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Some rants about badly designed products etc. stuff that could fit into a blog article but not really technical.

Headphones

Superlux HD662F

My first headset was a carefully selected (price / quality) closed back Superlux HD662F, i was quite satisfied for some times from this cheap buy in term of quality and durability, my main wish was a 'studio' quality / monitoring headset so i mostly wanted a neutral frequency response and good comfort, this kind of headset can go crazy in term of price but the HD662F delivered all of this for me, it seemed to have good frequency response curve from tests i saw on boards.

Sadly the HD662F wasn't perfect, mine had cables fraying issue after 7 years of usage which was a minor issue since it worked but it sadly started to have cable connection issues as well so i decided to buy another one since they were pretty cheap.

The second HD662F had connection issue after 2 years of usage which was quite frustrating since the first one lasted much longer, i don't know if it is build related (bad luck) or perhaps aggravated by my setup since i had a different desk / chair between both and the long cable was often stuck below my chair wheels.

There was perhaps quick fixes to solve the issue but i thought it was a design issue anyway, an easily replaceable cable entirely solve this case (with a minor bump in price) thus i started to look for a headset with a replaceable cable.

Earpad durability was good although they are quite low in term of comfort, i changed them only once for the 7 years case.

All in all this cheap headset would have been the most durable if the cable was entirely replaceable !

Rode NTH-100M

I chose this headphone due to 3 factors :
  • replaceable cable due to my experience with the Superlux HD662F
  • has support for the NTH-Mic condenser microphone which was attractive as i could use it in audio conference instead of my phone, seemed good quality as well so i could perhaps use it for other stuff
  • brand / price (way more comfortable cushion, build quality due to better materials / experience etc.)
It was much pricier (8x more) than the Superlux although still quite attractive for all it does compared to other products on the market, sound quality seems also quite good.

I also needed to buy the VXLR mini-jack 3.5mm to XLR adapter also sold by Rode and use the splitter cable to have both mic / audio on my ONYX Producer 2-2 audio interface. (don't forget to switch +48V button to have correct audio level for the mic)

First feels were very good, i thought it was of much higher level than the Superlux in term of comfort or even overall quality and features. It also had adjustable headband compared to the Superlux.

Then issues appeared, there was cracks on the plastic part that hold both earcup after less than 2 month and it eventually broke almost completely, this really frustrated me due to the price and since i thought Rode was a quality brand and would design durable products with all the experience they got...

this eventually broke completely

It seems it is either bad luck product with production issue or a design issue again with too little product testing, my feels goes to the second case as i feel the parts that hold the earcup is quite thin for all the pressure it may experience, this is also a global issue, many peoples reported such thing with this product and Rode was forced to apply lifetime warranty on the product... which looks like they are quite aware of this.

There is a cheaper solution than going for a replacement fortunately : the almighty duct tape !

So i Just duct taped this part with several layers, the fix is great and hold the part without issues, it remains flexible so there is no disadvantage except aesthetics.

my fix, 100% working and durable, back to usable product again

Another design issue is that my hair sometimes get stuck into some movable plastic part.

All in all even for all the features the Rode has i still think the HD662F managed to be better than the Rode although not easily repairable, time will tell if it is as durable with the adhesive tape...

Plantronics Backbeat PRO 2

I bought this wireless headset in 2018 for office usage, i was mainly attracted by the noise cancellation feature, it was fairly cheap at the time (cheaper than the cheap Rode above) with seemingly good build quality.

Sound quality was not a focus but it is correct anyway, focusing on bass, sometimes has too much bass though, the noise cancellation feature is ok for the price although not very powerful.

All in all i think it is a mediocre to okay headset although bad for audio conference (due to Bluetooth profiles issue), i especially like the nice and comfortable cushion but there is two product issues after years of usage :
  • the cushion although very comfortable (even compared to the Rode) are not durable, replaced them 3 times after 4 years and i don't use this headset often, would probably needs to be replaced every 6 month with a frequent usage...
  • has a feature which detect when it is head mounted and cut the output off when unmounted, this feature is very hit and miss for me, too sensitive and cannot be disabled easily...
After some years of usage the head mounted detection feature is even worse than it was leading to many frustrated moments where it cut the sound output after some light head move... a bad product design all in all and i wouldn't recommend this headset for this alone.

Games

Mass Effect 1 vs Star Control 2

Always wanted to play this game since its release in late 2007 and finally took it to completion in 2024, it was a very well received game, some peoples compared it to Star Control 2 (1992) and i can see why since there is similarities although in 3D (mako, planets gameplay, lore or even music), it is a good game to my opinion especially for a 3D game in late 2007... but it didn't have the same impact on me as when i played Star Control 2 in early 2010s and here is why :
  • the beginning was tiresome and boring, being stuck in the citadel for a while... for me the game start once you gain access to space
  • the lore felt restricted, it is not as wild, diverse and fun as Star Control 2, it is well made but it is way too conventional; shallow, generic and boring, follow norms too much
  • gameplay was tiresome and i felt some parts were made by sadists... such as the heavily repetitive planets gameplay with the mako, especially on worlds with huge hills... another tiresome gameplay thing was the melee rushing enemies or the rocket launcher abusive ones when the player doesn't even have the equivalent weapon to counteract; why ? also explosives everywhere... perhaps the gameplay just didn't age well and they were still figuring stuff out at the time
  • the copy pasted buildings / spaceships interior is mediocre, same as backtracking... i see all this as a cheap development / budget trick typical of these game studios doing business
  • the UX was bad... especially the inventory or when skipping dialogs
  • it was not as lively, one thing i enjoyed greatly in SC2 was the dynamic map with the enemies slowly progressing as you play and which can eventually wipe all the galaxy out (i admit it is a pretty hardcore feature though :D)
One thing that Mass Effect does very close to the SC2 vibe is music, i find it pretty similar at times but again perhaps too smoothed out, it still cannot compare to SC2 music because SC2 music was a crowd-sourced effort. In Star Control 2 tracks were composed by various folks of the MOD community adding huge amount of personality and identity to the game (same for fonts, graphics etc.), from ambient to industrial to electronic music, it has this unique crafty feels with quality variations (even goofy !) that is difficult to expect from a rising 2000s video game company doing usual business.

Now SC2 isn't perfect as well, it has a similar boring beginning with the spaceship being very slow (especially the slow rotation) but the lore and exploration kick off way faster and the exploration is actually necessary for survival and progression, exploration is also the main initial goal by finding out what is out there, this hook me quite early. Planets gameplay can also be seen as repetitive later in game but it has more variations, hazards actually do something and exploration is very useful.

All in all i enjoyed some parts of it due to the amount of references such as Babylon 5 or SC2 and some planets environments but overall it didn't provide anything new for me and i felt it cumbersome most of the time.

I played Mass Effect 2 briefly and i enjoyed the beginning so far, the UX felt heavier but maybe it needs some adaptation, the gameplay has a better feels overall and the galaxy map actually looks more like SC2 so i will see...

Random

  • Deleted videos on YouTube showing up as deleted but without metadata anymore (title at least) is a damn plague.
  • YouTube playlist is quasi unusable with high amount of videos and the endless scrolling of doom unless you just change the URL... perhaps that is why they limit it to 5000 videos !

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