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Lyman Zerga (UK)

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Price: £14.06

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Almost unlistenable thanks to the poor production, 5 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Reorchestrations (Audio CD)
What would have been a 4-, maybe even 5-star album of reworkings is reduced to worthlessness by truly dreadful recording/mastering that sucks all the life out of the music. The dynamic range is squished to such a degree that the low-end rumble and the upper treble are almost non-existent. Picking out and following the instruments is a strain on the ear; during dense passages the music becomes a mushy, incoherent wall of sound. Even during quieter passages, the music sounds flat and dull.
What made the first two Hidden Orchestra albums stand out, and what keeps me listening to them years after their release, is following the interplay of the two drummers as they follow one another's lead, juggle and shift rhythms between them. Thanks to the piss-poor sound quality on this release, that's something that's entirely absent. Listening to this album is a chore, frankly. Such a shame, as the music (from what I can hear of it) is as outstanding as it was on the first two albums.
Get off this label, Joe; or ditch the production team and do it yourself next time. Your music (and your fans) deserve much better than this.

Verbatim 43411 Extra Protection 48/52x 100pk
Verbatim 43411 Extra Protection 48/52x 100pk
Price: £14.92

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars More coasters than ever before, 2 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've always had a 100% success rate when burning to Verbatim CD-Rs, but this batch has been terrible. I'm about a third of the way through the pack of 100 and so far I've had around a 50% 'coaster' rate (ie, the burned discs won't play properly or at all in my CD player). I've experimented with different CD burning software, burn speeds, and two different CD burning drives. Even those that do work properly don't sound that great - I'm one of those pretentious audiophile types with an eye-wateringly expensive hifi, and I can tell the difference between a good burn and a bad one: with these, the frequency range is reduced (especially at the top end, so hi-hats and cymbals sound slightly harsh or scratchy).
Nothing seems to increase the success rate, so I'm putting it down to a drop in quality of the discs themselves.
I've requested a refund and I'll try another brand of disc from now on.

Shure SE215-K-E Sound Isolating Earphone - Black
Shure SE215-K-E Sound Isolating Earphone - Black
Price: £91.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Entry level but exceptionally good, 31 Dec. 2014
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For the money, you have no right to expect such good earphones. A really balanced sound that never gets tiring and has plenty of detail. Mids are clear and always a pleasure; mid- and mid-low bass are present and correct, if not exceptionally clear; highs are clear but not bright. The only weakness is an almost total lack of sub bass and an occasional lack of deep, thumping bass - but then, you get what you pay for, and the pay-off for that lack of fat, rounded deep bass is mid-range clarity and detail that's hard to beat for the money. Serious bass-heads look elsewhere maybe, but I listen to a lot of dub and electronic dance and it's only occasionally that I crave something more beefy than these; at first it bothered me, I'll admit, but then I came to appreciate the pay-off.
Aside from the sound, the build quality is excellent: I've had mine for nearly two years and put them through some serious use: mountain biking (including many a spill), commuting in foul weather, and long hours on train journeys. They still look and sound as good as new - no cable wear (I think they've used some sort of synthesised alligator-hide), and even the original foam tips are still pristine.
A real strength - and this applies across the Shure IEM range, as they all use the same design - is that these things will stay put, thanks to the over-the-ear design, meaning you're not having to constantly push them back into position when the cable catches on your collar or your jacket. It's a First World Problem, I know, but it's one that drives me mad with other in-ears.
Some reviewers quibble about the comfort and the fit, but I've never had an issue. It's just a question of finding the right buds (and they come with plenty to choose from); for my fairly small lug-holes, the medium-sized foam tips are snug, tight but not uncomfortable, and give great isolation. I can see that some specs-wearers might take exception to the over-the-ear cable design (and that's the only way they can be worn), but I wear thin-framed specs sometimes and I don't have a problem with them.
I've not tried the SE3-series or the SE4-series, but I have tried the SE535s - over three times the price of these, and not at all worth the extra money. They sound slightly better, but not *that* much better.
Again, as stated by other reviewers - and this goes for all in-ears - if you don't select the right buds, you won't get the best out of these. Be patient: burn the phones in for at least 24 hours before you judge them, and play around with the buds until you find the ones that fit best. Tip: with the foam buds, pinch them in before you put them in your ears, then let them expand for 10-20 seconds until they fill the outer ear canal and make a seal. You'll know when you've got it right, as they'll block out most of the ambient noise. If they get uncomfortable after a while, try a smaller size bud.

Sound quality: 4 stars (but 5 for the price you pay!)
Comfort and fit: 5 stars
Build quality: 6 stars :)
Value: 5 stars

Make Animals Happy
Make Animals Happy
Price: £14.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculously good beat-heavy psydub, 31 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Make Animals Happy (Audio CD)
Ridiculously good beat-heavy psydub. An album I come back to again and again and enjoy every time. No fillers or weak tracks; every one a winner.

Malone sliding mirror door wardrobe walnut
Malone sliding mirror door wardrobe walnut

1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible. Avoid at all costs., 29 Aug. 2014
Steer clear. These are nice looking wardrobes but the design and build quality is awful.
The obvious flaw, that you've probably spotted from the picture, is that there are no handles on them. So opening the mirrored door means getting fingerprints on it. Not a disaster, but fingerprints do spoil the clean lines somewhat. Except that those clean lines are already spoiled in another, far more dangerous and annoying way:
I bought the 2-door and 3-door version of this (in grey). On assembling them it was immediately obvious that the sliding doors weren't going to slide properly, because the horizontal top piece of the wardrobe - particularly on the 3-door version - can't hold its own weight, so it bows in the middle. So as you slide the door to open it, it's being pressed down on by that bowed top panel. There are adjusters on each side of the bottom of each door so that you can raise or lower the wheels that run along the groove as you slide the door, and that of course raises or lowers the top of the door too. So in theory you can lower the doors so that the top shouldn't foul on that bowed top panel. In theory. In reality, lowering them enough that they don't foul on the top panel means having them so low that when they're fully closed the doors fall out of the wardrobe. If you're lucky they'll fall into the wardrobe and the bottom of the doors might bark your shins or land on your feet. If you're unlucky they'll fall out towards you. And that mirrored door is pretty damn heavy; not something you want falling onto you if you're under 6ft tall. The first time the mirrored door fell on to me (in what must have been quite a Laurel and Hardy moment for any onlookers) the little wheels at the bottom of the door managed to scrape the door that was behind it, so now that door has two nice 6-inch vertical gouge marks at the bottom of it.
It's possible to adjust the doors so that they don't fall out, with a bit of trial and error; but then what happens is they won't slide all the way open; they'll judder and shake when being slid, and then they'll grind to a halt about 2/3 of the way open. The best I've managed to do with them is get them so that they'll slide maybe halfway open without juddering too horribly, but when they're closed they're not flush to the outside of the wardrobe so it looks like the wardrobe is leaning to the side. Before I found that 'sweet spot' (ha!) that let me at least open the doors, sliding the door at the front caused the adjuster screws on its rear to scrape the front of the door behind it, so now one of the doors (not the one with the two gouge marks in it - thanks, Sods Law) has a nice horizontal scratch across the bottom.
If they'd strengthened that top panel so that it didn't bow, none of these problems would exist. What boggles my mind is that they didn't spot this flaw when they tested the design. Or maybe with the test model they *did* use a strengthened top panel, then when they went to manufacture they used a cheaper, less rigid wood. Whatever they did (or didn't do), it means I've got two fairly expensive, ill-fitting, gouged and scratched wardrobes whose doors judder and don't open all the way and which I open very gingerly, always expecting that the door is going to fall on top of me. And with fingerprints on the mirrors.
And the finishing touch to all this: Dwell went bust before completing my entire order, so the matching set of drawers that I'd ordered never arrived. (What made this more annoying was that, over the 6 or 7 months that I was waiting for the set of drawers and kept phoning Dwell to chase it, they told me all manner of tales about why it was delayed. At one point they told me it was on a container ship that was anchored just off Portsmouth and would be ashore just as soon as they could afford to pay Customs & Excise the relevant fee for the ship to dock! Brilliant!!) I would have been left £230 out of pocket if I'd not paid for the order on Visa and been able to claim it back. I gather Dwell managed to get away with not completing hundreds, maybe thousands of customers' orders, and yet they somehow managed to keep trading. Oh, I got a number of apologetic emails from their Director, who was so very genuinely sorry about what had happened and he hoped it wouldn't put me off ordering from them again.
So, Dwell: not only manufacturers/sellers of poor quality furniture, but also crooks. Something for you to, ahem, dwell on if you're thinking of buying from them.
Bitter? Moi? ;)

Cowon EH2 Audiophile Earphones
Cowon EH2 Audiophile Earphones

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great sound; suit electronic music perfectly; great value; not for joggers; need better build quality, 23 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've been listening to portable music players since the very first Sony Walkman, and I've lost count of the number of pairs of earphones I've tried in all those years. Last year, as soon as I could afford to finally do it, I shelled out a month's disposable income on the much-hyped Shure Se535s, thinking I'd found the ultimate in-ears (after spending a month or so feeling guilty at such an extravagant and expensive purchase).
This year I swapped the Shures for these, and I'm so glad I did. What the Shures did well - detail, mid-range, musicality - they did very well. But where they lacked was with the deep bass reach and oomph, and with the very top end, which lacked crispness and brightness. For audiophiles who sneer at anything less than FLAC, who listen to vocal or acoustic stuff, jazz, classical, indie, rock - 'proper music' as your dad would say - and who like a detailed, accurate, neutral, flat or natural sound, the Shure's were probably perfect. For the rest of us, who don't think the size of a FLAC file justifies the tiny, tiny increase in quality over a 320MP3, who don't wear cords and cardigans and who listen to bass-heavy dub, dance and electronic music ("It's just noise" - your dad), there are the Cowon EH2s. If you like brightness in your treble, a bit of colour in your music, excitement, and bucketloads of full, rounded, beautiful bass, these are what you want. That's not to say they're lacking in mid-range, stereo imagery, sound stage, and all that other stuff that the chin stroking guys in my local hifi shop like to bang on about. They're not quite up there with the best (or at least, the best-marketed) of the consumer-level audiophile 'phones, for sure (for Shure?), but they're no slouches.
Bottom line: listening to the £300-plus Shure 535's never moved me, never put a smile on my face. Listening to these, I'm all grins.
And for less than half the price of the Shures, too.
Aside from the sound quality, another big plus for me is the cable, which is soft and light, and which is almost silent - ie, no annoying cable-rub noise travelling up into the earpieces when I'm walking, to spoil those quiet passages of music; and the build quality and finish, which are just lovely, if you go in for that sort of thing.
There are a couple of minus points, so in the interest of balance - and so that you don't think I'm just a fanboy or on the Cowon payroll - they're as follows:
The 'phones come with 3 pairs of silicon ear buds (small, medium, large), and 3 pairs of foam buds. But the foam buds... why, Cowon, why??? ... are covered with a layer of silicon. Foam tips are perfect - they stay in place forever, even when things get a little sweaty. Silicon tips don't: you get a little sweaty, they go all slippy, come away from the optimum in-ear position and you lose the noise isolation and the bass. So while the foam tips that Cowon provide give you more noise isolation, because of the silicon outer layer they don't stay in place so well. They do provide one pair of all-foam tips, in a light cream colour, but they're in Large size only, so they aren't going to suit those of us with dainty lug-holes. I've invested in some Comply foam tips (TX400's, which are a perfect fit - and which even come in red so they match the colour of the cable, which is nice), and now the earphones stay in place throughout my commute and walk to work. Even with the Comply tips though, I doubt they'd stand up to anything more than a brisk walk; if you're thinking of getting these 'phones for jogging or sports, I'd probably advise against it and recommend you get something better designed to withstand a lot of movement.... actually, to their credit, the Shures do that much better than these, now that I think about it.
The other minor quibble is that the metal ends of the phones are labelled 'L' and 'R', as they should be, but the lettering is so tiny and is engraved into the metal such that it's impossible to read in anything but broad daylight. So if you're putting these in at night and you're a bit OCD and simply have to know that you've got them in the right way round, you'll need a torch. Again, not a deal-breaker by any means, but it would've been nice if they'd made the 'L' and 'R' more visible.
And that's it really. Those two minor gripes aside, these are the best earphones I've owned. They might not set any new records when it comes to resolution, but they can hold their own against anything in this price range. What they do better than anything else though is to sound bright, colourful, rich and bassy, and to make music a pleasure to listen to. And they're not so expensive that you spend weeks deliberating over the purchase (and then regretting it afterwards, as I did with the Shures).
I've read other reviews and forum posts that don't rate these as highly as I do. I guess tastes differ, but these really do suit my needs perfectly. Paired with a Cowon player, and with the EQ properly tweaked to suit the music, they blow the competition away.
EDIT: After about 8 months' careful use, one channel suddenly started cutting out, then died altogether within a few minutes: the outer cable was still in perfect condition, but obviously the wire inside the cable had strained and snapped. If I'd been anything less than careful with them, I'd have (just about) accepted this as wear-and-tear, but like I say, I'd treated them well; and for the price, you'd expect to get a year or two of use from a pair of earphones. Back to the drawing board...
By the way, Amazon were brilliant: refunded me without delay after a quick phone call, no quibbling, just sent me a pre-paid return slip and asked me to return them in 28 days. 8 months after purchase, that's exactly what you want in a supplier.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 17, 2014 3:56 PM BST

Dreamtime Submersible
Dreamtime Submersible
Price: £6.93

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic and a bit special, 18 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A great coming together, this. Evan Marc at the top of his game, and Hillage happy to let his guitar gently, subtly add to the magic rather than take over or be the focus, as with his System 7 stuff. More like the Mirror System stuff, but more uptempo and minimalist. It's so well produced, and the two artists just work so well together, that the end product is really something special, hypnotic, fascinating. I think another reviewer said it took a few listens to appreciate. I think it just takes a proper listen. Put it on as background music and it'll probably seem boring, repetitive, unimaginative. But listen to it attentively and it soon becomes clear that there's some top quality musicianship going on here.
More like this, please.

Price: £26.26

5.0 out of 5 stars Proper, 18 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Earthjuice (Audio CD)
Proper ambient dub - leans more towards the dub end of the spectrum than the ambient, but if you like the Waveform Transmissions series or dubby offerings by the likes of Doof, then this is right up your alley.

Chill Out Or Die Vol2
Chill Out Or Die Vol2
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £19.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unpleasant, 18 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Chill Out Or Die Vol2 (Audio CD)
I had this album on cassette, back in the day, and recently (2014) bought it on CD. It was never exactly a favourite back in the day, but I thought listening to it with more mature ears might be interesting. It was, to be fair. Interesting, and terrible, and something I'll probably never do again.

I like my ambient to be soothing and hypnotic (without drifting into new age whale-noise territory), laden with spine-tingling arpeggios, natural sounds, dub-esque special effects, panning, pads, all that sort of loveliness. I even like it a bit melodious sometimes. I know, I know, I'm a lightweight. What I don't like is dark, discordant, nightmarish, just-plain-weird-for-the-sake-of-it stuff, like this. I did like (and still do, very much so) the third album from the COOD series, which is not without its... let's say 'challenging' tracks, truth be told. But even when it's not making me smile, it's still fascinating and absorbing. It's not hard to listen to, like most of the stuff on this double album. And it's not just that it's dated - again, COOD3 is from the same period, and it still sounds futuristic to me. This, however... This is like the soundtrack to an epic bad trip. It's the sort of thing you turn off quickly if someone else comes into the room, cos you just know their first words are going to be "What the..?" And that should in no way be taken as a recommendation, kids.

I'm sure somebody, somewhere, finds this stuff appealing. People who like to be challenged by music, who enjoy discomfort, or who just marvel at the tech and the talent that it takes to make noise like this. It's not without artistic merit, not at all. It's just not pleasant to listen to. Call me old-fashioned, but listening to music should, for my money, be something you enjoy, not something to be endured, to be got through so you can come out the other side feeling like, phew, you made it.

So, not surprisingly, I'm not going to recommend this to you if you're a casual explorer of the ambient. This is for the headstrong only. But do try volume 3 if you fancy something a bit off the beaten track, a bit challenging and a bit special.

Ketama Vision
Ketama Vision

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great music, poor quality, 2 Oct. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Ketama Vision (MP3 Download)
Outstanding music, as you'd expect from Youth - fairly upbeat, tribal dub with some breakbeats here and there, some nice ambient touches and Orb-esque samples, some proper modern dub towards the end of the album, and of course, wicked basslines throughout. So what's not to like? Here it is: The sound quality is poor for the first few tracks. It's as though the engineer has muted the midrange and the upper bass, pushed the treble and the sub-bass up to max, and then left the room and gone for a bit of a lie down, then he's come back in the room, cocked his head to one side and said, "Wait, that sounds crap", gone back to the mixing desk and fixed it. OK, you might be able to adjust your tone controls or your EQ to compensate somewhat, but for the first 15 minutes it'll still sound as though you're listening to a very low bitrate mp3 (or, if you're of a certain age, a bootleg cassette that you bought on the way out of the club against your better judgement... you got home and played it on the stereo and it sounded bad, but you put that down to the battering your ears had taken because you'd stuck your head in the bass bin for a bit of a giggle... then you played it again a week later and it still sounded terrible. That wasn't just me, right?).
Also, you get a full-album-length mixed version, which is cool. And you get the individual tracks too - which can only also be cool, surely? So, like, sound quality aside, it's still pretty good value, right? Hmm. I dunno. Before you take your chances on me being picky here and you click 'Buy with 1-click', know this: the mixing on the mixed album isn't that great (there's even a beat clash in the first mix). And most of the rest of them are just straight out-in mixes. Where there's a bit of real mixing, what they've done on the un-mixed tracks is take the mixed version, separate the tracks, fade in and out at the start and end of each one, and insert a second or so of silence in between. But like, it's still the mixed version you're getting, just with annoying fades and bits of silence in there. You can hear the next track coming in, then it fades to silence, then it fades back in and you hear the last track fading out. More discomforting bootleg memories, at no extra cost!
Maybe this isn't Amazon's fault - probably it isn't, in fact. Probably this is just how the original album came. And it's hard to find a copy of the album on disc, so this download is probably still seeming pretty appealing to you, I guess. But if you can find the individual tracks elsewhere to download, piecemeal, in their full, un-mixed, un-faded-in-and-out glory, you'd be as well to do that.
Again though, can't praise the music itself highly enough. Just wish it was presented better.

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