February 11, 2014

Inexpensive Acquisition: Gear Tie Thingy

This is just a quick blurb about something stupidly simple, but awesomely useful: Nite Ize Gear Ties. These gear tie thingies are glorified twisties; you know, those annoying wire ties that keep loaves of bread from escaping their bags. The Nite Ize product is more durable, rugged, strong, and colorful . . . but it's still basically a bendy wire. OK, it's a thick bendy wire wrapped in a pretty rubber sheath.

These gear ties come in various lengths ranging from 3 to 64 inches. I have a handful of the 3-inch size and a couple of the 6-inch size. I use them for my charging cords, speaker wires, LAN cables, and headphones. You'd be surprised at how useful they are. Really.

Not much more to say about these gear ties. The instructions are straightforward and very easy to understand: "bend it around something". You owe it to yourself to check these out. All the cool kids have them now.

February 2, 2014

Sennheiser PX 100-II Portable Headphones

I like headphones (good ones) because they are a relatively inexpensive way to experience high quality audio playback. I prefer the sound of open headphones, but there are times when I am forced to use closed headphones (e.g., late at night to avoid bothering others or when it's necessary to block environmental noise). I used to own a great set of open headphones by Grado, but I replaced them with a set of closed headphones by Sony.

I recently had an epiphany and determined that I must acquire another set of open headphones for casual use around the house. Simply put, there are times when it's extremely important to hear things in the surrounding environment when listening to personal music (pizza delivery, hard boiled egg timer, angry bear charging from behind, etc.). I didn't want another set of Grados, and I really wanted a portable design having a short cord and a carrying case if possible. So I hit the Internet, did some research, and decided to get a set of Sennheiser PX 100-II portable headphones.

Sennheiser PX 100-II
These headphones are great for what they are: inexpensive, lightweight, small, and portable cans that are primarily designed for use with laptops, tablets, and digital media players. I didn't buy the "i" version, which includes a microphone control on the cord for use with iPhones.

Open Back Design
The open back design means that sound leaks in both directions. If you play music at eardrum shattering levels, then you will annoy people sitting near you. Conversely, outside noise can and will be heard through the earpads. Speaking of which, the earpads are rather small because they are designed to sit on your ears (not around them). Lack of sound isolation doesn't bother me because I only use these headphones in certain situations where isolation is unimportant.

Easy to Fold
I like how the headphones can be folded into a neat and compact configuration. The earpads twist inward, and the two arms fold upward and lock together as shown above. This makes them easy to carry in a backpack or messenger bag.

Easy to Store
The PX 100-II headphones come with a soft carrying pouch. It's a nice touch, but the pouch provides absolutely no structural protection. It would have been great to have a hard shell case in addition to (or instead of) the drawstring bag.

How do they sound? In my opinion, they provide an awesome audio bang for the buck. They cannot compete against the megabuck offerings from Sennheiser, Grado, Beyerdynamic, Audeze, and others, but they are at the head of the class in their niche category (open, portable, inexpensive). If anyone is interested in more detailed reviews, browse over to Head-Fi. I'm sure that you'll find many pages of comments, reviews, and user critiques there.