Here's something you don't see every day (and maybe with good reason): unique speaker systems intended for Top Gear and Doctor Who fans. These are both the creation of Speakal, a company which openly admits it was shooting for "outlandish style."
"Top Gear and Doctor Who have some of the most die hard fans of any program in the world," said CEO David Solomon. "We're proud to be offer their fan base these unique and lifelife replicas of their favorite BBC icons."
Top Gear fans can plop their iPod or other audio device in the helmet's dock with a built-in digital amplifier and rock out to 25W of total output. There's also a built-in subwoofer.
As for fans of Doctor Who, they get a T.A.R.D.I.S. replica speaker with "powerful bass and premium speakers," as well as Bluetooth connectivity.
There's nothing at all that sounds appealing about "skunk juice," unless you're talking about Humble Fish's new Skunk Juice brand earbuds.
Funky name aside, these earbuds sport a patented magnetic connection technology that makes it easy to share your awesome tunes with friends and family. Provided Billy from next door is rocking the same set of earphones, he'll be able to snap them to yours and listen to the same music source. The other upshot is that you won't damage your earphones if you shake, rattle, and roll a little too vigorously
Humble Fish says it's primarily targeting kids and teens ages 9-19, which would explain the Skunk Juice nomenclature, but also expects these to appeal to musicians and artists in the studio, studio engineers, and consumers in general.
The Skunk Juice earbuds will go on sale later this month for an as-yet unannounced price.
A Colorado company called Audioengine recently introduced its N22 Premium Desktop Audio Amplifier, which is exactly what the name implies.
The compact device lets you hook up your iPod, computer, headphones, or external speakers "for a great sounding personal stereo system." It offers 22 watts per channel and runs cool enough that it doesn't require a fan or a bulky heatsink.
"The Audioengine N22 Premium Desktop Audio Amplifier sets a new level of audio performance and aesthetic quality that further closes the gap between computer and home audio," Auidoengine claims. "Even if you're not an audio enthusiast we guarantee you will still hear a difference!"
In addition to a pair of inputs for the above mentioned devices, the N22 features a USB charger/power port, variable preamp output, detachable power cord, gold-plated speaker connectors, power-saving idle mode, and a hand-finished MDF wood cabinet with integrated stand.
The N22 is available now for $200, or $250 with companion P4 Passive Speakers.
Wires are the bane of any neat freak's home theater setup, so it should come as good news that AuraSound went and developed the industry's first wireless 5.1 soundbar for TVs.
"We are very excited to introduce the wireless 5.1 soundbar which will immerse individuals in a rich audio experience from their home entertainment systems," Mr. Harald Weisshaupt, President and CEO stated. "The response from both our retail and OEM customers has been outstanding."
The wireless soundbar measures 42 inches and includes four 3-inch hand-built mid/bass transducers and two 3/4-inch aluminum dome neodymium tweeters. A pair of satellites and a wireless subwoofer round out the package. Equipped with a 6.5-inch long throw driver, the sub's frequency comes rated at 35Hz up to 80Hz, so it's not going to trade low blows with the likes of Outlaw, SVS, or Hsu subwoofers, but it's all about reducing clutter here, and AuraSound's subwoofer can be placed within 60 feet of the soundbar (with a clear line of sight). As for lag? AuroSound claims a latency equal to the speed of sound (1ms/ft).
Volume shipments have already begun, and from what AuroSound tells us, it's "selling like hotcakes at almost all the major U.S. retailers." MSRP for the 5.1 system is $429.
Creative wants you to know that they've just launched the world's first truly 3D audio headsets, unlike those other 3D sets you may have read about, which apparently aren't the real deal. So how exactly can Creative make that claim?
"Creative gaming headsets are the only headsets in the world to deliver a true 3D immersive experience -- with sound coming from around you, above you, and from below. As games have evolved and 3D video has become the norm, Creative headsets with THX TruStudio Pro are the perfect complement, providing gamers with a completely immersive, mind-blowing 3D audio and video experience," said Steve Erickson, VP and GM for audio and video at Creative.
THX purportedly had a hand in helping develop the new Sound Blaster 3D Tactic Alpha and 3D Sigma headsets, which use proprietary advanced algorithms to blast audio at your eardrums from above, below, and all around. From a hardware standpoint, the 3D Alpha comes with 40mm Neodymium drivers, a detachable noise-canceling mic, and a dual-mode USB 2.0 adapter that allows the headset to be used in analog mode.
The 3D Sigma boasts the same feature-set, except the drivers are 50mm and it comes with a steel core headband. These are also the first headsets to come with customizable profiles.
Look for the 3D Alpha and 3D Sigma to ship later this month for $60 and $90, respectively.
Antec, perhaps best known for its power supplies, is branching out into new territory (audio) with the introduction of its Soundscience Rockus system. Developed under Antec's new wholly-owned Soundsciene subsidiary, the Rockus is a 3D 2.1 loudspeaker system that will be shown off at this year's IFA trade show.
"People might be surprised to find out how many audio fanatics are part of the Antec team; we have a passion for great sound and wanted to launch our soundscience brand with a truly unique product." says Scott Richards, senior vice president of Antec. "The rockus speaker system delivers the expansive, enveloping audio experience of a traditional home theater system, yet it fits in any room. There’s no need for complicated whole-room setups or messy, difficult cabling. Plus, with analog and optical connectivity, it’s easy to get 3D sound from your computer, tablet, game console, MP3 player or any audio gear."
The PC speaker market isn't as exciting as it once was -- remember when Logitech and Klipsch would duke it out with high-end speaker sets? -- but that doesn't mean it's dead entirely. To prove it, Logitech this weekend announced its Z506 Surround Sound Speakers.
According to Logitech, the Z506 is easily connected to just about any home entertainment device, and yes, that includes your PC. It also includes your PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, iPod, and DVD player.
"To ensure that the Logitech Surround Sound Speakers Z506 are easy to set up, we color coded all the cables and included an accessory cable for soundcards and music players," Logitech states in a blog post. "And, if you're a gamer, you can connect the Z506 speakers directly to your game console's existing RCA cable."
In addition to multiple inputs, the Z506 delivers 75 watts (RMS) of power, dedicated bass control, and a ported, down-firing subwoofer.
It was bound to happen sooner or later. If you're one of the many, many people contributing to making the World Cup one of the most Internet-draining events yet to occur, then you're probably deaf. No, really. I speak, of course, to the ever-present vuvuzela horn--that clarion call of annoyance that's the subject of countless Internet memes and angry messages between soccer fans worldwide.
Obviously, a freeware solution is in order. And while you might not have expected it to come from a company like Stardock, creators of the popular Impulse download service, Fences, WindowsBlinds, and other such useful system apps, the company has nevertheless dug deep to develop a solution for your auditory woes.
European Commission's consumer protection unit has chalked out a new plan under which MP3 and mobile phone makers will be required to throttle device volume in a bid to save millions from the risk of deafness. However, millions of MP3 and mobile phone users will have to bear that risk for another two years - the amount of time EU has earmarked for manufacturers to come up with new devices.
New devices will ship with their sound levels capped at 80 decibels. But the consumer will be free to tinker with the factory settings. "If consumers chose to over-ride the default settings they can, but there will be clear warnings so they know the risks they are taking," said Meglena Kuneva, the head of European Commission’s consumer protection unit.
Logitech this week announced four new multimedia speaker sets, each one touting 360-Degree Sound, otherwise known as omnidirectional acoustics. These include the Logitech Z320, Z323, Z520, and Z523.
Unlike standard speakers with forward-firing drivers, all four sets boast both forward- and backward-firing drivers in each satellite. According to Logitech, this creates a substantially wider sweet spot and comes as a boon to anyone who struts around their office.
"Many PC speakers focus sound in one direction, which is fine if you're always sitting in the same spot," said Mark Schneider, vice president and general manager of Logitech's audio business unit. "But now with 360-Degree Sound, whether you're listening to your favorite song on iTunes, watching a video on YouTube, or playing your favorite game, you can enjoy rich sound and minimal distortion throughout your room."
The Z523 and Z323 are 2.1 speaker sets with a 6.5-inch down-firing subwoofer, with the former pushing 40W of power and the latter pushing 30W. The Z520 and Z320 take it down a notch by discarding the subwoofer and pushing 26W (Z520) and 10W (Z320).
Interestingly, Logitech has priced both the Z320 and Z323 at $70. These will be available starting in August (Z320) and September (Z323). Equally interesting, the Z532 is expected to be available this month for $100, while the sub-less Z520 will be available this month for $130.