Do you still own a collection of music stored on cassette tapes? Then I have some advice: STOP LIVING IN THE PAST! Those things’ll kill you eventually. If the wow and flutter doesn’t get you, or the ridiculous rewind times don’t drive you crazy, then the magnetic tape will probably spool out at nights and strangle you in your sleep. Probably.
But before you ditch those mix-tapes, you might want to transfer them to your iDevice. And wouldn’t you know it, but Hammacher Schlemmer will sell you a device almost as useless as your own (probbly perfectly-preserved) Walkman to do it.
We bumped into neophyte Australian headphones-maker Audiofly in January, during a press-only event at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, and gave two models in the four-model lineup a whirl. Their mid-level AF45 set sounded great for $50; but the next one I tried — the top-of-the-line AF78 ($200) — left me slack-jawed with disbelief; its sound knocked my socks off, even amid the cacophony of noisy journalists.
What makes the AF78 unusual is its speaker arrangement.
Many mid-to-high-end canalphones are powered by tiny armature speakers, while moving coil drivers are found pretty much everywhere except the very high end. Armatures are generally better at producing clean highs and mids, but can lack deep bass; moving coils, on the other hand, are generally not as good at reproducing the clarity of an armature. But the AF78 is part of an elite group of models — like the Scosche IEM856m I reviewed last year — that employ both a moving coil speaker and a balanced armature in each ear, in an attempt to give the listener the best of both worlds. And it works spectacularly.
While other manufacturers might tart up their headphones with loud colors, obnoxious logos and frills, the Klipsch Image One ($150) drops all extraneous nonsense in favor of making you happy through its three impressive strengths: perfomance, comfort and portability — a triple threat that makes these headphones a contender for best traveling companion.
So far it’s been pretty consistent: Each time we review a set of Ultimate Ears ‘phones, the bar leaps up a few notches as our expectations regarding the outfit’s offerings rise. After reviewing the 350, 700, and especially the 600vi — which garnered a best-in-class verdict — we were expecting the TripleFi 10 ($400) to slay vampires and cure cancer.
Of Ultimate Ears’ more serious offerings — and by serious, I’m referring to UE’s armature-equipped models, which start at $100 — the TripleFi 10 is by far the most serious, with three drivers and a crossover in each ear, pro-level detachable leads, the thickest cable we’ve ever seen on an IEM, Comply foam tips (the best tips, period) and a sound signature that’ll have you madly running through your entire music catalog with a big, gleeful smile plastered all over your face.
What!? Neither Cult publication has ever reviewed Monster’s famed Turbine earphones, even though the IEMs have been hanging on Best Buy end caps for the last several years? Well, that’s an injustice we won’t let stand another day — after all, these are among the best recognized, and most iconic IEMs on the market.
The Turbine is the base model in Monster’s Turbine lineup; though with an MSRP of $180, “base model” seems like a relative term (the two higher models, the Pro Gold and the Pro Copper, are $300 and $400 respectively and are apparently better at reproducing a wider range than the plain-wrapper Turbines reviewed here).
Recording artist Neil Young has revealed in an interview Apple had plans to launch a high-definition music format that never came to fruition. Young says he met with Steve Jobs personally to discuss the service prior to his passing, but “not much” happened with it in the end.
Apple’s Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) was integrated into the company’s Mac OS X platform back in 2004, and made its way into QuickTime and iTunes software shortly afterwards. Today, Apple has released the audio codec as open source project.
Here’s a fun little hack. It combines the convenience of digital music with the tactile pleasure of browsing through someone’s music collection and having something physical to pick up and look at. Flickr fella bertrandom put it together in his spare time.
Each plastic disk represents an album or a playlist. Inside each one there’s a RFID tag. To play it, put the disk on the cardboard box turntable, in which there’s an RFID reader connected to a computer. The music starts immediately.
Of course, you might argue that if you’re going to have a shelfload of plastic disks, you may as well just have a shelfload of CDs, which is perfectly retro enough for some people. But where would the fun be in that?
OPlayer, from olimsoft, is an iOS application for both iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad, that claims to boost your device’s media capabilities by allowing playback of a huge list of audio and video file formats.
The list of supported formats is pretty impressive, and will save you a great deal of effort if you often find yourself having to convert movies to watch on your device while you’re on the move. A fairly big video file can take a while to convert and it’s not the most exciting of tasks. But with OPlayer conversion isn’t needed – simply transfer your media to your device.
The full list of supported formats includes MP3, WMA, RM, AAC, WMV, AVI, MKV, RMVB, XVID, MP4, MOV, 3GP and MPG.
You can transfer files to your device using the File Sharing feature within iTunes or you can download them using the built-in browser from your computer, from the internet or from an FTP server. It’s also possible to stream media to your device over Wi-Fi and 3G.
The release of OPlayer, and of CineXPlayer last week, in to the App Store certainly suggests that Apple is relaxing some of its restrictions on app approvals, most likely in a bid to discourage users from jailbreaking their devices. Will this open the doors for other third-party media players?
Get OPlayer for your iPhone & iPod Touch from the App Store here, or get the HD version for your iPad here.