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Tag: hifi

FiiO E6 Headphone Amplifier Review

Posted by Andrew at 9:36 PM on June 24, 2012

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

Posted by Andrew at 11:00 AM on May 9, 2012

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.

 

Sennheiser Unveils High End Headphones

Posted by Andrew at 8:39 AM on January 31, 2012

Sennheiser is one of the big names in headphones, so it’s not unsurprising that a few of the latest models were released at CES. Nick hears the latest for sound buffs from Eric.

First up are the HD 700s, an open headset approaching reference standard. With a wide soundstage, angled transducers give it a sound experience similar to listening to a speaker array; other features are designed keep the sound as pure as possible. These headphones are aimed at audiophiles who want to hear every nuance of the recording. Pricey at around $1000.

Next are the HD 800s, a futuristic-looking headset that takes audio purity and quality to an amazing level. Every detail has a purpose in the design, giving unparalleled acoustic reproduction for the total audio purist. Even more pricey at around $1500.

And finally, the Sennheiser Amperior brings the world-famous HD 25s to portable devices by optimising the impedance to give superior sound from a smaller unit. Suitable for all MP3 players, Apple iPods and iPhones, the Amperior comes with an inline remote and mic. Available from March for around $350.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live.

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Kidz Gear Volume Limiting Headphones

Posted by Andrew at 5:06 PM on January 28, 2012

Volume Limiting Headphones

CES regular Jack Peterson talks with Todd and Don on the latest headphones for children from Kidz Gear.

Kidz Gear produces headphones with smaller headbands and ear cups to fit the smaller heads of children. This year they’ve brought to the market new wired headphones that have a built-in volume limiter that prevents children’s hearing becoming damaged through excessive sound levels. The headphones reduce the maximum sound level by about 20% into the 80-95 decibel range.

The new headphones are compatible with the iPad, iPhone and iPod ranges and include an inline remote  and mic control. They’re available from the Apple Store or direct from Kidz Gear for $29.99.

An additional new product in the same vein is a volume limit cable which can be added to already-purchased headphones to make them safer for children. Priced at only $9.99, there’s currently a special price of $5.99 showing on-line.

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

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MIYA Customised Headphones

Posted by Andrew at 12:44 AM on June 7, 2011

If you feel that white headphones mark you as just one of the herd, and that black headphones are a bit dull, then you’ll want to check out MIYA headphones, because these come in more colour combinations than you can possibly imagine.

Each set of headphones has 18 colour changeable parts and you can build your own headphones from the builder on the MIYA website. There’s a picture of it below. Now you can have headphones to match your clothes – imagine a set in lurid colours to go with your Lycra sportswear.

They’ll work with any device that has an audio 3.5 mm jack, so that’s most mp3 players, iPods and so on.

Price is HKD 388 (Hong Kong dollars) but there’s HKD 150 off if you order before the end of June. There’s a checkout code on the website for the discount. For comparison, HKD 400 is about US$ 50 or GB£30.

Can’t comment on the audio quality as I haven’t got a pair myself. Let us know if you get a set.

Sony Wireless 7.1ch Headphones

Posted by Andrew at 4:39 PM on April 18, 2011

Sony in the UK have announced the MDR‑DS6500 digital wireless 7.1ch surround sound headphones. That’s quite a collection of adjectives, so to break it down into the constituent parts…

Digital wireless – All-digital wireless transmission resists noise and interference from other devices in the home. Automatic tuning switches seamlessly between RF channels in the 2.408 – 2.473 GHz range to optimise signal reception. Range approximately 100 m so you can roam your home while listening to you tunes.

7.1ch – Exclusive to Sony, Virtualphones Technology (VPT) reproduces the soundstage of multi-channel speakers. Even if you’re listening to a stereo 2ch or 5.1 channel programme, VPT builds a virtual 7.1 channel stage that stretches behind and beyond the screen. There’s also a choice of selectable surround sound modes to optimise listening for movies, gaming or speech.

Surround sound – Supporting Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, DTS and DTS ES, the base station will take both digital optical and analogue inputs.

Headphones – Over the ear, weighing in at 320g. Pretty good looking too. When they’re not being used, you can rest the MDR‑DS6500 headphones on their wireless charging dock. Three hours charging time provides power for approx 20 hours listening time.

Available in May for a £249. Not cheap. Full specs here too.

Sony Drops Two New Headphones

Posted by Andrew at 5:17 PM on April 3, 2011

Sony has dropped two quite different headphones onto the market, one a wireless headset for cord-free listening and the other a set of noise-cancelling earbuds.

The MDR-RF865RK headphones are traditional over the ear cans with plenty of padding, finished in what appears to be a dark graphite grey. However, they have the further benefit of being wireless with a 100m range in ideal conditions, using a 3 channel FM system. When not in use, the headphones can be hung on the charging station to recharge and they give 25 hours of listening on a 3.5 hour charge. The headphones have handy volume controls, so it’s not necessary to adjust the source volume if it’s too quiet or too loud. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, the headphones are a fairly weighty 320g.

At the other end of the spectrum and weighing in at just 7g, the MDR-NC13 noise-cancelling earbuds are aimed at the traveller rather than the stay-at-homers. These headphones can reduce ambient noise by over 87% meaning that “getting away from it all” becomes much easier. Impressively, a single AAA battery gets a 100 hours of noise-cancelling listening pleasure.

Available from Sony in April. Prices not currently disclosed.

PureSound Technology and ClarityOne Earbuds

Posted by Andrew at 6:09 PM on February 12, 2011

Todd and Tom tune into Patrick and Dean from PureSound Technology, Inc, who talk about their patented PureSound processor that will shortly be launched within their ClarityOne earbuds. Because of the processor, the earbuds can use 8 ohm impedance rather than the more usual 16 or 32 ohms, giving greater clarity and less distortion.

The range will be extended later in the year with over the ear models for professional studio use.

Available late February /early March for $140 with a 15% pre-registration discount and iTunes gift card for the first 500 orders.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Tom Newman of The Fogview Podcast.

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Sennheiser Headphones and Earphones

Posted by Andrew at 10:23 AM on February 4, 2011

Andy McCaskey and Esby Larsen sound out Ivan Kuan of Sennheiser, my favourite headphone manufacturer, on the latest aural delights. Recently, Sennheiser have introduced a number of travel and lifestyle headphones, including models marketed in conjunction with Adidas under the Originals brand – HD 25, CX 310 & HD 220. They’re blue. Very blue.

Returning to monochrome reality, the CXC 700s are new in-ear phones with digital active noise cancellation. Three different noise cancellation modes are available to suit the particular travel environment, e.g. plane or train. The phones comes with “TalkThrough” that when pressed mutes the music and allows external noise through. The phones themselves are specially shaped so that if you fall asleep lying down, they don’t press too hard into your ear. $229 and shipping soon.

CX 980i is another set of in-ear phones, but these are aimed at those people who listen to music on their iPhone, as the integrated remote includes a microphone so they can take a call without getting the phone out. Also works with iPods and iPads. There’s some nice metal-craft detailing as well. $229 too.

Finally, the PXC 360BT are pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones with noise cancellation and SRS surround sound. Cleverly, when travelling by air, the Bluetooth can be turned off and a lead plugged in. Definitely a audiophile product for the high mileage air traveller but you know you’re worth it.  $449.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and Esbjorn Larsen of MrNetCast.com.

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