOS only – the 3.5 mm jack looks pretty standard and there’s no reference to special apps being required so if Android is your OS of choice, it might be worth contacting Griffin directly.)

Included in the interview is Griffin’s updated Mic Stand Mount, which is now compatible with all iPad models (not Mini), and unsurprisingly holds an iPad on a mic stand. Jeffrey reckons the MicConnect and the Mount are a great combo for the mobile podcaster. Pricing-wise, both the MicConnect and the Mount are $39.99 but the MicConnect won’t be available until June.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine for the TechPodcast Network.

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GNC Audio / Video Gear Recommendations!

I have worked with our team members to come up with a list of gear we recommend to get started in either Audio or Video Podcasting. Each piece of gear in this list has been utilized by a Team member here or over at TPN.tv. There is Pro and Starter equipment within these lists and we hope that you find some of our recommendations worthy of consideration.

Armadillo outdoor Bluetooth speaker unveiled

Outdoor Gear announced today a new outdoor speaker, appropriately named the Armadillo. The new speaker works with Bluetooth 4.0 to play your tunes outside without need of worry about the weather conditions.

The company describes the new device as “A larger version of its predecessor, the Turtle Shell®, the Armadillo is a rugged shelled boombox that will allow you to dig into the dirt and experience the outdoor terrain with your favorite tunes via AirPlay or Bluetooth. Ideal for camping and for the home, the Armadillo is shockproof, waterproof, allows for daisy chaining and provides a USB port for charging other devices.”

Details as to release and pricing were left vague with the release being set for “later in 2013″ and pricing completely non-existent (the Turtle Shell is $149). While the Armadillo looks good for a backyard party, I don’t see lugging it on a camping and hiking trip as a viable option. Perhaps if you park and stay at a campground then sure, but my son and I hike from place to place and camp, mostly backwoods, and packing light and moving quickly is a priority that these luxuries do not lend themselves to.

Griffin Technology Expands Their Audio Lineup at CES 2013

Griffin TechnologyGriffin Technology will be showing off some great products at CES 2013. The first is the StudioConnect with Lightning . This is an all-in-one audio interface for music creation and is now compatible with iPad 4 and the iPad mini. You can plug-in a musical instrument like a guitar into the 3.5 mm jack and listen to it through a pair of headphones. The headphones have their own volume control. You can also connect a MIDI controller through the five pin Din Midi import connector. There is also a MIDI out which allows the iPad or iPhone to act as a MIDI controller. It will accept a sequencer, patch and other MIDI gear. There is also a line level RCA output so you can connected to a stereo system and share your music with others. It will be available for $149.99 in the spring of 2013.

Griffin Technology will also be introducing the DJ Connect. The DJ Connect allows DJs to create to their music and beat mix in advance. It works with the award wining vjay and djay apps. It has its own volume control. It has detachable cables and can be use with both iOS devices using a 30 pin connector and a Mac computer with a USB port.  A DJ can  connect their headphones to the headphone port and external speakers to the RCA line level outputs. The underneath of the volume button glows giving the VJ or DJ some ambient light in a dark club or environment. The DJ Connect will be on sale in May 2013 for $99.99.

If your vocalist or podcast you may be interested in the MicConnect. The MicConnect allows you to connect an XLR microphone to an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Simply connect the MicConnect to the iOS headphone jack with a 3.5 mm audio cable then connected an XLR Microphone to the XLR input. Fire up GarageBand or other compatible apps and you are ready to go. The MicConnect has phantom power so it can be used with a studio microphone for high quality recording. It can also be used to record acoustic instruments. It will be available in June 2013 at $39.99.

Now that you have all this audio equipment you may want to listen to it o with a pair of stylish headphones. Griffin has that covered too with their Wood Tone Audio line of Headphones. Joining their popular Wood Tone ear buds, Griffin Technology will be introducing over the ear headphones and aux cables at CES 2013. The wooden housings are made from responsibly harvested Beech, Sapele and Walnut trees. The wood is then hand turned and polished to produce a smooth satin finish. Each headphone has its own unique color and markings. These wooden enclosures improve the acoustic quality and allows the user to listen at lower volume level while still enjoying the same caliber of sound. With the plush ear pads the over the ear headphones can be worn in comfort for an extended period time. You can detach the cable and fold the headphones flat for easy travel and storage. Both the over the ear headphones and ear buds are equipped with a built-in mic which allows the user to take calls, interact with Siri and control audio playback. The Wooden Tone Over-The-Ear Headphones with control Mics will be available in February 2013. They’d join the Wooden Tone ear buds with control Mics that are currently available through Griffin at $29.99.

If you want to see more of the Griffin Technology products then come to LVCC North Hall, Both 5212.

Thorax Concrete Hifi Unit

Concrete has always been a popular product, but it’s not what you think of for display purposes – marble and solid wood come more readily to mind. Increasingly, designers are turning to this relatively cheap material with some very attractive polished concrete artifacts and recently I saw a lovely kitchen worktop in the material.

In this mode there is Thorax by Kompatibel Design, a modular hifi unit in concrete.

Thorax Concrete Hifi Unit from Kompatibel Design

Concrete is a good choice for a hifi unit, as the high density and consequent mass makes it less vulnerable to vibration. Of course this is only still an issue if you listen to vinyl records: if you’ve gone all digital, it’s not really a concern. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty impressive piece of furniture and while the aesthetics may not suit everyone, it certainly makes a statement.

The are three basic modules, “O”, “C” and “E” which can be joined to make the desired configuration. The picture above shows and “OEO” config and there are more shots on the website. In a nice touch, the concrete can be coloured to match a particular decor.

Price on application. Promotional video below.

(My German isn’t what it should be so apologies for any mistakes in translation.)

BTR006 Bluetooth Audio Receiver Review

BTR006 Bluetooth ReceiverA2DP Bluetooth rarely comes as standard in cars except on prestige marques, but most new vehicles at least come with a 3.5 mm audio socket on the audio system for plugging-in mp3 players. If you want a quick and cheap way to upgrade the car’s audio to Bluetooth, take a look at he BTR006 Bluetooth Stereo Receiver.

The BTR006 is a small plastic rectangle just a few millimetres deep (45 x 33 x 8 mm). It has only one button for on/off, an activity LED, a DC power socket and a 3.5 mm audio jack on the end of short lead. It’s a doddle to use: charge up, connect the jack into the 3.5 mm audio socket, pair with smartphone and starting playing music from your smartphone through the audio system. Simples!

Audio quality is perfectly acceptable given that it’s Bluetooth anyway and the receiver successfully paired with every device I tried it with. The receiver supports both Bluetooth 2.1 with both A2DP and AVRCP.

There’s an internal battery that’s good for 12 hours according to the spec, which is probably about right based on my experience. I get a whole week of podcast listening which means somewhere over ten hours based on weekly commute and other travel. Contrary to some reviews, it is possible to charge and use the device at the same time. The confusion arises as connecting the charger does turn off the BTR006, but turning it back on again lets the receiver charge and play at the same time.

One of the best features is that it automatically powers off when the Bluetooth connection is lost for a few minutes so the battery doesn’t run down when the car is parked and not in use. Obviously the receiver has to be turned back on, but that takes seconds to do.

BTR006 Installed in Car with Velcro

Unless there’s a convenient nook or cranny in your vehicle, the BTR006 will hang down from the audio socket, especially as the lead isn’t very long. Of course, the easy solution is to use Velcro, with a small strip on the back of the BTR006 with a matching strip on the dashboard. The BTR006 can be easily detached for charging at home or in the office via the supplied USB charging cable. Here’s what it looks like installed in my car….yes, I probably should have cleaned the dash before taking the picture.

Note that the BTR006 does not have a microphone so it’s not possible to use it for hands-free calls but regardless this is an excellent buy to play music through your car’s audio system via Bluetooth.

Available from Amazon for around £15 or $28 – just search for BTR006. Disclaimer – I bought this device personally.

Audi-Branded IDAPT Charger

Both Todd and I are fans of IDAPT products; our reviews of the i4 and the i1 Eco are elsewhere on GNC. They’re great products that reduce the number of chargers, cables and general clutter lying around the house.

IDAPT has also shied away from only offering their products in black and white, with the i4 available in a raft of finishes, from solid colours through to funky patterns. Admittedly, they cost a bit extra over the black and white versions but at least they’re an option.

Taking this further, I recently noticed that IDAPT has created a few promotional versions in conjunction with Audi. I snapped this one up from ebay last week. Apart from the graphic, it’s a standard i4 universal charger, with three charging points on the top and a USB socket on the side. There’s a second version featuring a rev counter but I’ve not seen one of those at an affordable price.

IDAPT Audi

I subsequently found the Audi Merchandise Shop but the chargers don’t seem to feature there at the moment.

Perhaps IDAPT could offer a version that you could customise yourself, maybe with pictures of your family or similar. For a device that is often on display in a hall or study, it would be a nice touch.