Silence, please !

For any fans of Call of Duty (or for anyone who is interested in acoustics and sound), this post is for you.

If you have played Call of Duty : Modern Warfare 2 or the new instalments of the popular first-person shooter gaming franchise, you must have come across an attachment to your primary weapon known as a “silencer” or a suppressor.

Figure 1 : Call of Duty : Advanced Warfare suppressor attachment
Figure 1 : Call of Duty : Advanced Warfare suppressor attachment [1]
Now, in the game what this does is that it hides the location of you on the enemy mini-map at the time of firing. But what is the theory behind this? The infographic given below might explain this :

Figure : Gun silencer
Figure 2 : Gun silencer in action

When a gun is fired, superheated and pressurized gases are produced. When these gases escape into the air, the dramatic change in environment causes the loud sound of a gun blast. Silencers help to make this transition more gradual for the gases. Baffles and expansion chambers can be found inside the suppressor, which aid in efficient funnelling, cooling, and spreading out the gases to reduce the level of noise emitted (below the 140dB safe-hearing level) once they are released to the atmosphere. “Other benefits of a silencer include reduced recoil, better accuracy, smaller muzzle flash, and less damage to nearby ears” [2].

References :

[1] Advanced Warfare: 25+ Weapon Attachments & Benefits! (Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare) – YouTube. 2015. Advanced Warfare: 25+ Weapon Attachments & Benefits! (Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare) – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sy95bX8D5g. [Accessed 02 July 2015].

[2] Silencers, how do they work? | Science! | Geek.com. 2015. Silencers, how do they work? | Science! | Geek.com. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.geek.com/science/silencers-how-do-they-work-1617138/. [Accessed 02 July 2015].

Beats Studio 2.0 : Ideal Pair of Headphones for the Sporty

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to check out the new Beats Studio, known as Beats Studio 2.0, at the Apple Store and would like to share my experience with my fellow readers.

Figure 1 : Beats Studio headphones and accessories
Figure 1 : Beats Studio headphones and accessories [1]
Beats Studio features active noise cancellation which can be activated by pressing on the small button found on the right ear-cup (However, I was not able to experience this at the store maybe because the battery charge was low). This battery lasts for about 20 hours and can be recharged using the USB cable shown in Figure 1. There is a battery level indicator consisting of five LED’s under the noise cancellation activation button as shown in Figure 2. Active noise cancelling feature can be very handy when taking public transport.

Figure 2 ; Beats Studio Wireless with the battery level indicator [2]
Figure 2 : Beats Studio Wireless with the battery level indicator [2]

Design

As shown in the figure above, the headphones have a plastic exterior. However, there is a variation with the metallic exterior (titanium) as well for the premium look as shown in the figure given below.

Figure 2 : Beats Studio 2.0 with metallic exterior [2]
Figure 3 : Beats Studio 2.0 with metallic exterior [3]
These headphones are circumaural (over ear).  The ear-cups can be folded, making the headset more portable while traveling. The inner layer of the headband is made of rubber, so that the headphones will not slide if the user is running on a treadmill, for example. The ear-cups are more comfortable than those found in the Beats Mixr.

Sound Quality

The bass produced by the Studio 2.0 is punchy but not muddy as that produced in Mixr. The vocals are clear enough. I listened to some electronic and hip-hop tracks and they sounded amazing. If you’re an audiophile, you might find that the upper mid frequencies sound a bit harsh.

Price

The retail price of the Beats Studio 2.0 is £269.95 while Beats Studio 2.0 wireless costs £329.95. As every Beats product, these headphones have high price tags. These headphones should actually cost in the £100.00 – £150.00 range, considering the advanced digital signal processing (DSP) techniques involved, even though the materials used for manufacture is cheap.

References

[1] Beats Studio 2.0 headphones and accessories. 2015. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.chip.de/ii/2/5/1/2/5/8/9/2/beats3-e0c37dcf2c77372a.jpg. [Accessed 29 March 2015].

[2] . 2015. . [ONLINE] Available at: http://cnet2.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2014/03/18/f8d065a6-b0bd-11e3-a24e-d4ae52e62bcc/thumbnail/770×433/db9bb5457098136b7d5312bd2e7af02d/Beats_Studio_Wireless_35834962-06.jpg. [Accessed 29 March 2015].

[3] Beats Studio 2.0 headphones with metallic exterior. 2015. [ONLINE] Available at: http://i.imgur.com/45e3TP8.png. [Accessed 29 March 2015].

Proper Setup is the Key

People spend a lot of money to experience surround sound at home but some end up complaining that they do not get the expected result. The title says it all. Today, I will share how you should set your surround sound system the way sound emitted through those speakers was meant to be felt. Placing the speakers in a line will not do !

Figure : 5.1 Speaker Setup
Figure 1 : 5.1 Speaker Setup [1]
The figure given above shows how a typical 5.1 surround system should be placed in order to experience the optimum sound quality from the speakers. L, C and R are left, centre and right speakers, respectively while Ls and Rs represent left surround speaker and right surround speaker. Sub is the subwoofer which deals with low frequency content.

Given below is a suggestion by Dolby :

“Create a clear path between you and your speakers. If you can’t see the speaker, sound is being blocked” [2]. I found this really meaningful.

A recent innovation by Dolby is Atmos and this can now be experienced at home.

Figure 2 : Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 setup
Figure 2 : Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 Setup [3]
The system is similar to that of 5.1 but notice the two speakers on the ceiling. The .2 in 5.1.2 represents these two speakers. The link given below has a more detailed picture illustrating the arrangement with angles :

http://www.dolby.com/us/en/guide/dolby-atmos-speaker-setup/5-1-2-setups.html

Dolby has shared other speaker setups ideal for home use. Explore these out in the Dolby website.

References

[1] 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker Setup. 2015. . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.audioholics.com/home-theater-connection/speaker-placement-setup-tips-for-upgraded-home-theater-systems/5.1.jpg/image_preview. [Accessed 10 February 2015].

[2]  5.1 Speaker Setup Guide . 2015. 5.1 Speaker Setup Guide . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.dolby.com/us/en/guide/surround-sound-speaker-setup/5-1-setup.html. [Accessed 10 February 2015].

[3] Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 Speaker Setup. 2015. . [ONLINE] Available at: http://icdn2.digitaltrends.com/image/atmos-5-1-2-with-two-in-ceiling-speakers-970×646-c.jpg?ver=1. [Accessed 10 February 2015].

Sennheiser Urbanite : A Competitor for Beats

If you’re searching for a set of headphones that are ideal for hip-hop and dance tracks, there is a new player in town : Sennheiser joins the trend with Urbanite. I tried these today at Curry’s and thought of sharing my views.

Figure : Sennheiser Urbanite headphones
Figure : Sennheiser Urbanite headphones [1]
Design

The headband in Urbanite is made of comfortable but durable material, unlike Beats headphones, which have plastic headbands in most of their models. This pair of headphones can be considered as on-ear (Supra-aural) and a felt a bit painful after wearing it for a few minutes. The ear-cups can be folded, so it is quite portable.

Sound Quality

I tried listening to some hip-hop tracks and I was quite impressed with the bass these headphones can produce. The vocals were not muddy. Urbanite sounds better than Beats Solo2 but not as good as Beats Studio.

Price

Urbanite costs around £150.00, which is a bit expensive but not as expensive as Beats headphones.

I would definitely recommend this pair of headphones if you like urban genres of music such as hip-hop and progressive house.

References

[1] Sennheiser Urbanite headphones. 2015. . [ONLINE] Available at: http://cdn.head-fi.org/0/09/09ec814f_urbanitenationred.jpeg. [Accessed 23 January 2015].

Beats Mixr : “I’m all about that bass”

Christmas is almost here and you might be wondering what to shop for, so today I thought of sharing my views on the Beats Mixr headphones. This review might come handy if you are an audiophile.

FIgure : Beats Mixr [1]
Figure : Beats Mixr [1]

Design

Beats Mixr is a pair of on-ear headphones. By looking closely on one ear cup, you will notice that it is circular and hence does not fit inside your ear. I got a pain in my ear after wearing these headphones for about a minute. I have no idea how David Guetta manages to wear these during gigs for hours ! Good news is that the Mixr headset is not heavy.

Sound Quality

You read the title right. The bass produced in this headset is too punchy. I listened to a few songs (mainly of dance, electronic and hip-hop genres) with the equaliser in my music player set to Normal. The vocals and high frequencies were not clear enough. I would recommend not to change the equaliser settings as the vocals become muddy.

Price

For this level of sound quality and design, I think the Beats Mixr headset is overpriced. These should cost no more than 50 quid.

In conclusion, the Beats Mixr should need a remake, both in design and sound quality (sorry Doc). Hopefully, Apple will come up something new in the coming years.

References:

[1] Beats Mixr headphones. 2014. [ONLINE] Available at: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/611EmU3782L._SL1500_.jpg. [Accessed 13 December 2014].

Beats Pro : The name says it all

Last Friday was Black Friday, which means Christmas shopping kick-started officially. I went to Apple Store to check out some headphones and the Beats Pro was eye-candy. I tested it on a few songs and thought of sharing my view on this headset before you buy it or thought of giving it to a loved one as a Christmas present.

Figure : Beats Pro [1]
Figure : Beats Pro [1]
You must have noticed the title stating “The name says it all” and I really meant it. Beats Pro are catered for people “who take sound seriously” [2], in other words “for professionals”. If you’re just a school kid who has no idea of what sound really is, these are not for you, bro. Let me get to the serious stuff now.

Design

Even though these are circumaural (over-ear) headphones, the ear cups are circular, making it difficult for the entire ears to fit into them. Noise cancelling has been achieved by using these ear cups without the necessity for batteries. The structure is quite rigid and metallic, so no cheap plastic is involved, which means that the headset is a bit heavy but seems to last for a longer time than Beats Solo2. The headband is well-padded.

Sound quality

Beats Pro have a good balance in all frequencies : The bass is not very punchy but still powerful which makes vocals less muddled, so you can enjoy music with various genres. Good job, Doc !

Price

This pair of headphones costs around £350.00. Now that’s quite expensive, don’t you think? However, I have seen people wearing these on the bus, so I thought that they must be rich blokes. Oh well…

Bottom line is that if you’re a die-hard Beats fan, who needs to listen to music in great detail and who has a lot of money (or willing to sacrifice your bread and butter), these headphones won’t disappoint you.

References :

[1] Beats Pro. 2014.  [ONLINE] Available at: http://brain-images.cdn.dixons.com/7/5/08519357/l_08519357.jpg. [Accessed 05 December 2014].

[2] Noise Reduction Headphones | Beats Pro | Beats by Dre UK. 2014. Noise Reduction Headphones | Beats Pro | Beats by Dre UK. [ONLINE] Available at: http://uk.beatsbydre.com/headphones/pro/beats-pro-uk.html. [Accessed 05 December 2014].

2 in 1 Headphones : Boomphones Phantom

Last week, I was doing some window shopping and came across an awesome set of headphones named “Boomphones Phantom” [1]. It seems that Beats Audio has a new competitor. 

Boomphones Phantom

Figure : Boombox Phantom

By pressing on the button with an image of a bomb on the ear cup, the headphones can be turned in to a boombox, which means that there are two internal drivers and two external drivers. The glow of the LED lights is white when the headphones are internally amplified and the colour changes to white when in Boombox Mode.

The headset is powered by an in-built lithium battery, which has enough juice to operate for 10 hours when using as a headset (internal) and 5 hours in Boombox Mode (external) and is rechargeable using the mini-USB provided. 

When I tried these out, I noticed that the internal ones sounded amazing but in the Boombox Mode, the sound quality was not that great, probably because the driver size is small or the power produced is insufficient to pump out the low frequencies (in other words, the bass).

Check these headphones out when you can. Like I said earlier, they are amazing if you’re planning to purchase a new set of headphones and use them as headphones and not using as a boombox.

 

References

[1] Phantom | Boomphones. 2014. Phantom | Boomphones. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.boomphones.com/product/phantom. [Accessed 22 July 2014].

Two Pills Prescribed by the Doctor. The Choice is Yours.

Summer is here and it is time to enjoy the sun. There is a slight problem. Your speakers are wired. How can you enjoy some decent music without wearing earphones or a headset? Fortunately, there are portable speakers, two of which have been introduced by Beats Electronics, namely Pill and Pill XL. Both of these have the capability to play music via bluetooth and NFC (Near-Field Communication) technologies. This blog post will help you to decide which speaker best suits your needs.

Beats Pills

Figure : Beats Pill XL (Black) and Beats Pill 2.0 (Blue) [1]

Battery

Beats Pill 2.0 (successor of Pill) is equipped with a 7 hour rechargeable battery while Pill XL is equipped with a rechargeable battery which lasts for 15 hours. If your evening BBQ extends to a party at night, your music will never stop.

Sound Quality

Here is the most important thing. A speaker is useless if it does not produce the sound to your heart’s content. I had the opportunity to compare the sound quality of Pill 2.0 and Pill XL. The quality of sound produced from 2.0 was very poor. The reason for this can be that the drivers of 2.0 are very small and hence the power produced is very limited. The Pill XL, on the other hand, does a pretty awesome job. It consists of “forward-firing 3-inch woofers and 1.25-inch tweeters and also a roughly 3 x 3-inch passive radiator in back for bass reinforcement” [2]. I think what the designers had in mind was portability and they did not concentrate enough on the key factor, which is sound quality.

Price

The retail price of Pill 2.0 is £169.95 and that of Pill XL is £269.95 (i.e. $199.95 and $299.95, respectively). In my opinion, paying £169.95 for a speaker that does not produce enough sound is absolutely pointless. Also, Pill XL should be sold at a reasonable price such as £80.00.

Do not take my word for it, give them a try. Comments on your opinion are welcome.

References

[1] Beats Pill and Pill XL. 2014. . [ONLINE] Available at: http://0.tqn.com/y/stereos/1/S/5/C/-/-/small-large.jpg. [Accessed 28 December 2014].

[2] Beats Pill XL. 2014. [ONLINE] Available at:http://stereos.about.com/od/Audio-Shows/ss/CES-2014-New-Bluetooth-Speakers-A-G_6.htm. [Accessed 16 June 2014].

Theory Behind Soundbars

Modern houses are equipped with various consumer electrical devices such as smart televisions and home theatre systems. If you look at home theatre systems, careful wiring should be done, so that the living room is tidy without any wires trailing on the floor, and this is clearly not an easy task. The solution to this would be having a soundbar instead because one only needs to connect the soundbar to the “optical out” port of the television using one cable. A soundbar can also save space if you are living in a small room because it is not necessary to have so many speakers : The sound emitted from a set of speakers can be delivered from one device. Let me explain the theory behind this compact yet incredible  device.

A soundbar is a long slender device, which consists of seven speakers and each speaker is integrated in such a way that surround sound can be achieved. It has been designed to reflect the sound emitted from the device by the walls. The walls have to be reflective surfaces for this feature to be effective. If there are a lot of absorbers such as curtains and cushions, a soundbar will not be a good choice.

Soundbar

The figure above shows how surround sound effect is created by the soundbar.

Another advantage of having a soundbar is that if the television is mounted to a wall, the soundbar can be mounted to the wall too, so that the ground can be kept clear for furniture or for movement.

Reference :

How a soundbar works | BUILD. 2014. How a soundbar works | BUILD. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.build.com.au/how-soundbar-works. [Accessed 15 March 2014].