Posts Tagged ‘Sennheiser’

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No, I’m not going deaf!

September 12, 2010

Vista busy cursor If there is a downside with in-ear headphones it is that ear wax accretes on the speaker mesh over time, and it can be difficult to clean them without making things worse.

Twice now I’ve made the mistake of trying to scrape surface wax particles off with my fingernail.  All that happens is that the wax gets pushed into the holes in the mesh, effectively blocking the sound.  The impact can be far more dramatic than you might imagine.

About 18 months ago, I ditched one pair of Sennheiser earphones because I thought one channel had failed.  It had not completely failed but the volume level was a fraction of that from the other channel.  I noticed the effect just after trying to remove ear wax with my finger and assumed I must have somehow damaged the speaker physically by applying too much pressure.

I then acquired my greatly beloved Sennheiser MM200 A2DP stereo bluetooth earphones and they were fine for over a year.  After that I became aware output levels were somewhat reduced and noticed a build up of wax on the speaker surfaces.  As before I tried a simple scrape clean with a fingernail, this time being extremely careful not to apply physical pressure down into the speaker.  But once again the result was to reduce output volume still further and quite severely, particularly in the left channel. The only possible explanation was that in trying to remove the wax I had only succeeded in almost completely blocking the speaker mesh.

I put up with it for weeks until I decided to Google for a solution and found this comment in a forum.  It reads:

I have been having the same problem for the past week, I have just fixed it, reading your post gave me the idea to clean them and it actually worked

What i did was to “heat them up” with a hair dryer so that any wax from my ear that had gotten inside would “melt”, then I cleaned them with alcohol and a q-tip and I made sure I let a bit of alcohol to get inside the ear bud, then I dryed it with the hair dryer again very carefully and tested to see the results and WHALA works just fine

I tried the method and it was a total success. My earphones are back to full volume.  Literally as good as new.

So a big thank you to zkitz, whoever you are.

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This iPhoneless Life #7 – Simply music

April 13, 2009

iPod Most iPhone users will think of the media capabilities of the device as mainly about music and video. So far, in looking at my Windows Mobile based alternative to the iPhone, I have been focusing on podcasts and audiobooks. That’s partly because they are important to me and partly because they need the most effort to get working smoothly on a WM PDA-phone, whereas music is obviously trivial, right?

Well, maybe if all your music takes the form of CDs you ripped yourself in mp3 format, using say iTunes. Provided it is all sitting in a folder which is “watched” by WMP on your PC it will appear in your WMP Library. If you want to sync a particular album to your phone, you just go the Album view in the Library, find the desired album, right click and select “Add to Sync List”. Next time you synchronise with your phone the album will be copied across. It is then easy to find and play in your phone’s WMP Library, and the album art will be there too if you had added that.

It gets more complicated though if you have bought iTunes music and have songs in say .m4a (AAC) format. Natively, WMP will not recognise them so they will not appear in the Library, whichever folder they are in and WMP will not be able to play them. Thankfully, there are WMP plug-ins available to fix that. As far as DRM’d music is concerned (.m4p) you really can’t use those in the Windows world outside of iTunes. The only option is to remove the DRM encryption so you end up with an m4a. I’ll leave you investigate that for yourself if you wish.

To enable desktop WMP playback of (unprotected) AAC there is a free plug-in from Orban technologies. The plug-in works well but on its own won’t make your m4a files visible to the WMP Library. For that you need a tag extender plug-in. There are several available and generally seem to work well. You can try the Softpointer Tag Support Plugin, or maybe this plugin among others.

With all that in place music is fine on a WM6 phone. The AAC files play fine natively on the phone in WMP. No click wheel but I would have to say that WMP works well enough as a vanilla music player.

Speaking of click-wheels and Apple, did I get this wrong or does the iPhone NOT support bluetooth stereo streaming (A2DP), even in its 3G manifestation? That’s a complete and utter showstopper for me. I had been giving serious thought to getting an iPhone when my WM phone’s contract runs out in December.  But my bluetooth Sennheiser earphones have transformed my mobile audio and no way would I go back to wired. Suddenly, I’m entirely happy with my iPhoneless life.

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This iPhoneless Life #4 – Tangling with earphones

March 19, 2009

iPod One of the biggest drawbacks of using a Windows Mobile PDA-phone as your media device is that you end up with a tangle of wires that makes you look like you’re on life-support.

My HTC-manufactured phone (TyTN II) doesn’t have a 3.5″ headphone jack socket. The device was designed more as phone than media player so the audio connections are geared around being able to make and receive calls.  So it comes with a phone-controller dongle which plugs into the phone via a mini-USB port.  There is a 3.5″ jack socket but it is in the dongle, not the phone.

You can use the supplied earphones, which have a wire of the right length when used in combination with the dongle. Unfortunately the quality is dreadful.  I wanted to use my Sennheiser in-ear headphones but the cable is much longer, because it is intended to plug straight into say an iPod.

The result is a mess.  You have the phone in your pocket, with the dongle plugged in and clipped to your jacket or shirt. The cable is quite long and flaps about.  You then have the further wire from the Sennheisers which plugs into the dongle, but which dangles and flaps around even more. The overall effect is hardly neat and the wires catch on everything.

When you get to wherever you’re going, you put the assembly of wires in your pocket. When you later come to fetch dongle and headphones out you find they are so tangled together it can take several minutes to tease them apart without damaging them.

My Sennheisers are now playing up.  The left hand channel has lost volume; it plays at half the volume of the right. I know it’s not a case of sudden one-sided deafness because I tried switching the earphones round, and also plugged in the supplied headphones. The channel balance was fine, which also confirms that it wasn’t a problem with the phone or dongle.

The deterioration in the Sennheisers is probably the result of wear and tear on the wires due to the incessant plugging in, unpglugging, wires getting caught, wires getting tangled. I have been through a surprising number of earphones in the last few years.  The attrition rate is huge and always due to the constant bending/unbending of wires, eventually causing a channel to fail. The Sennheisers have been more robust than most but I am getting fed up with the wires and fed up with the regular loss of channels due to wear and tear on the wires. I would far prefer to go wireless.

So, if the Sennheisers are on their way out, I may as well replace them with stereo bluetooth earphones.  Thankfully the HTC supports the A2DP protocol so can stream good quality stereo over bluetooth. I like Sennheiser in-ear phones so a set of MM 200‘s would seem to be a sensible bet. And no more tangles.

Previous “This iPhoneless Life” posts.

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