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He Y.,Clemson University | Chowdhury M.,Clemson University | Pisu P.,Clemson University | Ma Y.,IEM Inc
Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies | Year: 2012

To demonstrate the greater capabilities and benefits achievable with a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), an energy optimization strategy for a power-split drivetrain PHEV, which utilizes a predicted speed profile, is presented. In addition, the paper reports an analysis and evaluation of issues related to real time control implementation for the modeled PHEV system, which include the optimization window sizes and the impact of prediction errors on the energy optimization strategy performance. The optimization time window sizes were identified and validated for different driving cycles under different operating modes and total length of travel. With the identified optimization windows size, improvements in fuel consumption were realized; the highest improvement was for Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule (UDDS), with a range of improvement of 14-31%, followed by a 1-15% range of improvement for Highway Fuel Economy Driving Schedule (known as HWFET) and a 1-8% range of improvement for US06 (also known as Supplemental Federal Test Procedure). While no correlation was observed between the error rate and the rate of increased fuel consumption, this PHEV system still yielded energy savings with errors in the speed prediction, which is an indication of robustness of this PHEV model. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Lopez-Tobar E.,IEM Inc | Hernandez B.,University of Paris 13 | Ghomi M.,University of Paris 13 | Sanchez-Cortes S.,IEM Inc
Journal of Physical Chemistry C | Year: 2013

In relation with the difficulties encountered in previous works concerning the preservation of the S-S linkage in cystine (Cys-Cys dimer) on Ag nanoparticles (NPs), we present here a systematic investigation on both cysteine and cystine as a function of various parameters governing the preparation of metal substrates. Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) was used as a probe for analyzing (i) the integrity of the disulfide bonds of the adsorbed dimers, (ii) the influence of the metal nature, the reduction protocol as well as the Cys-Cys concentration on the adsorption, (iii) the terminal groups through which the interaction with metal surfaces take place, and (iv) the side chain conformation of the adsorbed molecules. From the whole set of experimental data collected in this work, it appears that large size Au NPs, prepared at low citrate concentration, can be considered as the most appropriate substrates for ensuring the integrity of disulfide linkages. Although Ag NPs prepared with hydroxylamine lead to the cleavage of dimers at low concentration, they have shown their adequacy to keep intact S-S bonds beyond a concentration threshold of ∼200 μM. Based on the examination of the SERS data recorded as a function of dimer concentration, we can now assume that this effect is mainly due to the bidentate and monodentate binding of Cys-Cys dimers at low and high concentrations, respectively, facilitating or not their cleavage on Ag surfaces. © 2012 American Chemical Society.

News Article | October 30, 2012

Laying out four Benjamins to replace an accessory that comes for free in the box with your phone seems, I don’t know, totally and completely stupid. But after listening to my favorite music through this in-ear headset for the past month, I can confidently say I’d drop $400 of my own cash on a pair without remorse. The only tear I’d shed would be for all my other in-ear headphones, which would go unused forevermore. The headphones in question: Logitech’s UE 900. They’re the new flagship audiophile earphones from the venerable Ultimate Ears brand, and they’re just as awesome and perfect and beautiful-sounding as you’d expect from a $400 headset. Ultimate Ears became well known for making custom in-ear monitors (IEMs) and noise-attenuating ear plugs for musicians to wear on stage. Professional IEMs usually require you to have custom molds made of your ears, and the results are super-fancy, but expensive. Later, with the iPod explosion, the company found a way to distill the essentials of its pro-level in-ear design into a non-custom consumer model. Its UE-5c and TripleFi 10 models basically defined the early consumer IEM market, and they are still some of the most well-regarded IEMs among audiophile consumers. (I had a pair of TF10s that I recently retired from service after several years.) Now, Ultimate Ears — which has since been acquired by accessories giant Logitech — has worked up a new design for its latest flagship in-ear. Like previous in-ear monitors, this one takes many cues from the pro-level models before it. If you want a pair of pro-level IEMs, but you don’t want to pay out the nose for the privilege, this will get you remarkably close for “only” $400. The UE 900 uses a unique four-driver design: two balanced armature drivers for the low-end, one for the mids and one for the highs. The result is some truly glorious sound, supremely rich from one end of the audio spectrum to the other. The bass is heavy and direct. Mid-range frequencies are perfectly represented, and the chiming highs are only slightly tempered at the very, very top end. The new flagship audiophile earphones from Ultimate Ears are just as awesome and perfect and beautiful-sounding as you'd expect from a $400 headset. I got so carried away during the first session, I kicked back on my bed and didn’t get up again until I had completely run down the battery on my iPhone. This level of clarity and drama of course has a lot to do with the quality of the drivers, but it has just as much to do with the fit. Logitech ships the UE 900s with eight in-ear options for obtaining the best seal: silicone tips ranging from size large all the way down to size XXS, as well as three different sizes of Comply foam tips. The in-ear fit these require is not for everyone. And just putting the things in properly takes some practice. Like other high-end IEMs, the first few inches of the cable extending out of the ear pieces is made of “memory wire,” a coating that stiffens the cable and lets you bend it into different shapes. You actually position the UE 900s upside-down, so the cables leave the bodies through the top. Holding the body, you wrap the stiff part of the cable over the top of your ear, then tug it snug and push the rubber tip into your ear canal. This configuration is weird if you’re not used to it, and as a lifelong glasses-wearer, I’d rather not have to futz with memory wire. But the UEs have the most comfortable over-the-ear cable system I’ve encountered yet — certainly preferable to the rigid plastic cable guides you get with some IEMs. When properly fitted, Logitech says the UE 900s will give you a full 26db of noise isolation. When properly fitted, Logitech says the UE 900s will give you a full 26db of noise isolation. I trust this claim — I listened on city buses, while walking the streets at rush hour, and while at my desk in the bustling office, and I have no complaints about the level of isolation. The totally immersive experience is enhanced by the braided cabling, which produce only a minimal amount of noticeable noise as it rubs and bumps against your clothes. Because the cable ends run down the sides of your neck, you can wear the main cable across the front of your shirt, or down your back, which is better for runners. An optional collar clip helps, too, by keeping the cable tucked to whatever piece of clothing works best. I listened to the UE 900s through a couple of headphone amps — a Total BitHead and an Apex Butte — and they were of course even more impressive and huge-sounding. But they were primarily made for mobile use, and they are sensitive enough that you won’t need an amp. Just plug them right into your phone. The default cable is bright blue, as seen on other UE gear, and has a three-button remote that works with iPhones and iPods (though it acts janky on Android phones, a troubling trend I’ve noticed on almost every headset I’ve tested this year). Each pair ships with an alternate, remote-free black cable, and they’re easy to swap out. There are a lot of things you could spend $400 on. A world series ticket, a couple of car payments, the tasting menu for two at Alinea (sans wine pairing). But if you love hearing music beautifully represented without distraction, and you crave that level of audio perfection all the time, everywhere, Logitech’s newest Ultimate Ears are some of the best mobile headphones you can buy. Your friends or loved ones may pick on you for spending so much. But if they do, just shove these in your ears and go to your happy place.

News Article | June 4, 2013

I'm generally a fan of open-back headphones. The design prevents cabinet colouration and affords the drivers with a more open, natural sound signature. However, headphones aren't quite portable enough for outdoor usage, where you need smaller earphones for convenience. Unfortunately, due to the limitation of physics, it's impossible to achieve the same natural fidelity from smaller drivers. The fact is, as the transducer (speaker) gets smaller, it costs more to produce the same sound accuracy as its larger equivalent. Therefore, it costs much more to obtain the same level of sound quality from headphones as you'd get from a decent pair of bookshelf speakers. Due to the smaller planar surface of IEMs (In-Ear Monitors), it's still more challenging and expensive for them to match the performance of headphones with larger drivers. Tragically, since urban India has spread out like a cancer without much in the name of city planning, we have been cursed to spend anywhere between one to three hours of our waking lives commuting to and from work. Despite all of its disadvantages then, it makes perfect sense to invest in a good pair of IEMs that will block out the city's chaos and transport you to your own personal space right in the middle of a crowded locomotive. Mind you, this guide won't merely throw random brands and models. The main objective here is not just to learn which IEMs to purchase, but rather how to go about finding the right one for your needs. Choosing the correct driver type There aren't many choices available in IEMs when it comes to the drivers, with dynamic and balanced armature (BA) drivers being the two dominant types. Dynamic drivers are most common because they are the cheapest to manufacture. These drivers are pretty much miniaturised versions of your regular loudspeakers employing a magnet and moving voice coil to oscillate a diaphragm, in order to reproduce sound. Balanced armature drivers employ a similar setup, but the voice coil is stationary. The diaphragm is moved by an armature that's suspended frictionless between two opposing magnets and the voice coil. A dynamic driver gives excellent bass response, but at the cost of high-frequency detail Technical mumbo-jumbo aside, this configuration allows the BA driver to have phenomenal electrical efficiency, which allows it to produce a more detailed sound. However, since it doesn't push a large volume of air like dynamic drivers, a BA driver lacks the ability to produce natural bass. To put it in a nutshell, dynamic drivers are cheap and produce great bass, whereas BA drivers are expensive but deliver great high-frequency detail at the cost of a stunted low-end performance. Having said that, you have examples where multiple BA drivers are combined to produce a greater impact, or even instances where passive crossovers are employed to split high, mid and low frequency ranges across multiple BA drivers. Some expensive IEMs even use a combination of BA and dynamic drivers to deliver the best of both worlds—detailed highs and deep lows. Getting the specifications right That technical mumbo-jumbo at the back of the product packaging actually does account for something. If you can read it right, it should allow you to match the IEMs well with your PMP and decide if you should invest in a headphone amplifier. As a thumb rule, most IEMs have nominal impedance between 16-32 ohms, which makes them easy to drive without the need for separate amplification. Balanced armature drivers have a terrific high-end response and detail, but at the cost of bass If that sounded Greek and Latin to you, here's an easy example to understand what impedance really is. Imagine sipping a glass of milkshake through a straw, where your lungs are the amplifier, the glass of milkshake the IEM and the straw representing the concept of impedance. The impedance is higher when the straw diameter is small, whereas it gets lower as the diameter increases. It's easier to sip milkshake through a thinner straw, but the volume of milkshake coming through is miniscule. However, you may be able to suck in copious amounts of milkshake through a two-inch PVC pipe, but that will also put a tremendous strain on your lungs. IEM impedance works in the same way. A high-impedance driver won't put much strain on your PMP, but the maximum volume will be limited. Conversely, a low-impedance IEM will sound louder, but it will put a lot of stress on your PMP's amplifier. Certain balanced armature drivers can be tough on amplifiers due to their very low impedance, whereas some dynamic drivers may sport too high an impedance to provide sufficient volume without amplification. As a rule of thumb, these outliers are better auditioned with and without headphone amplification to see if there's a noticeable improvement in sound quality. Other important things to consider include sensitivity, frequency response and the type of magnets employed. A high-sensitivity driver will provide greater sound pressure levels per watt, which makes it easier to amplify. Frequency response, although it tells you about the sonic reach of an IEM, it never really gives you an idea of the quantity and quality of impact and authority at those frequencies. Take this spec with a pinch of salt and audition the IEM yourself to be sure. As a rule of thumb, powerful neodymium magnets will provide better bass than regular ferrite ones, so it's an added incentive if an IEM is outfitted with the former. Just changing ear tips can have a profound effect on sound signature Ear tips, isolation and sound signature These tiny cushioning interfaces between your auditory canal and the IEMs may seem to exist for the sole purpose of ensuring better ergonomics, but there's a lot more to the ear tips than it is otherwise apparent. You would be surprised to know what significant a part these tips play in the overall audio signature of the IEMs. In-ear earphones generate a miniscule power output because they have to move a very small column of air in the canal to produce sound. They, however, are at their best efficiency when the seal between the tips and ear canal is perfect. Any amount of leakage leads to a loss in the sound pressure levels, which directly affects the bass performance. It is therefore important to choose a tip that's sized just right for you. Meanwhile, you may want to refer to this handy guide on how to wear IEM effectively. Ear tips come in three different materials: rubber, silicone and foam. Silicone tips are superior to rubber ones in every single aspect including durability, hygiene and comfort. As such, only the cheapest IEMs will include rubber tips, because any decent brand worth its salt makes it a point to outfit its earphones with silicone tips. These tips themselves are available in varying thicknesses—a factor that can affect sound isolation as well as signature. Thick walled ear tips generally afford better sound isolation, but at the cost of making the sound darker or more bass heavy. Conversely, thinner ear tips may not provide the best isolation, but they are best paired with dark IEMs. Silicone ear tips also ship in double and triple flanged versions, which boost bass and mechanical sound damping by an even larger extent. These multi-flanged ear tips, however, may prove a bit intrusive and uncomfortable to some users. Using the right sized tip ensures a proper seal, which in turn improves bass response Finally, you have foam ear tips, which are quite expensive and significantly less durable than their silicone equivalent. However, they are still preferred by audiophiles thanks to an unparalleled level of noise isolation offered. Because foam ear tips practically conform to the natural shape of your auditory canal, they are by far the most comfortable of any ear tips as well. The only problem is that these ear tips tend to attenuate higher frequencies and boost bass by a large degree. They are, therefore, paired the best with brighter sounding earphones, because they can make darker IEMs sound even boomier than they already are. Instead of just listing out the hottest IEMs in the market, what you have here are all the important parameters that need to be considered before purchasing a pair that's right for you. This not only allows you to choose an IEM with the right type and configuration of drivers, but also check out the box and figure out if you would require a separate headphone amplifier or not. Once you have purchased the IEM of your choice, though, don't forget to experiment with different ear tips to fine tune the sound signature to your liking. earphone burer guide, earphone guide, Earphones, Headphones, how to choose earphones, how to choose iems, iem, iem buyer guide, iem guide, IEMs, what is impedance, what is sensitivity

News Article | June 7, 2013

Bose today announced three new products for India: the Bluetooth-enabled successor to the AE2 wired headphones, the AE2w; an IEM with active noise cancellation (ANC), the QuietComfort 20; and a portable speaker, the SoundLink Mini. The AE2W are Bose’s first stereo Bluetooth A2DP wireless headphones and can take calls as well as stream music. It looks and feels just like Bose's AE2 headphones, but has no wires. Instead, there’s a detachable Bluetooth module using which you can control the volume, pair devices and answer calls. The module runs on a battery that Bose says will last for seven hours of playback; you can recharge the module via a microUSB cable. The company also bundles an audio cable that you can connect to the headset. The headphones are made from the exact same materials as the AE2, but weigh just a little more. The AE2w headphones are more or less the same as Bose's AE2 The QuietComfort 20 are ANC-enabled IEMs that have a rather unique but gimmicky feature called Aware mode: a button on the volume/call answer control switches on Aware mode, which tunes down the noise cancellation, letting you hear ambient noise and hear traffic or announcements. As is typical with headphones with ANC, the QuietComfort 20’s noise cancellation system also requires batteries to work. The ANC system works on a Lithium-ion battery that will last you for about 16 hours; the battery can be recharged via a microUSB port onthe ANC circuit's box. However, once the battery dies, say goodbye to any noise cancellation. These IEMs come with unique ear tips that aren't too great at providing a proper seal Bose’s new portable speaker solution, the SoundLink Mini, is around half the size of the original SoundLink Mobile speaker. It has a body made out of anodised aluminium and weighs 680 g. Bose says it packs two passive radiators driven by two transducers that move twice the air as conventional transducers of the same size. The device supports Bluetooth A2DP and can remember the six most recently used devices you’ve paired it with. It has a Lithium-ion battery that the company says will last you for about seven hours. To charge the battery, you get a nifty charging cradle on which you simply place the speaker. If you want to customise it, you can choose from three soft covers (Rs 1,350 each) and a travel bag (Rs 2,250). The SoundLink Mini portable speakers are quite nifty The AE2W headphones will be available from this month onwards for Rs 19,013, while the QC20 IEMs will hit stores in September with a price tag of Rs 22,338. Bose will make the SoundLink Mini speaker available in India in August for Rs 16,200.

News Article | January 23, 2013

IEMs, or In-Ear Monitors, which were hitherto the reserve of audiophiles with deep pockets, have now breached the mainstream. These earphones have even replaced the ubiquitous stock earbuds bundled with smartphones and PMPs (Portable Media Players). There's a genuine reason for this shift from earphones that rest on the ear to those designed to enter the auditory canal. Originally conceived for musicians and audio engineers, IEMs started life as custom-moulded earpieces created with the sole purpose of achieving optimum mechanical noise isolation in busy live and studio environments. What was envisioned as professional equipment enabling musicians to monitor their feed during live concerts, eventually gained popularity due to its unprecedented feasibility as a portable audio solution. It wasn't long before audiophiles caught on the IEM's ability to reproduce fine details and, more importantly, attenuate ambient noise to a great degree. A surprisingly small percentage of users genuinely know how to use them effectively, since this type of earphones is relatively new. The very nature of their fit and working principle makes them sound spectacular when worn right, but any mistake in that respect translates into a severe compromise in the overall audio quality. Worse yet, in most cases the penalty goes beyond that, because improper usage can potentially cause permanent hearing loss as well. This guide, therefore, focuses on what constitutes hearing loss, how improper IEM usage is a contributing factor, what should be done to prevent that, and finally, how to get the best out of your IEM. Understanding Hearing Loss The concept of permanent hearing damage for most people involves sounds present at or above the threshold of pain, which occurs at 130dB. Such damage is generally reversed in 16 to 48 hours, but hearing loss can be irreversible if the cochlear cells (inner ear) are damaged. This sort of ear trauma is caused by exposure to transient sounds such as explosions or passing jet planes in proximity to the listener. Protecting what matters the most (image source) However, any sound over 85dB can potentially cause hearing damage. The only difference being that it takes around eight hours of continuous exposure at that noise level before hearing loss sets in. For every 3dB increment thereafter, the permissible exposure time is cut down in half. That means, you'll damage your hearing in just four hours at 88dB and two hours in 91dB, whereas sounds at 115dB just take approximately 30 seconds to have the same effect. While louder transient sounds instinctively prompt us to safeguard our hearing, it is those of a lower magnitude that tend to be more insidious. Loud music is the best example since that's more likely to be heard long enough to cause irreversible auditory damage. In fact, permanent hearing loss attributed to long spells of chronically loud music through earphones is more common than you'd imagine. I have personally witnessed quite a few cases where people have suffered anywhere between 10-15 percent hearing loss due to long-term exposure to loud music. This is a genuine problem that should be addressed by creating awareness and good practices for enjoying music on the go. IEMs and Auditory Damage Let's just get this most common myth out of the way: IEMs are more dangerous due to their proximity to the eardrum. This couldn't be further from the truth. When used in the right manner, they are just as innocuous as your regular earbuds or headphones. In fact, the way they function makes them less likely to cause ear damage. It's all down to the physics. The power requirement of a transducer (speaker) is directly proportional to the volume of air it has to move. Because IEMs create an airtight seal and have to deal with a considerably smaller acoustic chamber, they must push only a miniscule volume of air. They, therefore, have to radiate a surprisingly less amount of energy to generate the same SPL (Sound Pressure Level) as larger headphones. This actually puts less strain on your eardrum. However, an IEM loses its efficiency significantly when this airtight seal is broken. When that occurs, the drivers have to work extra hard to overcome the ambient noise that's free to leak in as a consequence. The extent of harm caused by this combination of high volume and loud ambient noise is best illustrated by conducting this simple experiment: Unless you happen to be the Son of Krypton, you should not be able to comprehend Attenborough's commentary anymore. That's because your brain has attenuated your hearing capability in order to reduce discomfort. To put it simply, as ambient noise increases, you need higher SPL to create the same amount of perceived sound. Your eardrum nevertheless is bombarded with a much higher sound level, which doesn't bode well for your ears at all. Getting a Right Seal The above example should explain why IEMs are best suited for outdoor usage thanks to the excellent mechanical dampening afforded by their airtight seal. This is largely dependent on choosing the right sized ear tip though. More often than not, the average user ends with one that cannot ensure a good seal. This is mainly because the typical Indian ear (auditory canal) is smaller than its American or European counterpart. Using the default medium-sized tip, therefore, is a bad idea for the average Indian. Trying out different tips is the very first thing you should do, because a right sized tip allows deeper penetration into the ear canal. This is of utmost importance, because using an oversized tip that doesn't fully enter the canal makes music sound tinny and thin. Perfect fitting IEMs not only provide a noise-isolating seal, but they also improve bass and the overall music tonality. Maintaining a Safe Volume Limit Although IEMs provide noise attenuation, they aren't perfect. With high enough ambient noise, there's a risk of cranking up the volume levels beyond the threshold of safe hearing. The best way to prevent that is by determining this threshold and making a point not to exceed that volume level. This is the best way to go about doing that: If you ever have to exceed this volume level, that means either your earphones cannot provide enough sound isolation, or the outside noise is unacceptably high. In both the cases, the best course of action is to stop listening to music altogether. Wearing IEMs the Right Way The lack of proper seal is the most common reason why IEM users listen to music at chronically high volume levels. You may choose the right tip, but that amounts to nothing if you don't know how to wear them the right way. It's staggering to know how few IEM users actually manage to get that right. If you think you aren't one of them, fret not, because here's how it's done: Lifting the ear straightens out the auditory canal Open the mouth slightly to enlarge the ear canal Gently twist the IEM while inserting it Never remove the IEMs in a quick motion. Always gently twist them in/out to prevent vacuum build up (while removing) and air pressure (while inserting) from damaging your eardrums. Although the phenomenon isn't harmful, IEMs cause a marked increase in the production of bacteria in your ears. For this purpose, do let your ears breathe after extended periods of usage. Doing so also prevents fatigue and allows your ears to recover. Remember that your body treats IEMs as foreign bodies, which leads to an increased wax production. It's therefore a good practice to clean your IEMs as well as your ear canals on a regular basis. Following these tips will not only safeguard your hearing, but will also deliver a palpable increase in bass response and attenuation of external noise. This is definitely worth the extra effort and the slight embarrassment the elaborate ritual may cause in public. cause of hearing damage, cause of hearing loss, earphone guide, earphone safety guide, Earphones, Headphones, hearing damage, hearing loss, how to choose earphones, how to choose iem, how to prevent hearing damage, how to prevent hearing loss, how to wear earphones, how to wear iem, iem, iem guide, iem safety guide

News Article | September 18, 2012

This post is written by Media Predict’s Brent Stinski. Post-convention polls show a bounce for President Obama in the upcoming election, after a period of neck-and-neck jockeying that stretches back to June. But traditional polls, largely run by large news organizations, may be just waking up to a reality that online indicators have shown for a long time. Ask people to bet on a candidate, to put down real cash on who will really win – and the smart money, for some time, has been on Obama. Certainly that’s the case at so-called prediction markets, forums where people can place bets, often with real currency, on what will happen in November. As of this writing, odds from three independently run online markets present a 65-plus percent probability that Obama will win, including odds at my own startup, Media Predict. That’s no slam-dunk. Still, Obama has a clear lead. In fact, according to the markets, he’s had that advantage since the start of his campaign. But mainstream media only seem to be waking up to this fact in light of a recent post-convention “bounce” – endorsed by, yes, those beloved, slow, traditional polls. Well, welcome to the party. For those who will want to remain a step ahead in this campaign, we recommend looking to the markets instead. Their message is clear and strong. Media Predict’s 64% probability of an Obama victory is virtually identical to those furnished by other forums, such as the Iowa Electronic Markets (a real-money futures market the CFTC permits for purposes of academic research) as well as offshore gambling sites like Intrade. And there’s good reason to believe what the markets say. A 16-year retroactive study found the Iowa Electronic Markets to outperform the AP and the Gallup Polls 74% of the time when predicting presidential vote share on the eve of the election. Moreover, the study found the IEM to be almost always more accurate when predicting from 100 days away or more – a point we passed some time ago. But markets’ strengths go beyond mere prediction. After all, knowing the future is nice – but it’s even better to know what to do about it. That’s where things really get cool. Where polls can only describe what people are thinking at a given snapshot in time, a market – not unlike a venture investment – looks far ahead to see the bottom line. That means markets are sober. However riled we may get over Bain or the Birthers, most everyone will think dispassionately if a few bucks are on the line. And notably, once you ask market participants why they bet on one candidate or another, the most frequent answer is not a hot-button issue. It’s not the economy, stupid. Nor terrorism, nor Mitt Romney’s taxes, nor Paul Ryan’s workout plan. Overwhelmingly, people say that Obama’s campaign will simply execute – by presenting a likeable candidate who makes his case. And Romney’s campaign won’t. A few quotes: Breaking down the numbers, almost a third of people who bet in favor of Obama argued that he’ll run a better campaign – easily the biggest reason among Obama backers. The percentage of people who bet on Romney for that same reason? Just 12%. It would be interesting to see if that figure changes in the wake of the controversial comments from Romney that came to light yesterday after being caught on hidden camera. These are not the biased left-leaning emotions of Internet-enabled youngsters, as a traditional pollster might object. Our data shows that many who bet on Obama don’t intend to vote for him. They don’t even like him. They just feel he presents the better investment: In this regard, markets see the big picture and stand far away from the breathless hand-wringing that rules the 24-hour news cycle. This is particularly true of those darlings of political ads and news analysis alike: “the issues.” Yes, television analysts often disclaim that no single issue can sway an election – generally before they commence to shouting about one at length. But markets give us the ability to gauge how much, or how little, any single issue impacts the whole. Of people who bet in favor of Obama, less than 4% justified themselves by citing the economy, gay marriage, or military issues. And while a significant 8.5% of Romney backers cited the economy as a major factor, less than 1% cited much-maligned Obamacare. Rather, the markets’ view is holistic and bottom-line. It’s all about the candidate – the person – and his ability to execute a campaign without mistakes. Obama has an edge, as we’ve seen, and other stats flesh out why: In the end, the markets’ message to campaigns is simple. Be likeable. Win confidence. Execute your plan without messing up. And when can you know you’re succeeding in these tasks? Not when the poll numbers go up, but when the bets do. Indeed Media Predict invites both campaigns to test the wisdom of the markets as they enter the home stretch – as we’ve seen from our own ability to predict television hits, often from just a paragraph idea, the markets can help maximize the outcomes of any marketer, politician, or executive willing to use them. News organizations, though, may not be committing to these modern methods anytime soon. “We love what you’re doing,” one broadcast reporter told us last week, in so many words, “but we’ve just put millions into these polls.” To that we offer a simple antidote. For a voice above the din, don’t look to where news organizations have sunk their cash – look to where thousands of people like you are sinking their own. Brent Stinski is founder and CEO of Media Predict, a market research company that uses prediction markets to forecast the performance of TV shows, advertising, and more. He has contributed to VentureBeat and Business Insider.

News Article | September 28, 2011

The JayBird Freedom JF3 ($99) Bluetooth wireless headphones are a successful attempt to build upon a paramount technological concept: take something good and make it great — or in this case, take a good pair of IEM headphones and ditch the cord. It’s like a musical bris without the rabbi — or the baby. When testing any Bluetooth stereo headphones, comfort and loudness are key, and JayBird achieved both quite nicely with the JF3s. They are comfortable and loud like IEMs should be. They’ve passed the treacherous BART (San Francisco’s underground rail system) testing grounds, keeping me immersed in good tunes while drowning out noise like screeching train tracks, and rap music played over a cheap mobile phone speaker. The JF3s come with no less than six different options for keeping them snug, so I’m confident they’ll fit just about any set of ears. They were perfectly snug on my girlfriend during her rigorous Bodyrock TV workout, which includes a fair amount of leaping, gyrating, and sweating. JayBird has guaranteed them sweat-proof for life — one less thing for the health-conscious user to sweat about. Unfortunately, I found that the cord connecting the left and right IEMs gets in the way quite a bit when worn behind the neck as instructed — wearing a jacket with a collar renders them almost useless and certainly annoying — but with a little ingenuity, and a couple small rubber bands, I rigged the JF3s to have a shorter cord and secured it under my chin where it doesn’t bump into things. If you opt for a pair, I highly recommend doing this. The three-button design, though simplified and relatively easy to use, could benefit from some improvement. Using the main function button pushes the earpiece further into your ear canal, which is a bit uncomfortable so you’ll have to find a way to secure the IEM before pressing it. When depressed for two seconds, the volume-up button is also the control to skip backward, and vice-versa, which is slightly illogical in my opinion. They’re cursed with only average audio performance, with the audio lacking dynamic range and providing disappointing bass performance. My voice also sometimes sounded muffled to callers on the other end. The Freedom JF3s are a good option for active types wanting to ditch the dangle and still have serious comfort and a secure fit, whether committed to a rigorous exercise regiment or just out for a stroll. Not the perfect set for those wanting superior audio performance and a good hands-free phone option.

News Article | October 24, 2011

Maybe you’re not going to buy a pair of earphones based on the way they look; maybe you’d rather spend your moolah on a pair that came with exquisite performance. What if you could have both? In spades? Here you go: With their deep, bone-tingling bass and blue-blood looks and manners, the Klipsch Image S4i earphones ($100) is the Prince…of Spades. The S4i had me at hello; I was charmed before I even shoved an earpiece into my waiting ears. This is absolutely the most elegant-looking set of canalphones I’ve ever seen, especially in white (they also come in black). From the set’s sleek finish to the subtle silver accents, details seem perfectly thought out. But the beauty isn’t just skin deep. The impression of quality extends to function as well: The S4i has the best controls in our series, and maybe the best of any control-equipped earphones I’ve ever messed with. The buttons are widely spaced, perfectly shaped and have great feedback; Steve (or Jony) would be proud. There are three regular and one flanged set of silicone tips, all of which, unusually, require precise alignment on the nozzle, as they’re notched to keep them in place. Finding a good seal was a bit of a struggle, but after a little experimentation I was able to find the setup (one medium tip, one large) that worked for me. Once sealed, the S4i’s passive noise-canceling prowess was up there with the best of them, and close, though not quite matching, the performance of Etymotic’s eartips. The set can be worn in the standard way, with the cords hanging straight down; but the set’s housing is angled in such a way to allow it to also be worn with the cables run around the back of the ears, and I much preferred this; actually had a fair bit of trouble wearing them in the standard way (see below). I’m rarely as stunned by deep, smooth bass from a canalphone as I was with the S4i. There are other sets out there with macho bass muscle — the Bose Triport comes to mind — but few near this price that can match the S4i’s rich, silken tone. The set were perfect for listening to something like Sting’s Mercury Falling. And while the ‘phones weren’t exceptional at producing bold mids, highs were crisp and bright, and the overall effect was pleasant and warm, and rarely boomy or harsh — unless a heavy bassline was present. The S4i are really heavily weighted toward bass — bordering on overwhelming at times. Granted, that bass has a very smooth, rich quality to it; but those who aren’t partial to a deeply bassy sound may not like it, no matter how rich the tonal quality. There’s also something a little weird about the fit of the angled earpieces. They seemed very sensitive to even the slightest adjustments, and the only way I could get a good seal was by wearing them with the cables over my ears. This could have something to do with the shape of my ears, but I haven’t experienced the kind of sensitivity to position as much with any other IEM; bass seemed to leak out alarmingly easily, even for this sort of earphone, without a really firm seal. Still, once a seal was locked down, everything was groovy. There are few earphones that exude as much rich feel and performance for as low an asking price as the Klipsch Image S4i. Bass lovers especially need look no further.

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