Do you want an electric car? Survey says...GM turns the entire windshield into a head up display, hacker bricks 100 cars remotely, the first Android -based car is coming, and we rough up the smooth yet muscular Jaguar XFR.Subscribe with iTunes (audio) Subscribe with iTunes (video) Subscribe with RSS (audio) Subscribe with RSS (video) EPISODE 160 SHOW NOTES
It's not often I come across something on the Web that makes me cringe, but it happened earlier Wednesday when I spotted a sculpture of Steve Jobs' head made out of mozzarella cheese.
The sculpture (if we can call it that) was created by "Ken" over at The Cooks' Den. Dubbed Steve Jobs Cheese Head, the Apple CEO's dome is made from two blocks of mozzarella cheese, ground pepper (for the hair, people, c'mon!), and glasses to finish off the look.
Ken calls himself a "Mac fanboy" and plans to be in line … Read more
Automaker GM, working with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Southern California, is developing a new head-up display that outlines the road and potential hazards with lasers.
The system would use sensor technology such as infrared cameras, currently used for night vision by Mercedes-Benz and BMW, to look ahead when visibility is poor on dark nights or foggy days. When the cameras see cars, animals, pedestrians, or any other obstacle, lasers would outline them on the windshield. Similarly, the system could see the road ahead when the driver can't, and paint the edges of the road on the … Read more
This was my third Head-Fi "meet," and at each one I've met lots of great people sharing a common passion for hi-fi. I'm not sure why, but Head-Fi members are a lot younger than most audiophiles. You see a lot of under-30 members, and it seems like under-40 Head-Fi-ers are in the majority! The weather outside on Saturday in Queens, NY, was frightful, but inside the vibes were warm and inviting. This event was hosted by my friend, Aaron Kovics (Head-Fi username Immtbiker).
Head-Fi meets gather Internet friends at a place, in this case a hotel, where they can listen to each other's headphones and headphone amplifiers. Some amps are home-built designs, some are commercial units. And unlike regular hi-fi shows, you can listen to what you want, with your own music, as loud as you want.
I met one guy with a set of vintage Grado Signature HP-2 headphones, probably from the early 1990s. They had a very dynamic, bold sound, and a special something I can't quite put my finger on. I'm a big fan of John Grado's current line of headphones (and phono cartridges), and I sold a lot of those early Grados (designed by John's uncle, Joseph Grado) when I worked as a salesman at a high-end audio store.
As I recall the original Grado headphones sold for $400 or $500, but used ones now go for $1,300 to $2,000! That's what I love about the best high-end gear; it sounds amazing, it's built to last, and it goes up in value! Think anybody will want to buy a 30-year-old iPod for a premium price in 2040 to actually listen to? I doubt it. … Read more
Plugging your headphones into your computer or receiver's headphone jack won't produce the best possible sound. Why? The embedded headphone "amp" is probably just a good-enough chip amp. It may sound acceptable, but nothing like what you'd hear from a properly designed dedicated headphone amplifier.
Sure, if you have a set of $50 or $100 headphones, it doesn't make a lot of sense to drop $400 on a dedicated headphone amplifier.
But if you have something closer to the sort of world-class headphones I write about from time to time, you'd be foolish not to take the plunge. You've already made a substantial investment in headphones, but you're not getting all the sound quality you paid for.
Head-Direct's EF5 Desktop Tube Hybrid Amp ($399) is a two-box affair; one chassis is the power supply, the other is the amp itself. Each unit is solidly built and fairly compact: just 4.33 inches wide, 1.97 inches high, and 10.63 inches deep.
The amp uses a single (RCA 12AU7) vacuum tube. The amp takes about a minute to come to life after turning it on, and when the top panel's blue LEDs light up you know it's ready to play. Plug the headphones into the 6.3mm jack, adjust the volume, and you're good to go.
The Drive-By Truckers' excellent "Live From Austin TX" CD had tremendous presence and impact. Patterson Hood's straight from the heart vocals really cut through, and ditto for the raucous guitars. Sweet!… Read more
Coast Defense Free is a fun, no-cost preview of Coast Defense, a straightforward arcade wargame with some similarities to castle-defense-type games. Your objective in Coast Defense is simple: gun down waves of enemies as they advance on your bunker, from infantry (with bazookas or rifles) to tanks and troop transport trucks. The interface has you looking out from your foxhole, with enemies charging from left to right across a beach--and you can tilt your device right or left to scan the entire beach (close to twice the width of your screen). You aim with your left thumb, with a touchscreen … Read more
One of the more recent additions to Sunpak's tripod line is the 523PX Pistol Grip Tripod, an inexpensive, full-size carbon fiber tripod with a pistol grip ball head. Available for $199 from Best Buy, it's one of the cheaper carbon fiber tripods around and it's lightweight and very portable because of its carbon fiber construction.
The Sunpak 523PX Pistol Grip Tripod has seven-layer carbon fiber legs with a maximum height of 64 inches, and is 27.3 inches long when collapsed. It has three positions of leg angle locks for low-angle photography, with a minimum height of … Read more
I've recently reviewed most of the contenders for the world's best headphones: the Audio Technica ATH-W5000, Denon AH-D7000, Sennheiser HD 800, Grado PS-1000, Ultrasone Edition 8, and the best headphones I've heard so far, the Stax electrostatic SR-007Mk2. I listened to the Stax with the Woo Audio WES headphone amplifier. If you want and can afford the best, go for the Stax-Woo combination.
But now I have yet another headphone to check out, and this one is a very different-sounding design. Oh, and it's less than half the price of the least expensive of those models!
It's called the Hifiman HE-5, and it uses planar-magnetic drivers to create sound. A planar magnetic driver is a large, flat Mylar diaphragm, coated with superthin aluminum, suspended between rows of slender bar magnets. The HE-5's diaphragm is therefore driven over its entire area, which dramatically reduces distortion; conventional dynamic headphone drivers are "driven" by a voice coil on the outer edge of the diaphragm, so the inner portion is more likely to distort.
The HE-5's driver is similar to the Stax electrostatic 'phones in that way, but the HE-5 doesn't use the bias charging scheme that all electrostatic headphones use, which also means the HE-5 can be used with standard headphone amplifiers. The Stax cannot.
The HE-5 is incredibly detailed sounding, but at the same time it's very smooth and laid back. Swapping between the HE-5 and the Sennheiser HD 800--considered by many to be the world's best dynamic headphone--the two headphones are opposites. The HD 800 is brighter, crisper, with more apparent treble detail; the HE-5 is softer, warmer, and more natural-sounding. … Read more
If Japan-based NEC has its way, people who act as language translators could one day be replaced with head-mounted displays that project translations onto a retinal display. Come again?
The Tele Scouter system is composed of an eyepiece with a front-mounted camera and a mic that picks up conversations and sends the data to a small computer worn on the user's waist.
The computer then transmits information to a remote server, which does the heavy processing work converting the foreign speech to text, translating it, and wirelessly sending it back to the tiny eye display for viewing. That seems … Read more
Headphone lovers of the world unite! We now have our own wiki, Wikiphonia.
Headphones are hugely popular now, but they were around long before "i" and "Pod" ever got together. The history is long and deep, and Wikiphonia is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to know more about headphone technology and related information.
Headphone geeks are a breed apart from audiophiles as I know them, but they're an even more intense bunch. One of the great things about headphonia is you can get in pretty deep without a big investment. Hard-core types like to build their own headphone amplifiers.
Wikiphonia has an entry that covers 1970s era USSR copies of Western headphone technologies and designs, "The copying was done out in the open, probably and correctly, they figured no one would start a conflict with a superpower over a few headphone patents."
For me, it all started with Sennheiser's HD 414. Its bright yellow earpads were super cool, and the sound was awesome. Back in the early 1970s it was a really big deal, a giant leap better than anything I'd ever heard. You can read all about it on Wikiphonia.… Read more