Deal Alert: Etymotic ER3XR or ER3SE In-Ear-Monitors for $149

er3xr_box_mo_1As was mentioned a short while back, our young Dogo mix Julio ate my headphones. Of course, that’s not entirely true. He didn’t actually ingest them. He simply chewed them up. In that simple act, he rendered them useless.

In my attempt to pay more attention to this site I detailed his misadventure here. I asked for opinions on a replacement, but you were no help at all! I suppose that’s my fault since I’ve been ignoring this project for quiet a while.

Lacking for direct input, I set about researching replacements. I’ve had a couple different models of Etymotic products over the years. I began with a couple of pairs of ER6i, then the now-destroyed HF5s. The HF5s are still offered. They sound good, and at $100, they’re attractively priced.

Over the years, I’ve recommended Etymotic headphones to various friends and associates. The balanced armature design sounds crystal clear, which I admire. Some people have justifiably commented that they lack truly deep bass. I thought it worth finding a product that could do a little better in that arena.

To bring this ramble to a conclusion, after much research I came more-or-less full-circle, settling upon the Etymotic ER3XR. These are a good step up from the HF5s, and have the bass extension that I was seeking.

Since they’re a brand new model there was no deal to be found. I paid $179 for the pair that I’ve been using the past few weeks. However, this week I see that Massdrop is offering the ER3s for just $149.

I’m quite pleased with these so far. They don’t have a microphone, so they’re for listening only. However, they do have a removable cable using the standard MMCX connector. That presents the opportunity to replace the cable with a third-party replacement that includes a microphone.

Koss Presents Two Issues: Gaming & Wireless Headphones

The past week or two I’ve been revisiting Koss, the legendary makers of headphones. Koss invented stereo headphones (they called the “Stereophones”) in 1958. They’ve mostly be known for headphones, although they have made a few communications headsets over the years.

Koss GMR-540 Series Gaming Headphones

It had been a while since I reviewed a headset suitable for use by interpreters using ZipDX multilingual. Then I stumbled upon the Koss GMR-540 Series. Introduces in the summer of 2017, these are relatively inexpensive headphones targeting gamers. As such, they have a microphone.

KOSS-GMR-545-vs-GMR-540

More interestingly, the microphone is part of the cable, which can be completely removed from the headphones. The maker provides each headset with two cables;

  • A short (4 foot) cable with an inline microphone, suitable for use with a mobile phone, tablet or laptop.
  • A long (8 foot) cable with a boom-mounted microphone, suitable for use with a desktop computer or gaming console.

Depending upon which model you choose, the long cable will terminate in dual 3.5mm mini-plugs for mic & headphones, or a USB connector.

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Deal Alert: Amazon offering El Gato Camlink for just $89

Hey-ho there neighbor! You might recall some time back I reviewed the little El Gato Camlink, an inexpensive device to allow video capture from HDMI sources to a computer with a USB 3.0 port. Originally offered for $129, Camlink was notable for being about the cheapest way to get that done. Today Amazon’s Gold Box deals include the Camlink for just $89.99.

As I mentioned before, Camlink works well enough, within certain constraints:

  • It can’t scale the video size. If you feed it 1080p the host software on the computer will see only 1080p.
  • It doesn’t have an onboard compression engine. The software that you’re using must be able to handle YUY2 uncompressed video. Not a problem in most cases.
  • It requires a USB 3.0 port. Uncompressed video required big bandwidth, so in most cases the Camlink needs a USB 3.0 port. You might be able to get away with USB 2.0 if your source is SD or 720p30.

At the time it was launched CamLink did not deal with interlaced video. That means that SD or 1080i sources were a problem. I’m told that the company has since solved that problem with a firmware update. I installed the new software, but have not yet scrounged an interlaced source to test that claim.

Most recently, I’ve used it to capture the output of an older GoPro Hero2. It worked flawlessly in that role.

Unexpected Friends: Pixel & Sennheiser DW Pro 2 Headset

Being in the conferencing business, I’m on the phone a lot during the course of my working life. Most of my phone calling happens via a pair of dear friends; my Polycom VVX-600 and a Sennheiser DW Pro 2 DECT headset. This pair has proven itself in literally years of office use. They’re simply tremendous.

vvx-600 & DW Pro headset

In fact, they’re so good together that my mobile phone was something of an afterthought. I only used it after hours, or when someone called me at that number. That someone was most typically my wife. Stella always calls my mobile. She never calls my desk.

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Webcams Where None Should be

It’s as if laptop makers have started playing a little game of hide-the-webcam. In their zeal to offer borderless displays the built-in webcam gets relocated to the most unfortunate places, often with terrible consequences.

Dell XPS

This trend started in 2015 with Dell’s XPS. While the InfinityEdge display was lovely, it forced them to move the webcam from the usual location in the top edge of the display. In their wisdom, Dell put it in the “chin” under the display, and even under the logo. It’s literally right above the keyboard.

xps13_c_3

This location makes for some odd viewing angles. It’s been referred to as the “Nosecam,” which seems appropriate. Others have more specific observations here, here and here.

Tom’s Guide even suggests you use a trick to rotate the webcam video and place the laptop on its side when making video calls.

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Splyce: Intel NUC as a Host for vMix

Now that my video production activities are all desktop-based, my habit of handling video crosses paths with my long-standing affection for small form factor computers. For the past year I’ve used a fanless Airtop-PC from CompuLab as my primary desktop workstation. It has shown itself to be a very capable host for vMix, which is my very favorite live video production tool.

In considering the purchase of the Airtop I also looked long and hard at Intel’s NUC line-up. There’s a lot to like about the NUCs. In particular, the Skull Canyon NUC, with it’s i7-6770HQ CPU, presented an attractive price/performance combination. Others in the vMix user community have noted that it runs vMix handily, despite the lack of an nVidia GPU.

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