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Reviews Written by
N. D. Southwell "Rock'n'Neil" (England, UK)
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Meguiars Gold Class Rich Leather Wipes
Meguiars Gold Class Rich Leather Wipes
Offered by AP Motor Store
Price: 6.75

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Did the car seats and the house sofas, 28 Sep 2010
I have been using this product for over a year now and have found it to be good. I first bought it after the garage left some brown/oily marks on my brand new light grey alpaca leather mercedes seats and door panels which I thought would be difficult to remove. I was also worried that a strong cleaner might bleach the leather. These Maguiar's wipes did a good job of it. It did take two goes to get the marks off, but I'd rather do that than risk using a powerful cleaner that might do damage. I have used them for periodically light-cleaning the seats and other leather in the car ever since. They work well and although the seats are a little slippery just afterwards that only seems to last a day or two. I have also used them to clean the leather sofas in my house (which had been neglected for some years) and they worked well on those too. I have also cleaned my leather jacket with them.

They are easy to use; just pull out one of the paper tissues and wipe the leather. If you don't like a slippery shine, then wiping it again with a microfibre cloth will reduce the shine and slipperiness, though there will still be a little slipperiness left.

I am very pleased with this product.


Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Studio Monitor Professional Headphones - Black Coiled Cable
Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Studio Monitor Professional Headphones - Black Coiled Cable
Offered by Inta-Audio
Price: 104.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for mixing, mastering and monitoring at home., 26 Aug 2010
Having struggled to get a good mix that sounded right on my hi-fi and in the car, I graduated from ordinary hi-fi headphones, through cheap monitor speakers, through good tracking headphones, to these, and as a result my mixes have improved a lot. Additionally, I hear even more mistakes and faults at an earlier stage in the process and so can fix them earlier, before they get through to the Cd I end up with. Being an amateur recording at home in an ordinary untreated room, I find these headphones excellent and well worth the price (which for me was comparatively high compared to that of my other euquipment). I also like the draw-string black bag they came in, and the plug that unscrews to change to a different size is the best adapter I've ever seen - Cool too!

If anyone reading this is new to recording and uncertain about monitors and monitoring, you might find my review of my Behringer MS 20 monitor speakers helpful to read in addition to this review.


Behringer B-5 Single Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Behringer B-5 Single Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Price: 57.80

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So good I bought another one, 29 Jan 2008
Since I wrote the original review (see below) I've bought another of these excellent mics and now use them as a stereo pair. I am very pleased with them. I mainly use them for recording vocals into my Boss BR600 recorder, and that allows me to use the built in stereo effects. I find them much sharper and clearer than the BR600's built in condensor mics, plus it's nicer to sing into proper mics on a stand rather than half-leaning over the recorder. Somehow the more professional vision of a pair of proper mics in front of me spurs me on to make a better performance. I have also used one of them pointing at my strumming/plucking hand whilst playing my electric guitar. This allows me to record the plectrum noises and a little natural sound from the strings. I then mix that track with the main guitar track (with the effects on) to introduce a slight amount of strumming noise. The result makes the recorded sound seem more like what I actually hear whilst playing; it adds a sharp natural atmophere.

ORIGINAL REVIEW: I just got one of these mics yesterday, so this is a 'first impressions' review. It came in a hard plastic case that has proper hinges (not just bendy plastic), a carrying handle, and a plastic catch. Inside, the bottom has a foam insert that has cut out spaces for the mic, the other head, the windshield, and the stand adapter. The top half is full of black foam. The case is described as rugged, but that is maybe a slight exageration. It is fairly rugged, but certainly isn't a flight case; it is just a stiff plastic box but the foam interior provides plenty of protection.

The stand adapter holds the mic firmly, and has a thread adapter too. The two heads are interchangeable and simply screw on and off. One of mine fitted a bit better than the other, but both are ok. (The second one I bought included two perfectly fitting heads!) The switch for the pad and low frequency roll-off, is positive and feels good, and the xlr connector felt positive as I plugged in my lead.

The instruction book was very helpful and informative. It also included handy advice about the proximity effect on sound, and equalization. (The closer the mic is to the sound source, the more lower frequencies it will pick up. So the tone can be altered by moving the mic towards or away from the sound source.)

Soon I will test it through my mixer and then try recording some vocals, some acoustic guitar, etc. with it. (but there is too much to do in my day job at the moment).When I have more fully tested it, I will return and add more to this review. But so far, I am pleased with it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 12, 2008 8:06 PM GMT


Eric Clapton: The Autobiography
Eric Clapton: The Autobiography
by Eric Clapton
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reduced to tears, 8 Jan 2008
My girlfriend bought me this book for xmas, and I could hardly put it down. I have always liked eric's guitar playing, and I'd previously (many years ago) read a biography about him. As a rock'n'roll guitarist and a published author myself I was amazed at how good this book was.

Reading about his childhood and struggle to learn to play on poor quality cheap instruments brought back memories of my own struggle, during which my teacher wrote to my parents telling them that 'this student will never master this instrument'; yet a few years later I was a professional player and singer.

His bad behaviour and school truancy also reminded me of my childhood, and we both got expelled. I cried as I read about his ambitious battle with high guitar actions (string heights), and I couldn't believe that his first proper electric had been the same make (though a different model) to my own - a Kay.

As his story progressed, most of his experiences departed from mine, especially as he had become a star, and I had fallen into the anonymity of amateur musicianship. This departure, far from putting me off, deepened my interest and enjoyment of the book, yet as I had remained loyal to my bands until each collapsed after the best musician left in search of better things, I found reading a very similar story from the other side of the fence, to be both compelling and harrowing. The old memories and dashed dreams came flooding back, as did the tears.

Such was my reduction to tears as I turned the pages, that my girlfriend started to regret buying me this book as a xmas present (a time for spreading joy and happiness), but in some ways they were tears of joy. As it progressed I found the book to be very therapeutic. Not in the sense that eric might have meant it to be (as although I experimented in the seventies - and got caught - I never got addicted to alcohol or drugs), but it healed many old wounds from the old rock-band days. I finally understood the motivations around the seemingly cruel departures of leading musicians from my bands that had happened just as we had seemed to be on the edge of success. It was the frustration of these painful let-downs that had finally persuaded me to give up, but reading this book, unexpectedly fired me with new enthusiasm.

I went out and bought a new guitar (a white Dean Del Sol semi-solid), and made a home-recorded Cd of some of my songs (3 of mine and a cover of eric's 'Motherless Children'). I am very proud of it, in spite of my lack of talent, and gave it to a few friends at New Year.

I'm about ten years younger than eric, but the later parts of his book helped me to understand that my distress at aging is not unique to me, and his love of his new lifestyle cheered me up, leaving me feeling hopeful about my future, and a lot wiser.

So thanks eric for a great book! I now listen to your music and watch your DVDs with deeper understanding and even greater enjoyment. But readers beware! This is not a happy-clappy reading experience. Its frank and open approach to story-telling might well leave you reduced to tears too.

Neil Southwell
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 8, 2008 3:03 PM GMT


HP Photosmart D5160
HP Photosmart D5160

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Prints well on Cds and photos are excellent., 20 Sep 2007
This review is from: HP Photosmart D5160 (Electronics)
When I was considering this product there were lots of conflicting reviews on this page. Most of the conflict was about the quality of the Cd/DVD printing facility, and this was very important to me because as a home recording musician the ability to print directly onto Cds was the main reason for my interest in this printer. Some reviews claimed the Cd/DVD printing was very good and others said it was very poor. After checking the price in town (where it was over thirty pounds dearer in one shop and over ten pounds dearer in the cheapest shop), I ordered it via Amazon.

It arrived on time and was well packed. I particularly liked the way it was covered in black plastic so no nosey neighbours etc, or dodgy delivery persons knew what was being delivered.

It had been dispatched from France and contained a mains adapter/converter so it could be plugged into English sockets. This works well though it looks a little strange.

I found the print quality to be excellent for ordinary paper, photo paper, and importantly for me it also printed very well on my Cds. The cd/dvd designing software by HP and another similar one provided were both very limited in that they seem to only provide some print boxes for you to type into, but the HP one does allow you to print a photo (bmp/jpeg etc) that it resizes and crops to the correct sized circular shape. This means that you can produce designs in photo editing software or a design/publishing program that allows you to save designs as bmp/jpeg etc.

Unfortunately my photo editor has limited text manipulation, (I need to print in a circle aroung the circumference of the Cds)and my otherwise excellent microsoft desktop Publisher doesn't let me save designs as images, so at first I was a little stuck. I got around this by designing in Publisher, printing the design onto good quality paper at a high resolution, and then scanning the printed image back into the computer as a bitmap.

I then inserted the bitmap image using HP's software and ignored their text boxes (they don't print if you don't type anything into them). The result was very good. I am pleased with this for now, but I am thinking about getting a proper drawing/design program.

Overall I am very pleased with this printer, and would recommend it to anyone who wants excellent photos, and wants to print directly onto Cds and DVDs.

The only problem I have had so far is that i find it difficult to switch it off. As I use it with a laptop and have to pack everything away after each use, this is annoying. Double-clicking on the disconect USB icon is always met with a message saying the printer can't be disconected because a program is accessing it. This happens even though I have no programs running. Eventually I ignore the message and switch the power to the printer off and unplug the USB lead. It doesn't seem to do any harm, but it's still worrying - Hence only 4 stars, but it's excellent in all other respects.


Saguitar
Saguitar
Offered by ALL-MY-MUSIC-GERMANY
Price: 11.99

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Released today, Bought today, Loved today; paid more!, 3 Sep 2007
This review is from: Saguitar (Audio CD)
I hadn't heard this guy since the seventies, but saw this album in HMV this morning. I bought it because of the great cover and in memory of the fact that I once spoke to him on the telephone. I played it in the car and then at home; I'm really impressed. I even liked the track where he fused his usual rock/blues style with some rap - Now that was brave! The song, 'education' is my favourite so far. Whether you get it from amazon, or like me have to get it today even though it cost more (13); buy it and enjoy some beautiful rock/blues guitar work.


2x Samsung WSF-100 Water Filter
2x Samsung WSF-100 Water Filter
Offered by filter-discount
Price: 35.45

10 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I paid much less elsewhere, 28 Aug 2007
I just purchased a genuine samsung external water filter cartridge for 29.99 plus 2.98 delivery from Samsung's recomended uk accessory/comsumables supplier. I found their website by going to Samsung's own official website and following their official link.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 23, 2010 7:46 AM GMT


No Title Available

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect sound, Perfect size, 16 Aug 2007
I have never been so pleased with a purchase. It really does everything claimed of it by the manufacturer. I play rock and roll based rock music with a bit of blues and a little metal, and the three channels provide the exact sounds I'm after for each of these. I used to use an all solid-state combo and a multi-effects pedal, but I got annoyed with having to scroll up and down the menus and switch from bank to bank; on stage that was a nightmare. Now I don't need any effects (though I intend to buy a wah-wah pedal soon), each of the basic sounds from the Marshall is so perfect. I use two solid guitars, a Hohner and a Gibson, and they both sound truly great through this amp. The cheaper Hohner, in particular, is lifted into a whole new category, and sounds much more powerful and full toned than before. The Gibson is transformed into a fire-firing monster.

When I was looking around for a new amp I wanted something with a range of basic but good quality sounds that was powerful enough for a pub-rock gig, but small and light enough for me to easily carry and fling in and out of my hatchback car. I've always had much bigger and heavier amps (stacks and combos)in the past, but I got fed up with lugging them around. My previous combo amp was built into a flightcase and I could only just lift it. Luckily it was on wheels, but that didn't help get it up stairs. When I first read about the Marshall, I wasn't sure about it only having one speaker. My previous amp had 2x12", the one before that had 2x15", and before that I used a 4x12" cab on top of a 1x18", but as I had down-sized physically I also found that I had weakened/thinned my tone. So I was suspicious of a 1x12" and tried another manufacturer's 2x12" hybrid combo first, but then I tried the Marshall. I preferred its much deeper more powerful feeling delivery; it was like they had somehow squeezed a giant stack into this tiny little box without loosing its gigantic sound. I was amazed, and six months later I am really glad that I chose this one.

My only complaint so far is that although I don't have big hands, I find the knobs are very close to each other, and they feel a bit cheap to the touch. The footswitch however is very sturdy and has a high quality feel.

Some other manufacturers' combos now have a pair of wheels at the back and a telescopic handle (like modern suitcases have) and I think something similar would be a great improvement to this amp. As my Hohner case has a shoulder strap, I'd be able to sling that over my shoulder, carry my accessory case in one hand and pull the amp along behind me with the other; just imagine it, only one trip from the car to the stage/studio and then a simple set up and play!

Overall, as a small, powerful, reasonably priced combo amp with great big sounds that range from classic though modern to now, this was as close to perfection as I could find. Buy it and rock!


Home Recording for Musicians For Dummies
Home Recording for Musicians For Dummies
by Jeff Strong
Edition: Paperback

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but some problems, 7 Aug 2007
I bought this book a few weeks ago expecting that it would have been substantially updated since the previous edition that I also own. This was not the case though. In particular, as I have now got to the stage when I have a few tracks finished, I was interested in the recommended websites for MP3 hosting and Cd distribution, but none of the links seem to work and several of the recommended sites (Ampcast.com, iuma.com, vitaminic.com)seem to have closed down a long time ago. One even has a closure notice dated 2005! This was a big disapointment to me as I only bought the new edition in the hope of getting more up-to-date information.

Other than this annoyance, the book is just as good as the older edition, and I have found it very informative, and helpful. I particularly like the fact that although much of the focus is on DAW computer software recording, Studio In A Box (SIAB) based studios are praised and explained well (though once again the list and descriptions of popular models seems very out-of-date). I use a Boss BR600 (see my review elsewhere on Amazon) and find that although it is not specifically mentioned in this book, most of the recording, mixing and mastering principles explained are very relevant.

Descriptions and explanations about microphones, mixers, effects, eq, etc. are excellent. Oddly, studio monitor speakers are only superficially explained, and I could have done with some more information and advice about monitors when I was trying to decide which ones to buy. In the end I chose largely by guess work, but seem to have done alright on my very low budget as I bought Behringer MS20 monitors through Amazon (see my review elsewhere on Amazon).

If you are new to home recording, or are muddling along using only the instructions/help that came with your recording software/equipment/SIAB, and some magazine articles, or like me you are struggling with the transition from analogue to digital, I am sure that this book, will be very useful to you.

In fairness, this edition was published in 2005, but the speed with which products, software and internet information changes these days requires a faster response from publishers who should keep a record of described products and services to be regularly checked and updated. Smaller but more frequent print runs, or on demand printing are the answers to this problem, and some publishers are embracing such an approach. I really hope that when/if there is a 3rd edition, the product and web information is substantially updated. Overall it is still a good book, but it has temporal problems.


Sennheiser HD212pro Closed Back Headphone
Sennheiser HD212pro Closed Back Headphone

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good For Recording, 31 July 2007
I bought a pair of Sennheisser HD212pro headphones because the sound leaking from my old hi-fi headphones was being picked up by my microphone whilst I was multitrack recording at home. A tinny sounding version of my song kept being recorded along with my vocals and live percussion.

I found the sound isolation of the HD212s to be very good, and the problem was solved. The sound was much fuller than my old headphones with lots more bass and treble frequencies, there was greater clarity too.

I used to mix through them too, but I have since progressed to using some budget priced monitors (Behringer MS20) which are much better for mixing as they have a flatter response.

The HD212s are great for pleasure listening. I like Heavy Rock, Blues and some Metal music and the sound is loads better than previous headphones and hi-fi speakers that I've owned in the past.

Overall they are lightweight, comfortable, sound great, have a long enough lead to walk about the room, and are well priced. They are good for recording.

My only complaint is that I would have liked a volume control.

UPDATE August 2010: I still like these headphones and still use them when recording and for listening to music for pleasure. I have since purchased a pair of dearer, monitoring headphones by Audio-Technica which are excellent for mixing and mastering at home, especially as I don't have a proper studio room and record in the corner of the lounge. I am still happy to recommend this product after three years usage.


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