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Philip Quinton "Hot Banana Studio" (Aylesbury)

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Zoom H4nSP with 16GB SD Card and Mini Tripod
Zoom H4nSP with 16GB SD Card and Mini Tripod

64 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive handheld recorder and 4-track, 22 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Before I owned one of these I spent two long days using one to record sound for a short film. When I was playing back the first scene I had just recorded I panicked because I thought that the actors were re-doing the scene and that I'd missed my cue... it wasn't until I looked at their mouths that I realised it was simply the stunning quality of the recording.

At one point during the session I was using the recorder in 4-track mode to capture the noise of some action that was happening in the background on the built-in crossed-pair microphones (with the unit mounted on a camera tripod) whilst simultaneously capturing clean stereo dialogue with two mics attached to the boom pole. The result was very powerful and of course it opens up the possibility of using the built-in mics to capture true surround channel detail on location if you want to make a surround production.

I found the built-in mics to be extremely sensitive, picking up the most minute and distant sound details which sounded quite cacophonous in my headphones, but the stereo imaging during action shots is absolutely stunning.

I should also confess that I dropped this thing onto a hard stone floor on no less than 4 occasions (so many cables to trip over) and it didn't affect the performance one bit. And because the device records to solid-state flash memory there is zero machine noise.

There are a wealth of built-in portastudio functions and effects, options for dynamic compression, automatic limiting and automatic record level for those unconcerned with dynamic range, and the option of recording to mp3 for those not fussed about getting razor-sharp uncompressed sound but want to get more on the flash cards.

The only thing I found slightly irksome was the fact that this sucks batteries dry very quickly especially when you are using the built-in phantom power for the external microphones and recording at anything other than 44.1k/16-bit. It does have a "stamina mode" however for those who are content with CD-quality recording which will probably be most people.

I bought one within days of using the rented model. I am using it to record location sound for a 75-minute HD drama and various backgrounds for different scenes on a short film. This little recorder is worth its weight in gold. As well as the stunning quality of the stereo sound when recording in 96/24 I like the ability to automatically name tracks by the date they were recorded (plus numbered suffix) and the straightforward filing system that separates the four-track recordings from the stereo recordings. The four-track recordings are stored as an almost identically-named pair of stereo recordings differentiated only by the suffixes "m" and "l" to let you know which input created the files.

In addition to the film work I have been doing with this it came in very useful at a south London squat party when I was roped in as sound engineer at very short notice for a band who also wanted me to record the gig. I piped the desk output to the XLR inputs and used the inbuilt mics to get up close to the drummer and the violinist who were not going through the desk. The very loud volume did not overload the mics, but I did have to reduce the input level to something like 0.2%.

Upgrading the firmware is not very straightforward and I messed it up the first time round. It involves downloading a file from the net and transferring it to the device then going through some sort of strange restart procedure.

The 16gb card in this package is an absolute must. The supplied 1gb card gets full up very quickly.
I haven't had to use the tripod yet and it seems to be a little redundant, but it's small enough to carry around anyway and there may yet be a use for it.

This little machine ought to be an industry standard workhorse. The only way Zoom could improve on this model is by making a belt-clip or some sort of wrist-strap or pole attachment to make it easier for boom-opping.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 3, 2013 3:36 AM GMT


No Title Available

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing quality... must get one! (Got one!), 16 Mar. 2011
I don't actually own one of these but I have just spent two long days using one of these to record sound for a short film. When I was playing back the first scene I had just recorded I panicked because I thought that the actors were re-doing the scene and that I'd missed my cue... it wasn't until I looked at their mouths that I realised it was simply the stunning quality of the recording.

At one point during the session I was using the recorder in 4-track mode to capture the noise of some action that was happening in the background on the built-in crossed-pair microphones (with the unit mounted on a camera tripod) whilst simultaneously capturing clean stereo dialogue with two mics attached to the boom pole. The result was very powerful and of course it opens up the possibility of using the built-in mics to capture true surround channel detail on location if you want to make a surround production.

I found the built-in mics to be extremely sensitive, picking up the most minute and distant sound details which sounded quite cacophonous in my headphones, but the stereo imaging during action shots is absolutely stunning.

I should also confess that I dropped this thing onto a hard stone floor on no less than 4 occasions (so many cables to trip over) and it didn't affect the performance one bit. And because the device records to solid-state flash memory there is zero machine noise.

There are a wealth of built-in portastudio functions and effects, options for dynamic compression, automatic limiting and automatic record level for those unconcerned with dynamic range, and the option of recording to mp3 for those not fussed about getting razor-sharp uncompressed sound but want to get more on the flash cards.

The only thing I found slightly irksome was the fact that this sucks batteries dry very quickly especially when you are using the built-in phantom power for the external microphones and recording at anything other than 44.1k/16-bit. It does have a "stamina mode" however for those who are content with 16-bit recording which will probably be most people.

FOLLOW-UP
I bought one within days of writing this review. I am using it to record location sound for a 75-minute HD drama and various backgrounds for different scenes on a short film. This little recorder is worth its weight in gold. As well as the stunning quality of the stereo sound when recording in 96/24 I like the ability to automatically name tracks by the date they were recorded (plus numbered suffix) and the straightforward filing system that separates the four-track recordings from the stereo recordings. The four-track recordings are stored as an almost identically-named pair of stereo recordings differentiated only by the suffixes "m" and "l" to let you know which input created the files.

In addition to the film work I have been doing with this it came in very useful at a south London squat party when I was roped in as sound engineer at very short notice for a band who also wanted me to record the gig. I piped the desk output to the XLR inputs and used the inbuilt mics to get up close to the drummer and the violinist who were not going through the desk. The very loud volume did not overload the mics, but I did have to reduce the input level to something like 0.2%.

This little machine ought to be an industry standard workhorse. The only way Zoom could improve on this model is by making a belt-clip or some sort of wrist-strap or pole attachment to make it easier for boom-opping.


Cubase - ( v. 4 ) - complete package - 1 user - DVD - Win, Mac - English - with USB key
Cubase - ( v. 4 ) - complete package - 1 user - DVD - Win, Mac - English - with USB key

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nearly perfect., 4 Mar. 2011
I've been using Cubase in various forms since 2000 because I'm a cheapskate and a PC user (often the same thing) and it has cost me far less to upgrade than it would have done to switch to other, perhaps slicker and better, brands of music production software. I started out with a battered 2nd-hand copy of Cubase VST 5 through Loot, got a pirated copy of Cubase SX in 2003 (for evaluation purposes you understand) which was a mind-blowing sea-change, got a legit upgrade to Cubase SX3 at Sounds Expo which was equally as impressive again and another cheap upgrade to Cubase 4 at another Sounds Expo which didn't really seem much different to SX3 and was actually a minor step backward for me because some of the old effects plugins stopped working. So I've become institutionalised.

I did also use Acid Pro up to version 4 but the increasingly loop-friendly functionality of Cubase rendered Acid obsolete. I have used Protools and it is brilliant but I personally find it less intuitive and a little more restrictive.

I have a fairly powerful PC running Windows XP Pro SP3 (I absolutely swear by XP, you can still get it from some Amazon Marketplace vendors) with an 8-track 24-bit soundcard but I find that for complex productions with loads of effects on each channel it is necessary to go through and freeze (render) most of the tracks when the CPU load goes mental and the whole thing starts stuttering. Also, some of the free softsynths that I get from magazine discs can occasionally cause the programem to freeze up, but that could easily be the fault of my slightly elderly PC or the plugins themselves.

I absolutely love working with Cubase and all its automation. There seems to be no limit to its capabilities in terms of creativity. Anything that I can imagine production-wise seems to have a function created for it in Cubase, and my productions are getting more complex, subtle and professional all the time. At the start I found myself reaching for the manual frequently to learn how to use specific functions, but as my familiarity and knowledge grows the software seems to open up to me more and more. It's like learning to drive, the more time you spend doing it the less you have to spend thinking about it and judging by the huge number of pages in the manual that I have never read I have only scratched the surface of its capabilities.

The one thing I hate about Cubase is that self-contained project files do not transfer smoothly or painlessly to a new setup when you have upgraded your PC or try to run a project on a different computer. Settings and presets on all sorts of plugins are lost and have to be refreshed and it subsequently becomes impossible to export audio without getting an "unexpected error" message or re-saving the salvaged project to a new folder. A minor inconvenience you would think, but if you have not made a note of the instrument or effect settings then you may have a problem if you're trying to revive a really good, lucky mix. You have to pretty much go through everything again. Fortunately each channel does have a little notepad which can be used for this if you have the foresight to use it, but it can interrupt the creative flow.

I don't know if I would start with Cubase if my studio got bombed and I had to totally start again from scratch but I can't think what else I would ever need from an audio workstation. The sound, the effects, the EQ, the synths, the quality and flexibility and power of this software is unbelievable. I can't believe that there is anything significantly better or more professional out there, or what on Earth it COULD do better!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2013 10:25 PM GMT


Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: 5.1 Surround Tertiary Phase (BBC Audio)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: 5.1 Surround Tertiary Phase (BBC Audio)
by Douglas Adams
Edition: DVD-ROM
Price: £14.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Immersive radio, 16 Feb. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I love Douglas Adam's books, I got into them before I heard the original radio plays or watched the TV series. The first two books were so successfully "adapted" from the original radio series because they were not strictly adaptations but re-writes with new storylines and alternative events. The film adaptation was written with Douglas and has some major re-writes to make it work for a mainstream film audience but without damaging the integrity of the main story. Adams was developing the stories with each transfer to a new medium.

Which is why the BBC's posthumous adaptations of Adam's novels fail.

Dirk Maggs and co have wrestled with scenes that are brilliant in the novels but completely unsuited for radio and turned them into unconvincing narrated monologues, which is all you CAN do with those very visual scenes, and they have been done here as well as anyone possibly could. The problem is that the scenes are indespensable as they all inter-related to other events in the book. You can't subtract one scene without cutting holes in the others as well. Which is why it is so sad that Adam's never finished adapting this himself. He would have taken out all the offending scenes and re-routed all the essential subplots via new alternative radio-friendly events. But of course if anyone other than Adams had dared to tinker with the plot it would have been decried as desecration. And quite rightly.

Which is why as frequently as this adaptation disappoints I can't pin any of the blame on anyone involved. They have made the very best of a tragic situation.

The 5.1 surround mix on this DVD is absolutely superb and, as the liner notes point out, are not orientated to any one listening position which is exactly how it should be. I relaxed in the centre of a comfy, darkened room with the surround speakers spaced equally around me and the settings adjusted apporopriately on my decoder and the various scenes were acted out around different areas of my room!

The only criticism I have is with the DVD authoring. Because there is no "play-all" option in the menu it is necessary to keep switching on the TV screen/PC monitor to navigate the menu at the end of every episode which really spoils the mood for me. Thank the Net for DVD rippers, eh?


Empire of the Sun (Two-Disc Special Edition) [1987] [DVD]
Empire of the Sun (Two-Disc Special Edition) [1987] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Christian Bale
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £4.24

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Speilberg does Ballard, 16 Feb. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Beautifully done and superbly acted, which is generally true of Speilberg's films I think. I'm not a Speilberg fan per se but the quality of his work is undeniably excellent and having only recently seen this film I am surprised at how very effectively this very mainstream American director has brought the feel and the strange atmosphere of JG Ballard's writing to the screen. You can almost see the original lines of the novel as even the visual sequences unfold. Speilberg's strength with Ballard's material is in being able to bring out the peculiarly deteriorating mindset of the characters in the way that Ballard is so relentlessly fond of describing in his books and then presenting the strange experiences of the central character through that mindset. The result is both dreamlike and brutal.

I bought this because I am a huge fan of the dark, surreal fiction of JG Ballard and the way he filters reality through his perception and peculiar obsessions. I wasn't especially interested in reading Empire of the Sun as I thought it was going to be a dull autobiography set in a world and a time I couldn't relate to, but in fact it is a useful insight into the experiences that have coloured the vision of the man. I haven't been able to read the whole novel which is why I resorted to buying the DVD, and I'm glad I did.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 5, 2012 7:14 PM BST


The Armstrong And Miller Show: Complete Series 4 [DVD]
The Armstrong And Miller Show: Complete Series 4 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alexander Armstrong

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ORIGINAL Armstrong and Miller Channel 4 show..., 13 Feb. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was the series of Armstrong and Miller that I first saw back in the late 1990's and it was only because I had the outrageous good fortune to have been working for Channel Four Television at the time with access to the tape library, lots of night shifts and cratefuls of blank VHS tapes! This was obviously long before anyone could just watch everything online on 4OD and DVDs back then were still selling for £25 a pop.

The 1990's Channel 4/Paramount Comedy series is a lot edgier and more outrageous than the relatively formulaic, anodyne and (dare I say) more repetetive "Little Britain"-style sketch show it seems to have become since they moved to the BBC, and it was originally made by Absolutely Productions (if you don't know Absolutely and you love '80s/'90s British alternative comedy then you need to see it). I absolutely loved their early Channel 4/Paramount years and as glad as I am to see them back on TV I am slightly bored by the BBC series.

Anyway, my old Channel 4 VHS compilation has been missing for a while and the DVD is now cheap as chips so I've ordered a copy. I would really love to see Armstrong and Millers' earlier Channel 4/Paramount series because I don't think I've even seen any of them. The BBC have released what they call "series 1-3" as a box set but strictly speaking it should be called "series 5-7".

I really can't understand why so many people like the BBC series but hate the Channel 4 series. I suppose you like what you're used to. I personally think the Comic Strip went downhill when they moved to BBC as well but some of my mates were raving about that at the time too.

Incidentally I think BBC comedy is ace and has a rich history of old and new classics and I am not slagging off the beeb's output in general.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2014 11:14 PM BST


TRIXES External Sound Card USB 6 Channel 5.1 Audio
TRIXES External Sound Card USB 6 Channel 5.1 Audio
Offered by Digiflex
Price: £22.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Temperamental little beauty, 30 Jan. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I just needed something to give me an optical output from my PC to my surround decoder that would take its power from the PC. I have had too many mains-powered USB gadgets in my studio and I am changing this to a setup that will power down entirely when I turn off my PC without me having to grovel around unplugging everything.

The supplied drivers and software do not seem to work correctly or harmoniously, and in fact managed to crash my PC (super-cooled high-end dual-core machine running XP SP3 Pro). Furthermore the first time I plugged the box in it completely disabled my mouse and the security dongles for my recording software and I had to restart my PC in safe mode to restore the PC before I could carry on. I got rid of all the software and drivers from the supplied CD-R and - defying the supplied PDF instructions - I just let XP install its own drivers. It usually comes down to that in the end with cheap stuff like this.

Now it will happily sit on my desk and do the job unless I try to plug anything else into the same (also very cheap) novelty hub, in which case it may or may not carry on without throwing a strop. If I try to plug my mouse into the same hub it disables the mouse, so I have to keep the two fellows separate to stop them fighting. It may well be down the the cheap LED hub.

For some reason I absolutely love it. It is much smaller than it appears in the picture, slightly flatter than a pack of cigarettes. I suspect that it is going to give me a few more headaches when it eventually clashes with my recording software and my main soundcard but I look forward to the fight. I will tame this little beast. It's a beauty.

This must be the least helpful and most illogical review I have ever written. I've just got a soft spot for really cheap, temperamental Chinese tat that barely does what it's supposed to do perhaps 90% of the time! And it's a cute little blue metal box with wobbly plastic socket panels held together by little screws that don't quite go all the way in! I love it. I might paint something on it to personalise it. If it lasts more than 6 months I will get another one for my wife's laptop.

I would recommend this to cheapskate techno masochists and people who like to tinker. People like me.

UPDATE - MAY 2011
This interface has been well and truly run in and all the little glitches this device both suffered and caused initially have totally settled down and there are no conflicts with anything else on my system. I now have two internal sound cards and two external USB interfaces (including this one) which I use for routing different functions to and from different external devices and they all function very harmoniously and all the inputs and outputs are easily selectable through the windows control panel and the (freely downloadable and indispensable) ASIO4all driver and therefore interchangeabley accessable through all of my domestic and professional audio applications. Very handy to have.


No Title Available

2.0 out of 5 stars Weak. Placebo?, 24 Jan. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've bought these from two other sellers as well, one of them not on Amazon. One of the bottles had a slightly different coloured label, same design, like a copy or counterfeit. One of the bottles' tablets were slightly darker and smellier. One of the bottles had a mildly stimulating effect and was moderately helpful in suppressing my appetite when taken in excessive quantities (compared to the recommended dosage on the label) in conjunction with hoodia tablets. The ones I am taking now seem to be having no effect whatever and I am already taking 8-10 times the recommended daily dosage. The label doesn't really give much in the way of information.

I have taken different sida cordifolia products before and the effects have been very noticable, dramatic. I could feel the physical effects in terms of heart rate, energy, stimulation, appetite suppression etc. With these tablets I'm not sure whether I can feel anything or not. At the rate I'm getting through them I'll have finished all three bottles in a month and I don't know if I'll be any lighter as a result or just my bank account.

I would be genuinely interested to see some more reviews on this product because I understand well that herbal tablets can affect people to different degrees, but judging from my experience with three batches from different sellers and from what I have read elsewhere it seems that the quality of these pills is inconsistent, and that the darker, smellier pills are the most recent and least effective batch from CNP.


Bipra USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Adapter Kit with Power Adapter for 2.5/3.5/5.25 inch SATA or IDE Drive
Bipra USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Adapter Kit with Power Adapter for 2.5/3.5/5.25 inch SATA or IDE Drive
Offered by Bipra Limited Number 1 Hard Drive Specialist
Price: £23.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Genius, 9 Dec. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I am so impressed with this. I bought it a few days ago as both our big PC and our laptop are suffering various failures and we decided to take these crises as opportunities to upgrade some of our components, including our ageing hard drives. This little multi-adaptor connects any kind of internal drive to a common USB port instantly, and the supplied mains lead ends in adaptors for the different power supplies, which can be turned on or off. So I was able to put in new hard drives and simply transfer everything across from my noisy old drives via USB. And the good thing is you can then keep hold of your old drives and use them as portable drives if you so wish.

Just as I had finished the upgrades to the PC our laptop's main hard drive started to break down and I quickly needed a spare drive (or 750 CD-R's) to do an emergency backup of all the programmes and data etc. Of course I happened to have this adaptor and a couple of my old drives lying around so I simply plugged in one of the old drives to the laptop, cleared a few folders and let the backup programme do its thing. Really saved our bacon!


Torchwood: The Radio Adventures
Torchwood: The Radio Adventures
by James Goss
Edition: Audio CD

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bargain! (Torchwood-lite for family in-car entertainment?), 4 Dec. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I say Torchwood-lite because these plays have obviously been written for a "pre-watershed" sort of audience, the Doctor Who demographic if you like, or perhaps the genteel Radio 4 listenership.

The Torchwood TV series (uncut) seemed gratuitously at odds with it's parent series because it is set on a comparatively more realistic plane of reality than Doctor Who. It had more realistic dialogue (especially compared to the "classic series") with the requisite level of Anglo-Saxon profanity, snippets of mundane down-to-Earth domestic/work life and occasional unflinching scenes of slightly unglamorous marital/extra-marital/homosexual/interspecies sex that many of us may endure and/or partake in (don't get defensive, I'm not judging!) in real life, not to mention that in Torchwood if you were to fall off of the Pharos radio telescope tower or get shot in the chest by triads while locking the TARDIS doors behind you there would be a lot of visceral, bloody mess as opposed to an elegant, prone body or a sequence of tidy little holes across the front of your waistcoat. (Can you imagine a post-watershed period remake of "An Unearthly Child" - or ANY classic series Doctor Who story - by the Torchwood production team?)

The reality of Doctor Who is (necessarily) filtered and homogenized therefore, in the hands of lesser writers, a little remote and plasticky and it is into this polite BBC reality that the reduced Torchwood team are incongruously bound for these adventures. Two of the stories transcend these limitations by being really interesting (Asylum) or really spooky (The Dead Line). The third embraces this reality by sending the team thousands of miles away to interact with people from a politer past era (Golden Age) but is unfortunately slightly dull and feels a bit like one of the Barry Letts 3rd Doctor plays of the mid-1990s, with sprinklings of "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" and a dash of essence of "Carnival of Monsters" thrown in for that traditional, familiar home-baked predictability.

But all three of the plays were miles better and far less somnolently boring than the preceding play "Lost Souls" and you get three of them for the price of one! It's a nice little box that helps bridge the gap between series 2 and 3, and because the BBC transmitted the plays they are arguably officially "canon", for those who care about such things.


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