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Eclectic / clueless (Scotland)
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Fransat HD decoder and viewing card. PVR Ready certified French satellite TV receiver UK stock
Fransat HD decoder and viewing card. PVR Ready certified French satellite TV receiver UK stock
Offered by London SatMan
Price: £159.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great value and easy set-up for new HD Fransat necessary upgrade, 6 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you already have an old-style non-HD Fransat set-up with a dish aimed at Eutelsat 5WA (ex-ATLANTIC BIRD 3) 5° West setting this up is child's play,combination of OK and the coloured buttons, and remembering to change from SECAM to PAL along the way...Excellent, clear, brilliant quality of sound and vision, *no need for a new LNB* nor for an HD TV to play it on ; it has a SCART socket so I can still play and record via my old DVD-recorder, but it has HDMI as well. Yes, Amazon.fr has it on sale for 139 euros... but won't send it to the UK. However, considering the quality and ease of use + the *excellent* service I got via Amazon from 'London Satman*, and the fact that there is no subscription required for the auto-renewing card, this is just irresistibly wonderful if you need to have French TV. Compared with the non-HD version, many improvements, not just clarity ; adding subtitles and changing soundrack from Eng to Fr or vice versa is far easier and more efficient. The warnings about the early-April 2016 changeover + weird unreliability of the remote control of the old system spurred me into getting this upgrade several weeks before the change made the old one redundant ; glad I did. This is excellent. I am no technician ; this really is plug-and-play after just a few minutes of setting up, mostly automatic eg the scanning for stations ? Fast and painless. (I've given up doing product reviews,but making an exception for this.)


RHA MA350 Aluminium Noise Isolating In-Ear Earphones - 3 year warranty
RHA MA350 Aluminium Noise Isolating In-Ear Earphones - 3 year warranty

5.0 out of 5 stars Great value, excellent customer service + warranty cover, 11 Dec. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Various good reviews elsewhere made me try these ; they were great, and really great value, from February until late-ish November, when one ear started cutting out all the time, and not after a lead-caught-on-door-handle incident, either ; it just started cutting out. No big deal, and no panic, though, thanks to warranty. All I needed was the Amazon order number in the right place on the form.
Filled in RHA website form on Sunday, and replacement headphones were with me on the Tuesday. Polite, fast and helpful customer service. Great.
Sound quality ? Compares very well indeed with much more expensive Shure ones I have owned.
Build quality ? Hard to tell...absolutely fine for almost ten months, but even if this pair develop the same problem, it's hardly a big deal since they clearly have a no-quibble guarantee, and a three-year one, at that.
They noise-isolate to a surprising extent, given that they're in-ear phones, and the bass + warmth of the sound (all very subjective, I know) compare very well with Shure, and are better than Sony ones I've owned which cost around the same.


FiiO E7 Portable Headphone DAC Amplifier
FiiO E7 Portable Headphone DAC Amplifier

5.0 out of 5 stars Because your IPod headphone socket will go kaput, too..., 8 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Really just one extra point to add to what's been said in other reviews ; they're mostly very positive, accurate and helpful, and quite rightly many give five stars. I agree with many of you. Yes, it's intended for, and best for driving headphones rather than an amp. (For output from an IPod to an amp, try a SendStation PocketDock.) Yes, it needs to be charged up when you get it. Yes, it improves sound quality enormously, with great clarity, a very clear stereo image, and no distortion whatsoever. No, you probably won't need the bass-boost EQ most of the time, depending on your phones and on your choice of music. Yes, it can do only so much to improve things downloaded at 128kbps quality.
Yes, it can drive headphones not intended for mp3 players, such as Sennheiser HD 495 or HD 25 SP, as well as a pair of Sony in-ear ones built for mp3-player use.
One great advantage of this gizmo is that it is also a solution to two well-known IPod problems, the second problem being significantly worse with the IPod Touch ; 1) relatively poor sound quality, certainly via the headphone socket 2) over time, through the wear and tear of daily use, the connection through the socket will go crackly and will cut out in one ear. With earlier IPods, non-Apple technicians could fix this quickly and easily, but with the IPod Touch it has become so difficult they won't (in my experience) even try, and in the Apple Store they just replaced my first IPod Touch under guarantee rather than repair the socket connection...so bypassing the headphone socket makes sense in every way.


Debussy, Faure & Ravel: String Quartets
Debussy, Faure & Ravel: String Quartets
Price: £5.99

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, you do need another recording of the Debussy and Ravel Qts, 1 Oct. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
You might not think you need yet another recording of the Debussy and Ravel quartets, but this is played with such feeling, energy and precision that you do, honest... I have never heard the second movement of the Debussy played with such drive, swing and snappy pizzicato ; makes the Melos Quartet version sound staid and over-polite by comparison. The unusually fine recording quality here helps a great deal, too. The recording venue, a converted granary, is clearly a magnificent setting ; there is a natural warmth and bloom to the sound which favours the viola in particular, but the overall feel and sound is indeed exceptional.
The Belcea Qt recorded the Ravel and Debussy (alongside Dutilleux, Ainsi la nuit) a few years ago now, but these Ebène versions are more cohesive, and have more drive and just as much lyricism to them. However, (having heard them live last year) I am certain that the Belceas would now be at least as good. Putting the Ravel and Debussy alongside the Dutilleux was a natural move, and it worked very well. Here, though, it's the Fauré quartet, an equally natural choice, more similar to the Ravel and Debussy in tone and in harmonic language, and presented with flawless musicianship, again with perfect natural sound. The Fauré is less well-known and less immediate in its appeal than the other two, but give it five minutes with quality headphones, and you will be drawn in. A gem.
Footnote and PS added after another week of listening, and after returning to the Belcea versions ; no, in fact the Belcea versions are every bit as good, I just hadn't played them loudly enough. I was over-dazzled initially by the glorious sound of the Ebene recordings. Neither one is full-price, so you could even go for both.


The Maker's Mark
The Maker's Mark
Price: £12.06

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original, varied and lyrical guitars, 20 Sept. 2009
This review is from: The Maker's Mark (Audio CD)
Original, varied and lyrical acoustic guitars ; why the plural ? Because the album showcases the work of a variety of luthiers, including star names such as Paul Reed Smith and Linda Manzer. Many guitar albums are of interest only to other guitarists, but this is emphatically not the case here. There is some technically dazzling work here on the jigs and reels, and he has an enviably precise way with triplets, but rich sonorities, taste and lyricism are much more in evidence than speed for its own sake. A lovely version of 'The Maids of Mitchelstown' is a stand-out, familiar to many from the fine Bothy Band version, but he ranges beyond the purely Celtic, with N'Kosi Sikelele Afrika, for a start, and a Balkan-sounding track too, with a Manzer guitar which produces a sitar-like sound thanks to an unusual bridge.
There is much here which will remind you of the best of Martin Simpson's work on 'Leaves of Life', but McManus is no copyist. Clearly another king of the DADGAD tuning, but he sounds like himself rather than Bensusan or Dav(e)y Graham. Something of a treat, so why did I not give it five stars immediately ? Possibly it's because even those of us who are besotted with the sound of the guitar will rarely listen to a fifteen-track instrumental album on a loop, and I wanted to give it time, but this is all the same a richly varied and rewarding selection from a very fine guitarist. Almost five, then, on the first 2-3 hearings, with many a gem and a variety of sounds, guitars and tunings; well-programmed, well-balanced, beautifully played.
PS - Afterthough ; delighted to be able to promote this one to five-star review category after a few months of regular listening. Varied,rich and inventive enough for even non-guitarists to give it a five.


The Secret Life of France
The Secret Life of France
by Lucy Wadham
Edition: Paperback

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much better than the title would lead you to expect, 11 Sept. 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Much, much better than either the lazy, glib title or the messy cover would lead you to expect. 'The Secret Life of...', indeed... Why ? Did 'Paris : The Secret History' sell that well ? There are far too many 'Secret Life of...' titles already, and this book is more interesting, more intelligent and less lurid than the title would lead you to expect. A personal and well-informed view of Anglo-French socio-cultural differences,especially good on the emotional,romantic and sexual fronts. Many amusing, revealing and fascinating nuggets about France and the French. Something of a scatter-gun approach, but it's written from a lucid and affectionate viewpoint, not entirely free of clichés and stereotypes, but a clear, informative and deeply-felt piece of work. I would have liked to read more about the French language itself, but what there is here is well-noticed and well described, such as the the glorious 'chanter en yaourt' - 'sing in yoghurt', literally - for the mangled approximation of sung Anglo-American which the French happily sing, whether they actually understand a word or not. For info such as this, and for descriptions of an Anglo-French wedding reception and marriage, this is very well worth a read.


Olivier Messiaen - Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jesus (2DVD)
Olivier Messiaen - Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jesus (2DVD)
Dvd ~ Messiaen
Price: £17.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable in every way, 27 Feb. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Remarkable music, excellent and informative bonus DVD, and great value for money.

One of the finest Messiaen specialists plays with intensity and total technical command. If you are sceptical, start off with the stupendous mystical fugue of the 'big bang' movement, the sixth, 'Par lui tout a été fait'. Intelligent use of shots from above of the two-fisted attack on the keyboard and of split screens. Some movements have a few too many shots of Muraro's intense concentration reflected in the piano lid, but there is much here for pianists to watch and to learn from. On the bonus DVD he analyses this very movement, the sixth, with great clarity and intelligence, there is also a section about Yvonne Loriod, and much else besides ; 90 minutes altogether of documentary material, including insight into Messiaen's use of notated birdsong. Muraro mentions at one point how different Pierre-Laurent Aimard's approach is, and this becomes clear ; with pianists of this level of technique and commitment it is clearly a matter of taste, but I have come to prefer Muraro in the faster movements. This may well be simply because you can see and therefore follow more readily, though. Very different use of the pedal in the 'thunderstorm' bits of No 6, for example, producing an amazing organ-like swell of sound from the Steinway. The sound is admirably clear, not too resonant, despite being recorded in a chuch. The 15th movement is still sugary-sweet, even in Muraro's hands, but there are so many others where the drive and percussive force can be an immediate antidote to the sugar of 'Le baiser de l'Enfant-Jésus', or the dissonances of combined birdsongs (as in No 8) mean the overall impact is both balanced and astonishing. You might think that you don't need almost two hours of mystical solo piano in your musical life ; however, non-believers need not feel excluded, because this is simply great music, ambitious and deeply-felt. Atheists can love Bach and Messiaen ; Messiaen's faith may have provided the inspiration and the structure, but anyone could listen to this and be dazzled. Some of the slower tracks do last too long ; I will rarely listen to all of no 15, but some listeners definitely find it pretty and soothing after the ferocity of some of the other pieces. Muraro is an engaging and eloquent speaker, also.


Galbraith Plays Bach: Vio. Son. & P
Galbraith Plays Bach: Vio. Son. & P
Price: £18.23

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant musicianship, and a new guitar sound, 17 Aug. 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Total agreement with other reviewers ; glorious tone, wonderful resonance from his eight-string guitar. Partly because of the extra range, partly because of Galbraith's perfect technique, there is none of the sense of strain, of both the instrument and the performer being pushed to the limit, which you often get when guitarists play Bach transcriptions. Much more clarity in the counterpoint here, also, and none of the awkward octave-jumping which arises in transcriptions for six-string guitar.

These are deep and intelligent interpretations. There are never displays of speed for speed's sake, but he has amazing precision and clarity even at the highest tempo.

Violin lovers may feel they know these pieces inside-out, but they too will make new discoveries here. Too many guitar albums appeal only to guitar fans, and who else would ever want to listen to more Sor and Guiliani, in any case ? This, though, is definitely an album for those who love Bach, not just for guitar nerds.

A previous reviewer mentions Gould ; high praise indeed, and this recording can indeed stand comparison with Gould... and Galbraith neither sings along nor chooses a very dry unresonant recording.


Revolution In The Head: The Beatles Records and the Sixties
Revolution In The Head: The Beatles Records and the Sixties
by Ian MacDonald
Edition: Paperback

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Knowledgeable, intelligent and well-written, 12 Aug. 2006
MacDonald understood music, society, and the occasionally disastrous effects of drugs, mysticism and fame. This is a gem of a book ; scholarly but never dull, written by a man who actually knew about harmony and music theory, unlike the vast majority of pop music critics, who are inclined to know lots about make-up and trousers and zilch about music. It is not 'pretentious', to quote an earlier reviewer on this site, to point out that it actually matters what chords, what guitars and what recording techniques they used. There is a good clear glossary of musical terms, an excellent bibliography, and useful indexes. The 58 pages of time-lines juxtaposing events in the Beatles' career with those in UK pop, current affairs and 'culture' are a fascinating and illuminating extra, also.

MacDonald is no starry-eyed fan ; he praises the Beatles when they deserve it most (A Day in the Life), yet criticises both Lennon and McCartney at appropriate moments.

He illustrates clearly when and why they lost 'their ability to discriminate between creativity and self-indulgence'. He makes it clear to what extent Lennon damaged the group by messing up his mind with LSD and heroin, and argues persuasively that during the latter stages of the Beatles' career McCartney was on the one hand 'the clear-minded sensitive caretaker' of the band, but also 'the immature egotist who frittered away the group's patience and solidarity on sniggering nonsense like 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer.'

MacDonald's tone here is of course more consistent here than in 'The People's Music', since the latter is collection of journalism on a wide range of topics, but the same intelligent, unsentimental and lucid mind is at work in both books. If you are to read only one book of his, make it this one.

There are unexpected delights ; when asked to provide sleeve-notes for John and Yoko's 'Two Virgins' album, McCartney apparently came up with 'When two great saints meet, it is a humbling experience.' So... read this and you will smile at least once, learn a huge amount about the sixties and their impact on popular culture, and regret deeply the death of such a fine writer. Need any more persuading ? Charles Shaar Murray, the author of a marvellous book on Hendrix, and Jonathan Coe, who writes so well about music and society in his novels, both praised this book to the skies. Nick Hornby thought it was 'quite brilliant', and even the vain and silly (but best-selling) Tony Parsons could see it was 'a brilliant piece of work.'


Szymanowski, Stravinsky: String Quartet music
Szymanowski, Stravinsky: String Quartet music
Price: £8.38

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Distinctively Polish blend of Ravel and Bartok ?, 7 July 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Beautifully played, very well recorded, and remarkably good value. Rather than buy yet another re-recording of the Ravel or Debussy quartets, try this. At times you will be reminded of precisely those quartets ; this is often lyrical, even lush music. At other times it feels closer to Bartok, at least as far as the rhythm goes. Precise and dynamic playing of material which deserves to be performed more often ; perhaps the recent high-profile recording of one of the violin concertos by Nicola Benedetti will lead more listeners to the quartets. Congratulations to Naxos for promoting music which hasn't already been recorded 23 times.


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