Harman subsidiary AKG has been in the business of making personal and professional audio equipment since the 1940s, so one might rightfully expect top-notch quality from the company's line of headphones and earphones, of which there are plenty to choose. The latest offering, set to hit the States in October, is the AKG K390 Infinity Noise-Canceling earphone. This in-ear model features a double-whammy of passive sound isolation and active noise cancellation, making it a tempting option for commuters and frequent fliers. But at $249, these earphones are far from cheap, and buyers should be wary of potential fit issues, … Read more
ChatterBlocker is an app designed to help you concentrate and be more productive in noisy environments. It doesn't somehow cancel or block out noise, but rather it's intended to "blur unwanted speech," rendering conversations unintelligible so they won't distract you.
ChatterBlocker plays a combination of voices, nature sounds, and music, in several preset options or using an advanced interface that lets you mix and match. Since the effectiveness of an application like this is so peculiar and personal, this ability to tweak is extremely useful, no matter what particular sound fetish works for you. (Need … Read more
Although I don't generally pimp out reviews here on MP3 Insider, I couldn't resist pointing all you discerning listeners in the direction of the Klipsch Image S4 earphones. Straight up: these in-ear headphones shocked me with their superb sound quality, especially given the $80 price tag. Sure, they're not precisely "cheap" compared to some models that are available, but they do fall in the sub-$100 range and they offer audio on par with sets that cost three times as much. Truly, if you are looking for a new set of ultraportable headphones, the Image … Read more
Shure has been a well-known brand among audio professionals for decades; heck, the company's SM57-LC microphone has even been used during presidential inaugurations. These days, Shure's consumer-friendly line of sound-isolating earphones get the most attention in mainstream tech press. Models range from the entry-level SE110s for $110 to the audiophile-worthy $500 SE530s. Over the past five years since the introduction of its first consumer line, Shure has remained loyal to a neutral color scheme for its earphones. However, that has changed with the introduction of the SE115, a $120 set that comes in a choice of four colors. … Read more
Ultimate Ears has been a familiar name to musicians and other audio professionals for a decade, but the company has gained quite a following with its consumer line as well. Earphones in its various lines range in affordability and scale nicely, from those geared toward casual but discerning listeners to sets for audiophiles. At the bottom end, you have the MetroFi line, which has recently enjoyed a refresh in the form of the 220 and 170 earphones, the former being the subject of this review.
The MetroFi 220 Noise Isolating Earphones are a step up from the bottom of the … Read more
Phiaton edged its way into the headphone market last year with its MS 400 Moderna Series headphones, an eye-catching set that brought solid sound quality and comfortable construction to the table. Now, with the considerably more portable PS 300 Noise Canceling headphones, the company continues its tradition of sleek design and plush comfort. These on-ear 'phones pack in a slew of travel-friendly accessories and, at $299, cost $50 less than the competition from Bose. However, the set failed to provide great sound quality across a wide variety of music, making it most suitable for only a certain type of listener.… Read more
Ultimate Ears has been a familiar name to musicians and other audio professionals for a decade, but the company has gained quite a following with its consumer line as well. Earphones in its various lines range in affordability and scale nicely, from discerning listeners to audiophiles. At the bottom end, you have the MetroFi line, which has recently enjoyed a refresh in the form of the 220 and 170 earphones, the latter being the subject of this review.
The MetroFi 170 Noise Isolating Earphones are the cheapest set in the Ultimate Ears family and come in two versions: a standard … Read more
I play records, Christian Marclay plays with records. They're not the same thing.
He cuts up LPs and glues together slices from different records. He'll mix rock and big band jazz together in alternating slices. The effect can be mesmerizing.
Marclay's interested in the sounds people don't want. Every crack in the record becomes part of the rhythm, the skips, groove roar, static, speeding up, slowing down, wow and flutter are all acceptable to Marclay. He uses his records' fragility, purposely messes with the grooves and puts adhesive tape on them. He brings the recorded music … Read more
Updated on March 28 at 12 p.m. PDT: The developers of Star Guitar explained to me that the latency between chord changes is intentional--it's meant to change on the first beat of the next measure. If you want to change it immediately, you can simply double-tap. Also, Star Guitar also records .WAV files--they're hidden at the bottom of the library list, below all the .pattern files that represent the built-in rhythms (you can edit them or create new ones on your computer). Finally, they asked me to link to the demo video on YouTube, so here it is.
I've been playing around with a new iPhone app, Star Guitar, for the last day or so, and it's a sophisticated piece of work that could help beginning guitar players learn how chords fit together into songs, as well as give more experienced songwriters a quick way to record their ideas when they don't have a guitar handy.
The designers had to be very clever to fit that many chords on a single screen--essentially, you start by picking one of the seven natural-tone letters (A through G), then adding various modifications (flat or sharp, seventh, major, and suspended fourth). You might have to consult the help screen to figure out exactly which combination of buttons will create a particular chord--for example, a G6 is created by hitting "G" and "major"--but for the most part, if you know your chords, it's fairly intuitive.
If you don't know your chords, it's a fantastic way to learn what all these cryptically named chords sound like. I've played for years, but still have to think for a few seconds before I could hum you the notes in a suspended fourth. With Star Guitar, I can just play it. … Read more
CNET would need an army of headphone reviewers to be able to get to every set available on the market today, but despite this saturation, we never tire of newcomers trying their best to break into the public awareness. Phitek Systems isn't a newcomer in the strictest sense--the company is responsible for the technology behind other companies' designs (Audio-Technica's ATH-ANC7, for example)--but the OEM is now trying its hand at its own brand with the Blackbox line of noise cancellation headphones.