As part of its move away from consumer gear towards professional cinema hardware, Lytro has killed off the site that once hosted its “living pictures,” still photos taken with its cameras that could be refocused after the fact. This will turn a handful of those pictures, where they had been embedded on the web over the past few years, into empty frames. If you want to see light field images now, you’ll need to see them in the desktop app.
In 2012, when I reviewed the original Lytro camera, I wrote:
“The Lytro software is limited to browsing your photos and grouping them into ‘stories,’ and you can upload them directly to (and only to) Lytro, which will serve them for… eternity, you hope. Not much of a choice there.”
As I half expected would be the case at the time, eternity turned out to be on the short side — until it became inconvenient for the company to host it. Of course, it’s unlikely there were many active users of the service now; Lytro left the consumer camera market two years ago when there proved to be little demand for its technically amazing but ultimately gimmicky cameras.
One never should trust services that offer so little flexibility in how you access and serve your own data, but Lytro’s tech was unique in that it essentially required a special plug-in to view properly. These plug-ins you would embed wherever you wanted to share a “living picture,” a rather clumsy clumsy solution that contributed to the usability problems endemic to the whole Lytro proposition.
The living picture format is done forever unless the company releases some way to self-host them, but it seems unlikely. Any remaining users will have to export to ordinary stills or movie files in the desktop app.
Review: Shinola Canfield headphones are an overpriced mess
he Shinola Canfield headphones cost $600 and do not ship with a 1/2-inch stereo adapter. That should tell you everything you need to know. But if not, keep reading and let me explain why these fashion headphones are not worth the price.
I tested these headphones in a way that I thought they would be most widely used. I pitted them against several competitors using my iPhone 8 with Spotify. I also used an Onkyo stereo receiver with a Audio Technica turntable to test their upper limit. It was an enjoyable afternoon.
Before we get started, it’s important to note that I’m not a professional audio reviewer. I don’t have balanced power cables or a selection of FLAC tracks dedicated to testing equipment. But I do have a nice collection of headphones and a rather shitty taste in music. I don’t like a lot so I listen to the same stuff over and over. That’s annoying for passengers on road trips but handy when testing headphones.
The Shinola Canfields are the company’s first set of headphones. They’re built overseas, and tested in Detroit where Shinola also puts together watches and constructs leather goods. These come from America. Kind of. Let’s back up.
Shinola is a watch company born from the minds behind Fossil and launched as a marketing scheme out of Plano, Texas. The company set up shop in Detroit where it starting assembling quartz watches, adopting the Made In Detroit tagline. Later the company expanded to leather goods, bikes, and other products including turntables and now headphones.
Here’s the kicker: Shinola headphones are much like Shinola watches. They look fantastic. They’re heavy, solid, and feel like they’ll last a lifetime. They’re not worth the price. The appeal stops at the casing. The insides, much like Shinola watches, are comprised of low-end components, not worthy of the lofty price tag.
found the Shinola Canfield headphones to be flat, tinny and bland. When used off an iPhone, the sound is underpowered and muddled. When used off a stereo amp, the sound is improved but still lacks the inflection and range of lesser-priced headphones.
Classic rock is a great place to start with headphone reviews. First, the music is amazing, but second there’s generally a range of instruments with great soundstage separation. Carry on Wayward Son starts with a beautiful harmony of vocals followed by a couple quick hits on the snare and guitars. Through the $600 Canfields, the vocals are muddled together where on the $449 Audeze Sine headphones the soundstage opens up and there’s distinct separation that’s simply beautiful.
The dull vocals are even more evident in Pink Floyd’s Wish you Were Here. I have the original vinyl and it’s of course on Spotify, too, making it a great test track. The intro is long and classic Pink Floyd but it’s telling as a sample. Here I used the Audeze Sine headphones and the Massdrop-made Sennheiser HD 6XX headphones and the difference is stunning. Details are simply missing when the track is listened to through the Shinola headphones. The Shinola headphones did not reproduce David Gilmour’s smoker coughs and sniffles during the song’s intro; one cough sounds like shuffling papers. The sounds are clearly audible through the other headphones. When Gilmour finally starts playing, the Audeze headphones produce a stunningly clear guitar twang where the Canfields fall flat.
When this track is played through the turntable and amp, the differences are magnified. While the Shinola headphones sound better than when used with amp, the Sennheisers sound exponentially better and this track, and others like it, come alive.
Even when compared to Bose Quiet Comfort 35s, the Shinola Canfields come up short. The Bose headphones have a notoriously small range, but I use them a lot. I’m on a plane every few weeks. I put up with middle-of-the-road range because the noise cancelation is the best available. I threw Green Day on the turntable and loaded it on Spotify and found yet again, the Shinola headphones did not live up to their price.
I never found a music genre where the Canfields lived comfortably though they fared better with hip-hop than most. They do not have the soundstage or highs required by classic rock and jazz is a sloppy mess. It was hip-hop where they finally started sounding the part.
I turned on Flint’s homegrown Bootleg of the Dayton Family and the bassline surprised me. It was full though lacking the sheer power found in other headphones. Yet despite the lower power, the Shinola headphones were fine. I guess. It’s kind of hard to mess up hip-hop if the bass line is sufficient.
The Canfields stand out in one way, though. They look and feel amazing. They’re made out of leather, lambskin and stainless steel. The earpads are interchangeable and the headphones comfortably fit my big head.
The cans themselves are solid and thanks to the stainless steel are cool to the touch. These headphones feel like $600 headphones; I just wish they sounded like $600 headphones.
Fashion over function
he Shinola Canfields are the Shinola watches of headphones. They feel great, come from Detroit and are overpriced.
The sub-par performance could be overlooked if the price was more in line with other fashion headphones. At $600 these headphones are competing in the same space as products from Audeze, Master and Dynamic, and Grado — which is a fantastic family owned business out of Brooklyn in case there’s interest in supporting American-made products like Shinola.
I can’t see any reason to buy the Shinola Canfields besides the look. They really do look the part. But besides for fashion reasons, if you’re looking to spend $600 on headphones, I would highly recommend looking elsewhere.
Clap on! Clap off! It’s Clapboss!
Sure Alexa can sing you a song but can you clap back at her? A new product by the makers of the Freewrite lets you do just that.
Called Clapboss, this smiling dongle lets you clap up to four times to activate various things around your house. Clap twice to turn off your lights! Three times to turn off the TV! Four times to be reminded that you are now a slave to emotionless technologies!
This wacky little product costs $39 on Kickstarter and will cost $80 retail. Importantly, the product has a high degree of accuracy thanks to advanced clapping detection algorithms. But don’t take my word for it…
“The design of Clapboss with its expressive design and soft, silicone ears are meant to be approachable to anyone, young and old,” said creator Adam Leeb. “Clapping is fun, fast, and by using our proprietary machine learning clap detection algorithm, Clapboss is more accurate than any other clap sensor available.”
The Clapboss supports six different clap patterns for your clapping pleasure. It ships early next year.
Devialet built a car audio system for Renault’s Symbioz concept car
High-end speaker maker Devialet is branching out of home speakers. The company announced a partnership with Renault for its first ever car audio system. You can’t buy a Renault car with Devialet speakers just yet, but there’s a Renault concept car with those speakers.
Devialet has always said that it wasn’t just a speaker manufacturer. The French startup has worked on its own amplification technology. It is supposed to be much better than everything else out there when it comes to building powerful-yet-compact speakers.
The company first partnered with Sky to build a surround sound TV speaker. And now, Devialet wants to be in your car.
Renault has been demonstrating its Symbioz concept car as the future of autonomous, connected and electric cars. And it seemed like a good playing ground to show off Devialet’s technology.
First, Devialet isn’t using traditional in-door speakers and subwoofers. The company relies on tiny sound modules that are six times smaller than traditional car speakers.
Second, the company uses empty spaces and pipes and make them vibrate. It creates a network of passive speakers to immerse yourself in the music.
Finally, the startup also has some custom software features to route the sound to the right speaker. Passive speakers can be used for background sounds while sound modules can take care of the rest.
This sounds nice on paper, so let’s hope that Renault is going to bring this technology to production vehicles. It’s clear that Devialet wants to go beyond putting its brand on regular speakers. The company wants to control the entire audio experience.
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