Surround Sound for Mobile Phones Too!

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Listening to music when bored, tired, excited, calm has become a commodity in the life of many.  However, because most people can afford the luxury of marveling surround sound systems sitting at home, top-end earphones have become the go-to devices in today’s standard.

There are three main types of earphones that are available in the market today: in-the-ear, on-the-ear, and over-the-ear – in increasing size. Personally, I prefer over-the-ear headphones not only because they cover the ears completely to offer a more natural way of using the entire surface of the ear for receiving sound, but they are also packed with more features, especially in the larger ones.  Plus, I just think they look cooler.

As a user of over-the-ear headphones from many companies, I must draw your attention to one pair that was recently released with very little public knowledge of its existence – the F.R.E.Q 9 by Mad Catz. Mad Catz is a company that is specialized in gaming accessories, but don’t let this make you think that the FREQ 9 is only for gamers.  It is a wonderful headphone for music lovers. There are simply TOO many features I have discovered, and as I write this blog I am digging deep to find more.

Surround sound on the ears

Unlike the ubiquitous stereo sound system that only provides sound from two sources – either the left or the right speaker – the current common standard is seven sources of sound plus a subwoofer for bass.  With this many sources of sound positioned around a person, listening to delicate music or watching films truly lets the listener feel the direction from which each sound is coming from.  FREQ 9 has combined stereo and surround sound 7.1. This means that you can switch to either sound style with the press of a button on the headphones.

The technology Mad Catz uses for surround sound is developed by AM3D, which was originally developed for fighter planes to allow pilot pinpoint targets through listening.  In fact, AM3D currently holds multiple patents in the field of 3D audio, one of which is on Binaural Synthesis (the method of recording 3D sounds by using two microphones) and Head-Related Transfer Functions (responses from the ears with a simulated effect based on generated sound directions), describing various numerical data used to achieve this technology (Patent number: EP0912076 A2).  That is how accurate the surround sound system is!

These figures from patent EP0912076 A2 describe applications that can simulate more than one sound source by passing each sound through two sets of filters for each ear.

These figures from Patent EP0912076 A2 describe applications that can simulate more than one sound source by passing each sound through two sets of filters for each ear.

Noise cancelling for pure music

Another key feature a lot of users on the go prefer is noise cancelling.  Many headphones already offer some noise reduction with the over-the-ear design, but with the noise cancelling button turned on you essentially create a sound barrier around you. Now, Mad Catz does not hold any patent on noise cancelling. So it will be interesting when other noise cancelling companies make comparison to the technology Mad Catz uses.  But with the MadCatz headphones, as soon as I turned on the feature, the sound of the fan next to me became soundless instantly.

And this is not even the last feature concerning listening.  You must note the headphones’ connectivity network with a gamut of devices through a myriad of cables that come with the package. And if you prefer wireless, enable its Bluetooth and walk around with your headphones singing in your ear. What if your computer or any other machine doesn’t have a Bluetooth? Well, the package also comes with a compact external device that can connect to your computer with a 3.5mm cable or USB cable that can send out the Bluetooth signal for your headphones.

Answer phones calls through headphones

Consider a scenario where I leave my computer in one room, doing tasks in another with the headphones wirelessly streaming music.  I truly enjoy the experience of cordless, not to mention that the headphone has volume, pause, forward, and back buttons all conveniently placed.

Continue with this scenario where I am away from my room and I get a call. The FREQ 9 will ring as well, because it can actually pair up to two devices wirelessly.  So even if you are not near your phone when it rings, at the press of a button, you can answer the call on your headphone.  With a dual microphone system, the sound quality for mobile phone conversations is amazing.  And aesthetically speaking, the microphones look great as well because they are simply two unnoticeable holes on the FREQ 9.

Additionally, the microphones actually provide another feature.  If you use this pair as a headset for gaming besides being able to chat with your in-game allies, you can choose to turn on or off the ability to hear your own voice while you speak!

Overall, there are just so many neat features about the FREQ 9.  I can probably go on with so many more features of it, because it is not your average headphones.  It may not be the best sound quality headphones, but how well headphones sound depend on the individual and the type of music playing.  For me, all I know is that it sits on my head comfortably and gives me so much convenience by connecting to all my devices wirelessly.  I can use it for anything related to sound, and for that, I must recommend this to anyone who wishes to own a pair of headphones that can do everything, with a rechargeable battery that lasts for at least 20 hours which is almost twice the battery of something like Beats by Dre wireless headphones.

One word to summarize this finely engineered device – omnipotent.

(Featured image source: http://i.vimeocdn.com/video/219498363_1280x720.jpg)

Alex Li
Alex Li

Alex is a technology enthusiast, who trains a hawk's eye on latest technologies through hands-on testing and insightful reviews.


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