Sunday, 3 July 2016

Press Start & Replay: My Favourite Video Game Loops

Here's the thing. I love videogame soundtrack loops. I respect composers who can put together something that will set the tone, fade into the background for long periods, but still have a hook that makes it interesting when you just sit down and listen to it. This is a list of some of my favourite video game loops. I'm sure everyone's got their own favourites, but here are ones that put yours truly in a trance-like state of affection by association. Here they are in vague descending order of how much I love them.



10. 'Self-Justified Sacrifies' - Fingerspit
Gods Will Be Watching (2014)

Gods Will Be Watching is a 2014 sci-fi indie game about brutal resource allocation and difficult moral choices. The game is structured into scenarios that ask you to finely balance competing demands to prevent situations from spiralling out of control. For instance, in the opening scenario you are a space terrorist who must keep several hostages subdued enough so that you can hack a computer terminal in peace, without intimidating them so much that they go insane, try to run away and force you to blow their brains out. 'Self-Justified Sacrifices' is the loop that plays during this opening vignette, and its grim oppressive drive will keep shoving you in the back as you repeat the negotiations over and over again.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Headphone Test Tracks (June 2016)

Here's a 10 tracks I've been found to be nice reference tracks when testing new headphones. Some are new, some are old, I like them all. Remember, headphones are for music and not the other way around. With that said, I hope you find something new and interesting here.


'Luminol' - Steven Wilson
The Raven That Refused to Sing (and Other Stories) (2013)

Luminol is that glowing blue chemical crime scene investigators use to turn up blood and other fluids. It's also an amazing prog-rock track from Steven Wilson, who you may also know from the group Porcupine Tree. The way this 12 minute track launches from its throbbing guitar riffs into the skylarking flute and piano parts of the middle section, before returning to its anguished, epic climax... well, what can I say? This is brilliant stuff.

Listen for: Big, meaty guitar crunches combined with instrumental and soundstage finesse.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Bose QC35 vs. Sony MDR-100ABN In-Depth Comparison


The following review is a transcript of my video review, with some additional comments not included in the video. You can check out more of my videos here!

INTRO

In every field, there are purists, and there are geeks. One camp believes that true greatness lies in distilling things to their purist, basic elements, real old school, and the other camp believes in trying to get the best by taking all the latest technology and synthesising it together into the new hotness. Slow food versus molecular gastronomy. Cold drip coffee versus Nespresso pods. In the world of headphones, you have companies like Grado hand making headphones in Brooklyn, and then you have headphones like these: the Bose QC35 and the Sony MDR-100ABN. Wireless Bluetooth. NFC. Active noise cancelling. Electronic EQ. More bells. More whistles. All the latest in lifestyle convenience, packed into these two black cans.

As a headphone enthusiast, I appreciate elegance. I know a lot headphone enthusiasts wouldn't give these headphones the time of day, because of suspicion that between the NFC and the ANC and the If You Seek Amy, something pure, something important has been lost.

But I'm also a geek. And I want to see, with everything packed in including the kitchen sink, just how good it gets.

This post is not going to be a full review of either of these headphones. I'm planning to do one of those later, when I've had a chance to compare both of these headphones to a wider field of alternatives.

What this post is going to try and answer a few basic questions about these headphones, given that they are more or less matched feature for feature. Which of the two headphones has a smarter design? Which of these two does wireless better? Which does noise cancelling better? And which one of these, well, sounds better? Both of these headphones retail for $499 here in Australia, and for that much cash, you want the whole package.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Why I Returned My iPhone 6S



So after two weeks, I returned my iPhone 6S to the Apple Store. Actually, it was a few hours beyond Apple's two week return window as I bought the 6S during the morning launch. They weren’t going to hold that against me. 

For now, I’ve gone back to my iPhone 5S. This post is going to be about some of the reasons what I liked about the 6S, what I didn’t like about it, and what ultimately made me decide to return the phone. It’s a two week personal mini-review of sorts, though you already know the conclusion.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

HIFIMAN HE400S First Impressions Review: These Aren't the Planars You Are Looking For



After three seperate demos, I bought the HIFIMAN HE400S yesterday. I spent the evening listening and doing some listening comparisons with the AKG K712 and the Audio Technica ATH-R70x. I’m not a huge believer in burn in as a significant factor in changing the way something sounds (though I’m well aware of how powerful mental burn in is.) So here are my first impressions based on that amount of listening time.

Build Quality / Fit and Finish

The HE400S has poor build quality for a headphone for this price. The plastics chosen have a poor finish and my unit has a few glue marks from the factory. On the demo unit at Minidisc and my brand new unit, we noticed that at the rotating joint where the silver plastic meets the black headband clip, the black plastic leaves black marks as it rubs against the plastic. The grilles on the headphone are not fixed in place and can be moved around a little. On the plug of the right channel of the detachable cable, the sheath is roughly finished and I’ve noticed that it won’t seat itself entirely flush with the jack. 

I don’t think the headphone itself is going to fall apart or anything dire like that, but I would say the fit and finish of the headphone is below standard for this price. Compared to something like the Philips X2 or the AKG K712 / Audio Technica ATH-R70x and you can tell HIFIMAN still has a long way to go.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Crowdfunding Update (August 2015)

It's been a while since the last crowdfunding update, but to go along with the first Patreon hangout I'm going to upload the running balance of all the Patreon / Paypal contributions to the channel to date.

Contributions from viewers have totaled $2616.26 USD. All figures listed below are minus Patreon and Paypal transaction fees as well as declined payments.

Once again I want to thank everyone for their support. As you may or may not know, I have a stated policy against accepting review units. It simply would not have been possible to review a lot of this gear without the help of my audience. This funding has allowed me to act quickly and independently to get products featured on the channel. Cheers!

Date
Description
Amount ($USD)
Balance ($USD)
4/07/2014
Patreon Pledges
67.41
67.41
5/07/2014
Takstar Pro 80
-64.93
2.48
5/07/2014
Donation
70
72.48
8/07/2014
Donation
20
92.48
9/07/2014
Donation
5
97.48
10/07/2014
VSonic VSD3
-51.15
46.33
7/08/2014
Patreon Pledges
162.02
208.35
14/08/2014
Donation
38.34
246.69
18/08/2014
Donation
96.3
342.99
20/08/2014
M100
-305.94
37.05
9/09/2014
Patreon Pledges
140.16
177.21
12/09/2014
Philips SHE3950
-13.51
163.70
16/09/2014
Xiomi Pistons & Havi B3
-78.74
84.96
18/09/2014
Panasonic HJE-V
-12.53
72.43
28/09/2014
Donation
10
82.43
1/10/2014
IM50 / Tenore
-69.71
12.72
15/10/2014
Donation
100
112.72
17/10/2014
Patreon Pledges
208
320.72
25/10/2014
Donation
30
350.72
3/11/2014
Patreon Pledges
172.91
523.63
4/11/2014
Sony MDR Z7 + Sony MDR-1A
-475.66
47.97
9/12/2014
Patreon Pledges
193.7
241.67
9/01/2015
Patreon Pledges
137.32
378.99
16/01/2015
ATH-IM02
-132.73
246.26
3/02/2015
Patreon Pledges
122.65
368.91
6/02/2015
Beyerdynamic T51P
-240
128.91
14/03/2015
Patreon Pledges
262
390.91
14/03/2015
Beyerdynamic DT770
-205.43
185.48
31/03/2015
Sennheiser M2 / CX
-110
75.48
6/04/2015
Patreon Pledges
198.16
273.64
6/04/2015
AKG K553
-139.99
133.65
30/04/2015
Audio Technica ATH-R70x
-367.92
-234.27
6/05/2015
Patreon Pledges
209.69
-24.58
1/06/2015
Patreon Pledges
172.72
148.14
12/06/2015
Apogee Groove
-289.72
-141.58
4/07/2015
Patreon Pledges
199.88
58.30

Monday, 18 May 2015

Beyerdynamic T51P vs. Beats Solo2 vs. Sennheiser Amperior vs. V-Moda XS


This post is a supplement to my video review of the Beyerdynamic T51P. The video review looks closely at the physical build of the T51P and an overview of its sound and how it compares to the Sennheiser Amperior and Beats Solo2. This post goes into more detail about the T51P and how it compares to some other options!

The Beyerdynamic T51P is my new favourite portable headphone. Its a wonderful package with a featherweight design, strong noise isolation and a punchy, fast sound. It strikes a good balanced between too aggressive or too laid back. Of course, a statement like that is a bit meaningless without reference points, so let’s dive in.