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Sennheiser’s ultimate ‘ear bud’ – CNET

I was a big fan of Sennheiser’s original IE800 in-ear headphone when it debuted — I can hardly believe it — five years ago! It was a super comfy, extremely open, natural sounding ‘phone. Sennheiser’s newly revised model, the IE800 S looks similar, but sounds different.

It’s designed and hand-made in Germany.

The Sennheiser IE 800 S in-ear headphones.

Steve Guttenberg/CNET

The IE800 S features a single 7mm driver mounted in each ceramic ear piece; impedance is rated at 16 ohms. It comes with a rather deluxe looking real leather travel case. I like the silicone and Comply ear tips that securely snap in place on the ear pieces, that’s good, but their non-standard fitting means you can’t use other brands off-the-shelf replacement tips with the IE800 S.

I found it a little trickier than average to achieve a good, air tight seal with these in-ears. The original IE800’s injection-molded ceramic ear pieces looked snazzy in high gloss metallic grey, the IE800 S’ are finished in a more subdued satin grey. Sennheiser isn’t making any great claims about sonic differences between the two models, other than to say the IE800 S’ 7mm drivers are redesigned.

The IE800 S retails for £1,000, GBP870, AU£1,600; the original IE800 is still listed on Sennheiser’s Web sites, it’s £800, GBP560, AU£1,200.

The IE800 S’ “Y” splitter and tail cable.

Steve Guttenberg/CNET

The user replaceable cables are configured in a different way than what you get with other in-ears; with the IE800 S you can change the cable after the “Y” splitter (see photo). The “Y” cable is permanently attached to the ear pieces. Also the new cables are more flexible and supple than original IE800’s cables.

The IE800 S comes with three cables, the standard one’s terminated with a 3.5 mm plug, another one with a 4.4mm Pentaconn plug for some of the latest Sony high-end portable players, and 2.5 mm balanced connector featured on Astell & Kern and other high-end music players. My first impressions about the IE800 S’ sound was that it was very clear, without even a hint of exaggerated treble “detail,” it sounded like it wasn’t doing anything at all. It was also extremely open, so the sound wasn’t stuck inside my head.

Pianist Nils Frahm’s “Felt” album features him playing a “treated” piano, with felt damping the piano strings, muffling their sound. It’s an ambient sounding recording, and it was very atmospheric over the IE800 S. I split my IE800 S listening time between my iPhone 6S and an Astell & Kern Kann portable hi-res music player.

The Kann had superior control of bass, so definition tightened up, and the IE 800 S’ overall clarity improved. That was with the standard cable with the 3.5mm jack. Stepping up to the cable with the 2.5mm “balanced” plug yielded further improvements in those areas with the Kann player.

Comparing the original IE800 with this new IE800 S was fascinating. The IE800 is brighter and bassier, the IE800 S sounds smoother and more spacious. The midrange is more natural, so voices, strings, and guitars sound more inviting.

I’ve always liked the IE800, but the IE800 S sounds like a more refined device.

Then I pulled out a set of Shure SE846 in-ear headphones (£899) that feature four balanced armature drivers in each ear piece. Right away the SE846 was nowhere as transparent as the IE800 S, but the SE846’s bass was more muscular and better defined. The IE800 S’ bass prowess was very decent, but the SE846 more viscerally potent.

It’s more rock and roll, the IE800 S fares better with acoustic music. So it’s a tie, I like both for different reasons and they will appeal to different tastes. The Sennheiser IE800 has been one of my long term reference in-ear headphones, and the IE800 S ups the ante.

That said, the IE800 stood the test of time, and I’m expecting the IE800 S will still sound great five years down the road, in 2023.

It doesn’t look like much, but this black box pulls energy out of thin air

Melanie Gonick

In the search for sustainable energy solutions, no idea is too big or too small to consider. In the past couple of years, we’ve seen genetically engineered algae serve as biofuel, cellphones harness energy from radio waves, and even toilets that convert urine into electricity. Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have now developed a small device that captures energy from changing air temperatures.

Called a thermal resonator, the device exploits the temperature fluctuations that occur throughout the day-night cycle. This offers promise as a longterm power source for remote operating systems, according to the researchers, who recently published a paper in the journal Nature Communications. “Ambient temperature fluctuations are a ubiquitous and mostly untapped energy resource,” Anton Cottrill, an MIT graduate student and first author of the study, told Digital Trends. “They surround us everyday in a variety of contexts, and a great example that we are all very familiar with is the diurnal cycle, day and night temperature changes.

We have demonstrated an optimized device, a thermal resonator, that is designed specifically to lock into a particular temperature fluctuation frequency … and translate the fluctuations into electricity.” Unlike solar panels, the thermal resonator doesn’t require direct sunlight, meaning it can function in the shade. And unlike turbines, the device is mostly unaffected by unpredictable wind conditions.

It doesn’t yet generate a huge amount of energy, but there is enough to provide continuous power to remote sensing sensing instruments out in the field. The device may also be used to support more established green energy solutions — for example, by drawing waste heat away from solar panels. The device works by taking advantage of something called “thermal effusivity,” or a material’s ability to extract heat from its surroundings.

“The thermal resonator is enabled by high thermal effusivity materials,” Cottrill said, “[which are] materials that transfer heat with their environment very effectively. High thermal effusivity materials are characterized by high thermal conductivity and a high heat storage capability.” Cottrill and his colleagues created such a material by coating a metal foam with a layer of graphene, which increases its thermal conductivity.

This was then infused with a phase-change material, which changes between a solid and liquid state.

The engineers see a handful of real world applications for their thermal resonator, particularly as power support systems for sensing devices set up in hard-to-reach places.

“A great example is a wireless sensor node network, which is desired to operate perpetually and autonomously for extended periods and often in remote locations,” Cottrill said. “For these networks, batteries are currently highly relied upon, but eventually they will need to be replaced or recharged.” Since battery replacement is often impractical, Cottrill said the thermal resonator could offer an alternative.

Editors’ Recommendations

Schiit’s tiny gizmo breaks a cardinal audiophile rule – CNET

The Schiit Loki equalizer.

Lee Shelly

Tone controls and equalizers went out of fashion in the 1980s, and I’ve missed them ever since. Audiophiles in their search for ever greater sonic purity saw any deviation from “flat” frequency response heresy, but that’s not always my goal, so I was thrilled to check out Schiit’s Loki four-band equalizer. This ultra-compact component is priced at just £149, GBP140 or AU£299, and is the best audio “SB© toy” I’ve played with in ages.

Loki is a tiny thing, just 5 by 3.5 by 1.25 inches (12.7 by 8.9 by 3.18 centimeters), with four knobs squeezed onto its front panel. The knobs from left to right control 20- and 400-Hertz, 2- and 8-kHz, and the toggle switch on the front right engages the equalization in the up position, and bypasses the EQ in the down position. With the knobs set to their 12 o’clock positions they are “flat.” So it’s easy to switch between flat and equalized sound.

The 20 Hz and 8 kHz knobs have +/- 12 dB of adjustment range; the 400 Hz and 2 kHz knobs have +/- 6 dB of adjustment. It’s a bit of a tight squeeze to get my fingers in there to turn the center two knobs. Loki is a fully analog device you hook up between a source — such as a phono preamp, digital converter, radio or preamp — and your receiver, integrated amp, headphone amp or power amp.

Loki is a fully discrete, all-bipolar, symmetrical current-feedback design with no capacitors in the signal path. The rear panel has stereo RCA inputs and outputs. Loki is made in the US, and it’s sold with a 2-year warranty.

Audiophiles’ disdain for tone controls and equalizers notwithstanding, virtually every commercial recording you’ve ever heard was equalized during its mixing and mastering stages, so a little fiddling on your part might make sense. So don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings to learn what EQ can do to the sound of your speakers, headphones and best of all, your music. For example, those nasty and harsh latest recordings from Arcade Fire and the National were tamed by just nudging the 2- and 8-kHz controls down a bit.

The 400 Hz and 2 kHz controls can be used to bring vocals forward or lower them in the sound mix. You can have a ball just experimenting with all four controls and learn how they change the sound of your speakers, headphones and music.

I found Loki particularly useful with headphones, where for example I could bump up the deep bass to add weight to the sound, and tame brightness by shelving down 8 kHz. While a lot of audiophiles are biased against EQ or tone controls, most don’t actually have ears-on experience with a great sounding EQ like the Loki.

I hope Schiit incorporates the Loki design into a future preamp, but as it stands Loki is pretty darn cool, I really enjoyed using it.

Gene, one of my old audio buddies bought a Loki a few months ago, and he absolutely loves it.

Try it, you might like it.

No MWC, no problem — LG's next flagship phone may be unveiled later in June

The LG G6 from 2017.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Just because you won’t be seeing the next big LG phone this month doesn’t mean the company has nothing up its sleeve. According to VentureBeat, LG is working on its next big phone, which is scheduled for a June debut. Citing a “person briefed on the company’s plans” the phone is code-named “Judy” and it will not necessarily be branded with LG’s G-series of flagship phones.

In past years, the South Korean tech company would debut its G-series phones, like the current G6, at Mobile World Congress, an annual trade show about phones that takes place in Barcelona, Spain. But after announcing that it’s rethinking its mobile planning strategy, and confirming that it’ll introduce a revamped variant of its high-end LG V30 from last year, it was safe to not expect the next G6 (presumably called the G7) at MWC 2018. But according to these speculations, that doesn’t mean no flagship phone is coming at all.

The rumored device could feature a 6.1-inch display and a new kind of LCD panel that’s brighter and more power-efficient, reported VentureBeat. Other specs include a water resistant design, wireless charging, 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. The phone is also speculated to include Qualcomm’s latest mobile chipset, the Snapdragon 845.

LG did not immediately reply for a request to comment, and I’ll update this piece when I hear back.

In the meantime, because these specs are just rumors for now, I’d take this info with a grain of salt.

Still though, not only is releasing a non-G-series flagship phone a divergent move for LG, but launching it in June instead of February definitely means the company is looking to change things up from years past.

No MWC, no problem — LG's next flagship phone may be unveiled later in June

The LG G6 from 2017.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Just because you won’t be seeing the next big LG phone this month doesn’t mean the company has nothing up its sleeve. According to VentureBeat, LG is working on its next big phone, which is scheduled for a June debut. Citing a “person briefed on the company’s plans” the phone is code-named “Judy” and it will not necessarily be branded with LG’s G-series of flagship phones.

In past years, the South Korean tech company would debut its G-series phones, like the current G6, at Mobile World Congress, an annual trade show about phones that takes place in Barcelona, Spain. But after announcing that it’s rethinking its mobile planning strategy, and confirming that it’ll introduce a revamped variant of its high-end LG V30 from last year, it was safe to not expect the next G6 (presumably called the G7) at MWC 2018. But according to these speculations, that doesn’t mean no flagship phone is coming at all.

The rumored device could feature a 6.1-inch display and a new kind of LCD panel that’s brighter and more power-efficient, reported VentureBeat. Other specs include a water resistant design, wireless charging, 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. The phone is also speculated to include Qualcomm’s latest mobile chipset, the Snapdragon 845.

LG did not immediately reply for a request to comment, and I’ll update this piece when I hear back.

In the meantime, because these specs are just rumors for now, I’d take this info with a grain of salt.

Still though, not only is releasing a non-G-series flagship phone a divergent move for LG, but launching it in June instead of February definitely means the company is looking to change things up from years past.

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