Freesound: Give & Take

If you're a filmmaker at any level from just starting out to an industry expert you know that, in the edit process you always find a few sound effects, foley or ambient noises that you're missing. If you've been in that situation you've probably been to Freesound is a constantly growing library of Creative Commons licensed sounds. If you're looking for something their search engine usually returns a few hits of sounds that might be useful and it is often quicker and much more convenient than digging out your field recording equipment and hunting down the sound for yourself.

That said, I'm sure lots of us have a few eclectic sound recording languishing on our hard drives that we recorded for one project or another. If you have something you're willing to share the process of uploading them is a little geeky (ftp) but they do have a web interface too and it is a simple way of uploading a bunch of files at once. You simply upload your files, then describe and tag them and then wait a couple of days for them to be approved. What's in it for you? What goes around comes around and what good are those files you're hoarding especially if you're not going to use them again. I just uploaded some of the sounds I've collected in recent months and it felt good to share. I hope other filmmakers will consider doing the same and freesound will become an even more comprehensive and useful resource for everyone.

Skullcandy Hesh Headphones: Refinish

I have a slight headphone fetish. As I'm not encouraged to blast my music anymore I listen to music, write music, produce and edit video all while wearing headphone these days. I don't like in ear buds, I prefer big, over the ear headphones with my favorites being the chunky but beautifully solid and neutral Sennheiser HD 280's. As a result of this obsession I have several pairs of decent over the ear headphones lying around both at home and at work.

When I saw the Skullcandy Hesh Headphones in NBA Cavaliers Colors ridiculously cheap (they're usually $40-50) I couldn't resist. They had a built in iPhone microphone which I thought would be useful but I didn't like their paint job - I don't follow any American sport so I planned to refinish them.

This weekend I finally got chance to do that. Here's the process:

  • Remove the earphone soft pads - they just pull off
  • Undo the 3 screws hidden under the ear pads
  • Separate the plastic holding the driver from the shell
  • Desolder the wires from the drivers (2 joints per driver) making a careful note of what goes were when we get back to reassembly.
  • Unscrew and remove the detail pieces in the shells (they were gold in my case).
  • Remove the connection cord from the left shell.
  • Carefully expand the c-brackets where the headband meets the shells and prize out the shells
  • Using a fine sanding block, remove the existing paint from the exterior of both shells
  • Remove all dust then carefully spray paint the shells using several light coats
  • Let the paint cure at least for 24 hours
  • Using cutting compound, cut back the paint surface.
  • Polish the newly painted shell exteriors.
  • Assembly is the reverse of disassembly.
  • Take care when soldering wires back in place.
  • All plastic components are labeled Left or Right somewhere in their molding
  • Take care not to scratch your new paint surface when reattaching the shells to the headband.
  • Drivers can only fit back in the shells one way, with the plastic lump towards the bottom.
  • When refitting the soft pads you can persuade the vinyl edge back into the crack between the shell and drivers with a blunt knife blade.

To complete the de-badging I also unpicked the badges from the fabric covering the headband. There you have it; slightly less obnoxious Skull Candy Hesh headphone but how do they perform?

You can tell the market these headphones are aimed at (not me); the headphones are very bass heavy. But it's not just the the bass is over powering the mids and highs - the mids and highs seem to be completely missing. Construction wise the Hesh plastic is very creaky which does affect your listening experience if you move your head at all while wearing them. Ear seals are far from perfect so they don't exclude as much of the outside world as you think they should. A cheap pair of Senneiser HD 202 headphone's easily out performs the Heshes acoustically. The Hesh headphones don't sound that bad if you haven't just been wearing good quality headphones. I do keep them around specifically for use with the iPhone as the cable fits with the bumper in place, they have an inline microphone and they do sound better than the apple included earphones.