Six Ways That Sound & Light Bend Your Brain

In a culture fascinated with the supernatural, it’s refreshing to see that tangible science can trump even the most fantastic effects Hollywood can conjure. Wandering around the Internet this morning, I followed a thread of videos through YouTube depicting some amazing effects sound and light can have on liquids and solids. Or, more accurately, how our eyes can be “tricked” into seeing things that might not really exist as they seem.

Check out these six mind-scrambling videos and see how sometimes the weirdest things about life happen right in our brain and not on the big screen.

Personal favorite (and the one that started this early morning foray into YouTube)? The Static Water video. Read the comments on the video for explanations on why this happens. Enjoy!

AfterShokz Bone Conduction Headphones for Sports

Many of you are probably familiar with bone conduction sound technology, which has been around for a few years, but has previously been associated with Bluetooth headsets for making hands-free calls on your smartphone.  Now, AfterShokz has finally succeeded in bringing the technology to music headphones.

The new headphones are designed mainly for sports.  They boast a healthier environment because they go over, instead of in, the ears and reast on your cheekbones.  This means you aren’t closed off from the world while you’re running, biking, or whatever.  That’s important because you certainly need to hear that horn beeping behind you.  The membranes are waterproof, meaning they can easily be cleaned, which is again important for athletes because of sweat.

There are three different models of the AfterShokz, one of which has an inline microphone making it suitable for phone calls as well.  The models begin at $59.95 for the Sport, and go up slightly for the Mobile and Gaming models.  There is also a Bluetooth model in the works.  You can learn more in the video below and by visiting AfterShokz.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine.

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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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Lil’ Wiz Vibration Speaker

Lil' Wiz Vibration SpeakerCourtney introduces her favourite “party-in-a-pocket”, the Lil’ Wiz. It’s a mini vibration speaker that converts any flat surface into a loudspeaker.

There are two Lil’ Wiz models – the first is a basic MP3 player and takes microSD cards ($79). The second has Bluetooth and will stream music from any Bluetooth-equipped smartphone or tablet, both iOS and Android ($99).

Both have rechargeable batteries, though it’s not clear how long the battery can be expected to last. A special mount connects the Lil’ Wiz to glass or other smooth hard surface to use a window as a speaker.

I can’t imagine the Lil’ Wiz provides audiophile levels of sound but it seems to be a fun device for some impromptu music.

Interview by Courtney Wallin of SDR News.

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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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The High End of Sound with California Audio Technology

California Audio Technology, known as CAT, work with third-party hardware vendors in the home theater field to produce some of the best sound quality available.  They were recently at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas showing off their latest top-of-the-line 2 channel audio speakers.  These aren’t speakers for the feint of heart.  Each tower weighs in at 120 pounds.

CAT makes more than simple tower speakers though, they precision-make each speaker and can design them for almost any installation, including hidden in-wall speakers.  Their custom-made speakers can be found anywhere from homes, to music studios, to mega yachts.  All of that massive weight comes in handy to prevent any speaker vibration, which is a common issue in cheap speakers.

To really understand everything that goes into these speakers you will really need to watch the video below for an in-depth explanation of how they are milled and how they work.  You can visit them at their web site.  CAT speakers are on the market now, but if you have to ask the price….well, you know how that saying ends.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live.

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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.

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Sony Wireless 7.1ch Headphones

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.