Computer Accessories Archive

Buyer’s Guide – Giving your portable computer equipment better sound

A very common criticism that I have heard concerning laptop computers is that most of them don’t yield very good sound quality. Here, the sound quality is very weak and tinny, which can impair your enjoyment of music or movies on these systems. Similarly a lot of popularly-priced tabletop Internet radios give sound quality that is comparable to a 1970s-era portable radio or cassette recorder.

How can we improve the sound quality of these devices. Firstly, I would make sure that the device has a headphone or line-out connection. All laptops and most Internet radios would be equipped with this connection and if I review an Internet radio and it doesn’t have that kind of connection, I would list that as a failure.

I will be using audio terminology through this article and if you are unfamiliar with these terms, have a look at this reference page that I have created.

Existing sound equipment

A lot of existing sound systems that have a line-level input for connection to other devices can help to improve the sound output of laptops, tablets, Internet radios and similar devices. Typically you would connect the source device to this sound system, select the input that your device is connected to on that system.

Then you would need to set the source device’s output level to a point where the sound will come through strongly and clearly and have any tone control on the source disabled or set to “flat”. You would subsequently adjust the sound volume and tone by using the controls on your existing sound equipment that your device is play into.

New life for older equipment

This practice is a common use for older hi-fi equipment that has been supplanted by newer and better equipment ever since computer audio came on the scene. In a similar way, the 1980s-era “ghetto blasters” continued to earn their keep even if the cassette mechanism failed by just becoming amplified speakers for computer equipment. These audio relics were simply dusted off and connected to the computer’s audio output and continued their service that way.

Connection types

Line-level connections

The line-level inputs are typically labelled “Tape”, “CD”, “Tuner”, “Aux” or something similar. But don’t use the inputs intended for direct connection to turntables that have magnetic-cartridge pickups, which are typically labelled “PHONO”.

There are some amplifiers that may have a PHONO input that is able to work with ceramic-cartridge pickups or magnetic-cartridge pickups by you flicking a switch between “CERAMIC” or “XTAL” and “MAGNETIC” or “MM”. In this case, you would have to select the “CERAMIC” option on this switch. This practice is also used with some “ghetto blasters” and other low-end equipment that uses a PHONO/LINE connection for one set of RCA inputs.

This is usually achieved through a 3.5mm-stereo-phone-plug – 3.5mm-stereo-phone-plug cable if the amplifying device has a 3.5mm input jack or the common 3.5mm-stereo-phone-plug to 2-RCA-plugs cable for most other equipment.

Digital connections

You may be able to use a digital link of some sort between the source device and the destination if both have a similar kind of digital connection.

SPDIF

This may be found on some Internet radios or some laptops, usually as an optical connection. As well, all home-theatre receivers and some high-end stereo receivers and amplifiers have this kind of input, either as a coaxial or optical connection.

The coaxial SPDIF connection is commonly in the form of an RCA socket but a handful of equipment from high-end audio manufacturers may use a BNC socket similar to what was used for the old-style coaxial Ethernet connections.

The optical connection typically uses a square “Toslink” plug for most mains-powered equipment but some laptops and other low-profile equipment may use a 3.5mm optical socket.

You may have to configure computer SPDIF outputs to pass PCM audio signals rather than a bitstream signal if the playback device is a device other than a Dolby-Digital-equipped home-theatre receiver. This setting is the lowest common denominator for all equipment such as stereo digital amplifiers and digital-analogue-converter components.

HDMI

This connection type is used on most recent-issue laptops and works with large flatscreen TVs and all recent-issue home-theatre receivers.

But there are catches with using this connector. Some low-end home-theatre receivers use these connections only to switch video sources to the connected TV screen without reproducing the sound that comes across this connection. Similarly, some DisplayPort-HDMI adaptors wont pass sound to the HDMI connector unless they have appropriate connections.

Extension speaker systems

Sony SRS-DB500 satellite speakers - extension speakers for computer equipmentYou can purchase amplified speaker systems for use with your computer or similar equipment. A lot of these speakers don’t have a volume control on them and are intended to be adjusted using the host device’s volume control, with the amplifiers being simply power amplifiers.

There are the two-piece speakers, known as 2.0 setups, which are simply a pair of amplified speakers. Examples of these include the B&O Beolab 4 PC or the JBL Duet II. A lot of them use a stereo amplifier on one speaker housing with the other speaker plugged in to the amplified housing whereas other better-quality units use separate amplifiers in each housing.

Another type of amplified-speaker system that is common for computers and similar applications is the 2.1 setup, exemplified by the Sony SRS-DB500 that I previously reviewed or the Logitech Z623. This consists of two small speakers capable of reproducing midrange and treble frequencies in stereo that are connected to a bass module, commonly known as a “subwoofer”. This module has the amplification for all of the speakers as well as the speaker for reproducing the bass frequencies. These systems are well known for very good bass response due to their separate bass module and typically have a separate bass-level control to manage that response.

A variation on this theme that I have noticed is a “5.1” surround speaker setup with five of the small speakers and separate input channels for each of the speakers. Examples of these include the Creative SRS-A520 and the Logitech Z506.These are typically pitched at games enthusiasts who want the full punch of the sound effects in their games.

Good-quality single-piece iPod speaker docks that I have mentioned previously in this site, like the Bose SoundDock speakers or the B&O Beosound 8 can work well as extension speakers in situations where speaker placement isn’t critical, such as music playback from a laptop or mobile device.

Most of the speakers are connected to the headphone output or line output of the sound sources. But more expensive variants of these speakers have integrated digital-decoding circuitry and connect to the sound source using a regular SPDIF or HDMI digital interconnect or USB connection.

As with buying hi-fi speaker systems, it pays to take your time, shop around and hear how the speakers sound if you want to buy a set that you will enjoy listening to. Keep an eye on the reviews in the computer and audio press and blogosphere so you can hear from other users about their experience. In a lot of cases, you will pay more for better-quality speakers.

USB and ExpressCard sound modules

Toshiba Tecra R950 - ExpressCard or USB sound-module connection options

USB or ExpressCard ports for external sound-module connections on a laptop

There is an increasing number of external sound modules available that connect to laptops using a vacant USB port or ExpressCard slot. Examples of these modules include  Creative’s Sound Blaster X-Fi Go Pro and Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro.

Most such modules work as full external sound cards which connect to a line input on an external sound system or a pair of powered speakers, with some having their own power amplifier so they can drive a set of regular speakers themselves.

But an increasing number of these devices have a coaxial or optical SPDIF digital output which passes a digital signal stream to a home theatre receiver, digital preamplifier or similar device either as a PCM or Dolby Digital bitstream. This connection is usually to permit playback of surround-sound content like game soundtracks through Dolby-Digital-equipped home-theatre receivers; but can allow you to exploit hi-fi-grade digital-analogue circuitry in the good digital-enabled sound equipment.

Select sound output in Windows Media Player

You can select a sound-output device for Windows Meidia Player

These devices present themselves to the operating system as an extra sound device and you would have to set your media-playback software to use these devices if you want the sound coming out of the speakers that are connected to these modules. This can be done through the “Options” or “Preferences” menus in the media playback software.

They, like the add-on sound cards installed in desktop computers, offer improved sound quality for most laptops due to having improved dedicated sound circuitry in them. Some of these modules are made for use with high-quality audio applications and may have input circuitry that also works with good-quality microphones, electronic musical instruments or good-quality equipment. They are usually targeted at professional musicians, production recording, broadcast and similar applications and are very dear; but are worth their salt if you place high value on sound quality.

Connecting USB speakers or external sound modules to your computer

Most of the USB speakers or sound modules present themselves as a “class device” to the computer’s operating system. This means that computers running Windows, MacOS X or Linux won’t need you to install driver software in order to have the audio device run. Some of the speakers or sound modules may require the use of manufacturer-supplied software in order to enable device-specific advanced functionality and this would be on a CD supplied with the hardware or available from the manufacturer’s site.

Playback Devices list in Windows 7

All sound-output devices in Windows 7

They will typically present themselves as another sound-output device or “sound card” which you can select in your operating system’s sound-configuration menus. It is also worth noting that most media-playback software and some games can allow you to choose the audio device that you want the program to use. This can allow you to use the regular sound setup like a laptop’s integrated speakers for audio prompts while a good-quality USB sound module connected to a good amplifier and speakers is used for music playback from Windows Media Player. Other programs may require you to change your default sound output device, which means that all the sounds, including the audio prompt sounds will come through the good-quality audio playback setup.

Conclusion

Once you know what to buy, you can then choose the right audio equipment to bring life in to your laptop’s, smartphone’s, Internet radio’s or other device’s sound output.

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What connectivity options to look for in those iPod speaker-docks?

The market is flooded with so many iPod / iPhone speaker-dock systems that you don’t know which ones to consider or what to get. A few of these units that are built by hi-fi names can yield a very good room-filling sound with the deep bass whereas other cheap units just don’t cut it with sound quality.

But you need to be sure that you can use them with devices beyond the Apple iPod or iPhone. Some cheaper speaker-docks have just the slot for an iPod or iPhone and they become useless for those of you who use tablet computers, laptops or Android / WP7 phones.

A line-level input

The speaker dock must be equipped with a line-level audio input of some form. Here, it will be a 3.5mm phone jack or a pair of RCA sockets located on the front or back of the device and this connector may be labelled AUX IN, AUDIO IN, LINE IN or something similar. A few devices use a flylead with an 3.5mm stereo phone plug at one end for quickly plugging your phone or other source in to the speaker dock.

A variety of these speaker docks have a volume control of their own so you can connect an audio-playback device with a fixed output level like a CD player to them yet be able to adjust the volume. On the other hand, this connection would require you to adjust the volume at the source device.

Other connections nice to have

I have raised these other options that may exist in addition to broadcast-radio reception or access to the home network for Internet radio and DLNA-compliant content playback, that may exist in some speaker docks.

USB connectivity

A standard USB socket can be nice to have for charging and powering devices like tablet computers or mobile phones on the end of a USB cable. Some setups may also allow playback of content held on a phone or USB memory key through the use of the speaker-dock’s control surface.

Bluetooth A2DP connectivity

This connectivity option works with a large range of mobile devices ranging from some MP3 players through phones and tablets based on the common operating platforms to laptops running Windows, MacOS X and Linux. Here, you have a wireless link from the device to the speaker dock using this standard. This would work well with tablet computers that work as your personal jukebox.

Some speakers like the Bose SoundDock series may offer this as a manufacturer-supplied optional accessory. On the other hand, you can use a third-party Bluetooth audio link that connects to the speaker’s line-level input.

Conclusion

If you looking for that iPod speaker-dock, make sure that, even if you are primarily using it with your iPod or iPhone, it is future proof for use with tablet computers and other devices so you can get more out of the speaker dock.

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25th Anniversary of Bang & Olufsen’s Form 2 headphones

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Form 2 – new colours – Bang & Olufsen

Product Review – HomeNetworking01.info

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

My Comments

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Now Bang & Olufsen are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their Form 2 lightweight headphone design which I have reviewed on this site. These had the earpieces anchored to the headphone using a connection that wouldn’t look out of place on a nice watch; and were known for very good quality sound.

They have now been released in different colours rather than just the black finish that was associated with them. Here you can choose to have them in red, orange, yellow or white as well as black. The press photos on the B&O site also have images of them having the classic B&O logo on them, which would be similar to the trend that I have seen with other desirable brands where the logo is clearly visible.

It is also worth noting that I heard from B&O sales staff that these headphones are one of the few premium-priced headphones that are optimised for use on portable devices as well as home or professional audio equipment. This is compared to a practice associated with some other premium headphones where the impedance is suited for the headphone jack of a hi-fi amplifier, CD player, tape/MiniDIsc deck or mixing desk; and wouldn’t have the full volume from an MP3 player, smartphone or laptop computer.

This is definitely one of Bang & Olufsen’s classic designs that makes me think of their products being like the Jaguar cars. Here, these products aren’t about a label that only represents a status symbol, but are about something you enjoy using because they deliver the performance. You expect the clear treble notes and vocals while you hear a tight bass line when you hear music through them.

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Product Review–Brother P-Touch PT-2730 label writer

Introduction

I am reviewing the Brother P-Touch PT-2730 label writer which can turn out printed labels for attaching to various items. Unlike most labellers, it is one of those units that can be connected with a computer so you can create customised designs or have your office software prepare labels for printing out.

Brother P-Touch PT-2730 label writer

Price

Recommended Retail Price: $129

The unit itself

Setup

The Brother P-Touch can be operated on AC current using a supplied transformer or can be used on the road once four AA batteries are installed in it. Personally, I would like it to support the use of rechargeable batteries with in-situ charging and / or receive its power while tethered to a host computer via its USB port.

Brother P-Touch PT-2730 label writer tape compartment

Tape compartment where the label tape goes

The PT-2730 uses Brother’s “TZ” label tape cartridges which are dropped in to the unit in a similar manner to how you would put a tape cassette in to a small cassette recorder. The only main point of confusion is that there is a white lever which can confuse new users when they load the cartridge in the machine.

Use

Brother P-Touch PT-2730 label writer TZ label cartridge

TZ label cartridges as used by this labeller

The Brother P-Touch label writer uses a thermal-transfer method for writing on the labels. With some cartridges, it may involve the use of two tapes in a similar manner to the typical low-end plain-paper fax machine and in others, it would mark like the typical receipt printer.

When the unit turns out the labels, it automatically cuts labels to the correct size.

As well, there is a large choice of Brother “TZ series” label tapes available for the user to buy, with laminated tape in different colours or clear tape. There is even the ability to buy fluorescent tape, tamper-evident security tape or iron-on fabric tape for needs that call for these materials.

Standalone operation

A person can use the Brother P-Touch labeller to turn out a label without any special training, just by powering on the unit, typing up the characters on the keyboard and pressing PRINT.

If you need to enter accents that are required for foreign languages, you have to enter the letler that needs the digraph, press the ACCENT key repeatedly until desired character appears, then press OK. Some characters peculiar to certain languages like German or the Nordic countries may require you to enter a “close letter” then press ACCENT until you find the character. An example of this is using S for ß or A for æ.  This may make it easier to create vocabulary labels that you attach to objects in order to help with learning foreign languages.

If you needed to enter currency symbols like the euro (€) or pound (£) symbol, you would have to use the SYMBOLS option and “pick and choose” the symbols to use them.

There is the ability to determine the text typeface, appearance and size using the TEXT button. As well, you can determine the label layout using the “LABEL” button. The Barcodes option supports the creation of most of the single-dimensional barcodes that are in common use nowadays. You can also print the current time and date to a label once the internal clock is set, which can be of use in date-stamping perishable foods that you have added to your fridge.

Tethered

Once the Brother PT-2730 is connected to your computer, it works with Brother software that is supplied on a CD that comes with the unit. This allows you to upload label designs or can work as a printer for the host computer. This kind of arrangement is very similar to what is needed for the computer-aided-craft-design software that Brother embroidery sewing machines come with.

Brother P-Touch PT2730 Side View with AC socket and USB port

Side view with AC socket and USB port

I was expecting to use some inept software for the machine but Brother had offered more, such as an easy-to-use program. You have access to the full TrueType font library on your computer but this is only for creating the designs that you will upload to your labeller.

What I would like to see is for Brother to license the device for TrueType and other standard font families so that you can upload a TrueType typeface to the unit for creating labels on that typeface without the need to use the computer.

The Brother P-Touch software can support “merged labelling” with data that is brought in from resources held on your computer system. At the moment, it handles data held in Word, Excel or Outlook as well as the usual comma-separated / tab-separated text file suspects. It can connect to Microsoft SQL Server database resources but I would like to se it work with ODBC database resources which encompass MySQL and desktop databases like MS Access. There is also add-in programs that run with MS Word, Excel and Outlook for making labels from these programs.

Limitations and Points of improvement

Power Supply

I would like to see some improvements regarding the P-Touch PT-2730’s power supply. One would be that the labeller can work with rechargeable batteries and charge those batteries in the unit while connected to the AC supply. This will allow for intense labelling projects where you might think you will “blow through” many packs of Duracells to complete the projects.

As well, it could be feasible for the unit to be powered through the USB port while it is tethered to a computer. This may then obviate the need for carrying the AC adaptor when you use the Brother labeller with a laptop. This ability would be more important for those homes and workplaces that have moved to the laptop-based New Computing Environment.

Usability and Software Design

An improvement that I would like to see for Brother P-Touch label writers is a WYSIWYG view during label creation. Here, the unit provides a coarse multi-line view of the label when you write in the text but it could work better.

The software could be improved with direct import of data from ODBC-compliant databases; and / or integration with the desktop databases like MS Access or FileMaker Pro. As well, there could be an “in-unit” or software-based option to create calibrated “measurement tapes” using the labeller. This may please user groups like photography, police / security and health-related disciplines who want to make up a measurement chart like a height chart.

The USB interface could be exploited further with clock synchronisation to the host computer. This could also include support for “UTC+timezone-offset” timekeeping and improved handling of daylight-saving time.

There could also be a further option where the keyboard could become a USB Human-Interface-Device keyboard. Here, the QWERTY keyboard could be set to work as a standard USB keyboard for text entry on other devices like LED signs, or network AV equipment like the Sony BDP-S380 or Sony PlayStation 3. The function could then be enabled as a menu option in the Setup menu.

Conclusion

The Brother P-Touch PT-2730 label writer would be considered a highly-capable labeller that can be used in a standalone fashion or alongside a computer and I would recommend it for most organisations.

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Product Review–Cooler Master NotePal Infinite Evo laptop cooling pad

I am reviewing the Cooler Master NotePal infinite Evo laptop cooling pad which is one of may laptop rests that are equipped with a forced-air cooling subsystem. Here, these units use this fan-forced air to cool the underside of the laptop which, in a lot of older and “thin-and-light” designs, can become very hot. An example of this was the HP Envy 15 laptop that I had previously reviewed on this site. Here, this unit wouldn’t take long to become uncomfortably hot during operation.

This situation may lead to the computer being uncomfortable to use after a significant amount of time and there can be a chance of heat building up under the computer, thus causing overheating and a shortened lifespan for that laptop.

Cooler Master is a name primarily associated with the manufacture of aftermarket computer cooling systems for desktop PCs. These are usually in the form of CPU fan subsystems or add-on case fans that are used as part of tuning-up “LAN-party” PCs for maximum gaming performance, similar to “hotting up” cars for maximum street performance.

Cooler Master NotePal Infite Evo laptop cooling pad

 

Recommended Retail Price: AUD$59

The unit itself

Cooler Master NotePal Infinite Evo power input and fan controls

USB input, Fan controls and DC input

This NotePal Infinite Evo is based around an aluminium panel with rubber strips to hold the laptop on. This panel is positioned ant an angle and has two small fans underneath it to create the air draught under the computer. This is the reverse to the typical fan heater which draws the cold air in the top and forces the heated air out the heater’s front grille. Both of these fans are variable-speed fans that are adjusted by use of a thumbwheel on the left side of the unit.

Cooler Master NotePal Infinite Evo USB hub connections

USB hub connections

This is powered through a USB connection to the host laptop computer and there are 3 USB 2.0 ports on the right side of the laptop cooling mat.This is unlike most of the cheaper laptop cooling pads that don’t have a USB hub, thus leaving you without a USB connection when you use them. Thee is also a 5V DC power connection for use with a 5V power adaptor if you need to run this unit as a self-powered USB hub. Here, the external power supply would be required if you were to connect the typical 2.5″ USB hard disk to the unit’s hub while using it as a cooling pad.

Cooler Master NotePal Infite Evo laptop cooling pad intake grilles

Rear-mounted intake grilles

The air is drawn in through large grilles on the back of the unit and expelled through a small air scoop just under where the computer sits.

Usage

Judging from how I handled the Cooler Master  laptop cooling pad, I noticed that it was very well built. There was nothing loose about it and the controls operated properly and smoothly as on good-quality equipment.

The NotePal Infinite Evo mat is lighter than the typical 15” laptop which makes it easier to transport with the laptop. There are large rubber pads to prevent the pad slipping across table tops and protect those polished wooden dining or coffee tables from scratches.

During operation, there is a slight buzz from the fan at high speed, which is well below typical conversation level. I have observed this with a regular laptop being placed on the cooling pad. I have checked for excessive vibration while the fan is at the same high speed and there wasn’t any of that vibration.

The USB hub works according to the standards for a USB hub without the need for driver CDs. Remember that it is a bus-powered USB hub unless you connect a 5VDC power supply to the DC-IN jack on the left of the unit.

Points Of Improvement

One point of improvement that I would like to see is a version that suits subnotebook / ultraportable computers and is big enough for them, without sacrificing the build quality and quiet operation.

As well, Cooler Master could provide an external power supply kit as an option for the NotePal Infinite Evo units so they can work as a self-powered USB hub when used with USB hard disks or as a charging bar for mobile phones.

Conclusion

I would recommend that people who find that their laptop computer runs hot too easily during games or graphics-intensive work should purchase the Cooler Master NotePal Infinite Evo cooling pad. It does the job without intruding on one’s computing life and is designed to last a long time. As well you don’t lose the functionality of the USB socket it is connected to.

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First device to use Wi-Fi technology for host-peripheral connection

Article

HP Intros The First Wi-Fi Mouse For Your PC | eHomeUpgrade

From the horse’s mouth

HP Introduces Wireless PC Accessories to Enhance the Computing Experience

Click here to play YouTube video

My Comments

This mouse is the first to use the Wi-Fi technology as a “personal area network” i.e. to use a network technology to connect peripherals to a host computer. At the moment it requires the host computer to run Windows 7 and implement the “virtual network adaptor” technology in its Wi-Fi chipset.

Furthermore, the host computer needs also to run a device-monitor applet supplied by HP with this mouse. This whole functionality could be improved through the use of code being integrated in Windows 7.

This mouse is expected to have a 9 month battery life which is meant to be longer than with devices that run current Bluetooth technology. I would see that as a coup for Wi-Fi when it comes to applications ranging from mice and keyboards to other “sensor and control” applications like barcode readers used in business; remote controls or health-monitor devices. As well, if the chipsets used in this mouse are implemented in smartphones, PMP / MID devices (iPod Touch, etc) or tablet computers, this could help with improving device runtime when they are used with Wi-Fi networks.

As far as the software is concerned, I would like to have HP avoid “reinventing the wheel” for Wi-Fi mice, keyboards and similar peripherals by making use of “class drivers” that have been defined for USB or Bluetooth human-interface devices.

There is one question that could be asked about this device as in whether it could work over the regular wireless network using the network’s router or access point and sending the data back to the host computer via that local area network, rather than the host PC’s wireless adaptor being virtualised as an access point. This may be of concern with people who run a desktop computer that doesn’t have integrated Wi-Fi but is connected to a the network via Ethernet or HomePlug and this network has a Wi-Fi segment serviced by a wireless router or access point.

A similar setup has been achieved with the myRemote Android app which converts an Android smartphone in to a mouse or remote control for a computer. This one uses the regular wireless network and requires knowledge of the host computer’s IP address and that computer has to run a monitor program downloaded from the myRemote developer’s Web site.

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Product Review–Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Introduction

I am reviewing the Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones which are a very stylish set of premium lightweight headphones that are suitable for use with your portable media player, smartphone, or laptop. Here, these headphones are designed and made by a company that is one of a few “names of respect” when it comes to audio-equipment and speaker design. I have even raised this name in this site in connection with their involvement in designing the sound system for some of the ASUS premium laptops.

HP Envy alongside B&O headphones

HP Envy alongside some premium B&O headphones

Regular followers of this site may have noticed these headphones as a prop in a picture that I took of the HP Envy 15 laptop, where I was emphasising the “Black Label” positioning of this premium laptop.

These “over-the-head” headphones sell at B&O stores for $199 and if the earpads wear out, you can replace them for $10 a pair but I had received this pair from some close friends as a 40th birthday present. As you will read further, you will find that they are a real treat to use.

Look

Like with all B&O products, the style of these headphones is a very strong point. Here, there is a large black aluminium headband with the square earpads anchored to the headband by bands that look as though they are part of an elegant watch’s band.

Even the plug is designed to match the look and positioning of these headphones. Here, it is a small plug with gold-plated contacts which are known to provide the high-quality sound transfer.

Comfort

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

This has allowed for a snug comfortable fit on the user’s head with the earpads pressing in on the user’s ears. As well, they are not too heavy and will not fall off your head too readily unlike a lot of cheaper headphones.

Here, this allows for use of these headphones over a long time, yet you can still slide them aside if you need to talk to someone nearby while you are wearing them.

Sound quality

The real story with these headphones is in the sound quality, whether you are listening to music or audiobooks, watching movies, playing computer games or using them with a microphone adaptor for handling phone calls with your mobile phone, This has been based on B&O’s reputation in designing speakers and headphones that go with their stylish and luxurious hi-fi systems.

It is very much what you would expect from true hi-fi headphones. Here the sound was clear and tight and not boomy and it didn’t matter if the headphones were fed with music or sound effects from a movie or game. For voice applications, including telephone calls, the Form 2 excels on the voice clarity and could be suitable as part of a headset system for wideband telephony setups.

These headphones don’t have any noise-cancellation circuitry and are of the kind that sit on your ears. These factors may be a limitation with using them in noisy environments like aeroplanes, buses or diesel railcars but their snug fit reduces the noise impact from these environments slightly.

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones - earpad and watchband styke bracket

Earpad and watchband-style bracket

Points of improvement

There aren’t really any points of improvement except for B&O to make a derivative headset that has an integrated microphone for use with smartphones and other telecommunications applications. This would be of importance when it comes to designing a headset fit to be used with HD Audio and other wideband telephony setups.

As well, they could provide a “travel-kit” as an accessory for these headphones and other headphones in their range. This would consist of an elegant storage case, an active noise-cancellation module and a “jet-plug” adaptor to connect these headphones to inflight-entertainment systems.

Conclusion

I would recommend these headphones if you value good-quality sound, style and comfort from a set of “over-the-head” headphones. Even if you can’t afford a set yourself, it may be worth wish-listing it as a gift for an upcoming major birthday or anniversary. As well, once you use them, your ears will certainly know the difference between good headphones and cheap headphones.

I would even say that these headphones are a good partner accessory for a premium laptop like the Acer Ferrari or the HP Envy laptops.

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