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    How graphene is enhancing earphone and headphone audio to another level

    graphene structure

    Why graphene earphones and headphones will transform the audio industry

    Graphene is a buzzword that a surprising amount of non-techie people have heard of. There is, however, very low awareness of what graphene actually is, and whether it is worthy of the considerable hype.
     

    What is graphene and why is important?

    Discovered in the UK in 2004 and with a Nobel prize to its name, graphene has been hailed as the super-material that will revolutionise the materials industry. The UK government body, Innovate UK, has stated that Graphene’s electrical and thermal properties could be huge for the electronics market and it could have multiple uses across healthcare, sport and defence”.

    In its purest form, graphene is a one-atom-thick layer of carbon that has incredible physical properties. It has exceptional strength-to-weight, effective electrical and thermal conduction, and high flexibility. There is a very expensive global race between many countries (in particular, the UK, US and China) to be the centre for this new industry, and we are have now reached the point at which commercial mass production of graphene is possible for a small number of producers.

    Impressive characteristics of graphene

    • Stronger:

      Stronger than diamond and some two hundred times stronger than steel.
       
    • Thinner:
      One million sheets of graphene are only one millimetre tall, which gives some indication of how complicated it is to manufacture on a mass scale.
       
    • Lighter:
      A sheet of graphene that weighs less than one gram would cover an entire football pitch.
       
    • More Flexible:
      Stretches up to 25% without breaking or losing form
       
    • More conductive:
      Better heat conduction than any known material, and an electrical current density one-million-times greater than copper.

     

    How does graphene produce better-sounding earphones?

    Earphones and headphones contain a thin diaphragm that vibrates to produce the audio sound waves we hear, and premium consumer audio companies are continually researching the further refinement of the top secret material-mix they use for their diaphragms. A slight tweak to the diaphragm material can make a noticeable difference to the sound produced.

    Graphene is thinner, stronger and more flexible than all other materials in the modern world, and those properties allow for earphone and headphone diaphragms that are superior to those using traditional materials. A graphene diaphragm that is ultra-thin, but strong and flexible enough not to be destroyed by soundwave vibration, allows for a much richer, crisper sound frequency wave.

    A leading British premium audio company independently tested our MediaDevil CB-01 Nanene® Graphene-Enhanced earphones. Its senior sound engineers found that, remarkably, both the high-end (treble) and the low-end (bass) of the audio frequency wave were enhanced by the Nanene® graphene.
     

    Is all graphene of the same quality?

    Unfortunately, no. The graphene industry is very much in its Wild West period, with some 'manufacturers' going as far as selling random black powder to undercut the general market pricing. Already, Alibaba and even eBay feature graphene powder listings that are some ten to one hundred times cheaper than most other businesses.

    fake graphene powder

    Curiously cheap graphene oxide powder on eBay

     

    Hundreds of companies (many China-based), claim to be graphene manufacturers, yet the amount of companies able to commercially-produce graphene is probably less than can be counted on one hand. Most of the graphene suppliers that are not selling authentic graphene power, are in fact selling graphite, another member of the carbon family that is much easier and cheaper to produce. Graphite is substitute for graphene, as it is made up of significantly more carbon layers and has vastly different (and inferior) properties as a result.
     

    Why does the number of carbon layers in graphene matter?

    Graphene with too many layers is, in fact, graphite, the same material used for pencil lead. The carbon layers inside a stick of graphite are loosely bonded and therefore shave off very willingly, which is why and how we are able to use it to write onto paper.

    The individual atoms within those loosely-bonded carbon layers are, however, very tightly bonded. Those atoms are pure graphene, and by producing and isolating them on a mass scale, commercially produced graphene becomes a reality. This is an incredibly complicated process, which is why it has taken a good fifteen-years since the discovery of graphene for high-quality mass-produced graphene to become available.

     

    graphite and graphene layer comparison

    Graphite (many carbon layers) vs graphene

     

    Graphite is a naturally occurring material that has been in widespread use since the 1500's, therefore it is significantly easier and cheaper to source than graphene. Although, as outlined above, it does technically contain graphene atoms, it is a very different material to graphene and cannot enhance a base material in the way that graphene does, and in fact, is more likely to reduce the performance of the material, due to the loosely bonded layers.
     

    How are fake graphene sellers getting away with it?

    At the time of writing, the graphene industry is not regulated, therefore anything can be marketed and sold as 'graphene' without repercussion. This is because graphene commercialisation is such a new reality that the most important global standard certification bodies (examples being ISO and BSI) are yet to decide the requirements a material must meet in order to qualify as authentic 'graphene'.

    Outside of a laboratory, proving a product is using real graphene is close to impossible at this moment, therefore, we expect these graphene scams to continue for the foreseeable future.
     

    Which earphones contain real graphene?

    In the last few years, there has been an increasing flood of graphene-enhanced earphones and headphones hitting the market (the vast majority of which are China-based brands), and regrettably, positive reviews have been few and far between. We believe this likely reflects the lack of genuine graphene. That is not to blame the brands themselves, as they may be totally unaware that the graphene in their earphones is not authentic

    We are proud to announce that MediaDevil and the UK-based graphene producer, Versarien PLC. have partnered to release a range of audio products and tech accessories enhanced by Nanene® graphene.

    Nanene is a few-layer version of graphene, produced in the UK using a patented manufacturing process. The Nanene standard was established to act as a beacon of guaranteed graphene purity and performance, and it is the only commercially produced graphene in the world to have met the Graphene Council's quality verification standard.

    We shall be working closely with Versarien to show the world the amazing properties of Nanene. The first Nanene-enhanced product, the MediaDevil Artisanphonics CB-01 earphones, has recently launched.
     

    MediaDevil Artisanphonics CB-01 Nanene Graphene Earphones

    MediaDevil Artisanphonics CB-01 Nanene® graphene earphones with iOS & Android volume controls and 3.5mm jack

    Widespread iPad Pro 11" (2018) and 12.9" (2018) Touch Sensitivity Issues when Screen protector Applied

    Widespread iPad Pro 11" (2018) and 12.9" (2018) Touch Sensitivity Issues when Screen protector Applied

    There appears to be a big problem with the 2018 iPad Pro 11-inch and 12.9" models


    What's the issue?

    Ever since the new iPad Pro 11" (2018) and 12.9" (2018) models came out, customers of all screen protector brands have been experiencing touch screen sensitivity issues. While all iPads seem to be affected, not every iPad seems to be affected to the same extent. This is a very unprecedented situation, and as we believe in transparency, so we would like to make as many current (and future) iPad Pro users aware of this as possible.

     

    Why is it occurring?

    There are numerous popular theories online regarding not only how this issue is occurring, but also why it is only affecting the iPad Pro 11" (2018) and 12.9" (2018) models. We believe the reality is actually a combination of them:

    1) The touch screen panels have inconsistent quality issues
    2) Many of the iPads are not properly electrically grounded
    3) The iPads are not completely flat (something Apple has now verified), and that this is damaging the touchscreen contacts.
    4) The extreme amount of magnets in both the iPad Pro models and the official Apple cases has something to do with it.

     

    Is it affecting everyone?

    In short, no. It really depends on the screen protector product you're using and how affected your individual iPad is.

    This incredibly long MacRumors forum thread shows not only how much inconvenience and confusion this matter is causing, but also, how varied the issues are by individual iPad.

    The one sure thing (confirmed by many sources), is that no tempered glass screen protectors appear to be properly compatible with the touch screen. Some non-glass protectors are compatible, and indeed, many users in the MacRumors thread found the MediaDevil screen protector to be one of the few products that worked well (example 1)(example 2)(example 3).

    Here is a video of us testing both an iPad 11" (2018) and 12.9" (2018) with our MediaDevil Ultra-Tough edition screen protector (which is not made from glass). Everything worked perfectly. We made this video in November 2018 and it would be wrong to suggest that, since then, 100% of our customers have experienced no issues. Prior to publishing this article (and after some hundreds of orders), 2% of customers had advised us of sensitivity issues from the moment they applied the protector. We do expect that proportion would have been higher if it were not for the fact that most iPads are used within a case (read on for further information).

     

     

    Can the issue be fixed?

    For many iPads, yes, there are workarounds to reduce or even eradicate these touch sensitivity issues, however, they are not guaranteed to work for all iPads. It seems that some are beyond fixing, with the only solution being to use zero screen protection or to return the iPad within the return period. 
     

    What can be done to fix this issue?

    Here are some methods we can see that many users online have found helpful, albeit not everyone. They seem to resolve issues with many non-glass-based protectors but are unlikely to help with tempered glass screen protectors:

    • 1) Disable gesture controls.

    We've seen many people online mention that this simple fix worked for them (example).
     
    • 2) Use a case (preferably, an official Apple case)

    It seems that, with a screen protector applied (even a MediaDevil protector), many 2018 iPad Pro 11" / 12.9 touchscreens are very insensitive unless the iPad is electrically grounded, such as holding the iPad with your other hand as you use it. There are also lots of people saying online that the screen is less effective when laid down, which could be related to this electrical grounding theory. It could be that the curving of some iPads is the issue here, but we cannot be sure. There are accounts online of screen protectors becoming incompatible after a few weeks, which would support this theory.

    We have also seen more than one iPad Pro 11" owner mention online that their screen protector worked well when applied but stop working within a few weeks (we're not sure which brands they were using, however, we haven't received this feedback from our own customers). This would support the theory that the amount the iPad Pro models are flexing during daily use (whether within the expected tolerance or not), is perhaps damaging sensitivity of the touchscreen.

    Adding fire to the confusion, one user wrote that when he stood on his regular floor, his iPad Pro screen was a bit insensitive with a screen protector applied. However, when he then stood on rubber matting, his iPad Pro screen was unusable. He then switched from using a 3rd party case to the official Apple case, which made the issue much less extreme, albeit the incompatibility with rubber flooring still remained.

     

    • 3) Return or exchange your iPad Pro

    If none of the above works and you must have screen protection, we recommend the gamble of returning your iPad within the return period for a new one. If you are outside of the return period, there is a chance that if your iPad is curved outside of Apple's internal quality tolerance standard of 400 microns (0.016 inches), they will exchange it.

     

    Why are only the iPad Pro 11" and 12.9 (2018) models affected?

    These are the first iPad models using this radical new design aesthetic, and we believe the immense number of magnets in the 2018 iPad Pro 11" & 12.9" and their official iPad cases may be playing a factor in the issues.

    Here is a photo we took of the back of the official iPad Pro case using magnetic sensitive film. All the little black spots are individual magnets and their polarity varies greatly, and surely and there is a performance-related reason why Apple felt it necessary to go to this extreme?

    iPad Pro 11" and 12.9" (2018) magnets

     

    Surely the Apple store screen protectors work perfectly?

    Curiously, Apple isn't selling screen protectors for these devices. They do, however, sell screen protectors for all iPhone devices.


    Has Apple messed up?

    According to users online, Apple store staff are advising that these iPad Pro devices are not designed with 3rd party screen protectors in mind.  Although 3rd-party screen protectors have worked perfectly on every iPad model until now, it seems to be a fair position to take, albeit an incredibly frustrating one for Apple's loyal customers.

    Apple and its 'premium re-sellers' have sold 3rd party screen protectors for many years now and a large proportion of consumers use screen protection on their devices, We feel the general consumer expectation in 2019 is that screen protectors will have good compatibility with Apple devices (and those of all its major competitors). A positive move might be to proactively inform customers when a newly-released Apple device may experience issues with screen protection applied, just like we are trying to achieve with this article.

    These new iPad Pro models introduced a stunning new design aesthetic for a device that was beginning to look a bit stale, therefore, it seems likely that Apple will release more models with this new format. It will be interesting to observe whether the issue is resolved for these future releases, or indeed, for future production batches of the current devices.

     

    Why are MediaDevil protectors working better than other brands?

    We could never have predicted that the iPad Pro 2018 models would have these issues and that the MediaDevil Ultra-Tough edition screen protector would be better-compatible than other brands. We spent the last few years developing this material with a UK advanced materials company, and a newly-developed component we added to the material mix just happens to be an incredibly good electrical conductor, and we (think) that's what is making the difference.

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