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Posted by james on July 15, 2011
10/11/11 - updated to include the TheBoom v4 bluetooth mod, see below.
I've been on the hunt *forever* to find a good cell phone headset. Outgoing sound quality (ie. rejection of background noise) is my #1 priority. Then comfort, incoming sound clarity, comfort, convenience, and last cost. I've amassed a collection recently (since a good headset has become a necessity for work), and I finally put together a head-to-head comparison with sound clips.
Here's the mess I have today:
Why don't more sites provide sound clips?
Why don't professional online sites ever have sound clips from the headsets they review? Without that, it's impossible to compare headset outgoing sound quality. It's just lazy.
How to record sound clips
This was incredibly easy thanks to google voice. Get a google voice account. Then leave yourself messages. You'll have to turn out automatic voicemail login if you're calling from a number associated with your account. Then you can log into http://www.google.com/voice/ and click on the "More" link next to a recording, and "embed". That's how the following clips were embedded. Very easy.
Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant - built-in mic
The Vibrant's built-in mic is very good - picks up voice well, does an ok job rejecting background noise. It's very silent when you're not talking, but when you talk the background bleeds through. Kinda like a noise gate.
This was highly rated and very cheap (<$10), so I got this on a whim. Very good quiet-room voice quality. Background noise rejection less than the etycom wired headset, but still acceptable.
Etymotic ety.com ER22C wired headset
This was my favorite wired headset. Very light, it's an in-ear-monitor (so it blocks out noise), comfortable when you get used to it, and very simple (ie. not bulky). It's also very picky about mic placement, and you do need the windsock for outside use. Attenuates background noise a decent amount. Tends to be a bit quieter than other mics.
theBoom v4 wired headset
The supposed "holy grail" of wired headsets. I can say - it does the best job out of any headset I've ever used of rejecting background noise. Outgoing voice is always very loud compared to the background, with little distortion. But it's very bulky, the incoming speaker has poor fit & sound, the cable is long & has many "boxes" (mic, switch, adapter, second adapter, etc). Outgoing sound is has a bit of "walkie talkie" sound to it, but still very understandable. This is the bar to shoot for (sound wise), and a lot of lessons how not to build a headset (build/design wise).
Special test: The v4 ends in a 2.5mm female jack (really??). I tried using a cheap aftermarket 2.5mm male to 3.5mm male cord, but it causes echos & very bad background noise (probably due to the number of pins on the adapter cord). I had to use the bundled 2.5mm male to 2.5mm male cord + the headset buddy 2.5mm jack to 3.5mm male adapter. Very bulky, but at least it sounds right.
Altec Lansing BackBeat Plus UHS206 wired stereo headset
Got these on a whim for $10 on sale. The incoming sound is bassy & muffled, but acceptable. They block out sound, but have very poor fit (use mushroom style silicone buds, but the earphones themselves have too big a diameter and hit the ear). They fall out. Outgoing sound is ok in quiet room, incredibly bad w/ background noise. Holding the mic up to my mouth improves outgoing sound, but overall a poor headset. Last; music quality is as expected; bass heavy, muddy, thick, not much high-end/clarity.
Etymotic etyBLU2 bluetooth headset
Very excited about this; the quality of the etycom in a bluetooth form. However, noise rejection had some artifacts from the active noise cancellation. Overall a very good headset (sound wise), a bit bulky (non collapsable), and really bad ear hook. Would be perfect for a custom in-ear mold. May try that later.
Samsung HM1000 bluetooth headset
Cheap (<$20) test mule to use later to convert a wired headset to bluetooth. Very echoey in quiet room, and little to no noise cancellation. Incoming sound is also tinny/echoey. Not sure if this will also happen when a wired mic is grafted on, will have to see.
TheBoom v4 + Samsung HM1000 bluetooth headset mod
This test is a bit special. I hacked the HM1000 apart and removed the mic & speaker. Then I soldered a 2.5mm male plug where they used to be. Finally, I plugged TheBoom v4 into the jack, creating a hybrid wired-v4 + bluetooth mod. The audio is clearly clipping, likely the HM1000 is not used to the high-output of TheBoom's mic. An inline resistor might fix that. It's not clear if the scratchiness is due to this clipping, or some other side effect of hacking the bluetooth.
The mod was a huge pain in the butt. The concept is simple - take off the mic & speaker, solder in a jack. But the wires involved were very fine gauge magnet wire (ie. enamel coated), which makes it fragile & a pain to solder. Also, it was a huge paint to figure out the wiring for the speaker & mic. There were four wires from the plug, and four wires from the bluetooth. Yet two of those wires are a shared ground, and it was not fun figuring out which was which. It's hard to do trial & error with many different combinations while holding incredibly fine wires w/ other pieces of equipment. It finally worked, but it's very possible I have some wires reversed (which may result in the echoey results of the v4 with the aftermarket cable above).
Neat trivia - the v4 ends in a female 2.5mm plug. They then include a cable with a 4-ring 2.5mm plug for the v4 side, and a 3-ring 2.5mm plug on the phone side. The "bottom" two rings on the 4-ring plug are both ground, and are connected together. However, the top two rings are swapped between the v4 plug & the phone plug. So the tip on the v4 must be speaker, while on the phone side the middle ring is the speaker. Strange.
And why couldn't they just terminate in an industry standard 2.5mm plug? The world will never know...
Posted by james on March 30, 2011
I saw the previews, and it made one thing clear - this was a special-effects monster fest.
I actually expected a lot worse, which is probably why I didn't hate this movie. It's not a good movie, but it's also really not as awful as you'd expect.
The most painful part - the lame character setup at the beginning. Instead of introducing all the characters (and the comic relief, and the wise old sage, etc etc) they could have just shown them briefly with their title (ie. "Young innocent soldier who will most definitely die quickly") and spared the setup. Heck, at that point they don't even need names (not that I remember any of them).
It was a little distracting to see so many recognizable actors & actresses - mainly because they didn't really seem to fit. The first half of the movie (aka the real-life / non-cgi part) was a little... lame. I can't remember a movie where I noticed the makeup as much. It seemed like they cut some corners on the costumes.
But the second half was enjoyable (minus the jar-jar-binks era Medusa CGI). Why? Because it was just a CGI-laden monster fest. And Sam Worthington was probably the single best thing about the movie. Probably the only unforgettable character here (though seeing Liam Nielson in yet another "god" role is ... well, let's just say he might be challenging Morgan Freeman as the go-to god guy).
So - not the most awful movie. Pretty much what you'd expect. I take back what I said about Sam Worthington - the *kraken* is the single best thing about this movie. He's huge, but well designed. In fact, don't even bother watching this movie - just find the kraken clip on youtube, watch that, and stop when you're done. That's all you really need.
PS. What the heck with the eye-less blind witches holding an eyeball in their hand? It's like Guillermo del Toro's creatures mixed with Auhgra from the Dark Crystal.
Posted by james on Feb. 1, 2011
I recently found a fix for a specific circumstance. I narrowed down the culprit to this line:
var elem = $('' + html + '');
The problem here is that the "html" var is a 500k string containing html markup. jQuery seems to be inefficient for this purpose, as running it through the $('') should create a jQuery node containing a new HTML DOM element with the contents of "html".
Using this instead fixed problem:
var elem = $('');
elem.innerHTML = html;
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