But How Good Is It? Headphones – Sennheiser HD280 and PC360, Creative Sound Blaster Arena Surround and Tactic 3D Sigma, JVC HA-S600 Review

2 Sennheisers, 2 Creative Sound Blasters and a set of JVCs. Which are best? Find out here…

Sennheisers
Recently I have tried Sennheiser HD280(~£90) and PC360(~£160) headsets, some very expensive devices, which I would never have bought mainly due to their extreme price. The 280s were fairly uncomfortable, however the 360s fit fairly well. With the HD280s, I felt the sound was distant, further away from my ears, and the cups sat on top of my ears and started to hurt slightly after a while. I found the 360s much more comfortable, and the audio seemed closer and more surrounding. The microphone on the 360s looks very good, folds up when not in use, and my friends say the quality is amazing. Both Sennheisers use 3.5mm headphone jacks, (the 360s use 2, headphone and microphone, the 280s lack a microphone and only use one) – which is nice if you want to use it with an MP3 player or phone – anything that isn’t a computer. I believe both sets also allow their earcups to fold up – making them slightly smaller.

Sennheiser HD280s
Pros:

  • Headphone jack

Cons:

  • I didn’t like the audio quality – seems fair away and quiet
  • No microphone
  • Hurt to wear for extended periods (although my helmet size is XL)
  • Not very noise cancelling

Overall: Didn’t like them that much. 3/10

Sennheiser PC360
Pros:

  • Microphone (A good one too, apparently)
  • Headphone jacks
  • Look really good
  • Better, closer, more defined audio than the 280s
  • Comfy – non squeezing – very wide
  • Fairly noise proof

Cons:

  • Very expensive

Overall: A headset I would use fairly happily, if they were my only ones. Good gaming headset. 7/10

Creatives
What’s the difference between the Arena Surround and Tactic Sigma? The Sigma headsets are newer than the old Arenas, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are superior. Both support detachable microphones, which I think is a great feature, both have very comfortable, ear surrounding, soft cups, both have an adjustable volume option on the cable with microphone muter, and both have great audio quality – the best from any headset I’ve tried in my opinion. There are a few differences between the old and the new however, the white Arenas have a USB connection which is a shame as I would wear them everywhere otherwise, but they can make themselves slightly smaller – the cups rotate so they can be packed flat – with the cups facing away from you. The Sigmas don’t collapse at all – making them very bulky, but have the best of both connections – 2 3.5mm jacks that you can use with your phone, but also come with a THX headphone jacks to USB adapter – which I guess makes the audio even better, with the right software and drivers.

Creative Sound Blaster Arena Surround (white ones)
Pros:

  • The best, closest, sound quality in my opinion
  • Feel very durable, good cable too
  • Onboard volume controls and microphone mute
  • Comfy cups! Could, and do, wear the, for hours
  • Very noise resistant
  • Make you look like a pilot
  • Closer to £35 than the huge Sennheiser prices

Cons:

  • USB connection only, so I can’t use them more

Overall: I love them, favourite headset, but USB limits use. 9.5/10

Creative Sound Blaster Tactic 3D Sigma
Pros:

  • Very good audio quality
  • Looks like a very good microphone with foam around it
  • Both USB and headphone jacks!!!
  • Volume controls and microphone mute
  • Good noise resistance
  • Around the £50 mark at a quick look

Cons:

  • Bulky, don’t collapse, feel a bit more fragile and less rugged
  • Cable is flat, more like a rubber ribbon, doesn’t feel as durable

Overall: Great headset for your desk, not for travel. 7.5/10

JVC
And finally a pair of JVCs. Why? Because I bought these myself. For me to buy tech usually requires extensive research by searching online of reviews and trying to find the best price. I was with my flat mates in HMV trying out the funny looking Beats headphones (£150-£350+), found that the £350 pair were actually quite good. The smaller headsets that didn’t encompass your ears weren’t so great, and not worth their price tag. Trying on some other brands, I came across some £30 JVCs, which almost silenced the store when I put them on. They have no noise cancelling ability, but their cups comfortably fit right around your ears, preventing some noise and cold air from entering them. I wear them every day on my commute to work, and am wearing them now, sat on a train. Why? They are feel fairly sturdy, collapse to a much smaller size than any previously mentioned headset – great for travel and being stored in a bag. Audio quality is great, and feels close to my ears. I have blue ones, but saw someone with the white variety on the train just today, which look really good.

JVC HA-S600
Pros:

  • Headphone Jack
  • Very comfy to wear for extended periods
  • Fold up to a convenient travel size
  • Audio seems encompassing and close, like the creatives
  • About £15 from Tesco online when I bought them
  • Fairly noise cancelling

Cons:

  • No microphone, but you wouldn’t want one on a travel headset
  • Sound quality isn’t quite as fulfilling as the creatives

Overall: I love them, brilliant for travel, when I eventually wear them out, I will buy more. 10/10

Ubuntu Home Server – Install, Samba and LAMP

To help improve our general knowledge of Unix systems, me and my housemate Nick set out to set up a Linux file server. After realising that Ubuntu Server didn’t seem to come with much of a GUI, and with us not knowing how to coax the ancient PCI Wireless adapter into life, let alone the commands to get it to join a network, we decided to install normal Ubuntu instead.

After installing the OS, we installed and configured Samba – all which turned out to be very trivial to complete. We quickly had it serving files with a static IP, so we could map network drives to it or directly access it’s shared folder.

We then had the idea of serving webpages too, so after installing LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP), we forwarded port 80 (HTTP) to its address in the router settings, as well as SSH port 22. This means that we can put our outward-facing, router IP address into a web browser and get redirected straight to the LAMP server on the linux machine. We can also now SSH into the external IP just as we would with the internal one.

Matt

New York

During my time in Boston, I seized the chance to visit New York as I was only a few hours train ride north.

I took the Amtrak train down to Penn Station, where I transferred to the NY subway, which is much more confusing than ours. They had a few big differences: Stations were mainly street names/numbers (e.g 34rd Street), some trains were express trains and stopped at one in every 5 stations – utilising NY subway’s 2 sets of rails in each direction and prices were constant, no matter how long the journey.

After meeting up with my cousin who had kindly offered me a place to stay on Saturday night, we headed to the supermarket to do a bit of “panic-buying” ahead of the approaching hurricane Sandy. Later, I headed south on the subway to the Rockefeller Center - an extremely tall building that boasted impressive views over Central Park and of the Empire State Building. Whilst taking photos, I met an interesting guy called Stephen at the top of the tower, a fellow Brit!

After visiting Times Square and having quesadillas for Tea, we headed to Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes and banana pudding, which we ate in Central Park. Then got an email from Amtrak saying that my evening train the next day had been cancelled due to the hurricane – and to ring them to reschedule. Luckily managed to get booked on a train a few hours before the cancelled ones.

The next day we headed south to visit the New York office which was large and very confusing to negotiate, and wandered around lower Manhattan, where we found streets closed with many kids trick or treating the local stores in the lovely calm weather – despite the forecast rain and winds of the hurricane.

After lunch, I subwayed back to Penn Station, and got the full Amtrak back to Boston, which arrived an hour late due to the train slipping on the wet track. I loved being in New York, and hope very much that I get the change to visit again sometime.

Matt