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Mini-Review: Plantronics Backbeat Go 2 Bluetooth Headset

plantronics-bbtgo2After my adventure with the Nexus 4 and an LG Bluetooth headset last fall I had pretty much given up on wireless headsets for listing to music while out and about. I resorted to using my trusty Etymotic Research HF5’s with a Bluetooth audio transmitter. That combination overcame the fact of the failed headset jack on my Nexus 4. However, I had unwittingly left a BT headset on my Amazon wish list, which resulted in a Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 BT Wireless Headset under the Christmas tree.

In truth, trying yet another wireless headset has me once again wishing that I had a dummy head. No, no…not the head of a dummy…let’s not get snarky, ok? I mean a dummy head with reference microphones, like the Neumann KU 100, for properly measuring headset frequency response. Such tools are beyond the scope of even an advanced hobbyist.

Over the past few weeks I’ve made use of the Backbeat Go 2 while walking the dogs and working around the yard. I’ve listened to various podcasts (Marketplace & Escape Pod are favorites) as well as music via Amazon Prime. In general, I find the Plantronics Backbeat Go 2  completely satisfactory for listening to music.  To my ears they’re much better than the LG HBS series.

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Opus Codec Appears in Broadcast STL System

Intraplex-IP-Link-100-and-200-angle-transparentToday’s news dump included an article on GatesAir, now a freestanding entity, it was once the transmission division of what was then known as Harris Broadcast. The company makes radio and TV transmitters, as well as related equipment, which includes studio-to-transmitter (aka STL) links. According to the Broadcast Beat article they have sold and installed one of their Intraplex IP STLs to WRLY-LP, a low power radio station in Raleigh, NC.

A broadcaster with a transmitter that is not located right at their main building (not co-sited) needs an extremely reliable means of sending their broadcast signal from the studio to the transmitter location. They also need some way to get some transmitter telemetry back from the remote location so that they can monitor the health of the transmitter. Their on-air presence via the transmitter is, after all, their bread and butter.

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Some Guidance On Headsets

Passport_21_OTH_3_QTR_RightA couple of weeks ago, over at the Broadband Reports forum on VoIP Tech, there was a question posed about selecting the best low cost microphone for VoIP applications. This is a topic that I’ve considered at length. It has much in common with my background in recording and broadcasting. On that basis I weighed in with some opinion. As I my way, I probably provided a longer answer than anyone anticipated, or even wanted. After re-reading it a few times I thought it worth sharing here as well.

The original question:

I realize many problems people experience are due to a lousy mic that isn’t noise canceling or picks up sounds from a anywhere in the room. There are many ways to improve this. I like the idea of a pickup pattern that is very isolated in front of the mic and within a finite range so I don’t have to wear the mic but maybe this is asking too much. If the mic only picks up sounds very close to it, wearing it can sure avoid a lot of problems. Don’t know if firewire or USB3 is better than USB2 or if its better to run the mic directly into your mic input of your motherboard or audio card or something else. Latency is not our friend! VOIP is so sensitive to extraneous noise so this needs to be addressed and is dependent on the ambient noise of the user. Any recommendations? Few of us work in a soundproof office.

As a long-time and vocal proponent of headsets for office use this is right in my wheelhouse. For example…. https://www.mgraves.org/2011/07/can-you-hear-me-now-headset-vs-speakerphone-in-the-home-office/

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The LG HBS-730 Bluetooth Headset Sucks Rocks

Nexus7-Headset-BT-xmitter verticalAs was mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been looking for a Bluetooth headset primarily for listening to music. This is a very different use case for me. For years I’ve reserved Bluetooth wireless devices exclusively for use with my mobile phone, making phone calls.

I bought one of the leading devices in this class, the LG HBS-730. It was recommended by several friends, so I thought it would surely be great. Except that it wasn’t. Compared to my reference, the Etymotic HF5, it sounded dull and lifeless when paired to anything I had on-hand.

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Lightning Strikes Beats

BeatsHeadphonesWhiteI’ve not been a fan of Beats by Dr. Dre. I’ve purchased a couple of their lesser headsets and found them wanting. So it was that the purchase of the company by Apple didn’t really rock my world view, although the sum involved brought with it a bright spotlight. Lacking for other information there was a lot of speculation as to the underlying logic. It was certainly a curiosity.

Apple’s recent announcement that they will be abandoning the use of the ubiquitous 3.5mm TRS plug for the lightning connector is however very interesting. While it doesn’t change anything about the performance of the products, this announcement casts a new light on the value of the Beats deal. It makes a certain amount of sense if Apple wants to take the whole realm of headsets beyond analog connections, even beyond USB connections.

Digital connections, whether USB or other, make a lot of sense. Such connections remove the variability of the hosts on-board audio interface. In the case of a computer, being at arms length from the internals of the device reduces the likelihood of noise induced into the analog stages of the electronics.

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