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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My dog ate my headphones

ER-ER5HF5BLACK_2Seriously, it happened last week. One evening I fell asleep listening to a podcast. My phone fell to the floor along with my trusty of Etymotic HF5 headphones. Julio, our 18 month-old Dogo-mix, who very much likes to chew on soft plastic toys, found the earbuds to tempting to pass up. Happily, he did not ingest them. He simply rendered them useless.

You may recall that I bought a pair of OneMore Triple-Driver Earphones back in 2016. These ultimately proved disappointing. Performance-wise, they deliver exaggerated bass. They’re supposedly tuned by Luca Bignardi, a professional musician and recording engineer working in Italy. To my ears, they’re seriously imbalanced.

Further, they don’t fit as well as the ETY’s. The tips come loose, and annoyingly tend to remain in my ears when I take the buds off. When I reported this to the company they reacted with surprise, and sent me another set of tips. however, those tips didn’t change a thing. I’m done with 1More.

There are about a zillion companies now offering earphones, or the more uppity “in-ear monitors.” Most of them complete unknowns.

I’m tempted by the new Etymotic ER4XR. According to InnerFidelity they offer improved bass response over the older models. Sadly, priced around $350, they are beyond my budget.

All this begs the question, what are your favorite headphones?

Finally, an Affordable Ambisonic Microphone

twirling720lite-200pxLong, long ago, in a city far, far away I was a college student. I was studying media arts, and somewhere along the line decided to do a paper on an emerging new approach to recording called Ambisonics. This is a most elegant approach to recording conceived by Michael Gerzon, a brilliant, English mathematician. Beyond simply the theoretical, Gerzon developed a microphone in support of his idea, which became the Soundfield Microphone.

How I lusted after a Soundfield microphone, and the four-channel recorder necessary to make field recordings. Manufactured in England by Calrec, the Soundfield microphone cost upwards of $10K on its own. As a not quite starving, but certainly hungry student, this was far beyond my reach.

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A Boom Stick on the Cheap

A little over a year ago I offered up an observation of a little audio gadget called a Boom Stick from BoomCloud 360.

I remain more than a little incredulous with respect to the makers claims about the device. Still, it might be fun to try and reconcile it’s behavior against the companies various statements.

I see that is now possible for much less than the $99 that was originally asked. Today Daily Steals is offering the BoomStick for just $18. That’s down in the Mad Money range, so maybe worth a try.

Dolby Voice From a Distance

In my gig at ZipDX I work with some very interesting people. Barry Slaughter-Olsen is one of those people. Barry is a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, where he teaches the art of simultaneous interpretation to a new generation of language professionals. He’s also the co-founder of Interpret America, a group dedicated to raising the profile of interpreting. Further, he’s the GM of Multilingual Operations for ZipDX.

All of the above builds upon the fact that he’s a tremendously skilled conference interpreter. He also happens to be a self-professed geek, which is handy in business that, like so many others, is facing an onslaught of new technologies.

Barry Tweets.jpg

The other day Barry posed a question via twitter. In reference to Dolby Voice he asked “is this any better than #HDVoice?” It’s good question, so I did a little digging.

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