Category Archives: Audio

Phoenix Duet Executive USB Speakerphone Review

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Rating: Preliminary 4 WaterTowers (super easy to set up and use)

Phil from Quagga sent me the Phoenix Duet Executive USB Speakerphone to look at as a possible replacement for the Chat 50 I have been using for a couple of months now.

Installation

Of course I am not reading the instructions…..yet.  😉

Interestingly, the power adapter comes with various attachable plug in’s to suit various locations around the world.  I selected the appropriate plug-in module for Tracy, CA and plugged it in.

I sifted thru an equal number of cord choices looking for the USB.  I found it at the bottom of the pile and plugged it in.

Windows (I still have my Toshiba laptop running Windows XP) did it’s discovery process and found the new hardware easy enuf.

The Duet worked the first time!  Cool!!!

Very simple to install and the audio quality is pretty good considering it is a small speaker. I would say it is a bit more tinny than the Chat 50, but, I like the volume control better.

I moved ooVoo speaker and mic to the Duet, and I am listening to KAT Country. More testing over the next few weeks will tell how well it works with H.323 videoconferencing, particularly echo cancellation.

Other Connections

The Duet can be used with external power and to allow telephone or cell phones (with RJ-11 or 2.5 mm ports) to use the speaker.  My cell phone does not have a 2.5 mm connector, but, if you do….here is an application.

The TracyVirtualOffice does not provides phone service, so you have to use your cell phone.  If you are meeting in one of our conference rooms and need a speakerphone and your cell phone has the correct 2.5 mm port….the duet can be your speakerphone.  Pretty cool.

You can connect the Duet to external speakers and you can connect two Duets together for large conference rooms.

Summary

I will continue to use the Duet over the next few weeks.  I have given it a preliminary 4 WaterTowers.  So stay tuned in the next few weeks…I’ll give an update!

Installation was a breeze, the audio quality is very good, I like the volume control and the ability to use cell phones, telephones, and connect to external speakers.

Here is a pic of the Duet in use.

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Convert Vinyl Records into Digital Files

Rating: 4 WaterTowers

If you are like us you have some old 33’s and 45’s collecting dust in a closet. You may, also like us, have tossed your old turntables and have no way of listening to that great music of your youth.

This Christmas, my wife bought me a really cool gadget. The “audio-technica AT-LP2D-USB USB Turntable and Digital Recording Software”.

In short, this device, and the included Cakewalk Pyro 5.0 software, allows me to play our old LP’s and 45’s and, if I so desire, download the music to my computer as a WMA or MP3 file.

Listening to Music

The USB Turntable comes with a USB cable and audio RCA connections. It has an internal pre-amplifier if needed. After I opened the box, all it took was about 5 minutes to install the platter and rubber mat, hook up the audio output to our Bose Audio System, and play an LP. Very cool!

The sound quality is excellent and much better than I remember our LP’s sounding. This, I strongly suspect, is largely due to the Bose sound system we have now compared to the relative junk we had 20 years ago, and, also to the quality of the audio-technica USB turntable.

We also quickly found out how lucky we are to have CD’s that do not need to be turned over every 10 minutes or so and replaced far too often. My 16 year old daughter has now learned about “phonograph needles”, “turntables”, “33”, “45” and those little inserts that convert the big hole in the 45’s to the small hole on the turntable. Hmmmm, why did they make the 45 hole so large? If I remember correctly 45’s came out long after 33’s and (for the real old timers, 78’s). Someone probably had a relative ready to make a killing on those plastic hole converts.

Downloading Music to My PC

I first installed the Cakewalk Pyro software on our Dell computer (no installation problems) then plugged the audio-technica USB cable into the computer. The Windows XP automatic installation procedure continued thru several installations, but, after a few minutes of clicking thru the processes, the USB turntable was ready to go.

I rarely follow directions (there are very good instructions provided) preferring instead to test the ease-of-use process. It was pretty easy. The only problem cropped up when I had neglected to set the audio recording device in my settings to the audio-technica. Once I did that, I started the record, clicked on “record” and was rewarded with a WMA file of my once lost Spyro Gyra music! Super great!!

Other Features

Once the music is in digital form, the Pyro software allows you to edit the tracks, make playlists, move formats (for example between WMA and MP3), and ultimately burn a CD.

One very interesting feature for my daughter, who has been struggling to download a “Halfway to Hazard” ringtone for her Razer, is the ability of the Pyro software to produce a ringtone and deliver it to her phone. We did a test and it worked great, but, will wait until the phone bill comes in before proceeding to make more…..just to see what hidden costs may be involved in this process. 😉

The software provided by audio-technica works on a Mac as well.

Summary

If you want to listen to your old LP’s or 45’s or if you want to download the classic music of your youth to your computer, the audio-technica USB turntable will meet your needs. This unit is very easy-to-use and the audio quality is excellent.

One thing that impressed me is that audio-technica included all the cables you need to listen to and/or download your music. The only downside is that the RCA audio cable is very short, so to hook the USB turntable into it’s final location (instead of on the floor like we have it now) I will need to visit Radio Shack to extend the RCA cable a few feet. But, that is a very minor complaint. The USB cable is long enough for most applications.

Gotta love YouTube….here is what you are missing if you have never heard Spyro Gyra.