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Category: #AudioGear (Page 1 of 3)

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How to Improve Sound on Your Android Phone Despite an increasing number of people turning to smartphones to listen to music these days, the vast majority of Android phones still lack powerful speakers capable of delivering quality audio. As a user, you can do a few things to ensure that your handset gets improved sound quality and volume. Here are some of the ways you can improve the sound quality on your Android phone. 1. Be Aware of Placement of Your Phone’s Speakers Depending on your phone’s model, the placement of the speakers can differ significantly. A vast number of handsets have the speakers at the… Read more13898454.gif

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Alexandra Arici

Jamstik Studio is the MIDI guitar you might actually want to use.

de6c1371-f9f5-11ea-bfe6-84d847426ddeThe Jamstik Studio MIDI Guitar is, as the name implies a guitar. But to be clear, if you’re just looking to buy a guitar, there is no reason to get one. It’s serviceable, but nothing special. The mahogany body and rosewood fretboard feel decent enoug…

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Google smart displays now let you take charge of multi-room audio


Creating speakers groups to play music on multiple Google devices simultaneously used to require help from the Google Home app, but now you can queue up multi-room audio directly from a Google smart display.

The new multi-room audio interface, which you can access from just about any Google Nest-compatible music app, is rolling out today to the Google Nest Hub, the Nest Hub Max, and other Google Assistant-compatible displays. The feature will also arrive in the Google Home app this fall, Google said.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Ben Patterson

Everything You Need for High Quality Voice Chats, Recordings, and Podcasts

Whether you’re starting a podcast, YouTube channel, or stream, audio quality is key. No one wants to listen to messy audio, and you want to make sure you’re heard loud and clear. And there’s a lot you can do to improve your audio quality, even if you’re dealing with limited space or budget.

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The Best Turntables and Vinyl Accessories for Beginners

Young audiophile playing vinyl record on turntable in her homePopartic/

If you’re just getting into vinyl, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed by all the options for turntables and vinyl accessories. Lucky for you, we rounded up a solid list of beginner-friendly (and budget-friendly) turntables, and some basic accessories for storing, playing, and cleaning your new vinyl collection.

We know that everyone’s audio tastes differ. Our suggestions won’t create the perfect audiophile setup; rather, this is just a starting point for anyone who’s new to vinyl. All you really need to get started is a turntable, good speakers, and a safe place to store your vinyl. Undoubtedly, expanding and upgrading your turntable setup will naturally progress as time goes on. We listed a few turntable options—all of which are under $500—as well as some vinyl storage solutions and other accessories that’ll start your vinyl-listening experience off on the right note.

The Turntables

The expression “you get what you pay for” is widely applicable but in few places more appropriate than with turntables. If you’re bargain hunting or hoping to snag a used turntable online, you run the risk of ending up with one that’s made of low-quality material, missing important features, or that’ll do a poor and inconsistent job of playing your records—something that could ultimately damage them.

Paying a little more for a new turntable is a good investment. It ensures you’ll end up with the latest technology, higher-quality components (like a built-in preamp and a nice tonearm), which in turn means you’ll get a clean perfect sound. Though the more inexpensive options are a perfect jumping-off point, the most costly devices are worth every penny, and you should be able to hear the difference.

Audio-Technica LP60X

The Audio-Technica LP60X budget-friendly turntable for beginners, with attached dust coverAudio-Technica

The Audio-Technica LP60X ($99) is your best bet for a quality turntable that won’t bust your budget. Its super-simple design won’t overwhelm beginner users, yet its quality components are good enough to impress serious audiophiles. Its automatic belt-drive operation can run at both 33 and 45 RPM, and it can even convert your vinyl to digital audio if that’s something you’re interested in doing.

The LP60X’s solid platter is designed to minimize vibrations, and its newly redesigned headshell and tonearm base mean better tracking and reduced resonance for crystal clear playback. It also has a built-in preamp for line- or phono-level output, and included in the box is an RCA output cable, a 45 RPM adapter, and a hinged removable cover for keeping dust out whenever you’re not using the turntable. The only notable downside of the LP60X is its fixed cartridge that can’t be upgraded if you don’t happen to like it.

U-Turn Orbit Basic

U-Turn Orbit Basic turntable least expensive turntable from U-TurnU-Turn Audio

If you want a turntable with a clean minimalist look, look no further than the U-Turn Orbit Basic Turntable ($179). You have six fun colors to choose from that are, frankly, a welcome and exciting respite from the armies of plain black turntables smothering the market. The Orbit Basic is easy to set up and use, and it ships with an AC adapter, RCA cables, a dust cover, and a felt slipmat. Its external belt-drive motor is designed to run quietly while spinning at a consistent speed for pure-sounding playback. The Orbit Basic even has a precision gimbal tonearm with an adjustable counterweight that ensures accurate tracking with low distortion.

U-Turn also has another fairly inexpensive model, the Orbit Plus ($289), that’s a solid choice for vinyl newbies with an extra hundred bucks to spare. It has slightly better components than the Basic, so your records will sound better, and the turntable itself will last longer. Who wouldn’t want that? Both turntables come with an impressive three-year manufacturer warranty.

Audio-Technica LP120X

Audio-Technica LP120X turntable best recommendation for new vinyl collectorsAudio-Technica

The Audio-Technica LP120X is one of the most widely recommended turntables for beginners. After all, it’s the remodel of the well-loved LP120USB that many seasoned vinyl enthusiasts enjoy using. The turntable’s magnet-powered direct-drive motor is a nice treat, as it rarely (if ever) will require servicing and is a feature more commonly found on high-end turntables than on those at this price point. On-system playback controls feature a variable pitch control with quartz speed lock, and the popup stylus has a target light for easy song cueing of your favorite 33, 44, and 78 RPM tracks if you happen to be vibing in dim light. The S-shaped tonearm has hydraulically damped lift control, and you can lock it into a rest position when needed. It also has a built-in preamp that’ll allow you to switch between line- and phono-level output with the flip of a switch.

The fully manual turntable ships with a detachable RCA output cable, USB cable, AC adapter, 45 RPM adapter, felt slipmat, counterweight, and hinged dust cover you can remove during use. It can also convert your analog audio into digital audio via the USB output, which is great to have if you’re streaming or simply want to digitize your vinyl collection.

Fluance RT81

Fluance RT81 turntable with a wooden plinthFluance

If you want a great turntable with a beautiful solid wood plinth, the Fluance RT81 ($249.99) is an incredible choice at this price point. The diamond elliptical tipped stylus tracks with precision and accuracy which, paired with the balanced aluminum S-Type tonearm, gives you stellar-sounding audio. The turntable even has a built-in Texas Instruments preamp, gold-plated RCA line outputs, and a ground terminal.

The RT81’s solid walnut-finished wooden cabinet has an aluminum platter, isolation feet, and an included rubber slipmat so you won’t have to worry about unwanted vibrations interfering with your music session. Plus, it looks stylish and classy. Also included in the box is a dust cover, 45 adapter, RCA cable with ground wire, AC adapter, and a quick-start guide.

Denon DP-300F

Denon DP-300F turntable with glossy platter and slipmatDenon

Though the Denon DP-300F ($329) costs a bit more than the other turntables we’ve covered so far, it has additional features and functionality that justify the jump in price. Its heavy super-solid base means added stability and reduced vibrational impacts to its performance whether you set it to 33 or 45 RPM. Automatic startup makes the turntable starts playing at the press of a button, and the tonearm will also automatically return to its rest to minimize possible damage and scratches. (Though it also has a manual lifter mechanism, which is nice to have in the event you want to cue up a specific song.)

The DP-300F’s diecast aluminum build is designed for smooth, vibration- and flutter-free performance. It also has a phono equalizer built-in to connect to an external receiver or integrated amp lacking its own phono input.

Rega Planar 1

Rega Planar 1 turntable with excellent components for such a low price pointRega

The Rega Planar 1 has a super-glossy minimalistic design, and is a stellar under-$500 choice for vinyl novices. The turntable is known for its excellent hi-fi sound as much as its modern design, and is probably the closest any beginner will get to a professional-grade set up on this kind of budget. Though the Planar 1 lacks a built-in phono preamp, it is designed to easily connect to an external one. Its other high-quality components—including zero play ultra-low friction bearings and a 24v low-noise synchronous motor—more than make up for this omission.

A weighted tonearm is mounted to the 23mm phenolic resin platter, and ideal tracking weight is marked on the arm as well. The Planar 1 is fully manual but includes directions so there’s no need for beginners to feel put off by this; it also means you’ll have to manually switch between 33 and 45 RPM. The turntable is available in a white or black finish, both glossy.

Rega Planar 1

Rega – Planar 1 (Black)

A solid beginner-friendly turntable with amazing components and features for a low price point.

The Accessories

From slipmats to speakers to storage, having the right accessories for your vinyl setup is a must-have for keeping it clean and organized. Because vinyl is fragile and, in many cases, rare, having the right accessories on hand makes it easy for you to maintain and enjoy using your vinyl collection.

Quality Speakers

Edifier R1850DB active bookshelf speakers with bluetooth and optical inputEdifier

Having good speakers is the other half of the bare essentials vinyl turntable setup! The Edifier R1850DB Active Bookshelf Speakers are terrific speakers that are widely recommended for pairing with modern turntables. The set supports Bluetooth 4.0 and has lossless Optical Input options. You can adjust treble and bass on the rear panel, and even connect a subwoofer via the sub-out jack. The R1850 speakers ship with a wireless remote for quick adjustments when you’re away from them, along with a two-year warranty on parts and labor.

Storage for Your Vinyl

Old vinyl records in a box standing next to a turntable on a tableSerge Ka/

Even though having floor-to-ceiling shelving full of the choicest vinyl is the dream of every aspiring vinyl collector, it’s not exactly a realistic starting line. Something a little more humble, like the Ikea Kallax ($70) is where most people start, though you can always choose something a little more stylish and functional, like the Novogratz Concord Stand, which has storage for your vinyl, drawers for accessories, and a flat top for your turntable.

Novogratz Concord Stand

Novogratz Concord Turntable Stand, Double, Walnut

This stylish stand has a place for records, accessories, and your turntable.

Protect Your Vinyl with Sleeves

Mobile Fidelity Original Master Inner Sleeves pack of 50 for protecting your recordsTurntable Lab

The best way to become a serious vinyl collector is to care about your vinyl. Newbies and hardcore collectors alike swear by Mobile Fidelity Original Master Inner Sleeves ($19.95 for 50) from Turntable Lab, which keep your records from slipping out and protect them from the bumps and scratches that tend to occur during handling. The clear three-ply sleeves are anti-static and safely hold your vinyl as well as its original sleeve, so you can still see which record you’re looking at. They’re perfect for safely storing new vinyl as well as rare classics.

Keep Control with a Slipmat

SICMATS Pinwheel SlipmatTurntable Lab

A slipmat is an accessory that’s both fun and functional. Above all, a slipmat keeps your vinyl spinning and in position, and prevents it from sticking to the platter beneath it. And if you get one with a cool design, like this SICMATS Pinwheel Slipmat ($20), it looks cool when you’re not using your turntable. They’re commonly sold in sets of two and are an easy way to personalize your setup a bit.

A Turntable Weight for Stable Spins

Hudson Hi-fi BigBen turntable weightHudson Hi-Fi

Turntable weights, also called record weights, perform a number of benefits that help playback sound cleaner and less distorted (especially when playing older, warped records). A weight, like the Hudson Hi-Fi BigBen, keeps records flat when playing, dampens vibrations caused by the stylus as it moves around, and even reduces other problematic distortions, like flutter. It’s not a total essential if your record collection consists solely of brand-new vinyl, but if you’ve got older records, a turntable weight is absolutely worth investing in.

Keep Your Records Clean

Hudson Hi-Fi record cleaning kitHudson Hi-Fi

Clean vinyl is happy vinyl. Though your personal cleaning process and products might change over the years, the Hudson Hi-Fi Vinyl Record Cleaning Kit is a great place to start. It includes a rubber label protector, a stylus cleaner, a microfiber cloth, cleaning solution with a brush, mitts, and an anti-static carbon fiber cleaning brush, which is enough to keep your records in mint condition and sounding great for years to come.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Suzanne Humphries

How to Switch Sound Output Devices on a Mac

If you’re not hearing system sound from a certain device connected to your Mac—such as a monitor with built-in speakers, a Bluetooth device, or a USB audio interface—it’s time to check your sound output device settings. Here’s how.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Benj Edwards

How to Choose Your Microphone on a Mac

Whether they’re built-in to your computer or webcam (or not), you likely have multiple microphones on your Mac. If you’re unsure which one is capturing audio, it’s time to review the audio input settings. From there, you can choose which microphone you want to use.

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6 Excellent USB Microphones Small Enough to Toss in Your Laptop Bag

Razer Seiren X on deskRazer

A lackluster microphone can be frustrating to say the least—both for the person using it and the people who have the displeasure of listening to it. You might want to upgrade to a dedicated microphone for clearer audio, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with a complicated bulky setup. Here are the best small USB mics you can buy today.

USB microphones are ready to use out of the box, sound great, and can come in surprisingly small packages. Whether you just want to step up your game for your next video call or you finally want to start that podcast you’ve been planning, there are plenty of mics that deliver on quality sound while keeping a compact form factor.

What to Look for in a Microphone

Most of the microphones on this list are condenser mics. This is the most common type of USB microphone, and there’s a lot to consider when choosing out which one to buy.

  • Audio Quality: This is the most important part of any microphone, but it’s hard to gather how good or bad a microphone sounds just from its spec sheet. If you want to hear how a microphone sounds for yourself, your best bet is looking the microphone up on YouTube and watching a couple of sound tests.
  • Software: There’s a lot you can fine-tune about a microphone to make it sound just right. This is typically done through software provided by the manufacturer. The more options the better, but the program needs to remain easy to navigate as well.
  • On-Device Controls: Just because a mic comes with software doesn’t mean having on-device controls is useless. Being able to adjust your volume (or gain as it’s technically called) or mute yourself all together with a dial or button is extremely useful in a pinch.
  • Headphone Jack: Many microphones feature zero-latency headphone jacks. These allow you to monitor the input that’s going from your microphone to the computer, which is useful if you’re recording your voice and want to ensure everything sounds right. Usually, microphones that include this jack will also have a dial for adjusting how loud the headphone output is on the microphone itself.
  • Polar Pattern: Simply put, polar patterns are the area around a microphone where it picks up sound. There are quite a few patterns, but the most common ones are cardioid, which mainly picks up sound directly in front of the mic; super-cardioid, which is similar to cardioid but it has a narrower area; and omnidirectional, which picks up noise from all angles.
  • Sampling Rate and Bit Depth: These both have to do with how much data the microphone is recording. The sampling rate and bit depth standard (commonly called “CD-quality” audio) is 44.1 kHz and 16-bit, respectively. Anything above that is considered “high-definition audio.” This isn’t something you need to be too concerned with if you’re just joining voice calls, but if you’re recording your voice or streaming, it’s worth noting. All the microphones on this list record at the standard CD-quality at the very least.

Best Overall: Blue Yeti Nano

Blue Yeti NanoBlue

The original Blue Yeti is one of, if not the most popular USB microphones around. It’s the microphone of choice for many YouTubers, podcasters, and streamers, and pretty recently Blue compacted that great tech into the adorable Nano. It’s even still capable of the 48 kHz high-definition sound that the original Yeti accomplished, with a higher bit depth of 24-bit compared to the original Yeti’s 16-bit.

Considering the size difference between the Nano and the original Yeti (the Yeti Nano is about three inches shorter than the original), it’s remarkable how great the Nano sounds. Like the Yeti, you can install Blue’s Sherpa software to adjust the gain and sampling rate to your liking. The Nano can also switch between cardioid and omnidirectional polar patterns with the button on the back of the mic or by using Sherpa. Also on the back of the microphone, you’ll find a zero-latency headphone jack for monitoring—there’s also a headphone-output volume dial on the front.

The Blue Yeti Nano is available in four colors: Shadow Grey, Vivid Blue, Red Onyx, and Cubano Gold.

Best Overall

Blue Yeti Nano Premium USB Mic for Recording and Streaming – Vivid Blue

A compacted version of one of the best USB mics around.

Best Budget Option: FIFINE K669B


Just because you’re on a tight budget doesn’t mean you can’t get great audio. The FIFINE K669B delivers on some great audio quality for the price and is more than enough than for voice or video calls. Most reviewers cite this microphone as being pretty sensitive though, so if you want to use it for recordings, you’ll likely have to edit out some background noise.

There’s no software for the K669B, but the stock settings should be fine for most situations (16-bit, 48 kHz with the cardioid polar pattern). There is a dial on the front of the mic to adjust the gain, which is always useful to have.

The K669B comes in Black and Rose Red.

Built for Streamers: Elgato Wave 1 and Wave 3

Elgato Wave 1 and Wave 3Elgato

The Wave 1 and Wave 3 microphones are mics from Elgato that are tailored for streaming. They are extremely similar to each other—in fact, specs-wise, they are effectively identical. The only difference of note is that the Wave 3 offers an impressively high sampling rate of 96 kHz, while the Wave 1 goes with the more standard 48 kHz (they both have a bit depth of 24-bit). Both record using the cardioid polar pattern and have zero-latency headphone jacks for monitoring.

Looking at the outside, the microphones look extremely similar, but the Wave 3 is slightly taller than the Wave 1 (0.4 inches taller to be exact). The main physical difference between the Wave 1 and Wave 3 are the dials on the front of the microphones. The dial on the Wave 1 only adjusts the headphone-output volume and can mute the mic if you push it in. The Wave 3’s dial can switch between multiple modes (gain adjustment, headphone-output volume, and mixing the PC and microphone audio) by pushing the dial. There’s also a dedicated mute button on the top of the Wave 3.

Another big draw to either of these mics is Elgato Wave Link. This is Elgato’s audio-mixing software specifically created with streamers and the Wave microphones in mind (although it also works with non-Elgato microphones). You can use it to balance the audio of up to nine sources, whether that’s the Wave 1 or Wave 3, your game volume, or other programs like Discord. There’s also the “Clipguard” setting in Wave Link, which automatically balances your audio to avoid peaking. Because of all this and its simple design, Wave Link is extremely useful to streamers looking to improve their overall audio setup. Wave Link is also where you can tweak the settings on the Wave 1 and 3, such as the gain and sampling rate.

The Wave 3 costs a bit more than the Wave 1, with the main advantage being the fancier dial. But at the end of the day, these microphones are going to sound extremely similar to each other, and because Wave Link was designed with both in mind, streamers can’t go wrong with either.

Razer’s Trio of Mics: Razer Seiren X, Seiren Emote, and Seiren Elite

Razer Seiren XRazer

While Razer is mostly known for its gaming peripherals, it does branch out into other fields regularly. The Seiren X is Razer’s attempt to break into the world of microphones, and it’s a pretty successful attempt at that. It’s marketed as a “gaming microphone” (whatever that means), but it’s still a great-sounding and compact (7.24 inches tall with stand) mic that can be used by anyone.

There’s nothing too special about the Seiren X itself. It has a zero-latency headphone jack on the bottom of the mic, with a dial on the front for adjusting the headphone-output volume—there’s also a mute button directly under that dial. It records in the super-cardioid polar pattern with a sampling rate of 48 kHz, 16-bit.

Overall, it’s just a solid microphone with a sleek chassis. While it doesn’t boast any unique features, there’s nothing to turn you away either. You can use Razer’s Synapse 3 software to fine-tune the microphone’s settings to your liking.

The Seiren X comes in Black, Quartz Pink, and Mercury White.

Razer Seiren EmoteRazer

The Seiren Emote is the same microphone as the Seiren X, except that it uses the somewhat rare hyper-cardioid polar pattern (similar to super-cardioid, except it has an even narrower area where it’ll pick up sound). However, that’s just talking specs, more notably, the Emote has a pixelated LED display on the back of the microphone. This display can show-off little animations and pictures, either built-in by default or ones you make in Razer’s streamer companion app. (You still use Synapse 3 to adjust the audio settings.)

This software also allows you to integrate the mic with your stream, so you can have certain emoticons show up on the mic depending on what your chat says, for example. Of course, that doesn’t improve the microphone functionally speaking, which can make the significant price  increase from the Seiren X hard to swallow. But if you want a unique microphone that can be fun to mess around with or you’re a streamer who wants to trick out their set up, the Emote may be for you.

Razer Seiren EliteRazer

The final microphone in the Seiren line is the Seiren Elite, which unlike the rest of the mics on this list, is a dynamic microphone instead of a condenser microphone. Dynamic mics, generally speaking, are better at capturing loud sounds and rejecting background noise than condenser mics, so they’re more suited for professional recordings. Aside from that, the Elite is extremely similar to the Seiren X, though it uses the cardioid polar pattern instead of super-cardioid. The Elite is also taller at 8.84 inches and includes a gain dial on the front of the microphone, along with a headphone-output dial for the zero-latency headphone jack.

And, like the Seiren X and Emote, you can use Razer Synapse 3 to adjust any settings.

Ultra-Compact: Samson Go Mic

Samson Go MicSamson Technologies

If you want the smallest microphone possible, then the Samson Go Mic is for you. While it’s been around for about a decade now, it still sounds fantastic for the size. It can record in both cardioid and omnidirectional patterns (using a switch on the side of the mic), and records at the standard CD-quality sampling rate (16-bit, 44.1 kHz). It also features a headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring. (Unfortunately, there’s no way to adjust the headphone-output volume though.)

It’s only six inches tall and comes with a travel case perfect for storing the microphone when not in use. The included stand can sit on your desk or rest on your laptop or monitor (much like a webcam). Overall, the Go Mic is extremely versatile, and it’s great to see that in such a small microphone.

There is no software available for the Samson Go Mic, unfortunately, but the stock settings will be fine for the majority of situations.


Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone

The smallest mic out the list, and it still sounds pretty great.

Headphones to Headset: Antlion Audio ModMic

Antlion Audio ModMicAntlion Audio

The ModMic is a bit different from the rest of the microphones here. It’s a small microphone that can be attached to any pair of headphones via the included magnetic clasp (note: only over-ear headphones, not earbuds). The clasp is attached with an adhesive strip, but don’t worry, it won’t leave any residue behind if you decide to take it off. There are also three additional strips included in the box if you want to switch the headphones you’re using. (You can also buy more of these strips if you need to.)

Because of the size and build, the ModMic is more comparable to headset mics than desk mics. It may not sound as good as the mics we’ve already covered, but the ModMic still sounds great for a headset and is more than enough for voice calls.

There are two versions of the ModMic: wired and wireless, the latter of which uses its own USB-A adapter.

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How to Improve Your Linux PC Audio with PulseEffects

free-audio-upgrade-with-pulseeffects-fea Is it possible to improve your Linux PC’s audio without having to buy an expensive dedicated sound card? Say hello to PulseEffects. With PulseEffects, you can make the sound louder or apply auto-gain that “normalizes” frequencies automatically so that you can hear whispers in movies and explosions that don’t destroy your speakers. You can enhance your music’s bass levels or apply the equivalent of Creative’s “Crystalizer” effects, which can make your MP3s sound like a live concert. Related: How to Record System Sound with Pulse Audio and Audacity in Linux Install PulseEffects To… Read more13731566.gif

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Odysseas Kourafalos

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