Sonos Streams at The Gadget Show

Sonos Play 3 Sonos are well-known for their innovative audio products which integrate together to build highly controllable wireless hi-fi systems. Simplistically, you can start with one or two units and build-up over time until you can play music in any room in the house. The Sonos system can be controlled via smartphones and tablets with apps available for both iOS and Android devices.

I chat to Ian about Sonos’ latest developments including Spotify streaming, their entry-level unity the Play 3, and the larger Play 5.

ComplyFoam Replacement Earphone Tips

ComplyFoam Replacement Earphone TipsIf you’ve got a pair of earphones or earbuds that just don’t quite fit your ears properly, then you’ll want to take a look at this interview with Nate from ComplyFoam.

ComplyFoam produce replacement tips for earphones and earbuds from a huge range of manufacturers – SkullCandy, Monster, Shure, Sony to name but a few. The difference between the OEM tips and the ComplyFoam ones is that the latter are made from memory foam which responds to body heat, expanding and fitting better. As a result, more exterior sound is blocked, giving a better listening experience.

The replacement tips are available in a range of colours and sizes, with prices around from $10-$20 for a set of three depending on model.

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

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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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Sculpted Eers Off-The-Shelf Custom-Fit Earphones

Sculpted Eers Custom-Fit EarphonesHow can they be off-the-shelf yet custom-fit? Easy, Sculpted Eers can be bought off-the-shelf in stores or online but come with a custom-fitting kit that takes five minutes to mould your ears and make a personalised earphone.

Nick from Sonomax, manufacturers of Scuplted Eers, gets Andy fitted with Eers at CES as you watch. The Sonofit custom-fitting kit inserts small bladders into each ear which are then filled with a quick setting silicone mix. The bladders expand to perfectly fit the ear and it’s completely painless. After 5 minutes the silicone has set, then it’s simply a case of detaching the Eers from the kit and fitting a small cap to each earphone to finish the process off.

Available now, Sculpted Eers cost CAD $199 for the single driver model and CAD $299 for the dual driver. There’s a store finder on the website or you can order on-line. New models are in the pipeline as well.

Interview by Jeffrey “Noddy” Powers of Geekazine and Andy “Big Eers” Smith of Geocaching World.

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SoundMatters foxL Pocket Speaker

Soundmatters foxL speakerSoundMatters show off to Jeffrey and John their range of small speakers, suitable for travel and the home.

First is the world’s best pocket-size speaker (allegedly), the foxL. Weighing a little over a pound, the smart idea was to incorporate the battery into the speaker itself and use it as the bass driver. The foxL comes in three versions; wired, Bluetooth and Bluetooth with the Apt-X codec for CD quality sound. Priced at $149, $199 and $229 respectively.

New later in the year is a mini sub-woofer which delivers 25 watts to give a big sound from a small package. It uses two parallel metal plates to push out the lower frequencies. Expected in late spring or early summer it will retail at $149.

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

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Sennheiser RS 220 Cordless Audiophile Headphones

RS 220 Audiophile Wireless HeadphonesCordless headphones rarely have audiophile sound quality because of the data compression technologies used to transmit the music to the headphones, but Sennheiser‘s new headphones resolve this by using a lossless technology to transmit the sound. Eric Palonen gives Todd and Jeffrey more detail.

The Sennheiser RS 220 are cordless audiophile headphones, based on the reference HD 650 headphones. The wireless transmission technology is based on lossless Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) implementation. The charging base has both digital and analogue inputs.

The RS 220s will be available from March for $599. For comparison, the HD 650s are $499.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine for the TechPodcast Network.

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SOUL by Ludacris Audio Gear

CES Ludacris Soul PartySOUL by Ludacris can be guaranteed to have some nice gear on show and they don’t disappoint. Allante takes in the latest audio extravaganza.

First up are the flagship SL300 flagship noise-cancelling headphones, with built-in amplification giving great sound even within noisy environments such as aircraft.

The little brother to the SL300s are the SL100s, a smaller headset; still very stylish, but without the noise-cancellation.

And if you prefer earbuds, the SL49 and SL99s are good choices depending on budget.

Finally, the brand new “Party in Box” is a portable iPhone dock…but when I say “portable”, I don’t mean slip-it-in-your-pocket portable. It’s the size of a small suitcase and has a carrying handle. Granted, the sound quality should be amazing and it will blow any other sound dock into the weeds but if you want it, prepare to fork out $1299. Wow!

Pity we missed the party…

Interview by Allante Sparks of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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ClarityOne Earbuds with PureSound

ClarityOne Earbuds

ClarityOne visited GNC at last year’s CES with their prototype earbuds and this year, Dean Kurnell returns to report on progress and to show of the new headset. Alex and Courtney listen in on the pursuit of sonic perfection.

ClarityOne’s PureSound processor is at the heart of their products and it completely eliminates distortion from the speaker, no matter how small. According to Dean, the dual-unity coupled coil creates a magnetic break by cancelling out the inductive reactance, which allows the audio signal to travel without distortion. We’ll have to take his word for that, but it’s covered by six awarded patents and two pending ones.

There will be three earbuds in the range. $149 for the pro music version that has inline music controls, $129 for the smartphone version which has a microphone and calling features, and $109 for just the earbuds. At the moment, only the $129 set is on sale but the other models will be along soon. Available on-line and in retail stores.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Silentium Active Noise Cancellation

Silentium LogoSilence is golden and Silentium are working hard to achieve this with their active noise reduction technology. Andy and Don keep it down with Yossi Barath.

Silentium has developed an active noise reduction system that can be implemented in a single chip. The complex (and proprietary) algorithms programmed into the chip use noise cancellation (destructive interference) to reduce the amount of sound coming from a machine to make it quieter. Ventilation systems, air conditioners, computers and data centers are all examples of where Silentium’s system can be used to reduce the noise.

At CES, Silentium are releasing QB2, a headrest-embedded system which creates a bubble of quiet around a person’s head, perfect  for air travel or similar passenger situations. Generally, Silentium doesn’t produce products but sells its technology to other companies for inclusion in their own.

All sounds intriguing.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net, and Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus and StreamMagic 6

Cambridge Audio LogoI think it would be fair to say that Cambridge Audio has successfully moved from being a budget hi-fi brand into a solid middle tier player with several of their products receiving praise from audio and home cinema magazines. Consequently, I was interested to see what Cambridge Audio was demonstrating at CES this year, especially as it’s a British company. Scott has the interview.

The DacMagic Plus is a digital-to-analogue converter that will take the digital output from a games console, PC or smartphone, analyse and upscale the signal and then produce a clean analogue signal vastly superior to that produced by the original device. Let’s be honest, the DAC in your average games console or PC probably cost pennies to the OEM so it’s unlikely to be hi-fi quality. The DacMagic Plus has a pair of digital inputs, both optical and co-axial, plus USB input for high data rates (24 bit). There’s also an optional Bluetooth adaptor which uses the new AptX high quality codec. Output is to headphones, phono (RCA) and XLR.

The StreamMagic 6 is a new network music player that streams from a wide variety of sources – PC, uPnP, DLNA, Internet radio, Pandora – and it connects to the network either by ethernet or wireless-n. Cambridge Audio provides an on-line music portal which lets the audiophile choose their listening selection from a PC or tablet before sending the playlist to the StreamMagic. This neatly avoids the problem of poking around thousands of tracks on a tiny screen trying to find the ones you want. Round the back, like the DacMagic Plus, two digital inputs can take signals from sources such as smartphones or music players.

Overall, two great products that are definitely worth checking out.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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