Saturday, December 7, 2013

New Alan Parsons Project remix song posted!

This is a remix that I made for an Alan Parsons Project contest a while back.  I used the raw track "stems" from Alan Parsons and remixed them, changed the bass, some drums, and more. Added a piano, some other instrument here and there and a lot of harmonies! Also changed the chord structure on the end buildup to be more of my own unique take on the song.

Have a listen and please leave some feedback and subscribe if you like what you hear! :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Converting an OMTP/CTIA headphone to a standard TRS audio connection

In the following tutorial I will show you how to modify an OMTP/CTIA headset/earphone to have compatible sound with any audio player, but loss of control functions.  However, I will also explain how to convert from one to the other with some soldering.  Please note that there are simple adapters available to do this, but I prefer to not have any extra adapter or cords when I'm using a portable audio player; for convenience and to avoid stress on the audio jacks.

In this particular instance, I have modified a Sony MH1 "Live Sound" headset or earphone so that it doesn't require any adapter to "sound" normal with any device.  This has rendered the controls useless, but I will no longer have the strange hollow, ghosting, mono-like sound with incompatible devices.  I could have converted the connection from OMTP to CTIA, but that would simply change the devices that the earphones were/weren't compatible with but not eliminate sound problems on all devices.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

New JDS Labs C5 portable headphone amplifier review!

I've posted a new review of the excellent C5 portable headphone amplifier by JDS Labs.

This is a really great amp with very reference sound quality. Check out the review/overview on my channel and stay tuned for a more detailed look at the sound quality in an upcoming video.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Saturday, October 5, 2013

New song "Killing Me Softly" piano cover posted!

New song "Killing Me Softly" piano cover posted!  This is one of my favorite songs that I decided to arrange for piano and a few accompanying instruments about six years ago now.  Sheesh.  I hope you enjoy.  Please subscribe to my youtube channel and leave a comment if you like it! :-)

New (old) song coming tonight!

New song coming tonight!  Stay posted.  :-)

Monday, September 16, 2013

New Sansa Fuze V2 Themes!

For anyone using a Sansa Fuze V2 player, I've created my first two themes!  Both are based on a minimal simple design.  One dark and one light with various different features.  WPS and SBS screens only for now.  Please let me know what you think in the comments!

Light and Simple

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Etymotic Research is awesome!

So I purchased a pair of Etymotic ER4S earphones a few months ago.  They are amazing.  I will be making a detailed review sometime for them.  Suffice to say, I accidentally washed all of my stock tips in the laundry (they were in a baggy together).  They became warped and unusable.

So, I emailed Etymotic asking if they sold a pack of the stock set of tips for the ER4S.  Instead of selling me a pack, they sent me one of each tip for free!

That's great customer service.  They have also been very friendly and informative answering any questions I've had.  I highly recommend the ER4S and the experience they provide when you purchase something from Etymotic.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

C5 size comparison with iPods and adapters

For anyone considering purchasing a C5 portable amplifier from JDS Labs* for use with an iPod Classic or 5th generation iPod Touch, I decided to take a few comparison photographs to help give you an idea of how they fit together and how a few different connectors work with them as well.

In each case, you can see the BTG** cable is much nicer in every way.  It has held up better so far (I've used it the longest without issue).  It's more flexible for a better fit laying the devices together.  It has a shorter 30-pin connector, and it's simply higher quality all around.  The dock connector doesn't seem much different than the FIIO, however, it has held up so far and the rest of the adapter seems very nice.  For what it's worth, I've been using the iPod Touch exclusively for a while.

Sorry for any bad lighting, etc.  The photos were taken pretty quickly.  I tried to get a few angles of each device and each adapter, as well as two styles of earphone connectors with the BTG adapter for a couple of overall "real life" examples.  If you find this helpful or have any questions please leave a comment. :-)

5th gen ipod touch size comparison:

ipod classic size comparison:

FIIO L9 adapter:
You can see in both cases the adapter tension wants to lift the ipod up putting strain on the connectors.  I tried a few things such as working the cable out physically, attaching bands and things to hold the cable in place, relieving the strain.  This may have caused the downfall of the adapter, but it's better the adapter die than my C5. :-P  The classic is heavier, so it looks better, but it's probably actually worse putting more strain on the connectors.

FIIO L3 adapter:
This is better in terms of strain "if" you let it sit crooked.  Otherwise, it wants to pull the ipod to the side.  Forcing it to sit straight puts more strain on the connectors.  I couldn't get this to work itself out either and ended up using bands and things to hold the cable at the right angle.  No vertical lift really with this adapter.

BTG adapter:
Much more flexible.  Allows device to sit perfectly with room for movement.  No tension on the connectors at all really (minus any inevitable "normal" strain).  Shorter 30-pin connector allows a small footprint with both devices.  Very nice with the classic.  Much better with the touch.

Lightning Adapter and 30-pin connector size comparison:
Note that the L3 has the side buttons that you have to press to release the connector from the device.  The BTG and L9 do not have these and simply pull free.

Real life example of two earphone connector types:



*C5 Portable Headphone Amplifier:

**BTG Audio iPod LOD:

Head-Fi in-depth discussion on the C5:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jumping Spider Attack!

This isn't exactly music related, but I recently got attacked by a spider.  Of all the luck!  I was trying to overcome my fear of arachnophobia and I pick a jumping spider to do it with...

Ugh.  Leave comments.  I'm sure this will be funny to most people. Ha.  I can assure you I wasn't laughing... :-P

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston Marathon Tragedy

I'm sure you've heard of the explosions that devastated the Boston Marathon yesterday.  I'd just like to ask that everyone say a prayer for everyone involved.  It can be a sad world we live in.  Let's all try to make the best of what we have and offer any help we can and good wishes to those involved in the tragedy.  It brings to mind a favorite song of mine by Michael Jackson...

Heal the World by Michael Jackson

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Saturday, March 16, 2013

New Song "The Eagle Will Rise Again" Posted!

New song "The Eagle Will Rise Again" posted!  This is a cover of one of my favorite Alan Parsons Project songs.  This is a collaboration with a friend from Italy!

I hope you enjoy and please feel free to leave a comment. :-)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

New C5 Portable Headphone Amplifier From JDS Labs!

JDS Labs, a small engineering shop near St. Louis, has released a new portable headphone amplifier for pre-order... The C5!

This should be one exceptional little portable amplifier.  It has an incredibly low THD and very impressive channel balance at low volumes due to a new digital potentiometer volume control.  Check out their blog for more info:

I grabbed one on pre-order, and I'll post a review once I have a good listen.  They should start shipping around February 28th.  :-)

Taylor Swift playing a Nord Piano! :-P

I'm not sure if she is just playing someone else's or if this is hers, but on her website you can see Taylor Swift is playing a Nord Piano!  Woo.  Go Taylor.  Obviously she has excellent taste. ;-)

(Click image for a larger view)

New song "As Long As You Love Me" posted!

I have to admit that I really like a song by Justin Bieber.  Yes, Bieber...  I thought it was only fitting to make a piano cover of said song.  :-)  So, here it is.  Please subscribe if you like it and any comments or criticisms are welcome.  Hope you enjoy. :-P

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Westone 4R Neutral/Hi-Fi EQ Settings!

I recently bought a pair or Westone 4R in-ear monitor headphones/earphones. These are an excellent set of earphones. However, like practically any IEM (in ear monitor) they are not truly "flat" or "reference" in tone or frequency response. This matters because having a flat frequency response allows you to hear music as closely as possible to the way it was recorded and intended to be heard.

Without equalization they are still very good, but adding some EQ can help any IEM tremendously. In the case of the Westone 4R, the main detriment to the sound quality is a bit of bloat in the mid bass frequencies. This causes some of the details to be masked and harder to pick out. It gives the earphones a warm and smooth sound, but strays from being neutral because of this.

The easiest way to fix this is by simply cutting the mid/bass frequencies around 200hz. This will immediately makes things clearer and more precise/neutral. You could stop there, but if you are a discerning listener, as you probably are purchasing such an IEM, you probably want the best sound you can get. So how do we get there?

I started the process by examining online frequency graphs of the IEMs response curve. I primarily used the graph found on the website:

This is based off of measurements they make with specialized IEM testing equipment. These measurements show how far from neutral the IEM is by default with no EQ. While there are small disputes as to what constitutes a "flat" response, these graphs are fairly accurate. You can read how they measure IEMs on their site if you want more info on that. Anyhow, I'm writing this to provide what I consider a very neutral EQ setting for the 4R on an iPod touch using the free Denon EQ app. However, this also translates to any EQ on any platform with a few caveats.

First, this article assumes the device you are using has roughly a 1ohm or less output impedance. This is important, because the 4R's sound, like most balanced armature earphones, is strongly affected by the output impedance of your device. That is an article for another day, but suffice to say, with the 4R higher impedance essentially boosts the treble region.

The basic idea behind these EQ settings is to inverse the frequencies that stray from neutral based on the graphs. Goldenears has an iPod app "Accudio" that actually does this automatically based on their measurements. This works very well, and I based my EQ settings off of the Accudio neutral setting by ear.

So, basically, enter these settings into the Denon EQ app and you should have a much more neutral "hi-fi" listening experience with your 4R. For other apps, the decibel levels and width of each band of frequency may differ. However, with a little trial and error and careful listening, you should be able to translate the settings to another app fairly easily. If you are unsure of how to accurately input these settings, simply use any EQ app and reduce the 200Hz frequency area about 1-2 dB with a medium size width/band (so the adjustment you make isn't very narrow or wide, but sort of in the middle) and you will get the most benefit from the least amount of effort.

Please try these setting and let me know what you think of them. Give them some time. Get used to them. Do some comparisons and enjoy your music!

Denon iPod Touch App - Westone 4R Neutral EQ

33hz 2.6db
54hz 2.0db
80hz 0.8db
227hz 0.2db
540hz 1.3db
1024hz 2.6db
3517hz 3.9db
7429hz 3.3db
1530hz 3.6db

The result should look very similar to this:





You can see, for the most part, it is roughly an exact invert of the humps in the measured graph from goldenears. Ears may differ in canal shape slightly and require slight alterations, but in general it should be very close.

The biggest and quickest improvement to the 4R is simply cutting the mid bass hump as seen in the EQ. This makes a drastic improvement in clarity and depth. The rest is more refining the neutrality to be more exacting.

The most noticeable improvement is that treble sounds more realistic. Crisp drums and shakers and metal noises sound very 3d and realistic compared to the soft treble the earphones have by default. The bass is punchier while being level in volume with the rest of the spectrum, essentially unclouded by the mid bass hump that existed pre-EQ. I can also say that I don't believe Accudio is doing anything weird to the audio or lowering the quality much if any. Based on my eq adjustments things sound very similar which would seem to indicate accudio is strictly applying eq.

You can raise the entire EQ in the Denon app up and down to match the typical overall ipod volume to prevent clipping, which seems pretty rare in the Denon app unless you blast the eq curves high.

Anyhow, this is pretty easy to replicate quickly in any eq app once you know the basic areas to adjust. It might take a little more time to match it closely like I tried to with Accudio, but I find it is worth it. Things sounds very accurate and precise and neutral.

Hope that helps if anyone is looking to better EQ their 4R.

Oh, and for the record, I've been using the medium grey foam tips. They sound smoother to me than the silicone. The silicon has better treble with no EQ, but the foam has the best overall frequency smoothness to me, and with the EQ the treble is excellent. I'm also no longer using the headphone volume control adapter. The impedance of the adapter does indeed make a noticeable improvement in treble and attenuation in lows, as mentioned earlier, however while this is good using them without EQ, Accudio and my EQ settings are based on the normal signature of the phones directly connected to the iPod, or theoretically any device with an output impedance of 1 Ohm or less.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

New Song "Moody Medley" Posted!

I've recorded a medley (a very "Moody Medley") of some songs from one of my favorite bands: The Moody Blues.  Check it out on my youtube channel:

Please subscribe if you like it and any comments are appreciated.  Hope you enjoy! :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Some New Reviews Posted!

Check out some new earphone reviews over at dentReviews!

I've been reviewing some of the more popular in-ear headphones at my review channel, such as the Ultimate Ears 700 (UE700), the Sony XBA-3, Etymotic Research HF5, Audeo Phonak PFE232 and more...  Check them out, subscribe if you like them and leave some feedback! :-)