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Daniel Rutter
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There are actually still numerous sizes and shapes of these unamplified headphone-socket speakers around. They don't work any better from an MP3 player than from a Walkman, though; unless the device has an unusually high headphone-socket output power, they will indeed sound little better than a big pair of headphones. But, as you say, it's better than nothing and good enough for some people. Heck, people enjoyed listening to clockwork gramophones too. This is sort of an extreme version of the Sensible Audiophile Creed; you should listen to the music through the hardware, not listen to the hardware through the music. It's actually possible to get much better sound quality, and QUANTITY, from a headphone output. You just need a really efficient speaker. The most efficient loudspeaker design is the horn... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horn_loudspeaker ...which is why the abovementioned clockwork gramophones used one to amplify the weedy vibrations of their little stylus membrane. The problem with this is that a horn's bass response is determined by the size of its mouth, and they're either large and awkward or smaller - a "folded horn" - and difficult to make. There are a few passive "speakers" that're designed to couple standard earbuds or tiny phone speakers to the air via a horn, though; the Griffin Aircurv... http://the-gadgeteer.com/2008/10/30/griffin_aircurve_review/ ...for instance, and that idiotically expensive ceramic "Phonofone" thing that got mentioned on all the gadget blogs a while back: http://www.gnr8.biz/product_infob.php?products_id=654 Oh, there's an idea for a Retro Thing for you - the mighty Klipschorn, a speaker that dates back to the '40s... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klipsch_Audio_Technologies#The_Klipschorn ...but still sounds good today. It's the original speaker to boast "DC to daylight" frequency response, provided you backed the enclosures into a corner properly, so the walls behind the box provide the mouth of the folded, rear-aperture horn. One thousand points and a gold star for you if you hook two Klipschorns up to an MP3 player's headphone output and report how it sounds :-).
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"...there is one genre of gadget that over the years has proved so preternaturally disappointing, so remorselessly useless, that I receive it with dread. I am talking about the so-called Universal Remote Control." - Stephen Fry
Toggle Commented Nov 21, 2008 on Too Many Buttons On Your Remote? at Retro Thing
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The remake's even better than the Amiga version was :-). Note also that Martin Galway's soundtrack for this game (he also did the music for Arkanoid) has attracted some very listenable remixes I suggest Slow Poison's "Music for Starchildren New Age mix" of the title music, which is on the above-linked page. (Warning: May cause you to sit there and grin vacantly, even if you're NOT on drugs.)
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Oh, man - that tickles some dusty neurons. I was made the man I am today by interminably poring over electronics-store catalogues. The Tandy (Radio Shack in Australia) one was among them, and I remember, or perhaps confabulate, my eyes drifting over this item many times. (As I matured, I realised that the single product worth buying at Tandy was those long wooden cotton swabs. The little Minimus 7 speakers were good, too, but I didn't need any of those.)
Toggle Commented Oct 22, 2007 on Radio Shack Executive Decision Maker at Retro Thing
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Here are a whole bunch of 'em!
Toggle Commented Mar 7, 2007 on The Space Hopper Bounces Back at Retro Thing
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Looks like they beat me to it :-).
Toggle Commented Sep 18, 2006 on Fantastic Plastic at Retro Thing
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See also Starship Modeler: http://www.starshipmodeler.com/
Toggle Commented Sep 18, 2006 on Fantastic Plastic at Retro Thing
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Uh, dude? The page titles all end with "Historic Photoshops". Thank God that my first thought when I looked at that eye-melting van was correct :-).
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2006 on Vitual vintage Mercedes-Benz designs at Retro Thing
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