Beware of LEDs that stay constantly-lit.

Today we have many portable devices, which attempt to run off battery power for a long time. At the same time, these devices can have LEDs, which indicate their status for the convenience of the user. There is an aspect to that, which some users might not fully realize, but which I think is important nonetheless.

If the LED is to stay constantly lit and bright, then the amount of current / power it consumes will be high, and will therefore be a strong drain on the battery as well. Additionally, our human eyes are less sensitive to blue light than they are to red, and less so to red light, than they are to green. Therefore, a blue LED which is to seem bright, is consuming an additional penalty of power, to appear as bright to our eyes, as a red LED is supposed to seem.

My new LG Tone Pro HBS-750 Bluetooth Headphones have all the correct behavior, in that during normal use, their Blue LED only flashes very briefly, in a code that restates the battery level, but with a duration of much less than 10%. They also have the correct behavior, in that their LED stays Blue continuously, when they are in pairing mode, which is only supposed to be a brief operation compared to their normal mode. And, when they are charging, some combination of their Red and Blue LED stays fully lit, because power is assumed to be in abundance when charging.

Now, the supposed HBS-730 headphones which I had before, would have a much brighter Blue LED, which was supposed to stay solidly Blue when pairing. Mine alternated between Red and Blue when pairing. And mine stayed fully lit 100% of the time, when in Standby, a mode in which the headphones are supposed to be drawing less current, than when actually playing music. And the LED on mine, would flash in Blue with 50% duration, when I was listening to music.

This was a design failure, and was also inconsistent, with what the LG manual for the HBS-730 explicitly states. According to that manual, their LED was also to stay fully Blue only when pairing, and was supposed to flash briefly, not 50% of the time, while playing music. This correct behavior would have been very similar to what my present HBS-750 Headphones do, but did not correspond to the real behavior of what I had been sold.

Dirk

 

HBS-750 Equalizer Function Actually Useful

The shape of my ears has generally been a problem, for ear-pieces to fit, in my past. Mine are narrow, so that I need the most narrow inserts already. But then it can happen to me, that my facial muscles tense differently, at different times of day, which I believe causes a subtle change in the shape of my ears. Do not laugh. And so simply because I may be cracking a smile, I will also be cracking a non-airtight gap between ear-pieces that just fit, and my ears, which results in a sudden loss of deep bass.

The LG HBS-750 Headphones have an equalizer function, that switches between three modes:

 

  1. Bass boost (the default),
  2. Flat,
  3. Treble boost.

 

When I try these settings indoors, at first the difference seems so slight, I tend to think, ‘What a waste of an equalizer.’ But when I am walking outdoors, I now find that switching from mode (2) above back to mode (1), gives me back exactly what I lost, because the ear-pieces are no longer airtight in my ears.

I tend to find that mode (3) is less useful, because it emphasizes the aspects of aptX -compressed sounds, that are more scratchy. But then again, maybe somebody else appreciates the treble boost feature of this headset.

Now, one way to tell whether a product is a forgery or not, is by the fact for example, that the equalizer on the HBS-730 I was playing with before, did not kick in. But in reality the logic is more confuted than that. The manual of the HBS-730 clearly states, that the equalizer settings cannot be changed, if that unit is in aptX mode.

The manual for the HBS-750, which I am using now, clearly states that its equalizer settings are available, when this unit is in aptX mode.

Further, today, when testing the HBS-750, I did listen to music for 7 hours straight. It was my initial intention, to run the batteries all the way down, just so that I could recharge them once, and allow them to live up to full capacity ‘in the field’, later. But after about 6 hours of my own music, I grew too sick of that. I could not force myself to listen to more than 7 hours of music, at which time the battery-level announcement still told me that the batteries were at “medium” level.

They then needed 70 minutes of charging time, to come back up to full.

With the HBS-730, I could not listen for more than 135 minutes, before they were dead. And to recharge the supposed HBS-730 only took 35 minutes, cycle after cycle.

Dirk

 

I now have LG Tone Pro HBS-750 Bluetooth Headphones.

And unlike how it went with the previous set, I paid the full price for these, and know that they are genuine.

I can now comment accurately for the first time, about the “aptX” sound compression they use.

I understand that most of the music that I will be playing, has already been MP3 or OGG compressed. But with my simple headphones, that were wired to the stereo mini-jack on my phone, there was a loss in quality, just in getting the sound to my ears, after MP3 or OGG decoding. With aptX, it could be argued that there is also some small loss of quality in getting the sound to my ears.

aptX, and the HBS-750 headphones, are able to get the sound to my ears, after lossy decompression, better than the wired headphones could. So the only sound artifacts that I will ever hear with these, will be those due to MP3 or OGG, and the OGG files will play better again than the MP3 files did, as the OGG files are supposed to do.

The sound of these headphones is truly superb.

Further, the reason for which the suggested app ‘Tone And Talk’ was not recognizing the supposed HBS-730 headphones, was the mere fact that this app was able to read the meta-data of those, and was able to determine, that those were just not on the list of supported headphones, even though I was fooled into believing that they were.

Tone And Talk works properly, with the HBS-750 headphones, that are genuine LG headphones. That is, unless I am to do a detailed test of this app, which may come later. But the app does not just sit there and stay lame, as it did with the counterfeit headphones.

Dirk

 

The so-called HBS-730 Headphones were Counterfeit.

I had written some postings, which are by now deleted, according to which I had bought LG Tone+ HBS-730 Headphones, and where I was trying to analyze the sound quality.

I had previously understood that there exist numerous sound compression schemes such as MP3, OGG, and aptX, which have a great deal of complexity. But what none of my foreknowledge told me, was to what extent the quality of each of these schemes is supposed to make their existence transparent. The goal in designing them is actually to make their existence unnoticeable, if possible.

According to what I have now found out, the fake headphones that I had bought, did not only have sound compression, but a level of sound quality that can be regarded as defective. Even though aptX is complex, we can expect much more of it than those headphones were producing.

(Edit 06/25/2016 : ) Those headphones dropped the quality of my sound to be approximately as if it was 128kbps MP3 sound across-the-board, while MP3 and OGG Files that I mastered myself, are at 192kbps if not 256kbps.

 

Those headphones are history to me. One of the death-knells, which finally allowed me to understand that those were fake, was the unanimous consensus that the HBS-730s are supposed to be able to play close to 10 hours of music, but that mine could only play music for 135 minutes.

There is some amount of discrepancy which can be accounted for, just because the batteries may be on their first charge. But that amount of discrepancy should be less than 5:1.

There were actually numerous hints given off by those headphones, which all seemed to point at the same conclusion. I am ashamed at myself, for not having spotted said forgery faster.

Dirk