Biostar Hi-Fi Z77X gives audiophiles 7.1-channel analog sound, overpriced cables thankfully optional
There haven’t been many choices in PC motherboards for audiophiles — the ‘real’ kind that might see even a good dedicated sound card as slumming it. Biostar wants to fill that untapped niche with the Hi-Fi Z77X. Along with run-of-the-mill expansion for an Ivy Bridge- or Sandy Bridge-based desktop, the board’s built-in 7.1-channel audio flaunts six 3.5mm analog jacks, an amp and the kind of exotic-sounding language that leads audio addicts to buy $2,000 cables they don’t need. We’re talking “metal-oxide film resistors” and “non-polarized electrolysis electric audio capacitors,” here. Whether or not the changes have an appreciable impact on sound quality, listeners are ironically left out of S/PDIF audio, which exists only as a header on the board unless buyers spend a little more on parts. That said, if we assume the as yet unknown price isn’t stereotypically high — and that audiophiles don’t mind a big, potentially noisy desktop as a home theater PC — the Hi-Fi Z77x could be a treat for those who want to wring every nuance out of music and movie soundtracks.
Aside from the PlayStation Move Racing Wheel and Wonderbook, Sony has one more accessory to show off at E3 — the Pulse Wireless Stereo Headset Elite Edition. Naturally, we hunted down this peripheral aimed at all-things audio to check it out for ourselves. The PWSHEE is the company’s second full-on PS3 headset to date, expanding on what it offered with its Wireless Stereo Headset from last year. As we’re told, the headset is also ushering in a new Pulse moniker for its PlayStation oriented ear-blasters, although there’s no word on what we can expect down the line. For now, this unit packs a lot on paper for its $150 price, touting key features like 7.1 virtual surround sound, PS Vita and cellphone compatibility (thanks to a detachable cable with inline remote / mic), BassImpact technology for massive low-end pulse (get it?), audio profiles, higher-fidelity drivers than the WSH and hidden noise-cancelling microphones for chatting. Does it have the potential to live up to its hype and one-up its $80 predecessor? Join us past the break for our initial impressions.
While it’s hardly pulling the curtain back on its entire CES 2012 slate of products, Samsung’s earliest preview for your AV pleasure is an updated range of HTIB systems and sound bars, as well as two new Audio Docks that support Apple devices as well as its own Galaxy S phones and players. The DA-E750 Audio Dock (pictured above) is the first to include Samsung’s “hybrid vacuum tube amplifier technology” which it claims raises the bar for mainstream audio products, by delivering the clear sound output of digital combined with the natural sound of a vacuum tube in its preamp. Both docks will play from and charge both Samsung and Apple hardware, as well as stream music wirelessly via AllShare or AirPlay, although the DA-E670 lacks that high end vacuum tube tech.
For your entire home theater needs, the new HT-E6730W 7.1 Blu-ray 3D HTIB features the same vacuum tube tech as the DA-E750, while the HT-E5500W boasts an iPod dock and 3D sound effects.Finally the HW-E550 Surround Sound Bar also produces 3D sound with vertically mounted speakers and comes with its own wirelessly connected subwoofer. One other new feature this year is the “Disc to Digital” integration in the HT-E5500W’s Blu-ray player which will give users access to streaming copies of eligible discs just by registering into the player. It sounds like it’s powered by Ultraviolet, although we’d expect to hear more about that closer to the show. Check after the break for press releases, and the gallery for a few pics of all this hardware — if you know anything about Samsung, you know the onslaught has only just begun.
Razer just put a piece of coal in gamers’ Christmas stockings with news that its hotly-anticipated Tiamat 7.1 surround sound headset has been delayed. Originally expected in Q4, its new release date is sometime in January. To recap, $180 will get you an unusual five drivers in each ear, including three dedicated left and right ones, along with a subwoofer and “center” channel on each side. There’s the obligatory mic, along with an inline control that lets you adjust volume levels for each channel. So, will the extra drivers make much of a difference during your next Modern Warfare 3 firefight? Let us know.
Cult of Razer
Flash 11 and AIR 3 landing tonight and delivering 7.1 surround sound to connected home theaters (Video)
Later tonight Adobe Flash 11 and AIR 3 will hit the tubes delivering with it a host of new features, including hardware acceleration for 2D and 3D graphics — at least for desktops. Stage 3D support will be added to the mobile variants for Android, iOS and BlackBerry at a later date. AIR 3 will also be sprucing up connected entertainment devices, like Samsung SmartTVs, with the ability to deliver Flash-based games and content to your home theater system. What’s more, Adobe has baked in support for both Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound. That means both 5.1 and 7.1 sound can be built into an AIR app, whether it be a game or streaming video, and pumped out at up to 512Kbps though your Blu-ray player or other connected theater component. For more, including a demo of a Flash app on a phone and a TV communicating, check out the trio of press releases and video after the break.
When Gears of War 3 lands in September you’ll be able to pick yourself up a special edition Xbox 360. If you’ve already got an Xbox though, you don’t have to skip out on the branded accessories game completely. Mad Catz has you covered with a trio licensed goodies, including a throat communicator, a stereo gaming headset and a 7.1 surround sound headset all decked out in the iconic blood-red and black of the franchise. The special edition of the surround sound set (above) is actually just a slightly updated version of the company’s Tritton AX720 headgear with a new decoder box and an extra two channels of sound. Those who want to shout at their opponents without donning bulky ear-wear will likely gravitate towards the throat communicator. All three will launch alongside GOW3on September 20 for $30, $100, and $180 respectively. You can pre-order now at the more coverage link but, before you go, there’s a pair of pics and some PR after the break.
You don’t nab the exclusive rights to create Xbox 360 branded headphones and not put some theoretical hutzpah into it: at E3 this week, Mad Catz is showing off a trio of co-branded Tritton / Xbox 360 cans, or at least a trio of fragile plastic facsimiles. These three mock-ups the Catz crew showed us represent the physical design of the Warhead, Devastator, and Detonator models of the co-branded line of headsets — sporting wireless Dobly 7.1 surround sound, wireless analog, and USB connectivity, respectively. While all three models promise a slew of special sound features, the two wireless models have an exclusive shine: Xbox 360 microphone support without tethering themselves to the console’s controller. Not that we got to hear for ourselves; the mock-ups were non-functional, and fragile enough that show staff wasn’t feeling our enthusiasm for an ears-on demo. Still, we could dig ditching headset-to-controller leashes. Check out the gallery below to see all the bells, whistles, and switches, or hit the break for some meaty PR.
Mad Catz' exclusive Xbox 360 wireless headphones revealed: integrated voice chat, 5.8GHz base station
Remember how Mad Catz scored the exclusive rights to produce Xbox 360 wireless headphones? Here’s the deal: these cans don’t need to be tethered to your controller for voice chat or plugged into a wall to charge. According to IGN, the new Mad Catz Warhead 7.1 will get everything it needs from a base station connected to your console. String USB and optical cables directly from the Xbox 360 to that tiny tower above, and you’ll reportedly get enough 5.8GHz bandwidth to deliver virtual Dolby surround sound to four pairs of headphones at once — plus wireless Xbox LIVE audio chat thanks to some native support from Microsoft. What’s more, the USB base station will also give you an on-screen battery readout, and if the Warhead runs out of juice, you’ll find a second swappable battery pack sitting in the base station’s charger. If that sounds too rich for your blood, the Devastator will ditch the surround sound and rechargeable batteries while retaining the same connectivity and 50mm drivers of its premium brother. How much that’ll cost you is still to be determined, though Mad Catz told IGNthey’ll all ring up under $300 this holiday.