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Coolerguys 120x25mm Rear Exhaust Blower Fan 5 Volt with USB Connector
Coolerguys 120x25mm Rear Exhaust Blower Fan 5 Volt with USB Connector
Offered by Coolerguys dot com
Price: £14.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Efficient but noisy, 31 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A typical scenario - a closed cabinet, a class A amplifier, little clearance on top (about an inch in my case). Something must be done because the amp is running seriously hot and there's nothing I can do to passively lower its temperature. Dedicated solutions like Antec Veris or Z Breeze do not fit. A big 10inch fan applied over the amplifier will only spin the air inside the cabinet and rather than lowering the amplifier temperature will heat up the other components inside.

Enter this Coolerguys solution. Rather than just recirculating the air, it actually draws hot air from the top of my amplifier and directs it towards the open back of the cabinet. It can conveniently be powered from a USB port of an AV receiver so it will switch on / off at the same time but check the power rating of the USB socket, especially if you plan to use several of these (I need two). A typical 500mA socket will only power one, two would probably stall.

My amplifier is now running cool even after hours of usage, the rest of the components are cool. The whole universe would be a better, cooler place except for one little problem. Because it's a 5inch fan, I need two of them (three would probably be even better because I still have a hot spot on the ceiling of my cabinet). The pair, running from USB power, inside my closed cabinet, is noisier than my 6 port QNAP NAS. They are so noisy that there is no way you can actually enjoy music while they're doing their job. And the one easy fix - a little USB voltage controller sold by Coolerguys in the US market, is not available in Europe. Also the 12v version of this fan, which is significantly quieter and could be managed with a standard computer fan controller, is not available in EU. So while convenient and cost effective considering that this USB version of the blower can run from any powered USB port, the EU customer is stuck with a product that makes almost as much noise as a hair drier.

Coolerguys, please make available your whole range of products in EU because without that little 6$ controller this otherwise very effective and unique product is almost unusable. And the quoted shipment price for buying the USB controller from USA (60$, for a 6$ product) is ridiculous.


Philips Fidelio X1/00 Hi-Fi Stereo Indoor Headphones (discontinued by manufacturer)
Philips Fidelio X1/00 Hi-Fi Stereo Indoor Headphones (discontinued by manufacturer)

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hats off Philips!, 3 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have been searching for the ideal headphone for years. Recently I sold my HD800 after trying to live with it for a long time. Before it I had T1, GS1000, D5000, Ed.8, HD650, Z1000, K701/702 etc. I tried them all, I sold them all (apart from Ultrasone Signature Pro and Ed.8). They're all great headphones but they all have flaws.

Enter X1 from Philips. Comfortable, not GS1000 (my favourite comfort-wise) or HD800 comfortable but comfortable enough, large cups, no contact points with your ears, no bumps or pressure points in the headband. As usual it will fit better smaller to average heads but larger heads can find a comfortable fit as well with a bit of bending.

X1 looks amazing in the flesh, probably better than any of the headphones on the list above (although Ed.8 might take the crown if bling is your thing, otherwise X1 is definitely the best looking headphone in my collection, HD800 included).

It's an open headphone so it leaks a lot of sound and vice-versa, you need a quiet environment to enjoy it. Don't even think about taking it out. Not only it will fail to block any outside noise but it will look ridiculous on your head because it is big. Bigger than GS1000, bigger than T1, big.

X1 runs alright from an iPhone but in Philips tradition it's not the most efficient headphone on the planet so while you might not need a Phonitor to make it sing it can certainly do better than a notebook / phone output. The source is, needless to say, equally important so lossless recordings will sound better than mp3 and a proper dac / player better still than the odd sound card / phone output. I first tried it on a friend's iPhone with some low bitrate metal and I thought "blah, wasted money". So do not judge it until you give it the best signal you have at home.

We are of course getting to the most important part of this review: how does it sound? And considering the rating you will probably expect another (boring) FOTM rave review. Well, not quite. X1 is actually nothing special. K701 is more transparent and has a better soundstage. HD800 furthers the distance with a breathtaking transparency and detail. T1 has a lush, pleasing sound, D5000 has an amazing bass and the most natural timbre reproduction of all the headphones I have had so far, HD650 has a very refined and easy presentation - there is so much to like and so many areas where each of these headphones shines and betters X1. But then K701 is uncomfortable and lean on bass. HD800 is cold, analytical and bass light as well, T1 is nothing special, D5000 has a mediocre treble and poor soundstage, HD650 doesn't rock etc.

So back to X1. It can rock but it can do classical or acoustic as well. It is open and transparent, with a good soundstage but, unlike most open headphones, it has the bass heft and impact of a closed headphone. It is neither bright nor veiled, neither artificially exciting nor boring. It is a fun headphone (Kraftwerk for instance is a pleasure) but with a hi-fi pedigree. It does a wonderful job with films as well where the hefty bass, transparency and good soundstage work wonders and in fact if there is an application where I prefer it hands down over any of the others, HD800 included, it is movie watching. I would expect gaming as well since it's more or less the same thing. For critical listening of critical HDTracks recordings X1 could never match the surgical precision and transparency of a HD800 however it is always enjoyable, it has no major flaws, it delivers whatever the genre.

Money no issue, I would strongly advise an audition of HD800 first although as good as it is, it isn't an enjoyable headphone at all in my experience. Every time I try it, I am amazed. Five minutes later I have to put it down whatever the source (think Naim NDS, Weiss DAC202 etc) or amplifier (SPL Phonitor, Ray Samuels The Raptor, Violectric V200 etc) because something is invariably missing. I never thought much of T1 and never understood its fans. Ed.8 is also a fun headphone, by far the best performer with an iPhone, but at a price. GS1000, like all the other Grados before (I had 60, 80, 225, 325) is not my cup of tea although maybe the best headphone of the group for low level listening. D5000 would certainly appeal to a basshead, it has a lot to offer but ultimately has some serious sonic flaws as well.

Down to a more comparable and relevant price range, I would certainly recommend X1 as a universal headphone, particularly for gaming / movie watching / electronic / acoustic music listening. For classical the refinement of a Sennheiser HD6XX or the transparency and huge soundstage of an AKG K7XX might appeal more to some ears but none of the two will be as good at so many things or as universally fun to listen to.

Considering the latest price drops (to about 150£ and even less on several occasions) where HD650 sells for over 300£, X1 is in my opinion a no brainer. Even if it won't impress, it certainly won't disappoint. It does almost everything right, just not as well as headphones costing 4 times more.

Distorsion and all the other stories mentioned in other reviews? Nonsense. Use a decent source and good recordings and you will get very respectable results. Experts also recommend using it with a lower impedance cable rather than the very nicely made but flawed factory cable for better transparency / detail retrieval at the cost of a slightly brighter sound. I didn't try this myself yet but considering it's a detachable cable with a standard mini jack I probably will do in the future. Meanwhile I am enjoying it every day. Less can be more indeed.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 27, 2014 11:42 PM BST


Brand New UK 3 pin Apple laptop charger plug for Apple MacBook Air adapters
Brand New UK 3 pin Apple laptop charger plug for Apple MacBook Air adapters

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 1 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Not sure if this is the original Apple plug (probably not considering the price) but the simple fact that I can't tell the difference says it all. I use it every day, it works as it should with my MagSafe 2, no issues whatsoever.


Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D External Sound Card
Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D External Sound Card
Offered by Kikatek
Price: £99.78

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good, 17 May 2012
Not a big fan of Creative products. They have always addressed the gaming community but never quite matched competition - Xonar for instance or their own E-mu professional line - for sound quality due to a number of reason.

One of their most famous and well sold products ever, Audigy 2 ZS, back in the days of Windows XP, was doing an unfortunate hardware resampling to 48KHz and passing any audio signal, including music, through a fairly average sound processor which degraded significantly the SQ, killing pretty much any claim to high fidelity. Added to the problem was the use of consumer, low quality DAC's, where competition was using some of the better AKM's or higher end Cyrus Logic. The output was also incapable to cope with both low (massive hiss and distortion with Grado) and high impedance (HD650 for instance) headphones. The Pro line, with the external bay, did use the better AKM DAC's but employing a similar architecture, sound processor etc the end result was more listenable but still not quite in the same league with the audiophile oriented products.

Then X-Fi came out, with an improved sound processor and an option to bypass it for bit perfect music playback. While in theory everything looked great, the original X-Fi did not sound much better than the ageing 2ZS, probably due to using the same consumer DAC's and average quality components. But the strength of Creative had always been in the capability to transform the gaming experience due to implementing in hardware the best API available, refined through several iterations, the famous EAX. The sound effects were incredible, the positioning flawless, literally taking the games to the next level of immersion. Nothing was there to match their sound processors, Sensaura, Q3D etc offering a pale alternative, with inferior positioning, missing audio cues and effects and, most importantly, dropping frame rates due to relying on CPU usage for processing. Long story short - if you were a gamer you had to have a Soundblaster, if an audiophile you had to run from it as far away as possible and look for alternatives like M-Audio Revo, Asus Xonar, Terratec DMX 6 Fire etc, all vastly superior, SQ wise, to Audigy and later X-Fi.

Then Microsoft came and killed altogether, with their dreaded Vista and the new Direct X API (I think it was 9) any support for hardware accelerated sound. A huge blow for Creative, who had just released, with great pride, their new, massively improved, sound processor called X-Fi. There it was, an engineering wonder, dead. EAX, dead. The very reason to buy a Creative Soundblaster, gone. They tried to avoid it, to patch it, they promised there would be ways to circumvent the software limitations but nothing worked and after some serious problems, bugs, freezes they finally had to accept the truth. EAX was history and with it the need for a sound processor. What to do? Unfortunately not much. And Creative hasn't been doing much for a long time. Because the sound processor was there, they had to put it to some use. So instead of hardware accelerating games, they started to work on improving the sound processing capabilities of their cards, "tuning" and "tweaking" the sound so to speak, a difficult and very unpopular task among audiophiles. X-Fi had started it, with the Crystaliser, which was doing quite a poor job in the beginning. And, to be honest, at that point I stopped being interested in Creative because Xonar was superior in every aspect.

Several years later here I am, playing an ageing (but so good - Bioshock) FPS on my Macbook Pro, very unhappy with the sound positioning in my headphones and suddenly being interested in what Creative has done lately. Is there any chance they might have a product suitable for me, the occasional Mac gamer? Well, to cut a long story short, the answer is yes. And no. Yes they have a product for Mac, yes, it's aimed at gamers but no, it isn't a proper gaming enhancing experience. As mentioned elsewhere in this list of feedbacks, the Scout Mode is hit and miss and the THX certification is actually a home cinema standard developed years ago by Lucas Studios. So why the five stars and why bother to write a review at all? Because this small thing, the size of a gaming mouse, is a really accomplished product in other areas.

First of all, being a Creative product, it has a processor on board. Being a 2012 product, it's a quad, highly efficient sound processor powered by the USB port alone. The resampling is still here, 48KHz, Audigy 2ZS anybody? Hmmm, not very promising. It is plug and play on both Windows and Mac but the standard "THX" is too aggressive for my taste so, in order to adjust it, one needs the Creative Control Panel. No issues with installing it on a current Lion Macbook Pro but a message error with unsupported status pops up straight after installation. Disabling THX from the front button on the sound card and restarting the Control Panel does the trick. Disabling everything and trying the Recon3D against the line out of my Macbook Pro on HD650 (not an easy headphone to drive), is a more or less equal fight. If it would be for the pure, unaltered sound quality of this Creative card, I wouldn't recommend and wouldn't bother to buy it. It's slightly better than my Macbook output but not by much, just a bit more power for my HD650.

But then comes THX. You know how audiophiles all over the world have praised for ages Cowon mp3 players although odd looking, plasticky, chunky and expensive? Do you know that straight out of the box a Cowon sounds no better, in fact probably worse than the feared competitor, the mighty iPod? Do you know that the only reason (apart from Apple hate) for buying a Cowon lies in its processing ability, descending directly from a professional suite of VST studio effects, famous in the music business, called BBE, adapted for the little bugger? If you've ever played with a Sonic Maximiser, you know what I'm talking about, if not take my word for it. The BBE is a game changer and, coming back to my humble review, so is the trick up Creative's sleeve. Because this story is already too long, I will try to make it short. Since the early days of the Crystalizer, the effect has been significantly improved and polished and so has the reverb and, boy, I never thought I would say this, even the equaliser, significantly narrowing the gap between this computer toy and some pro effects used in mastering studios. No, the Soundblaster will never match a Hammerfall. And no, Waves or BBE still do a much better, cleaner job chained in a VST host. But for a consumer card costing peanuts, this thing is surprisingly good. The Crystalizer, in small amounts, is doing a great job, the reverb works wonders on certain (but not other) tracks, the equaliser is not as aggressive or distortion prone as it used to be. On my HD650, a fairly demanding headphone, setting the Crystalizer to 47%, the Equaliser to Rock and, on certain tracks, the Surround to about 25%, everything else off, delivers an impressive amount of sound for the money! Yes, Lavry, Benchmark, yes, dedicated headphone amps, yuck to equalisers and processing but, dear audiophile out there, just try it for yourself. It's not hifi, it's not a reference sound, it's not the ultimate word in soundstage, micro detail, in anything really, but it's pleasing, convincing, enjoyable, with no significant distortions (unless you chain too many effects or push them towards the max) and a significant improvement, this time, over my Macbook line out for HD650. The little Creative drives them reasonably well and I am really, genuinely impressed with what a great job Creative has done for the money.

The gaming however, for me, is sadly not a convincing experience. Positioning, occlusion, reverb, Doppler - they're sublimely missing. Where oh where is EAX gone, evil Microsoft? Even years after the premature death of EAX there is nothing out there to match it. This sound card adds nothing to the experience, there is no secret enhancement, just the overall boost in sound quality experienced in music and films. Nothing extra, nothing less. Still, the ability to fine tweak certain aspects of the sound (the Crystalizer works very well for the low bitrate mp3 soundtracks of some of these "classic" games) makes it a worthy addition to your headphone laptop gaming. Interesting enough, there is an EAX5 certification on the box, meaning the sound card might be capable of hardware EAX processing in compatible games/OS's (XP?). But the feature is not available for Mac although, to be fair, since nobody releases EAX certified games anymore, it would be of limited, historical use, only applying to the pre-Vista generation of games therefore not much point in having it. Also while Bioshock had played smoothly at max settings on my 2011 Macbook Pro before, once Recon3D installed the fps rate dropped, to the point of almost unplayability in certain parts of the game. Whether it was a driver issue, a game incompatibility or a hardware problem - most likely the intensive usage of the USB bus to stream audio data, the effect was noticeable and slightly disappointing for a "gaming" sound blaster. Another classic title, Doom 3, recently ported to Mac, refused to output any sound whatsoever through Recon3D although, again, this might be an issue with the game itself or my OS/ drivers.

As a conclusion, all things considered, this sound card is, in my opinion, worth the money. It's limited in its abilities but it's great at what it's doing. It's a vastly improved offer from Creative compared to their previous generations of products, it's genuinely enjoyable, straightforward to set up, satisfying in daily use. It's small enough to accompany you on your travels. The processing is a must provided it's used wisely. There are better products out there from an audiophile point of view, maybe even for gaming, especially on a Mac, but for the money and as a package this is a success. Congratulations Creative, good job.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 27, 2012 12:47 PM BST


Sennheiser HD 800 New Reference Class Wired Headphones - Black
Sennheiser HD 800 New Reference Class Wired Headphones - Black

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best., 29 July 2011
The new hifi trend: luxury headphones at luxury prices. Ultrasone, Grado, Beyer, Sennheiser or even small companies like Audeze have all recently jumped into the same boat by releasing at least one 1000$ + model. They're all claiming to be the best, finest, latest, most accurate, truly, wonderfully, ultimately hifi. But do they deliver? Are they good value for money? Are they perfect? Far from it. But for the discerning audiophile these high end headphones are the only decent substitute for the big hifi in the living room. Some are closed, most are open and they do leak a lot of sound both ways, meaning forget HD800 in a noisy environment. The comfort varies, with Grado GS1000 winning by a clear margin followed by HD800 and probably T1. Although they're huge, HD800 are neither heavy, nor uncomfortable. The pressure and weight are evenly distributed making for an overall pleasant experience. The cable is of excellent quality, sturdy, easily replaceable. The headphone is mostly made of plastic, where others are using metal, leather, exotic wood. They still look the business and much better in real life than in the photos but the build quality is nowhere near as good as, for instance, an Ultrasone Edition 8.
The sound, straight out of the box, is impressive and disappointing at the same time. Thin, bright but airy, detailed, with impressive soundstage. A good few hours of burn in help tame some of the highs but not fundamentally. HD800 is a bright headphone, having more in common, in my opinion, to K701 or GS1000 than to HD6XX. And this brightness, very disturbing at times and on many recordings, makes for the ultra-detailed, airy and bass shy presentation. It's not truly a bass deficiency more like an unnatural, unconvincing, uninvolving bass. It's there, it's fast, it's controlled but it just doesn't sound right. Which is what I can actually say about most of the character of this headphone. While impressive on many counts, it fails to deliver a truly life-like experience and somehow the uber-detail spoils the simple pleasure of simply enjoying the music. Which is why, if you check with forums or dealers, you will always be recommended the aftermarket copper cable to replace the original silver coated lead but also tubes, plenty of tubes, as many and as warm as possible. Don't get me wrong. HD800 truly is a wonderful, first class headphone. It makes for the most beautiful reproduction of female voices, the soundstage is breathtaking, the level of detail out of this world (although I am pretty sure I can hear more with GS1000) . It's just I do get tired after a couple of minutes of using it and miss the much more accurate timbre reproduction of an Edition 8, the lush sound of T1, the low level performance of GS1000. Talking about level, HD800 does need to be pushed to rather high volumes to deliver, especially in the bass department.

Last but not least, the quality and synergy with the rest of your rig are equally important. I haven't really fallen in love with HD800 until I tried them on my Weiss DAC202. And while different amplifiers can do good things for HD800, bass, warmth, naturalness are still not its forte. To end this review on a positive note, for every disappointment or shrill moment HD800 has rewarded me with equally impressive times of musical bliss. If there's one thing HD800 does nearly perfect, that's the midrange female voice. If you like Diana Krall, Anna Karam or Rebecca Pidgeon, buy this headphone. You will not be disappointed, especially on high resolution files. For rock, pop and electronic look elsewhere.


Birkenstock Boston Smooth Leather, Unisex Clogs
Birkenstock Boston Smooth Leather, Unisex Clogs
Price: £49.53 - £86.78

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Birkenstock clogs, 28 Jun. 2011
I've used these Boston's for a couple of years now as work (hospital) shoes. They're very comfortable and the outer leather is of excellent quality. However the soles, both the rubber and cork component, wear out quickly (in my case 8-10 months of daily use). According to their website, the Birk's soles can be repaired or replaced by contacting the retailer, sending them and obviously paying for the service. But I can't be bothered so I prefer to buy a new pair each year. Not a big problem for me but something worth bearing in mind.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 9, 2014 11:57 AM BST


Duronic Back 1m CAT6a FTP Professional Gold Headed Shielded Network Cable - High Speed 500MHz Premium Quality Cat6a / Patch / Ethernet / Modem / Router / LAN
Duronic Back 1m CAT6a FTP Professional Gold Headed Shielded Network Cable - High Speed 500MHz Premium Quality Cat6a / Patch / Ethernet / Modem / Router / LAN
Offered by DURONIC
Price: £6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Duronic 1m FTP, 28 Jun. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Excellent build quality - quality plugs, tension relief, sturdy cable. But, of course, it is just an Ethernet cable which will not outperform in any way the cheapest patch cord. It might however be more suitable for intensive use/abuse, frecquent plugging and unplugging where the better build quality can make a difference.


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