Showing posts from April, 2011

Shopping in USA: Tips on Ordering Stuff to Yourself

USA is a place where even the most reluctant person can be converted into the most avid of shoppers. It is indeed a shopper's paradise, the Mecca of consumerism. Almost everything can be ordered online, with a press mouse clicks, key presses and viola, within days or even on the same day, almost anything under the sun can be delivered to your doorstep.The trick is that some items cannot be shipped outside of USA, or that the shipping charges are prohibitive. So when we get a chance to travel to USA, one of the highlights is to shop to your heart's content. We can get an assortment of items from different vendors, but I do most of my shopping from Amazon. It is not only a place to buy books and DVDs, but now it has evolved into a one stop shopping centre for everything from Swiss knives to sweaters, hi fi gear and even climbing harnesses.So if you have an address, you can partake of the consumer shopping frenzy. Here are a few pointers:- know what you want, and check the prices…

Do you really need a power amp?

I know some readers will be up in arms over my opinion, but this is my personal observation:

This came up during our recent gathering, and new bros may find all the heady talk on processors and power amps very sexy and feel a need to get one.

Well here are some salient points to consider:


If you have a small room, eg a apartment living room or bedroom, most AV amps are fine

If you use efficient speakers - 8 ohms design, 89 db and above, most AV amps are fine

What a typical budget or value for money power amp does for you is:
- give you more headroom and dynamics
Which means that if you have less than efficient speakers you can enjoy the real dynamics and not risk your speakers sound like they are running out of steam or clipping
(if there are terms like clipping which sound unfamilar, then this power amp thing is NOT for you and you are strongly advised to read up first!)

- this increase in dynamics does make a difference in the sound quality if you prefer your music…

Review: Sennheiser HD414 50th Anniversary Edition

Sennheiser HD414 50th Anniversary Edition

Ok so they are not noise-cancelling, but I just found the pair I placed in my office for days which I will be working late. Now with the cans connected to my iPhone 4, the work pile on my desk looks a lot less scary and the envisaged hours of work ahead are simply an excuse for me to enjoy the cans.

For those not familar with them, the Sennheiser HD414 50th Anniversary Edition were released in 1995 a long time after the original ones in 1967.

Released in 1995 to the 50th anniversary of Sennheiser GmbH & Co

Technical specifications

Frequency Response: 18-21000 Hz

Type: Dynamic, open

Impedance (Nominal): 52 Ohms

Sound pressure level at 1 kHz: 94 dB +/- 2 dB

THD as per DIN 45500: < 0.9 %

Contact Pressure: ~2.8 N

Weight (without cable): ~80g

Connector: 3.5 or 6.3 mm (1/8" or 1/4") stereo jack plug

Connection cable: Oxygen Free Copper cable, 3m

They were a "open" design which was a radical departure from the closed cans of those days. …

Good demos to show sonic integration in your HT system

So you have either sat down and decided what you want or plonked money down instead of mere chit chat and got that set delivered to your home. Now comes the litmus test. Sonic integration is more than a press button thing of the auto-Eq of your amp and then hoping for the best. Two of my fav tracks to see if the placement is right or there is good transition of sound are:Gladiator - when the large ball is swung round. If your five or more channels is done right you will hear the swoosh of the ball go smoothly from one speaker to the other with no gaps or holes. Band of brothers:
The assault on the 88mm guns. Here things are really busy and you hear bullets fly front to back. Sideways and the thud of explosions sometimes all at once. Also hear the ambient noises before they jump off the plane. The ricochet of bullets hitting the planes. Sherlock Holmes :
The meat factory
Hear the villain's voice travel round - is it convincing ? Tiny sats will have trouble recreating the deep human v…

Turn down the noise levels!


This is an observation and not a criticism of anyone nor a slight of anyone's system.

But too often when we visit showrooms, or even other members homes, the thing which sticks out is the noise floor.

What's that?

The ambient noise levels are rather high in some homes. This pushes the member to turn up the volume, in a bid to compensate. What happens is the owner goes deaf, but does not necessarily improve his or her listening experience. Details are actually lost, and you lose the ability to hear things like leaves rustlings, dust, clinking of armour, or the drawing of swords.

Do these subtle cues which add tension or atmosphere mean anything to you? Well that's for you to decide. I find these add a lot to a movie, and with the right bass tension, you will enjoy the movie more.

There are also brothers who feel the bass and the ability to feel it, and make the entire room or HDB block shake is a pre-requisite of a good HT system. Well then this post isn't for you…

Space Battleship Yamato 宇宙��ヤマト - movie review

Space Battleship Yamato - チョー

In the 70s, apart from Star Wars and Star Trek, one of the biggest phenomenons to across the seas from the US, was the anime series  Space Battleship Yamato, which was a successful hit based on the revival of the WWII battleship as a spaceship. I was one of the many kids who grew up watching the series, and even took part in drawing competitions based on this. So will a 2011 show draw the same success?

Firstly, all fans of this series will enjoy the show, even if the show was an abject failure. The mere sight of the hull of the battleship, the firing of the wave gun and the familiar soundtrack are sufficient for most fans to flock to the cinemas. Then most Japs need a show like this right now, with the central themes of sacrifice, heroism, and bravado, and a mission to save millions and doing so despite the odds. The timing of this show will be a poignant accidental reference to the brave men still fighting the fires, earthquakes, and the nuclear problem…