Category Archives: Audio

Aye think I’ve found some very nice Gear!


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Glasgow based company AyeGear has released the H12 Hoodie onto the market (November 12th 2012), aimed at the person who likes to carry a variety of goodies with them while traveling.

Rather than rush in to review the H12, I have spent a week with the garment on in a variety of situations, just to see how it felt, and what sort of reaction I got from other people if they noticed anything different about what I was wearing!

I ordered the H12 from the AyeGear web site at http://www.ayegear.com and after I had actually placed the order, I got an email a little later on to let me know that the goods had been shipped and when to expect them. A nice personal touch and very fast service!

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The garment arrived the next day, well packaged. On taking the H12 out, the first thing that impressed me was the quality of the fabric itself. I have spent quite a while looking at the range of products on the AyeGear site, but was always unable to make up my mind about the actual fabric quality and texture, as a photograph can only show you show much. The H12 has a very luxurious feel to it, feels well made, and looks very stylish as well (80% Cotton/20% Polyester).

Now, I’m not your average hoodie person, and at 49 years old, maybe some would think I’m a little too old for this sort of garment. Actually… you would be wrong! The H12 fits well, and considering I have a few pounds I would like to shed, that has to be a bonus!

So, after putting it on, a man’s first port of call is where to stick his hands!

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The two main side pockets are at the right level, and the right cut angle to get the hands in, and sit in a comfortable position. It’s an instinctive thing for guys! As soon as the hands go in, you find that in the right hand pocket there is a smaller pouch for coins and an elasticated strap for holding the likes of a small bottle of water or Irn Bru in place. But even better, and I missed this initially, just up a little higher in the pocket there is a small strap that you can clip a set of keys onto so that they are not lost! I don’t understand why this sort of strap is not a standard issue with guys clothing, as we always seem to lose our keys!

Slightly back from the right hand pocket there is a zipped pocket, that you can put in a pocket camera or anything else with these dimensions. The zip is a quality zip, and not the cheaper nasty ones that seem to jam on you after a single use. Top marks for that!

At the top right there is another zip, and opening that you can put in glasses, a phone, wallet etc… and then inside the top right there is a special pocket that holds your mobile phone or MP3 player, with a see through cover that allows you to touch the front panel of your device and change tracks, answer calls etc.

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Now, for me and my body size, not faulting the garment at all here, I found that when I had my iPhone4S inside the right hand pocket, it was too tall for me to lock the device into the pocket with the Velcro tape, but that really isn’t a problem as the device is held in place very well.

My only problem with trying to use my iPhone4S in this pocket is that I could not turn the phone around and see the front very easily, and basically had to twist the pocket hard around and then get my glasses on to see the front of it, since it is so high up and close to the face!

Now, anyone younger, who has better eyesight will have no problems at all I reckon, but a degenerating body mass such as mine clearly had an issue with this, so I just keep the phone in my side pocket instead and there is no more issue to worry about!

On the left hand side pocket, you have the same smaller pouch for coins etc, and there is also a small stitched hole leading inside the H12 so you can route up a cable for your earphone’s etc. So, as you can see, if you have an issue with the obvious pocket for your MP3 player then you have an alternative location already set up to take your device and cabling!

Up to the top left, inside, we have another zipped pocket that can hold a wallet, passport etc, and a handy pouch for inserting a pen or a fine Cuban Cigar!

On each arm there are a couple of pockets with press down buttons that are handy for holding smaller items such as tickets, receipts, coins etc.

Around the neck area there is the facility to route your earphone cables neatly away so that the H12 is always ready for you to pick up and use with the MP3 player of your choice. A little tip, if you find the loops that you insert the headphone through to rub your neck a little when wearing, just tuck them under the Velcro tab and you will never even know they are there!

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So, all in all there are plenty of places that you can put things, and just be aware that the usual locations you keep things in currently, may have to change slightly to accommodate the H12’s current pocket locations.

So, after a week of wearing it how do I really feel about the H12 now that the initial excitement is over?

The H12 really is a very good quality garment indeed, and I’d say that the cost of it is very acceptable.

When out and about I now have to aim higher to check my wallet location, but apart from that all the other pockets have been put to good use in the field, and even wearing the H12 in customer locations, it’s smart and stylish and there have already been a few people asking where I bought the H12 from, so maybe a few orders will start to wing their way into Ayegear soon!

The test for any garment is how the thing will wash, and at the moment I have yet to do this, so will have to see if my wife can wash it without destroying it in the washing machine… Watch this space for that fatal day… but I reckon it should be perfectly fine.

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I suggest that you should  look at the  H12 if you are in the market for a hoodie with additional pockets, but you really do need to order one of these garments up to appreciate the overall quality of it!

Why not pop over to their web site, have a look for yourself and see what you think… now for me.. the decision is… should I now order up some different colours… or get the AyeGear 22 Jacket…….

I have put up a short video of me doing a little twirl of the H12., just to give you an idea of how it looks on my particular body shape!

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SYNOLOGY DS212 NAS UNIT – 4 MONTHS UPDATE


 

The Internet is full of unboxing video’s and people telling you how wonderful some product is, when in fact they have only opened it up or used it for 5 minutes… and sometimes that instant gratification of receiving a new toy to play with vanishes rather quickly, and you move on to something else to brag about having.

I did an unboxing video of the Synology DS212 NAS unit on the 3rd February 2012, and initially the look and feel of it impressed me, and in turn, I created another video of the device having its x2 3TB hard Drive array broken live, and that too impressed me.

But, time has went on, the device has been running 24/7 and it has been getting used for a wide variety of tasks, so I think I can now come back with an honest opinion on this product and say that it’s so good, I am seriously thinking of buying the DS412+ model that offers me double the capacity that I have at the moment!

So, you may be asking yourself, why is it so good? To put it simply, the reason the Synology DS212 is so good is down to the features that are contained in DSM (the unit’s operating system) that just offer so much, and they all work for me perfectly in a way that really does put many of the older NAS products to shame that I have used in the past.

As it stands, I have a DS212 with two 3TB drives configured as a mirrored array, so have 3TB of storage available that is mirrored to a second drive, so that the chances of losing data is minimised.

I have configured the DS212 with the following features:

AUDIO STATION – Play and organise stored music and radio
ITUNES SERVER – Play multimedia content to ipad/iphone and Apple TV.
MEDIA SERVER – Stream audio/video/images to PS3 and other DLNA/UPnP devices.
DOWNLOAD STATION – Torrent/P2P download manager.
ANTIVIRUS – Checks any downloads or data that are put on the NAS box.
FILESTATION – Lets me organise and move files around.

Using the ITunes Server, I can now store all of my music on the DS212 and have that music stream out to my Apple TV, new IPad and IPhone 4S, and keep specific songs on the devices themselves for when I am out on the road. As well as that, I can also store my movies on the unit as well as do the same! Massive storage with instant access, it really is something you need to try out to understand just how great this is to use.

Using the Media server is similar to the ITunes server but I can stream all my content to my PS3 with ease, and this handles formats that the ITunes side may have issues with at times. The PS3 just finds the NAS box and you click what you want to listen to or view.

The Download Station is a fantastic P2P download application that really is very neat to use. I set up a folder that is monitored on the device, and just save or copy any torrent files into that folder and the software auto detects it and downloads it all for you, so you focus on obtaining while the software handles the receiving!

Since there may be some nasty files out there that you might copy across to the unit, the supplied Antivirus runs and protects your data for you with free updates done automatically.

And then we come to File Station. This allows you to quickly get around all of your folders and copy and delete files in an instant. Simple to use, and really does make things a breeze to keep things organised.

Of course, writing about these features is not quite the same as seeing them, but you can actually test all of the software out yourself on a real system by visiting their LIVE DEMO.

Now, you might be thinking… I have a PC/Mac and can do all of this as well… but then you are missing the point about this device. This small unit draws a lot less power than any PC, and is easier to manage and maintain. Also, all of the applications are in the device and work, perfectly right away. No need to go searching for software and worrying about how to share things out… it’s all in the box…

And… if you have a number of people in your home/office you can set up users and groups with passwords to restrict what can and cannot be accessed on the device. It also hooks into Windows domains with ease, and mine integrated into my Small Business Server 2008 system with no issues at all.

So, my original feelings still stand and are more solid than ever on this product, it really is something you should consider if you are on the market for a storage solution that actually does a lot more!

GRADO SR325i REVIEW


Once again, I have been given the chance to review another model of the GRADO series Headphones, the Grado SR325i unit by the guys over at “LOUD + CLEAR” in Glasgow who specialise in Hi-Fi, Cinema and Home Automation solutions. Expect to pay just over £300.00 for these.

Grado SR325is Features

  • Superb audio quality with full support across all frequencies
  • Special driver design and metal housing for low transient distortion
  • Comfortable design with adjustable headband and cushioned earpads
  • Drivers are matched to within 0.05dB
  • Vented diaphragms are de-stressed for great detail
  • Ultra-high purity long crystal copper wire voice coil and connecting cord
  • Aluminum air chamber
  • Standard stereo 6.35mm (1/4″) full size jack plug

Grado SR325is Specification

  • Type: Open-Air Dynamic Supra-Aural
  • Frequency Range: 18Hz – 24kHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 98dB
  • Cord length: 1m approx
  • Connectors: 6.35mm stereo full size jack plug
The shape and design of these headphone’s are the same as the GRADO SR80i and GRADO SR125i models, but rather than being made of plastic, they are made from metal that adds a noticeable amount of weight to the headphone’s when compared to the other models. If you want a closer look at these headphone’s, I uploaded a quick video to youtube that you can check out.

When I put these on, I was expecting to be blown away even more than I was with the SR125i’s I reviewed recently, but I actually sat there stunned….

To me, these headphones seem to push the treble side of the music to the front and the bass is pushed right to the back, and the whole experience for me is one of thinking these headphone’s are more designed for being used on a better quietly amp, rather than through a PC setup/mixer solution. This feeling is further enforced when trying to listen to music through a classic iPod and iPod Touch, there just seems to be no real feeling of power and switching back to the mac/mixer setup the difference is night and day but seems lacking when compared to the SR125s model.

After writing the above, and spending a few more hours listening to music through the SR325i’s I realised that the problem I was having is that I was treating these headphones like a pussy cat… petting it and being nice to it, when in fact you should be pumping these things hard and let the headphone’s take care of the rest! The more you put into these headphones the better the experience, and they just seem to handle anything you throw at them.

I’ll still stick to my guns though in using these with the likes of an iPod, I really don’t think these are the right headphones for this sort of kit. Get a really good amp or push your PC audio through a decent mixer and the sound really does become quite incredible.

In testing the headphones out I used a wide and varied range of tracks that cover subtle sound, through Rock and the obscure, and as you can see below, I have tried to cover a varied range of tracks to prove my point. The hardware used was an i7 iMac, with my audio linked in via the Behringer Xenyx 802 Mixer, with the audio played via iTunes.

Mike Oldfield – Far Above the Clouds: This track is a great test track as it begins off nice and soft, a child’s voice, and a steady build up into a dramatic electric guitar and Tubular Bells climax that really is fantastic to listen to through these headphone’s. Absolutely zero distortion and absolutely everything clear and defined.

Uriah Heep – Wake The Sleeper: A great track for testing as it’s literally just electric guitar, powerful drumming and high-pitched audio. Playing this one loud really does feel like you are at the concert, in fact closing your eye’s you begin to wonder if you are in fact a bit too close to the stage!!!!

Velvet Revolver – She Builds Quick Machines: Classic Slash guitar work that comes across crystal clear, and the whole experience is handled distortion free. One thing I really picked up on was the deep bass coming in but it never seems to take over and distort the whole track that some other headphones seem to allow.

Once again, I suffered very sore ears and pressure on my head with these headphones and I really don’t think the extra weight helped here. The Grado’s just need slightly larger ear-pads I think, to get this ear pressure issue sorted out, but the manufacturer does not seen to offer any… so it’s a case of “If the ear’s fit” then you will have the comfort that people like me crave.

The standard connector is 6.35 mm, so you will need to get an adapter for the of 3.5 mm jack that is used to connect to most MP3/iPod devices. I only had a normal adaptor around, and as you can see it’s awful! Grado does sell a converter cable that will allow you to just extend the cable as though it’d part of the original cable, so nothing nasty will stick out!

I had one moment of panic that really had me sweating… the Right earpiece fell off!!! I went to alter the position of the cup on my ear as it started to ache again, and it just came off in my hand!!! A quick push of the cup back on the metal pin and it’s back to normal again, but at the price of these headphones surely this should not happen? My hear rate has went back to normal and after a few more hours the thing is still tight on, so I have no idea why on earth to came off so easily in the first place!

Overall, at the price, I really don’t feel that these headphones are for me. You on the other hand should take the time to go to a quality HiFi store and listen to the music for yourself. Take in your own digital media device and make up your own mind. As it is, they are very nice, but just not nice enough to convince me to pay for them.

GRADO SR125i REVIEW


Once again, I have been given the chance to review another model of the GRADO series Headphones, the Grado SR125i unit by the guys over at “LOUD + CLEAR” in Glasgow who specialise in Hi-Fi, Cinema and Home Automation solutions.

Grado SR125i Features

  • Adjustable headband and cushioned earpads for comfort
  • Vented diaphragm and non-resonant air chamber for great detail and clarity
  • Drivers are matched to 0.1dB
  • Ultra-high purity, long crystal copper wire voice coil and copper connecting cord
  • Standard stereo 6.35mm (1/4″) full size jack plug

Grado SR125i Specification

  • Type: Open-Air Dynamic Supra-Aural
  • Frequency Range: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 98dB
  • Connectors: 6.35mm stereo full size jack plug

The shape and design of these headphone’s are the same as the GRADO SR80i unit, with the ear pads being slightly larger, and recessed slightly more to allow a bit of space between your ear and the speakers themselves. You will still look like “Biggles” but this time around… well… read on!

What a difference it makes to have that larger pad against your ear! The pressure problem that I had with the 80i’s almost disappeared, there was some sensation of pressure but negligible this time and it was only after many solid hours of use that the pressure became noticeable,

As you can see by visiting the unboxing video I made, the packaging is the same as the 80i as well, but with these units coming in at the £160.00 mark, the difference has to be something else… and I have to say, that difference is absolutely incredible.

In testing the headphones out I used a wide and varied range of tracks that cover subtle sound, through Rock and the obscure, and as you can see below, I have tried to cover a varied range of tracks to prove my point. The hardware used was an i7 iMac, with my audio linked in via the Behringer Xenyx 802 Mixer, with the audio played via iTunes.

Velvet Revolver: She Builds Quick Machines – Standard Rock music that you would expect from Slash & Co. I have listened to this track so many times, and now with the SR125i’s I am left thinking what the hell I have been missing! The start of this track is quiet and hits you full on with guitar work, with cheaper headphones just collapsing and distorting, and then the audio kicks in with next to no clarity in the backing guitar work. This time, I’m left almost speechless as there is now a whole new range of guitar work that I have never heard before, and subtle backing audio that again I have not heard before, all just hammering out perfectly clear with zero distortion. I had to stop and restart this track 5 times to just take in what I have been missing on my Sennheiser HD595’s that I regard as being the best headphones I have used!!!

Velvet Revolver: The Last Fight – Ballad style track with plenty of guitar work in it. I’m left stunned again… Lyrics and audio that I have never heard before, it’s just pumping out of these headphones and I’m now becoming quite worried that what I considered to be quality has in fact been… well…. junk!

Santa Hates You: Domina Mors – Electronic/synth with choir style backing, and increasing heavy synth bass. With these headphones I was hearing extra layers of vocals that I have never heard before, sweeping left/right mixing that again I have never experienced before… Stunned to say the least! The bass increasing in volume was handled with impunity with the vocals remaining clear, and the bass handled as if by a true master… there was no way these headphone’s would be dominated by this track, it took it and controlled it beautifully.

Aqua: My Mamma Said – Pop Music as you would expect! Right… I just have to accept that these headphone’s are pulling out tracks hidden from me for all these years… This track has so many backing layers that I’m feeling like I am listening to a brand new mix once again!!

Rob Dougan: Furious Angels – Dramatic track that I really love but now love even more as once again I feel like I am listening to a new mix of it. The headphones handle it all with complete ease, zero distortion and all the levels coming through ultra clear….

Ok, I give up… You can guess that I like these headphones….

I am genuinely humbled by these headphone’s, more so after I reviewed the previous model and felt that while they produced good sound… they did not do anything else that my current headphone could not do. So for an extra £60 or less, the difference to me is just not worth debating. If you want to buy a Grado branded set of headphone’s then I’d say you buy these over the 80i’s as these are in a league of their own.

PRO’s: Need I even bother writing anything else?

CON’s: After a few hours the ear pieces do start to press into your ears, but that may just be me, you may have a better shaped head than I!! From what I have experienced in listening to my music through these headphone’s the slight pressure is worth experiencing.

GRADO SR80i HEADPHONE REVIEW


I have had the good fortune to be given a set of “Grado Labs”, SR80i headphone’s for evaluation by the great people down at “LOUD + CLEAR” in Glasgow who specialise in Hi-Fi, Cinema and Home Automation solutions.

The one thing I should point out about any headphone review, is that no matter what is considered good, or bad in a review, we all differ in what we want from headphones, and what we hear when we use any. So, this review of this item are based on my needs, my hearing range and my head shape!

Grado SR80i Features

  • Adjustable headband and cushioned earpads for comfort
  • Vented diaphragm and non-resonant air chamber for great detail and clarity
  • Drivers are matched to 0.1dB
  • Copper wire voice coil and 4 strand connecting cord
  • Standard 3.5mm stereo mini plug with 6.35mm adapter

Technical Specification

  • Type: Open-Air Dynamic Supra-Aural
  • Frequency Range: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 98dB
  • Connectors: 3.5mm stereo mini jack plug with 6.35mm adapter

When you look at the box holding the Grado SR80i’s it’s basic to say the least, and on opening the only thing inside the box are the headphone’s, the foam padding, a couple of pieces of paper and the extra connector. Very basic to say the least!To see the box and components you can have a look a very short unboxing movie made to show the items you will receive when/if you purchase these headphone’s.

First impressions of the headphone’s is that they look like something “Biggles” would wear! Certainly a very retro style in my opinion!!

If you are looking for a set of headphones to use while in company, then the SR80i’s are NOT what you want as these headphone’s leak audio like water pouring through a sieve! So, if you are thinking of using this type of headphone on a train, plane or automobile, rest assured, your passengers will not be happy in having to be subjected to your music, and will probably make the point by subjecting you to a few pokes or slaps to turn your music off!

Are we off to a bad start? Not really, just pointing out that these headphones are designed to provide you with clear audio, and to give you the clearest sound possible whilst not hindering the sound by audio bouncing all around an enclosed ear piece and altering the audio experience.

The cable length if fine for general use, and the thickness of the cable seems very good, so there is no feeling that it’s going to snap on you easily.

In testing the sound quality of these headphone’s I had them plugged into a Behringer Xenyx 802 mixer so I could play around with the sound and push them to the limits of my audio needs.

As expected, the quality of the sound through these headphones is really good, and pushing the bass hard did nothing to phase them and no distortion was heard. The mid tones came over very clear as well, but I felt the sound felt sort of light due to the nature of the headphone’s openness. I prefer a more warmer/meatier sound myself, but these produced clear quality audio with no sense of being strained at any time.

Personally I found the ear pads to be quite uncomfortable and felt a lot of pressure on my ears, so for me these headphone’s would not be an ideal choice, but after having a few other people test the headphone’s out they said they felt very comfortable, light and had incredible sound quality, so it just show you that you really do need to go and test out serious headphone’s rather than just reading a review and ordering them up!

We have a Yeti In The House!



While I still debate on the route I am going to take on replacing my PC hardware here, I have also been looking into improving the quality of audio presentations that I do while doing YouTube video’s or just general Skype calls.

The standard microphone that is inside the iMac and the microphone that is inside the Logitech C910 web camera that I use are ok for what they do, but clearer and less distorted audio is something I felt I had to sort out, but I was not too sure on the right way to go about this.

I did know that I was only doing this sort of thing now and again, so the idea of a mixing desk and the like was ruled out straight away, though a lot of that train of thought was also down to how complicated it all appeared to be to me! So, scouring the Internet and reading as many reviews as I could, I decided that the best device for me would be the “Blue Yeti USB Microphone”. It appeared to offer all the functionality that I would ever need, and at a later date if I needed something better,  I’m sure I could re-sell it for a reasonable price.

I decided to buy the microphone from Amazon.co.uk as they had it in stock, could deliver it next day and for just under £100.00 felt that it was a reasonable price to pay for something that appeared to be well reviewed by everyone and every site I had visited.

So, Saturday morning 15/1/11 at 10:00am and the beast arrives!

I then decide to do an unboxing video of the event that you can view * HERE * and after that, I plugged the device into my iMac and it found is immediately! I followed the instructions for setting up the audio input and output, but found that I could not hear anything through the headphones I had plugged into the Yet. I checked, and then double checked the settings, but nothing would come through. So, I did a reset of the iMac and brought it all back up again, only to discover that the iMac could not even detect the Yeti any more! Doing some quick searches online for technical support, I removed all attached USB devices on the iMac and started the system again, but the Yeti was no longer being detected.

So, ignoring the iMac, I moved across to the Windows 7 PC here, plugged the Yet in and proceeded to get a message telling me that an unknown device was attached! No amount of re-inserting would make any difference here, the yet was in fact DEAD by all accounts!

Now I did video a small sticker on the bottom of the yeti box that indicated that this was a NEW device, and to be honest, the box was extremely dusty as well, so based on what has happened I just have the feeling that this model has been a refurbished/repaired device and I suppose it should have just work, but with the luck I seem to have, that was not the case!

Maybe this is the “Tech God” telling me to either go the Switcher Route or not to bother with a Microphone at all, but either way, at least I have arranged to get a full refund on the device from Amazon and will use the time to ponder and reflect on the next route open to me.

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