Monday, May 30, 2016

Headphones for phones

Panasonic RP-TCM125

This is the only pair of headphones I've found that are comfortable, secure and good sounding out of box. I used to hate in-ear buds (such as Etymotic ER4P), because, for them to sound good, they must go too deep into ears and fit too tight. "Secure" means they won't fall off and sound worse while you walk and run, and you can wear them in bed.

What makes these Panasonic Ergofit buds comfortable and secure is the oval tips and the angled base:

The tips are still round, just the seats are oval. This is a good thing - you can use your favorite tips if the stock ones do not fit you.

There might be other comfortable and secure headphones like these, but they may sound horrible, such as this Nicole Miller:

If you don't need mic and remote, then get the RP-HJE125.

More photos:

Philips SHE3590

Also oval tip seats, these Philips are as comfortable and secure, but sound even better - almost perfect. Resolution, positioning, separation, dynamic and frequency ranges are all top class. There is nothing between you and the instruments - totally veil-less. Bass is extremely deep and defined and treble is sparkling. They are very revealing though, poor recordings may sound very bad on these buds.

However, they need lots of work.

As you see, the plug is straight, not right angled, not good for Android phones - most of them have the headphone jack on the top instead of the bottom like iPhone. Unfortunately, all the right-angle adapters you can buy are bulky craps, point-less:

So I had to make my own ones, "T" type for centered jacks (such as Moto E) and "L" type for sided jacks (such as LG Volt):

Philips still do not have an oval version with built-in mic and remote. One day I came across this iEdge:

Sound wise, they are garbage; but the detachable mic/remote module is nice and light and seldom to find. Also nice is the clip on the back of the module and the right-angle plug on the other end of the wire. You can plug any headphones such as SHE3590 into this module and you get right-angle and mic/remote. One stone two birds. This is how I use them together - hold the wire on to the module by its clip and hang on my neck:

Sadly, the remote button is stupidly designed and barely works; so I had to open the module with a guitar pick and insert a small piece of paper (6.3 x 6.3 x 0.36 mm) to slightly lift up the switch:

Lots of work? Not done yet. The stock tips do not fit and sound good. I came across these garbage earbuds in DollarTree:

Some of them come with three pairs of premium tips (while some are crapps, see in above photo, left vs. right), and they are perfect fit for SHE3590! When I put them on my SHE3590, my jaw dropped down to ground. Not only entirely comfortable, they also sound incredible!

The bottom line: go give them a try for just $10. You can find the Panasonic in Fry's and Amazon and the Philips in Staples and Target (Rite Aid too, but ripped off as always).

[update] Philips SHE3905, finally the ideal headphones

Listening on phone

I like Xiialive, because I can use my headphones' inline remote button to switch my favorite stations. I use V3.1.3, newer versions have trouble with the remote button. There are numerous stations including FM radio all around the world and online radio (SHOUTcast), in all languages including Chinese and Cantonese.

There is even a RadioReference plug-in that allows for listening to public radio such as police and fire etc. And you can add your own content if you know the URL. When you search for a station, set the correct directory: UberStations (local FM), SHOUTcast(online) and RadioReference (public).

You can set easily a sleep timer and wake-up alarm. There is an EQ with many presets, and bass boost and virtualizer dials.

It simply has everything you need for listening.

Like FM, not all broadcasts are the same audio quality, some are poor and some are super. Some of my favorites: - the best audio quality and the right type of jazz.
All Classical Portland - the best audio quality classic music, although only 96K.
100.7 WZLX - the best classic rock.
KRVM-FM - the best variety.
CrystalRadioBeautifulMusic - the best easy listening.
Free China Radio - Very interesting talk in Chinese.

For music saved on my phone, I use the Clean Music player. It does not have any extra fat like other players.

So, these two great players are on my phone's home page, for online and local:

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Headset button mod for Nexus 6

If your headphones have a button and you press and hold this button, your Nexus 6 will activate voice search. I don't need voice search and I want to use this long-click for music control.

Edit the apq8084-taiko-tfs9890_stereo_co_Button_Jack.kl file, found under /system/usr/keylayout/:

Before: key 226    HEADSETHOOK
After: key 226    MEDIA_NEXT

Save the change and reboot.

Now use an app like the Headset Button Controller to configure the right (not left nor center) button to do what you want. Here is how I set the button:

Single click: Play/Pause
Double click: Next track
Triple click: Previous track
Quadruple click: Volume up (one step)
Long click: Volume down

Nice, now I have convenient and full control with just one button and I almost never need to touch my phone while playing music. Without this mod, I had to use quadruple alone for volume adjustment and every time I had to increase the vol from 0 by steps - quite a pain.

Note: even if your headphones have three buttons, most of them are Apple compatible and only the center one works on Android phones. After above mod, the center button appears as right button to the phone, which is why we configure the "right" button although we still use the center one (again, Android cannot see other buttons).

Three alternatives:

JAYS Headset Control
Ultimate HeadSet Controller
Headset Control Center

Saturday, May 21, 2016

If you use FireFox, you must have Firemin

For many reasons, Firefox has been my primary browser. But its memory management has been hopeless and I have tried almost all methods in vain, until Firemin. I wish I have tried it earlier, well, I won't believe in snake oil if Firefox did not push me to the limit so desperately.

Before, my Dell Venue Pro 11 7140 running Windows 8.1 with 4GB RAM complained constantly "Low on system memory" and I had to frequently restart FireFox to make room for other applications such as Lightroom to be able to run.

No more, and here you can see the effect:

Incredible, but all true.

The only downside, as you see, is few percent of CPU consumed by Firemin; not a big deal, processor speed is more than adequate these days. Also, pagefile will get bigger and more heavily used; not a big deal again, SSD is large and fast these days. So, no free meal, but what you get is far more than what you pay in this case. As long as I no longer need to manually and frequently restart Firefox, I'm happy.