Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Tag: Music

Mogees Makes Music at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 1:05 AM on April 17, 2014

The Gadget Show has all kinds of tech on display, from mainstream suppliers with latest tablets to niche fun products that bring a smile to your face and Mogees is definitely in the latter camp. Many of us will have seen those vibration speakers that turn any surface into a speaker….Mogees does the reverse, converting any surface or object into a musical instrument. Here’s a Mogees on a bicycle.

Mogees Microphone

Mogees on a Bicycle

Developed on the back of Kickstarter funding, the Mogees microphone connects into an iPhone running a Mogees app that converts the vibrations into musical tones and with a bit of skill, a tune. The app does a great deal of audio processing to help produce the music in a tuneful way so learning to play your chosen object is fairly easy, however bizarre the instrument is.

The Mogees will be available towards the end of the year and I interview Bruno about the development of Mogees: there’s a demonstration of the instrument in the audio too.

Spotify updates its UI, adds new ‘Your Music’ option

Posted by Alan at 7:07 AM on April 2, 2014

spotify-black

Spotify remains one of the top music streaming services in today’s market, competing with iTunes, Rdio, Google and others. The good thing about this crowd at the top is the simple fact that competition frequently leads to innovation.

Today Spotify announces an all-new, revamped user interface, referring to it as “paint it black” in an announcement. An appropriate reference for both the look and musical nature.

“Today we’re launching the best-looking Spotify ever. Introducing a new darker theme, refreshed typography and rounded iconography, playing your favourite music has never looked so good. We’re not only improving our looks though”, Spotify’s Diego Planas Rego.

You Music is designed to help better organize the music your most interested in. “Save albums and browse their beautiful cover art, gather your favourite artists and create playlists for every mood and moment. Found a song or album that you like? Just hit save to add it to your collection. It’s that simple”, Rego claims.

The new update is for both computer and mobile versions of the service. You can learn more by visiting the site.

Gibson Takes TPN Award at CES

Posted by Andrew at 5:50 PM on February 15, 2014

Gibson LogoCelebrating 120 years of Gibson, Aljon Go shows Jeffrey and Todd the superb Anniversary Edition of the Les Paul Standard.  It’s stunning both in the Ocean Water Perimeter finish, the level of detail and the technology built-in. The sound of the guitar can be changed to mimic the tone of your rock’n’roll hero and Min-ETune will tune the guitar automatically. Amazing – watch the video to see the guitar adjust the keys by itself.

There’s no doubt that this is a premium product – the price for the guitar on show is $2999 – but it’s hand-crafted in the US, taking 30 days produce. Every one is a collector’s item. Sweet.

(Is it not a little bit worrying that Jeffrey’s Google Glasses match the Les Paul finish?)

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

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Korus Portable Wireless Speakers

Posted by Andrew at 10:16 PM on January 22, 2014

Korus LogoTodd and Don interview Nortek‘s Rob Halligan about the new wireless speaker system called Korus, which instead of using wifi or Bluetooth, uses SKAA, a wireless hi-fi audio standard that won CES Innovation awards in 2010 and 2011. The benefit of SKAA is low latency and greater range, but the downside is that it’s not built-in to any smartphone, tablet or media player. This is solved via a dongle, the Korus Baton, a SKAA transceiver which comes in USB, Apple Lightning and Apple 30 pin variants. Plug it in to the PC, Mac or Apple device and you are good to go. An Android version is expected later in the year.

Using SKAA rather than wifi or Bluetooth also means that there’s no faffing around with SSIDs or pairing with PINs; it’s simply a case of pressing a button on the wireless speaker and the speaker locks onto the nearest Baton. Press the button again and it moves onto the next.

Korus currently have two speaker units for sale, the V400 and V600, priced at a penny shy of US$350 and $450 respectively on the Korus shop at www.korussound.com.

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

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Philips Golden Ears Challenge

Posted by Andrew at 10:34 AM on January 20, 2014

Philips Golden EarsThe mp3 digital music format has liberated music in a way that would be totally unthinkable to a previous generation. The Walkman made music portable and the CD digitised music but the revolution came as the mp3 format compressed music to fit into a fraction of its true size. Instead of music collections stretching from floor to ceiling, they could fit into a small box. However, audiophiles claim that this freedom has come at the price of sound quality, gradually eroding in the transition from vinyl to CD and finally to compressed digital, with serious deficiences in the sound output from mp3 music.

Are you one of the audiophiles or do you think that mp3 sounds just as good as vinyl? (C’mon, seriously?!) Do you want to put your hi-fi hearing to the test? If you do, the Philips Golden Ears Challenge is right up your street.

Philips has created a self-testing website that lets you find out “how good your ears are”. The Golden Ears sites educates you in everything anyone could ever need to know about sound, and helps to deepen the everyday listening experience, defining your own superior audio experience and understanding in what goes into creating quality sound equipment.

Golden Ears Legacy

The site takes the listener (you) through a number of challenges starting at basic then working up through bronze and silver before achieving Golden Ears!

Golden Ears Challenge

Each step explains the terminology and related effect before letting you hear the differences. For example, “Spectral Balance is the relative balance between the low and the high frequencies. A bright sound has more high frequency content, whereas a dark sound contains more of the low frequencies.

Timbre Training

After training, you then take a test to see if you can pick out the modified audio track from the original. The changes get progressively smaller over six samples to see how good you really are. It gets pretty tricky when there are only a few dB differences. It really helps if you have decent headphones or speakers on your PC – I wouldn’t recommend doing the tests with a Bluetooth headset!

It does take a little while to work through the exercises but it is educational and rewarding to understand the complexity of audio reproduction. You could easily spend a couple of hours going through it to get “Golden Ears” but the site remembers your progress so you can leave and return as you have time. It’s very satisfying too when you correctly select all the distorted tracks in a test. The Basic Level will take about an hour.

If you think that mp3 sounds as good as a CD or that bundled headphones sound as good as those costing $100, then take the Golden Ears Challenge and you’ll be both educated and surprised!

Minimalist Momentum Headphones from Sennheiser at CES

Posted by Andrew at 6:30 AM on January 10, 2014

Sennheiser LogoSennheiser are usually my headphone manufacturer of choice when it comes to music, so I’m always interested in the latest news from the German team. To be honest, it’s not massive news but when the headphones look as good as these, who cares?

For CES, Sennheiser have updated their “minimalist urban” headphones, the Momentum On-Ear with three new colours; high-gloss black, classic brown and intense red. Nice. The ear pads and headband have been finished in Alcantara, a high-tech soft-touch material produced in Italy. Alcantara provides a combination of suppleness, durability and breathability that makes it popular in the fashion, interior design, and automotive industries, and the use of the material by Sennheiser makes the headphones very comfortable for long listening sessions. The headband is made of brushed stainless steel. All round, they look great.

Momentum On-Ear

Audio-wise, the On-Ear is driven by Sennheiser’s proprietary 18-ohm transducers, delivering the usual Sennheiser experience of incredible clarity and detail with a slight bass emphasis. The closed, on-ear design ensures reliable isolation from external noise for a great listening experience on the move, even in noisy urban environments.

The Momentum On-Ear headphones feature a single-sided detachable cable with in-line remote and microphone for Apple devices to control music playback, and to make and receive calls on the go.

With the three new colour versions, Sennheiser has reimagined this essential, cool design in richer, more subtle tones,” said Charles Cha, Product Manager at Sennheiser. “Where the Momentum On-Ear headphones first showed their playful and extroverted character, the new versions are a more discrete revelation of luxury that hints at their superb performance.

The MSRP seems to be US$299 but they currently seem to be on-sale in the Sennheiser store for $199.

I want.

Google Play makes its favorite songs of 2013 free today

Posted by Alan at 7:57 AM on January 1, 2014

google play twitter accountBefore going any further, I want to wish all of the GNC readers a happy New Year! To celebrate, many services are holding sales and even offering free options on this first day of 2014.

If you are an Android user, or simply a customer of Google Music, then you’ll want to head into the Play store today. The search giant has, not only unveiled its favorite 20 songs of the year that has passed, but is willing to give them away. Every single tune on the list is completely free today.

Songs include tracks CHVRCHES, Kanye West, Arcade Fire Bob Marley (not exactly new this past year) and many others. Aside from the music, the company also offers a few deals of apps and other items, but you’ll need to take advantage of the deals today, so don’t hesitate.

Pandora brings alarm feature to iOS app

Posted by Alan at 11:02 AM on December 9, 2013

pandora logoThere’s no shortage of music apps to choose from for both iOS and Android customers. While the former is synonyms with iTunes, that is by no means what you have to use. In fact there are countless alternatives, including personalized radio service Pandora, which today has unveiled a nice little update for Apple customers.

The update brings a new alarm feature that allows you to awaken to your music of choice. “When the alarm goes off, your music will begin to play with album art scrolling in the background. At this point, you can choose to snooze, keep listening to your music or turn off the alarm simply by tapping the song title or artist name on your phone screen”, Mike Grishaver of Pandora explains.

Snooze can be set for 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes and when the option is pushed your music will pause for that pre-defined period. The feature can also be enabled by simply picking up your device and giving it a shake — in case your eyes aren’t open enough to see the button.

For now this new update is only available on iOS, but Pandora promises that it’s hard at work to bring this functionality to Android customers as soon as possible.

Turntable.fm is Shutting Down

Posted by JenThorpe at 10:49 PM on November 26, 2013

turntable logoSay goodbye to turntable.fm. Their official blog states that, “as much as we love turntable.fm”, they have decided to shut it down for good. Instead, they are going to focus their efforts on Turntable Live.

Turntable.fm has been around for about 2 years. According to the official blog, the community has played over 400 million songs in about a million rooms in two years time. In other words, it isn’t going to be shut down due to lack of use. From their blog:

“As much as we all love turntable.fm, we have decided to shut it down to fully concentrate on the Live experience. It was a tough decision to make because we love this community so much, but the cost of running a music service has been too expensive and we can’t outpace it with our efforts to monetize it and cut costs. If we also want to give Turntable Live a real shot, we need to fully focus on it.”

Visit the Turntable official blog to find a link that will let you export your turntable.fm playlists and songs to Spotify or CSV. They are making all the avatars they designed accessible. There is a last day party planned that will happen on turntable.fm on December 2, 2013. Those who are extremely attached to the service may be excited to learn that there will be a special t-shirt available for purchase.

Moxytronix CordCruncher Earbuds Review

Posted by Andrew at 3:50 PM on October 22, 2013

Moxytronix‘s CordCruncher earbud headphones are the latest attempt to defeat that bane of modern life, knotted and twisted audio cords. These tangle-free headphones solve the problem by using a secondary rubber tube to retract and hold the cords when not in use. Cunning.

image

The headphones come in a small pack, with three pairs of different-sized interchangeable earbuds. I would imagine that anyone who is used to wearing earbuds will have no problems here. The CordCrunchers are available in a range of colours, included a very hot pink which the photos below completely fail to reproduce – it’s a gamut thing.

image

The picture above shows the CordCruncher in the retracted state with all the cord inside the rubber tube – it’s only about 18″ long. To use the headphones, hold the jack end and pull on the earbud cords, drawing the leads out of the tube to a full length of over 3 feet. The picture below shows the Crunchers with the cords extracted. The zigzag gives a clue as to how the cord “crunches” up inside the tube.

Headphones extracted

To pack the earbuds away, hold the jack in one hand and then pull the black collar away from the jack. The rubber tube is latex and stretches enormously until the cables are back inside. Gently relax and everything concertinas back up to the original length, tucking all the cables away. It’s not that easy to explain, so here’s a video.

After using the CordCrunchers for a week or two, I can confirm that they actually work and tangled cords are a thing of the past. I carried these round in my sports bag during testing and I never had a single tangle. Yank them out, stick them in your ears and get to work.

Sonically they’re not the greatest earbuds ever and in comparison with Sennheiser CX-300s, the sound is muddy and poorly defined. To be fair, the CX-300s cost about twice the price and audio fidelity isn’t the main reason for buying the CordCrunchers. However, I hope that Moxytronic do consider a higher end model in the future for those who demand more.

Pricewise, they’re around US$25 and here in the UK, they’re being sold by Advanced MP3 Players for a £19.99 in a range of four colours (pink, green, black and blue).

Finally, my six year-old daughter thought they were cool, which is probably more to do with the pinkness than anything else.

Thanks to DAD and Advanced MP3 Players for providing the CordCrunchers for review.