Tag Archives: audio

Weekend Reading – All Your Favourite Reviews in One Place

It’s the weekend and you are not sure what to do. Well how about reading some good old tech reviews, covering a wide range of products.

You will notice below sub categories for various tech devices, so hit the menu that interests you the most. If ever you need to find anything on Gavin’s Gadgets, you can use the search icon top right, or tap menu, and then the sub menu of your choice.

Phones, Tablets, Chromebooks and Laptop reviews

Smartwatches, Fitness and VR reviews

Audio, Headphones, Amp DACs, Projectors & Sound Bar Reviews

Photography Accessories – Add on lenses, gimbals, tripods, photo apps

Connected Home and Apps accessory reviews

Accessories – cables, power, cases and more

If you are buying anything on Amazon, please use the link below. This will help support Gavin’s Gadgets with all the running costs and more and won’t be any different in cost. Thanks in advance.

GavGadgets@Amazon

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Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus – First Impressions – incl audio, camera and that new home button

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The Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus went on sale officially this morning at 8am.

This year Apple has prevented walk-ins and opted for pre order online or reservations for pickup in a store. My local Apple Store in Plymouth opened a lot earlier than normal and allowed people to browse as well as collect their reservations.

Whilst my order won’t arrive for another for days, the calmness inside the Apple store was a far superior experience than the normal chaotic launches. The staff were able to spend the correct amount of time helping customers setup their new iPhone and run through all of the new features. Other staff were also on hand to help you with any product knowledge.

What was missing from the iPhone 7 counter was the iPhone 7 Plus in either black or jet black. However, the finishes were available in the smaller size iPhone 7. If I am being brutally honest, I cannot see any point in getting the jet black over black. Once a case is fitted to the back, it is impossible to tell the two apart and as the jet black is more prone to micro abrasions it makes more sense to go for the standard black. Also, both blacks will show fingerprints as well, although the jet black attracts fingerprints much faster. Both black colours disguise the antenna lines better than any of the other colours available.

Now what about the new home button. I honestly don’t understand what the fuss is about. It just works and I was not bothered about the way it now worked nor did I have any issue with its operation. The taptic feedback system works really well for me.

The screen. Both iPhone 7 screens look good but they are not as good as those from the Samsung Note 7.

Performance. Testing the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is a joy. iOS 10 and the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are so fluid and fast to use, but we all knew that anyway.

Now to the audio. I tested the loudspeaker with BBC Radio 4 for spoken voice and Beats 1 radio station for music. The loudspeaker is louder than previous but it is not as good as having traditional speakers integrated into the front of a smartphone. Next I paired by B & O Beoplay H5’s Bluetooth Wireless headphones and listened to a number of different genres. The iPhone 7 bluetooth audio is excellent, so are the B & O Beoplay H5’s headphones and I doubt whether Apple’s Airpods would sound better, although the AirPods are wirefree.

The camera. It works as advertised. The standard iPhone 7 now takes fabulous photos and the 7 Plus with the telephoto lens is equally as impressive. The telephoto lens does not have OIS though. The optical 2 x zoom really worked very well. However, software zoom introduced too much noise for my liking. Obviously, the lighting inside the Apple store is dreadful, but nonetheless it still is a test of what the camera can achieve. I used the telephoto lens for panaroma shots too. I noticed the phone needed me to slow down panning more when using the telephoto lens over the normal 12mp lens. I then tried burst shots of people walking inside the store, with and without the telephoto lens. None were really crispy sharp like those I took on the Samsung S7 or Note 7. I need to re-test the burst operation is better lighting to see how it performs before I pass judgement properly, but early testing seems to show that the fast focus system on the Note 7 and S7 really is king. However, the iPhone 7 offers many other options on the camera which need testing as mentioned. The camera did freeze on me too which was resolved by restarting the camera app.

Anyway, this is my first impression of the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. I intend to cover off a lot more over the next few weeks.

If you have received your new iPhone, do add a comment below on your experience so far.

Acer Jade S55 – Part 3 – Camera, Screen and Audio

Welcome back to part 3 of my Acer Jade S55 review. Today is all about the camera and audio. There will another post with some camera samples.

Before I start on the camera, I will discuss the audio quality for music and the loudspeaker. The phone comes with DTS HD Premium Sound option, which gives adjustments for bass, treble and EQ presets for music and video to choose from. Music presets are flat, classical, dance, jazz, pop and rock. Video presets are flat, drama, action and MTV. The loudspeaker is just average and lacks bass levels found on the HTC One M8. But to be honest I would also connect a bluetooth speaker to any phone. Plug in your headphones and it is a different ball game altogether. In the box are a pair of in ear headset headphones which are best to be left in the box, as their sound quality are poor. To test the audio quality I therefore attached some decent over the ear headphones. For this test I used my V-Moda Crossfade M-100s. The Acer Jade S55 had no issue powering these to a decent volume and provided an average the audio quality which was better than I had expected. The treble was a little over the top at times too. However, at the price point the audio was reasonable.

Bluetooth. No issues playing through my stereo bluetooth headset/headphones. Loud, dynamic and punchy.

The screen is my opinion is good. As I type this, I am watching a YouTube video with my headphones plugged in. And it looks great. Just shows you how far screen technology has moved on at the lower price points.

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So lets move on to the camera. Firing up the camera takes you to a simple layout. The HDR button can be changed, more later on that.

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So lets look at all the camera settings. The screen shots below are pretty self explanatory.

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What is unusual is the resolution at 16:9 or 4:3 can both be set at 13mp.

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In terms of ISO control, this increasing from AUTO, 100, 200, 400, 800 and even as high as 1,600.

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To explain some of the not so obvious shooting modes, Bright Magic is ideal for dark scenarios, AEB takes 3 shots at different exposure levels and then shows all 3 photos for you to decide which one(s) you want to keep.

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In terms of shooting modes there are several options. Whatever option you choose will become the second button available. If you look above my selection was HDR. So pressing the big camera shutter button takes a standard shot, but then pressing the smaller one shoots HDR. Taking HDR shots takes about a second and a half per shot.

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So what about the camera quality? Well don’t forget this has a f/1.8 for the rear camera so it should take a good shot even in low light conditions. In reality I had some pleasurable results.. Some shots were really good and with some I did get some from blurry shots. But the more I used the phone, the better my photos were.

Have a look at the photo samples and decide for yourself.

Honor 6 – review – audio and more

Before I get to the sound and audio quality, lets look at the lock screen shortcuts. Half pull up or full up to see all of the options.

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So far I have covered off various aspects of the phone. Now lets look at the music app. If you wanted to use Google Play Music, this app is available naturally and installed along with all the other core Google apps.

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The music app is fairly simple. It allows you to see your music split into various ways, as well as moods.

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The music app also allows you to create playlists and has a few settings. Otherwise it’s a simple affair.

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So how good is the inbuilt headphone amp. The sound through the headphones is good and better than I had expected. It is remarkable that the phone costs around £250. In the system sound settings there is a toggle for DTS. It is best to leave this on as it adds some extra oomph, bass and depth but without being overkill whatsoever. I tried the following headphones with the Honor 6. The V-Moda Crossfade M-100s were driven loudly and accurately. I then tried Sennheiser HD518. The Sennheisers needed more headphone amp volume so did not go to a loud level.

Next I connected my USB DAC (Sabre USB Android DAC and Cayin C5 headphone amp). I used an app called USB Audio Player PRO to control everything. This works brilliantly, so USB Audio is supported in this setup. I then connected via Bluetooth and used a pair of Plantronics BackBeat Pro cans. Apt-x bluetooth codec is present and makes a difference too as the sound coming from these was excellent.

Talking of wireless, Chromecast is supported along with cast screen. The Honor 6 has an infra red blaster that is not documented nor does it come with any software installed for it. Yet a quick search on XDA Developers revealed a bespoke app made by Huawei that works a treat. I had tried a few other Infra Red remote apps but none of them worked apart from Huawei’s own app.

The loudspeaker is average, and perhaps the weakest link of the whole package. A bit tiny and does not go that too loud. Acceptable.

Tomorrow I will pen my conclusion.

One incredible specification not declared by Apple about the iPhone 5S

The iPhone 5S looks identical to the iPhone 5. It only has a beefier 64bit processor and M7 co-processor, Touch ID and an improved camera to start off with. But it also has something else that wipes the floor with the 5 and older 4S/4 iPhones.

The iPhone 5S has a new audio codec and class D amplifier by Cirrus Logic. This incorporates the digital to audio conversion of the MP3 tracks and then powering your headphones or the inbuilt speaker.

The difference in sound quality is night and day with superb range, dynamics, punch, separation and clarify.