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Lauren Dragan

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Lauren Dragan Posted: Jan 11, 2014 0 comments
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a quarterback, a UFC fighter and the CEO of an electronics company walk into a press conference. They’re there to talk about the newest bluetooth sport headphones that SOUL, the headphone company in question, are releasing this spring. There’s a video presentation, some polite applause, and then… things start to get awkward.
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Lauren Dragan Posted: Jan 10, 2014 0 comments
Let me begin by saying that upon arrival to CES, I did not anticipate getting liquid silicone injected into my ear canal. But we’ll get to that. I actually stopped by to check out the new Westone W60, Westone’s new 6 driver balanced armature in-ear headphone. They come with two removable cords, one with Apple remote (an Android cord will also be available) and one standard braided. They’re expected to be available Feb 1st, and retail for about $999. That puts it in the same price point as the Shure SE846, which is one of the best non-custom in-ears I’ve ever heard. I did get to listen to the Westone W60 while I was on the LVCC floor, and was really impressed. That said, anyone who ever has been to CES knows that the show floor is no place to do a listening test, so I’ll have to refrain from official judgement until I am somewhere not flooded with blasting music and the walla of thousands of people. I will say, however, that based on what I heard, I’m really excited to hear the final retail model. Also worth mentioning is that they’re universal fit and comply tipped, which is a big deal for Westone, who are known for their high-end custom in-ear monitors.


Which is how we get to me having silicone injected into my ears. Westone was doing free molds to demonstrate how their custom monitors are made, and I got a chance to experience the process. If I’m honest, I was really nervous, as my ears are a large part of my ability to make a living. Needless to say, someone with a syringe shooting pink gloop into my ear canal isn’t on my “top things to do” list. But the folks at Westone are pros, and it was a really easy experience (if just a bit bizarre.) In case you want to try it for yourself: they start by placing a small foam piece right against your eardrum in to protect it, and then the silicone is gently pushed into your ears. You then have to sit with a piece of styrofoam in your mouth between your teeth, to create the correct spacing in your ear canal. It takes about five minutes, and then boom! You’re done! The finished mold is gently slid out, and you’re on your way to a custom set of in-ear headphones. Rumor has it that this process may soon be replaced by something involving lasers, so if you want to feel like Slimer from Ghostbusters is whispering sweet nothings to you,  get your customs made in the next few years. Not your thing? No worries. Hold out for Feb 1st and check out the W60s instead.
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Lauren Dragan Posted: Jan 08, 2014 0 comments
Torque, who released the innovative t103z (in-ear headphones with interchangeable sound filtering valves) last year are back at CES this year with a prototype for their next offering, the t402v.
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Lauren Dragan Posted: Jan 07, 2014 0 comments
Just when you thought you had found every way possible to connect your audio devices to portable speakers, Korus introduces their premium wireless speaker system. But wait! They’re not Bluetooth! Bucking the Bluetooth trend, Korus connects your device via the proprietary SKAA protocol which actually sends a signal from a plug-and-play dongle at a claimed near-zero-latency (40ms). The dongles come in every (30 pin/USB/lightning) configuration you could need and can broadcast to up to 4 separate speakers. Inside, those speakers can be up to 35 feet apart, outside up to 65 feet apart. The distance itself is rather impressive as most Bluetooth gets a few yards at best before beginning to crackle and sputter.

Also potentially handy is the fact that the dongle is literally plug in and press play easy to use. So no pairing with devices or entering passwords. What comes out of the device to which the dongle is attached is what you hear in the speakers. And because of the low latency, the Korus can also be used in conjunction with a TV specific dongle (they call it a Baton) to create a temporary TV speaker setup for a meeting, or as a permanent/ modular solution for TVs that have small speakers.

Available in two sizes, the V400 is 4.4 lbs with a low range of 125Hz and retails for $299 each, and the V600 is 11 lbs with a low range of 80Hz for $399 each.
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Lauren Dragan Posted: Jan 07, 2014 0 comments
Sennheiser has announced that they moving into the realm of the gamer with the introduction of two new PC gaming headsets: G4ME™ ZERO and G4ME™ ONE. Working in conjunction with Sennheiser was Io-Interactive (part of the Square Enix group that made games like the Hitman and the Kane & Lynch franchises.) The partnership included the Io-Interactive developers using Sennheiser equipment and headsets when creating the audio for their game releases. The goal was for he headset user to experience at home precisely what the developers intended in the studio. It's a pretty novel approach to mixing audio for games. The headphones themselves have been designed with not only comfort and ergonomics taken into account, but also with extra attention to things gamers need like: better noise canceling in the microphone, a boom that mutes the mic when raised, and volume controls in the ear cup. While G4ME™ ONE is focused on the home user, allowing for breathable long-wearing earcups, G4ME™ ZERO is made for tournament play, with a foldable design, hard carry case, and aviation level sound isolation factored into the design process. What all this will mean in real-time usage remains to be seen, but overall, I'm excited to see what Sennheiser brings to the lan-party.

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Lauren Dragan Posted: Jan 07, 2014 0 comments
SOL assures us that their newest headphone release will stay in your ears no matter how you move. Intended to be fashionable enough to wear on your commute, but rugged enough to handle use while jogging, SOUL Relays have a fit they call FreeFlex. FreeFlex is more or less a squishy rubbery ring around the earbud itself that SOL says helps to conform to any ear shape and enable the earbuds to stay put. Water and sweat resistant, they also feature a cable clip and in-line remote and mic. Also worth noting is that SOL offers free tips for life, so if you lose any of the four pairs of included tips, you can just simply request that more be sent to you.

Retailing for $79.99, they're available now in black and red, "lemon/lime" and blue in February. We're excited to take them for a test run.

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Lauren Dragan Posted: Jan 06, 2014 0 comments
All these years I've been reviewing headphones, and I thought the point was how they sounded. How wrong I was. Stockholm company Happy Plugs has re-educated me on the definition of earbud. According to their philosophy, headphones are "the most contemporary fashion detail of them all."
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Lauren Dragan Posted: Jan 06, 2014 0 comments
Interested in capturing the expanded need for on-the-go headphones, Audio Technica has announced the new line of "Sonic Fuel" in-ear headphones. The range will include 5 separate models ranging from $45 to $100, all that feature 360 degree rotating tips, which Audio Technica say will make for a more comfortable listening experience on the move.
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Geoffrey Morrison Lauren Dragan Posted: Dec 12, 2013 0 comments
All other headphones bow to these. All other headphones are NOTHING compared to these. These are, to put it simply, a collection of the greatest headphones on Earth.

One of them even looks like bacon.

Lauren Dragan Posted: Dec 06, 2013 0 comments
The latest in the Harman Kardon line of aesthetically pleasing home electronics, the Nova are small, powered 2.0 desktop speakers designed for flexibility of use. Each about the size of a cantaloupe, they have 2.5” drivers,1.25” tweeters, and a passive bass radiator. Not only can you connect with an ⅛” jack and optical line, but with Bluetooth and NFC; so no matter what you want to hear, they can connect to it. And for little speakers, they get a surprising amount of volume without distorting. While they are not a substitute for a full receiver-based home theater sound system, they are perfect for an office, small apartment, or bedroom, and can fill any mid-sized room with sound rather comfortably, even in a cocktail party situation.

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