Saturday, May 14, 2016

Don't you wish you had the answers?

Don't you wish you had the answers?

Please click on the photo for a better view
Look out your window, see the earth
Where did it come from, who gave it birth?
Look at all the living creatures, who created them all?
See how the rain falls, who made the sky?
It's never ending, and you wonder why
Where did it come from, where will it go, where will it go?
Where did you come from? Where will you go, where will you go?
Don't you wish you had the answers, well, I know
There's peace in knowing, what Jesus said

Enjoy God's wonderful creation!

Words : Keith Green
Photo : Tyronne
Actual size of the fly : A tad longer than a centimetre  

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Tallest Man on Earth

Our ears are fed with tons and tons of mediocre music by radio stations. I have distant from radio stations ages back, most radio stations are next to nothing. I can't recall the last time I bothered tuned in. Sadly though the amount of garbage albums are on the rise to cater equally dumb listeners. A good album has become a rarity.

There are two types of musicians we come across, artists and singers. We have tons and tons of singers, singers are the ones who often sing what someone else has written. This does not mean every singer song writer is brilliant, there are heaps of mediocre singer song writers around us, such as the overhyped Adele, Taylor Shit, Lady Gaga. I truly can't stand their music without throwing myself a couple times. 

I believe music becomes more relevant, connecting and heartfelt when the artists are sincere and honest with their material instead of targeting a particular audience. Although that's too much to ask in times like these, The Tallest Man on Earth (Kristian Matsson) is one hell of a musician of such caliber. The lyrics, music and vocals are simply a treat. Breathtaking!!!  His first three albums showcased minimalistic instruments yet the fourth consists a few instruments, a complete band on most tracks.

I have played his second and third albums, "The wild hunt" and "There's no leaving now" to death, but I keep playing them at least once a day. I can't recall the number of times I have played these albums. The fourth album, Dark bird is home is a concept album and the most sincere work by Kristian to date. The Dark bird is home depict his relationship with Amanda Bergman (Idiot Wind), leading to the divorce. There was also a song about a departed loved one.

All that been said, none of his albums offer crisp clear high fidelity sounds, instead they offer a weather worn warm sounds. That blends really really well with his music style and vocals. That had been done deliberately by the TMOE. The 'Dark bird is home' has been recorded in different countries, locations, barns, sheds and carry worn out sounds with a bit of dirt and grit as TMOE's record label Dead ocean records details this album in the official website. I'm not going compare him to any of the other artists, what I like about TMOE is, he's sincerity towards what he delivers. All four albums are unique and progressed in every aspect; lyrically as well as musically.

There are a handful number of albums we've got during the last couple decades, which can be played from A-Z without pressing the skip button on the remote. The 'Dark bird is home' is definitely one of them, a timeless masterpiece by Kristian. If I list my top 10 best albums at one point down the line, I'll bet two or more Kristian's albums would be there for certain. He is one of the VERY BEST artists I have seen during the last 20 years!!!!!

TMOE albums have been the best albums I have purchased in years, since Explosions in the sky's The earth is not a cold dead place. This is a must have album for every folk music lover, you would play his albums to death yet, you may not get over them for years and years to come. A great timeless album. Looking forward to see Kristian pretty soon. ;-)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sony digital media player : Sony NWZ - A17

Why I ditched iPod touch for good ?
I bought my first digital media player, an Apple 80GB iPod classic not knowing it wasn’t supported by Rockbox in 2006. I was disappointed but went on to buy an iPod touch 64GB to have bluetooth capabilities to use with my bluetooth compatible devices. I bought iPods not because they’re good products but there weren’t a range of quality digital media players in 2006.


In recent times I loved the sound quality of Astell & Kern but spending $1000 on a personal digital media player was just absurd given the amount of time I truly use it. There were a few alternatives but I didn’t quite like them for there were a few compromises in the sound quality, size and durability.

I’ve heard a few good reviews on Sony, their most recent wave of portable digital media players. The first generation or the first wave of Sony players were based on early Andriod 2.x platform which was a total failure. They were not just sluggish but full of issues on top of a poor battery life.

After reading many many many reviews and listening to some music on Sony media players, I figured the new generation of Sony media players have jumped a huge leap forward from where they have started. That gave me some confidence to purchase a Sony NWZ - A17, 64GB digital media player for A$399, which assures a 50 hour battery life on certain compressed media formats. Importantly this device boasts flac support.

Look and feel:
The built quality is pretty good, I would rather say ‘decent’. It’s lightweight yet didn’t appear to be made out of cheap plastic although it is has a plastic body :D The design wasn’t over engineered but quite simple. The nice hold button and navigation keys placed on the surface is quite good.

Compatibility :
To my surprise, this worked well with Sennheiser bluetooth headphones, BT 210. Volume and the navigation controls worked well. The battery life was advertised as 50 hours for MP3 files at 128kbps, however it lasted a little over 40 hours when apple’s lossless media format was used at 320kbps.

Unlike Apple, Sony allows users to have a full control over media files and how the files are supposed to store in the device. This means, it’s possible to organise media/music files in the device’s storage at user’s discretion. For an example, I was able to create a folder ‘chrisbotti’ and a discrete folder to hold each Chris Botti album. This is very handy when backing up music or remove them to reclaim space. The support for microSDXC I compatible cards are an added advantage, allowing users to store music up to 200GB.

The media files can be copied using iTunes or move files to the device, as you would copy files over to a standard USB storage device. The FM/AM radio, NFC, bluetooth are a few of many features this device could brag about.

Sound quality :
I have tested the sound quality using Sennheiser IE 6, B & W P7 headphones. The sound quality is exceptional compared to Apple, aided by a user customisable five band graphical equaliser. I’m not a huge fan of tone controls when listening to music. The music would not sound as _music_ when the tone controls are engaged. That been said, certain limitations in the headphones, original source and the device can be tolerated with the help of a GEQ.

The volume control runs from 0-30 and mostly sufficient for larger headphones without a headphone amplifier. I have also tested this device with Sennheiser’s in-ear noise cancelling headphones, CXC 700 and the music reproduction was pretty good.

The hiss is on par or less compared to Apple. The ability to play flac files is a great bonus. It would have been a lot better had there been ‘ogg’ support in this.

What’s bad and ugly :
All the good been said, there are a few concerns of Sony’s media players. The big deal breaker is finding accessories, at least in Australia. The media player comes with a proprietary data/power cable. This connector cable cannot be purchased from a regular electronic store as you could with Apple’s. Not even Sony stocks them, unfortunately.

This means, you need to contact Sony’s third party spare parts supplier to buy a new cable if you play up with your stock cable. This is ridiculous. Why can’t sony stock them on their online store and make them available for the customers ? Why do the customers need to ring their parts supplier to buy just a connector cable ? That’s absurd!!!

The battery charging time is a bit too much for my liking; four damn hours. The LCD display lights up each time I increase or decrease the volume. This is unnecessary and a waste of battery life. The same manner, the LCD display doesn’t need to lights up at a key press when the device been locked with the ‘hold’ key.

A single click ‘home’ key to navigate to the home screen and a key to access the currently playing track would have been very ergonomic, eliminating the need to navigate through multiple key presses. The lack of wifi support is another missing piece for an ‘A’ grade media player with a price tag of $399. File transfer support over wifi would certainly make this a good selling point if Sony is likely to persuade this avenue.

Conclusion :
This is a very good pick over Apple’s media players. The sound quality, features, built quality and the freedom have surely eclipsed this over Apple's media players. However, still there are lots of room for improvisation to catch up the audio/headphile market if Sony is trying to take the mobile media players seriously.

built quality :    8/10
sound quality :    9/10
battery       :    8/10
ease of use   :  7.5/10
accessories   :    5/10
features      :    8/10

overall score :  7.5/10