Monday, 29 August 2016

In Ear Monitor Buyer’s Guide: Custom vs. Generic Fit

It is understood that ear moulded plugs are far more comfortable and effective than the mushroom plugs, but which ones are the best? The Custom fit or generic fit. This article runs over the positives and negatives of that question and comes to a conclusion, if your debating to get some moulded ear plugs or some from the shelf, you will want to read this first.

Over the past 20 years, In Ear Monitors (or IEMs) have become a near-necessity for live performance.

In years prior, engineers would inevitably have to crank up a venue’s stage monitors loud enough for the musicians to hear themselves over the audience, over the sound coming from the stage, and over the main mix.

This would often lead to an arms race of ever-increasing stage volume, potentially causing feedback issues and compromises in clarity and quality for the live mix.

Custom in-ear monitors from JH Audio, one of the first commercial brands to make a name for itself in the IEM market.

With the advent of in-ear monitors, all this began to change. In the mid-1980s, Etymotic developed the first-ever insert-style earphones, and soon after, a designer named Marty Garcia began making one-off custom in-ears for rock stars like Todd Rundgren.

By 1995, Jerry Harvey, founder of Ultimate Earsand JH Audio, brought some of the first commercially-available dual-driver IEMs to market. All of a sudden, everyday musicians had an option that allowed us to save our hearing, get better monitor mixes, and dramatically reduce the chances of feedback onstage.

Today, IEMs are increasingly being considered useful tools for the studio as well. Their ability to prevent sound leakage can be of tremendous value in helping to control click and instrument bleed, and in saving musicians’ hearing by allowing them to monitor at lower levels.

Some musicians and engineers, such as drummer Rich Pagano of The Fab Faux, will use IEMs to quickly check for phase when mic’ing up a drum kit, while others turn to IEMs as a kind of audio microscope, using them to help check for and remove extraneous low-level noise.

Any modern musician would be wise to consider adding in-ear monitors to their toolkit. But is it worth it to dish out the extra money on custom fit IEMs, instead of saving some money with the generic fit ones?

In testing a variety of in-ear monitors from brands like Westone, Ultimate Ears, Future Sonics, and even Skullcandy (that last of which is not recommended for professional use), I have found that there are cases in which generic fit earphones may work better than their custom counterparts. Making the right decision for your needs comes down to considering the following four factors:

1) Cost

Ultimate Ears custom fit in-ear monitors.

Custom fit IEMs tend to cost more than generic fit ones, as it takes more time and effort for the manufacturer to craft a product designed specifically for the unique anatomy of your ear.

Getting custom IEMs made also requires that you go to an audiologist to make a mold of your ear canal that the IEM company can then use to make your monitors fit as well as possible.

Take note of both of these costs, which can range from $100-$200 or more for a fitting from an audiologist, and $299-$1499 or more for the custom monitors to be made.

2) Comfort & Seal

Custom fit IEMs are custom, so they should feel really comfortable, right?  Well, yes and no.

In my experience, custom fit IEMs can feel a little tight in the ear canal compared to generics, especially at first. Hearing so little acoustic feedback from your performance can also take some getting used to, and the tight seal of custom fit in-ears can feel particularly awkward when signing.

Because of this, my looser-fitting Westone 3 generic IEMs actually feel more comfortable to me on vocal duties, so I often find myself using them over my custom fit Future Sonics when I step up to the mic.

Matt Bellamy from Muse (recently featured in Get THAT Guitar Tone) has been seen using both customUltimate Ears UE-11s and generic-fit Westone UM2s when on tour, and my guess is that he has similar reasons.

Though the tight fit of custom IEMs and lack of acoustic feedback from your performance can be a challenge, it’s worth noting that generic foam-tip IEMs also provide their own tradeoffs: The looser fit of generics can sometimes create a bit of a tingling or “tickling” feeling in your ear when playing at higher volumes, so it may be useful to have a pair of each and go with what feels best depending on the date and venue.

Silicone-based Encore Studio custom IEMs from ACS.

Another option here is the custom fit brandACS, which makes its IEMs out of soft silicone shells.

This softer silicone-based design is meant to offer both better comfort and a tighter fit than the hard acrylic shells used by brands like Westone and Ultimate Ears.

Though these silicone monitors sell for a premium price of $400-$1,200 and up, they may help bridge the gap between the tight seal of custom acrylics and the looser and easier fit of foam-tipped generic IEMs.

3) Hearing Protection

In addition to cutting down on sound leakage to help improve sound quality and reduce feedback, another primary benefit of IEMs is that they can offer considerable hearing protection by helping to block out exterior noise, allowing you to monitor at lower levels.

Some of the best custom fit brands like JH Audio and Ultimate Ears offer NRR ratings of 26dB in reduction, and some of the better generic brands advertise comparable results as well. (Though your results with generics may vary depending on the fit and seal in your ear.)

In the long term, reducing the levels you’re regularly exposed toâ€"even by a few extra decibelsâ€"could mean the difference between a long and illustrious career as a “golden-eared” audio engineer and potentialtinnitus and irreversible hearing loss.

Also worth checking out is the REV33 system, which can be added on to your your in-ear-monitoring system to help reduce distortion and ear strain. Many live musicians, including Phil X and Steve Salas swear by the system. According to the company:

“All in-ear monitors and headphones generate damaging, unwanted noise and distortion that forces the ear to shut down and compress for protection. The REV33 reduces the symptoms of tinnitus, ear-ringing, ear-fatigue, buzzing and dampened hearing by preventing in-ear monitors and headphones from producing this unwanted noise and distortion.”

4) Waiting and Time Considerations

After getting my first pair of IEM’s made, I found that the right ear monitor turned out well, but I was not getting a proper seal in the left ear at first. This made the monitors essentially useless for my live sound needs at the time, and so I had to send them back for some tweaking.

When I got them back a couple of weeks later, the seal still wasn’t great, so I had to send them back once again for further modification, and visit my audiologist a second time to take another impression of my ear canal to send in.

Getting the perfect fit turned out to be quite a time-consuming process (as well as an expensive one) so unless you’re on the hunt for a long-term solution with as much acoustic isolation as humanly possible, you might satisfice with generic IEMs, or keep some around as an alternate option.

In that case, I would recommend the generic in-ears from Ultimate Ears, Shure, or Westone.

Ultimate Ears’ generic fit UE900 model sports 4 drivers for $400.

The Ultimate Ears UE900’s are a great sounding 4-driver IEM that only costs $399, while the $99 Shure SE215 single-driver IEMs advertise an astonishing 37dB of noise reduction (more than most custom IEMs) at a great price.

My own triple-driver Westone 3’s (since replaced by the W30 model) are the most comfortable in ear monitors I own right now, and they isolate a lot more noise than most thanks to their foam-tip construction.

Compared to custom in-ears, any of these model can potentially save you time and money, or work as a welcome supplement for those times when the tight fit of custom in-ears feels irksome.

I hope my experiences here help you make the right decision when you go to buy your own IEMs. In short, I found that less-expensive generic foam-tipped IEMs worked better for me in many situations, and the savings enabled me to spend my money on better drivers with a fuller sound.

If you’ve used IEM’s in the past, let us know in the comments below whether you prefer custom fits or generic fit ones, and why.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Why Are Good Communication Skills Important?

Take a second and look at Human beings, really look at us. We’re not as strong as elephants or rhinos, we’re not as tough as lions or tigers and we can neither swim like fish nor fly like birds. Yet, despite all this, there is still one inescapable fact: Human beings are the dominant species on the planet.

The short answer to your question lies implicitly within the above paragraph. With good communication skills, a group of disparate individuals can overcome a great many obstacles by working together. It is believed that our earliest ancestors were able to ward off predators by sticking together in large groups and thus presenting a formidable target (as opposed to, say, a buffet). We were also able to hunt prey much larger and stronger than ourselves (e.g. the woolly mammoth) by co-ordinating our efforts with good communication skills.

Such good communication skills are, not to put too fine a point on it, vitally important to the Human race as a whole. This excerpt from ‘Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution’ by Russian author Peter Kropotkin (1902), illustrates what we’re trying to say better than we ever could.

“Man is the result of both his inherited instincts and his education. Among the miners and the seamen, their common occupations and their every-day contact with one another create a feeling of solidarity, while the surrounding dangers maintain courage and pluck”

In other words, their shared lifestyle is a form of communication, the result of learned social primers and a lifetime of experience. It is the secret ingredient to our success as a species.

Good communication skills in the workplace operate along the same basic principles as they do outside the workplace. The goal is clarity, but equally, the speaker wishes to illustrate her point of view and encourage others to sympathize with it. This is why politicians pay their speechwriters as handsomely as they do.

Communication skills are also Vital to Human interaction. Humans are able to learn all sorts of things by listening for verbal cues that we are unconsciously primed to respond to. Information about a speaker’s age, class, race, gender and even occupation can be gleaned from the simple act of listening to a person. To quote Peter Trudgill’s book ‘Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society’ (1974),

“Different social groups use different linguistic varieties, and as experienced members of a speech community we have learnt to classify speakers accordingly”, for those interested - this is known as ‘social-class dialects’.

You might ask how this affects you. Well, consider this; if you are applying for a typically upper or middle class job (say, office manager as an example) and you speak with a traditionally working-class accent, vocabulary and demeanour during your interview, you are actually less likely to get the job than the applicant who uses received pronunciation and does not use colloquialisms or slang terms. You might be more qualified on paper, but the interviewer will likely say something about you not being “the right fit” for the position. This is because he has been primed to expect a certain type for a certain role. Therefore, good communications skills, in this instance at least, would hinge on your ability to appeal to listeners by meeting their expectations.

Of course, we now know that such distinctions are unfair. Combating expectations of class, race, gender and sexual stereotyping led to the rise of ‘political correctness’, a much-maligned (and often justly so) and yet consistently misunderstood phenomenon.

For a more extreme example, imagine giving an obscenity-laced PowerPoint presentation at your next meeting. Once you stop laughing, consider the implications even if everything in the presentation was 100% accurate, (groundbreaking, even) you’d still be fired, wouldn’t you? Swearing is, of course, a lower-class way of communicating.

You need to find the correct words for the correct situation, but evidently, there has been a great deal of discussion as to what are the correct words.

If you want to know more, the poem ‘The Six O’Clock News’ (1976) by Scottish poet Tom Leonard is a good place to start. In the UK, we study it as part of GCSE English (or at least we did when this writer was at school), and the poem neatly highlights the social and class-based distinctions that typified (and still do to some extent) ‘normal’ speech and any important announcements..



So, in conclusion, communication skills are important because without them, nobody would be able to understand YOU.

The Sepura Group to Provide Communications for the Olympic Games

It’s a brave move by the olympic organisers, the London Olympic communications was run by Riedel and they did an excellent job, they have experience in this field, but the Brazilians are obviously set on using Teltronic and we all hope that they do just as good as a job.

Teltronic, part of the Sepura Group, has been chosen by the public security secretary of Río de Janeiro State in Brazil to supply communications for the Summer Olympics and Paralympics, informally known as Rio 2016.

The €10m contract will cover four venues (Barra da Tijuca, Copacabana, Deodoro and Maracanã), two airports (Rio de Janeiro/Galeão - Antônio Carlos Jobim International and Santos Dumont) and several key transport routes in the Olympic area.

The agreement with Teltronic will see an extension to the traffic capabilities of the existing Teltronic network currently used by the Rio police, as well as the installation of further Nebula base stations to provide additional coverage for the state police and emergency services, and the Olympics organisation workforce.

The existing network was originally provided by Teltronic for the Pan American Games in 2007 and, after some upgrades, is now supporting over 100 dispatch operators and more than 18,000 radios. This new upgrade for the Olympics will feature two extra TETRA carriers for each site, to update the capacity of the existing network; base stations with up to 12 TETRA transceivers to support high traffic loads throughout the event; a CeCoCo Control Centre, to accommodate a further 50 dispatch operators; an additional 6,000 terminals featuring Teltronic's Synchronous Data Manager application to pare down the GPS refresh time in AVL applications; and 24/7 maintenance and operational support during the Games.

"This win builds on our long-term relationship with the Brazilian authorities and public safety agencies," said Paulo Ferrao, the Sepura Group's sales director for Brazil.

"We have a strong background in events of this scale, having supported communications for the FIFA World Cup 2014 and the Pan-American Games, both huge events in the sporting calendar of Brazil and, indeed, the world. We are delighted that Rio de Janeiro's public safety agencies have, once again, placed their trust in us."



Superintendent of critical communications at the Security Secretariat of the State, Colonel Alexandre Corval, commented: "We are extremely happy to have chosen Teltronic.

"The company has been a trustworthy partner to our public safety agencies for over ten years. Once again, they have exceeded our expectations in terms of technical development, quality of the deployment and, above all, their dedication to customer service: throughout the project, they have paid close attention to our technical and operational requirements.

"We are confident that this extension to the existing Teltronic TETRA system will optimise our mission-critical communications, enhancing the security of both visitors and employees throughout Rio 2016."

Source- http://www.railway-technology.com/contractors/signal/sepura/pressolympic-sepura-brazil.html

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Innovative radio solution protects and preserves Chinese forests

We all know how important radio communications are, and Motorola Solutions have captured a massive coup by providing the radios for protecting the Chinese forests, a feather in the cap for Motorola because Hytera, their biggest competitor at the moment, originating from china, interesting! We found this article on this website.

Motorola Solutions (NYSE:MSI) with its channel partner Beijing Dyne Rcomm Technology are helping to keep China’s Hunan forestry region safe with a MOTOTRBO digital radio system that increases safety and security for employees while helping them to work more efficiently.

China’s Hunan province is rich in flora and fauna resources that are essential to the region’s economy. However, these vast areas which make up around 60 percent of the province’s total surface area can be risky places to work for forest rangers. Forest workers depend on reliable communications to be aware of potential bushfire risks and other emergencies.

The innovative radio system integrates MOTOTRBO digital two-way radios and repeaters, a dispatch console for centralised control and monitoring of the network at all times and Motorola Solutions’ IP Site Connect digital solution to extend radio network coverage over the internet throughout the counties and cities.

“Rangers depend on access to clear and reliable communications. They need to stay constantly connected to their colleagues working in control rooms who have visibility of the entire operation and can help to keep them safe at all times,” said Michael Jiang, China President and Country Manager, Motorola Solutions.

“It’s absolutely essential for forest rangers to know where their co-workers and resources are at all times, especially in times of emergency.

“Hunan’s new radio network provides extensive coverage throughout the region, enabling rangers working across a wide geographic area to report the very first signs of fire so that resources can be deployed quickly and effectively to protect lives and natural resources,” Mr Jiang said.

Hunan’s integrated system connects the surrounding cities and counties through clear voice communications enhanced with noise cancelling features that perform reliably in the nosiest environments. This system also supports data transfer across the radio network, using GPS to pinpoint the location of nearby team members and resources in emergency situations, while text messages and automatic alerts can be sent between the province’s central control room and radio users in the field.



Motorola Solutions has now deployed more than 5,000 radios to major forestry projects across greater China at locations including the Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Liaoning, Sichuan and Guangdong provinces.

Who Actually Conceived The Radio Headset

Have you ever stopped to think where headsets really came from? Well, they first headset was used in the 20th century; however, the technology has significantly improved over the decades. Shockingly it did not occur to anyone that headsets could be used to listening music on devices. Read more about the invention of radio headset in this article.

Everyone Uses Headsets





Headsets are an important accessory and it is very clear that they have indeed managed to save an argument over the years. Headsets enable you to listen to audio/music without having to get in the way of anyone else. In this time and age, we use all types of headsets from tiny earplugs with a wireless Bluetooth technology for listening to music in the streets, to big leather-padded cans to listen to music at home. Gaming headsets are increasingly becoming popular as many of them today come outfitted with a microphone, hence allowing the users to speak with other relatives, gamers and friends.

Headsets can give the user a great sound quality, there isn’t any sort of interruption between the ear and the sound, external sound is blocked out and there is absolutely nowhere for it to dissipate, more so if you invest in a pair of high quality headsets which are plentifully available nowadays. As a matter of fact, if you take a walk back to the early 20th century right before amplifiers had been invented; sensitive headsets were the only means that was could be used to listen to music/audio.

What Year Was The First Radio Headset Invented?



Accurately speaking, the very first headset dates back to the telephone early adoption and by 1920 radio headsets were being commercially manufactured. These were mainly used by professionals and not by the public. There exists an argument over who was first person behind the idea to dwindle down loudspeakers and move on to attach them on our heads but the earliest living example dates back to around 1911. This was far from the headsets we use presently with no padding for comfort and a very low sound quality. They were used by telephone exchanges and radio operators.

Who Invented The Radio Headset?



Headsets were the only way to listen to audio files before the development of amplifiers. Headsets were invented in 1910 by Nathaniel Baldwin, an American born to a Canadian father and an American mother. Baldwin developed the first, truly successful set in 1910 by hand in his kitchen and later sold them to US Navy.

Baldwin’s headsets made use of moving iron drivers that came with either balanced or single ended armatures. The requirement for high-sensitivity meant damping could not be used, and hence they had a crude sound quality. These early models did not have padding, and oftentimes ended up producing excessive clamping force on the heads of persons wearing them.

In 1944, John C. Koss a jazz musician and an audiophile from Milwaukee, US, designed the first stereo headset. Previously, headsets were used only by radio and telephone operators, as well as persons in related industries. The 3.5-mm phone connector and radio headset, which is commonly used in portable applications today, has been in use since the Sony EFM117J radio that was released in 1965.

Two way radios that can be submersed to 1m, that will be the IC-F2000

Icom two way radios are well known in the marine and coastal industries. Why are these so well known in these industries? That is because the F1000 and F2000, along with the F1000D and the F2000D are all waterproof, being able to be submersed to a depth of 1 meter for a maximum of 30 minutes, that means that these radios can be used confidently on a boat, ship or other water fairing vessel and be splashed around before it starts smoking and sparking everywhere! The IP67 waterproof casing means that it is made for total protection against dust and dirt and can withstand immersion between 15cm and 1m.

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When we talk about sound, we expect the highest quality of two way radios to have the best speakers producing the best output possible, but the icom website explains it like this “The large 36mm speaker of the transceiver provides clear commanded 800 mW audio. The built-in BTL amplifier doubles the audio output power and delivers loud and intelligible voice to a radio operator working in noisy environments” which basically means it produces some of the best sound out one of the smallest speakers on the market.

So let’s go over the radios themselves, something that isn’t so obvious is that they have split the frequency bands of the radios, the F1000’s is VHF only and the F2000’s is UHF. This is a brilliant idea from the guys at Icom, users often find it difficult to wade through a lot of the jargon of two way radios, so separating out the radio types into their respective bands goes a long way to remove the confusion.

You may have noticed that there are 2 choices for each F radio, the F1000 and the F1000 D the D relates to the radios being digital compatible, meaning it can be programmed to be used on current digital systems as well used as a normal two-way radio. Analogue and Digital capable so that it can do both jobs or be ready for when you expand and move to a digital system.

Over the years Icom have been consistent with their accessory connectors, a large range of their radios use the 2 pin connector , the only exception was the small multi connector that they introduced a few years ago. But these new F1000 & F2000 radios have been given their very own connector, very similar to the first generation but will not work with those radios, the new connector includes 2 holding screws. The range of F1000 radio earpieces is huge, with plenty to choose from, you will find any type of radio earpiece for these F1000 and F2000 radios.

If you are looking for a waterproof radio used by many in the marine industry then the F1000 or F2000, depending on your frequency allocation, would be a great choice. It can be dropped to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes, so if you worry about splashes on your radio or it sitting in a pool of water on your boat, then you can be assured that it won’t damage this radio. With the latest technology and digital capabilities these are as modern as many counter-parts in the digital two way radio market.