Photo courtesy Apple.

The end of the headphone jack isn’t the end of wired headphones

Not much need be said about Apple’s elimination of the headphone jack. Yes, wired headphones remain a superior solution for some applications. But because Apple is shipping a Lightning-to-audio adapter in the box with the iPhone, this is a non-issue. After all, you’ve already kept track of 1/4″ to 1/8″ minijack adapters for all your studio headphones for years. (Okay, to be fair, by “keep track of” in my case I generally mean “lose,” but, uh… wait, what were we talking about again?) There are certainly reasons for Apple to do this. The innards of an iPhone are crammed enough …


These headphones will adapt their sound to how you hear

For all the changes in visual appearance, all the extra features and connections, what hasn’t changed much in headphones is how headphones work. That makes Nura, a product launching this week on Kickstarter, all the more interesting. Not only does it introduce a unique design for how the headphones physically deliver sound to your ears, but it’s also a pair of headphones that listens to your ears — even before you start listening to music.


Apple is probably killing headphone jacks, but don’t panic

It’s the same old story: if you love Apple, you better also love carrying around little adapters. In a surprise to no one, latest reports – including one from Fast Company – suggest Apple is about to nix the 3.5mm “minijack” analog headphone jack from its next iPhone. (iPad and presumably laptops, too, would be next in line.) There are two common misunderstandings of the news. One reading (from Apple critics) assumes this locks you into proprietary Apple headphones. It doesn’t. The other (from Apple fans who don’t know that much about audio) assumes higher audio fidelity from “digital” headphones. …

One hole that should stick around. Photo (CC-BY-SA) William Hook.

No, Apple Should Not Eliminate the Headphone Jack

Is Apple coming for your headphone jack? It’s a question I’d seen bouncing about publicly. Now, Macworld’s Marco Tabini goes as far as suggesting that the end of the analog headphone jack is a likelihood, and even “might be a positive change.” Hit the road, jack: Why Apple may say goodbye to the headphone plug [] See also Forbes’ Gordon Kelly, though that story isn’t as balanced as Tabini’s, and gets muddled on the subject of “digital” outputs and “exceedingly high lossless” output – whatever that means. The difference in output is 48KHz instead of 44.1KHz, which amounts to very …


In the Age of Beats and Spotify, Winners – and Opportunities

There is an accelerating transformation of music listening; that much is clear. And if you change the way people listen, you will change the way people produce. So who and what wins in this brave new world? Let’s consider. The month of May brought still more signs of tectonic shifts, with Apple buying Beats and Spotify showing no signs of slowing. The Apple acquisition of Beats can’t really be measured in dollars, because Apple has so much cash on-hand. (US$150 billion – and expect that dry powder to start getting loaded into cannons.) At least unlike Facebook or Google, Apple …


3D Printing, From Headphones to Synth Accessories, Shows Both Promise and Obstacles

Take it from one now immersed in manufacturing – making things is an epic process of production, delays, shipping, customs… 3D printing is the latest DIY technology to promise to get around that, armed by the seemingly-magical translation of digital files into objects in a way other machines cannot. We’ll be looking in depth at what 3D printing can mean for music starting next week, as interest in this technology reaches fever pitch, but here are a couple of revealing case studies. For Teenage Engineering, makers of the OP-1 synthesizer, 3D printing seems to be a real breakthrough. Their line …


Gameplay, With Your Ears: Meltdown Lets You Squash Monsters Using Binaural Sound

Meltdown – Gameplay from Varun Nair on Vimeo. Crack – that snapping wood might just be something about to eat you! There is likely some evolutionary need for human hearing to be good at localizing sound in space. Whatever the reason, human perception is exceptionally precise when it comes to working out the position from which a sound originates. Conventional stereo sound just doesn’t do much with it. Using binaural sound, by contrast, you can position sound more accurately. And then you can play a game with your ears instead of just your eyes. “Meltdown” applies that idea to gameplay, …


Black Friday Deals: NI Half Off, Rain Computers, and Gorgeous $150 TMA Headphones

Photo (CC-BY) Lululemon. (Bonus points if you spotted their logo, yoga fans, though “ohm” works well for us, too!) Black Friday, named originally for the day on which retailers typically broke even for the first time in the year (think black ink), has become a holiday for sales in the US. I’ve seen a handful of deals even in our world of music making tech; here are a few of the best. Native Instruments has a sale through Monday that cuts prices in half on individual Komplete instruments and effects. Note that this is just for a la carte additions; …


Big in Japan: Audio-Technica Brings “Import Series” Headphones to US

Most of the world is living in the dark ages of headphones. (iPod earbuds, I’m looking at you.) That’s sad, because it’s a great time to buy pro-quality headphones: they’re better-sounding and cheaper than ever. One trusted maker is Audio-Technica, which has generously taken its previously Japan-only headphones and released them here in the United States as the “Import Series.” (See the press release; no word on the rest of the world, readers — I’ll try to find that out.) There’s a set of cans for everyone: Reference/Audiophile: For studio applications or just enjoying listening, there’s a range of new …


Reimagining Hearing: Hearwear Show in UK

While image technology has leaped forward, headphones and hearing aids still resemble 19th-Century tech. A show opening this week in London brings together designers seeking to change that. Ideas on view include glasses with built-in earphones that let you listen directionally to whatever you’re looking at, and “goldfish” earphones that repeat whatever someone said in the last 10 seconds — finally, I’ll be able to remember people’s names! My favorite: earbuds connected to a conductive strip so you can finally hear what your friends are saying at a bar. (Wait, maybe that’s not a good thing.) See a great roundup …