Just How Can Noise Cancelling Headphones Work

Noise-cancelling headphones are the standard nowadays, ever since Bose first introduced these devices to the industry. Even though we all seem to take them granted and use them abundantly, it’s surprisingly to think about the amount of people who don’t know how these headphones work.

Noise-cancelling headphones are probably much more complex than you think, they are made-up of several components with each one being a crucial element to the working of the device.

Throughout the next few sections we’ll give you an overview of the two different types of noise-cancelling headphones, then go into detail on the components of active noise-cancelling headphones.

Passive Noise-Cancelling

Passive noise-cancelling headphones are the simplest variation. They don’t have any specialist components or circuitry that provide them with noise-cancelling features. Instead, much more emphasis is placed on the design of the actual headphones. In other words, passive noise-cancelling headphones simply block out the noise instead of deflecting it.

The most effective types are closed-back headphones and in-ear canal headphones. Other types such as open-back headphones and earbud headphones still provide some sort of passive noise-cancelling, but not nearly as much as the aforementioned types.

Headphones can cancel out noise passively through their design; the materials that are used in the design are of an insulative native, such as high-density foam. This use of materials is all it takes to block out some sound waves, especially those at a high frequencies. One major downside to this is that the additional material makes the headphones much heavier.

Even though these headphones can be effective, they’re not as great as you might think. Some of the best passive noise-cancelling headphones on the market can block as much as 15 to 20 decibels of sounds, which isn’t always enough. This is why active noise-cancelling headphones are the best devices for those who are using headphones in a professional capacity.

Active Noise-Cancelling

Active noise-cancelling headphones can provide you with all the benefits that passive noise-cancelling headphones can. However, these headphones take it a step further by adding additional features and advanced circuitry.

These headphones don’t just block out external noise, they deflect it. Active noise-cancelling headphones accomplish this by producing sound waves, which mimic the incoming noise, but send it back 180 out of phase. Two identical yet out of phase sound waves will be completely cancelled out.

Throughout the next section we’ll tell you exactly how active noise-cancelling headphones accomplish this.

The Components of Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Active noise-cancelling headphones are made-up of four components:

Microphone – a microphone is used to detect the sounds that are coming in from external sources, which can’t be blocked passively.

Advanced circuitry – these devices have advanced circuitry placed in the ear cup. This is connected to the microphone and everything else. The advanced circuitry replicates the incoming sound waves with the help of the microphone, the sound waves are then ready to be duplicated 180 out of phase, with the help of the speaker.

Speaker – active noise-cancelling headphones have a small speaker in the ear cup, which produces the sound waves from the advanced circuitry.

Battery – the advanced circuitry, microphone, and speaker need to be connected to an external energy source — hence the word “active”. The external energy source used is usually a rechargeable battery, which can be recharged through a USB port.

As you can see, all of these components need to be working in harmony together in order to produced the desired results. With these components, active noise-cancelling headphones can block out anywhere from 35 to 40 decibels of sound. This makes them an ideal choice for high-active office environments, airline travel, train travel, and even light construction work.

These headphones are generally produced to an extremely high quality and you will definitely be able to tell the difference between active and passive types. The only real downside to these headphones is that they can be quite expensive, but the price is worth it more often than not.

Summary

Hopefully you now have a much better idea of how noise-cancelling headphones work, both passive and active types. Chances are that the construction of these headphones are actually much more complex than you might have initially thought.

Noise-cancelling headphones can be used for much more than just listening to your music undisturbed whilst commuting to work. These devices are commonly used by racecar drivers, pilots, construction workers, and music producers. They don’t just provide you with a better listening experience, they can be extremely useful for health and safety reasons.

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Will Niagara Get What It Bargained For? Emergency Radio System Brings Profits to Motorola

It’s always good when you see new radio communication systems being installed and going live on a big scale. Motorola are one of the big companies able to implement these systems, but as you can see below it didn’t all go smoothly, 

This is the first of a multi part investigative series on Niagara County’s new “Emergency Radio Communications System”.

The Reporter plans to  examine the roles of county officials, elected and appointed, a Pittsburg consultant and a Syracuse lawyer, both hired by the county, and a faction of first responders and others. At the dispatch end, we will examine the role of the 2-way radio king, Motorola Solutions Inc., of Schaumberg, Ill. Motorola managed a entire network of people through various channels, at whatever frequency was needed to interconnect and transmit to themselves a lucrative contract, sold, conceived, approved, designed, built, maintained, resupplied, and sold and up-sold again.The series will examine behind the scenes the course of business – as money interests intertwined with public interests and as the project comes online, we will attempt to evaluate whether Niagara County reaped the benefits it was promised or, as is so often the case in other localities, this is another deal where Motorola seems to have alone profited.

Price?

Niagara County’s new emergency radio communications system is expected to go “live” in June or July. Reported as a $10 million project, the system’s true cost has not been published. On April 29, the Reporter filed a Freedom of Information request with the clerk of the Niagara County Legislature, Mary Jo Tamburlin, for all contracts associated with the emergency radio project.

Based on estimates of reported cost overruns, consultant and legal fees, and Motorola’s reported contract price, the system cost at least $11 million and, if change orders,  maintenance, rentals and other expenses are similar to other Motorola projects, the final cost may be substantially more.

An FCC Mandate?

In Niagara County, the stated goal of the new emergency radio system was declared to be  undertaken to comply with the FCC’s “narrowbanding” mandate which requires 2-way radio licensees to reduce bandwidth to a narrower (weaker) signal.

The purpose of the mandate, the FCC declared, was to reduce congestion on UHF and VHF frequency bands. Whether public or private, 2-way radio systems were ordered to migrate from  bandwidths of, typically, 25 kHz to a narrower 12.5 kHz or its equivalent efficiency.

The deadline was set for Jan. 1, 2013.

The deadline missed, Niagara County applied for and was granted extensions from the FCC.

The simple change to narrower bandwidth was not what made Niagara County late by two years and five months and counting.

The county melded narrowbanding with a plan to combine every public safety division in the cities, towns and villages in Niagara County, along with Niagara County’s public safety departments, into one unified Motorola designed digital system.

Each independent department would abandon their analog systems and their scores of dedicated channels and share a pool of far lesser channels that Motorola would arrange to help provide.

To be clear — the main cost of Niagara County’s Emergency Radio Communications system was not FCC narrowbanding, but the merger of all public safety’s 2-way radio communications into a single digital Motorola system to be used with top of the line Motorola 2-way radios.

Digital Trunked System Promises Better Communications, New Radios

The system, a microwave network with Motorola radio transmitters on seven radio towers strategically located throughout the county and linked to a dispatch center and a backup center replete with top of the line Motorola equipment. The system does comply with the FCC narrowbanding mandate and in addition promises, as all Motorola ‘trunked’ digital systems do, the ability of radio users on the system to be able to speak directly to any other user regardless of agency or department.

Called “interoperability,” it is perhaps infrequently used except in times of crisis when coordination among first responders can be of paramount importance.

The second feature, one that Motorola contracted to provide, was 2-way radio reception with 95 percent reliability over 95 percent of the land area of Niagara County which, if realized, is greater than the county enjoys collectively with its various analog radio channels. Finally, as a sweetener, Niagara County purchased from Motorola, at, reportedly, a cost of about $2 million some 1850 top of the line 2-way Motorola radios. Normally sold to governments for $5,000 each, Motorola discounted them to not much more than $1,000 each.

County legislators made these available as gifts to every public safety employee whose agency or department joined the new Motorola system. Not every department wanted to join. Lockport Fire Chief Thomas J. Passuite said his fire radios could be bought into compliance with narrowbanding for $3,500.

Lockport Police Chief Lawrence M. Eggert said his department could comply with FCC narrowbanding for $21,900.

Eggert apparently understood that by selling $5,000 list price radios for $1000, Motorola  ensured future sales. In five years or so, when the typical 2-way radio is ready for replacement, Eggert knew his department would have to buy new ones at a price 10 times higher than the $500 narrowbanding compliant 2-way analog radios cost.

The Lockport City Council – under mounting pressure from county officials – overruled Eggert and Passuite’s analog plans – and voted that their police and fire departments must join the county system and accept the gift of Motorola radios – estimated to have a replacement value of $425,000.

Now the Niagara County digital system is, according to County Manager Jeffrey Glatz, essentially finished.

Whether it will achieve the promised 95 percent coverage goals may take some time to determine.

 

Motorola has Digital Troubles and ‘Shady Dealings’ in Other Cities

In other municipalities, background noise, garbled transmissions and dead spots inside of buildings have plagued Motorola digital systems and some have failed to achieve the 95 percent coverage and 95 percent reliability Motorola appeared to have promised.

In fact, problems with Motorola digital systems are so fully documented that some readers may be surprised that Niagara County officials did not address this publicly before buying  a Motorola digital system. “Fire departments in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Phoenix and Boise, Idaho — communities that have spent tens of millions of dollars on the new equipment — are so leery of problems that they won’t use digital radios at fire scenes,” reports McClatchy DC News, a publication of the McClatchy Company, owners of Knight Ridder and 30 daily newspapers in 15 states, in a story that was part of an investigative series on Motorola’s business practices, published in 2011.

The McClatchy series prompted the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, John Roth, to order an audit to determine whether federal grant money has bankrolled biased contract awards to Motorola.

There are reports, easily found online, published in newspapers across the nation, many of which were available to Niagara County lawmakers when they were considering contracting with Motorola in 2010-2011, that suggest Motorola’s cozy dealings with government officials were something to be wary of.

Dozens of shady dealings with officials of various government agencies were alleged that led to Motorola getting questionable no bid contracts then adding change orders, as they did in DuPage County Ill., where a $7 million, no-bid contract wound up costing more than $28 million.

 

In Many Places Motorola’s Digital Systems Have Failed

There are as many reports that suggest Motorola’s digital 2-way emergency radios and digital communications systems – like the one Niagara County purchased – have a troubled history.

The City of Chicago, as the Chicago Tribune reported in 2011, spent nearly $23 million on a no-bid Motorola digital radio deal in 2006 for their fire department, “that still doesn’t work after more than five years”.

The Tribune reported that firefighters continue to use their 50-year-old analog radio system.

Chicago Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff told the Tribune that “digital radios have been problematic for fire departments in big cities across the country.”

McClatchy reported that Motorola’s “digital radios’ shortcomings are so widely known that they’ve acquired nicknames. There’s the ‘digital cliff,’ when a radio is out of range and the connection ends without warning. There’s ‘bonking’ — also dubbed ‘the sound of death’ by some Philadelphia firefighters — when an important transmission gets rejected because too many other radios are using the system. Then there’s ‘going digital,’ when a radio emits a garble of beeps and tones instead of a voice.”

Failures of Motorola’s digital radios were blamed in part for two firefighter deaths in Philadelphia, two in Cincinnati and one, on April 16, 2007, when a Woodbridge, Va., firefighter died in the line of duty.

The Prince William County Department of Fire Rescue concluded that the county’s Motorola digital trunked radio system contributed to the tragedy.

And Motorola reached settlements for undisclosed sums with the families of the two dead Philadelphia firefighters.

In Hamilton County, Ohio,  after some $35 million was spent on a new Motorola digital trunked system, a 2008 fire erupted in suburban Cincinnati.

Firefighters Robin Broxterman and Brian Schira perished there after they repeatedly tried to summon help on their Motorola digital radios.

A Colerain Fire Department investigation found that, in a half-hour period, the Motorola trunked system rejected at least 43 attempted communications by firefighters, some of them because 22 agencies and 75 nonparticipants monitoring the event tied up space on the system.

Broxterman’s parents, Donald and Arlene Zang, sued Motorola but lost.

The Zang’s did not sue on the premise that Motorola’s digital trunked system was defective, but that digital trunked systems in general are inferior to analog systems for firefighting.

While the court did not rule on Zang’s argument that a digital system is inferior to analog, the court reasoned that Motorola cannot be held liable for supplying an inferior product, since it was in compliance with what the buyer, Hamilton County, wanted.

More Problems in Ontario, Orlando, Houston

Closer to home, the Niagara Regional Police in Ontario, which converted from analog to a Motorola digital system, had problems with dispatch failures in 2012 and, after repeated failures, the Ministry of Labour had to intervene demanding the department identify the problem for the immediate safety of workers.

In Orlando Fla, for years digital garbling and unintelligible transmissions made the Fire Department’s Motorola digital system worthless.

Firefighters continued to use their old analog radios.

Ultimately, according to Deputy Chief Greg Hoggatt, the digital system was righted and the department is now 100 percent digital.

But problems in other cities continue.

Jeff Caynon, the president of Houston’s firefighters’ union, said problems with Motorola’s $140 million digital system, completed in 2013, forced rescuers to resort during a blaze in May 2013 to use “hand and arm signals and cell phones as a reliable way to communicate.”

As recently as January, Houston’s Fire Department was still having problems with Motorola digital radios – having to frequently discard useless but expensive Motorola digital 2-way radios.

“It compromises the safety of firefighters at emergency incidents,” Captain Ruy Lozano, of the Houston Fire Department, told ABC News in January 2015.

Which brings us back to Niagara County.

Will Niagara County’s Motorola digital system work?

There are certainly cases where Motorola digital systems do work.

Although the successes seem to be a little harder to find on internet searches.

Motorola has Checkered Dealings with Local Governments

So how did it come about that a system with a track record of flaws was pushed through with hardly a word of discussion?

This is a topic that should be explored in depth.

Motorola secured a contract for Niagara County’s digital 2-way business in a way that parallels what the company did in dozens of other municipalities and several states.

In Chicago, Dallas, the San Francisco Bay Area and on statewide systems in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Washington, Motorola has been accused of irregularities or of winning contracts through government favoritism.

In the San Francisco Bay Area a $50 million deal imploded when investigators for the Commerce Department’s inspector general’s office concluded that a grant application had  “significant misrepresentations.”

A McClatchy survey of the largest cities in America show that Motorola won 20 of 22 contracts – about half of the time these were no bid awards.

In some municipalities Motorola has been accused of deploying sales staff whose primary tasks is to counsel government officials on how to skirt public bidding laws, something Motorola spokesmen have denied.

Similarities Between Niagara County and Other Municipalities and Motorola

Ironically Niagara County sought to hand Motorola a no bid contract.

The Republican majority on the legislature was ready to vote on a $22 million no bid Motorola contract until it was scuttled, at the 11th hour, not by the savvy resolve of cost conscious legislators but through dumb luck.

Only Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso called for an RFP and open bidding, but he was ignored.

In many localities Motorola has been accused of winning RFP’s through the aid of friendly government officials and their hired consultants who craft the RFP’s to ensure Motorola wins.

In Niagara County, after several strokes of the most extraordinary dumb luck, to be detailed in a subsequent story, an  RFP was crafted by the county’s consultant and bids were solicited,  much to the credit of certain elected officials – whose desire for the public good, as opposed to Motorola’s, was evident.

But there were some who were ostensibly working, or contracted to work, for the county who, for reasons to be examined, appeared to be working behind the scenes to aid Motorola.

As readers will see next week, Niagara County was accused of writing an RFP that not only favored Motorola but literally excluded any competitor from having a chance at winning the contract, and this, we submit, is based on standards that, once reviewed by competent experts, will reveal themselves for what they were intended to be.

Source – http://www.niagarafallsreporter.com/Stories/2015/MAY12/Motorolai.html

How Do Passive Noise Cancelling Headphones Work

It is quite unfortunate that for most music lovers, there is a myriad of ambient noises and sounds that can really interfere with the music coming from your earphones, Now, if you have ever once tried to listen to music on a bus, train or airplane, then you are intimately familiar with this problem. The engine’s roar and/or the incessant chatter from fellow passengers, make extremely hard to hear the sounds coming from your speakers, even if they are on or inside your ear. Fortunately, to combat this dilemma, innovators have come up with far more enjoyable way of listening to your music- Noise canceling headphones of which there are two types:

– the active- the passive types.

HOW PASSIVE NOISE CANCELLATION WORKS

The simplest type of noise cancellation is the passive noise reduction, sometimes called noise isolation. From a technical perspective, just about any kind of earphones are able to provide some degree of passive noise reduction (though some are designed for it more than others). This is mostly as a result of the materials used to make the headphones which block out particular sound waves, mostly those of a higher frequency. The absolute best type of passive noise canceling headphones are however the circum-aural types which are specifically engineered to maximize the amount of noise it filters. We will take a look at this some more in a bit. Essentially, where passive noise isolation, the head phones are so designed that they will fit snugly into or around each ear. This makes it significantly harder for noise to escape and bother others in your immediate environment, and it also prevents the noise in your environment from making it hard for you to listen to your music. Passive noise cancellation earphones tend to have very large ear pieces, with large pieces of foam wrapped around them. You need to squeeze the foam into your ear which them provides a perfect seal for the ear canal, or they fit just right around your ear.

All this is saying that passive noise cancelling earphones in essence imitate what happens when you choose to cover your ears with your hands or put some ear plugs in. The excess padding is always done with materials that naturally act as sound barriers- fitting into your ear and sealing off the ambient noise.

Supra-aural headphones, which are earphones placed over and around the ear, instead of in or around it, are probably the very worst at any form of sound cancellation. They tend to be low density, small and very light, as such there is really not much padding to block and outside sound or ambient noise from entering the ear. Furthermore, because they are only placed on the ear, there is a great deal of space for any external noise to travel around them and into the ear canal. It is on very rare occasions that you actually find a top quality supra-aural earphone, because they are simply unable to provide the kind of noise cancellation that circumaural or in ear headphones provide. Supra-aural earphones are lightly manufactured and as such are usually marketed for customers who are not particularly focused on headphone quality, but mostly looking for basic functionality.

Take for instance, most desktop or video game headsets tend to be supra-aural. They are mostly preferred because they are light and as such are suitable for the long, extended hours they will be used. Additionally, in cases like these audio quality is not of great importance since it they are mostly used for spoken communication, where clarity is the focus and nothing else really matters.

When it comes to passive noise cancelling headphones, circumaural or around the ear headphones provide a significantly better noise cancellation quality. They are bigger in size and as such they include more noise reduction material. This in turn creates a far better buffer against outside noise- think beats headphones. Essentially this means that they are heavily packed with layers of high top quality high density foam,, or some other sound absorbing material. Admittedly, this then makes them a bit heavier than the average headphones, but since they completely block the ear off, they keep out up to 95% of outside noise. Well, this is assuming that the circumaural earphones you choose, fit your ears snugly. If they are either poorly designed or not the perfect fit then ambient noise will still be able to make its way in.

Security Earpiece For the iPhone

With every passing day, technology is improving and it has made lives of people easier and better in many ways. Some of the latest technologies and gadgets have really been helpful to many people. If you look at the security earpiece then you will understand how advantageous it is for specific people. There are different types of these earpieces available and you can also get these for your iPhone. You just have to check whether or not these are suitable and compatible with your handset.

Use Of Security Earpieces

These earpieces are only required when you want to communicate with someone secretly. The security earpiece is fitted into the ears and normally people around you cannot see it. It is small and is connected by a very thin wire. Security personnel mainly use these types of earpieces. But people also use this when they are in a conference and want to communicate or hear something while communicating. You can also find it useful in movie sets, broadcasting of radios etc. Even it will be great for using inside classrooms and not getting caught by teachers!

This is quite small in size the voice transmitted via this cannot be heard outside. Only the person who is wearing it can hear the voice. Thus, you can secretly converse with someone while none will even know about it. In case of audio surveillance, security guards and bodyguards use this radio earpiece to make sure they can hear each and everything distinctly. When a person is speaking on radio in front of a microphone, he/she has to make sure that even a message comes through the earphone it is not heard outside. So, with the help of the security earpiece it is very much possible.

Connecting To Mobile

Though these earpieces are meant mainly for security purposes, many people find it cool! They use this as a style statement and wear it just for fun. It has become a part of cool accessories which many enthusiasts prefer to use while going out. It is not necessary that you have to be a spy, bodyguard or a secret agent in order to buy or use this. You can simply buy one security earpiece for your iPhone too. it also comes with a separate mouthpiece which you can put on anywhere you feel comfortable.

If you are an owner of an iPhone then you can get the security earpiece for your particular handset. The jack which will be connected to your earphone port of the mobile has to be compatible to each other, normally a 3.5mm Jack. If not then you will not be able to hear or listen to anything. This is very much important. So, it is best to buy the security earphones specially made for each model of iPhone. With the help of this you can talk over phone while driving or even you can hear songs and watch movies.

Some Useful Tips

Since you have to wear these earpieces inside your ears, you have to be much more conscious of it. Make sure that you are not allergic to the material by which earpiece is made up of. If you are then avoid using that material as it can be harmful for you. The earpiece is fitted inside the ear exactly beside your eardrum. While wearing it you have to be careful about whether or not the earpiece is touching your eardrum. If it is not touching then you will not be able to hear anything or you will hear a low voice. When you are done you have to take out that earpiece as well. In this case also you have to be very much careful.

Your ear, mainly eardrum, is very much sensitive. You have to make sure that the security earpiece you are buying for your ears is not made up of some low quality material. It can react badly with your inner ear skin. So, when you are buying one for your iPhone, you have to choose the best one made up of high quality material. These are mainly available in rubber and thus you have to confirm that you are not allergic to it. This is surely a great technology and a cool accessorise for the one who want to use it just for fun for their iPhone.

BIG Changes Announced By DC Comics…Again

When veteran comic book publisher DC Entertainment announced that it was ending its entire line of comic books and starting everything again at Issue 1, the fans went crazy.

Some comics had been running, there or thereabouts uninterrupted, for 700 issues or more – and now it seemed that it was all over. Still, in 2011, when DC announced this major upheaval, naming their initiative ‘The New 52’, the first few issues actually sold rather well.

DC had started out by promising a company-wide ‘reboot’ of all their characters/stories, but then baulked at using the term after fan outcry became too great. Instead, it became seen as a ‘soft reboot’, or a ‘revamp’, which left fans – and creators too, evidently – scratching their collective heads regarding which major storyline events had still happened in the new timeline and which hadn’t.

Many fans, for their part, were upset that Frank Miller David Mazzuccelli’s ‘Batman: Year One’ was no longer the Bat’s official origin story, replaced instead by the gruelling, overlong ‘Zero Year’. In fact, fans were further annoyed when other classic texts such as Alan Moore Brian Bolland’s ‘The Killing Joke’ and Jeph Loeb Tim Sale’s ‘The Long Halloween’ also departed from Bat-continuity.

Elsewhere in the DCU, Superman was no longer after Lois Lane, instead striking up a romance with Wonder Woman. Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl – latterly the company’s only major disabled character as Oracle – was miraculously able to walk again and The Flash Mk III, AKA Wally West, was simply erased from continuity altogether.

As time went on, we learned that The Joker was probably immortal, that Dick Grayson gave up his crime fighting identity of Nightwing to become a spy, that Green Arrow was somehow a kid again and that Catwoman and Batman enjoyed regular ‘on the job’ sex. In costume.

Of course, there were good stories, too, but as far as many fans were concerned, the end result was, to borrow a line from Red Dwarf’s Kryten “garbled, confusing and quite frankly duller than an in-flight magazine produced by air Belgium”.

Now, just four years later, sales have apparently slumped again, so DC’s reaction has been to plan another, still more drastic, reboot of the company’s characters.

The starting gun will be a story called ‘Convergence’ and it is set to officially begin next month. After that, the company will take a two-month hiatus and return with a new and completely rebooted line. Again.

Well, you know what they say, if at first you don’t succeed…

DC has already teased a ‘new look’ for Superman and Wonder Woman, designs that, personally, I’m hoping are April fools’ jokes. Superman will now be fighting crime and injustice with a buzzcut hairdo and a jeans-and-t-shirt ensemble that makes him look like, to quote one commenter “a gym douche” and Wonder Woman now has a 90’s style armoured battlesuit.

By working within the continuity established by The New 52, but moving it to the ‘back burner’ as it were, DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio hopes that “In this new era of storytelling, story will trump continuity as we continue to empower creators to tell the best stories in the industry.”

Launching 24 new number 1 issues in June (‘The Poor 24?’, ‘Less Is More, 24?’ – I’m just trying to come up with an angle for this), DC Entertainment is hoping to capture a funnier, sunnier feel with some of its characters. 25 successful series will be kept, but tweaked with new creative teams and whatnot.

Sadly, at least as far as online discussion is concerned, the overall feel is not one of ‘glorious new rebirth’ as much as it is ‘here we go again’. The image in the eyes of this long-time fan (and former ‘New 52’ apologist) is one of DC hitting the panic button in yet another sad attempt to appear ‘modern’ and ‘contemporary’ whilst actually revealing itself as stodgy and out of touch in the process.

Here’s Co-Publisher Jim Lee, usually one of the sharpest minds in comics, essentially blaming the audience for the failure of ‘The New 52’…

“It was really weird when we launched the New 52 — there were so many fans focused on, “What happened between the five years, when this character showed up, and this character” — it almost overshadowed what the original intent of it was, which was basically to put a fresh face on the universe, boldly go forward, tell new stories. This is an attempt to refocus the line, focus on story, focus on producing great stories that become canon, and letting the creators have some freedom to tell those stories, without necessarily being confined by the restriction of “continuity.”

Of course, comic book creators have been working with continuity, in one form or another, for 75 years or more, so it actually just seems to be the current crop (and thus, a tiny percentage overall) of creators who find it to be a “restriction”. But I digress, here’s more from DC’s Co-Publisher.

“I’ll just use one example — there was a tweet I saw, someone complaining about “Throne of Atlantis,” the DVD adaptation of the comic book. The complaint was, “Superman and Wonder Woman don’t breathe underwater. You failed.” Maybe the continuity proves that right, I don’t know — I’m pretty sure I’ve put Superman under water, and he was fine, and he’s been to outer space, same with Wonder Woman — when those things start overshadowing the story, and the emotional beats, I think there’s something wrong with what’s going on in the marketplace. That’s my perspective”.

One might argue that being DC’s Co-Publisher, it’s actually his job to know everything there is to know about Superman, including whether or not he can breathe underwater, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg here.

Anyway, love the idea or hate it (and I think I’ve made my own feelings pretty clear on the subject), DC’s new line will be launching in June. Make of it what you will.

For many fans, (including myself) the reaction is not one of excitement and glee, but is, in fact, more akin to Seinfeld’s J. Peterman being confronted with ‘The Urban Sombrero’.

“The horror…The horror”

How to be a better headphone listener

When you’re listening to speakers the sound comes from “over there,” but with headphones where is the sound? A lot depends on the recording and the headphones. With mono recordings the sound is centered inside your head, with stereo the sound picture is more complicated. Vocals, or any sound mixed to appear centered between the left and right channels, will be inside your head, like a mono recording. The sounds over to the left and right might come from next to your ears.

Listening over one of the better open-back full-size headphones, the sound might feel like it’s surrounding you. You’re in the middle of the sound field, or it might come from slightly above your head. The headphones melt away and you are one with the music. Sometimes when I’m watching a movie I forget the headphones. The sound isn’t over there, it’s all around me; I’m in the middle of a sound “bubble.”

I’m not suggesting that headphones can ever mimic what we hear from speakers. Headphones can’t do that, but the downside to speakers is they can never be heard directly; the speakers’ sound is combined with the room’s reflections, reverberations, and other forms of acoustic interference. With headphones the sound “couples” directly to your ears, so you have a far more intimate connection to the music.

With full-size over-the-ear headphones, the contours of your outer ears direct the sound to your inner ears in the same way sound is heard from speakers. In-ear headphones “bypass” the outer ear and produce a more direct connection to the recording. With purely acoustic music, the sound over headphones takes on what I call a microphone perspective, you hear what the mics “heard.”

That’s not the case with electronic music since no microphones were used to make the recording. Even so, I find lots of electronica sounds amazing, and some of the best albums were mixed to produce out-of-head stereo imaging. Listen for depth, does the sound seem very close to your ears or further away? Recordings vary a lot in their stereo imaging, but the more closely you listen, the more aware you will be of spatial cues in headphone listening. Try some of Brian Eno’s ambient albums like “On Land” and “Apollo” to hear what I’m talking about.

To get started, relax and focus on the sound. Your surroundings should be fairly quiet, close your eyes, and sink into the music. After a few minutes the separate left, center, right stereo perspectives should fall away, and your head will feel like it’s in the center of an expansive sound field.

Share your thoughts on spatial headphone listening below.

We found this excellent article here and as you can see it give us valuable information on why headphones aren’t better than speakers, but if you don’t want your neighbors complaining or your family moaning, then you’ll have to wait for the technology to come up with perfect acoustic sound.

Twelfth Doctor To Battle Vikings (And Other Series 9-Related Rumours)

Just a few short weeks after series 8 of the long-running sci-fi show garnered a Craft Award at the BAFTAs (for ‘Deep Breath’s excellent T-Rex sequences), shooting is already under way for Block 3 (that’s episodes 5 6, in case you were wondering) of Series 9. Phew! Don’t these guys ever take a break?

According to www.doctorwhotv.co.uk, series 9 will see everybody’s favourite Time Lord and his trusty companion having a Viking-themed adventure, guest starring Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams. Cast and crew have begun filming at Cosmeston Medieval Village, and leaked on-set photos appear to show crewmembers hard at work building period-specific boats. Other leaked info points to a showdown between The Doctor and the Norse God Odin. Should be fun.

The village will also be the setting for the brand-new monster that was officially unveiled by the BBC last week. Looking like a giant Warhammer figure brought magically to life, the monster may (or may not) be called The Cyclone and the teaser photos already have online fans buzzing.

Meanwhile, other on-set photos (leaked by Twitter user Amberlabamba) appear to show star Peter Capaldi in a new outfit, specifically, a pair of Tartan trousers that knowingly remind us of Twelve’s innate Scottishness, whilst also recalling some of the outfits worn by Second Doctor Patrick Troughton.

…He’s keeping the Doc Martens, though.

The costume change is also interesting because Capaldi’s initial series 8 outfit, a stylish, scaled back Crombie coat (designed specifically with cosplay in mind), also recalled an outfit worn by Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor during the 1970’s. It certainly looks like the BBC costume department are taking a bit of inspiration from the show’s early days. Its all good, just as long as he leaves the six-foot scarf at home – some things aren’t meant to be touched!

…And that goes TRIPLE for any Technicolor dream coats that the costume department might be planning to unleash on us.

In other Who news, it appears that director Hettie MacDonald, best known by Whovians for her sterling work on the Tenth Doctor episode Blink, will be returning to direct a couple of U.N.I.T-related episodes entitled The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar, which are set to act as a two-part series’ opener. The adventure will probably feature the return of Jemma Redgrave as Kate Stewart, daughter of the legendary Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

Other cast members announced (or rumoured) for series 9 guest slots are Game of Thrones and Ripper Street actor Paul Kaye, comedian Rufus Hound, The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Kelly Hunter (who may or may not be reprising her role as The Shadow Architect from Series 4’s The Stolen Earth) and Clare Higgins, who recently appeared in the Eighth Doctor mini-episode The Night of The Doctor as The High Priestess of The Karn Sisterhood.

Michelle Gomez will also return as Missy – the female incarnation of The Master, as seen throughout series 8.

A particularly juicy rumour (apparently started by The Daily Mirror) has the series returning The Doctor to the Dalek homeworld Skaro, whereupon the Time Lord must contemplate whether or not to murder his nemesis Davros, creator of The Daleks, during childhood. The episode, if indeed it is an episode at all, would therefore re-tread philosophical ground first walked during Terry Nation’s classic Fourth Doctor serial Genesis of the Daleks.

The story may also pick up on the as-yet unused Davros origin story written by former series boss Russell T. Davies, which was cut from series four’s The Stolen Earth/Journeys End two-parter (it can be read in Davies’ Doctor Who companion book The Writers Tale). If this is the case, then this proposed episode might also explain the return of Kelly Hunter to the Whoniverse, for obvious reasons.

Of course, you can never trust the rumour mill too wantonly, but if the idea of a series that features The Sisterhood of Karn, The Shadow Proclamation, Davros, The Master and Odin doesn’t float your (long)boat, then, quite frankly, I’m not entirely sure why you read this far…