Tuesday, 16 October 2018

SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 9 - SPEAKERS

I've put this device through its paces against all the devices I have to hand here and none come close to it except for the Marshall London and Razer 1. There's no point in doing further tests as everything else here is leagues behind in quality and mostly volume, too. The London needs to be sidelined really too, as it's sadly unusable as a phone in 2018....

Samsung claim that they have worked real hard on their stereo speaker setup. "These phones are capable of creating stereo sound to produce an immersive audio experience that makes it seem like you're in the scene. Our stereo speakers are tuned by AKG for clear audio and also offer surround sound effects with Dolby Atmos delivering 3-dimensional sound that seems to come from various directions. Instead of mixing by channels, Dolby Atmos places sounds within a three-dimensional audio environment, giving listeners the impression that sounds are coming from everywhere. While leaving the speaker in the bottom of the phone may be better for practical reasons, it created a new problem; the speakers faced in two different directions."
To get round this problem, they used their new partnership with AKG to 'tune the output level of each speaker to account for their placement'.

The Razer 1 then, against the Note 9! I firstly tried them both with no Dolby Atmos employed. The Razer needs Dolby Atmos to make it market-leading, but the Note doesn't. It could be used without and still be excellent. The Razer, flat and dull. The Note 9 for volume was way ahead of the Razer 1, but for quality, based on lower volume, the Razer 1 still raises a close challenge.

Dolby Atmos turned on now on the Razer 1 but not on the Note 9 and the Razer 1 noses ahead. The volume of the Note 9 is still higher than the Razer 1 but the former loses out in quality. With the Razer's Dolby Atmos switched to Dynamic and test YouTube video playing, the Razer beats the Note hands-down on quality and bass. The Note 9 almost sound tinny against it, though yes, still very loud.

Lastly, we turn the Dolby Atmos to the Auto setting on the Note 9 (I tried others and this is the best) and the quality increases markedly - at the slight cost of a bit of volume - but any sniff of tinny sounding output disappears and the quality is almost up there with the Razer - it's a very close thing. But because the Note 9 has the edge on top volume, I have to declare it, with Dolby Atmos employed, the winner here. Just. And subjectively!

As always with assessing audio, a lot depends on how stuff has been encoded and what kinds of files you're listening to. I downloaded my copy of The Prophet's Song by Queen which exploits stereo well to both devices, an .mp3 file, 320kbps, and the Razer reproduces that louder (by 20%), richer (by 20%) and with better stereo effect (by 20%). Not an exact science! Both running through Google Play Music, both with Dolby Atmos switched on. I also listened to other genres of music, other files, and they were closer with some, further apart with others.

I turned to some test Dolby Atmos Video on YouTube and 5.1 across Netflix and there is no question at all that the Razer 1 blows the Note 9 away in this test on volume, stereo effect and quality of sound, richness, bass. Razer seem to have done something special with Surround and it sits ahead. Whilst yes, you can just about detect that something's coming from behind your left ear into frame with the Samsung, it's markedly more distinct and clear with the Razer. Whether that's because the speakers are truely stereo and front-facing, I don't know. But it sounds better and more immersive.

It's very hard to say which is best, because when the phones are used for different purposes, each has strengths and weaknesses against the other. For me, if I had to choose on speaker output alone, I'd go for the Razer 1, laying aside any bias on brand - objectively, for my general use - but the truth is, that we're nit-picking. Anyone with either of these phones would instantly know that they're streets ahead of any average phone out there and if producing great sounds from your pocket computer that's always with you is as important to you as it is to me, without resorting to earphones, neither of them will disappoint. They will blow the user away - when it sinks in that these sounds are coming from a phone!

FRANCESCO TRISTANO: PIANO CIRCLE SONGS

Original composition for a classical musician must be a hard to break into and make a living from, aside from making a fortune! On this 2017 180g Double LP on Black Vinyl with information booklet inside and studio photos, Francesco Tristano has made a good go of it.

I'm a sucker for mellow and laid back piano-only music and he does demonstrates from this album that he can certainly compose and create interesting music. Chilly Gonzales has been roped in to help with some of the tracks and you can certainly hear which ones, with his flamboyant flair!

It's an enjoyable listen - and listen you must, or you won't appreciate the craft, often interspersed with timely waits and anticipation of what's to come and where it's going. Sometimes it feels a bit like funeral music, but never dull. Interesting and experimental, haunting and smooth, I'm pleased I found this and it is an excellent addition to the collection.

Wiki
Francesco Tristano is a Luxembourg classical and experimental pianist and composer, who also plays the clarinet and was born in 1981. He composes both classical and electronic music. Here is a selection of beautiful, newly composed works for solo piano. 'Piano Circle Songs' features award-winning Canadian pianist and songwriter Chilly Gonzales on four of the tracks, of which Gonzales composed 'Tryst' himself for the album.





HAOHAN TEAPOT

This far-too-cute HaoHan 800ml Teapot is made of glass. And thin glass, too! Don't let your ham-fisted spouse wash it up! The main attraction here is that it's dainty, pretty, light and you can see through it! It's almost like an ornament. Perhaps it is!

Although the unit looks incredibly delicate, it can be used as an ordinary teapot, so remove the infuser, put the (very thin) food-grade stainless steel lid back on with your tea-bags dumped inside. Or use it to infuse! Put that steel infuser back down the middle and put some of your lovely teas or fruit teas or even fruit - however you want to make tea, you just can.

The other thing to say is that it can be used on direct heat sources - so gas or electric hobs, stoves, aga cookers or even a campfire (though I can't see it surviving the ruck-sack)! It can be used in the microwave (without the metal bits) and despite the apparent delicacy, it's very sturdy and robust.

The main attraction here though is the novelty, I think. The glass is so thin and it's so light (without tea in it!) that it really does feel like it should be in a glass cabinet! A lovely item and a good idea for adding to that xmas list for those people who, every year, you have no idea what to get for! £12 at AmazonUK (https://goo.gl/QFyRTH)

JULIE LONDON: AROUND MIGNIGHT

As one of the jazz-based 'whisperer' singers of the 1950's and 60's, Julie London (1926-2000) enjoyed a rich career making music and films. This 180g Black Vinyl LP originally released in 1960, now comes along again and is a blend of songs from her catalogue with a theme of nighttime. It's presented here in a simple sleeve with loads of notes about her and her career on the back.

The sound is amazingly laid back and sultry, softly delivered direct from a smoke-filled jazz club cellar or two! The orchestral arrangements are uplifting and big band depict the era, and before. The backing vocals are perfectly delivered, as is the sympathetic piano and brass support. Love it. Recommended for those who like old fashioned delightful songs, tunes and singing.

Wiki
Her 35-year acting career began in film in 1944, and included roles as the female lead in numerous Westerns, co-starring with Rock Hudson in The Fat Man (1951), with Robert Taylor and John Cassavetes in Saddle the Wind (1958), and opposite Robert Mitchum in The Wonderful Country (1959). In the 1950s and 60's she released a total of 32 albums of pop and jazz with her signature song being "Cry Me a River", which she introduced in 1955. London was noted by critics for her husky, smoky voice and languid vocal style. She released her final studio album in 1969, but achieved continuing success playing the female starring role of Nurse Dixie McCall, in the television series Emergency! (1972–79), in which she appeared opposite her real-life husband, Bobby Troup. The show was produced by her ex-husband, Jack Webb.


Monday, 15 October 2018

DAVID BOWIE: LOW

Like Heroes, I was very pleased to snag this 180g Remastered Vinyl LP to replace my aged and knackered original. Presented in original sleeve and inner information leaflet, it's great to have it back. There are some great tracks which I love, apart from the hit single Sound and Vision. Warsawa is my favourite, I think!

Like Heroes, it's full of experimental style and sounds, depicting that Berlin era which is oft' mentioned. It is for those who are open-minded about the nature of music and who are interested in musical development over same-old, same-old. Love it!

Wiki
The 11th studio album by David Bowie, released in January 1977. Recorded following Bowie's move to West Berlin after a period of drug addiction and personal instability, Low became the first of three collaborations with musician Brian Eno and producer Tony Visconti, later termed the "Berlin Trilogy". The album was in fact recorded largely in France, and marked a shift in Bowie's musical style toward an electronic and avant-garde approach that would be further explored on subsequent albums "Heroes" (1977) and Lodger (1979). Though it was initially met with mixed critical reviews, Low has since become widely acclaimed as one of Bowie's best and most influential works.

DAVID BOWIE: HEROES

I was very pleased eventually to replace my very old and worn out Heroes LP with this new remaster on 180g Black Vinyl with lyrics sheet inside. It's a fabulous album, just at the right time for me, in my formative years back then. The whole Berlin thing is fascinating to me and music enlightening.

There's obviously the hit single title track, but so much more for those willing to open their ears! Some of the experimentation with sound and vocals is quite superb and innovative, particularly on Side 2. Recommended for those who are open-minded.

Wiki
Heroes is the 12th studio album by David Bowie, October 1977. This second installment of his Berlin Trilogy recorded with Brian Eno and Tony Visconti, continued the ambient experiments of his previous album Low and featured the contributions of King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp. Of the three albums, it was the only one wholly recorded in Berlin.

CHOCOLAT

This 180g Chocolate OST Coloured Vinyl LP with inner flyer with a couple of images from the film is a very nice addition to the collection. I didn't know it was chocolate vinyl, so that was a nice surprise!

The music of Rachel Portman is largely orchestral and for fans of the film, fits in beautifully in tone, style and theme. (It's a super little film with excellent attention to detail, photography and direction.) It's uplifting, dramatic, subtle and powerful in equal measure. Recommended.

Wiki
Rachel Portman's career in music began with writing music for drama in BBC and Channel 4 films such as Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Mike Leigh's Four Days in July and Jim Henson's Storyteller series. Since then, Portman has written over 100 scores for film, television and theatre, including The Manchurian Candidate, Oliver Twist, Hart's War, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Beloved, Benny and Joon, Life Is Sweet, Never Let Me Go, Grey Gardens, The Duchess, One Day, The Vow, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, The Lake House, Infamous, Mona Lisa Smile, and The Human Stain. Portman is perhaps best known for her music soundtrack compositions in the movies Chocolat and The Cider House Rules.



SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 9 - SPEAKERS

I've put this device through its paces against all the devices I have to hand here and none come close to it except for the Marshall L...