Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quick Logitech F540 PC mic workaround

Okay, this is a little kludgey, but nonetheless I've found a relatively simple way to use the Logitech F540's mic on a pc in a pinch.

To do this you need a Xbox 360 controller that you can use on your pc, meaning it's either wired or you have a PC wireless adapter to go with it.

Plug your 360 controller into your PC. Probably has to be a Windows pc for this to work. Plug the 360 mic cable into the controller. Plug the other end into the mic port on your headset. Viola! Windows 7 on my pc recognized the mic immediately, and a quick recording test shows it's working well.

It's not pretty, but like I said, in a pinch...


Monday, January 10, 2011

Logitech F540 Review and Notes

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Yesterday I bought the Logitech F540. It's a wireless headset aimed at gamers. It particularly appealed to me because it has ports for up to 3 inputs. Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, those are my audio requirements, all covered. Thought I'd write mini review.

First of all, the headset is very comfortable. I've been wearing it for a few hours straight now, no problems. The sound is okay. Not mind-blowing, but not muddy either. There is a slight--super slight--hiss in the background, constant at any volume level, but I'm not bothered by it. Really, the sound is nothing special--it's perfectly adequate. The volume wheel could be a bit more responsive but I think I just need to get used to it. Really good wireless range--the receiver is on the first floor of my building and I can go up to the third floor (the top floor) without even the slightest signal degradation. This was after I fixed the interference problem mentioned below. Hey, and it has an USB port on the front of the receiver you can use for charging the headset, that's pretty handy, right?

I haven't tested the mic, so no judgment there yet. Now for some disclaimers:

+ This headset isn't surround sound. It's just stereo. I knew this going in but nearly every gaming headset above $75 nowadays is surround sound so one might forget to check.

+ As far as I know, you can't use the headset's built-in mic with anything but the 360 or PS3. There is no mic output port for use with a PC or other device. It has 3 inputs, not 3 outputs. That's the biggest and really only problem I have with this device.

+ To clarify the previous point, you plug an included cable from the headset into the 360 controller to use the mic with your Xbox, and you plug a (also included) mini-usb cable from the receiver into the PS3 to use the mic there. There really is no way I can see to use the mic anywhere other than on these consoles. Well, maybe you find a cable to go from the 360 port to a traditional 3.5" jack, then plug it into a PC or whatever. That may work, either way it certainly wouldn't be wireless anymore.

+ You might have problems with interference. I was getting intermittent scratches and clicks. I was losing the audio for half a second here and there, probably 1 to 10 times every 5 minutes. That was a bit annoying. It seems wifi signals can interfere with the receiver. I managed to resolve this--read on for details.

If you have interference problems, it definitely depends on the receiver's position as opposed to the headset's position. Try to move the receiver as far away from any other electronic devices as possible. That's not so easy--the receiver is tethered to it's audio sources after all. My first attempt at eliminating the interference involved putting the receiver on the floor. My floors are carpeted cement, moving the receiver there eliminated all of the interference. Once I was sure my problem was signal interference I then moved the unit around until I found a more convenient spot with no interference. As a last ditch effort I probably would have built a box out of aluminum foil or something, leaving one side open facing the direction my headset normally would be in. Who knows if that would have worked, but it would have looked awful! (I still would have use it if it worked though).

Final thought: I have a stereo bluetooth headset that I abandoned. It was slightly uncomfortable, but worse than that it sounded awful. It took a handful of tries to pair it with my PC or phone each time I turned it on. I couldn't talk over the mic without the audio cutting out, so it was useless for gaming or making VoIP calls. The range was about 10 feet, not unreasonable but not what I wanted. I still used it for weeks, because it was so expensive and I was married to the idea of it working--it would be so convenient if only it did what it was supposed to--so I more or less lied to myself, pretending like it was a good device.

This is not that sort of situation. I'm really happy with this purchase. I've finally got a headset that lets me turn on a podcast and listen to it while I'm doing laundry in the next room. Once I took care of the interference I've had no problems. I really, really, really wish I could use the mic with my PC, but I've got a handful of old freestanding mics I can use, so it's not too big of a deal. I bought this headset for $150. If it lasts me a year, maybe even only six months then it was absolutely worth the price.

That's all my thoughts on this device so far. If anything really cool or annoying pops up I'll be sure to post about it here.

Till then,


Saturday, January 8, 2011

N900 as a mp3 player revisited

I had an iAudio X5. It was awesome. The device's built-in UI was pretty cool, but just for the hell of it I installed Rockbox on it. I've been a big fan of Rockbox ever since.

Rockbox, for those of you who don't know, is an open source OS, primarily for mp3 players. It allows audio recording, picture and video viewing, basic text editing, and supports a wealth of codecs.

It's by audiophiles, for audiophiles. You can choose to browse songs by file location or through an internal id3 database. It has an equalizer. It supports lossless codecs. It has gapless mp3 playback and crossfading.

What does this have to do with the Nokia N900? Someone ported it to Maemo. It should work on the N800 too, though I haven't tested it. It's this relatively new concept called RaaA, or 'Rockbox as an Application'. There's a team working on an Android app as we speak. The Maemo app has only been in development a few weeks and it's already fully functional as far as I know.

Gapless playback on the N900. Consistent album art detection. An id3 database that looks for new albums upon each startup without slowing your device to a crawl! Let that all sink in...the N900 has finally arrived as a proper mp3 player.

It's not much to look at--it was originally designed for old small-screened mp3 players after all, but the while-playing screens are really customizable (though it's not necessarily easy, I still haven't managed to make a theme that actually works). The menus aren't that finger-friendly, but you can increase their font size enough to make it at least usable without a stylus or keyboard. Too bad Rockbox uses a custom font format, and the only known convertor for it can't seem to handle fonts bigger than 34pt.

The current theme is a little wonky too, but give it time, there'll be a ton to choose from soon enough.

Made my day anyway.


btw this post was entirely written on and posted from my N900.