SOL Republic shows off headphones like no others

sol republic logoSeth Combs from SOL Republic stopped in to visit with TPN in Las Vegas and show off some new headphones that are like no others you have ever seen.

The new set is called Master Tracks. This is the company’s first “over the ear” headphones and, as you will see in the video below, seem to be virtually indestructible. the headphones come in different colors and the parts are completely interchangeable. That means if an earpiece on one side stop working then you simply by another — not a whole new headphone set. Tat includes the cable as well.

The headphones shown in the video below retail for $199, but the company also offers cheaper models as well.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine and Scott Ertz of F5 Live

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I-Mego unveils new headphones

i-megoI-Mego was at the recent Consumer Electronics Show to show off a new line of headsets. The company unveiled  couple of different models — the Throne and the Ztone.

The Throne is an over-the-ear model that comes in two different colors. That may seem like taste and it is, but not in teh way you may think. The different colors are tuned differently depending of the music you like — they vary from rap to acoustic to rock.

The company also unveiled an in-ear model that won a CES Innovation Award for the tremendous build quality and attention to detail brought to the product. It comes in different sizes to fit your ear. That particular model is called Ztone by the company.

I-Mego also showed off a new prototype, but you will need to watch the video below to see that one.

The Ztone retail for a very reasonable $99 — a bargain for molded in-ear pieces. The Throne ranges from $79 to $129. You can check everything out at I-Mego.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network and Nick DiMeo of F5 Live

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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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AfterShokz Bone Conductivity Headphones

Aftershokz Aftershokz showed off their new headphones with up to 21 total improvements from the previous version. What makes these headphones different from most headphones is the use of  bone conductivity. Bone conductivity was developed for the military and police, because they don’t go into the ear they allow you to be situational aware. You can wear them outdoors for such sports as running or walking and still hear what’s going on around you. Among some of the improvements that were made include sound quality, they fit better, are better looking and are sweat proof. They are 30% smaller and lighter than the previous version and they also included a reflective safety strip on the back. They fit most heads but for those with smaller heads there is a tension band included. Fully charged there is about 6 to 8 hours of playing time. It takes about 2 1/2 hours to do a full charge. You can control everything from the headset including volume, play, take calls and fast-forward and rewind.

There is a two-year no question asked warranty. The newest model is a wireless Bluetooth version which has an MSRP of $119 but should retail around $99.95. The wired version runs around $79.95 retail. The Aftershokz headphones won Design and Engineering Showcase Honors for innovation at CES 2013.  You can purchase AfterShokz headphones at their websites and various online and off-line retail locations.

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

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Sennheiser is Showing off the New Momentum Black Headphones at CES 2013

Momentum Black Following on the success of the Momentum headphones, Sennheiser will be introducing the new Momentum Black headphones at CES 2013 The Momentum Black headphones are sleek and stylish. They have a minimal design aesthetic built-in. The headband slider is made of high quality stainless steel. Both the headband and the ear pads are padded with soft black leather of the highest quality. The inside of the ear pads are lined with a red cloth and the red stitching throughout the headphone adds a nice touch.

Sennheiser believes that a beautifully designed product should also sound great. They took what they learned from their highest quality headphones and transferred that knowledge to the Momentum Black. The sound coming from the Momentum Black headphone is clear and full of detail. The Momentum Black is a full size headphones that surround the ears isolating the users from outside distraction and noise. There is an optional detachable cable with a smart remote and microphone. Allowing the user to take and receive calls and control music on any Apple Product.

If you are at CES 2013 you can see all the Sennheiser products at Booth 20500-LVCC South Hall 1.

Sharkfin Self-Molding Earbuds

Custom-fit earbuds and headphones can be scarily expensive because the price often includes high quality sound drivers as well as the custom moulding. Advanced MP3 Players have come up with a product that solves this problem by adding a molding to already-owned earbuds – the Sharkfin Self-Molding Earbuds.

Sharkfin Self-Molding Earbuds Retail Pack

Inside the somewhat Spock-esque package are two small pots of self-molding silicone that when mixed together will set in about 5 mins. There’s a choice of two colours at the time of purchase, white or gray.

Silicone Pots

The idea is that you mix the silicone together, wrap a small roll of the material round the outer part of the earbuds, pop the earbuds in your ears, then knead the silicone into the auricle (or pinna) of the ear, before leaving to set. Here’s a video of the process.

Once set, you have a pair of earbuds or headphones customised perfectly to your ears that stay in place even when you are working out.

Naturally in the interests of research for the readers of GNC, I used the Sharkfins on a pair of Sennheiser earbuds. There’s sufficient molding material to do three fittings, so if the first one doesn’t work out, you get a second chance….which you’ll probably need. On the first one, I didn’t get sufficient coverage on the earbud itself and the molding came away from the earbud. The second time I was more successful.

Here’s a picture of my earbuds with the molding in place. I admit it’s not that pretty and it would have looked better with white earbuds but they definitely stay in your ear. I never knew my ear was so wiggly!

Ear Moldings

Another tip from the fitting would be to keep them in your ears a bit longer that the suggested 5 mins. The silicone was still quite soft at 5 mins, but had firmed up nicely by 10 mins. Leave for a few hours to make sure it really sets.

Any downsides? Depends on your point of view….I think I might be too self-conscious to wear these in any circumstances other than at the gym or running. Putting in the expanded earbuds takes a little getting used to, but once they were in, they were in. Finally, the silicone didn’t stick to my earbuds which meant that the moulding was easy to remove when I wanted my earbuds back to normal. That may be a positive or negative.

The Sharkfin Self-Molding Earbuds cost just £4.99, which I think is a good deal. If you try them out and don’t like them, you aren’t out a lot of money. Similarly, if you break your headphones at the gym, it’s not going to cost much to replace them.

Overall, a good idea at an excellent price that suffers aesthetically but if function wins out over form, these are for you.

Disclosure – the Sharkfin Self-Molding Earbuds were provided free of charge by Advanced MP3 Players.

FiiO E6 Headphone Amplifier Review

The FiiO E6 is small headphone amplifier designed to improve the listening experience from personal music players and smartphones. With a couple of equalisation settings, the E6 can enhance the bass range to counteract the high-frequency tendencies of digital compression.

FiiO E6 in Retail Packaging

In the box, there’s the E6 itself, two clips for attaching the E6 to clothing, a USB charging cable and two stereo 3.5 mm cables, 12 cm and 75 cm. For hooking up iDevices, an Apple connector-to-3.5 mm jack is available to buy. There’s also a small instruction manual.

FiiO E6 Contents

The E6 is 40 x 40 x 9 mm, approximately the size of an Apple Nano. The main features are a mini-USB port for charging, two 3.5 mm stereo sockets (one in, one out), a volume rocker and an on/off slider. There’s a small LED on one side, but until the E6 is powered up, you might mistake it for a reset hole.

The E6 is quite light as the case is plastic. Coincidentally, the finish was a good match for from my Sansa  player and could easily be mistaken as a complementary accessory, but clearly that feature depends on your particular mp3 player!

Sliding up the on/off switch turns the E6 on, with a blue LED illuminating the silver corner. The volume rocker switch turns the volume up and down and as this is an amplifier, it’s possible to exceed the volume of the original device, so mind your ears. The battery life is given as around 10 hours which would be in line with my experience of the E6.

On the back, there’s a small pinhole LED showing the equalisation – off, red, blue and lilac. Each further upwards push of the on/off switch steps through to next setting. According to the manual, the four settings are equalisation off, 3 dB boost, 6 dB boost and -3 dB boost, i.e. reduction, but the effects are more subtle than simply amping up or amping down.

Generally, the equalisation boosted the bass while reducing the treble and while my personal preference was for the first setting, both were very acceptable. The equalisation was done well, in that while the balance of frequencies was being adjusted, the clarity was still there. Although reduced in significance, the higher frequencies weren’t muddied and the overall impression was of greater warmth.

A small amount of background hiss was only noticeable between tracks when using the earbuds in quiet surroundings. When using over-the-ear headphones, it couldn’t be detected.

Currently priced at £18.99 from Advanced MP3 Players, the E6 is an inexpensive personal amplifier. It might have a budget price but the E6 punches above its weight, counteracting the tinniness of digitally compressed sound with depth and feeling.

Most of testing was carried out with Sennheiser CX-300 earbuds, Sennheiser eH1430 headphones and a Sansa e250 mp3 player.

Thanks to Advanced MP3 Players for the loan of the E6.

Zik Parrot by Starck Headphones

Announced earlier in the year, but launched tonight, the Zik Parrot by Starck headphones are seriously aspirational, coming with touch control, motion activation, active noise cancellation, NFC and Bluetooth connectivity. And of course, being designed by Philippe Starck, they look pretty cool too.

Zik Parrot By Starck

Aimed squarely at smartphones users and designed for listening on the move, the outside of the cans is touch-sensitive and recognises gestures, so swipe forwards to skip a track, swipe up or down to adjust the volume and if you take the headphones off, the music will automatically be paused.

Smartphone owners with NFC-enabled smartphones can pair their Zik and phone together simply by touching the two devices together. Bluetooth A2DP is supported and there’s also a 3.5mm audio socket for audio purists. The active noise cancellation insulates the listener from the outside world while DSP enhances and enlarges the music.

Complementary smartphone (or tablet) apps for iOS and Android are available from the applicable app stores.

Price – to be announced.

 

JayBird Headphones for Sport

JayBird SportsbandTo be honest, I’d never heard of JayBird headphones until I came across them on the DAD Audio stand at Gadget Show Live. However, having listened to their pitch, I’d consider a pair for use at the gym or during sport. Why? Because JayBird specialise in headphones and earbuds that are sweat-proof and difficult to dislodge.

On show were two Bluetooth headsets, the Sportsband and the Freedom. As you might expect, the Sportsband is a traditional headband model with modern styling (shown left), whereas the Freedoms are earbuds (show below) with a twist.

Jaybird FreedomsKeeping earbuds in during exercise is a constant problem, and the Freedoms solve this problem but having a cunning in-ear hook that latches onto part of the ear. This ensures that the earbuds stay in the ear no matter how active and sweaty the wearer gets.

If you are in the UK and are interested in picking up a pair, JayBird headphones are sold online by DAD Audio. Both models are currently £99.

To learn more, listen to my interview with Stephanie at the Gadget Show Live.

Skunk Juice Sharing Earphones

Skunk Juice Magnetic EarphonesSkunk Juice earphones have a little feature which not only sets them apart from other earphones but brings friends together. Jeffrey and Andy talk with Corissa from Skunk Juice to find out more.

The novel feature about Skunk Juice earphones is that they have a patented inline magnetic coupler which provides two benefits. One, if you move away from your music player, the coupler snaps open rather than yanking your player onto the floor and, two, you can insert more than one inline magnetic coupler in the chain, letting you and your friends listen in to the same music. Up to four friends can tune in at the same time before the sound volume starts to fall. Neat.

Skunk Juice will be bringing new over-ear headphones to market later in the year, along with a Bluetooth version as well. The current earphones are $35.99 (available in black and white), the new larger headset will be around $100 and the smaller headset will be about $50. Skunk Juice earphones are available in the UK too.

If you are thinking that you’ve seen a magnetic coupler like this on a fruity laptop power supply and are wondering how Skunk Juice managed to get a patent, the answer is that Skunk Juice got there first.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine and Andy Smith of Geocaching World.

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