The Best & Worst Gifts this Holiday Season!!

Okay first lets start off with what not to get people this holiday season… smart devices!

With the rash of recent lawsuits regarding Smart TVs actually spying on people, you would have thought the public would have gotten the message.

What’s the message?

 

If it is not family or not paying rent, don’t let anything in your house that is smarter than you.:) That means saying ‘no thank’ you or ‘good buy’ to all these spying devices marketed as amiable servants or harmless entertainment.

That means no ECHO, no ALEXA, no XBOX, no Smart TVs. It means trading in your Roku or Amazon Fire microphone remote for a regular non-microphone remote.

 

Here is the thing… you want to know what the weather is… do the search yourself!

Same with the news, or the traffic. Do it your effing self. There is a point where convenience becomes a cage, and ease of access a trap.

Every camera in your house (laptops, phones, TVs, smart refrigerators, etc), should have a lens cap. And every microphone in your house (xbox, phones, laptops, alarm systems, smart thermostats, etc) should be able to be physically disabled/disconnected. Being able to determine yes I want this camera off, and yes I want this microphone off, and being certain that they have turned off, that is owning things. Having to trust in the hardware or the software that it is not recording you, and delivering that info to marketeers… that is being owned.

And increasingly in ‘Smart’ homes, the homeowner finds themselves in the latter category.

So yes those are the things not to buy this or any holiday season.

So what are some things worth buying? Well this installment let us discuss…

Portable DVD/CD players

The music industry is happy to get high quality physical music out of the hands of consumers, and especially the ability for them to burn their own discs; and to take us back to the 1950s in returning us to the inherently inferior medium of vinyl. And if you don’t know vinyl is inherently inferior, than you missed the previous paragraph about being smarter than the technology. 🙂

And sure we have streaming. But streaming is largely a gatekeeper format. We empower gatekeepers to store the media we pay for. That media can then be changed or deleted as commerce demands. Even deleted not just from the cloud, but from your media player.

Music thus becomes reduced to something, that though you pay for it, you do not in any substantial way control the thing you paid for. A CD (full WAV, not that MP3 nonsense)and a portable CD player, and a good pair of headphones… returns that control to you. That is what I call a priceless gift.

Here then are my recommendations for portable CD players, headphones, and great quality CDs to test out those headphones.

WONNIE 7.5 Inch Portable DVD Player with Swivel Screen, USB / SD Slot and 4 Hours Rechargeable Battery, Perfect Gift for Kids ( Black ) – While marketed as a gift for kids and the aged, this is actually a great compact portable DVD/CD player that plays a variety of formats at a ridiculously low price. And comes with great extras including a carrying case.

Now while it comes with basic headphones I would recommend the following headphones and amp combo when ready to take the sound from this portable to a better level.

HIFIMAN HE-400I Over Ear Full-size Planar Magnetic Headphones– Not cheap at around $200 but it is actually nearly 60% off of its retail price.

A slightly lower cost, but still well reviewed and lauded headphone option would be:

Fostex T50RP MK3 Professional Studio Headphones, Semi-Open

And while not necessary, an amp will help deliver quality sound to your headphones. Get yours at the link below:

FiiO A3 Portable Headphone Amplifier (Black)

Finally here are some must own CDs for testing out your headphones and just hearing great music:

Human

Up Close

Get Up With It

Midnight Matinee (XRCD24 Master)

That’s it for this installment. Follow our suggestions and you’ll have a portable system that will offer superior sound for a fraction of the cost of other options. And if you liked this post drop me an email, subscribe, use the above links or leave me a comment. or do all of the above! 🙂

Advertisements

YouTube vs Roku/Fire TV YouTube! CDs vs Records! And the de-evolution of America. Winner? MUSIC COMPANIES!

So i hate YouTube on the web.

I hate anything with an unmoderated comments section, that revels in talk show idiocy, or ‘attention through controversy’ or bad behavior.

But thankfully YouTube via streaming devices Roku or Amazon Fire TV, is actually devoid of those moronic comments and is more signal rather noise.

This week it has been brilliant helping me research and scratch my hifi/ audio need.

And by far, by far, the Youtube Channel I found the most useful of all, is the s)mply fantastic channel AUDIOHOLICS.

These guys can clearly call bs on the fuzzy thinking that makes up too much of hi-fi marketing and hype.

Such as the sillyness of various Youtube channels going on about the superiority of LPs over CD (I don’t care if you like LPs better, that is subjective. But LP/wax is an inferior medium, (I stress MEDIUM) that is not subjective, that is a fact.)

Talk about lossy system, LP is the original lossy system. It can’t handle the highs or the lows that CDs can, so has to be mastered in this very midrange sweet spot. Which is fine, in that midrange, if you’re good with that, and that sounds ‘warmer’ to you than a   CD, whatever. In the midrange if mastered right it can be perfectly fine. But one thing you lose in addition to those highs and those lows, that get clipped on wax, you lose the ability to reproduce the listening experience.

By that I mean, if you play a CD the first time, or the 500th time, and the hardware, the cd player, the speakers, amp, being the same; the quality of that recording will be the same as the first time you listened to it. That listening experience is reproducible.

Not so with wax/lps, like vhs tape or cassette tape, the LP playing experience is one of degradation. Everytime you play the medium, your start wearing it down minutely, and evertime you play it (though no one wants to think of it) it sounds worse than the previous time, because you are scraping into that signal, that medium.

I come from the analog generation, I played records, and vhs tapes, and cassettes until the quality noticeably started grinding down. And it didn’t then, and it doesn’t now, take too many plays, for that quality to start noticeably degrading.

So I have an experience with LPs and Cassettes, and in its time it was great, and it is still something to be said about large beautiful album covers and liner notes, the tactile process of it. But don’t confuse immediacy, with sound quality. And that immediacy doesn’t outweight the glaring flaws and problems with wax, in terms of sound quality, albums always getting futz on it,needles getting futz, the threat of warping, pops and cracles appearing out of nowhere.

We loved LPs because it was the best we had. But it was always a bit of a chore as anyone can tell you who grew up with them.

And I am not an LP hater. I think it has a place , and I still get the occassional LP, but generally these are recordings only available as LPs, or were mastered direct to wax.

The former being a lot of Quincy Jones stellar 60s and 70s avant garde film soundtracks such as the seminal IN COLD BLOOD. As far as the latter, I’m a purchaser and supporter of Jack White’s THIRD MAN RECORDS. This label goes to the stunning step of recording performances live and pressing directly to vinyl. You stilll lose some highs and lows when recording to wax, but in that midrange you get something very unique and original, you get a live concert experience unmoderated by overproducing.  That”s something very unique, and while I don’t see anything particularly superior in the sound, this at least has validity as something distinct from the CD. Unlike others taking tracks mastered for  a CDs range and just chopping off the highs and lows and slapping that on vinyl.

Vinyll can be great for these very unique niche projects. But as as additive to what should be a strong and healthy and forward looking digital market. To include CD and DVD and and SACD market.

It shouldn’t be this very cannibalizing either or scenario, in which music and choice….and the consumer… loses.

So when LD, CD, DVD came on the horizon it was then, and is now, a revolution, because suddenly you have something  you can buy that will rather than lasting 25 listens or views , if you are very careful and meticulous in keeping it cleaned and dust free,  before quality suffers, you have something that will keep its pristine quality, with just normal care for a minimum of 25 years. Not 25 listens like an LP… TWENTY FIVE YEARS! Minimum.

Now add greater dynamic range, larger capacity, and vastly increased lifespan and you have a medium,The CD/DVD, that by any definition is superior. And is by any measure the greatest boon to the video and audio consumer since the advent of recorded sound.

Now if a new generation gets sold on mp3 CDs and mp3 streaming and some badly mastered cds (and LPs can be equally badly mastered, any medium will have those who use it well and poorly. The difference being we have not yet exhausted the limits of how far we can take the CD and DVD and SACD. We are abandoning those formats before wecreach their limits. In favor of going backward to a medium, wax, whose limitations were always a source of frustration to audiophiles and engineers), and this young generation is bamboozled into writing off the most astounding and groundbreaking medium produced in the 20th century and goes backward to the flawed and not copyable ,and needing replaced often, analog medium, then who benefits?

I’ll tell you who… The RIAA and the music companies, who always viewed Digital with fear for the freedom it brought the consumer.

I tell you this new generation is giving away the baby with the bath water. Privacy, oh who needs that, put everything on facebook. Put surveillance systems in the guise of game consoles, and music players and smart devices in our homes.

Here’s the thing about smart devices and trusted computing, its about the companies being able to trust you, and not the other way around.

Conglomerates, are the ones benefiting from DVDs and CDs removed from the consumer and the return to records.This creates a model where the consumer owns music or video only on flawed, finite, non high-quality medium, and must go to the content provider for anything superior.

It is not only politically and morally and spiritually that America is devolving as a nation, but also in terms of technology.

 

My response… don’t let it.

Don’t buy the marketing and allow your rights to the future, be swept away by someone selling you the past. Continue to support full spectrum DVD, CD, and BluRay. And more than that let us continue to innovate, if people like the large LP format, lets give it to them, but in the superior medium.

I was a huge fan of Laser Disc, which works very much like a record, but using a superior medium, and a laser pickup instead of the horrible wax and needle medium.

Lets offer that as the 21st century version of records, to those who want Analog playback but with the benefits of digital transport/reproduction. That is a record I could get behind. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

p.s. And avoid youtube morons attempting to review speakers and amps by just playing music (uh, moron, if I could hear the quality of your system just by listening on my system… they would call that magic. How do you not realize that?)

This is the lack of common sense mentality  that has idiots ditching CDs for flawed LPs, and spending thousands to try and make those LPs reach a dynmaic range, that is beyond them.

 

Okay here endeth my rant!

 

Music Video of the Day??? Yep. Roku Vimeo Streaming VOD Style!

While the heyday of the music video was arguably 30 years ago, people are still cranking them out.  And without further ado here is one that I stumbled across today that is awesomely fun.

You can use the link below. Or, the better way to watch… If you have a streaming system such as Roku or Amazon Fire TV and the free Vimeo channel you can watch this on your big screen right now.

Strongly Recommended!

 

https://i.vimeocdn.com/video/614284207.jpg?mw=300&mh=168

SHY LUV – SHOCK HORROR feat Jones on Vimeo

 

Black Butter Records

Directed by bif
Produced by Riff Raff and Mill+