It's easy to understand why there's so much confusion surrounding the differences between earbud and in-ear headphones. The two designs are sometimes referred to interchangeably, but they are two very different types of headphones. Earbuds rest on the outer concha ridge of the ear, located in the center of your outer ear. In-ear or ear-canal headphones are placed inside the ear canal, sealing the listener off from environmental noise.
The Velodyne vPulse is one of the best pair of $99 headphones I've ever listened to on the NYC subway, but it's not one I use at home or in any quiet space. Why's that?
The vPulse's overly generous bass turns me off at home, but it sounds perfectly balanced on trains, buses, cars, or planes. What those modes of transportation all have in common is lots of low-frequency rumble, and the vPulse's pumped up bass masks some of that noise. Headphones with more accurate bass response sound fine at home, but woefully bass shy on the go.
Worse yet, the very low frequency rumble on trains, buses, and so on can't be nullified by noise-canceling or noise-isolating headphones because those noises are felt through your entire body, not just heard through your ears. Bassy headphones may not be the perfect solution to the problem, but they can be surprisingly effective. … Read more
Amar G. Bose wore two very distinct hats, he founded the Bose Corporation in 1964, and was a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor until 2001. He died on Friday at age 83. Bose was a visionary, an electrical and sound engineer, and he devoted his life to investigating our psychological and physiological responses to sound.
I remember when I heard the first Bose speaker, the 901. It was a revelation. Instead of just projecting sound forward, the 901 was designed to re-create the sound of instruments in a concert hall, where some of the instruments' sound is heard directly, but … Read more
Now that I've spent the past week using Able Planet's newly released behind-the-ear "personal sound amplifier," I've learned that I don't hear as well as I like to think. Everything sounds crisper and perkier with the device.
Of course, that isn't necessarily what I want in every environment. I'll spare you the details, but you don't really need to amplify sound when you're going to the bathroom. Nor should crossing your legs in corduroys or pulling a slice of bread out of the plastic bread bag feel so... tingly. With the rather clumsily named PS1600BTE, sometimes the smallest background noises become so bright that it's downright distracting.
In the intended noisier environments, however, these amplifiers feel like magic, even to someone who likes to think she's got stellar hearing. What's interesting is that it wasn't until I removed the device from each ear that I realized how much duller and more jumbled the sounds in noisy environments were. The PS1600BTE is like icing on a cake I didn't know existed.… Read more
They often say that Apple never really invents anything. It only does things better than anyone else.
They also often say that making a call on an iPhone is as reliable as putting a bet on a sheep in a horse race.
So here's a new iPhone 5 ad that may confirm one of these alleged truisms, while defeating the other. For it features a revolutionary new noise canceling microphone on the iPhone 5.
Well, when I say "revolutionary," I might be prematurely full of Thanksgiving spirit.
I remember my fine engineer friend George offering that noise … Read more
Audience, a company that has delivered noise-canceling technology to Apple's iPhones since 2008, thinks it might be left out of the fun in the iPhone 5.
Speaking to Reuters in an interview published last night, the company's CEO Peter Santos said that "the normal course of business led us to believe that our technology is not likely to be enabled in Apple's next-generation mobile phone." Santos didn't say what the "course of business" was. He also broke the news to the company's shareholders.
Apple and Audience's partnership was revealed earlier … Read more
What once seemed like a dream scenario for Amazon has officially become nonexistent.
Two months ago, the U.S. State Department asked the company to negotiate a no-bid contract that would essentially earn Amazon up to $16.5 million to pass out Kindle Touches to the country's embassies overseas.
Today, the government announced that plan has officially been canceled.
Here's what the State Department posted on its Web site today:U.S. Department of State solicitation (Request for Proposals) SAQMMA12R0272 for Amazon e-Readers, Content Management, and Logistics is cancelled and the Justification and Approval (J&A) to … Read more
Apple has been slapped with yet another patent-infringement lawsuit.
A California-based company, Noise Free Wireless, last week filed a complaint against Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that Apple violated its noise-canceling technology patents. In addition, the company charged Apple with breach of contract and trade secret theft.
GigaOm, which was first to report on the lawsuit, also pointed out that a third-party, Audience, was included in the lawsuit.
According to Noise Free, it met with Apple in 2007 to discuss the potential of the Cupertino, Calif.-based company using its technology … Read more
Most phones sold these days have a speakerphone mode. This setting is usually good enough for an impromptu hands-free call in a quiet office. However, when you get on the road in a noisy car, the phone's flaws are made apparent. For example, the built-in microphone can be less than ideal for canceling the levels of road and wind noise present in a car at highway speed, which leads to poor quality on the receiving end of your calls. I'm sure that you dislike repeating yourself to callers as much as I do, so let's look at how to improve call quality.
Visor-mounted Bluetooth speakerphones feature more sophisticated microphones with noise and echo-cancellation technology located closer to your head, which can dramatically improve sound quality. How much of an improvement should you expect? I've recorded outbound calls from five speakerphones (and my test phone's internal microphone) to demonstrate. … Read more
Today's show title is the design credo of Milton Glaser, the celebrated designer responsible for turning the "I <3 New York" graphic into a world-recognized symbol.
That ethos is also the inspiration for today's discussion topic about Apple's "faux-real" user interfaces that Tom Hobbs at Fast Company believes is stunted by skeuomorphs, or elements of design that retain parts of its inspiration.
We'll look at how Apple's desire to show off the look of its products may be hindering its principal innovations, why the Amazon Kindle uses its own basic layout to create a more immersive environment for its readers, and how apps harnessing nostalgia like Instagram and Hipstamatic are holding back the next evolution of technology.… Read more