Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pioneer TS-A6874R 6x8 3-way Coaxial Car Speaker Review

Car stereo technology is continually improving. The stereo receivers and speakers are looking and sounding better than ever. Even the car manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon. Not only do they offer the standard package, most are also offering upgraded packages. If you find yourself wanting better sound or just replacing some bad stock speakers, there are many options for you. For review today is the Pioneer TS-A6874R 6x8 3 way co-axial speaker system. If you are one who has a standard stock stereo and speaker package, these budget minded speakers could be a good option for you.

Their features and specs include:

Size 6" x 8" Max.

Music Power (Nominal) 350 W (40 W)

Cone Material Carbon Graphite-Aramid IMPP

Frequency Response 30 Hz to 30 kHz

Sensitivity (1 W/1 m) 90 dB

Impedance 4 Ω

Crossover Frequency ―

Mounting Depth 2-3/8"

Cut-Out Dimensions 5-1/4" x 7-1/2"

Quality and components of the Pioneer TS-A6874R was on par for its price point. The packaging was cheap, but the molded Styrofoam held the speakers perfectly. They appeared sufficiently protected. The magnet, stamped basket, and cone structure were well put together. The same is also true for the pole structure, which included the midrange and tweeter. I also liked the included speaker wire with the appropriate sized connectors already crimped on. This made wiring the speakers simple. They did not come with any grill covers, so these speakers were designed to be mounted in the stock factory location. They would then utilize the factory protective grill.

Sound quality was slightly better than I was expecting at their price point. War- Lowrider, had good resolution and vocals. It was a tad edgy at times, and bass extension was ok. On Guns N Roses- Every Rose Has A Thorn, the acoustic guitar was crisp and a tad edgy. Vocals were a bit warm, and smooth. The kick drums were tight. With a separate midrange and tweeter, it was a tad edgy at times. But with most stock locations being down in the door or rear deck, it more than likely would not sound so. And while the low end extension was there, and good, it was a bit muddy at times and not quite what I was used to hearing. The resolution and performance was not what you would have from a high end pair of component speakers like my reference Alpine Type-X SPX-13Pro, but they did sound good. And keeping in mind their $99.00 MSRP, they actually did perform good.

The Pioneer TS-A6874R is a good option for those either replacing their blown factory speakers, or are looking for a bump in quality over their standard stock speakers. And with an MSRP of $99.00, they are a good buy. The build quality is also sufficient enough that you should get years of use. Based on their design, quality and performance, and price, they have earned our Value Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at:

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Audiobahn Brings the Heat to the 25th Anniversary Spring Break Nationals

BUENA PARK, California, (March 29, 2011)- If you were anywhere near Daytona Beach, Florida during the weekend of March 19 to 21, you would know that spring break 2011 is officially in full effect. Audiobahn, reigning king of car audio, made its return to the 25th Annual Spring Break Nationals firing on all cylinders.

"The response from the spring break crowd was amazing," said Vincent Lombard, the company's national sales director. "There was a lot of Audiobahn love in the house and we did not disappoint. It was a sight to be seen as thousands of fans came by the booth to check out our new and upgraded products for the season."

Along with Audiobahn, many other car audio vendors were pleased to see increased attendance, sales and visibility for the weekend. SBN officials reported that this year's 25th anniversary show was the highest attendance in nearly seven years. Thanks to the warm temperatures, SPL competitions, db Drag Racing Finals and the Funkmaster Flex Custom Car and Bike Show, fans came in droves to the Daytona Beach's Ocean Center.

Audiobahn made their presence felt with their large display booth that was up-front and center on the showroom floor. Audiobahn was the main sponsor of the pizza eating contest and the famous Miss Spring Break Bikini Contest.

According to regional manager, Abdel Aboabdo, "Our booth was the hot spot all weekend long as car audio fans received new Audiobahn t-shirts, posters, took pictures with show models and our heavy hitting car audio line-up for 2011. By far, the most popular and talked-about products were the re-entry of the Immortal Series Subwoofer and the special-encased A2200HCJ High Current Amplifier."

The Immortal Subwoofer by Audiobahn was designed specifically for the SPL competition environment with quad 2 ohm voice coils that can handle up to 2250 watts of continuous power. Immortal feature design elements like the 200 oz triple-stacked Strontium magnets, proprietary tall excursion foam surrounds, and 25mm top plates.

The A2200HCT High Current Amplifier operates at low impedances and output more power than traditional AB Mosfet amps. These competition amplifiers are stable to impedances as low as 1 ohm mono which allows them to drive maximum power to any component in a vehicle's sound system.

To view more 2011 Spring Break Nationals photos, click here. Be sure to check out more Audiobahn products at and come by our booth at Texas Showdown in Houston (June 2011) and Texas Heatwave in Austin (July 2011).

About Audiobahn

Audiobahn is a worldwide leader of car audio entertainment. Since 1997, Audiobahn continues its commitment to provide innovative car audio technology and award-winning designs. The company manufacturers premiere, high-performance audio equipment for the automotive after-market industry. Audiobahn is headquartered in Buena Park, California and is owned by parent company, Investech Audio Group.

Over the years, Audiobahn has been known just as much for its lifestyle marketing as it has for its line of exceptional car audio products. In addition to single-handedly setting trends and changing the face of mobile entertainment, celebrities and brand ambassadors in music, sports, television, film, music videos, video games and toys have embraced Audiobahn's dominance.

For more information, visit or follow Audiobahn on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Headphone Shootout Part 1 - The Over The Ear Models

Now that it is March, many of you know what that means. It is time for March Madness, with teams duking it out in the NCAA basketball tournament to get to the #1 spot. It also means it is time for our 2nd Annual Headphone Shootout! With teams battling it out on the court, we thought this is also a great time for headphones to also battle it out. We have headphones from some great manufacturers, from traditional to in-ear monitors. Part one today will be for the “over the ear” style, with prices ranging from $80 to $314. The shoot-out will include design, build quality, features, specs, and listening tests. The headphones covered are the Tank Blizzard from Aerial7, Ultrasone Zio, Sennheiser HD238i, Ultrasone DJ1, German Maestro G8.35D, Audio-Technica ATH-A900 and ATH-AD900, and Beyerdynamic DT 990.

Starting from lowest price to highest, we will start with the Aerial7. Build quality and construction for the Aerial7 Tank Blizzard was good. It featured white plastic that appeared durable, and white covered earpads and headband. The cord was nice and thick and on one side. The terminal was gold plated and included additional attachment to use for Skype with a built in microphone. There was also a PC connectors for headphone and microphone. It was also a nice DJ type fit. The ear cups went over your ears for a comfortable fit. The ear cups also rotated for monitoring with one ear use when DJing. With the included mic, they are a versatile product that can be used for personal listening, DJing, gaming, and with cell phones. Fit and finish was good.

The Aerial7 Tank Blizzard also has some good features and specs, with an $80 MSRP. They include:

•Engineered to deliver the highest-quality listening experience from your Apple iPod®, iPhone®, BlackBerry®, or other mp3 player, cell phone or music device.

•Swivel ear cup with spring return for single-sided monitoring Rubberized, soft touch finish for a premium look and feel.

•Soft, pliable headband for comfortable extended listening.

•Includes two cables: 1) thick coiled cable for standard music players, 2) thin straight cable with microphone for iPhone®, BlackBerry® and other cell phones.

•Driver Diameter: 57mm

•Impedance: 64Ω

•Frequency Response: 5-20KHz

•Sensitivity (S.P.L.): 108±3dB (at 1KHz)

•Input Plug Diameter: 3.5mm and 3.5mm iPhone® included.

The Aerial7 Yank Blizzard also had a nice sound. Fresh Aire II- Going to Another Place, had fairly crisp percussion, and a slightly warm sound. The piano sounded good. Gershwin- Rhapsody in Blue, had a good soundstage and decent resolution. Although considering the price point, it was very good. And again considering the price point, imaging was very good. No Doubt- Hella Good, yielded good vocals and bass extension. Dynamics were ok. This track has a lot of energy, and it came out well. With Huey Lewis and The News- Heart of Rock & Roll, again it gave nice vocals and soundstage. The sax however did sound a tad reserved. Metallica- Nothing Else Matters, the guitar was sufficiently crisp, with ok resolution.

The Ultrasone Zio is a lightweight compact semi-open supra aural design, and a $129.95 MSRP. It is a fold-up portable design for iPod, mp3, and other portable players. The construction is mostly plastic, that appeared durable enough. It’s ear pads are foam with a cloth cover. And when folding the headphones, they really were quite compact, and fit very easily in the included semi-hard carrying case. Fit and finish appeared good. I was a bit surprised to see cords on both earcups. Most models these days only have a cord on one of the earcups.

It’s features and specs include:

■S-Logic™ Natural Surround Sound

■S-Logic™ PLUS

■MU-Metal Shielding (ULE-Technology)

■Safer Hearing

■S-LogicTM Natural Surround Sound

ULE technology (=Ultra Low Emission)

■MU Metal bufferboard, reduced field emissions in accordance with the ULE standard

■Dynamic principle

■Frequency range 25 - 25.000 Hz

■Impedance 35 Ohm

Sound pressure level 101 dB

■Driver 40mm gold-plated

■Weight 84g (without cord)

■Cord length: ca. 1.10m (OFC Cable)

■Aluminium 3,5mm gold-plated slim-plug

Here is what Ultrasone has to say about some of their unique design and features: "Unique? Yes! Revolutionary? Definitely! The patented S-Logic™ technology is described as Natural Surround Sound System. No other digital surround system can compare with this standard. As the sound of a normal headphones will sound direct and even on both sides, the S-Logic™ system pushes the sound around your head! It appears as though you are listening to speakers meters away. Even at very low levels, this spacious sound allows you to hear and listen to each and every individual sound. And on top of that, the S-Logic™ technology does not require additional equipment! How does S-LogicTM Natural Surround Sound work? S-Logic™ sends music around your head not just into it, because this technology uses decentralized driver positioning. Did you know that you use and need the outer ear for your three-dimensional understanding to define the direction and distance where a sound comes from? Instead of hitting the inner ear directly, with S-Logic™ the signals are reflected off the surface of the outer ear in different directions before entering the auditory canal to create a natural three-dimensional Sound. S-Logic™ is the only headphone system which includes your entire sense of hearing. S-Logic™ does not change your personal hearing, it intensifies it for your individual needs and listening pleasure. S-Logic™ does neither need artificial echo nor digital sound processing or cross over run time delay. You can hear the sound just the way the sound engineer has mastered it. S-Logic™ does not only create a Natural Surround Sound sensation. S-Logic™ allows at the same time a reduction of sound pressure levels at the eardrum by up to 40% (3 - 4 dB). This may reduce the risk of hearing damage while ensuring hours of fatigue-free listening."

The Ultrasone did have a pleasant sound. Fresh Aire II- Going to Another Place, was just a tad bright, but very natural sounding. The soundstage was about average. Percussion was very crisp sounding. Gershwin- Rhapsody in Blue, provided a nice soundstage with good imaging. Piano was natural sounding. The bassoon had good texture. Dynamics were also good, as well as the level of resolution. No Doubt- Hella Good, bass was nice and tight with good extension. Treble was again a tad bright. Vocals were very clean sounding. With Huey Lewis and The News- Heart of Rock & Roll, the vocals sounded great. Dynamics were good and the sax sounded natural. The harmonica solo sounded a tad reserved. With Metallica- Nothing Else Matters, acoustic guitar was nice and clean, and the resolution was sufficient. Vocals were quite smooth, and it had a nice soundstage.

Next up is the Sennheiser HD238i, with an MSRP of $169.95. It is another lightweight compact design. It’s construction is primarily black plastic that appeared fairly durable. Fit and finish were good, and they were comfortable to wear. Their cloth covered foam pads fit on the ear.

Their features and specs include:

Engineered on legendary Sennheiser Performance specifically for Apple iPhone, iPod and iPad series

Includes a 3 button control and mic for management of calls and music

Advanced Open-Aire acoustic system (does not block sound*...for the serious audiophile) Carrying pouch included for easy storage and protection

Fold-flat design travels easily

Premium metallic components and exchangeable earpads for superior performance and durability

Optimised for iPod, iPhone, MP3 and CD players (iPhone and iPod are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.)

Built-tough with a 2 YEAR warranty!

*for noise blocking on-ear headphones, see the HD 218i.

Carrying pouch

Cable length 4.5 ft. (1.4 m.)

Ear coupling

On-the-ear Frequency response (headphones) 16 - 23,000 Hz

Impedance 32 ohms

Jack plug 1/8

Sound pressure level (SPL) 114 dB (1kHz/1Vrms)

Total harmonic distortion (THD) < 0.5% (1kHz/1Vrms)

Transducer principle Dynamic, open

UPC code 615104186361

EAN code 4044155055030

Dimensions (single) 7.5 x 2 x 7.9 in Weight (single) 10.6 oz

I was impressed with the sound of the Sennheiser HD238i. Fresh Aire II- Going to Another Place, the sound was really crisp and clean, with natural sounding piano. The flute sounded a tad thin. The midbass was very nice and had great pitch definition in the drums. Gershwin- Rhapsody in Blue, had good resolution, although the clarinet was not quite as woody sounding as I would have liked. It had a nice big soundstage. The horns sounded smooth without being too brassy. The imaging was great! No Doubt- Hella Good, had great bass extension that came thru with good authority. I loved the sultry vocals, and really clean sound. There was a lot of energy in the track, and it all came thru great. Huey Lewis and The News- Heart of Rock & Roll, the kick drum was tight, the sax was smooth, and the vocals were nice and clear. On Metallica- Nothing Else Matters, the acoustic guitar was pleasantly crisp, with good resolution. I wasn't expecting the soundstage to be as big as it was.

The Ultrasone DJ1 is a DJ style headphone, with $219.95 MSRP. Materials used in the construction is black plastic and natural aluminum. They are comfortable over the ear design with DJ style swivel ear cups. And the ear cups feature black leather pads, and a leather covered headband. Fit and finish is of excellent quality.

Here is what Ultrasone had to say about the features of the DJ1: "S-Logic™ Plus profits directly from innovations developed for our flagship Edition range, the ultimate headphones for critical listening. This sophisticated new technology combines precision dampening with micro-acoustic reinforcement, allowing driver, buffer-board, and spatial parameters to complement one another in an optimal manner. So the acoustically redesigned ear-cups of these new models and their tonal fine-tuning result in a most neutral sound impression with more vivid perception of voices and instruments."

It’s features and specs include:

■S-Logic™ Natural Surround Sound

■S-Logic™ PLUS

ULE-Technology - MU Metal Shielding

■Safer Hearing

■Logic™ Natural Surround Sound

■Dynamic principle

■Frequency Range 10 - 22.000 Hz

■Impedance 32 Ohm

■Sound pressure level 104 dB

■Driver 50 mm Mylar

■Weight 285 g (excl. cord)

■Cord, ca. 3 m coiled

■3,5 / 6,3 mm scewable adapter

The sound quality was quite impressive. Fresh Aire II- Going to Another Place, was really crisp. The piano was natural sounding. Flute had a great amount of air to it, and the drums were nice and tight. Gershwin- Rhapsody in Blue, the soundstage was really big with great imaging. The harmonics with the clarinet and trumpet soloists were excellent. Dynamics were good, and there was nice texture with the bassoon. No Doubt- Hella Good, low end extension was excellent and brought out with great authority. Stefani was quite smooth with her vocals, and the bass was nice and tight. The percussion was also crisp and clean. Huey Lewis and The News- Heart of Rock and Roll, had a nice depth to the vocals. Sax play was great and actually quite smooth sounding. Soundstage was good as well as the imaging. Transients were also great. On Metallica- Nothing Else Matters, the resolution in the acoustic guitar was very good, and the sound came out really clean. The kick drum had nice extension and depth. Vocals were really clear. The way they are designed, the drivers are mounted off angle, so they are less fatiguing for long listening periods. Testing this feature out and listening for several hours, there was no fatigue from listening. It worked pretty good.

The German Maestro GMP 8.35 D Monitor is another excellent quality over the ear design, handmade in Germany, and has an MSRP of $249.95. It is all black with a plastic housing, synthetic leather covered earpads, and what appears to be a vinyl covered foam headband. The end look is a product that appears to be designed for a lot of use. It doesn’t look fancy with a lot of splash, but is does look like it is built to take a lot of abuse! Fit and finish is extremely high! The cable is also a high quality thick cable with a gold plated screw on tip.

It’s features and specs include:

•Frequency Response: 20 - 27.400 Hz

•Nominal Impedance: 35 O

•Acoustical Principle: Closed

•Ear Pads: Synthetic leather, circumaural

•Average pressure on the ear: ~5.5 N

•Weight w/o cable: 220 g

•Connector: Stereo-Multi-Jack 3,5 / 6,3 mm

Spiralcable 1,5 / 3 m

The quality components came together in a great sounding product. Fresh Aire II- Going to Another Place, the strings were nice and crisp and the piano was nice and natural sounding. The resolution was excellent! The flute was a tad edgy at times. Gershwin- Rhapsody in Blue, the soundstage was big, and the clarinet was nice and woody sounding. Dynamics were great as well as the imaging. It was also quite musical. Resolution again was excellent. Overall the sound was a tad warm. No Doubt- Hella Good, the bass was nice and tight with a lot of impact. It had nice extension and played with a good level of authority. Stefani had a sultry quality to her vocals. And dynamics were again very good. Huey Lewis and The News- Heart of Rock & Roll, the excellent vocals came out loud and clear. The kick drum had nice impact, and the sax solo was nice and smooth. Previously, the harmonica sounded a tad reserved, but that was not the case here with the German Maestro's. Metallica- Nothing Else Matters, the acoustic guitar was pleasantly crisp and clean. The harmonics were excellent! It's soundstage and imaging were also good. Vocals were smooth and just a tad warm sounding.

Next are the Audio Technica ATH-A900, and $249.95 MSRP. It is a closed-back design with aluminum ear cups. It is made of plastic, aluminum, foam pad covered in cloth and leather. The cloth jacket cable with polished metal end and gold plated tip. The earcups are huge, and fit completely over the ear. And it has a pretty cool headband system that audio technical calls 3D wing support. It rests lightly on your head. Both of the earcups swivel slightly. Fit and finish are very good.

Their features and specs include:

High-quality headphones with aluminum housing D.A.D.S. (Double Air Damping System) for bass reproduction

Large aperture 53 mm drivers for high-fidelity playback Superior, deep bass and vocal projection unmatched in its class

3D Wing Support Housing offers a vibration-proof mechanism that provides comfortable support for a better listening experience

Extremely comfortable ear-fitting pads

Type Closed-back Dynamic, Double Air Damping System

Driver Diameter 53 mm

Frequency Response 5 – 40,000 Hz

Maximum Input Power 2,000 mW

Sensitivity 101 dB/mW

Impedance 40 ohms

Weight 350 g

Cable 3.0 m

Connector 3.5 mm gold-plated stereo plug

Accessory Included Detachable 1/4" (6.3 mm) adapter

Performance of the Audio-Technica ATH-A900 was excellent! With Fresh Aire II- Going to Another Place, the strings were extremely crisp and clean sounding, and the flute had a nice amount of air. The drums had great pitch definition in the midbass. Piano also sounded natural, and the resolution was very good! Gershwin- Rhapsody in Blue, the clarinet sounded very woody, and the bassoon had excellent texture. They also threw a great big soundstage. The brass sounded nice and clean without being too brassy. Dynamics and imaging were also excellent. There was also great low-level harmonics. With No Doubt- Hella Good, bass and drums were extremely tight and dynamic, with good extension and a lot of authority. Stefani's sexy lyrical vocals came thru with great definition and transparency. The whole track had a lot of harmonic energy, and every note came thru very well! Huey Lewis and The News- Heart of Rock & Roll, bass extension was nice in the kick drums. Vocals were very clear, and the cymbals came thru well. The sax was very smooth. Metallica- Nothing Else Matters, the excellent acoustic guitar, soundstage, and vocals came out loud and clear, and was quite natural sounding.

The Audio Technica ATH-AD900 is a lot like the ATH-A900 but is an open design. Instead of the closed aluminum back, they have an aluminum mesh back. And instead of leather covered pads, the ear cups are covered in a soft cloth. The jacket of the cable is also plastic instead of cloth. Fit and finish is also very good. MSRP is $299.95.

Their features and specs are:

Designed with lightweight aluminum honeycomb casing for total comfort around the ears

High-quality audio with deep balanced bass

3D Wing Support Housing for comfortable listening experience

Large 53 mm aperture driver made with bobbin winding CCAW voice coil for superior sound reproduction

Type Open-air Dynamic Driver Diameter 53 mm Voice Coil Copper-clad aluminum wire Frequency Response 5 – 35,000 Hz

Maximum Input Power 700 mW

Sensitivity 100 dB/mW

Impedance 35 ohms

Weight 250 g

Cable 3.0 m elastomer sheath OFC cord

Connector 1/8" (3.5 mm) mini stereo, gold-plated

Accessory Included Detachable 1/4" (6.3 mm) adapter

Performance here was also good. On Fresh Aire II- Going to Another Place, the strings were very crisp. There was lots of air with the flute, and the piano sounded very natural. Bass was also there, and while there was good extension, it was quite reserved. Imaging was very nice. Gershwin- Rhapsody in Blue, imaging was excellent, and the soundstage was very big. Timbre in the clarinet was nice, as well as excellent texture. The trumpet soloist was also very clean sounding. Low level pitch definition was great, and there were great dynamics and no noticable pitch decay. Transparency was also quite high. No Doubt- Hella Good, had nice bass extension, but with little authority. Dynamics were excellent, and the sound was crisp and clean, but just a tad bright at times. Huey Lewis and The News- Heart of Rock & Roll, the soundstage was again excellent. I felt like I was at a concert. Vocals came thru with great definition. The sax was very clean and smooth. Metallica- Nothing Else Matters, had excellent harmonics and pitch definition with great transparency on the acoustic guitar and vocals. Bass was a bit reserved. The kick drum was nice and tight, but was again a little lacking in authority.

Last but not least is the Beyerdynamic DT 990, with an MSRP of $313.95. It is also an open design. Materials include aluminum, plastic, foam, leather and cloth. It has a leather covered headband, aluminum arms that attaches to the plastic earcups. The ear cups are designed to fit over the ear, and are covered in a soft grey velvet cloth. The cable is high quality and features a gold plated tip. Fit and finish are excellent.

Features and specs include:

• Open back design

• Strong bass and treble

• Robust spring steel headband

• Single-sided cable

• Soft headband pad

• Gold-plated 1/8" mini stereo jack plug (3.5 mm) and 1/4" adapter (6.35 mm)

Transducer type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dynamic

Operating principle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Open

Frequency response . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 - 35,000 Hz

Nominal impedance . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Ω / 250 Ω / 600 Ω

Nominal SPL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96 dB

T.H.D. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . < 0.2%

Power handling capacity. . . . . . . . . . 100 mW

Sound coupling to the ear . . . . . . . . Circumaural

Nominal headband pressure. . . . . . . 2.8 N

Cable length and type . . . . . . . . . . . 3 m / straight cable

Connection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gold-plated 1/8" mini stereo jack plug (3.5 mm) and 1/4" adapter (6.35 mm)

Weight without cable. . . . . . . . . . . . 290 g

Sound quality with the Beyerdynamic DT 990 was stellar. In Fresh Aire II- Going to Another Place, the strings were extremely crisp and clean. There was nice air in the flute. Bass extension was also nice, although just a smidge reserved. Resolution was very good. Gershwin- Rhapsody in Blue, had excellent texture and woodiness in the clarinet. Soundstage and imaging also came out amazingly. Pitch definition and low level harmincs in the bassoon was also great. With No Doubt- Hella Good, there was nice tight bass that was deep and had good authority. The sultry vocals came out loud and clear. This track has a lot of energy, and it was portraid very well. Huey Lewis and The News- Heart of Rock & Roll, showed a nice soundstage and imaging. I felt again like I was at the concert. Resolution was nice as well as the clean vocals. The sax solo was really clean and natural sounding. Kick drums came thru sounding tight with good pitch definition, and great extension. Metallica- Nothing Else Matters, the great harmonics really shone thru with the crisp and clean acoustic guitar and clear vocals. Bass extension was nice, and was just a tad less in authority. They were very musical sounding.

Like in March Madness, there is a lot made about the bracketing of teams, and where they deserve to be seeded. In the market, this is done by assigning price points to products. And like in march madness, there are the occasional surprises.

The companies represented today in the headphone shootout make excellent products, and have a reputation to do so. In the shootout, I heard what I expected to hear, and I also had some surprises. Starting from lowest to highest price points, I will start with the Aerial7 Tank Blizzard. I was impressed with the sound, quality, and what you got at this price point. So much so that it has earned our Value Award. The Ultrasone Zio has a great sound for a small compact design, and has earned our Recommended Award. The Sennheiser HD238i surprised me. It provided a very big sound for a small compact design, and was comfortable to wear. At $169.95, it is a great value, but it has earned our Highly Recommended Award. Next is the Ultrasone DJ1. It is a DJ headphone, but with audiophile sound. It has earned our Highly Recommended Award. The German Maestro GMP 8.35 D Monitor was another product that surprised me. It did not have the fancy look that audiophile headphones usually have to help attract consumers to the higher price tag. On the contrary, it looked more basic, but one that was built to take a beating. It also dished out it's own aural bliss. I should not have doubted it, based on it's roots, and it has earned our Editor's Choice Award. I have experience with Audio-Technica's great products, so the stellar sound of the ATH-A900 did not surprise me, which has earned our Editor's Choice Award as well. The Audio-Technica ATH-AD900 also had a great sound. It just was a tad lacking in low end output. If you like your base a little subdued, this could be a perfect product for you, and it has earned our Highly Recommended Award. Last but not least is the Beyerdynamic DT 990. It has a phenomenal sound. While it was just a tad lacking in the bass output, it had better than expected bass output for the open design. It has earned our Editor's Choice Award. One thing that also surprised me was that none of the models reviewed had detachable cables. All of these products deserve a look, if you are in the market for a pair of headphones. For more info and complete specs, check out their websites at:,,,,,

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New Patriot LX PRO Series obliterates current SDHC Class 10 performance classifications

FREMONT, CALIF., USA – March 28, 2011 - Patriot Memory, a global pioneer in high-performance memory, NAND flash, storage and enthusiast computer products, today gives professional and hobbyist photographers and videographers an extra performance boost with the professional-grade LX PRO Series SDHC cards. The Patriot LX PRO Series SDHC cards surpass existing SDHC speed classifications and deliver twice the performance of standard Class 10 SDHC memory cards.

Although the Patriot LX PRO Series are classified as Class 10 SDHC cards, the professional-grade SDHC deliver 20MB/s transfer speeds – twice that of typical Class 10 SDHC cards. The high-speed transfer speeds ensure photographs and video are written to the memory card instantly to the Patriot LX PRO Series.

“Image and video quality constantly improve with each generation of digital camera and camcorder. The latest generation of professional-grade digital cameras and camcorders push quality to unprecedented levels of detail and video bitrates,” says Les Henry, Patriot Memory’s Vice President of Engineering. “With the new Patriot LX PRO Series SDHC cards, photographers and videographers can capture images in continuous shot mode or shoot films at maximum video bitrates without worrying about memory card write errors due to insufficient performance.”

The Patriot LX PRO Series will be available in large 16GB and 32GB capacities to store plenty of images and video footage before running out of space. Expect the Patriot LX PRO Series SDHC cards to ship in April.

General details

New Patriot LX PRO Series SDHC cards
Obliterates current SDHC Class 10 performance classification
Up to 20MB/s transfer speeds
16GB and 32GB capacities
Ships in April
About Patriot Memory:

Patriot Memory designs, manufactures and markets high performance, enthusiast memory modules, flash products, and computing technologies. Patriot products have become world renown for their extreme performance, reliability and innovation. Patriot Memory sells its products through original equipment manufacturers, retailers, e-tailers and distributors. It has operations in North America, Asia and Europe. Patriot Memory LLC was founded in 1985 and is headquartered in Fremont, California, USA.

All company and/or product names may be trade names, trademarks and/or registered trademarks of the respective owners with which they are associated. Features, pricing, availability, and specifications are subject to change without notice.

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Onkyo's new Network Stereo Receiver delivers affordable power and connectivity for modern music technology

Onkyo Makes 'The Stereo' Relevant to a New Generation
Onkyo's new Network Stereo Receiver delivers affordable power and connectivity for modern music technology.

Onkyo TX-8050 Network Stereo Receiver and C-7030 CD Player. These and additional hi- res JPEG images on web page.

UPPER SADDLE RIVER, NJ (3/28/11) -- Onkyo, a company with decades of expertise in high-quality audio, has introduced the versatile TX-8050 network stereo receiver and C-7030 CD player. These precision-crafted components represent Onkyo’s contribution to a new generation of music enthusiasts seeking excellence in two-channel performance at an affordable price. Both products embrace the purity and simplicity of stereo sound, whether it is from a classic phonograph or CD, or the latest in new-technology and streaming network-sourced music.

The Onkyo TX-8050 Network Stereo Receiver will connect a wide range of modern and vintage music sources to one of the company's classic, low-distortion power amplifier sections. A front-panel USB port allows direct digital connection for iPod/iPhone and other USB devices. An Ethernet jack provides streaming internet radio or audio from computer or network sources. Onkyo's proprietary Universal Port provides for Onkyo-branded peripheral iPod/iPhone docks, HD radio tuner, and future wireless options. Finally, supports classic audio sources such as turntable, AM/FM, audio recorder, AV sources, and a CD player via analog or optical/coaxial digital connections.

Like the best classic stereo receivers, the TX-8050 has a powerful discrete-component amplifier design that is FTC rated at 80 watts per channel with no more that 0.08% total harmonic distortion. It will easily drive typical 6-ohm speakers to 100 watts. A massive EI transformer and large 8,200 µF capacitors ensures a stable power supply with the ability to drive high-current loads with both channels, as reflected by it dynamic power rating of 160 watts into 4 ohms. This receiver features Onkyo’s proprietary WRAT amplifier technology, which incorporates a low negative-feedback design, closed ground-loop circuits, and a high instantaneous-current capability. Together, these work to reduce distortion and cancel circuit noise, ensuring cleaner and more accurate signal amplification.

The TX-8050’s network functionality enables owners to incorporate streaming PC audio and Internet radio into their main entertainment system. Audio played this way offers superior power and fidelity compared to typical PC audio. Supported file types include MP3, WMA, WMA Lossless, FLAC, WAV, Ogg Vorbis, AAC, and LPCM audio. Users can also take advantage of a variety of Internet streaming radio channels from Pandora®, Rhapsody®, Napster, SIRIUS XM Internet Radio®, Slacker™,, Mediafly, and vTuner. The receiver is certified with Windows 7 and DLNA Version 1.5.

A further benefit of the TX-8050’s network function is the compatibility it provides with Onkyo’s Remote App for iPod/iPhone*. This free, downloadable application enables owners to use an iPod touch or iPhone as a remote controller to control a range of functions on the receiver. As well as being able to select internet radio stations this way, users can select streaming audio input from a DLNA-compatible server.

The Onkyo TX-8050 also has a front-panel headphone jack, IR input/output, full-function remote control, A/B speaker outputs, and Zone 2 pre-outs that allow users to send audio to a second room equipped with an amplifier and a pair of speakers.

The Onkyo C-7030 CD player is a quality playback solution that incorporates a new high-precision clock to dramatically reduce timing errors, along with Onkyo’s original VLSC™ to reduce pulse noise. Driving the system is a massive, custom-built EI transformer that provides a clean and stable power supply. Build quality is exemplified by a 1.6 mm-thick flat chassis base that helps reduce unwanted vibrations. Like the TX-8050, the C-7030 sports a sleek aluminum front panel that makes a robust yet elegant design statement.

These new products confirm Onkyo’s ongoing dedication to making high-performance equipment available to music enthusiasts on every kind of budget.

The Onkyo TX-8050 and C-7030 will be available in late April with suggested retail prices of $399 and $249 respectively.

Since 1946 Onkyo has been passionately committed to developing audio products that deliver uncommon performance, quality and value. Bundling proprietary technologies and innovations with other sound-enhancing exclusives, Onkyo continues to created award winning products that are lauded by many of the industry leading audio publications. The company's philosophy is to deliver products that are superbly designed and built to a consistently outstanding standard of excellence. Today, Onkyo is at the forefront of the home theater and digital revolutions. For more information about this and other fine Onkyo products, visit or call 800-229-1687.

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*Compatible iPod/iPhone models: iPod touch 3rd generation or later, iPhone 3GS or later; running iOS 4.2 or later.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

ASUS Introduces the Eee Pad Transformer

-- Innovation meets Versatility as ASUS launches the Eee Pad Transformer TF101 tablet
with a unique expandable keyboard docking station --

Fremont, CA (March 25, 2011) - ASUS is excited to announce the launch* of the Eee Pad Transformer, the best tablet choice for users looking for media consumption and mobile productivity in an elegant yet versatile design. The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer features the powerful and responsive Android 3.0 operating system, an optional expandable keyboard docking station, and ASUS’ intuitive Waveshare user interface that results in an exciting portable tablet for content creation, social communication, high-definition media playback and smooth realistic game play.

Exciting mini-cinema entertainment on-the-go
Powered by the NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2 dual-core processor, the Transformer browses the web at blazing speeds, providing snappier response times and excellent multi-tasking performance. An IPS (in-plane switching) Panel made from durable and scratch-resistant Corning® Gorilla® Glass is viewable at angles up to 178°, perfect for sharing your favorite photos, web pages, work documents and more with co-workers, friends or family next you or across the room. The 10.1” IPS panel features LED backlighting that provides brilliant and vivid colors at a 1280x800 resolution, perfect for viewing high-definition movies and other media content.

Built-in SRS Sound technology provides a dynamic 3D stereo audio experience, with maximum bass response and a wide sound field from the discrete speakers housed in a thin 0.51” thick chassis that only weighs 1.49lbs. A 1.2MP front-facing camera is perfect for video conferencing while the rear-facing 5MP camera can shoot and record HD video, which can be played back on HDTVs via the mini HDMI output port, making the Eee Pad Transformer a true mobile entertainment device.

Transform from pad to notebook mode with optional keyboard docking station
The Transformer sets itself apart from other tablets on the market by featuring an optional docking station. This unique docking station provides access to a full QWERTY keyboard along with unique Android Function keys, instantly turning the Transformer into a mobile content creation device.

A touchpad, 3.5mm audio jack, two USB ports as well as a built-in SD Card reader for easy file sharing and storage expandability makes the Transformer a versatile media hub. The docking station also extends the Transformer’s 9.5 hours** of battery life up to 16 hours**, so users can use it all day for work or play. In addition, the ultra-convenient ASUS WebStorage* with one year of unlimited storage space provides worry-free cloud computing.

Android 3.0 OS melds with ASUS’ Waveshare UI for a unique user experience
Google’s Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) is a revolutionary operating system specially designed and optimized for tablets, which enables users a rich web experience for on-the-go web browsing, social media activities, video playback and casual gaming. Supporting Adobe® Flash® 10.2*** and the ever growing Android Market, media entertainment is just a finger swipe away. The convenient ASUS Launcher also allows users to easily launch software, manage content and access online services and connect devices with a few simple taps, while ASUS’ Waveshare Interface hosts a variety of unique applications* such as MyNet, MyLibrary, MyCloud and more.

MyNet easily streams digital media wirelessly within home network devices so HD videos or music can be played on devices such as an HDTV or desktop PCs for an even better experience from the Transformer. MyLibrary consolidates downloaded books, magazines and newspapers in to one easy to browse profile while MyCloud is a total cloud solution, providing access to digital content such as music, videos and files from the cloud anywhere, anytime. Users can even use MyCloud to remotely access and control any PC or Mac system and access applications or files to extend the versatility of the Eee Pad Transformer experience.
Product Specifications:
Display 10.1" IPS Panel with LED Backlighting, 1280x800 resolution, 10 finger multi-touch support, scratch resistant Corning Gorilla Glass
Operating system Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)
Platform NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2
Memory 1 GB
Storage 16GB /32GB + Unlimited ASUS WebStorage (*)
Wireless 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
Camera 1.2MP (front), 5MP Auto focus (rear)
Interface 2-in-1 Audio Jack (Head Phone / Mic-in); 1x mini HDMI 1.3a port
1x Micro SD Card Reader; 1x Internal Microphone; 1x Stereo Speaker
Interface on optional mobile dock 2x USB 2.0; 1x SD Card Reader
Sensor G-Sensor, Light Sensor, Gyroscope, E-compass, GPS
3G Module Optional in Certain Locales
Flash support Yes(***)
Multi-tasking Yes
Applications ASUS Launcher, MyLibrary, MyNet, MyCloud, File manager, PC sync(*)
Battery 9.5 hours; 24.4Wh Li-polymer Battery(**) 16 hours with dock(**)
Size/ Weight 10.6*6.9*0.51” / 1.49lbs (w/ battery)

*Configurations and Applications offered for the Eee Pad Transformer may vary based upon SKU, Country, and Locale. Functionality, release dates and specifications are subject to change.
**9.5 and 16 hour battery life estimates based on specific media playback and usage patterns.
***Adobe® Flash® 10.2 support requires an upgrade available online after product launch.

About ASUS
ASUS, the world’s top 3 consumer notebook vendor and the maker of the world’s best selling and most award winning motherboards, is a leading enterprise in the new digital era. ASUS designs and manufactures products that perfectly meet the needs of today's digital home, office and person, with a broad portfolio that includes motherboards, graphics cards, displays, desktop PCs, notebooks, netbooks, servers, multimedia, wireless solutions, networking devices and mobile phones. Driven by innovation and committed to quality, ASUS won 3,398 awards in 2010, and is widely credited with revolutionizing the PC industry with the Eee PC™. With a global staff of more than ten thousand people and a world-class R&D team of 3,000 engineers, the company's revenue for 2010 was around US$10 billion.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

ASUS Launches the GTX590 – The New Flagship in Graphics Performance

-- The most powerful NVIDIA® based graphics card ever created offers unprecedented gaming,
3D and GPU Compute capabilities that redefine the PC visual experience --

Fremont, CA (March 24, 2011) - ASUS, the world’s number #1 motherboard manufacturer and leading innovator in graphics cards, is excited to introduce NVIDIA’s latest technology, the GTX590 Graphical Processing Unit (GPU). Launching today at a suggested MSRP of $699, the ASUS GTX590 uses dual NVIDIA® GF110 GPU cores to usher in an era of unprecedented performance and visual immersion on the PC.*

Designed to offer best-in-class acoustics and impressive cooling capabilities courtesy of a new extruded 90mm cooling fan and dual vapor chamber technology, the ASUS GTX590 is the ultimate graphics card for gamers and enthusiasts. With its 1024 CUDA Cores, 32 PolyMorph Engines, 384-bit memory interface with 3GB of high speed GDDR5 memory and enhanced multi-GPU scaling the GTX 590 redefines the desktop experience.

Immersive Gaming and Visual Experience.
Besides providing a cutting edge design, best-in-class acoustics and incredible levels of performance, the ASUS GTX590 also provides several immersive gaming and visual technologies that set the card apart:
For gamers with three displays, the ASUS GTX 590 supports NVIDIA Surround/3D Vision Surround from a single card. NVIDIA Surround technology provides gaming across three non-3D displays with resolutions up to 7680x1600 (three 2560x1600 LCDs). NVIDIA 3D Vision Surround technology expands your gaming real estate across three Full HD 1080p 3D monitors for a completely immersive gaming experience.
With two GF110 GPUs on a single card, the GTX 590 can devote one of its GPUs solely to PhysX processing to add realistic effect s like cloth simulation, volumetric fog, fluid simulation and more for elements of realism not seen before in gaming.
Two ASUS GTX 590s can be paired together to support NVIDIA Quad SLI™ in an SLI-Certified motherboard such as the award winning ASUS ROG Rampage III Formula or ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution for the ultimate performance setup that allows you to crank up the graphics settings for an unmatched DirectX 11 gaming experience.
NVIDIA 3D Vision is the first solution that allows you to experience your games and movies – including support for Blu-ray 3D – in full HD 1080p stereoscopic 3D, and permits720p gaming on new 3D TVs (3DTV Play™). NVIDIA 3D Vision currently supports over 500 games along with upcoming titles like Duke Nukem Forever.
Rounding out the experience is class leading texture filtering quality, SSAA support across DirectX 9/10/11 APIs, 64x anti-aliasing for crisp visuals and comprehensive control over image quality settings for the ultimate in display quality. Along with support for NVIDIA CUDA for advanced GPGPU or GPU Compute functionality the ASUS GTX 590 offers an unbeatable gaming and multimedia experience.**
Smart Doctor with Voltage Tweak!– Superior Controls and Maximum Overclocking
ASUS continues the tradition of offering superior graphics tweaking technology with our Award Winning Smart Doctor and Voltage Tweak technology. Users can easily make adjustments to options such as the fan speeds by adjusting a fixed value or defining fan ramp speeds based on temperature values. Users looking for the highest levels of performance can utilize Voltage Tweak! that offers out of the box adjustment of the GPU core voltage to increase overclocking headroom.***

*Suggested MSRP is for the North American market only. Actual performance may vary by system configuration and other prevailing conditions.
**Product specifications and features may change without prior notice. 128x anti-aliasing available in Quad SLI configurations. Check for further details.
***Please follow the driver setup instructions to download the latest SmartDoctor application prior to use or overclocking.

About ASUS
ASUS, the world’s top 3 consumer notebook vendor and the maker of the world’s best selling and most award winning motherboards, is a leading enterprise in the new digital era. ASUS designs and manufactures products that perfectly meet the needs of today's digital home, office and person, with a broad portfolio that includes motherboards, graphics cards, displays, desktop PCs, notebooks, netbooks, servers, multimedia, wireless solutions, networking devices and mobile phones. Driven by innovation and committed to quality, ASUS won 3,398 awards in 2010, and is widely credited with revolutionizing the PC industry with the Eee PC™. With a global staff of more than ten thousand people and a world-class R&D team of 3,000 engineers, the company's revenue for 2010 was around US$10 billion.

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Long Beach, CA (March 25, 2011) - Kenwood USA Corporation announces the delivery of two navigation/entertainment systems specifically engineered and manufactured exclusively for the Kenwood eXcelon dealer network.

Kenwood’s new flagship double-DIN multimedia / navigation receiver is the DNX9980HD ($2,000.00 suggested retail price), which is Kenwood’s first multimedia model to incorporate HD Radio and the Pandora internet radio link as built-in features. Along with better sound quality and additional HD Radio-specific programming, the user can enjoy full-color album artwork and other visuals appearing on the touch screen display. New for 2011 is the addition of Pandora internet radio control capability when used with a Pandora-enabled iPhone (Internet access required). All seek, search and “thumbs up/down” functions are replicated on the faceplate of the DNX9980HD, and the 6.95” touch screen display presents full-color album art, song title, album and artist. Advanced 3-D navigation technology by Garmin is included, offering three-dimensional buildings and landmarks with many images being photo-realistic. Lane Assist with Junction View are two features that reduce highway interchange confusion and improve driving safety. ecoRoute provides the most fuel efficient travel routes, and the optional ecoRoute HD even allows the user to view vehicle diagnostics such as fuel consumption, engine temperature and exhaust emissions (ecoRoute HD requires the optional KNA-EC100 external ODBII interface module). The DNX9980HD also includes built-in NAVTEQ Live Traffic service that is free for the life of the product. Kenwood’s voice control feature allows the user to fully operate the navigation system and utilize features such as entering addresses or phone numbers, choosing menu options and select points of interest. The voice control system will also operate the audio and video systems, allowing the user to change between multiple sources, access entries in a cellular phonebook, make phone calls, seek out music and video files and access station presets. Twin iPod control allows for the connection and operation of two iPod, iPod Touch or iPhone devices.

The DNX9980HD has an advanced Digital Aria 3-D animated graphic user interface (GUI) with selectable skins and movable, drag-and-drop icons for complete customization. A high-resolution WVGA 6.95” touch screen with Dynamic Brightness Control provides the best looking DVD video, iPod video and USB video. While in the navigation mode, the DNX9980HD can display mapping information as well as audio/video controls on a split screen and will even allow continued monitoring of the navigation screen in split screen view while making or taking hands-free phone calls. The latest Parrot Bluetooth module is built into the DNX9980HD and is capable of A2DP stereo audio streaming from a similarly-equipped portable digital media player or Smartphone.

The double-DIN DNX6980 ($1,200.00 suggested retail price) is a value-added combination of cutting edge technologies, intuitive user interface and great Kenwood eXcelon quality. With the Garmin navigation and Parrot Bluetooth built right into the unit, the DNX6980 offers the latest in technologies at an attractive price. A compact front-panel knob is included to easily control volume. An upgraded 6.1” WVGA LCD touch screen panel with navigation/audio/video split screen view capabilities give the user complete control over multiple audio and video sources, including DVD, MP3/WMA compact disc, iPod, iPhone, Pandora internet radio link, external mass storage devices, satellite radio and HD Radio (optional iPod, HD Radio or satellite radio accessories and Internet access may be required). The user can customize the GUI and hard-key illumination colors of the DNX6980 to match the unit’s faceplate lighting to the interior lighting of many vehicles, while the background and startup screen graphics can be changed to show personal photos or the brand logo of the vehicle.

The DNX9980HD and DNX6980 come with two-year warranties and are available only through authorized Kenwood eXcelon retailers.

Model Sugg. Retail Price Availability

DNX9980HD $2,000.00 Now

DNX6980 $1,200.00 Now

KNA-EC100 $200.00 Now

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Sennheiser Names “Dealer of the Year” in its Consumer Electronics Category

Sennheiser Names “Dealer of the Year” in its Consumer Electronics Category

Left to right: Dan Balderrama (Vendor Programs Manager), Paul Crevelli (Domain Head of Consumer Electronics), Mark Moderie (Buyer), Bernard Luthi (VP of Marketing & Web Management), Patrick Chung (VP of Purchasing), Lloyd Mendoza (Category Manager), Cynthia Go (Merchandiser), Laurel Berends (Asst. Buyer) - Click on image for hi-res
OLD LYME, Conn. - March 24, 2011: The U.S. subsidiary of headphone and microphone manufacturer Sennheiser named Newegg, Inc. its 2010 dealer of the year for excellent sales, customer support and comprehension of Sennheiser’s diverse line of consumer electronic products.

To express its thanks, Sennheiser made a generous donation to the Fender Music Foundation in the name of The donation supports funding and resources for musical education programs across the country.

"We are pleased to announce as Dealer of the Year, consumer electronics,” said Bill Whearty, Sennheiser Electronic Corporation’s vice president of retail sales. “In 2010, delivered stunning sales results, increasing revenue by nearly 300 percent year over year. We are thrilled that Sennheiser products represent such an important part of their overall growth."

“When it comes to sound quality and product innovation, Sennheiser stands for an unwavering commitment to the customer experience, a principle we take close to heart at,” said Bernard Luthi, vice president of marketing, web management and customer service. "We are grateful to Bill Whearty and everyone else at Sennheiser for the outstanding support we received during 2010, and for their generous donation on our behalf to the Fender Music Foundation."

About Newegg Inc.
Newegg Inc. is the second-largest online-only retailer in the United States. It owns and operates ( which was founded in 2001 and regularly earns industry-leading customer service ratings. The award-winning website has more than 14 million registered users and offers customers a comprehensive selection of the latest high-tech products, detailed product descriptions and images, as well as how-to information and customer reviews. Using the site’s online tech community, customers have the opportunity to interact with other computer, gaming and consumer electronics enthusiasts. Newegg Inc. is headquartered in City of Industry, Calif.

About Sennheiser
Sennheiser is a world-leading manufacturer of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Established in 1945 in Wedemark, Germany, Sennheiser is now a global brand represented in 60 countries around the world with U.S. headquarters in Old Lyme, Conn. Sennheiser's pioneering excellence in technology has rewarded the company with numerous awards and accolades including an Emmy, a Grammy, and the Scientific and Engineering Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

You can find all the latest information on Sennheiser by visiting our website at

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

First Pure Google 4G Device with Android 2.3 in the U.S., Nexus S 4G from Google and Samsung, Coming to Sprint this Spring

First 4G device powered by Android 2.3 boasts pure Google experience, Google Voice integration, Super AMOLED display and Mobile Hotspot capability is Sprint’s 20th 4G device and fourth 4G phone announced to date

Visit to register to receive more information

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – March 21, 2011 – Sprint (NYSE: S) extends its 4G device innovation lead once again with the upcoming availability of the 20th 4G device and fourth 4G phone, Nexus S™ 4G1 from Google™. Coming to Sprint this spring, it will also be able to take advantage of the unprecedented controls and services enabled by Google Voice™ integration built into the Sprint Network.

Manufactured by Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung Mobile), a leading global mobile phone provider and the No. 1 mobile phone provider in the United States2, Nexus S 4G comes packed with a pure Google experience using Android™ 2.3, Gingerbread, the fastest version of Android available for smartphones. It is powered by a 1GHz Samsung application processor that produces rich 3D-like graphics, faster upload and download times and supports HD-like multimedia content along with a dedicated Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) to make playing mobile games, browsing the Web and watching videos a fast, fluid and smooth experience.

“Nexus S 4G shows the strong commitment Sprint has to Android, and when combined with our 4G network capabilities, it gives customers the option of a pure Google experience,” said Fared Adib, vice president – Product Development, Sprint. “As the first 4G smartphone with Android 2.3, Nexus S 4G delivers on the promise of the advanced data capabilities of 4G to deliver an incredible Web browsing experience, offers quick and easy access to future Android updates and access to the services built into Google Voice.”

It is designed with Samsung’s brilliant Super AMOLED™ touchscreen technology providing a premium viewing experience. The 4-inch Contour Display features a curved design for a more comfortable look and feel in the user’s hand or along the side of the face. It also offers a screen that is bright with higher color contrast, meaning colors are incredibly vibrant and text is crisp at any size and produces less glare than on other smartphone displays when outdoors, so videos, pictures and games look their best and the sun won't wash them out.

Sprint Nexus S 4G customers will be among the first to receive Android software upgrades and new Google mobile apps. In many cases, the device will get the updates and new apps as soon as they are available.

"We're excited to partner with Sprint on Nexus S 4G, which brings innovative hardware by Samsung and innovations on the Android platform, to create a powerful smartphone experience,” said Andy Rubin, vice president of Engineering at Google.

Nexus S 4G features a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera and camcorder and front-facing VGA camera. In addition, Nexus S 4G features a gyroscope sensor to provide a smooth, fluid gaming experience when the user tilts the device up or down or pans the phone to the left or right.

Additional key features include:

3G/4G Mobile Hotspot capability, supporting up to six Wi-Fi enabled devices simultaneously
Android Market™ for access to more than 150,000 applications, widgets and games available for download to customize the experience
Google mobile services such as Google Search™, Gmail™, Google Maps™ with Navigation, syncing with Google Calendar™, Voice Actions and YouTube™
Corporate email (Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync®), personal (POP & IMAP) email and instant messaging
Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which allows the device to read information from everyday objects, like stickers and posters embedded with NFC chips
16GB Internal Memory (ROM)/512MB (RAM)
Wi-Fi® – 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth® 2.1 + EDR
Integrated GPS
1500 mAh Lithium-ion battery

“Samsung is thrilled to work with Google and Sprint to create the next generation Nexus S. Adding 4G capabilities takes this iconic device to the next level,” said Dale Sohn, president of Samsung Mobile. “Nexus S 4G integrates Samsung’s best-in-class hardware and the exciting features of the Android 2.3 platform with the impressive speed and connectivity of Sprint’s 4G network.”

Nexus S 4G from Google will be available exclusively from Sprint this spring for $199.99 with a new two-year service agreement or eligible upgrade (taxes not included) in all Sprint retail channels, including the Web ( and Telesales (1-800-SPRINT1), as well as select national retailers.

Sprint Nexus S customers also will be able to easily use their current Sprint wireless phone number as their Google Voice number without having to port their number, avoiding porting charges and potential service disruptions. Google Voice makes it easy for people to manage and access most of their voice-based communication. It lets users manage up to six different phones through one number with intelligent call routing and advanced features like call screening, blocking and recording.

Now Sprint subscribers can use their Sprint number across their office, home and wireless phones, and personalize settings so calls from friends ring their wireless device and home phone, while calls from the boss only ring at the office. Google Voice users can receive transcribed voicemails and read or listen to them online. They can also read, send and search text messages and call logs online at

Nexus S 4G requires activation on one of Sprint’s Everything Data plans, plus a required $10 Premium Data add-on charge for smartphones. Sprint’s Everything Data plan with Any Mobile, AnytimeSM includes unlimited Web, texting and calling to and from any mobile in America while on the Sprint Network, starting at just $69.99 per month plus required $10 Premium Data add-on charge – a savings of $39.99 per month versus Verizon’s comparable plan with unlimited talk, text and Web (excluding Verizon’s Southern California plan; pricing excludes surcharges and taxes).

Sprint customers get more with unlimited data plans on the Sprint Network. Sprint offers real simplicity, value and savings versus competitors, making it easy for customers to get the most out of their phones without using a calculator to tally up costs or worrying about how much data they’ve used.

Sprint Everything Data plans qualify for automatic enrollment in the Sprint PremierSM loyalty program3. Existing Sprint customers can switch to an Everything Data plan without extending their service agreement. New lines of service require a two-year service agreement.

As the first national wireless carrier to test, launch and market 4G technology, Sprint made history by launching 4G in Baltimore in September 2008. As the first national wireless carrier to test, launch and market 4G technology, Sprint is America’s Favorite 4G Network4. Sprint currently offers 4G service in 71 markets in 28 states. For more information, visit

About Sprint Nextel

Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served more than 49.9 million customers at the end of 2010 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. Newsweek ranked Sprint No. 6 in its 2010 Green Rankings, listing it as one of the nation’s greenest companies, the highest of any telecommunications company. You can learn more and visit Sprint at or and

About Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC

Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC, a Dallas-based subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., researches, develops and markets wireless handsets and telecommunications products throughout North America. For more information, please visit

About Samsung Electronics

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. is a global leader in semiconductor, telecommunication, digital media and digital convergence technologies with 2008 consolidated sales of US$96 billion. Employing approximately 164,600 people in 179 offices across 61 countries, the company is recognized as one of the fastest growing global brands. Samsung Electronics is a leading producer of digital TVs, memory chips, mobile phones and TFT-LCDs. For more information, please visit

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Functional KICKER® Apps Now Available for iPhone® and iPad®

STILLWATER, USA – KICKER® Performance Audio has made it easier than ever for installers and do-it-yourselfers to research frequent car-audio questions with its free applications now available for iPhone®, iPod® touch® and iPad.®
KICKER U™ and KICKER U Lite™ are one-stop applications that help in the full design of subwoofer enclosures, assist with proper subwoofer wiring and provide KICKER subwoofer specifications. The KICKER U app is available on iTunes® for $4.99. KICKER U Lite is free, and both are currently available for download.
“We developed this app as an educational research tool,” KICKER software engineer Ian Oswald said. “Most (of KICKER’s) tech calls are people asking, ‘How should I build this sub box?’
“So, we created an app with accurate, helpful information that will help answer those kinds of questions.”
To download the application, the keywords ‘KICKER U’ should be entered into the iTunes search engine.
KICKER U offers a wealth of information for 12-volt audio installers and do-it-yourself types. Using the Box Builder feature, the consumer simply enters the number of KICKER subwoofers in the application, as well as the box type and desired shape, and the application does the rest. It instantly provides a line drawing of the enclosure with the minimum and maximum dimensions that the user can utilize in the project. Consumers also have the ability to upload and save any subwoofer’s Thiele-Small Parameters to create a custom enclosure.
Another feature is the Wiring Wizard. From the simplest installations to the most complicated, the Wiring Wizard shows specific diagrams of subwoofer wiring options.
KICKER U also offers calculators for power wire, port dimensions and tuning frequencies. The free Lite version will provide the Box Builder, Power Wire Calculator, Wiring Wizard and Sub Specs, minus some of the calculators. The KICKER Sub Specs feature allows installers to research basic or the most advanced Thiele-Small Parameters on nine different KICKER subwoofer product lines and 33 models.
“As new KICKER products are introduced, we’ll include them in the apps and push out updates,” Oswald said.
The app is currently compatible only with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, and requires iOS 4.2 or later.
“We hope to start working on an application for Android™ phones,” Oswald said. “But for now, we will frequently update the iTunes apps.”
Consumers can download the app located at this Internet URL: .
KICKER Performance Audio products, a division of Stillwater Designs and Audio, Inc.®, are available for the mobile and home audio aftermarket at authorized dealers worldwide, and also through selected Original Equipment Manufacturers. Consumers needing more information on KICKER or Livin’ Loud® may call the Consumer Information Line at 1-800-256-5425 or visit the brand Web site at Follow KICKER at and
iPod, iPod touch, iPhone, iPad and iTunes are trademarks of Apple, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
Android mobile technology platform is a trademark of Google Inc

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Monday, March 21, 2011

LiteOn iHBS212 12X Internal Blu-Ray Burner Review

I remember how excited I was getting my first CD burner. I was then able to make backup copies of anything - music, as well as data. Things have changed a lot since then. Home videos are more common, and that video has gotten higher and higher in quality. Now you can record video in high definition. High definition video can take up a lot of space. You can copy your video onto blank DVD's, but it won't hold very much. To copy more than around a 1/2 hour of high qulity high definition video, you need a higher capacity medium. A great way to do this is using a Blu-ray burner. Instead of a storage capacity of 4.7 GB per single layer disc, you now have a capacity of 25 GB per single layer disc. Up for review today is the Lite On iHBS212 Blu-ray disc burner. It is a great internal blu-ray burner with great speed at a great MSRP. MSRP is 159.99, although it can be found online for much less. It's features and specs include: Blu-Ray Playback: Enjoy High Definition Blu-ray movies. See the colours as they were meant to be. Blu-ray Disc movies offer unprecedented 1920 x 1080p resolution, which is 6 times the resolution of DVD. Serial ATA (SATA) connectivity: Higher transfer rates with SATA connection (compared to PATA) Future proof; compatibility with the latest motherboards Better airflow in PC casings due to smaller cable and plug sizes SATA supports hot swap(must be supported by your motherboard) Super AllWrite Super AllWrite is the compatibility standard from Lite-On to offer the ability to read, write and re-write to any disc format on the market Use your drive for any purpose with the media you desire (including CD-R, CD±RW, DVD±R, DVD±RW, DVD±R DL, DVD-RAM format discs Purchase your media without hassle; you no longer have to worry about compatibility LightScribe: Kiss your marker goodbye. Burn custom labels directly to CDs and DVDs using LightScribe Flip and burn. Create silkscreen-quality images on CDs or DVDs. After you burn content, just flip the disc, reinsert and burn your label Make your mark. Be creative. It your design, your images. With LightScribe, it your label! Smart-X: SMART-X(*2) function adjusts CD-DA / VCD / DVD data extraction to a fastest allowable speed according to both data request rate from host and disc quality. Smart BURN: SMART-BURN is a technology developed by Lite-ON. It can automatically adjust writing strategy & running OPC to provide the best burning quality and avoid Buffer Underrun error as well. BD-ROM/R/RE SL 8X maximum by CAV BD-ROM/R 8X maximum by CAV BD-RE DL 6X maximum by CAV Write BD-R 12X maximum by CAV BD-R DL 8X maximum by Z-CLV ReWrite BD-RE SL/DL 2X maximum by CLV Rand. Access time BD SL 250MS BD DL 380ms DVD Family Write DVD+R maximum by CAV DVD-R maximum by CAV DVD+R9 8X maximum by Zone CLV DVD-R9 8X maximum by Zone CLV DVD-RAM 12X maximum by CAV ReWrite DVD+RW 8X by Z-CLV DVD-RW 6X by Zone CLV Read 16X maximum by CAV Rand. Access time DVD ROM 150ms DVD R DL 160ms DVD-RAM 200ms CD Family Write CD-R 48X by CAV ReWrite CD-RW 48X by CAV Read 48X maximum by CAV Rand. Access time 150ms PC Required For High Definition BD Playback & Authoring: (Only Windows XP SP2)Pentium D 3.0GHz or faster CPU and 1GB or higher RAM are required. Bufer Size 8M (Max) Compatibility Windows® XP/2003/Vista/7 and Linux General Environment Operating 5ºc to 50ºc; Relative Humidity 15% to 80% Non-Operating -40ºc to 65ºc; Relative Humidity: 15% to 95% Dimension 146(W) X 41.3(H) x 170(D) mm Weight <>

Build quality and components used is on par with other manufacturers. There usually is not much difference in appearent quality between optical drive manufacturers. That appears to be the case here. It did have a fairly solid feel and heft to it for an optical drive. Also included was a CyberLink BD Solution software disc. It includes PowerDVD 9 BD, PowerProducer 5, PowerDirector 7, Power2Go 6, PowerBackup 2, LabelPrint 2, and InstantBurn 5. They are all the programs needed to burn discs, whether it be copying a disc, editing home movies, or scheduling back-up. And the PowerDVD 9 BD player is also 3D ready!

Installation was rather simple. Four included mounting screws come with the drive, as well as a SATA data cable. So placing the drive in the case, and screwing it in securely was easy. Then it is just a matter of connecting the data cable to the motherboard, and connect a power cable from the power supply.

Performance proved to be pretty good. Running some benchmarks with SiSoft Sandra 2011, data transfer was 23.38MB/s, and an access time of 213.24ms. And at 12X it is quite speedy at burning BD-R discs! Burning 25GB of home videos only took 20 minutes! I remember it taking over twice that long back in the day for just a 4.7GB DVD-R. But what I really look for is a lack of coasterability. That is to say, that it will not give me a bunch of shiny round plastic coasters for me to use on my coffee table. That usually isn't an issue with todays optical drives. And the LiteOn iHBS212 proved to hold true as well. I ran several disc types, and burned many discs of all different types from CD, DVD and Blu-Ray. I am happy to report that I did not get any new coasters to add to my collection. That is a good thing, especially with BD-R discs, which are still a bit pricey.

To sum it up, the LiteOn iHBS212 is a great drive. Build quality is good, it came with all the necessary hardware to install it, and some great software. It performed well enough in my tests, and what I like the best is it's lack of adding to my coaster collection! In todays world, having a DVD burner in your computer is the norm, but with the increase in file sizes with HD video, it only makes sense to have a Blu-ray burner drive! If you are in the market for a Blu-ray burner, I would highly suggest adding the LiteOn iHBS212 to your list. Based on its performance, features, and included software suite, it has earned our Value award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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