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Tag Archives: headphones

Designer Skins For Maximum Individuality

 

Our new vFree wireless headphones are truly a work of art. Designed by artist and Velodyne President Marta Hall, they are quite a unique piece of technology. Just as the iPhone is in and of itself a gorgeous phone, nearly everyone we see has a cover, case or skin of some kind on their phone. These accessories not only protect but personalize the phones. Constantly envisioning, designing and creating, Hall has put her heart and soul into creating additional accessories for these headphones. These new skins will not only fit the vFree but also new headphones not yet released. There will be a Limited Edition Artist Series that you won’t want to miss!

A selection of some of the Designer Skins offered by Velodyne

There are a wide variety of skins in production, some that are made of a hard plastic, some that are smooth or embossed fabric, and some that feel more like a faux fur and others that are silicone in nature. Some of them even have metal grommets and come in a fun selection of prints in many colors. What a great concept, to match your headphones to your outfit of the day! Naturally, we can’t wait to see how many #OOTD posts make it to Instagram with the Designer Skins in them.

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Women In CE – “Together We Can Get Things Done”*

L-R: Campbell, Smith, Hall, Benedetto, Millman

We are in an age where women are truly expected to do it all. Today, a “working woman” is an outdated reference, as all women work whether it be at home or in an office. If you have a career, you are still in charge of managing the family and matters of the homestead. Today, we make decisions about what products are purchased at work and at home. Somehow, many companies are still failing at how to properly market to this demographic. How do women in consumer electronics navigate around an industry where all the products are designed by men, primarily for men and the companies are dominated by men?

During CES 2013, Velodyne President and Chief Industrial Designer Marta Hall was invited to be part of a Women in CE panel discussion put on by Living in Digital Times, moderated by Women in CE Founder and Custom Retailer publisher, Carol Campbell to address these issues. Hall was in amazing company – Andrea Smith, Lifestyle Editor of Mashable, Sandra Benedetto, Director of Product Management at THX, Ltd., and Amy Millman, Founder of Springboard Enterprises. The hour-long panel covered many topics, and it was interesting to find out what technical products the panel can’t live without. Not surprisingly, most of the women rely heavily on tools to keep them organized, and connected to work and family such their iPhones (2 panelists chose this) or tablet, such as the Dell convertible tablet laptop that Millman leans on heavily. Hall, ever the artist and the designer, depends on her Wacom, which is a tablet that she can draw on which responds as though she were drawing with a pencil.

The women also discussed which were the top products and booths that were seen on the show floor. Big draws for the panel were various, from products related to the “connected home” (security, lighting, appliances) by use of apps and various devices, to the health related devices that give the public access to  health information without a visit to the doctor,  and Ultra HD televisions. Naturally Hall gravitated toward a 3D printer that she is excited to look into when more time permits. There were also discussions about which booths simply had their marketing strategy all wrong and were actually offensive to women, such as those who still employed “booth babes” and the hard drive company who had nude women in body paint within easy reach of ogling trade show attendees. The panelists brought to light their strategies of how to target other women with their products. Velodyne’s vFree headphones provide ample opportunity to personalize and customize which is something that appeals to women.

The panelists had a lot of insightful contributions. Benedetto brought up the need for better plans to market to women and build the business to apply to women as decision makers in the home. How did flat panel TV’s start becoming the way of the future? How did Velodyne subwoofers start moving toward “big sound in a small box”? It’s because women did not want these behemoths in their homes any longer. As Campbell said, “What products are going to come and live in her house?”Millman rounded out the conversation with a slide presentation with a variety of women-driven products that solve problems that are important to women, such as the Roomba. Yes, a robot was created to clean for women who did not have the time. Brilliant.

Smith brought up something that resonated with most of us in the audience. “Bring me something to…make my life easier.” Apps and tools to help keep our lives organized abound in our digital world. The key is keeping the apps simple. The reality is most of us only use a handful of apps on a regular basis despite the several screens of apps we have on our smart phones. Now, if there were only one master app to keep us organized, watch our children, get us where we need to go and get dinner on the table. A woman can dream…but likely, a woman will be the one to make it happen.

 

 *This phrase is taken from a quote from Andrea Smith at the start of the panel discussion

**Full video of the panel discussion can be seen here: http://youtu.be/47k69JGqYjA

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Finding Sanity In Music

Lately, I’ve been staying up late into the night, typing up various papers, reading entire novels, frantically studying for that next midterm. The only thing that’s kept me sane throughout this quarter has been my music. And coffee. But really it’s been the music. At first I was just listening to the same old songs, the ones on the radio, the new pop songs. But after a while, I felt like I was lacking something crucial. These songs weren’t enough to keep me going night after night.

I needed to find new motivation. I searched my iTunes library, hoping for something to pop out at me. I tried Afro Celt, a unique mixture of African beats and Celtic instruments, but it couldn’t keep me up for more than an hour. Then I thought that maybe I needed to hear some of the old classics, the ones of my childhood. Which turn out to be the same songs my parents enjoyed in their youth. Soon, all that was emerging from my vFree was good old Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Queen, the Moody Blues, Rush, the Who, Boston, Kansas, the Beatles, and other classic rock. It brought back pleasant memories, and revived this wonderful fondness in me for these bands. They got me through many a late night.

But there came a time when I began yearning for something new, but not any radio pop. I wanted something new to me, but still with that classic rock feel. I guess what really helped me then was Pandora, bringing me variety, with some songs that I knew, and some that I had never heard before.

I also took a stab at watching The Voice, to see if any of the contestants had what I was looking for. One caught my attention right away. Singing the Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” Terry McDermott of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, stole the competition, at least for me. I’ve been following his work, and each song has been beautiful, especially his rendition of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” I began to wonder if McDermott had any original songs to offer, and I began to search for some. It turns out he had been in multiple bands—the two most prominent being Driveblind and Lotus Crush. Driveblind was formed in Scotland, and came over to the U.S. in the early 2000s. It caught my fancy right away, and I’ve been listening to it ever since. It helped me get through my last midterm, just last Friday. Specifically, the song “Autumn Red” got me through the midterm. I did receive some pretty strange looks in the library, with my vPulse in, rocking out to my new favorite band, but I didn’t care. It helped me keep my sanity throughout this first quarter of college. I’ll always be grateful for that.

Here’s a listen to the song that brought Driveblind to America, “The Fool Rides Again.”

http://soundcloud.com/terryvox/the-fool-rides-again

Also, for a look at what he’s done on “The Voice,” here’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” (skip to 1:22 for Terry’s performance):

http://youtu.be/EAkDasYZr88

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Wordless Wednesday

It’s Hump Day! Time to pop in your vPulse in-ear headphones and JAM.

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Backstage With: Ashanti Floyd

Within the last year, Velodyne Acoustics, Inc.  has reinvented itself after nearly 30 years in the audio business where the company has been recognized for creating and manufacturing some of the best subwoofers in the world. Just diving into the headphone business early this year, after investing decades of audio expertise honed by CEO and Founder David Hall, it is evident that the new products show a different side of the company. The headphone designs are modern, artistic and unlike any other headphones on the market. Designed and crafted by Marta Hall, a recognized public artist, these headphones are an extension of her passion for the arts and music. Coupled with David’s technology, the headphones not only look beautiful, but the sound is unrivaled.  Recently Velodyne  has forged a special relationship with Ashanti Floyd, a.k.a, The Mad Violinist. During a stunning performance at a Velodyne party in New York last June after the CEA Line Shows, President Marta Hall realized there was something special about this musician. After spending some time getting to know Ashanti it became readily apparent that his values and passion for music were very in line with the values and objectives of the company. It is quite fitting that Velodyne has chosen Ashanti, a 5-time Grammy nominated artist,  to be an ambassador for Velodyne headphones. Velodyne will be releasing two new models this month, the vFree wireless on ear headphone and the vTrue studio headphone.

How did you get your start in music?  Were you classically trained or self-taught? I started playing the violin when I was three years old after strong encouragement from my mother, she is an incredible musician.  She had been playing for many years and is a true inspiration to me.  She was very adamant that I learn and focus on classical during my development, I even traveled to Europe to perform in Classical music competitions.  I also had a strong focus on gospel music when I was younger, playing alongside my father in our local Tallahassee church.  I have played in advanced string placement with both The Turtle Island and Pacifica String Quartet’s. I was very fortunate to study under the renowned composer and conductor, Michael Kamen at Luzerne in New York.

Originally, I planned on auditioning on viola at Juilliard School for Performing Arts, but chose to focus on attending Berklee College of Music as a contemporary violinist.  I began to change my focus musically while at Berklee when I noticed a shift in the appreciation towards “real” music.  I do like a lot of musical genres, but I realize how important it is that our youth understands and appreciates music that involves real instruments.  I became passionate about discovering my own craft on a deeper level when I really found the similarities in different genres including Pop, Hip Hop, R&B, Jazz and Alternative Music.  I really became inspired to do something very different when I began touring with Lupe Fiasco.

Tell me about your band. In 2009, after leaving Yelawolf, myself and guitarist Matt Barrett formed The Symphony Crack Orchestra to create a different, innovative style of music. Together, we have co-produced and performed on albums that in the last two years received a combined eight Grammy nominations.  You will hear us on Lupe Fiasco’s “The Show Goes On,” which received three nominations.  Other Grammy nominations were received for Nicki Minaj’s “I’m the Best,” and Fantasia Barinno’s album Back To Me.

In 2011, Symphony Crack released our first album, The Addiction, and soon became an album we knew would be the platform to where we are today. The names, Symphony Crack and Addiction, are indicative of the influences and love for music that brought all of us together.  As a group, we bring a lot of passion into the creation and performance of our music, we want our fans to have a unique musical experience unlike anything they have ever witnessed.

What is your background in working with music and youth? What spurred your interest in working with children and music in education? I have always known how important it is to teach youth music, whether it’s an instrument, sheet music, theory, or even composition.  My mother has always taught strings and I was able to witness all the good she did through that.  Also, all of my siblings play an instrument and are very talented.  Our schools need to put a stronger focus on musical programs, that is one of the reasons why I’m so supportive of Velodyne as they have recently become so involved in VH1’s Save the Music Foundation.  To this day, I still go back to Florida to help teach at my mom’s String School.

What advice would you have for the youth of today that is interested in music or even your younger self? The best advice I can give people who are learning to do anything musically is to NEVER give up.  I struggled with this when I was younger when people used to make fun of me playing the violin.  I love what I do and it is part of who I am.  If it’s something you love, your soul and passion will pour into your learnings and eventually show you your own greatness.  Just don’t. give. up. period.

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Hearing ‘That Voice Again’ – Peter Gabriel’s Back To Front

A few months ago, I wrote an article about Peter Gabriel’s Back to Front tour and the 25th anniversary of his groundbreaking album So. On October 6, Gabriel performed at the Hollywood Bowl, where I sat in section L2, completely dumbstruck. At 62 years of age, he’s still got it. Not quite like he had it when he was in his 20s, 30s, and even 40s, but rather in a more subdued manner. Maybe he wasn’t rolling around the stage in a hamster ball, or prancing about the stage as a flower, but he was skipping, running around, and even dancing, which is a real feat considering he kept his voice unwavering throughout the performance.

Gabriel performed the concert in three stages. The first, he said, was to be as if they were rehearsing, and experimenting with new sounds. True to his word, the lights throughout the arena remained on, and he sat before the piano. A hush spread throughout the packed arena. Gabriel began to play, singing a beautiful little song, that is, as of now, still unfinished. As he finished, the crowd was getting excited for what he had in store for them. In this rehearsal stage, he (and of course the magnificent Tony Levin, Manu Katché, David Rhodes, David Sancious, Jennie Abrahamson, and Linnea Olsson) played “Come Talk To Me,” “Shock the Monkey,” and “Family Snapshot.” They were not played like the studio versions. Rather, he jazzed them up, making them into completely new acoustic versions of these songs.

Stage two was to be the second course, before the dessert, namely So in its entirety. At this point, the crowd was on its feet, so ready to sing our hearts out. Peter Gabriel performed powerful electronic versions of several of Gabriel’s classic songs, starting with “Digging in the Dirt,” “Secret World,” and “The Family and the Fishing Net,” and finishing with “No Self Control,” “Solsbury Hill,” and “Washing of the Water.” At this point, the concert became a show, with spectacular lights moving about the stage like great living creatures, amazing cinematography displayed on massive screens spaced throughout the arena, and Gabriel and the band executing some synchronized dance moves. For “Solsbury Hill,” Gabriel began skipping about the stage, involving the audience in his obvious joy, and eventually leading the rest of the band around the stage in a happy, skipping procession. The second stage concluded with an extremely powerful and beautiful rendition of “Washing of the Water,” one that literally brought tears to my eyes.

And for stage three, Peter softly announced that dessert had finally arrived. A thrum of anticipation swept throughout the crowd as we waited, breathless, for him to begin. Everything began to glow red, marking the beginning of the opening track from So, “Red Rain.” For “Sledgehammer,” the audience leapt to its feet once again, singing uproariously. At the conclusion, Abrahamson joined Gabriel in the forefront as they began to sing “Don’t Give Up.” The crowd grew silent, everyone holding their breath in anticipation. The haunting lyrics resonated throughout the Bowl, sounding inspirational at the same time.

Next thing I knew, I was hearing “That Voice Again.” The people all around me became friends, comrades, and we all sang in unison, remembering the first time we heard that voice. Then we watched Peter sink to his knees, slowly falling backwards until he lay flat on his back, staring up into the lights. The first notes of “Mercy Street” rose up from the stage, evoking images of water, rowing a boat, and family. I looked over at my father, tears welling up in his eyes as he sang along to the lyrics, “…in your daddy’s arms…” His obvious joy at all the memories the song brought back made me so thankful to Peter Gabriel for giving such a gift. Truly, only Peter could sing an entire song lying on the ground and make it a work of pure art. From there, the tone changed dramatically as he transitioned into the satirical “Big Time.” The audience laughed and sang, chanting the last 17 ‘big’s enthusiastically. Then came the dark “We Do What We’re Told,” referring to the Milgrim 37 social experiment. The lights turned red, and Peter sang with such regret and anger as to invoke the same feelings in us. He transitioned into the strange and whimsical “This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds),” and finally to the iconic “In Your Eyes.”

Before he began, however, a surprise was waiting in the wings. A man, dressed in black, wearing a baseball cap, ran out onto the stage and handed Peter a large bulky object. Peter announced gleefully, “Mr. John Cusack!” whereupon the man gave a bow and the crowd erupted in tumultuous cheering as Peter raised the boombox above his head, grinning wildly at the reaction. After the song concluded, the members left the stage one by one. We all kept cheering, eager for the encore. It came, as promised, beginning with “The Tower That Ate People.” And, for the final song, Peter sang his eulogy to Steven Biko. As each band member left the stage, we sat, enraptured, chanting the last echoes of that haunting song as Manu Katché kept the beat going. We left in a daze, without that feeling of bereavement we’re usually left with after an amazing concert. It was the perfect ending to a perfect night.

There’s nothing better than going to see your favorite artist in concert. It might be better even than listening to their studio versions with your vFree, which is saying something!

Here’s John Cusack handing Peter Gabriel the boombox:

And here’s a look at some of Peter’s elaborate costumes from his Genesis days:

Finally, here he is in one of his complex creations—a human hamster ball:

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Photographic Recap of The Bridge School Benefit

Recently I posted on the blog about having my in-ear headphones on non-stop, getting psyched for the Bridge School Benefit Concert last weekend in Mountain View, CA at Shoreline. It was definitely an amazing night! The sense of community coming together for a good cause -  to benefit The Bridge School -  was definitely in the air. Some of the artists I had seen prior to this show, but for most it was the first time I had ever seen them perform live.

The highlight of the evening was without a doubt, Jack White. His all-female band Saturday night brought the house down.  Guns N’ Roses was a little strange, maybe out of place, as the performance would have been fine but the F-bombs Axl dropped several times in front of the students and their parents were a little jarring. The shocker of the evening was Eddie Vedder who was not on the bill but came on to do a couple of songs before GNR came on. I would have very much welcomed a full set from him!  I enjoyed Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Foster the People, and Ray LaMontagne, all artists whom I have seen before. Steve Martin was really funny and entertaining with the Steep Canyon Rangers. Gary Clark Jr., Lucinda Williams, Sara McLachlan and k.d. lang all put on a great show for everyone.

Every year it’s a different lineup, but always acoustic and always a good time. For the last few days, I have constantly had my headphones in, listening to some favorites but also getting acquainted with Gary Clark Jr., whose set I really liked. Here are some great images from Velodyne friend Jay Blakesberg who was there to document the 2-day concert.

Neil Young plays to the students, warms up the crowd

Neil Young, the Godfather of Grunge

Gary Clark, Jr.

Lucinda Williams

Steve Martin

k.d. lang

Sarah McLachlan

Foster the People

 

Ray LaMontagne

The Flaming Lips

Jack White

 

Eddie Vedder

Guns N’ Roses

Various, Finale Saturday

Various, Finale Sunday

Hope to see you there next year!

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Music Monday – Neil Young and Crazy Horse

Psychedelic Pill, the forcoming release from Neil Young and Crazy Horse

It’s Music Monday – What are you listening to? Sitting at my desk working, I’ve had my vPulse headphones in and buzzing along to Jack White, Foster the People, The Flaming Lips. Usually my musical choices are chosen on a whim but not this time. I’m getting very excited for The Bridge School Benefit concert next weekend!

You may not know that Neil Young, iconic singer-songwriter who has a career spanning over 40 years and – count ‘em – TWO inductions into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame has two sons with cerebral palsy. In 1986, Neil and his wife Pegi helped start The Bridge School, which specializes in educating children with severe speech, communication and physical impairments. Twenty-six years ago, the first Bridge School Benefit Concert was held, with performers including Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Nils Lofgren, Don Henley, Tom Petty, Robin Williams, and Bruce Springsteen raising the funds necessary to open the school in 1987. Every year since, with the exception of the year the school opened, a benefit concert has been held with a performance by Neil Young – with the full line-up playing acoustic instruments.

This year, the concert is the weekend of October 20-21, 2012. Here are the artists scheduled to perform:

As always, this line-up is impressive and the night will likely be legendary. I couldn’t be more excited to attend a killer concert while contributing to a great cause. Enjoy this video of “Ramada Inn” by Neil Young with Crazy Horse; it’s got that raw, unmistakeable, rockin’ signature Neil Young sound I have grown up with and respected my entire life. Enjoy the rest of your Music Monday!

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Velodyne Supports the Community: Music Matters Family Festival

 

The Surf Spot in Pacifica, CA will be holding its first annual Music Matters Family Festival September 23, 2012. 100% of the proceeds will go to Music Matters in Pacifica. MMiP is a new program of the Pacifica Education Foundation that advocates and raises funds to support the instrumental music program for 6th through 8th graders in the Pacifica School District.
 The Surf Spot is hosting performances by The Refugees (Tom Petty Tribute Band), Curt Yagi and The People Standing Behind Me, 5D and Green Room Music. There will be a special guest deejay. Doors open at noon and there is a $5 admission – 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Pacifica’s Music Matters Foundation.We hope you and your families can come out and support children’s music programs, while enjoying the fun  lineup of bands, games, food and drinks! Velodyne has donated a few “swag bags” that Curt Yagi & The People Standing Behind Me will be giving away. You could walk away with a pair of vPulse in-ear headphones that retail at $99!

Good swag for a good cause!

Surf Spot Restaurant. 4627 Coast Highway. http://surfspoteats.com/ For more information on Music Matters in Pacifica visit http://www.musicmattersinpacifica.org/.

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