First, they came for our iPhones.
Hey, remember when Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, and everyone was super chill about it? I guess that's Apple's recollection, because they decided to go ahead and ask MacBook Pro owners how much they really use that boring old headphone port, anyway. No way that could stir up preexisting, headphone jack-centered sentiment, right?Read More
This ad for harmon/kardon's noise-cancelling headphones is so... tone deaf.Read More
The Plantronics Rig Gaming Headset and Mixer, an Elegant Solution for a Problem You May or May Not Have
This presupposes that you actually want to answer your ringing phone.
Plantronics sent us over their Rig gaming headset and mixer to play with, so that's what we did. The Rig lets your pipe your phone into your headset. You can answer call, talk, and quickly switch back to the game to let your team know what's up without pausing your game. It works, but we're not sure it's a solution we need.Read More
Listening to traditional headphones is so completely 2012. That's why Google Glass wants to rattle your brain cage directly by sending vibrations straight through your skull instead of using normal speakers. The technology is called "bone conduction" and we saw a few examples of it at CES this year. It's not exactly new, but it hasn't caught on in the mainstream just yet. Looks like Google is going to cram as much technology people aren't used to using into Glass as they can.Read More
There are two quite common, extremely annoying issues we've all experienced with wired audio jacks. The more maddening one is when the wires start crapping out and one of the speakers or headphones drops audio, requiring constant wiggling of the wires to resuscitate the dropped audio. A similar, though more fixable problem is when, suddenly, the vocals drop out of a song, but the majority of the audio is left intact. The fix for the first issue is to usually get a new set of headphones, and treat the wires a little better. The fix for the second issue is generally to shove the jack farther into the receiver. Easy peasy, but if the jack was unplugged, why did any sound play at all, and how come the issue always seems to target vocals, rather than another track?Read More
Headphones are an extremely common device. With iPods and smartphones, there's practically no one who doesn't own at least one pair. Microphones -- at least ones that aren't built into something -- are significantly rarer. Or are they? Turns out they aren't; headphones are microphones. Both devices trade in vibrations, it's just that headphones and speakers vibrate to create sound while microphones monitor vibrations from sound in order to record it. So how do you use your headphones as microphones? Easy. Plug them into a microphone jack and start talking.Read More
Ever have one of those days where you put in your headphones, listen for a bit, realize they're in the wrong ears, and then have to suffer through the next hour or so listening to painfully reversed audio tracks? Of course not, because you just take the earbuds out and swap them around. But is that too much trouble for you? Do you demand convenience at a level boarding on obscene? Fear not, Universal Earphones can tell which ears they are in and swap audio channels automatically. Thank god, right?Read More
When you open up a pair of sound cancelling headphones, the first thing you have to do is play the "Which one of those weird nubs fits my ear canals best" game, which unfortunately can sometimes end in "None of them." Well, if you've ever wanted earbuds that fit you perfectly, your life just got easier. Custom molded headphones have existed for a while, but up until now they've required going to an audiologist, having a cast made and then sent out to a lab, waiting 2-3 weeks, and paying several hundreds of dollars at the least. Eers, introduced at CES, aims to remedy this by making custom fit earbuds wherever you want, in only five minutes.Read More
The popularity of earbud headphones has exploded in recent years, in part because of the better sound they are said to deliver, their easy compatibility with hats and hairstyles, and in no small part from their association with a certain iconic portable music player. But while functional, and some claim comfortable, earbuds don't really play nice with the structure of our ears. In fact, they may be hurting us. The issue comes from the stapedius reflex, where the middle ear undergoes an involuntary muscle contraction in the presence of loud noises to protect the delicate inner ear. This responses happens all the time, particularly while talking or humming, which is why you have may have been told to hum right before a loud noise to protect your ears. Because in-ear headphones create a closed space, transferring the sound into a concussive force against the ear drum and middle ear, the stpedius reflex kicks in making the music sound quieter, and often results in users turning up the volume even higher to compensate. The middle ear attempts to compensate further, leading to fatigue on the muscles, leathery calluses on the ear drum, and eventually actual hearing damage from the high volume. Until recently, the only way to prevent this was switching back to over-the-head headphones or listening at low volumes.Read More
Over on Figure Maniac, a possibly deep, dark secret has been unearthed regarding some Philips' brand headphones, as it turns out Philips SBC HC8545 headphones contain a system that detects whether or not Philips brand rechargeable batteries are being used, and if not, significantly lessens the length of the third party rechargeables. Making the claims a little more believable--and Philips a little more evil--is the fact that the headphones come with a warning saying only Philips brand rechargeable batteries should be used with the product, and not third party rechargeables. The headphones contain an extra conductor in their battery slots that make contact with a battery's case. Through the extra conductor, a reverse-biased diode touches a specific part of a battery's case, which makes contact with a part of the battery that is not painted, thus allowing the headphones to distinguish Philips brand batteries from other brands. During testing, the connection between the extra conductor and battery was shorted out, and the length of third party batteries--which have the same specs as the Philips brand--were significantly increased, thus proving that said extra conductor indeed identifies, then regulates battery life as related to the headphones.
So, what's going on here? An evil corporate scheme to force brand loyalty? Possibly, though a few astute commenters over on Hack A Day claim this kind of regulation is nothing more than a safety precaution put in place due to the wide array of third party rechargeable batteries floating around on the market, and Philips is only attempting to lessen the potential for the batteries to malfunction and damage the headphones, or in the worst case scenario, having the headphones break in a way that could cause some damage while someone is wearing them on their head.Read More