Articles for May 2015

Logitech Bluetooth Freepulse

I just recently acquired a new Logitech Freepulse Bluetooth Stereo Headset.

I’ve been a something of a headphone freak and have bought many headphones in search of that elusive “ultimate earphone gadget” to complement the audioplayers I have at my disposal, but thus far I’ve found that I always have to compromise something when it comes to my headphone gadgets. If it’s not sound quality, it’s comfort, or price, or any combination of the following.

Enter the Logitech Freepulse, which is touted as one of the best wireless solutions around, and I love having no wires. Wires are a hassle which contribute to problems of aesthetics, snagging, and logistic packing. It takes time to take a wired set out of its case, and rolling it up is a must if I am to store it without it looking like a complete mess. So I excitedly tore up the packaging for my new toy and with giddy anticipation fired up the pairing process and stuck it onto my iPod Touch, and one thought entered my mind:

“Are the testers for this product hearing impaired?!”

I mean these cans sound horrible! Does everyone actually think it sounds that good, or are they just blinded by the $100 price as opposed to the free stock iPod earbuds?

Seriously the stock iPod earbuds (the new ones that shipped with the Nano 2G, Touch, etc.) are way better in sound than the muddy, weak behemoth known as the Free Pulse. That it cost $100 more is irrelevant, it sounds horrible in comparison. It sounds a lot better than my old wireless bluetooth headset, the Omiz 5130 Wireless, but does not even compare to the stock iPod earbuds, which seem to get a lot of flak for some reason.

I have a bunch of earphones to compare to including a Sennheisser HD 212 Pro, Sennheisser MX550, Sennheisser PX100, iPod in-ears, stock Nano 2G and stock Touch earbuds, stock Walkman in-ears (for W880) and stock Sony (for K750), Shure e2C, Technics DJ1200 and I will tell you the stock iPod compares favorably to all my earbuds that aren’t full-sized cans. Not as good as the Walkman/Sony buds but it’s actually a lot better than the Sennheisser MX550s. The overrated Shure e2c for instance actually doesn’t sound much better and is a lot more uncomfortable to wear. The stock iPod earbuds definitely sound way better than the Free Pulse.

The Free Pulse has stronger bass response, but that’s about the only thing it has going for it. The treble isn’t even comparable. The iPod stock has a lot more clarity with the treble and recreates a better soundstage (with extra sounds like cymbals, triangles and acoustic guitar/ukelele/string riffs standing out more distinct opposed to the muddy mess that is the soudnstage of the Freepulse. The bass sound of the free pulse is stronger, but does not have much definition (even compared to the booming HD 212 Pro, which doesn’t come anywhere close to the other DJ cans, the Technics DJ1200). Further, the sound “hurts” the ears after about two songs, it isn’t a pleasant sound. This is further exacerbated by the fact that the Freepulse’s clamp design doesn’t bode well for big heads, meaning it hurts your ears and head by squeezing it. I found this could be remedied by wearing the Freepulse upside down (alleviating some of the stress on the ears — and it actually made the sound quality better for some reason).

Overall the sound quality is extremely disappointing, considering how every review I’ve read swears by the sound quality. See:

I cannot believe how much these reviewers love the sound of this headset, it’s just mindboggling.

In the end, preference for sound depends on the person. But there comes a point when the quality of a certain sound solution simply doesn’t wash compared to obviously higher quality ones. The Freepulse is the case of one of those headsets that is just obviously inferior to other higher quality ones like the HD212 Pro, the stock iPod earbuds, the Sennheisser PX100 and the Sennheisser MX550 — and all of these are less expensive (though understably so — they aren’t Bluetooth 2 EDR).

In the end I cannot justify or recommend the purchase of this headset based on soundquality. I would only recommend them to people who want to have a wireless headset to work with their iPods.

Speaking of working iPods, I don’t recommend this set to anyone not sporting an iPod or a Bluetooth-enabled device. The physical design was meant to match with iPods, with the included bases which are designed for specific iPods. There are bases for the Mini, the 4G iPod, 5G iPod, Zune and the Nano 1G but none for the newer models.

I own a Nano 2G and a Touch 16GB, and fortunately I found that the Nano 1G base works perfectly with these two models. The other bases might work with other gadgets you have but it’s a matter of luck if it works well. I also have an old Creative Muvo which works does not fit the Nano 1G base, unfortunately, and it’s a pain to change bases so I didn’t really get to test the other bases on it. You’ll have to hope one of the bases fits your device if you don’t have an iPod or Zune. Going without a base looks unsightly as the headphone jack is raised a bit, leaving a big space that looks plain bad — not to mention unstable.

Alternatively, if you have a bluetooth-enabled device that supports the Wireless Headset profile (like a newer model PocketPC or phone) you can pair the Freepulse headset directly by holding down the pairing button until it flashes red/blue, the passcode is 0000. This works well and provides better audio quality than going through the 3.5mm dongle, but will drain your device’s battery faster. I was able to pair mine with my O2 Atom Exec without any problems and the sound quality was better than passing it through the dongle.

It also bears mentioning that for those who plan to use the headset with a gaming device like the PSP, DS, or even your PC or PS3/Xbox 360, Bluetooth technology is not perfect yet and does not deliver the sound instantaneously — there is a slight delay in the transmission. This is not noticeable in most games but for a game where rhythm and timing are important like Patapon, Elite Beat Agents and Guitar Hero, that slight millisecond delay will throw your game off and make the game unplayable. Be warned.

When all is said and done, is this the headset for you? Well if you really hate cables and must have a wireless solution, and can test the fit of the headset or just believe in your luck that it’ll fit your head properly, AND do not mind so-so sound quality, then these are the earphones for you. They are relatively inexpensive at about $100US — I bought my first Omiz pair for around $150 — and have okay, but not great, sound quality. At least you won’t wretch at the poor sound like I did with my original Omiz 5130. But if you fancy yourself an audiophile, or close to being one, the sound quality will almost certainly disappoint — if you have a Nano 2G or newer iPod you will probably compare it to the stock earbuds and the result is not pretty.

All in all I do not recommend it to anyone except those who really must be without cables. You can find far better sounding (and looking) cans, albeit wired. While the Freepulse does offer you freedom from wires, it constrains you (and your head for that matter) in many other ways, so the trade-off does not seem worth it.

Rainbow Six Vegas II: the Illustrious History of FAIL begins Here

Holy Crap this had to be the single STUPIDEST Rainbow Six game ever made, hell the stupidest Tom Clancy game ever made, this was a freaking disgrace, a retarded pitiful excuse of a tactical combat game.

Let’s look at the glorious feature list:

  • Enemy Spawning out of thin air directly within your line of sight! Sometimes right next to you!
  • Stupid Enemy AI that never learns how to flank or otherwise take advantage of your blind side.
  • Scripted Events that put you right in the middle of an ambush situation where enemies spawn right in the middle of thin air, higher ground, and otherwise ready to take potshots at you while simultaneously decapitating one of your squad mates automatically upon spawn!
  • Lengthy Solo Flight mission to totally make you forget all manner of tactics and squad combat to ensure you go Rambo on a Hundred terrorists all by your lonesome!
  • Convenient ammo boxes found in plush condo units and casinos for no apparent reason!
  • Final Boss Fight in puzzle format that must be tackled via trial and error to figure out what to do, loading and reloading over and over as necessary after you inevitably die until you figure out what you’re supposed to do!

I mean goddammit a FINAL BOSS FIGHT what the heck, is this a JRPG? There is something about Tactical Shooter games that Ubisoft needs to learn, before they royally screw up and turn all of Red Storm’s previous masterpieces into Doom 4. Tactical Squad games are based on SQUADS! Repeat after me, SQUAD COMBAT!!! SQUAD CONTROL!!! SQUAD TACTICS!!!! Not going around fucking Rambo mowing down terrorists by the dozens!

This game just had massive fail all over it. To celebrate how much fail this game was, let me post this commemorative Fail Pic:

The MSI Wind

Today I bought a black MSI Wind U100LX and promptly ditched the Linux installation in favor of an nLited Windows XP install. This brand new baby is bigger than I thought it would be, but it is still very small and lightweight. In fact, it is even lighter than the Asus EEE PC 701! That was extremely surprising. I think it is because the battery is only a 3-cell battery compared to the EEE’s 4-cell.

Regardless, the larger screen size is wonderful and by itself is almost worth the price of the admission. The other important thing is the 160GB Hard drive which will allow me to keep all the anime downloads in one place.

It’s almost perfect, but I noticed a few issues. Aside from the obvious fact that it is larger than the EEE 701, which is a huge sorepoint for me, there are some nagging issues I can’t help but wonder about.

First off is the apparently flimsy build quality. Unlike the EEE which I felt I could carry around, drop, abuse, and otherwise treat in a very rough manner, the Wind seems a lot flimsier in comparison. While it does look sleeker and far classier than the EEE 701 (or any of the EEEs except for the newest business class model that is yet to come out) I don’t feel like I can treat this unit roughy. I feel like I have to baby it. And cost is not the reason behind it; first off the screen constantly wobbles from its hinge. Unlike the EEE which was rock solid, I feel like the Wind’s lid is liable to be blown off at any moment. If you move the screen it bends a bit and you can see the LCD discoloring at the point of flexing. That can’t be good.

The other problem is the very annoying position of the Fn key. They put the Fn key where the Ctrl key is supposed to be, and I’ve failed quite a few cut and paste attempts as a result. While the keyboard is nice, big and roomy this is a definite no-no.

Related to user input, the Synaptics touchpad that came with the device is godawful. Unlike the one that came on the EEE which is a “touchpad” according to Window’s device manger, this one is a “pointing device” and for the life of me I cannot find a scroll pad option on it. Unlike the touchpad on the EEE which had scroll pad options, point regions, and all sorts of very convenient effects, the Wind’s touchpad is simply a two-button, nothing more, nothing less. While this isn’t all that inconvenient the lack of a “scroll wheel” makes it a lot less usable, like going back from a wheel mouse to a normal two-button mouse. It is a very glaring issue.

My final problem is with the Atom processor, which is a bit hyped it seems. I cannot seem to get it to work properly with CoreAVC to decode 720p h264 files properly. I guess I will simply need to work on this more but hopefully I can get it to work soon, this was a big selling point of the Atom for me. If not for this, I would have just gotten an EEE PC 900 which had the same small factor as the 701, a very nice Synaptics touchpad, a very good battery and the same big screen resolution as the Wind.
Ah well, I’ll play with my new toy but somehow I don’t feel as blown-away by the Wind as I was by the EEE 701.

Logitech’s Dinovo Mini

Since I’ve had a PC setup as a home theater for quite some time now, I’ve been looking to find an elegant and practical input method for watching videos and otherwise working with the PC from the comfort of my bed.

The DiNovo Mini came out as a standout option over my wireless keyboard and mouse which was simply too big and too heavy to use for this purpose, and a wireless gamepad was simply not elegant or powerful enough. Other options I was thinking about was using my PocketPC via WiFi to do the controlling but it was a very clunky option at best — connectivity was not always good and the control features were not well-refined. The DiNovo Mini on the other hand looked like it would fit the bill.

Now that I have a DiNovo Mini things have changed. It does what it is supposed to do really well, and I am pretty happy with it. There are lots of reviews out there talking about the merits of the Mini and I will agree with pretty much everything that is said when it comes to its features and your ability to control your HTPC.

Thumb Typing is excellent, I am used to Blackberrys, Treos and PocketPCs with QWERTY so that was not a problem at all, although the device is wider than any QWERTY pad I’ve used so your thumbs will need to do some reaching. The Touchpad is not as good as a Synaptics touchpad on any laptop you’ll find out there but it is adequate. The rest of the button layouts are relatively well-thought of and it also has a light sensor like the HTC Universal to control the backlight of the keys. One thing about the keyboard is that it doesn’t have a “sticky shift” option — meaning that you have to hold the Shift key when you want to capitalize something, unlike in most handhelds where pressing the Shift key once will enable the next keystroke to be in shifted mode — this is a pretty useful option for thumb boards where you do not have multiple digits to hold a shift key and press another key down — but the DiNovo manages by providing two shift keys on each side, so one thumb can hold the Shift while the other presses the key to be shifted.

However there are a few things I would like to caution about the DiNovo Mini. For a keyboard that costs some $150US the build quality is very cheap. It has an extremely plasticky feel that does not exude quality, but rather feels like it will break at any time. The keys have a springy tactile feel that reminds you of a cheap plastic toy rather than a $150 quality thumb board. It’s worse that I have a point of comparison for it — they DiNovo Mini greatly resembles HTC’s awesome PocketPC the “Universal” which has the same QWERTY keyboard. Whereas the HTC Universal had a splendid QWERTY keyboard that oozed quality with its solid. but soft and rubbery keys and soft but solid tactile feedback, the Mini has springy, almost quivering keys with a cheap plastic feel.

This is extremely disappointing, but then considering all the overpriced, low-quality Logitech peripherals I have gone through is really just par for the course for Logitech.

For shame Logitech, you’d think with all that overpricing and virtual monopoly of the highend keyboard/mouse market you could put in some real quality in all of your products. Out of the 5 Logitech Purchases I had in the past two years only one had good quality — the Logitech PC Cordless Rumblepad 2 — the others had varying degrees of quality like the MX3200 Cordless Keyboard and Mouse which had stiff keys that couldn’t be pressed in unison (space bar + 2 WSAD keys doesn’t work, I know I use that in games all the time) and a mouse whose mouse wheel is practically impossible to press. Or the MX700 Mouse whose battery dies out after a few months?

Logitech has really been dropping the ball on quality and the DiNovo Mini is simply reinforcing my opinion that Logitech charges a premium for its products but cost-cuts to hell behind the scenes.

It’s not just the key quality that is cheap on the DiNovo — the engineering of the plastic cover for instance is not exact, there is a wobble when you close the lid and it doesn’t close precisely. More evidence of cheap, shoddy worksmanship, so much for the vaunted Swiss-engineering.

All in all though it fits a niche in my control scheme that I really needed. It feels like an HTC Universal being used to control my PC, and I loved my HTC Universal so that is not a bad thing.

VModa Vibe

I bought the Vmoda Vibe about a month ago because I needed a replacement for my Bose In Ear Triports. My Triport’s cabling had almost come undone. I originally had a Shure e2c, which I tried out because it was supposed to be the ultimate audiophile entrylevel in-ears, and true enough when I started out they sounded pretty cool.

Vmoda Vibe Midnight Blue
Vmoda Vibe Midnight Blue

I really loved how the e2c’s isolated all noise, and the mids and highs were pretty clear. They didn’t have too much bass though compared to my older set, a Sennheiser HD 212 Pro. The 212’s were a great set compared to the pack in earphones I got from my Creative Muvo and iPod but were just too large to carry around. They also sounded pretty “dirty,” that’s all I can say. Nice bass but not too clear, everything sounded a little fuzzy.

But the e2c’s had a really annoying drawback: they were totally uncomfortable to wear on the ears, and the thick cord that you had to wrap around its mammoth bulletproof carry case made it bulge in your pocket like a boner. So I stopped using them for a long time and just used the default white packins of my iPod Nano. Lo and behold, later I dusted off my e2c’s and I found they sounded really bad! I don’t know but believe it or not, the cheap $10 Apple packins really did sound better than the e2c’s to my ears.

As an added insult, I bought these rubber tips from Axxo which you put on the Apple packins, and the resulting sound was *really* good. I don’t know why people bash the Apple pack in’s so much, they sound really good. The newer ones anyway that come with the iPod Nano 2G and up. (the older ones that came with the iPod Video and older though really suck).

Anyway, back to the Vmoda — well before that I found the e2c’s really sounded bad and all of a sudden I felt I just wasted about $100 US on them a year back. So I went off to and found somebody to trade them for a set of Bose Triports. All I can say is this: I really LOVED the Triports, they sounded just right for me. People say they are bassy and boomy but I say bollocks, bass is awesome! And it’s not like you have to turn them all up and break your ear drums, at the right levels they sound really good.

As an added bonus they are by far the most comfortable earphones I have ever used, the silicon earbuds that don’t quite squeeze into your ear are really comfortable, and provided you use the right size they don’t fall off. They don’t isolate sound at all but that is a bonus in some situations — like when you are jogging. I would say the Triport In Ear’s are the ultimate jogging phones.

But anyway back to the VModa — since I got the Bose second hand they weren’t exactly in the best condition. A year later it seems the cable near the jack has started peeling, I think it’ll last another year or so if I baby it but it’s time I started looking for a replacement. I ended up getting the Vmoda Vibe.

The Vibe’s were very well-received, so I just took the plunge and bought them (for about $100 — same class as the e2c’s and the Triports). All I can say is, they are the best dang phones I have ever owned. They aren’t the best I’ve heard — my DJ friend has a pair of Technics which I steal from him every now and then and that really, really sounds awesome. I’ve also had the pleasure of playing with an Audio Technica M50 and that was very comparable to the Technics. And I’ve actually been shopping for a better full-sized headset and have been thinking of getting the Bose On Ear Triports (not to be confused with the In-Ear model) which I have to say *really* sound good, probably the best headset I have ever used.

But for now the Vibes are unbelievably good in all aspects. After a month I’ve given them sufficient time to burn in. At first they sounded a little flat and my girlfriend’s $15 SE Class A in-ears actually sounded better, but now I wouldn’t trade these for anything in this class.

The sound has nice bass, which I love. Some people say it is too bassy but again I say BOLLOCKS! They sound perfect, not too boomy but not too weak either. They don’t drone out vocals and higher sounds, I can hear high hats ring perfectly and there are lot of details in the sound.

Moreover, unlike the Bose in-ear’s this one has a very wide-sounding soundstage. I am not sure exactly why but in certain songs I can hear sound seem to come from behind me. It’s awesome when that happens (usually back-up vocals or surround instrument effects). With the Bose the soundstage was pretty compressed — one of its biggest weaknesses. This one though feels like there is a very wide stage around me, it’s incredible for such a small set. I usually expect to hear things like that from larger, full-sized cans.

And unlike the Shure e2c’s, the Vibes are very comfortable to wear for in-ears. They are not quite as comfortable as the Bose In Ear’s but they are quite nice to the ear and I can wear them for extended periods of time with no problems. You can even put your ear flat to your pillow and they do not cause much discomfort! So you can sleep with these if you need to.

Unlike the e2c’s though they do not cause a perfect seal — there is a little hole at the base of the tips which lets some sound bleed out: and some to bleed in. You can hear people talk to you with these on and playing tunes, unlike the e2c’s where the world suddenly blanks out once you start playing sound. This can be either a good or a bad thing depending on your needs or situation. You can for instance go biking or jogging with these and still hear incoming cars, but if you need to blank out the outside world completely they are not ideal. This is fine for me I do not need the isolation, and even if they do not perfectly drown out the world they still get rid of most sounds or blank them out to a whisper, so for instance if you are trying to sleep and your roommate snores loudly listening to these as you doze off will make for a pleasant experience.

They are also very small and compact, with an excellent carry case that slips into a pocket and you don’t even feel it’s there. The leatherette pouch has metal strips on the entrance instead of drawstrings, so you just pop it open to put the Vibes inside. Very nice touch. It also comes with a weird silicon “V-Wrap” which you can use to wrap the wire around to prevent tangling and shorten the wire to your preference. It works, though I don’t really like it too much.

Speaking of the wire, the wire is really divine. Instead of the usual plastic vinyle coating which inevitably becomes deformed from bending, winding and otherwise starts looking like a pig’s tail dangling from your ears (this has happened with my e2c’s, with the Triport’s, with my iPod packins, my Sennheiser MX550 and pretty much every other earphone I’ve used) this one is made of what seems to be some kind of cloth fiber similar to a shoe lace. It feels organic, it doesn’t mold to a certain shape, seems to keep clean and doesn’t pick up grime, and feels very sturdy. I love it! It looks cool too, which brings me to another cool thing about the Vibes:

They look AWESOME. Most earphones look rather dinky or dorky (the Triport In-Ears look weird and ugly, the Shure e2c’s were just UGH) but these are extremely stylish and are bound to turn quite a few heads. I got the midnight blue model and it looks very sleek.

Another nice thing about the Vibes is that they have a thin input jack which fits in the iPhone Classic’s annoying recessed jack. This was a huge deal breaker for me with the Triports but with the Vibes I can use my iPhone to listen to tunes when I feel the need to, instead of just relying on my Nano.

Again, the Vibes are excellent all around and the best earphones I have ever owned. I use them in the house and especially outside, but I intend to get the Bose On Ear Triports for use at home. That will happen a little later, since the On Ears cost about 9,000php or like $200US.

For now though the Vibe’s are one of my best purchases ever, unlike the overrated Shures. I spent about $100US on it but that was money well spent. I am completley happy with these.

Bose Triport On Ear

I would like to start off by saying that I am no audiophile. I am an unapologetic bass head and I don’t give a rat’s ass about frequence curves, headphone specs or “natural, balanced sound.” In other words, I’m ignorant, but I know what sound I like.

I think this is an important thing to note, as your mileage with the Bose On Ear Triports will likely vary depending on what kind of sound you are looking for and just how far up the audiophile ladder you are on (since audiophiles pretty much unanimously hate Bose and all their products).

The Bose Triport OE's
The Bose Triport OE’s

So I got the Bose Triport OE’s two days ago for 7,000php, which translates to about $160US. My personal taste probably qualifies me best to become a Bose OE lover. Without using too much technical audio jargon, I would like to describe my experience with the OE Triports, in a way the average reader can relate to.

Sound Quality

The phones have a very warm, full-bodied sound. To explain better what I mean by that, imagine yourself holding a metal tin can to your ear. This creates a pitched, metallic rattling sound if you hear something from that ear. Now instead imagine that you have a wooden cup to your ear, the sound will be thumpier and smoother around the edges. That is the kind of sound you can expect from these phones — they leave a nice thump in your chest, and embrace you in an earthy feeling, as if you were wrapped up in a thick wool blanket in your bed on a cool summer night.

I will also say that the bass is magnificent on these. Some people complain that the OE’s are too bassy and that they drown out all the other sounds — but this was not how I felt about these at all. But remember, I am a true blue bass-head so you might have different ideas. But I always felt that the rest of the sounds — like vocals, high hats, steel strings, etc. were never drowned out and instead were very clear out on the fore. The bass felt like a separate layer on the fringe underneath the other sounds, instead of at the forefront and the other sounds a distant memory.

And if it is really too much for you, well try reaching for the equalizer — iPods and most other sound sources have EQ settings and using “Treble Booster” or “Bass Reducer” can help if the bass is too much, and there is another simple trick you can do — I found that changing the position of the OE’s on your head changed the sound signature significantly. By moving it a little back on my ears (presumably causing sightly more clamp) The bass became more powerful, moving forward it became slightly weaker — though the crispness of the sound also suffered. Different heads probably will yield different results so experiment with molding the sound for your own head.

There is a sound hole (I believe these are one of the ports where the name Triport comes from) near the bottom of each earpiece. These seem to allow air to push out to create the powerful bass sound. If you cover these holes with your finger, the sound signature immediately changes and you hear far less thump in your sound. So whatever it is that Bose is doing with their Triport technology, it is clearly working. The effect was more pronounced than on its sister product — the Triport In Ears — where covering the sound holes did not signficantly reduce the bass response.

Physical Qualities

Outside of the sound, OE’s look very tasteful and classy. Today Skullcandies are all the rage and you still get some really retro-looking headphones in the vein of the Grado S60, but the OE’s have a very clean, minimalist appearance, with silver trimmings. It looks very good, and I think a lot of people wouldn’t mind being seen in public wearing them.

The design lets the earphones rest on your ears (what is known as supraaural) rather than around them — hence the name On Ears. They are an open set, meaning they are not meant to isolate your ears from outside noise. This also has the advantage of giving them an airy, roomy sound. However you will still hear some outside sound leakage, but the purpose of these cans is not to block out all sound — Bose has some really expensive headphones going by the Quiet Comfort monniker for that purpose.

Speaking of comfort, the OEs are perhaps the most comfortable supraaural headphones I have ever tried. The design is very unintrusive to your head and light on the ears. I will note though that the set I bought seems to clamp a little tighter on my ears than the pair I tried at various shops in malls. I am thinking I just need to loosen it a bit more by putting it around a basketball for a day or something.

*** Sound Test ***

Now, let’s talk more about the specifics of the sound and how they sound with different kinds of music. My taste in music gravitates towards smooth jazz, alternative, house, and various kinds of Japanese pop, but I will listen to pretty much anything that sounds “good” (wow nebulous term there). While I do like acoustic sounds, I am also fine with electronica. Strange dichotomy there, but what the hey. I think the Bose OE’s sounded fine with anything I threw at it, but its greatest strength is probably acoustic music with strong bass (like lounge jazz with the nice thump of an acoustic double bass).

Comparative Set

To really get a good handle on this, I listened to a whole set of music and I will explain the sound more in detail for each piece. I will be comparing them to a set of Sennheisser HD 212 Pros. I realize the Sennheisers are about 1/3rd of the price, but they are the only comparable set in terms of size and type. I was thinking of comparing them to the Shure e2c’s, which is the most expensive set I have after this one, but those are in-ears and not really the same kind of earphone. (and besides I sold my e2c’s off to someone already so it’s impossible to do a side-by-side comparison)

The 212’s are a supraaural set designed for DJ use, and have a very bright, metallic sound to them. I find that they fall apart when playing tracks with lots of distorition, and work best to play “clean” sounds like Pop, Jazz and Acoustic. I find that strange for a DJ set that will probably work with a lot of electronica, but on the other hand the 212’s have a good bass presence — just nowhere near as much as the OE’s.


I will put both cans through the paces of these tracks and will use the 212’s as a point of comparison for the OE’s. All tracks are played through Winamp on my PC using an Auzentech Prelude. I did not use an DSPs for Winamp, and I disabled the equalizer. They are encoded as bitrates from 224 to 320kbps using the Auzentech’s music encoding functions, and also have the Prelude’s Crystallizer function on to 80% to help add some range to the compressed MP3s. I disabled CMSS-3D, which may be a dubious decision as it is less natural and creates a much better soundstage than the original recording’s, but I am trying ot judge the headphone’s ability to create a soundstage rather than the soundcard’s, even if I listen with the function on (and most people use Surround effects on their amps too). Disabling the 3D effect is also closer to how it would sound on a portable, and I am sure many people intend to use the OE’s for their iPods and what not. I’ve had the 212s for about 5 years, and they are well-burned in. The Bose went through a 2-day burn in period, probably around 30 hours total.

Take on Me (a-Ha)
I wanted to start off with an 80’s New Wave track. This song has a lot of synthesized sound, a fast beat and full male voice with a good high and low range and doing lots of falsettos while digging deep. The 212’s predictable gave a very crisp sound with all the electronic sounds, but I found that after a while the tinny sound of it grated on my ears about a minute into the song. The airy chorus sounds of the song sounded distorted and made me take the earphones off after the first chorus. It was that bad. Like I said, the 212’s fall apart when you have a lot of distorted electronic sound in the mix. The OE’s managed to provide a lot of energy compared to the 212’s by providing that thumping feeling. Yet it never lost the vocals even in the falsetto’s, and there are a lot of xylophone-like sounds travelling around from left to right that you can actually follow along the soundstage. The OE’s really sounded great with these.

All Along the Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix)
Now for some vintage rock from the late great Jimi Hendrix. I prefer the Hendrix version to the original Bob Dylan because it of the guitar riffs — this one has a lot of that raw sounding guitar riffs using phazers and all those cool, raunchy effects. With the 212’s, again, the sound was unbelievably bright. I lowered the volume to make it less harsh on the ears, but the annoying triangle metallic sounds still persistently got into my head. The guitar riffs came out really well as did Jimi Hendrix’s voice, and the drums were there in the back making a statement. Overall an okay sound. However when I went to the Bose, I then suddenly realized this track actually had a bass guitar in the back along with the drums, too. :) The bass guitar was barely even noticeable on the 212’s. But it did not overpower the vocals or the guitar rifs, but provided an additional depth to the song. The metallic triangle sounds used were also still there intact, but not on the forefront like they were with the 212’s. This song definitely sounded better on the OE’s.

Enter Sandman (Metallica)
Next, I wanted to really make the 212’s bleed with a track from Metallica. This song uses a lot of distorted guitars all the way as is the norm for Metallica, but unlike some trash metal bands (and even just alternative bands) out there Metallica has very clean sounding distortion going on. Yes, that sounds like a misnomer but whatever. The 212’s actually gave a very respectable performance, to my surprise. It was especially good at the initial guitar riff before the bass drums kick in, but even when the distorted guitars jumped in it gave a very good sound. Overall it sounded great on the 212’s, but I barely noticed the bass details of the song — that’s fine Metallica was never really about its bass. On the OE’s the entire song again became more full-bodied because of the additional bass presence. And again, the bass was there, you felt it, but it never drowned out the rest of the sound. This track so far came the closest to providing a comparable experience between the two cans, but the OE’s still sounded better when all was said and done. I like to point out that the OE’s did really well with this kind of distorted guitar sound — again these cans can handle any kind of music as far as I’m concerned.

The Gate of the Hell (JAM Project)
JAM Project is a progressive rock band made of well-established artists in Japan. Don’t laugh, but they focus on making music for anime and video games. That said they are very good and their style of progressive rock reminds me a lot of Queen. This song, Gate of the Hell, is part of the Mazinkaizer sound track but it sounds a hell of a lot like Bohemian Rhapsody, with chorus voices, wild riffs and a melody that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and changes step every few seconds. The 212’s really struggled with this song; there was a lot of noise everywhere and the voice choruses all over weren’t helping. On the OE’s it was like a totally different experience; like night and day frankly. Aside from not being overwhelmed by all the noise in the song, I was able to make out more of the voice overs. The bass actually took a backseat on this particular song despite the OE’s bass-heavy signature; I think there was just too much sound in the recording. Despite that the different sounds – vocals (solos and choruses), electronic sounds, various distorted guitars, the drums, etc. they all were pretty individual and well-defined unlike with the 212’s where they all sounded like a big blob of noise. These Bose OE’s are excellent at imaging, make no mistake.

Alive (Pearl Jam)
Let’s move on to some Grunge from one of the biggest names in the genre. This one has that dirty guitar sound and lots of riffs, a strong bass presence, Eddie Vedder’s awesome vocals and a laidback drums that explode into action. I didn’t think it would be so bad after Enter Sandman but the 212’s just sounded like shit on this song. There was some great imaging on the two guitars used, the drums, and the bass as well as Eddie’s vocals, but it just sounded too “dirty” for a song that is supposed to sound dirty! They were really harsh on my ears. It sounded best in the bridge part after the 2nd chorus where the song mellows down a bit, but after that it dips into the ending jam and it becomes a total mess. On the other hand, the OE’s we got the same soundstage and imaging, AND once again, a more full-bodied experience. The “dirty” guitars sounded a lot cleaner and the chorus part “whooaa I’m still alive…” really felt like a change in the pace because the bass track changes deftly at this part, giving the song a different rhythm. It wasn’t as noticeable on the 212’s. Hitting the bridge part emphasized this even more, and the final jam at the end was not a mess but instead a more pleasurable experience. I do think that by the time I hit that part my ears were starting to get fatigued by all the sounds going on (It didn’t help that I listened to JAM project twice before this song). I would conclude I suppose that Grunge is not the OE’s strong point.

Lion (Jinn)
For my final alterantive/rock piece I chose Jinn. Jinn is a J-Rock band with a really standout bassist. His basslines are really strong, complex and detailed, and he always stands out in the songs — even more than the shrieking lead female vocalist. :) This song will really give us an idea of how well the cans handle a good bassline. The 212’s did really well on this song, it didn’t sound bad at all. The bassline was driven pretty well, but was in the background. And therein lies the difference; on the OE’s the bass was the star, although the distorted guitar riffs were very clear on the edge of the sound, and the vocals straight in the middle. The bass melded into the sound from below and really made the sound come together. So while the 212’s did a decent job, the OE’s were far better on this track, hands down.

Amber (311)
Now for something more rasta. Amber has a nice, laidback rasta beat to it in addition to some nice clear male vocals and drumwork. The 212’s were very good on this track, and I caught myself nodding my head back and forth to the beat. The 212’s bright sound signature actually complimented this song very well, adding a strong character to the drumwork and the rasta-style guitar riffs. That said, I much preferred how the OE’s delivered the sound, rasta is about beat and the OE’s delivered the bassline beat way better. And it’s not like the metallic quality on the high hats was lost. Another score for the OE’s, I think they handle this genre really, really well.

Burning Down the House (The Cardigans feat. Tom Jones)
Now for something different, an unusual sounding band with really smooth, sexy female vocals and the sex bomb of male vocalists, Tom Jones. The 212’s did well, the song wasn’t very noisy and the vocals for both Nina and Tom came out very well. The bright sound signature also gave the instrumentals a very strong quality. On the OE’s as usual gave a stronger impression with an emphasis on the low end. This actually made the soundstage feel wider and served to showcase both vocalist’s voices. It also sounded less fatiguing on the OE’s.

Love Potion (Aarron Ross Feat. Gia Mellish)
Time to bring out some House! I know Tom Jones just burned it down but here’s another genre that really needs good bass response. I usually listen to this on my customized Z5500 setup for full effect, Hed Kandi stuff should really be on the beach house with a large sound system with a few sexy ladies around you to really appreciate. :) This will really test a pair of cans on whether they can deliver it properly. This is the kind of music the 212’s was made to handle, and I think they did a competent job. I realize I said the 212’s fell apart when there’s a lots of electronica or distortion going around, but they were pretty good here and the highs were very distinct (again due to the 212’s sound signature) and the bassline could be heard — but not danced to. And that is the difference with the OEs — I actually got up and started dancing with those on! Which ended with the cord snapping off the OE’s but oh well I better get a longer cord to go with them next time, ~lol~ The OE’s officialy rock with House music.

Mass Destruction (Lotus Juice feat. Yumi Kawamura)
Here’s a videogame song. It’s dance music with some rap and female vocals, in the absence of some actual rap music (that I typically don’t like) this will be a decent substitute. The HD212’s sounded really dirty and subpar on this song with the guitar riffs, but did a good job with the vocals — not so much for the rap which was just okay, but Yumi Kawamura’s “Oooh Yeah! Baby Baby!” vocals were rendered excellent with some really nice imaging. The OE’s though really brought out the raunchy growling guitar riffs and brought way more life to the song. The rap was again fine, but I guess rap just isn’t my thing. Yumi’s vocals though were even better here in terms of the imaging. It sort of melded together on the 212’s but here the chorus vocals seemed a layer below the main vocals and it was a far better effect.

River Song (Bebel Gilberto)
Okay, time for some Bossa. Bebel Gilberto has this really smooth, sexy voice and Bossa has a smooth, loungy sound you’d associate with five star hotels. The 212’s I guess are just no good with this genre. The sound is too “sharp” and gives an edge to what is supposed to be a really smooth, relaxing song. The OEs though were *really* good with this one. The beat, the vocals, the background instruments all were in the right place and gave this a really smooth, airy feeling.

Nao Vou Fugir (Ive Mendes)
Ive Mendes is such a sensual and erotic singer, I mean just listening to her I could come, lol. This is one of her signature songs and it’s not as jazzy as bossa but it’s her own brand of latin music. Such a rare sound, but once again, the 212’s were too sharp and harsh for this song. They actually did well all things considered, but there was too heady a feeling as opposed to a smooth feeling, and it felt like the sound was constricted in a tight space. The OE’s as usual delivered a much more airy feeling, with a far wider stage and with marvelous lows that really capture the sensual feeling. Ive’s voice was also a lot fuller and you could sync with that really erotic way she breathes in before a passage. I guess the OEs just do really well with lounge style music, and latin/Brazilian in general.

Tomorrow (Mikuni Shimokawa)
Now for a huge change in pace. This track is a typical JPop song that is still listenable for the masses. The large number of ambient and background sounds you find in a JPop song in addition to the usual guitars and drums, melded with pleasing female vocals. The 212s frankly sounded horrible on these, like a distorted tin can, despite there not being much distorted sound in the song. The OE’s though did not really sound all that good either, it put bass in a song where I practically heard no bass with the 212’s, but all the weird sounds going around along with the drums and guitars did not really complement the vocals too well in this one. This might not be the best song to showcase either headset.

Bokura no Jikan (eufonius)
Here’s an acoustic Jpop song that has a relaxed, jazzy feel. This one has a very nice acoustic double bass, among the best use of it outside of a real jazz lounge track. The 212s were really, really horrible on this one, unable to capture the essence of the bass. The solo in the middle of the song was totally fudged. The entire rendition also in general lacked warmth and space, with a very harsh edge to the pleasing female vocals. The OE’s on the other hand gave the vocals a very airy quality, as if floating on air on top of the very warm double bass notes and the elegant violins and acoustic guitar.

Rainbow (Round Table feat. Nino)
This is another acoustic style pop song that emphasizes acoustic guitar work. The 212’s managed to sound so-so, since the song has a very clean sound. However it sounded harsh at points when there was a high-pitched instrument playing or at points when the guitars hit notes, and the surround backup vocals were a mess. The OE’s sounded a lot more organic, although I think it overemphasized the ever-present bass a bit over the guitar work. At least there was none of the harshness, and the background vocals sounded suitably airy and atmospheric instead of grating on the ears. I got a better sound of the OE’s by moving the headset a bit forward, taming the bass and giving a better performance.

Taishou a (anNinna)
I was going to put another jazz track up by Jill Decoy Association, but couldn’t find it on YouTube, so I settled for this one instead. This is a very smooth, sad song with excellent melancholy female vocals, a great double bass line, great synergy between all the instruments, and a wide, airy feeling. All I can say is, the 212’s really aren’t made to play songs like this. It sounded downright horrible, like listening to the entire thing inside a tomato can. A lot of detail on the lower end was lost. The OE’s though performed like a true champ. The airy vocals were right in your face, and you could make out the details of the double bass. The acoustic guitar also came out really well, as did the piano and strings and the high hats. This was a perfect rendition of the song, I think the OE’s really outdid themselves here.

In the end…

I was planning on adding a few more tracks to round out the genres like Amethyste by Nicolas Robin, an instrumental jazz piece, and a classical track just to see how well the cans do on that kind of music, but I’m lazy to bring out the Mozart CDs. I will leave it at that, 16 songs is a lot for one review anyway.

I’ll also note this: moving to my iPod Nano 2G (which frankly has so-so sound quality) and my Creative Muvo Nomad, which has much better sound quality but no EQ settings, I compared the sound output of Taishou A. Thise was the exact same mp3, but the quality was less especially in the lower end where the details seemed missing. I attribute this to the Auzentech’s crystallizer, I guess. The OE’s were powered well enough by both players, I was able to reach a comfortable listening level at a little less than half the volume slider on the Nano.

In summary, I would say the Bose OE Triports are well worth the money. I bought them for about $160US and they are unbelievable good, especially for the bass-head and people who like listening to lounge, jazz, and acoustic and other jazz-related genres like bossa, rasta/ska, and with House/dance music. It is probably not the best choice for alternative, metal, rock and the typical JPop song, though it handily outperformed another $50ish competitor. I will also say that I like these a lot more than my Shure e2c’s, and they have a very comparable sound signature to the VModa Vibes. The biggest drawback of these phones is their price, which is probably too steep for some people, and we will have the typical audiophile response that you can do much better than these cans at this pricepoint.

I won’t comment much on that since I don’t own any other cans at that pricepoint. I’ve heard and listened to a lot of cans at that price point but without owning them myself I can’t do a real side by side comparison. Maybe next month I’ll have a budget to buy the Audio Technica ATH-M50’s, which I really liked when I was auditioning phones prior to my purchase of the OE’s. These are well-regarded cans by audiophiles, and I loved their clean, treble-rich sound as well (without burn in). I want to really get them and put them side by side my Bose to see which set is truly better. That’ll have to wait until like next month, though.


Again I cannot stress enough how great these cans are. If you’re no audiophile, have around a $200 budget, and like rich, deeb bass and a warm sound, along with a very comfortable fit and do not need perfect sound isolation, then these are the cans for you.

The Samsung Blackjack

I have been walking around with an O2 Atom Exec for almost two years now. It was my second PocketPC phone and I really loved it for its compact size. PocketPCs are notorious for being huge brick slabs but the O2 Atom was perhaps the second PocketPC to really be small enough to pass off as a celphone as opposed to a miniature laptop (the first being the O2 Mini 2 aka the HTC Magician).

I ended up getting an O2 Atom Exec, which was basically a souped up Atom with a more elegant finish, but it had one major flaw: the battery life was not very good and the device got hot very fast when WiFi was turned on — this would burn the battery at a tremendous rate, which caused the said heating up. Other than that I was perfectly happy with the device, up until I got an iPod Touch. I am not saying that the Touch is a superior device to the O2 Atom Exec; the two are clearly different kinds of gadgets that fill different needs, however the glaring factor was in the physical make up of the two devices: The Atom Exec was a chunky 18mm in thickness. Two years ago this was great as many phones were in the 20mm range and certianly most PocketPCs were even bigger.

However in this new age where you have devices like the HTC Touch (which weighs in at 13.9mm) and the LG KS20 which is at a mindblowing 12.8mm — probably the thinnest PocketPC to date — the Atom Exec suddenly wasn’t feeling all that suave. Worse, when I got the iPod Touch which was a mere 8mm in thickness, let’s just say the Atom Exec started feeling fatter and fatter in my pant pocket.

And so began my search for a thinner phone. But I came across a bit of a quandary. I originally got into PocketPC phones because I needed a PDA that I could use to take notes on the go and otherwise manage my data in a device that I always kept with me. I said goodbye to conventional celphones a long time ago in favor of PocketPCs for this express purpose. This was the beginning of my trend towards convergence as I began to consolidate my gadgets into one do-it-all device, but this had problems as I posted in another part of this blog. Yet I have never regretted doing so, and I love my Atom Exec but I began to realize that now that I had an iPod Touch, the role of PDA may very well fall to the Touch instead of my phone.

As I had noted in another entry on this blog, the Touch does a great job of being a PDA (among other things) and being as thin and pocketable as it is, I always had it on me. There’s also something about the iPod allure that makes you always want to have it with you anyway, and it certainly doesn’t fail to disappoint as eye candy. So, did I really still need a PocketPC for my phone as a PDA?

On the other hand, I was feeling the need for more than just a candybar touchscreen tablet. The PocketPCs were always awesome phones in that they were really easy to use. The touchscreen made navigating them really easy, and perhaps most importantly Microsoft came up with a little gem called MS Voice Command which is probably the best thing to ever happen to a phone. With Voice Command, you could dial contacts, receive notifications on SMS and even use the phone as a DJ for your MP3 jukebox with nothing more than your voice. I fell in love with it. I use it all the time. There’s nothing like talking to your phone and having it do your bidding. It’s especially useful while driving where you don’t have time to look at your phone. Instead all I do is press a button and say, “Call So and So” and the phone responds promptly and sends the audio over to my bluetooth handsfree. Ah, this is mobile bliss.

But the PPCs that I had were all candy bar tablets with no keyboard! I found that this was not the ideal setup for writing text messages, and here in the Philippines SMS is the name of the game, we are known as the Text Messaging Capital of the world with phone company reports showing that we send the most text messages per person in the entire world. For text messaging, nothing beats a QWERTY keyboard in terms of speed and convenience. And I mean a real, hard keyboard, and not the soft keyboards you get on a touchscreen like I had on my PocketPCs and the Touch.

So I went and did a search and found that the Samsung i600, the international version of the Blackjack which was considerably popular in America, may just be what I needed. It was thin — 11mm, but had a full QWERTY keyboard and it ran on Windows Mobile 5. The catch was it wasn’t a touchscreen; it was running Windows Mobile 5 for Smartphone, rather than the PocketPC edition. In use all this meant was it wasn’t touchscreen, and seeing as I already had a Touch, the touchscreen was no longer a major concern. I could opt to get the i780 instead — which is basically the i600 but a little chunkier at about 13mm. But the main reason I got into replacing my Atom in the first place was because I wanted something thinner, no?

So I took the plunge a week ago and ended up getting a Samsung i600. Samsung is perhaps the world leader at making slim handhelds and the i600 was awesome. It was so thin and light, I could put it in my breastpocket without feeling weighed down like I did with the Atom Exec. This phone is actually lighter than the Atom, despite being a bit taller and wider. It was a lot thinner, though, and that’s exactly what I was after.


All in all I am extremely happy with the device. I installed MS Voice Command and got to using with the same features as my Exec, and it has a QWERTY keyboard which is just awesome for text messaging. However, the problem is I really find myself longing for the touchscreen. The device is pretty user friendly but I find myself hitting the display with my finger a lot. It’s been a week since I got the i600 but years of using a touchscreen have left their mark.

The phone is also no longer suitable as a PDA. Whereas with my old PPCs you could easily bring up notepad and tasks and the calendar and navigate them with ease using the touchscreen, it is more of a chore to do so with the i600 and the phone is basically relegated to just that: being a phone, albeit with a kick-ass voice interface and an awesome QWERTY keyboard. But it no longer has the fluidity that my previous PPCs had as a PDA.

All in all though, it was a good bye. I traded in my Atom Exec, sold it to my best friend who really needed a phone. For the price I gave him, I was able to get this new phone just by adding a few hundred pesos, a pittance and I was able to upgrade to a new phone and experience a different kind of gadget. I love the phone though I am still somewhat on the fence after a week as to whether I should have gotten the Samsung i780 instead.

The i780 is chunkier and a bit heavier, but still thinner and lighter than the Atom Exec. But in overall size I’d say it’s quite bulkier than the Exec. Here is a comparison shot of it and the Samsung i320 from (an excellent review site), which is more or less the little brother of my i600:

Have to say that the i780 is an awesome phone for such a cheap price. It’s like half the price of the typical HTC PocketPC, yet has all the features in a Blackberry formfactor. What’s there not to like? Aside from Samsung stubbornly refusing to use USB and sticking with proprietary connectors, I think the phone is a huge winner. The unusual 320×320 screen will pose some compatibility for some apps that are looking for a QVGA screen, but there are workarounds for it and most people won’t be using such apps anyway. At the price, the phone is a steal and I still mentally kick myself now for getting the i600 over it, but the i600 was about half the price and I basically got it for free trading in my Atom Exec. The i780 is probably the ultimate convergence gadget for me, but as the years have gone by I have found myself diverging from convergence and more back to specialized gadgets for specific needs.

Moving away from convergence, having a seperate PDA (the iPod Touch) and a seperate phone (the i600) made some sense although old habits die hard, I still long for the i780. Maybe eventually I will trade the i600 in for the i780 but for now it is doing great as the ultimate messaging device that it billed itself as, while my Touch is great for the ease of use as a PDA/MP3 Player/web browser.


I just picked up a set of AKG headphones… it’s a popular DJ model, the K81 DJ. AKG had always been an audiophile favorite so it’s a great to have a good pedigree behind your product.

This item sounds very good. The sound quality is quite comparable to my Bose Triport OEs. Some would say they are better, and while they do a better job than the Bose in some aspects, I still find the Bose better. More on that later. But these sound really good.

Their biggest weakness I suppose is the very flat sound stage; the Triports have a much wider stage, and I don’t even consider the Bose as having much of a soundstage.

But the miss and highs are very forward, and the bass is tight and punchy. I love it.

Audio Technica M50

Well, hot in the heels of my last headphone purchase, I just went out and out and got myself the fabled Audio Technica ATH-M50 studio monitors.

These cans are reputed to be the best in the world under $200US. And from the last hour I spent with them, I have absolutely no reason to disagree.

They just officially ROCK. Without prejudice. They just simply blow away every Bose, Sennheiser, Shure and AKG I have owned or heard. I own a bunch of headsets but they were all in the $100 or less category. Sennheiser HD212 Pro, Sennheiser HD465, Shure E2C, Bose Triport OE and IE, AKG K81 DJ and the VModa Vibes. These easily beat out all of those. At the same time. With one hand tied behind its back.

They are seriously that good. As my GF said when I snuck behind her and stuffed these on her ears, “I feel like I’m in another place!” They are good enough to suck you into another dimension.

I can’t recommend these cans enough. I will let them burn in for a bit… should sound even better then… then I’ll put up a full review then.

But oops… I still need to review the K81s… and I’m not even done burning those in yet.

Logitech is so bad, it’s bad

Logitech is a horrible company. They somehow succeeded by building a brand that is perceived as the Porsche of keyboards and mice, but the shoddy worksmanship of their peripherals betrays their true form.

I have an MX3200 desktop set and the keys feel so spongy, it’s like there was a mound of dirt beneath them that you squish every time you type, and it sticks so they pop back a little slowly. The effort needed to press the buttons is above what other keyboards require.

Their mice, all of which have been following the MX700/MX300 form factor for ages now, may be good for people with big hands who like to palm their mice, but for gaming using your fingers for precision is often the better method, but all these palm mice they churn out just don’t make the cut compared to an el-cheapo A4-Tech mouse that handles flawlessly at a third or sometimes even a fourth of the price. Let’s not even get into how often their batteries crap out for all their cordless mice, and I’ve owned quite a few of them.

Logitech is highly disappointing, I’ve been burned too many times buying their shoddy products. You could say I’m the fool for going back to them time and again, fooled by the brand name, but sometimes I just gotta learn.