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Big Ben "fly_mo" (Bedford, UK)
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Akai EWI USB
Akai EWI USB
Offered by SAMURAI Jp TOKYO
Price: 349.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb instrument & software, can be tricky to set up initially., 28 Aug 2012
This review is from: Akai EWI USB (Electronics)
There have been some negative EWI USB reviews here and elsewhere, but most users seem to be able to make it work.
So when Zings Music popped up on Google with a special offer at fifty quid less than elsewhere, I took the plunge.
It's worked out really well, but it took time and some tweakage. The result is well worth it, and it's simple to do.

A mate had an old Win XP laptop that he let me use to check it out, since the Akai 'Garritan' software needs Windows or a Mac and we have used Linux on ours for years.

It took a week of fiddling about to find what was needed to make the Akai EWI USB software work really well under Win XP SP3 on a 2007 Celeron 420 laptop with 768MB of RAM. Profuse thanks to Jason M. Knight at ewiusb.com for his very useful site.

We did it this way, and recommend it :

1) After doing a vanilla Akai software installation, ensure that XP is running right and travelling light.
...by defragging, minimising running processes (we settled on 24 as a good-enough number for this puny Celeron) and ensuring that it is not already using all the RAM. We allowed for some 256MB on top of what XP used, ~240MB in this case. RAM usage does depend on voices and FX used, but a total of 768 MB was fine.

2) Download ASIO4ALL.exe from the Asio4all website, and install it.

3) Connect the EWI USB in the approved manner

4) Start the Akai software, pick 4 sounds that you like, enable them all, add reverb and then click on Tools -> Preferences
... there you should select the ASIO options on offer, making sure that the EWI USB is selected too, as per the instructions.

... at the bottom of that page, check out the 'buffers' options, and by blowing notes discover which buffer size works without clicking or blooping - you want the smallest that sounds OK, for best speed.

Too big a buffer, it'll respond more slowly, too small it'll sound rough.

You are now good to go!

Ask a friend who is skilled in the art if you do not feel comfortable with any of the above. It's probably not essential in XP to reduce the overhead so drastically on a Core 2 Duo with 2GB RAM, but if you use Vista even that may not be enough. Win 7 is in the middle, less bloated than Vista, but usually more so than an equivalent XP system, and nowhere near the dedicated stripped-down XP installation that we now have multi-booting on our own T5600 C2D. Uses 180MB RAM on boot-up, with 17 processes running before launching the Akai software.

Do take care that your antivirus/malware scanner will not wake up and want 100% of your processor when you're in the middle of a solo! Many of them will, but you do need one that works well if you choose to use Windows online.

The bottom line is that it was well worth the hassle of discovering this and much more. I've left out the boring saga of a corrupted fresh XP installation on another machine, and the trouble that caused. Not Akai's fault. Duff Win XP CD.

Now it's going properly this system really rocks!
The surrounding moonlit countryside was echoing to 'Baker Street' and a selection of Beatles tunes at 400 watts. Awesome sound, and easy enough to play, even for an old guy whose fingers are getting stiff.

I'm a recorder player - used to using a delicate flow of air - so I found the pressure needed was more than I'm used to - but three weeks later I'm entirely used to it. I've never had a mouthpiece that wants you to chew on it before, but oh, the expression! ;)

The Akai EWI can be configured to all sorts of fingerings, but I stuck with the 'EWI' one because it was simple enough, and close to a school recorder.

The Garritan sounds are darn good played on good speakers - you can easily pay a huge sum for the fanciest 'fantastic' sound - the provided sounds are probably not ultimate, but I really enjoy them, and there's a big choice of Woodwind, Brass, Strings, Pitched Percussion and Synthesiser voices to play with. The Reverb provided is good and really improves the sound quality.

You can also download and import free .sfz 'SoundFont' files that sound great - or you can buy them, for pretty big money in some cases.

Niggles?
There are some niggles - mostly fixable.

1. It's touch technology - your hands and the touch contacts must be clean, not sticky.
The key touch-sensors work best with clean fingers. A non-greasy lotion is recommended and seems to work OK; we have also found that alcohol gel cleanser does the hands/contacts well, as do wet-wipes.

2. There is no proper thumb-rest for the right hand. What looks like one is in fact a MIDI controller that is pre-configured to pitch-bend up. If you use it as a thumb rest it will push you up about a semitone, and wobble about a bit too.

So the strap is the official method of attachment, unfortunately it's a cheap one.

3. Main probs are that it is rough on the neck when carrying the full weight full time, its adjustment is cranky, and the hook is a plain one that can disengage and drop your instrument at random. I made another one from an old belt, some fleece and a small snap-hook. Very comfy.

4. The USB cable comes out of the bottom, so you can't use a conventional 'spike' clarinet stand, although some dealers offer these for use with this instrument. So annoying when a retailer tries to sell inappropriate accessories!
Something more like a stabilised loo-brush holder with a high-up hook to keep the EWI from resting on the USB cable and kinking it would probably be OK.

5. And it's a bit heavy, even compared to a big recorder. You can fix that by removing internal ballast weights. Photos and instructions are on ewiusb.com, as is much useful info concerning this instrument. Strongly recommended that you visit there if the EWI USB interests you.

6. The instruction booklet is pretty light weight. It omits things like using Asio4all, does not detail the MIDI implementation, and has an error in the EWI fingering chart- check out the fingering for G and G#. Reflects a pretty casual attitude at Akai.

But that's about it, for niggles.

It is a gas to play - and you don't need 400 watts, I get a similar stereo impact with decent over-ear headphones
...then my mistakes are for my ears only...

Yes the price is high in the UK. Pounds ~= Dollars, yet again.

But with VAT at 20%, some of that is inevitable, and nowadays you'll get hit for it if you try a grey import. <sigh>

Even at the UK price, there's real value in this instrument - check out the retail price of the Garritan sound software included with it, there's more here than just hardware. And it works in Linux! Just hooked it up to UbuntuStudio and it was immediately recognised in Patchage.

Strongly recommended for wind instrument enthusiasts. It's a gas!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 16, 2013 4:14 PM BST


New Akai EWI USB Midi Woodwind Controller
New Akai EWI USB Midi Woodwind Controller
Offered by MusicMatter
Price: 289.00

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent hardware, great software, sometimes tricky to configure, 17 Aug 2012
I was pretty worried about negative EWI USB reviews here and elsewhere, but some people seemed to be able to make this work, so when Zings Music popped up on Google at fifty quid less than anywhere else, I took the plunge. <gulp>

And it arrived the next morning! Not bad for free postage.

At first I struggled with it. A mate had an old laptop with XP that he let me use to check it out, since the Akai Garritan software needs Windows or a Mac and we have Linux. Oh well.

Long story short, it took a week of fiddling about (with profuse thanks to Jason Knight at ewiusb.com) to work out exactly what was needed to make the Akai EWI USB software work well under Win XP SP3 on a 2007 Celeron 420 laptop with 768MB of RAM.

It was this:

1) After doing the Akai software installation, ensure that XP is running right and traveling light.
...by defragging, minimising running processes (we settled on 24 as a good-enough number for this puny Celeron) and ensuring that it is not already using all the RAM. You'll need to allow some 256MB on top of what XP uses, it seems.

This XP was using around 240MB, so ~512MB total RAM was needed, and we had much more than that.
(Watch out that you don't have an antivirus that will wake up and want 100% of your processor when you're in the middle of a solo! Seriously!)

2) Download ASIO4ALL.exe from the Asio4all website, and install it.

3) Connect the EWI USB in the approved manner

4) start the Akai software, pick a sound you like and go to Tools -> Preferences
... there you should select the ASIO options on offer
... at the bottom of that page, check out the 'buffers' options, and by blowing notes discover which buffer size works without clicking or blooping - you want the smallest that sounds OK, for best speed. Too big, it'll be slow, too small it'll sound rough.

You are now good to go!

And here comes the punchline...

It was worth *all* the hassle and much more. I've left out the saga of a corrupted fresh XP installation on another machine, and the trouble that caused. Not Akai's fault.

This system really rocks!
The surrounding countryside was echoing to 'Baker Street' and a selection of Beatles tunes at 400 watts. Awesome sound, and easy enough to play.

I'm a recorder player - used to using a delicate flow of air - so I found the pressure needed was a bit more than I'm used to - but ten days later I'm used to it. I've never had a mouthpiece that wants you to chew on it before, but oh, the expression! <giggle>

The Akai EWI can be configured to all sorts of fingerings, but I stuck with the 'EWI' one because it was simple enough, and very close to a school recorder.

The Garritan sounds are darn good - you can easily pay a huge sum for a 2012 model 'fantastic' sound - the Garritan sounds are probably not *that* fantastic, but I really enjoy them, and there's a big choice of Woodwind, Brass, Strings, Pitched Percussion and Synthesiser voices to play with.

You can also download and import free .sfz files that sound great - or you can buy them.

Niggles?
There are some niggles - your hands must be clean, not sticky. This is because the key sensors work best on clean hands. A non-greasy lotion is recommended and seems to work OK; we have also found that alcohol gel cleans the hands well, as do wet-wipes.

There is no proper thumb-rest for the right hand. What looks like one is in fact a MIDI controller that is pre-configured to pitch-bend up. If you use it as a thumb rest it will push you up about a semitone, and wobble about a bit. So the strap is the official method of attachment, unfortunately it's a cheap one. Main probs are that it is rough on the neck when carrying the full weight full time, its adjustment is cranky, and the hook is a plain one that can disengage and drop your instrument at random. I made another one from an old belt, some fleece and a small snap-hook.

The USB cable comes out of the bottom, so you can't use a conventional clarinet stand, although some dealers offer these for use with this instrument. Wrong!
Something more like a stabilised loo-brush holder with a high-up hook to keep it from resting on the USB cable and kinking it would probably work OK.

And it's a bit heavy, even compared to a big recorder. But you can fix that by removing the internal ballast weights. Photos and instructions are on ewiusb.com, as is a _lot_ of other useful info concerning this instrument.

But that's about it, for niggles.

It is a gas to play - and you don't need 400 watts, I get a similar stereo buzz with decent over-ear headphones ...and nobody else can hear my mistakes... ;)

Yes the price is high in the UK. Pounds == Dollars, yet again.

But with VAT at 20%, some of that is inevitable, and nowadays you'll get hit for it if you try a grey import. <sigh>

Even at the UK price, there's real value in this instrument - just check out the retail price of the Garritan sound software included with it.

Strongly recommended to wind instrument enthusiasts. It's a gas!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 16, 2013 4:27 PM GMT


Martin 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings - Light (Pack of 3)
Martin 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings - Light (Pack of 3)
Price: 11.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good as ever!, 17 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Been using Martin Bronze-wound strings for decades now, and these feel as good as I expected. We mostly use the 'Light' gauge on a lightweight Martin Backpacker, since they are the heaviest the truss-less neck is intended for. This guitar is unusual, and is designed around these strings, so no surprise when they sound so good. They also work well on my Dobro when I'm in the mood for bending. and a plain third suits my style for that - I just buy a few plain third strings every so often.
Crisp, bright and as full as ever. Excellent!


AKAI EWM1
AKAI EWM1
Offered by EESMusic
Price: 12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty expensive for some moulded plastic, 17 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: AKAI EWM1 (Electronics)
I shouldn't grumble, but it does annoy me when something (however useful) is priced at silly money. If you need one of these for your Akai EWI, then this is what you need. But at around 22 for some tacky plastic that should be two-to-the-packet in a pound shop it's taking the mickey. Tempted to make a mould from mine and turn out replicas at 5 each. And that would be very profitable indeed....
Grumble, grumble, grumble.
But it is the Akai part, and it fits OK.


Syma Gyro Metal Frame 4-Channel Coaxial Infrared RC Helicopter Toy
Syma Gyro Metal Frame 4-Channel Coaxial Infrared RC Helicopter Toy
Offered by Andoer
Price: 19.88

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great 4-channel Helimacopter, manual could be better!, 17 Aug 2012
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This neatly made helo has 4 channels like a 'proper' helicopter, so it can fly sideways (or correct sideways drift).
The good news is that it all works well and is fun to fly, plus there are modifications available.

The bad news is that the manual is written in Chinglish. ("...Push the motive handle..")
Normally this does not matter much. Just stuff the batteries in the controller, charge the helo, and fly, right?
Wrong.
This is a brand-new controller, and it is 'smart', but you have to explain things to it.
To calibrate the controller before use, turn the power on and move both sticks all the way forwards, backwards, and side-to-side. This lets it calibrate the stick response. Then turn on the helo and fly. This needs to be done every time the controller is turned on.

Without that, it is very very twitchy to control. Some other reviewers have not mentioned this, and I suspect they may not know it.

The twitchiness is because without calibration the stick travel is roughly halved, and they are twice as sensitive as a result. The sticks are shorter than the previous controller, too, which some may dislike. Some users do lengthen the sticks - just pull off the knobs and pop a bit of tube on instead. I find they are OK for me, despite my huge hands. I'll add some more mods in the 'Comments' below.
The yaw trim pot is also less than obvious - it's on the right of the box. I find it more convenient there than the knob on the top of previous Syma controllers, but opinions vary.
There is no longer a return spring on the throttle control (up/down) channel, this may take a bit of getting used to if this is your first time using this system.

This machine is faster than our S107G and S111G - and the battery lasts a bit longer too. Maybe this is a better battery, since they do vary? Also the S107/111 have had a fair bit of use so the batteries may be getting tired.
Control is about as smooth as the earlier Syma designs, but only *after* the calibration of the controller.
It comes with spare parts - bits and blades and a different canopy too.

CONCLUSION
For a beginner? Maybe not, although someone willing to proceed carefully should be OK.
I'm really enjoying it, despite the dodgy manual - and I will create a comment (below) that covers various interesting modifications.
So at around 16 post free this is a good deal, and I'd recommend it to anyone wanting to advance from an S107G or similar.
It really does fly well.

PS: The manual does explain how to set it up, but it's only clear when you already know what it's trying to say:
Page One "Ready to Fly" paragraph, number 2 says:
"....Push the motive handle must be pushed to the maximum route of travel first, then adjust it to the lowest; etc"

What it's trying to say, is "Turn the controller on before the helo. then move the controls forward/back and side/side all the way at least once, then it is OK to turn on the helo."
I'm not laughing at them, it's a great attempt. I wouldn't know where to start translating English into Pinyin...
And they make great little helicopters!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 19, 2013 10:04 AM BST


No Title Available

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super little helo! And spares are available too., 7 Aug 2012
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
We've been having fun with little helicopters like this for ages now, and this is one of the best.
It's 'Three-channel' which means up/down is one, steering left/right is two and forward/backwards is three. This is the minimum for a really good experience in my view. The missing channel (found on 4-channel RC models) is the 'slide sideways' left/right one.

This has a metal frame which is certainly solid enough, but seems to make this a tad heavier than the S111G I was given for my birthday this year: Syma S111G 3.5 Coastguard RC Helicopter with Gyro Hmmm, seems that there is now a cheaper option for this:
SYMA SYS111 3 Channel Micro Coastguard Radio Control Helicopter

That's currently similar in price to this S107G, so you might like to compare them.

The S111G has a tough all-plastic fuselage and what looks like identical running gear - blades and other replaceables seem the same.

So both of them are pretty well made for a light weight flying machine - the delicate bits are the tail rotor (spare provided) main blades and and rotor head balance bar/links - there are spares available:
Full Set of 4 Replacement Rotor Blades for s107 rc Helicopter Yellow Color
SET RC Helicopter SYMA S107 Red Spare Part Canopy Blade Shaft Balance Buckle etc
Full Set Replacement Parts for Syma S107 RC Helicopter, Main Blades, Tail Decorations, Tail Props, Balance Bar, -Red Set

I've had some hard landings - usually caused by the sun coming through a window and blinding the Infra-Red Remote Control. The control works well when not blinded (indoors is best), and the 'G' in 107G is for 'gyro' which keeps the helo pointed where you want it to. There's even a trim control so that you can set it to fly straight - or in a circle.
Why would you want to fly in a circle all the time?
When you are learning to fly it!
Much easier to set it going in a circle with the trim control, ignore the rudder and speed controls and concentrate on getting the height right. It's all too easy to leap up and down at first, like a learner getting a car going - kangaroo-style.

The S107G has skids underneath to land on, and these are better than tiny little wheels that cannot turn, as on the S111G - which is a bit harder to land upright every time. The skids are a bit further apart than the wheels, which helps.

Once you get used to it, this is an agile and speedy little helo. It can fly fast, too. Taking off with 'forward' engaged can see this flying across the room like an arrow. Be ready to turn or stop! Outdoors is tempting, but sunlight is a no-no, and it's not intended for flight in moving air so if you must try it, a grey overcast dawn when the smoke is rising straight up is best, all at your own risk!

We have yet to need spares for either helo, and one of them has been flown daily for a month. So, fairly tough, if you are careful and lucky too.

We like both of these inexpensive Syma helicopters - which one you prefer is up to you - they both fly really well.
Recommended!


Syma S111G 3.5 Coastguard RC Helicopter with Gyro
Syma S111G 3.5 Coastguard RC Helicopter with Gyro
Offered by FamilyMall (8-23 shipping days)
Price: 12.92

5.0 out of 5 stars De Luxe version of the Syma S1xxG series with lights, 17 July 2012
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
We have had around a dozen different little electric helicopters/birds/planes over the years (do check my reviews if you're interested) and this one is a cracker. It looks good and flies well.
All of these tiny helos can be fun, but they are most fun if you can steer them accurately enough to avoid crashing all the time.
This one has a 'heading gyro' that keeps it on track very well.
Setting the trim knob on the box to fly in a controlled circle can free up a beginner pilot to concentrate on getting the height right. Ours flies forward very slowly with no control applied, so all one has to do is keep the engines running fast enough to stay in the air without hitting the ceiling.
Ceiling? Yes. Outdoors is not the best place for this model - the performance will not let it deal with any sort of breeze however gentle, and the Infra-Red control link is swamped by moderate sunlight. Yes, it might work on a very calm morning/evening, but beware the limited range of control. For courageous advanced pilots only, I'd reckon.
A high ceiling is best, and we find that bedrooms can be good places to learn - crash landing on a bed is better than a floor!
Despite years of experience I still lose it occasionally - letting my enthusiasm get the better of my prudence and trying something hairy at high speed that does not come off - but after a half dozen uncontrolled landings this technical little aircraft is still flying well.
Remember, a good landing is where the pilot and all the passengers can walk away.
If you can use the aircraft again without repairs it's a *perfect* landing!
Symas are pretty technical - full scale helicopters lack the stability and controllability that this little machine demonstrates. Ask any Pilot.
It's pretty tough, as delicate little helos go, and I've seen quite a lot of Syma spares for sale on Amazon. So no worries there. I usually wear small helicopters out before breaking them anyway.
So we like it. At under 20 it's a good deal too. Recommended!


Glenfiddich 12 years old 40% 70cl
Glenfiddich 12 years old 40% 70cl
Offered by a2zdrinks
Price: 27.99

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Superb whisky, cheaper at Waitrose and Tesco, 16 July 2012
Glenfiddich has been a personal favourite since the 1960s - the worlds most popular single malt, and the one that wins the most awards too.
But part of that is the value proposition and the price here (as reviewed today) is around 33 including delivery. Even if the delivery were free both Tesco and Waitrose offer the same product at 25. Waitrose deliver free for orders over 50, so I just added it to our weekly shopping.
So - a wonderful whisky that introduced me to the delights of single malts, but at a price that I can't recommend unless your circumstances mean that Amazon is your only available option for delivery.


LUPO Waterproof Bag for Apple iPad Mini Retina, Mobile Phones and 7 inch Tablets (Size:196 x 150mm)
LUPO Waterproof Bag for Apple iPad Mini Retina, Mobile Phones and 7 inch Tablets (Size:196 x 150mm)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fits Kobo Wireless e-reader very well, good value at 5 post free, 12 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Neat bag, seems to be well sealed and waterproof, it's a good fit for our Kobo Wireless e-reader.
Took a bit of time to seal it up carefully at first, since there are two zip-lock style seals (thick sandwich bag type) and a labyrinth roll between. Once sealed, ours seems to be airtight, and with practice the seal is easy to use.
The waterproof/airtight seal is worth checking, since there's a review reporting problems. No probs here!
We use this for reading in the bath and it'll be useful in dirty or dusty places like the seaside/campsite etc.
Recommended!


7dayshop Clip-On Double Headed LED Reading Light - Perfect for AMAZON KINDLE / TRADITIONAL BOOKS / LAPTOP USE / MAP READING / MUSIC STANDS ETC.
7dayshop Clip-On Double Headed LED Reading Light - Perfect for AMAZON KINDLE / TRADITIONAL BOOKS / LAPTOP USE / MAP READING / MUSIC STANDS ETC.
Offered by 7dayshop Limited (VAT Registered)
Price: 7.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Good value, works well on Kobo WiFi after modification, 12 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Many inexpensive clip-on LED lights are a bit flimsy. This one is pretty good and seems to be well made.
With its 3x AAA cells it's heavier than some, but we prefer AAAs to the tiny silver cells that co$t a lot and can die young. One could always use AAA rechargeable cells for best value.
This LED light weighs 110 grams with its batteries, the Kobo reader weighs 200 grams, total 310 grams in the hand. This is about the same as thickish paperbacks or average hardbacks, so not a show-stopper for me.
.
The clip is sturdy, and the moving part has a rubber pad on it that protects the face of the Kobo (or other e-reader) from scratches. Unfortunately the rubber used on the pad has a silky smooth finish - as does the Kobo. So it slides around too much. The fixed part of the clip has no rubber on it, but it needs some to avoid marking the back of the reader as well as helping to prevent the clip from sliding around in use.
.
Why 4 stars for something that won't stay attached?
.
Because for a pennyworth of rubber tape (eg self-amalgamating tape) and some glue small non-slip pads can be affixed to the clip. Or you could buy some thin self-adhesive rubber pads if you wished.
The modification works well for me. No more slipping and sliding when reading.
.
The best place for the clip-on battery pod is at the bottom edge of the Kobo WiFi which has a large bare panel next to the control pad where the clip has room to attach without obstructing the screen. The bezel at the top is too small for the clip to engage fully, and you do not want the clip over the screen - it would obstruct the text and might damage the screen or its non-reflective finish (which is pretty good for reading in bright sunshine).
With the battery pod clipped to the bottom of the reader near the control pad, my hand wraps comfortably around both. The thumb is then above the pad for easy single-handed operation of the main functions on the Kobo WiFi.
The two light stalks are then easily positioned to fully illuminate the screen after dark - in twilight one stalk is probably enough and the two bright white LEDs are individually switched to make this possible.
.
Recommended if you are happy to tinker with it a bit.


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