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Jazzy Jeff (London, UK)

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Cabin Max City Flight Approved Carry on Backpack - massive 44l capacity. Includes an extra padded section for up to a 17" Laptop
Cabin Max City Flight Approved Carry on Backpack - massive 44l capacity. Includes an extra padded section for up to a 17" Laptop

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Atrocious quality. Do not buy this product., 7 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Even though I read the poor reviews of this product I went ahead and purchased it anyway. I loved the way it looked so was prepared to risk it.

Unfortunately I, like so many other people, discovered that the quality is utterly, utterly awful and quite frankly, I'm surprised that Amazon is still prepared to fulfill orders because this product is barely fit for use. I'll stop short of saying that it is entirely unfit for use, as it does has a few positives.

CONS
1) Within 10 minutes of receiving the bag, the first bit fell off it. There is an adjustable chest strap which is fitted to the shoulder straps on little runners so the wearer can adjust the height of the strap (quite a typical feature of most good hiking bags). One of the clips pulled right off the runner while I was playing around with it. Fortunately I found that the clip could be slid back onto the runner quite easily, but it wasn't a good start.

2) So the next day I headed off on my flight and within about 1-2 hours of use, the stitching above the zip at the top of the bag had torn, exposing the inner lining of the bag. After a few days, this tear had grown to about 6 inches. I've uploaded a photo to show the damage. The bag was not overloaded and was carrying approximately 9-10kg.

3) Pockets with downward opening zips. Ludicrous, poorly thought out design. Although I can see why someone may have though it a good idea if the bag is only opened whilst it is laid flat on its back, like a suitcase would be. But it's a backpack. People don't use or open backpacks like they do suitcases. The design seems very confused in that sense.

PROS
1) The bag looks great from a distance, is really spacious and has easy access to the laptop compartment even when it's jammed full of stuff which means you can quickly whip out your laptop at the airport if needed. Since I bought this bag over any other expressly because it has the laptop compartment, this is a big plus. Cabin Max didn't get it completely wrong.

CONCLUSION
I work in product sourcing from the far east so I see a lot of cheap Chinese tat and, yes, this bag falls firmly into this category.
It's a real, real shame because the basic idea is great, but it's been implemented so damn badly that it makes me angry.
In fact, this whole experience has made me think about designing my own cabin bag / backpack.
As a side note, Chinese factories are very capable of making good quality goods, and it's not the factory that is at fault here but the customer (Cabin Max) who has clearly asked the factory to cut costs so they can boost their profits. I see it a lot and it's a common mistake of first time importers. I'm guessing that this was one of Cabin Max's first products and they probably learned a lot from its design flaws given the glowing reviews of the other bags in their range.

Ultimately, this bag costs £25.99, not £125.99. You shouldn't expect fantastic quality for such a small price but equally, you shouldn't have to deal with tearing seams after 2 hours of use either.
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Ableton Live 8 Power!
Ableton Live 8 Power!
by Jon Margulies
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, let down by poor tutorials. Not for beginners., 9 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Ableton Live 8 Power! (Paperback)
Probably the most comprehensive guide to Ableton Live 8 that you'll find. I've learned a lot about Ableton having read this book from cover to cover but, if I'm absolutely honest (and without taking anything away from the other Amazon reviews), having read many similar guides on other Digital Audio Workstations, this book could be much, much better and the tutorials are an absolute waste of time.

1) This book is NOT for beginners. I'm not a beginner but can imagine beginners struggling with some of the terminology that this book uses and the acute lack of detailed explanation in some cases. For example, the author makes no excuses for not explaining the basics of subtractive synthesis (THE most popular type of synthesis used in software synthesizers) and therefore, if you're not clued up on sythesizers then you're really going to struggle to get your head around Ableton's "Operator" synth. This surprised me somewhat because I recently read the 'Reason 5 Power!' guide (which covers Propellerhead's Reason production software) which is published by the same company (Course Technology Cengage Learning) and is a great foundation for anyone who is just getting into music production as it covers the basics very well whilst successfully tacking advanced topics too.

2) The tutorials and accopanying project files in this book are nothing short of AWFUL. I really hope that the author and publisher read this and take note... The best way readers can learn is through doing. The easiest way to alienate your readers is by blinding them with large chunks of uninvolving text. This book falls firmly under the latter description and I genuinely wonder who gave the green light for it to be printed.
100 pages in, I realised I hadn't come across a single tutorial. And when one finally does come along (and there are only approximately 10-15 hands on tutorials in this FOUR HUNDRED page book) it's ruined either because of a lack of explanation (in the worst case the project file is merely referenced in passing at the end of the chapter without any attempt to involve the reader) or because the accompanying project file is missing associated media files which means the project doesn't work properly OR the referenced project file is simply missing in its entirety!
Further to this, you have to locate and download the project files from the publisher's website. It's a nice idea, except I know that this publisher has a very bad habit of screwing this up (from past experience with Reason 5 Power!, published by the same company, the project files hadn't even been uploaded to the website!). On first download, it appears as if someone has forgotten to include half the files, or perhaps some of them are corrupt. Either way, I have no way of verifying whether or not this is the case because the book does such a bad job of referencing them anyway.

If you want to see how a great Digital Audio Workstation guide should be written, try getting a copy of Apple's Certified training guide to Logic Pro.

In all fairness I'm being extremely hard on the author. And in his defence, he does claim early on that this book is a COMPANION to Ableton's great built in tutorials (despite the book's misleading title; "Ableton Live Power! The COMPREHENSIVE Guide"). Undoubtedly a lot of time and effort was spent producing the book which, for the most part, is a great guide for those who want to get to grips with Ableton Live, assuming that they have some prior knowledge of music production. It's just a shame that it's let down badly by utterly useless and downright angering tutorials.

Ultimately though, you have to look beyond this. You learn to become a good producer through trial, error and experimentation and not through a perfectly crafted guide book or great companion tutorials. Reading this book will give you the tools to begin that journey. As it states boldy on its first page, it was written for "music makers and dreamers of dreams. You know who you are."

End of.


Reason 5 Power!: The Comprehensive Guide
Reason 5 Power!: The Comprehensive Guide
by Michael Prager
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.95

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A frustrating read with moments of brilliance, 10 April 2011
I rarely write reviews but felt compelled to do so on this occasion having spent 8 intensive (and at times incredibly frustrating) days going through this book from cover to cover with, what amounted to, a fine toothed comb! (it's a 600 page book but I needed to get up to speed on Reason very quickly for an upcoming production schedule.)

Before I get bogged down in the detail, let me just sum this book up by saying that YES, it's worth the money, if only because it's the most comprehensive guide available for Reason 5 right now. Although being comprehensive doesn't neccessarily equate to excellence I must say that having read it from cover to cover I've come away knowing pretty much everything there is to know about Reason.
Having worked with Logic Studio for a long time, I'd class myself as intermediate in general music production terms but beginners will for the most part find this an easy going book as it provides a good introduction to electronic music production concepts. If you're serious about getting to grips with Reason then I'm sure you must have at least some idea of what you're getting yourself into anyway.

WARNING - this book has one quite major pitfall that the publishers need to urgently address. As of April 10th 2011 the computer tutorial files accompanying this book which are supposed to be downloadable from the publisher's website are NOT available (and there's no CD containing the files with the book either). Fortunately there are only 5 tutorials requiring these files and actually with a bit of detective work I discovered that some of the tutorials were actually included in an older version of this book (Reason 4 Power) so I was able to download some (not all) of the relevant files from the website this way. (Also, as a side note, I have a US copy of this book that references a US website for downloads but I found the UK website was just as bad and didn't have any links to the files either).

Having read the Apple certified training guides for Logic Studio (which are absolutely brilliant), I didn't expect Reason 5 Power to be quite as good and, unfortunately it isn't but on the whole the author does a good job of explaining tricky concepts. However, on occassion, a combination of poor instructions and awful screen shots left me stuck halfway through a tutorial shouting expletives at my studio monitors. I'm a mac user and get the distinct feeling that the book was written by a Windows user as references to shortcuts on the Mac are usually an afterthought and often outdated (the author doesn't seem to realise that mac users have a right click mouse button at their disposal these days, for example - although this shouldn't affect following tutorials in the book). With this in mind I found it a bit bizarre then that the majority of screen shots in the book were taken on Mac OS. This shouldn't be a problem for Windows users but maybe suggests that the author didn't take the screen shots which is perhaps why the screen shots in the book are not always clearly explained or annotated very well/at all.

Also, this book wouldn't be half as thick if it didn't repeat itself so much. Many of the instruments within Reason share the standard features and controls (envelope, lfo and filter controls for instance) and whilst the author does occasionally skip over explaining every instance of these it has to be said that there is still a lot of repetition. However, there's nothing like learning through repetition so I can't call this a negative but be warned!

Reason 5 Power has obviously and quite understandably been updated from the Reason 4 edition of the book. But there is at least one instance where the neccessary updates haven't been made, in particular when discussing using the BV612 vocoder as an equaliser, the book refers to the AUDIO IN device which doesn't exist under this name in Reason 5 (now part of the "hardware interface" I believe). As such this particular tutorial will confuse some.

Finally, I've been quite critical of this book but I can only imagine that it took a LOT of effort to compile and on the whole it is actually great. Reason is undoubtedly one of those applications that, on first impressions looks incredibly complicated but Reason 5 Power! will quickly help you overcome this initial impression and allow you to get your creative groove on.


Apple Pro Training Series: Logic Pro 9 and Logic Express 9
Apple Pro Training Series: Logic Pro 9 and Logic Express 9
by David Nahmani
Edition: Paperback
Price: £31.99

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Genuinely, the most useful book I've ever read (for beginners), 9 Oct 2010
I can say with some certainty that I've never read a text book which has made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
This book changed that. It really opened my eyes to just how powerful Logic is as an audio production tool.

The lessons are simple and easy to follow and are accompanied by project files on the enclosed DVD which truly allow you to gain hands-on experience of Logic almost immediately. Just to clarify, the DVD does NOT contain how-to videos, something that a few people have been disappointed by in other reviews I've read. Speaking from experience, how-to videos are a fat waste of time. I started watching a complete Logic video guide before buying this book only to realise that none of it was sinking in because I was zoning out in front of the computer screen. Surprise surprise, by the time I'd finished lesson one of this book I already felt I'd learned more than I did in the 2-3 hours I'd wasted sat watching the Logic video guide. Each to their own, though.

That aside, this book has been compiled incredibly well and it's clear that a lot of time and effort went into producing each lesson. The screen shots in the book match EXACTLY what I see on-screen and each instruction follows on from the last without ever leaving me in the dark or asking myself "what... are they talking about??". Aside from a couple of minor typos I really cannot fault this book.

BUT

Despite its 400-500 odd pages, it really is only a beginners guide. It covers the core components of Logic extremely well but left me asking a lot of questions. Fortunately, I guess that's why they wrote a followup book, Apple Pro Training Series: Logic Pro 9 Advanced Music Production: Creating and Producing Professional Music, so they could convince us to splash out yet more cash to satisfy our hunger to learn more.

Well, they convinced me.


SONY PRO MDR7506 Headphones Pro closed
SONY PRO MDR7506 Headphones Pro closed
Offered by Appods
Price: £69.99

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Try out this quick test..., 25 April 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Try out this quick test...

If you have a copy of 'Four Tet - There Is Love In You', then put on track 1 'Angel Echoes'.
Can you hear the background crackle playing through the intro to this track?
I couldn't until I bought my Sony MDR7506s.

The quality jump between the MDR7506s and my old Sennheisers is impressive. I'm an audio visual producer so naturally work with audio day in day out. My opinion? These are simply great headphones. I use them in the studio and on the tube (although the long curly cable isn't a great travel asset as it gets tangled and is difficult to store).

Things to bear in mind if you're considering MDR7506s...

- You're not buying a fashion statement like you are with say Dre's Monster Beats. To be fair, MDR7506s and Monster Beats are entirely different headphones (with massively different price tags!) but my point here is that you're probably gonna look a bit of a geek if you're wandering around town wearing your MDR7506s. But I still do it.
- These are studio monitor headphones designed for accurate playback. In other words they won't bump up your bass to crazy brain vibrating levels but they certainly don't render it flat. Sub-bass stuff like Burial, LFO, 4hero and more generally bleep and bass and dubstep all sound great.

Before buying I read about 'exposed' wires on the headphones, something that I never quite understood. Now I realise that these reviews are referring to the wire which carries audio between the left and right hand cans. Since the jack plug cable is wired straight into the left hand can only there's another wire enclosed within the head strap which takes audio over to the right hand can. As the headphones need to be adjustable for different head sizes this wire needs slack in it too. It's at the point where there's slack that the wire is exposed and liable to get caught, especially if you're commuting in them.

Fortunately I've not experienced any problems (yet! - 2 months and counting) but I've heard the odd horror story.
As such I'd absolutely recommend these headphones for studio work but probably not for commuting!
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