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Pip Macmillian "Divine Bovine" (Leciestershire, United Kingdom)

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Pirastro 411021 Obligato Synthetic Core Violin String Set, E-Ball Mittel Envelope, 4/4 Size
Pirastro 411021 Obligato Synthetic Core Violin String Set, E-Ball Mittel Envelope, 4/4 Size
Offered by Ebony&Ivory
Price: £86.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good strings and worth the money, 8 Feb. 2015
I like these strings and think overall they're worth the money. As a lesson in how you need to try out different strings on your violin: The A String I got with these was awful and only good for the bin, whereas the E was one of the best I've had on my fiddle; the other two are very nice too.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 4, 2015 6:39 PM GMT

Apogee Jam
Apogee Jam
Offered by Rich Tone Music
Price: £99.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good piece of kit, 2 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Apogee Jam (Electronics)
I bought the Apogee Jam because I'd previously been using the iRig, which worked well and was considerably cheaper. One of the main things I did on the iPad was to make song covers just for fun, and if you try to do it with the iRig you get a sort of ghosting effect - the song playback which runs through the headphone jack seems to creep back into the input. The Apogee Jam doesn't do this however - whether it's from the use of the charger socket or just a higher-quality build, I don't know.

So that solved the covers section, but I use it every day now for a few reasons - it allows me to practice bass silently when I get back late from work, and works great when you play along to Spotify, so I often jam along to Motown to keep my hands in shape during the week. Only problem there is for some reason it's difficult to get the bass loud enough to complete with the music player without it peaking/distorting - but I think this is more the fault of Spotify not having an isolated volume control, unlike the app you play your guitar or bass through. Incidentally, I use Ampkit to play. I believe it's free but you have to pay for different pedals and amps, of which a couple are actually worth it for the price, especially if you like doing covers like me.

To finish up, it's a great piece of kit, even if it's pricey. I don't have a computer so this is an essential piece of kit - I was reassured to by the fact that it also comes bundled with a cable to Mac should I ever upgrade, worth thinking about considering the short shelf life of the iPhone and iMac.

IK Multimedia iRig Guitar/Bass interface for iOS & Android
IK Multimedia iRig Guitar/Bass interface for iOS & Android
Offered by e-vaylo
Price: £13.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Really good piece of kit, 8 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this little thing so I could DI my bass, guitars and violins straight into the iPad when I'm making crap versions of my favourite songs. It's almost perfect; it's simple, works with a wide variety of sometimes free apps, is unobtrusive and easy to carry around, doesn't require batteries and I'm pretty sure it's easy enough for me to teach my dad to use. As for quality, I've never had any delay, clipping or sound problems, and it works great too for playing along with songs for practice at 1 o'clock in the morning in my terraced street. It's great for long sessions too as the device essentially adds another input into your iPhone or iPad; you run the cable into the headphone socket, and can plug your headphone or speaker output into the iRig - this means you can charge your iPad too. There's only two minor qualms:

1. The volume can be difficult to bring up to a level that matches any music that you might play along with on the iPad or iPhone.
Granted maybe this is a result of these compression wars I hear sound engineers complaining about. Often you can bring the leves up in certain apps by cancelling the feedback safety function, but it can be risky, as taking your hands off your instrument's strings can result in really loud screaming feedback. In your headphones. I think this isn't so much the iRig's fault as just something to look out for when you're using it.
2. When recording in a multi-track recorder, sometimes the recording you make of your instrument picks up the backing tracks.
Which is to say, I think it's called crossfeed or something. When I'm putting down a bass track, my finished take will have a very faint ghost of the drums I played along to, for example. I believe this is a result of running the headphones line through the iRig interface itself. There is a solution, though not ideal - simply turn down the volume of the backing tracks. It makes it difficult to accurately follow a song when you're trying to lay down a violin track, for instance - the sound of the violin in your ear tends to drown out the click track in your headphones - but it does result in a clean take.

Apart from these two hiccups which you can generally work around, it's an absolute steal for £24. It has so many uses for different types of musicians that it's difficult to imagine it being a waste of money. Since it has a 1/4 jack input, not only does it run electric guitars and basses, it runs bottlecap/piezo pickups too, so that's good for acoustic guitars and violins. I have an active bass that I haven't tried on it yet, and I also hear that it takes MIDI keyboards too. The amp programs are great, though they make their money by charging you £3 a pedal - watch your wallet and shop around! I mostly use it to make demos and I'm surprised by the relatively high standard of quality of tracks you can make with just this little input and the iPad's built-in microphone.

Very useful.

Metroid Fusion
Metroid Fusion

5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute gem., 13 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Metroid Fusion (Video Game)
Metroid Fusion is one of the long line of brilliant games made by developer Intelligent Systems, who made not only the classic Super Metroid, but are responsible for the Fire Emblem, Wario Ware, Paper Mario and Advance Wars series.

Ten years on, and it hasn't aged a drop. The music is distinct and still surprisingly well composed despite the limitations of the system. The graphics are crisp and colourful, and well animated. The gameplay itself is built off the formula of Super Metroid, with simplified controls being the most notable improvement. Despite this, it is one of the most original Metroids and refreshingly different, providing some of the series' most memorable moments.

You can't go wrong with a classic! Hands-down, one of the best games I had the pleasure of growing up with. I still get goosebumps when I hear the SA-X's theme today!

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii)
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii)
Offered by Gleam Retail
Price: £24.95

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It'll, um...Corrupt you! With...fun. Yeah., 8 Jun. 2008
My main love of the Metroid series consist of two things; the atmosphere of the older games, and the art direction of the newer (Prime) games. These two points are perhaps not the most orthodox choices for favouring a video game, maybe, but the latter I still believe is unparalled in contemporary games. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption delivers both of these in great amounts, with all the trimmings, and the blend together so well to create, as they say, a living, breathing world.

Before, as an artist, I start waffling on about design and crap, we'll start with the basics. As a game series, the games follow a relatively simple plot; in a sci-fi setting you play young female bounty hunter Samus Aran, orphaned by the cruel and scientifically wicked Space Pirates at a young age. Samus oozes style thanks to her mysterious and powerful 'Power Suit', and Retro Studios have made it again GORGEOUS -- but anyway, Metroid games typically throw you into a huge, unchartered regions, and you gradually explore further and deeper, through listless rainy plains, lonely subterranean crumbling ruins, or sheer and sharp steel alien corridors. The ability to explore is granted by new items - so backtracking, a great charm for me, a disgusting chore for others, is a major staple of the series.

Prime 3 follows this formula, and thrives. No brownie points for a revolution, then, but brilliant nonetheless. This game is described by true fans as an 'FPS', a 'First-Person Adventure'. Though you are indeed playing from an FPS view with that great big arm cannon popping out the bottom right corner, the emphasis is on exploration. Prime 3, out of all of the Prime games, features a great deal more combat, and the fantastic opening sequence aside, you'll spend your time flying in your ship from planet region to planet region - eventually jumping planets, then even further...

And these environments are stunning. Lemme explain what I mean by 'art direction': not graphics, but the environment. Every tiny room has its own personality, has its own history and purpose. These aspects were achieved also in the previous Prime games also and it shines equally here. For example on the (crudely put, SteamPunk Bespin) realm of Elyssia; you could look at a wall and see several chunky pipes, and follow them to different areas; they'll wind around a crack in a stone wall above which crumbling alien characters can be discerned, on the opposite side of the room is a shattered window, the glass specks ground into the floor, while an unseen mechanism chunters above your head; you can see cogs spinning underneath your feet down a shaft below the mesh grate, sparks flecking up thanks to the heat.

Every room! And the fantastical creatures with spines and inverted legs. The great aspect to all this detail is its literary companion; a 'Scan Visor' allows you to gather information about enemies - not only their armament, but creatures' feeding and hunting habits, or Space Pirate rumours for example. Trivial data such as stone blocks which tell you carbon dating or presumed meaning and significance...

Same old (fantastic!). But new features are great thanks to it, obviously, being on the Wii. The graphics are very pleasing - yes, they're not a PS3, but no PS3 game has this 'art direction' and thanks to very, very impressive bloom effect, even for a Wii game, this notion of atmosphere is really enriched - looking up at on a certain world shows a polluted vermillion sky bleeding with acid rain, great clouds flashing realistically and moodily. The controls have been changed a fair amount, if that was a gripe for you in previous installments - basically, dual analog. The 'move and strafeing' is controlled by the analog stick on the nunchuck; simply point your Wii remote at the screen to aim Samus' weapon for shooting, in combat or puzzles. Sometimes you can 'lose' the pointer causing Samus to jolt sharp right or whatever, but this is rarely an issue and only really happens after cutscenes, where can't see your pointer. The controls work very well, improving on Red Steel's basic jist. It's not quite like a mouse and keyboard, but vastly superior to dual analog. Halo feels like a brick in comparison!

Um...buy it. It's rather smashing.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance (Xbox)
Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance (Xbox)
Offered by marxwax
Price: £12.98

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Go for the PS2 version!, 8 Jun. 2008
Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance for the Xbox console was, in fact, the very first Metal Gear game I'd ever bought a few years ago, along with a few others on a Saturday in a bargain bin in a certain games shop. I'd never really been into the game series before, and it's probably safe to say, as any long-term Metal Gear fan will testify, that owing to the complicated story it is the worst game of the series to start on.

But anyway, on with my main gripe. Despite being, overall, a very good game, it is NOT an Xbox console game and I do believe it suffers from this. It's the Xbox controller; it's a hunking great big piece of plastic that allows me to feel like a man when hammering buttons on Halo, and it isn't the same as the subtler DualShock 2. The repositioning of the controls, against the layout of the PS2 version, is awkward and illogical; the trigger buttons are perfect for racing games, but don't feel right; you'll mainly notice this when leaning around corners or obsticles in First Person View Mode. This mode is activated by clicking the left analog stick down, and I often find this clumsily knocks your view off when you activate it, and when you're aiming at an enemy during a critical moment it's damn noticeable. Awkward controls, in a stealth game, are not a good combination.

The game itself is very impressive; it is, effectively, a limited edition version or whatever of Metal Gear Solid 2: The Sons of Liberty. As far as I can tell, playing both the original and this updated version extensively, there is no real difference in the main story game whatsoever. This version offers 500 or so 'VR Missions' in a similar move to the bundle on the original Metal Gear Solid game. These are effectively bite-sized sneak from point A-to-B objectives in a wire frame environment; there are plently of variations, such as guard elimation and weapons practise, or a block of missions which revolve around a game level. I've never been impressed by stuff like this at all; but if you're so inclined it offers time measurements and the like to prove your awesomeness.

The other main offer this game has is a series called 'Snake Tales' which allows you to play as another character as the story progresses through the meat of the game. This had great potential to offer a different perspective to the excellent storyline, but unfortunately this really does feel a bit tacked on, the 'story' being progressed by extensive blocks of text. The story in Snake Tales, though I haven't been able to play too far, could also be detracting to the game; certain elements create massive plot holes or are just unbelievable to the point of me just considering it non-canon. For example, the character you play as is heavily implied to have only a partner in the facility during the main game, and this notion of the two acting sort of alone, as friends, is a great part of their chemistry. Yet suddenly (apparently) you're on an offical mission - by Roy Cambell. And a hostage, for some reason, is suddenly hiding in one area for you to contact, instead of being tied up like he was in the main game. It would've been easier to make a completely unrelated mission. Maybe patch up the plot holes created when Kojima forgot about Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel.

In any case, Metal Gear Solid 2 is a great game; read a review for that. Substance offers little more, though, hey, if they're the same price in a shop, go for this; since either way the meat rests in the main story, and you're getting it whatever version you buy. The Subsistance package for the third Metal Gear Solid game is vastly superior, and it makes you wonder what could have been achieved if there wasn't some insane deadline, no doubt, for the poor Konami team.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 5, 2011 7:36 AM BST

Resident Evil 4 (GameCube)
Resident Evil 4 (GameCube)

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Resi 4 = Good, 10 Jun. 2005
Resident Evil 4 is the lastest Resi game to be released. It is without a doubt one of the best, if not the best Resident Evil game. Although many praise it for its stunning visuals and detail, I find the best thing about Resident Evil 4 is the atmosphere - it runs on Dolby Pro II, so if you have the gear then it's a real experience. Daytime shows gloomy mist everywhere and dark skies, while night holds lashing torrents of rain in complete darkness, followed by the occasional crack of thunder breifly illuminating your surroundings. Isn't this supposed to be Spain?
Resident Evil 4 follows ex-cop gone agent Leon, who starred in Resident Evil 2 as a rookie cop. You are sent to a remote Spanish village in search of the missing president's daughter, Ashley, later found in the hands of the Los Ganados, the villagers. These aren't simple country folk - they charge at you, screaming, pitchfork in hand, as you quickly fumble for your weapons. Most of the time in Resident Evil 4 you'll be over Leon's shoulder (looking at his sheepskin coat of justice) although at some points you have different styles, like the ultra cool battle with De Lago, which I won't spoil but is probably the best boss battle ever, no exagurration.
The attention to detail is top notch - characters clearly show fear, suprise, etc. Shooting a foe feels genuine, too - a handgun shot will let off a pop and make the villagers double up, while a shotgun will let off an eartly blask and fling the enemy back. You have a great deal of choice where to shoot an enemy - while a the head seems preferable, shooting them in the arm can unarm them (if you pardon the pun) and in the leg can trip them up to buy some time. when an angry mob is slowly gaining up to you, you will dread the sound of an empty gun. Leon then has to reload - standing still - while an enemy to a swing at him. He can't run either, though most of the time this isn't necessary but does feel strange.
All in all, Resident Evil 4 is a very good game, despite a few control issues - but it WILL make you feel genuinely uncomfortable, I guarantee. Bear in mind that it is quite difficult also.

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GameCube)
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GameCube)
Offered by Tracymuk
Price: £42.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two worlds, twice the fun..., 29 May 2005
Metroid Pime 2: Echoes is a direct sequel to Metroid Prime. many who have played 'Prime hailed it as a Masterpiece, and it seems that old retro studios have done it again.
Metroid Pime 2: Echoes follows Samus once again in a FPS, this time on the mysterious planet Aether. Samus, sent there by the Federation, is investigating the mysterious disappearance of a squad of soilders stranded there. Things get bigger when Smus is attacked by a Mysterious entity bearing remarkable resemblance to herself, losing a lot of her powerful abilities, another excuse for the collect-as-you-go-style of Metroid.
The situation quickly escalates in intesity as Samus meets a Luminoth, the guardian of a temple who tells her of their war with the shadow creatures, the Ing. The Luminoth weer nearly wiped out by the Ing and its up to our Samus to save the day.
'Prime 2 revovles around the idea of two worlds; a Light and Dark one. Metroid games ha always had puzzles; 'Prime 2's centres around going between two dimensions. The Dark world is a twisted version of the light world, and Samus will take damage from it's foul atmosphere. What you do in on world directly affects the other, this plays an important part in progressing through the game.
A big emphasis on 'Prime 2 is the 4 main bosses; this I won't spoil, but each one of them guards a really cool upgrade. Each one of them ranges from about 8 times the size of Samus to about 20 times. Big.
Most of Samus' abilities are back, namely the Scan Visor, and some other intesting windows on the world in addition. What sets Metroid Prime games apart from others is the incredible amount of rich detail you can gather from almost anywhere in the environment. You can also store data in Samus' improved databank to read later.
Metroid 'Prime will definately please anyone who played the original 'Prime. It is very much like Halo 1+2 in the sense that the second version is very similar to the first, only with more gloss. Very worth buying.

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