Sunday, November 16, 2014

New cover song "Destiny" by Eric Woolfson posted!

New cover song "Destiny" by Eric Woolfson posted!

This song has been one of my favorites. I have always loved a'cappella songs done well, and this is one of my favorites sung by Chris Rainbow (so good). This is a tribute to Eric Woolfson, who has been one of the greatest impacts on my musical journey through life. Him and his work as the Alan Parsons Project with Alan Parsons has given me so much from pure musical enjoyment to insights into great composition and mixing techniques.

I always like to think I have known a part of Eric by having such a deep connection with his music. As though I can feel a part of his emotions through the emotions in his songs that he conveys. As though the depth and sincerity he always had was him speaking directly to me (and you). He is greatly missed and I hope this cover has something of him in it and can serve as a tribute to him and what he meant to me and still means to me.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Two new cover songs posted

The Jim Brickman contest is coming to a close, and I've put together two more cover videos for entries. Wish me luck! :-) Hope you enjoy the songs. Some of my favorites.

Sound of Your Voice

Angel Eyes

Saturday, July 12, 2014

New piano cover "Hero's Dream" uploaded!

Here is a new song I'm entering into a contest. Wish me luck. :-)

Jim Brickman in the Spotlight - Hero's Dream Cover

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sony MH1 - Full Driver Recable Tutorial by luisdent

O.K. Let's do this! Time to recable a Sony MH1 earphone...

Disclaimer: i'm not responsible if you get hurt following this tutorial. Use caution when soldering and working with tools.

*A huge thanks to sfwalcer and ZMF for all their help in getting this process down!

You'll need some basic tools, such as:
- MH1 earphone
- a soldering iron
- vice or helping hands for soldering
- solder
- pliers

Friday, April 25, 2014

John Denver - The RCA Albums Collection Sound Review

So here we go. For the first comparison coming up I'll review the album Back Home Again. I just bought the original CD on ebay and I have had the 2005 remaster for a while now. I'm ripping the RCA collection version as we speak.

Anyhow, I am comparing the original and the remaster at the moment and I'm both disappointed and surprised at the same time. The original CD has all the dynamics I knew I remembered the songs having. The new CD is definitely not bad, and compared to new CD mastering in general it isn't very compressed. However, it is not as open and doesn't breath as much as the original CD. So for dynamics the original wins hands down. However, holy cow, the remaster is cleaner and then some.

There are blurps and durps all over the old CD. The remaster only has a few that they probably couldn't eliminate very easily if at all. However, the remaster sounds newer and less like an old worn tape. Also, the remaster has a very noticeably wider and more balanced stereo mix. The old CD has a sort of strange hollow sounds sometimes, and things almost sound halfway mono. The new CD is wider and more realistic in terms of imaging. So much so, I 'm finding it hard to listen to some songs on the original CD when comparing. But the new CD is a bit more "in your face" or forward. Things don't sound as far away and spacious, which I sort of liked about the original. This is probably due to the compression and EQ applied. Things sound fuller in frequency and more even in dynamics, which makes reverb trails not sound so deep. So they're both a mixed bag. However, neither are bad and neither are amazing. But both are amazing, because of the songs and content. And really thy both sound good for the style of music in general.

Good news. The rhymes and reasons CD is identical to the remaster I have, which I think was a 2000-something year remaster. This is good in my opinion, because I found this a very excellent mastering. I also have a Japanese import version of this CD, and it is better than the US, but only but the very slightest margin, and some people might even find the opposite is true depending on their preferences of warmth vs. "cold" accuracy. But even then, the difference is so small only the most critical audiophiles would probably even hear it. In essence they're the same basic mastering. The Japanese might have used a double speed mastering process and slightly less compression. Needless to say the collection version is identical to the US remaster and is very good. Granted, I haven't heard the true original recording.

However, there is no obvious noise reduction. Things are clear and distinct. Basses and everything are tight and punchy (as far as john denver goes. ;P ) There is no dynamic compression either really (maybe 2% compared to the japanese version, but audibly almost non existent). So in my book this is an audiophile grade john denver release.

More to come as I listen and compare. Stay tuned!...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sony MH1 Recable Update

A quick update on my recable tutorial. I found out how to open the MH1 housing without damaging it or the stress relief! Thank to ZMF for the tip.

Here's what it looks like opened up:


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sony MH1 Re-cable Tutorial

UPDATE: Newer re-cable tutorial is being developed that includes soldering straight to the drivers! (more stable and professional looking). Please look for the new post once it posts soon.

I promised some people over at an audio forum that I'd make a tutorial on how to re-cable the Sony MH1 earphones.  Sorry for the long wait, but here we go...

(Note: This is an incomplete article. See below.)

Before explaining the process, some people might be thinking, why would you want to re-cable an earphone?  There are a number of reasons, and the MH1 seems to have them all.  It is one amazing earphone connected to one horrible cable.  First, they are designed to be worn behind the neck.  This allows you to have the microphone close to your voice and gives you the ability to remove them from your ears and let them rest on your chest (nice during a workout).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New song "Old and Wise"

Check out our new covers version of Old and Wise by the Alan Parsons Project:

This was a collaboration with some friends from other countries! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Sony EX85LP story and custom EQ

Throughout my experience testing and using earphones, I've found more and more that I can't live without using equalization to flatten the response as best as possible. Finding a very neutral earphone that doesn't require any EQ is quite a challenge. There are a few very nice earphones that have excellent frequency responses and overall quality. However, I haven't found a single example of an earphone that I have been satisfied with using no EQ whatsoever.  Some are closer than others.

One of my all time favorites is the Etymotic ER4S. It has a very linear response overall, but lacks the lowest bass region, namely the sub bass below say 50-80hz. Things drop off quickly here and the sound becomes what some people describe as thin or light. There are also a few very small peaks in the mid treble and treble areas. As small as they are, once you hear an earphone without peaks, it's hard to go back to listening with them.

The PFE112 is another example. Without EQ they sound exceptionally detailed and coherent. The overall response is fairly neutral up to about 1khz. But as the ER4S lacks sub bass, the PFE112 had extra treble. There are a few peaks in the treble that add a noticeable rasp in a lot of material. Luckily, these peaks can be tamed with EQ, and the PFE112 turns into a very nice earphone. The one area it fails though is with distortion. The distortion levels are just at the point where they are slightly audible. At least in the sense that EQ will only get them so smooth and clear, before reaching a detail threshold. There always seems to be a level of micro detail depth that remains veiled. I still highly recommend these earphones and would gladly take them over some of the most expensive earphones out there, even with the distortion, because of their excellent response and easy EQ-ability. However, I am always on the search for the perfect earphone, whether it exists or not.

The TDK BA200 is another fine earphone, as is the Sony MH1. With a single bass cut EQ point, the MH1 turns into a very reference sounding earphone. But I'm here to talk about another Sony wonder. Actually, my first "serious" earphone at the time.

The Sony EX85LP.

Those in the earphone community will probably scoff at this point, as this is now a budget earphone that typically sells for $20-40 on amazon or ebay. However, I paid around $80 for it new quite a few years back. I was highly impressed by it's overall quality. At the time I liked the overly bassy response, as I felt it portrayed speaker-like bass better than most. And considering the bass, the treble details were surprisingly comfortable and detailed, albeit a little warm. This warmth and lack of super airy treble actually started me on my search for a better earphone, which led to a search for an even better earphone than that, and so on and so on. Now they sound bloated and muffled to my ears. Ha.

Yet here I am today, having the had the opportunity to try some of the most highly regarded universal earphones on the market; The  Westone 4R, Sennheiser IE800, Audeo Phonak PFE232, Shure 535, FitEar F111, etc., etc. And what do I find? They all require EQ to sound their best, or even to sound near flat. Some much more than others, despite their price. And a flat response is what I'm after. Target curves and graphs and all that fun stuff are for another post, needless to say that I prefer a flat response similar to the Olive-Welti curve.  So why am I telling you all of this? Because of the Sony EX85LP.

After applying EQ to even the most expensive earphones, I have found that some respond better than others. The ER4S handles EQ superbly, while the PFE112 indeed handles EQ very well to achieve a pretty flat response, but the bass can only go so far, before it is obvious that more doesn't necessarily mean better. It starts to show that is is simply physically incapable of more than a certain degree of bass without simply not sounding right. Luckily, I don't prefer any more bass than they can produce, nonetheless there is still the distortion. EQ can only push an earphone as far as it's specs allow in this regard as well. You can't equalize away any distortion, nor can you equalize away problems with noise isolation, etc. However, in my personal experience, if these other specification are all in check, there isn't much that EQ can't do for the most part.

An ER4S with a few minor EQ points is a veritable beast to be reckoned with. However, for some they aren't particularly comfortable or preferable in every situation, and they have a certain type of sound presentation most people might describe as in-the-head or having a small soundstage. However, they are my maximum isolation, reference monitors. The PFE112 have been my goto all around earphones. But lately the distortion has been starting to irritate me, keeping me wanting for that last bit of resolution. The MH1 do a great job, and I highly recommend them, but for me personally, I find the insertion depth to be inconsistent each time I use them. I spend more time fitting them properly than I'd like. In comes the EX85LP.

Ironically, these were the first major earphone purchase for me, and also ironically, these are still one of the most capable earphones I have ever heard.  What a bargain! Upon first listen, for those familiar with earphones that are technically more neutral, the EX85LP will appear overly bassy, and not particularly reference or accurate in the treble, despite this they sound soothing in a way. Anyhow, checking the specs and measurements over at the Rin Choi's excellent blog, you will find very low distortion levels, and no major deficiency in frequency extension.

However, the stock frequency response is definitely on the bassier, warmer side of things. With Rin's graph as a starting point, and some listening and comparing with other earphones, I have generated what I consider an EQ setting that greatly improves their accuracy. So much so, I was shocked the first time I really listened to them after applying the final EQ. The low distortion allows very detailed micro resolution and depth, and once the response peaks and troughs are rectified, they sound incredibly open and smooth and flat.

Keep in mind, everyone's ears are different, and there are different acoustic properties of the ear canal that can change from one person to another. However, a person's ear acoustics can affect an earphone whether it is flat or not, and this eq should bring the response closer to a flat graphed response.  I recommend trying it for a while, and see if it works for you. They give the more expensive earphones a good run for their money. I'd say if you don't mind using EQ, they are up there with the MH1 in terms of value, and easily compete with much more expensive earphones. They may not have that ultra smooth response of the ER4S, but nor do they cost $300. And they have a fairly nice large sound that remains relaxing once EQ is applied.

These settings are for any parametric EQ that allows precise manual entry, such as Accudio for IOS or AUNbandEQ for Mac OSX or any of the high quality free Windows or Linux EQ apps as well. You will need to precut the gain by 8db to account for the highest boost point. As this is for digital EQ, the quality of boosting vs. cutting is the same as long as the precut matches the highest boost point. And generating a corrective EQ based on the response's problem areas is much easier than subtracting everything else (geeky EQ stuff). Without further ado, here are the settings.

Sony EX85LP EQ
Hz 70 1310 2450 4560 6800 8740 14650 17590
dB -5 -1.2 7.8 -5.5 -8.8 6.1 -10.7 14
BW 4.75 0.6 0.8 0.4 0.28 1 0.4 1
Q 0.2 2.4 1.8 3.6 5.1 1.4 3.6 1.4
updated 05-02-2014

The bandwidth settings can simply be rounded to the nearest whole value if needed. If I find any improvements with the EQ, I will update these settings. As a starting point this should take the EX85LP to a new level that I didn't realize they were capable of. Never just a book by it's cover I suppose...

If you like this EQ setting of have any questions or comments, please let me know below.

UPDATE: I've found an even better way to EQ my earphones based on the available graphs. The updated settings above are even closer in accuracy and I highly recommend giving them a shot for a while. :-)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hans Zimmer remixes now on soundcloud!

I've recorded some remixes for a Hans Zimmer remix contest.  Check them out, and please leave some comments if you find them enjoyable!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Etymotic ER4S Earphones sound so great, and here's my story!

I just wanted to make a post on the earphones I've come to love and use as my main "phones" (Etymotic ER4S).  Below you'll find my story of how and why I love the ER4S.  I'll post my eq settings shortly and more info as well.  You can also check out some info on these on my youtube review channel dentReviews  Without further ado...

The ER4S with added cord lock and right identifier.

I truly believe the er4s is the best earphone in the world so far that I've heard, and I've heard a lot from $10 to $1000 and none of them sound as good overall.  Some have certain aspects that are nice.  The Audeo Phonak PFE 112 is by far the most comfortable i've ever worn (and still pretty flat).  The Shure 535 is almost a backwards ER4S.  Great flat bass up to the mids, but rolled of treble.  Although the treble roll off of the 535 is much worse than the sub bass roll off of the er4s.  But still, decent bass overall for the 535.  I could go on, but when I put the er4s in, eq or not, the overall sound is what I expect from overall flatness.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

New audio forum coming soon!

I've joined up with a friend to start an audio forum.  Keep an eye on my blog and I'll give an update when it goes live.  The forum will have audio topics such and earphone and headphone discussions as well as topics related to audio fidelity, etc.

New custom cable finished.

I just completed a custom y-adapter cable for a friend.  I used some neutrik connectors; a 3.5 TRS to two 1/4" TS.  I used some paracord for the sleeve and a bit of heatshrink for the y-split.  It came out very good and feels pretty solid.

The connections were soldered and wrapped electrical tape around the paracord in the center beneath the heatshrink to add a bit of stability to the y-split paracord junction and also some electrical tape around the paracord where the connectors crimp the wires.  This gave it a nice snug crimp without being too forceful on the wires and allows some strain relief from the paracord being crimped and not just the cable.

Have a look.  If you have any questions or comments please let me know below. :)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New video review posted: JDS Labs C5 Headphone Amplifier - In depth, 2 part review

I've completed my in-depth review of the JDS Labs C5 headphone amplifier.  Here is part one and now part two as well.  This is a great `headphone amplifier, and you get to listen to me blab about it for 30 minutes! hehe ;)

Video Review Part 1

Video Review Part 2

Sunday, January 12, 2014

New video review - JDS Labs C5 Headphone Amplifier!

I've just posted a new review of a great portable headphone amplifier, the C5 amp from JDS Labs.  Part 2 coming soon.  Check it out!

Friday, January 10, 2014

I've started making custom cables!

I'm happy to have recently started making my own custom interconnect cables!  Check it out. :)

Here is an earphone that I re-cabled.  I replaced everything from the earphone housing and down:

This is the extension cable I made for the earphones (or anything I want extended):

And some short interconnect cables for my JDS Labs C5 amplifier as well as my custom AB switch I built using a C5 case.  (connected to both inputs just for visual example):

I hope to make a tutorial on the earphone re-cable shortly.  So keep an eye out.  I also have a review of the C5 amplifier on my youtube review channel, and I'll be adding a more in depth review as well as a review of the new JDS Labs C5D soon.  Stay posted.  :)  And thanks to John at JDS Labs for helping me find an awesome soldering iron!