Headphone Burn-In

Have you ever purchased a new set of headphones that everyone raves about, only to be disappointed by its lackluster performance?  Too tinny?  Not enough bass?  Before you return it, try to burn in the headphones first.

What is burn-in?

Burn-in is like “stretching out” for new audio equipment before the big workout, and is the term used to describe the settling of the headphone diaphragms into their intended and most efficient state.  What this means is that it has to settle in to a proper “fit” or “sound.”

Burn-in is an electronic process wherein components are kept on for extended periods of time to detect potential flaws, and it is also a physical process where the diaphragms loosen up through use and eventually reach a point that could be considered final.  This has somewhat been used synonymously to “breaking-in” a new set of headphones.

The theory behind the process of burn-in postulates that using the headphones will loosen the diaphragms of dynamic headphones, thus allowing them to become more flexible and vibrate more freely.  This is analogous to breaking in baseball gloves or a pair of shoes.  With use over time, the headphones achieve their tone with gradually fewer sonic faults, thus drawing closer to the designer’s intentions.  Meier Audio has different words for the same process: break-in “improves the mechanical properties of the suspension of the drivers and also tightens” the windings of the coil.  The result varies among users:  Some cannot discern the difference, yet for others the difference is black and white.  Most, however, identify the difference as being more subtle.

How do I do it?

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Logitech Ultimate Ears 600vi

This is a review of the Logitech Ultimate Ears 600vi Noise-Isolating Headset – Dark Silver. I tried this inner ear headset on various devices: Blackberry, iPhone 4S, iPad, iPad2, iPod Touch, iPod Mini, ThinkPad Lenovo, MacBook Pro, and Dell Precision 690.  It works well as a headset, and the mic and controller features work on my blackberry and iPhone/iPad/iPod.  Bottom line is that it is a very good inner-ear headset (IEH), but there is certainly room for improvement.

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Samsung F4 Firmware Update – Prevent Data Corruption

I have been getting lots of inquiries about how to upgrade the firmware of the Samsung F4 HD204UI 2Tb hard drive.

The major issue is the enhanced probability of data corruption (and data loss!).  There seems to be a flaw in the drive’s firmware where disk writes can become corrupted when the write cache is enabled.

Because of this, a firmware update was released by Samsung, and this updated firmware seems to be required for many of the older drives.

However, since Seagate recently acquired Samsung, the FAQ relating to this problem (http://www.samsung.com/global/business/hdd/faqView.do?b2b_bbs_msg_id=386) is no longer available through Samsung.  Any attempt to access the Samsung domain will redirect to Seagate’s home page.  And, searching the Seagate site is futile and yields no useful information about this issue.

Fortunately, there is a functional download site to the F4EG firmware update.  Yes, it works!  I verified it several times now!

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Hitachi Deskstar Desktop Hard Drive

This is a review of the Hitachi Deskstar 3.5-inch Internal Hard Drive.  I have the 1TB and 2TB versions, but I will be reviewing the 1TB model here.

Basic specs are included in the product description. It is a 1TB 7200 rpm drive with 32 MB Cache. It comes in a retail packaging. The drive is in an anti-static bag, and suspended by plastic holders for protection during delivery and handling. It comes with 4 drive screws, and does not come with a SATA cable.

I purchased this drive when it went for $45 on one of those online deals (a price you won’t see for a while due to the recent flooding in Asia).  I need to increase the disk storage space for my workstation, so I am playing with a few different ones to see which ones suit my needs best.

What I need are disks for:

1. I need a drive for file storage; require immediate access to these files. I work with a lot of different file types, which include word processing, picture files (JPG, TIF, RAW), video files (SD, HD, mp4, VOB) for text, picture, and video editing.
2. I need a backup of this drive (manual backup) onto another drive (in the same computer); I run it almost like RAID1, but I manually backup these drives.
3. Automatic backup of this drive onto NAS box running RAID1.

This is a very quiet drive. I think this may be a different model than my other Hitachi drives, which are relatively louder than this one (I have to verify it later). It also runs relatively cool at 33 C during these testings, which means that it is less susceptible to heat damage from use over time (one of the primary causes of hard drive failure is overheating).

Firstly, as a single partition, this drive will come out as 931 GB. (You can skip this paragraph if you understand why a 1TB drive is now just over 900GB after installation.) This is due mainly to the ambiguity of the nomenclature. Briefly (and without going too much into the science), electronic memory circuits such as hard drives and memory chip sizes use a binary architecture, and this means that the number of addressable storage locations is based on the power of 2. Therefore, memory sizes are NOT integer multiples of 1000 (or 10^3), but of 1024. This magic number 1024 is based on 2^10 (read as “two to the power of 10,” which is equal to 1024), and because this is approximately 1000, the prefix symbol K (or kilo) was used for convenience. Bottom line is that this drive has 10^9 Bytes (or 1,000,000,000 Bytes, which can be termed as one “Giga” Byte), which is 977 x 10^6 KB, which is 954 x 10^3 MB, which is 931 GB. So if you were wondering where the 69 GB of data storage went, it got lost in the math of ambiguous nomenclature.

Bottom line is that this drive is cheap, fast, and quiet (for a 7200rpm drive). If you need to upgrade your desktop computer’s hard drive, I highly recommend this drive.

If you would like to see some benchmark results, read on (warning: geek alert):
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3 quick tips for iPhone 4S #1

Quick tips for iPhone 4S users:

These are not secret tips, but almost all of my friends and colleagues did not know about at least one of these features (including myself).

I would like to credit Michelle R for these helpful tips.  She has fast become my go-to consultant for these things.

1.  Get to camera/iPod control without having to unlock your phone.  

If you are like me, you probably activated the key lock so that whenever your phone times out and locks, you have to put in the 4-digit numerical password.  If you need quick access to your iPod or camera, and do not want to have to input the password each and every time, you can just press the home button twice, and you will get direct access to the iPod controller (reverse, play/pause, forward), and the camera button on the bottom right to activate the camera.

2.  Scroll through contacts list quickly.

At the right of the contact list, there are letters that if you press on it and scroll up/down, you can scroll through the contacts list by letter rather than by each contact.

3.  Domain suffix (ie “.com” etc.)

I used to just type out this simple 4-character ending when surfing through Safari.  After a while, it got old.  Well, there is a key for it, sitting next to the “Go” key at the bottom right of the keypad.  So now you can type your address (www.whateverthewebaddressis) and then press this key to add “.com” at the end.  Sure, it will only save 2 seconds of your time, but if you type enough web addresses, over time any little bit will help.

If you keep the “.com” key pressed, it will give you other suffix options (“.net” “.edu” and “.org”).  Slide your finger to the other keys, rather than lifting and pressing the key.

If your default search engine is google (and not yahoo), you don’t even need to type “www” or “.com” so if you want to go to “www.nytimes.com” you just need to type “nytimes”

I hope this helps.

Buffalo Technology MiniStation Stealth

This review is for the Buffalo Technology MiniStation Stealth 500 GB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive

Buffalo Technology MiniStation Stealth

I have to admit that this drive may be my new favorite go-to backup drive. When this drive dropped sub-50 dollars, I snagged it, and so far I have been pleased. I have used this device on various computers, including a PC (WinXP SP3), Mac (OS X Leopard), and Linux (various flavors).

Overall, I found this to be a very good drive.

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Jabra EXTREME2 BT Headset

Jabra EXTREME2 BT Headset:  An almost-perfect bluetooth headset.

The Jabra EXTREME2 builds on the success and technology of its predecessor, the Jabra EXTREME, by offering the same high quality headset but now with a more advanced set of features. With Noise Blackout 3.0 technology it blocks out an astonishing amount of background noise, ensuring you enjoy your conversations without disruption. Sound quality is more robust with the inclusion of HD Voice technology. This enhancement allows you to hear the other person’s voice with unbelievable clarity, so that you can enjoy extremely clear hands-free conversations – anywhere and anytime. Automatic Volume control instantly adjusts the headset volume to best suit your environment and various styles of Ultimate Comfort Eargels provides a superb fit that sits comfortably and securely on your ear for all day comfort.

I compared this to my current go-to Bluetooth headset, which is the Plantronics Voyager PRO (PV Pro) Bluetooth Headset.  I’ve made some direct comparisons between the two.

Overall, I recommend it.  For more information, please read the full article.

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