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Virtual reality hardware is advancing nicely, as shown off during E3, but there is a cause for concern among some industry experts: how audio will be addressed for VR. Since current prototypes rely on VR to help deliver audio, only the Oculus Rift will feature built-in audio - and it'll be up to us, the consumers, to figure out how we maximize our VR experience.
It looks like surround sound is ideal for gamers above stereo sound, but that may not be what game developers are actually aiming for:
"Virtual reality games will be offering binaural audio to simulate a fully three-dimensional listening environment," said Winifred Phillips, a seasoned game music composer, in a recent Gamasutra blog post. "While binaural audio can present an awesome level of immersion and realism, the technology of binaural sound isn't the same as that of surround sound."
Audio manufacturer BRAVEN has announced that the Balance portable Bluetooth speaker is now shipping, a new product aimed at consumers with active lifestyles.
The speaker supports up to 18 hours of playtime, powered by its built-in 4000mAh battery that can also charge mobile devices. You can use the hands-free speakerphone and built-in noise-canceling microphone to answer calls. The Balance also has an anti-slip exterior and will survive accidental drops or spilled liquid.
The BRAVEN Balance is now available for $129.99 MSRP in six colors: Raven, Alpine, Raspberry, Electric, Sunset, and Periwinkle.
With 195% of its funding goal reached in just one month, this audio product boasts impressive features such as 2.1 or 5.1 surround-sound audio, satellite speakers being able to operate singularly or as a group and a universal charging dock for all components. Even better, there is the ability to direct sound to whatever speaker you are near from a single device.
Complete with Dolby surround sound, $149 plus shipping will nab you the cheapest early bird package and this expands up to $899 plus shipping for the full 5.1 system ($500 off the eventual retail price).
As they are currently sitting at $97,279 raised, Kien has introduced stretch goals to get everyone a little more interested - the next one coming up is at $100,000 and will ensure three other colors are introduced as voted for buy the buyers. Further to this is the $200,000 stretch goal of extra inputs, followed by the $500,000 goal of a free power dock for every system.
E3 2015 - Audio company Polk Audio has unveiled the debut of the Striker Pro Hitman Contract Edition, with the new product designed for the PC, Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, Nintendo Wii U, laptops and smartphones.
The Striker Pro includes a mobile connect cable, dual-jack console controller connect cable, and a dual-jack, detachable, extra-long pro PC connect cable. Interested gamers will find the headset includes an omni-directional microphone for console and PC gaming, along with an in-line microphone for mobile use.
The Polk Audio Striker Pro Hitman Contract Edition Gaming Headset will be available starting in September for $129.
Audio maker V-MODA is embracing innovation by spearheading a project for the world's first 3D printed personalized wearable technology. The company has introduced custom 3D printed shields using materials such as stainless steel, raw, plated and other precious materials - creating the "first time in history" that mass customization "merges jewel-grade 3D printing with consumer electronics."
Using the V-MODA website, consumers can customize their products by choosing a base color, 3D shield material of choice, and then the design and monogram of their product. As for precious metals, the following choices are available: sterling silver, solid 14k gold, 14k rose gold, 14k white gold, or platinum.
"3D printing has captured the imaginations of people, but this is the first application that can be worn every day on an award-winning product," said Val Kolton, CEO of V-MODA. "This technology ends the ubiquity of carbon copy, plastic consumer electronics and ushers in an era of bespoke designs and metals that transform products into handcrafted designer relics."
Audio company Phiaton has launched the BT 100 NC earphones, a Bluetooth 4.0 headset that features active noise cancellation. The product is geared towards athletes with water- and sweat-resistance functionality for athletes, commuters and people enjoying the outdoors.
The BT 100 NC use an "around the neck" design with inline controls that allow wearers to manage music and calls. The earphones are available for $119.
"In today's market, there are few options that balance superior audio performance with the need for a durable headphone that can withstand the rigors of exercise and other daily activities," said James Baik, president of Phiaton. "The BT 100 NC is designed to fill this need and provide an all-around superb experience for users."
German audio company Thonet & Vander has launched the Kürbis Bluetooth speaker in the United States. The company prides itself on allowing for high quality sound with minimal audio distortions or other issues.
Made from high density acoustic absorber (HDAA) wood that helps prevent vibration and sound leakage, the Kürbis also includes the Antimagnetic Shield to block external interference. Using its own procedures after years of modification, Thonet & Vander thinks you'll enjoy better bass reflex that the company says helps great sound fidelity.
The Thonet & Vander Kürbis is available now in the United States with a $199 MSRP.
Computex 2015 - In a surprising move, PowerColor unveiled their new PCIe-based sound card at Computex this year, the PowerColor Devil HDX.
The PowerColor Devil HDX is a PCIe-based sound card with 124dB SNR, 192KHz 24-bit sound, a 600ohms headphone amp, and features a swappable OP-AMP. We should expect the the Devil HDX to be pushed into the market in the next couple of months.
Appropriately named Mr. Everything, we have just been made aware of this amazing Bluetooth speaker that can charge your laptop, tablet, smartphone or wearable through wireless Qi, the four USB ports on offer or even an AC outlet. It can also light up the night with its LED lighting option, store your cables through its utility box or even jump-start your cars dead battery.
Yep, you read that right - jump start your car. This product has launched on Kickstarter with a $100,000 goal and currently sits at just over $68,000 with ten days remaining.
A donation of $199 will grab you an early bird Mr. Everything unit and is listed as $150 off the final retail price.
If you're a console gamer looking for something new, ASTRO Gaming has just announced its new addition to the market - the A40 + MixAmp M80 specifically for the Xbox One.
The MixAmp M80 plugs directly into your Xbox One controller, allowing you to communicate with friends and hear what ASTRO Gaming has to provide through the A40 experience.
The A40 provides the most premium experience that ASTRO Gaming has to offer, boasting "hours of comfortable wear" in a recent newsletter.