Line 6 Releases new G70 Digital Wireless System

Line 6 logoAs a performing musician, it can be a real drag to have to deal with an instrument cable hanging off behind you on stage. You never know for sure if that cord is going to get tangled up in a weird way, potentially damaging your gear (or maybe even you!). Also, cables can be limiting in terms of mobility. Because sometimes, you just want to get out into the crowd and get up close with your audience during a show. Fortunately, modern music makers have access to wireless transmitters that can fix both of these problems. And audio equipment/musical instrument manufacturer Line 6 has just released the most advanced guitar wireless system ever, the Relay G70.

The G70 supports multiple transmitters so musicians can instantly switch between instruments. Each transmitter features a locking 1/4” input that allows guitarists to plug right in without requiring any special cables or adapters. User-programmable presets on the receiver enable performers to control each instrument’s signal routing, levels and more, with the single press of a footswitch. For example, guitarists can route an electric guitar to an amp via one of two assignable 1/4″ outputs, and an acoustic guitar to the PA system through the assignable XLR output. A dedicated always-on 1/4″ tuner output is also provided, in addition to a built-in tuner. And to preserve battery life in multi-instrument setups, the new intelligent sleep mode allows you to leave all your transmitters on with minimal battery drain while connected to the instruments you’re not actively playing.

Relay G70 provides the lowest latency of any digital wireless system, coming in at under 1.5ms. A custom-designed radio with four calibrated internal antennas delivers a lossless 24-bit digital signal and a wide dynamic range of over 120dB. The G70 also never compresses the signal, providing guitarists with the purest possible audio quality. Performers will enjoy 8+ hours of battery life with standard AA batteries, plus up to 70 hours of standby time thanks to the intelligent sleep mode. The Relay system features a rugged but familiar stompbox-style form factor that integrates easily with an existing guitar pedalboard.

Relay G70 is available now for purchase from most audio gear/musical instrument vendors. One receiver and transmitter retails for $699.99 and additional Relay TB516G transmitters are priced at $279.99 each.

Creative Sound Blaster E1 Portable Amplifier Review

Creative Logo

Creative products always induce a little nostalgia with me as the Creative Sound Blaster Pro was the first ever upgrade that I bought for my PC. Looking back from today and the state of digital audio, it’s hard to imagine that most PCs only went “beep” back in the late 1980s and early 90s. Once I’d installed the SB Pro, I had glorious multichannel stereo sound, and incredibly, Wing Commander II had speech. Look it up kids.

Creative E1 Box

Returning to the 21st century, on review here is the Creative Sound Blaster E1 Portable Headphone Amplifier, a battery-powered amplifier supporting high impedance headphones, combined with a USB DAC sound card. In other words the E1 lets you used studio-quality 600 ohm headphones with smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops. Pretty much anything with a 3.5 mm socket or a USB port and it works fine with lower impedance headphones, so let’s take a look.

What’s in the box? Simply, everything that you need to get going in the scenarios outlined above. There’s the E1 amplifier itself plus two bright red cables; a 4 pole (TRRS) 3.5 mm jack audio lead and a USB to micro-USB cable. The first cable is needed for tablets and smartphone listening and the second when using the E1 as a sound card (DAC). Bring your own headphones though.

Creative Sound Blaster E1

There’s a hint of red detailing on the E1 too but you have to look pretty hard to see it. Of course, there’s assorted instructions, warranty and disposal leaflets too.

Creative Sound Blaster E1

Glancing over the amplifier itself, the E1 is a lightweight plastic unit with a clothing or belt clip on the back. One end takes the music audio inputs, either digital via micro-USB or analogue through a 3.5 mm audio socket. The other end has the two 3.5 mm audio sockets, one for a set of headphones and one for a microphone or second set of ‘phones. On the side, there’s a power switch, a volume slider, a multi-function button and a small LED.

Creative Sound Blaster E1

Enough of what it looks like….what does it sound like? Pretty good actually. I used the E1 in both configurations, first taking an input from a smartphone or tablet and in this instance I was using a Nexus 9 tablet and a OnePlus One smartphone, both with high bit rate mp3s and Spotify. I’m not a total audio geek, so I don’t actually have any high impedance headphones so the testing was done using Sennheiser earbuds and recent edition 414 headphones (the ones with the yellow earpads).

Listening to the E1, there’s no dramatic difference from the source but it does tend to ameliorate the worst aspects of compressed digital audio, reducing the high frequency tinniness and giving it a slightly warmer feel. It particularly worked well with Spotify and other low-bit music sources, smoothing out the treble.

If worn conveniently, the E1 has a built-in microphone to enable hands-free calling. Call comes in, press the multi-function button, take the call. Callers reported that they could hear me well as long as the E1 was close. Clipped to my shirt was fine.

Using the E1 as a sound card is simply a case of plugging in the E1 to a spare USB port via the red cable. I tested with a Windows 8.1 Toshiba laptop, an 8.1 HP tablet via a dock and a Samsung Chromebook, and in all cases it worked out of the box. In this configuration, the presentation of the sound was good and generally superior to the audio provided by the laptop or tablet, especially when listening to Spotify.

Generally, background hiss was kept to a minimum and was only noticeable in the earbuds when I went looking for it, e.g. by putting the source volume down low and increasing the volume on the E1. With the source volume at a normal level there’s no problem and is unlikely to be noticeable with on-ear headphones.

In case anyone is wondering, it’s not possible to use the E1 as a mixer with two sources. Plugging in a 3.5 mm audio jack disconnects the micro-USB input. Sorry.

The E1 works well out of the box, but where it delivers in spades is with the full driver and app package which is downloaded from Creative’s web site. Once installed the software gives tons of extra controls over the E1, in particular allowing the audio response to be customised.

SB Studio

One of the best features is the equaliser which adjusts the frequency response. There are a bunch of presets with the usual suspects from classical to pop and rock, and its also customisable to personal preference. I liked this.

SB Studio

Overall, the E1 portable amplifier does what sets out to do, making compressed audio sound better, whether from an analogue 3.5 mm source or a digital USB connection. The extensive range of features from hands-free calling to audio equalisation is impressive and for those people who live in their headphones, it’s worth considering. The RRP is £39.95 in the UK or $49.99 in the USA.

Thanks to Creative for the loan of the review unit.

aiFi is a Stackable, Configurable Speaker System at CES

Aifi logoWith the invention of portable media players and earbuds, music listening moved from an inherently social event to an isolated experience. The problem has only been exacerbated over time, as boomboxes and portable stereo systems have fallen out of favor with consumers. aiFi is a new speaker system that’s looking to bring music back out into the open.

Scott met with Fredrik from aiFi. Fredrik explained that aiFi is a unique speaker system that can be used in multiple ways. One aiFi speaker works just fine on its own. But when it’s stacked with another aiFi speaker or setup with two or more other aiFi’s, the speakers will configure themselves, depending on the location of each aiFi. For example, stacking two aiFi’s will increase the bass response of each unit. Or, three aiFi’s could be placed together to create a sound-bar system for TV viewing. aiFi speakers accept input thru either bluetooth, optical line-in or standard audio line-in, so these speakers can be used with nearly any type of sound source.

Interview by Scott of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the TechPodcast Network.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $5.00 off your First order at Harry's use Offer Code geeknews at Harrys.com
$.99 .com New or Transfer gnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: geeks12
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: gncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

Crosley is Bringing Vinyl back to CES

Crosley logoCrosley is an original consumer-electronics brand. Founded in the 1920’s, Crosley was the first company to bring mass-market radios into the living room. While much has changed over the years, Crosley is staying true to its roots by offering vintage-style electronics with a contemporary twist.

Nick spoke to Ty from Crosley. Ty explained how Crosley is updating the vinyl record player to meet the demands of modern users. In the old days, if you wanted to play vinyl albums, you needed a component turntable with a fancy sound system. But that kind of setup doesn’t really fit with current consumer trends. That’s where Crosley’s Cruiser line of record players comes in. The Cruiser is an all-in-one design, with built-in speakers, that make listening to records as simple as plugging an electrical cord into the wall.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the TechPodcast Network.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $5.00 off your First order at Harry's use Offer Code geeknews at Harrys.com
$.99 .com New or Transfer gnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: geeks12
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: gncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

K-Board Portable Keyboard at CES

Keith McMillen Music LogoAlthough my musical talent at the piano only extends to a fumble-fingered Frère Jacques, on-the-go creative types will be interested in the K-Board from Keith McMillen Instruments. Jamie Davis tinkles the metaphorical ivories with Jon Short, VP of Sales.

The K-Board is a portable keyboard for composers and artists who typically work with Garageband or other software for musical composition, connecting to the tablet via USB. Unlike many other mini piano keyboards, the K-Board has soft silicone pressure-sensitive pads for keys and buttons, allowing greater feeling to be expressed by the musician. The K-Board is very robust as well – watch the YouTube videos – and can be thrown into backpacks without a second thought.

The K-Board is available now with an RRP of $99 but it can be found cheaper online.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly for the TechPodcast Network.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $5.00 off your First order at Harry's use Offer Code geeknews at Harrys.com
$.99 .com New or Transfer gnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: geeks12
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: gncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

Phonotonic Turns Movement into Music at CES

PhonotonicIt’s one thing to play music. It’s another to react to that music. But the Phonotonic turns a person’s movements into music in real time, which changes the entire dynamic of the music creation process.

Scott met with Nicolas, a representative for Phonotonic. Nicolas performed an energetic demonstration of his product, showing how the movements of his body changed the sounds produced by two Phonotonics, one for rhythm, the other for melody. Phonotonic uses Bluetooth to transmit data to a smartphone app which then converts that data into musical sounds.

Phonotnic is currently only available in France but the product will receive a wider roll out as the year goes on.

Interview by Scott of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the TechPodcast Network.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $5.00 off your First order at Harry's use Offer Code geeknews at Harrys.com
$.99 .com New or Transfer gnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: geeks12
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: gncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

Audio-Technica Gets SonicSporty At CES

Audio-Technica LogoJapanese audio specialists Audio-Technica have a long pedigree in sound going back to the 60s with an impressive client list include a number of successive Summer and Winter Olympics. Todd and Crystal Griffith take a look at the latest headphones from Audio-Technica.

First up are new additions to the SonicSport line of in-ear headphones, each of which has a different mechanism for retaining the earbud in the ear. Some hang over the ear, others lock into the inner part of the pinna. The idea is that Audio-Technica has headphones that suit you and your activities. The USP of these in-ear phones is that in addition to the standard ear-tips, ridged ear-tips are provided which allow a small amount of external sound through. This makes the SonicSport headphone range a good choice for those who need to be a little more aware of their surroundings. Prices start at $35.

Next are a new pair of high-end audiophile over-ear headphones. Aimed at the lossless music market, these headphones are technically designed to get the best from the music source while providing comfortable extended listening. US availability is March at an RRP of $249.

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

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $5.00 off your First order at Harry's use Offer Code geeknews at Harrys.com
$.99 .com New or Transfer gnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: geeks12
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: gncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

Antelope Goes Atomic at CES

Antelope LogoAntelope Audio are manufacturers of professional and high-end home audio products. Well known in the industry, Antelope counts Stevie Wonder, Rhianna and Justin Timberlake as customers. At CES, Marlo chats with Georgi Lazarov from Antelope Audio about their Zodiac Platinum DSD DAC.

The Zodiac Platinum has three key components with the DSD DAC at the heart of the system. Antelope pursue the goal of keeping the music reproduction as close as possible to the original recorded by the artist and the DAC supports up to DSD128 (Double-DSD) and 384 kHz, 24-bit streaming. In addition, the DSD features include a unique 256x upsampling mode where DSD64 and DSD128 are upsampled to DSD256, knocking the standard CD into the proverbial cocked hat.

To complement the DAC, there is Voltikus audiophile grade power supply, and to keep everything in sync, an atomic clock. Driven by a 10M Rubidium oscillator, the atomic clock provides the most accurate and stable clocking reference keeping the digital to analogue conversion as close to perfect as possible.

Available now from audio dealers worldwide.

Interview by Marlo Anderson of The Tech Ranch.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $5.00 off your First order at Harry's use Offer Code geeknews at Harrys.com
$.99 .com New or Transfer gnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: geeks12
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: gncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

Jamstik Guitar For Your iPad

Zivix LogoLearning to play a musical instrument is both challenging and rewarding but fitting practice into today’s busy lives can be difficult. Zivix Jamstik – the guitar for iOS – could be the answer. Chris Heille from Zivix shows the two Todds a few riffs.

The Jamstik is 16″ lightweight, portable guitar with six real strings and five frets designed to fit into modern life. It’s also a MIDI guitar controller which wirelessly connects with the iPad, iPhone and Mac. The Jamstik gives you the ability to use all of the nuances of guitar playing to control your favourite music creation iOS apps or Mac software.

Jamstik is a new idea in guitar controllers because it uses infrared light to “see” what your hands are doing in real time. Unlike other MIDI guitar solutions that rely on audio analysis and conversion to MIDI, the Jamstik scans the fretboard to detect what your fretting hand is up to before your picking hand ever hits a string.

If you want to learn the guitar, the included JamTutor iPad app will get you going through the basics of playing guitar without the hassles of tuning, lesson scheduling or expensive guitar teachers.

The Jamstik is available now for $299 from a range of retailers including select Apple stores. If buying direct from jamstik.com, look out for the limited time discount code CES2015JSSAVER.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Todd Aune of The Elder Divide for the TechPodcast Network.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Ion Audio Gets The Party Going at CES 2015

Ion Sound Experience

The great thing about Ion Audio is that they concentrate on fun audio products: seriously, who else puts a speaker in plant pot? At CES, Ion has continued in the tradition of fun with two products for two very different environments. Todd listens in with Wendy Fortin, Ion Product Manager.

First up is the Block Party Live, a 50W PA speaker on luggage wheels complete with light show. No really, there’s a light dome on top that projects coloured lights. Music can be streamed via Bluetooth and there’s an Apple and Android app to control the lights. Available now for $199.

Coming inside, the Sound Shine are wireless stereo speakers with built-in LED lighting. Screwed into a standard lamp holder the two speakers can either work as independent mono speakers or can be paired up for stereo sound. As with the Block Party, music is streamed via Bluetooth and both the music and light output can be controlled via an app for both Android and Apple devices. Available in Q1, $69 buys a single lamp and $129 gets a pair.

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

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $5.00 off your First order at Harry's use Offer Code geeknews at Harrys.com
$.99 .com New or Transfer gnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: geeks12
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: gncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today