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As we get closer and closer to the end of the year, there are still plenty of cool gadgets, instruments, and devices to check out. This week, we have a new addition to the aura series with Halo: Infinite, which Jessica Conditt says fits in perfectly with the rest of the franchise. Terrence O’Brien played the Fender Acoustasonic Player Telecaster and reported that the hybrid instrument produces compelling acoustic sounds that echo the original guitar. James Trew used Analogue Pocket and says it’s the best portable retro experience available right now, period. And Billy Steele listened to Yahama’s YH-L700A, which he found a bit clunky, but great for watching movies.
Billy Steele likes the look of the Yamaha YH-L700A headphones – he says the combination of leather, fabric, matte black and silver accents creates a refined look, while the foldable square ear muffs make it easy to travel with. The notable feature of these headphones is the 3D sound field function, which consists of seven presets for enhancing music and movies. There is also a head tracking feature that makes sound appear to be coming from a stationary point.
Billy says that this last feature added a cinematic element to movie viewing, but didn’t think it would translate when listening to music. The seven 3D sound field presets also worked best for movies and television, where they created spacious sound. While testing the filters with music, Billy reports that they felt clunky and didn’t work well across genres. He says the active noise cancellation on these cans is sufficient, if not impressive, and notes that the marquee features can be turned on and off within the app. However, I was disappointed in the battery life: During testing, the headphones managed to last just under 11 hours, which is mediocre when most of the competition has more than 30 hours of battery life. And at $ 500, they have a hefty price tag to boot.
James Trew is a longtime fan of classic games and is quick to point out that while Analogue Pocket is the best experience available right now, it’s not for casual users either. At $ 220, it lets you play most old portable Game Boy titles as well as Game Gear, while adapters for Neo Geo Pocket Color and Atari Lynx are on the way. It also has more modern touches, like a backlit display. And in addition to being a quality gaming device, the Analogue Pocket can also be connected to a television and has built-in music creation software.
Due to its FPGA “cores”, the Pocket can mimic older consoles at the hardware level, no more emulator quirks to suffer from. It is also functional with original Game Boy accessories like Game Boy Camera, printers or rumble packs. And it can connect to a real Game Boy for a multiplayer experience. James liked the 3.5-inch screen made with Gorilla Glass, as well as the save states, but he wished the side buttons were better and said that some of the display modes obscure on-screen messages at times. Overall, Analogue Pocket offers elevated retro gameplay with enough additional future features to ensure it will get better over time.
Jessica Conditt had high hopes for Halo: Infinity, the first open world game in franchise history. And he admits that playing the new story brought him warm, joyous feelings and a sense of familiarity. However, he also believes that the game lacks surprise and intrigue: much of the innovation in the vertical space has been done by other more recent games, and the narrow map created for a contained and linear game.
Having said that, Jessica reports that she had a lot of fun playing with the new mechanics and tools available, particularly the grappling hook. From climbing mountains to climbing buildings, the grappling hook provides a new vertical space for players to explore. Jessica says that while she expected a lot more from the pioneering FPS title, she also believes that it is at its best when it provides users with a rich environment filled with mid-air fighting, shields, and headshots. From labyrinthine levels, military stereotypes, and sarcastic robots, Infinite plays like a classic Halo game.
Terrence O’Brien admits from the outset that Hydrasynth Explorer offers a remarkable array of features and options in a well-built, portable device. For $ 600, you get a waveform engine with an eight-note polyphone, three oscillators per voice, a ring modulator, a noise source, and over 200 waveforms. There are also two filters that can be in series or in parallel to determine how much of each oscillator goes to each filter. He says the 88-page manual feels like it’s skimming the surface of what the synthesizer is capable of.
However, you don’t need to master sound design tools to get started with the instrument, just dig into the 640 presets spread over five banks of 128 patches. During testing, Terrence found the Explorer easy to use thanks to the carefully labeled sections on the front panel. Some things missing from the versatile device are a proper sequencer, full-size keys, and touch strips instead of pitch and mod wheels. There are also only three filter knobs instead of five. Despite that, Terrence still feels the Explorer is worth its price given its great sound, solid build, and plenty of tools to explore.
Terrence O’Brien also spent some time with the new Fender Acoustasonic Player Telecaster, which is $ 800 off the price of the previous model. For $ 1,200, you get a satin mahogany and spruce finish with a rosewood fingerboard, two pickups, and a three-way switch with six sound options. Instead of a rechargeable battery, the player is powered by a standard nine-volt cell. Terrence reports that it gobbles up batteries surprisingly fast, but it’s still convenient.
As for how the instrument sounded, Terrence reports that while there are fewer acoustic simulations on this model, the two offerings (Rosewood Dreadnought and Mahogany Small Body) cover a lot of ground. He says he prefers the electric sounds of the Telecaster to the more expensive Jazzmaster as it looks more like the original guitar and plays better with the pedals. Terrence says that the two acoustic simulations offer depth and character, and that overall, the hybrid guitar is a perfect couch instrument.
Terrence O’Brien considers Universal Audio’s first foray into the economic space a success. The company’s Volt series, five models that cost between $ 139 and $ 369, are affordable audio interfaces that share a central 24-bit / 192 kHz audio converter and a preamp with a “Vintage” mode that aims to recreate classic tube preamp sounds. Terrence tested the $ 189 Volt 2 and the $ 299 Volt 276, which are two-input interfaces.
The differences between the two models are slight: the Volt 2 is simple and utilitarian, but performs well with limited space, while the “76” version has a built-in compressor and will require additional desk space as most of the controls are at the top. Terrence says the compressor makes a big difference, as it is capable of generating softer edges to tame the harder frequencies. He also felt that the metering LEDs on the 276 were easier to see and the wooden sides were a nice touch. While the base models were great interfaces at reasonable prices, Terrence said the 176, 276 and 476 stood out from the rest thanks to their compressors, style, and ergonomics.