Monday, July 11, 2016

The Element

Since I switched to the Fostex T50RP headphones, I have been having an issue with my "at work" DAC / AMP the Aune X1S. The Aune is just not powerful enough for the T50s.  These are seriously power hungry headphones and maxing an AMP out is never a good idea.  The Aune is great amp/DAC combo, but not for this usage.

So, I switched to JDS Labs The Element. More than capable of powering any pair of headphones you throw at it. There is something addicting about the large volume knob on top of The Element.  It's a good feel interface that is superbly made.  I also love that the DAC remains active with the power switch off.  So my externally powered speakers can make use of it when I'm not using the headphones, and I do not have to unplug them.

Here is a review of The Element by user ZeosPantera. This should cover what I have not.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

I'm starting to agree

I have been doing more JavaScript programming over the last few years that I would ever have imagined.  Node JS and React have really changed the way I think about programming.  I can honestly say I would prefer to create a web application with NodeJS, SailsJS, EJS, and React over Java, Spring, and JSP.   Know there are other options and variations on these. But, the JavaScript based stacks is just more enjoyable, and more importantly quicker for me.   Realizing and acclimating to this new reality is an on going process.

I was just sent these two articles today. I should have already been aware of.  If you haven't read them yet, give them some attention, there are some interesting ideas to mull over.

The Two Pillars of JavaScript - PT 1,  and PT2.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Chromebook Solution

I decided to get another Chromebook to "play" with.  The first one I had was impressive, but I gave that one away.  When I heard that google was bringing Android apps to the Chromebook platform I decided to give it another go.

I got the Acer Convertible Chromebook R11. It's plastic, small, cheap, and more importantly it feels fast and responsive.  I'm not sure I'll use it in tablet mode much, but having the touch screen will be nice when the Google Play Store is added.

For many people a Chromebook would be all the computer they need.  Email, browsing, social apps, messaging, and basic productivity tools are all available. With increased security and the ability to reset the device at anytime and you have a nearly perfect machine for most normal computer users.

If you are a developer who needs more out of a machine then you still have options on the Chromebook.  You can put it in "Developer mode" get to a shell and install linux via crouton.  It can really be fun to embrace the limitations of this platform and try to get work done with different tools and in different ways.  Limited memory and storage are probably the biggest problems you will have to deal with.

Overall, I'm really happy with this device.  I'll keep it to goof around with and to take on trips when I don't want to risk taking my macbook.  I would also highly recommend this or another version of Chromebook to anyone looking for a new computer for normal daily use.  they are simple, fast, and easy.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Headphone Wishlist

Not saying I'm going to buy these anytime soon, but if money were no object these would be on the top of my list.

  • Sennheiser HD 800 S: I have always loved the clean Sennheiser sound, and these are some of their best.
  • Mr Speakers Ether C: Closed Planar Magnetic. These would be a replacement for the Alpha Dogs. They would also probably be the only headphones I would need.
  • Stax SR-009: Electro Static headphones often called "The Best Headphones".  You could also say the most expensive.  They even require a special amp to play them. 
  • Sennheiser Orpheus: I would just like to hear these. I'm not sure I would ever buy them, even if money were no object.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Headphones - cont.

Well, I was dead wrong about the Fostex T50RP not needing more power.  They will play to an ok volume without a better amp, but they sound much better when given more power.  At work I'm using the Aune X1S and I have to crank it pretty high.  At home I'm using the Schiit Modi 2 Uber, and the Schiit Magni 2 Uber.  The Magni 2 Uber has a gain switch, and the high setting is more than equal to the task.

Now I need to re-rip most of my CD collection. Too many ripped at too low a bit rate.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Headphone Obsessed

I've been obsessed with Headphones lately.  I'm a huge fan of Sennheiser.  I like the clean sound their headphones reproduce.  I recently discovered a few new sources of information, which have reignited my interest in trying different brands and types of headphones.
You can spend any amount of money on audio equipment $20, $100, $200, $500, $1500, $10000, $50000.  Generally speaking the more you spend the better things sound, but you have to go higher and higher in price to get smaller and smaller improvements in quality.  And, don't even get me started on tube amps, and Hi res music.  I'm not sure my ears can tell the differences between 44 khz and 192 khz audio.  I've taken the audio tests, and unless a track is encoded poorly, it is very difficult for me to tell the difference.  You have to listen for very specific cues to tell the differences between low and high quality mp3s even.  My ears are old and abused.

While consuming all this new information I kept seeing buzz about Planar Magnetic headphones, basically the cheaper cousins of Electrostatic headphones. Planar headphones provide a clean crisp wall of sound, they don't require special amplifiers to drive them, though they often require more power than your smartphone may be able to provide.  They are better suited to home / work listening.

One of the many companies making Planar Magnetic headphones is Fostex, a Japanese company that has been around for years.  They make a line of headphones that have been long loved by the modding community. 
  • T20RP Mk3 Open
  • T40RP Mk3 Closed
  • T50RP Mk3 Semi-Open
I purchased the T50RP Mk3 from Amazon.  I also ordered a closed pair of modded Fostex from Mr Speakers.  I love my Alpha Dogs, they are the most comfortable headphones I have every worn.  But, the cheaper un-modded headphones sound better to me.  I have not received the replacement ear pads I have ordered for them yet, which should make them more comfortable for extended listening.  I also replaced the cable they came with.  This review by Zeos provides a better description of these than mine.

However, I don't agree these are as difficult to power as he implies. They do take more power than normal cheap headphones.  But, at home I use an Aune XS1 with no trouble, and at work I use the USB powered SMSL M2.  My phone can power them to an ok listening level, but not really enough to make them loud.

Other than comfort, which you can modify, the T50RP MK3 are nearly perfect headphones. If you need fully closed headphones, the T40RP should be great.  If money were no object I would seriously consider getting a pair of Fostex TH900. Hopefully I'll be able to listen to these some day.

Oh and if you want to see something completely insane check out Sennheiser's Project Orpheus. $55,000 for Electrostatic Headphones and Amp.  Welcome to crazy town.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Apple Pencil - Quick Review

I got my Apple Pencil a few weeks back.  I checked in our local Apple Store multiple times to see if they had one that I could get earlier, but they did not.  If they did receive any early, they did not stay in the store for very long.

I have used the Pencil with Notes, Paper, and Procreate.  Each application uses the pencil well, with very little lag.  Not surprisingly, the built in Apple Notes app makes great use of the Pencil.  I have used it for drawing and for note taking.  I end up with a mix of typed and hand written notes, and of course it works great for diagrams. 

Big thumbs up for hand-writing and note taking.

I'm a doodler at best.  I love using the Pencil to draw.  Definitely the best stylus I have ever used.  I hope to spend more time drawing and painting with the Pencil.  Hopefully I'll actually get better at it.