Posts Tagged ‘Music’

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HiFiMan RE0 Impressions/Pseudo Review

February 10, 2010

Over the last week or so of listening to the RE0s with a wide variety of music, I’ve grown accustomed to its unique sound signature because they are so unlike all of the various headphones/earbuds/IEMs I’ve listened to so far. Everything I’ve listened to prior to the RE0s has colored the music I’ve listened to with its own sound signature. From the cold, analytical presentation of my HD280 Pros to the deep, bloated bass of my V-Moda Bass-Freq earbuds, everything layers a bit of itself over the music. With the RE0s, there’s nothing there. The sound signature is entirely flat and while that may sound like a negative, trust me, it isn’t. This neutrality creates total transparency and allows the source to come through exactly as the artist intended it to. Because of this, the RE0s are unquestionably the best headphones I’ve ever heard.

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V-Moda Bass-Freq Review

February 7, 2010

Introduction

Back in 2008, I began making the transition from casual music listener to full-fledged audiophile. This was the year I sort of reached a sense of enlightenment and I began to reevaluate my tastes in music. I stopped listening to the radio and started listening to what I consider to be “good” music (IE anything that’s not on the radio), especially when it came to Hip-Hop, on my Zune whenever I went out. During this time, my Zune and I were inseparable. Any time I was driving, it is always plugged into the car’s stereo and set on shuffle mode and when I was a passenger, I always had my headphones on my ears, a trend that rings true to this day.

Back then, I owned a pair of Sony clip on headphones which had been decent for a while but when I made the transition to audiophile they just couldn’t cut it, especially after I picked up a pair of the full size and great sounding Sennheiser HD280 Pros. So, I had to do some shopping and eventually settled on a pair of $40 (at the time) V-Moda Bass-Freq earbuds that I managed to get from Amazon for $20. Based on reviews I’d read, these earbuds offered good sound quality while also delivering a very strong and deep bass. Being somewhat of a bass-head myself, I decided to order them based on their low price and bass-heavy sound.

After all this time, I’ve finally decided to write down my thoughts on the earbuds that have served me well over the past year and a half or so. Without any further delay, read on for my thoughts on the Bass-Freq earbuds.

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HiFiMan (Head-Direct) RE0 Unboxing and Initial Impressions

February 2, 2010

Earlier today, I received my Head-Direct RE0 In Ear Monitors (IEM) which I ordered early last week to replace my aging V-Moda Bass-Freq earbuds which decided to call it quits shortly before then. So, I recorded a short “unboxing” video which I’ve uploaded to YouTube and will be shared below.

After my Bass-Freq earbuds decided to call it quits, I did a bit of research into the world of portable headphones, coming up with a number of positive candidates in the process. My search turned up quality portable headphones from a number of manufacturers both familiar (Ultimate Ears, Klipsch and Shure) and not so familiar (YUIN and Fischer Audio) and after reading reviews on a multitude of portable headphones, I finally decided on the Head-Direct RE0 IEMs.

A few of you may know Head-Direct and they’re pretty famous in the audiophile community for being one of the leading importers of headphones and other audio accessories from a number of small overseas companies, some of which I’d never even heard of before venturing to Head-Direct’s site (YUIN being chief among those).  As it turns out, Head-Direct decided to venture into the highly populated IEM market themselves and begin selling their own RE line at varying levels of quality. Among the highest of these was the RE0s which, until the fairly recent release of the RE252s, were the company’s flagship IEMs. I checked out a number of reviews on the headphones before making my decision and saw that they were very close to the top of their class and could easily hang with some of the best on the market, even those which cost 2 – 3 times more than the RE0s themselves. After going to Head-Direct and seeing that they were on sale for $79 (down from $169), I was sold and placed my order.

So, I’m pretty sure you’re wondering if these things live up to the hype. So far, I have to say yes. I’ve listened to a number of songs on them already such as Wale’s Contemplate, Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven and 2Pac’s Temptations and they all sound great. I instantly noticed that the sound is, above all, transparent. The clarity in the sound signature jumps to the forefront the instant music begins playing and is immensely satisfying. After listening to my V-Modas for as long as I have and comparing them to the RE0s, they’re far muddier and less…open. The low end on the V-Modas is satisfying, but it really can’t compare to the RE0s and honestly, I didn’t expect them to, given how inexpensive they are (about $20) in comparison.

Now, I haven’t heard a great number of the more expensive IEMs so I can’t vouch for the quality of the RE0s just yet in comparison but I can say that they have impressed me right out of the box and, considering that IEMs with dynamic drivers such as the RE0s sound better after they’ve been broken in for a number of hours (10 – 50 is usually enough but some audiophiles say they need upwards of 100 hours to sound their best), things can only get better from here. I haven’t even listened to them with my portable headphone amp yet so I can tell that I’m in for a treat when they’ve been broken in and I listen to them amped.

As of now, I’d give the RE0s a high recommendation. This should be taken with a grain of salt seeing as I’ve only had a few minutes’ worth of listening time with them thus far. At the price they’re currently available for ($79), I honestly can’t see how you can go wrong with these as they offer exceptional depth and clarity even now, before they’ve been broken in and settled into their final sound signature. So, if you’re interested, you can check them out here. Keep in mind, however, that this is marked as a “Christmas Sale” and Christmas has obviously been over for a long time now. It’s highly likely that this sale price isn’t going to last for much longer so get them while you can!

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Lupe Fiasco’s “The Cool” Pseudo Review

April 22, 2008

The Cool

Because of my many obligations such as school, work and hanging out with friends, I spend a great deal of time in the car, driving from place to place. To take some of the monotony out of the experience, I liven things up by listening to the radio. Oftentimes, I tune in to the local hip-hop/rap stations only to be assaulted with whichever bland, soulless and insipid mainstream rap that happens to be the flavor of the month. In these instances, because of an inexplicably catchy beat, I’ll allow my intelligence to be insulted as the rapper talks about how affluent he is, how much he would like to harm his fellow man and/or teach us how to do some stupid dance people just can’t seem to get enough of. Many times, I just can’t take it and immediately switch to a jazz, alternative or R&B station. In other words, any time I hear any of the mindless crap belted out by Soulja Boy or the incessantly annoying T-Pain (who appears to be on EVERY song these days). It’s not that those other genres are bad, it’s more because I’ll always be a hip-hop fan at heart, and to have to switch away from a station that plays it pains me.

So, I’ve further distanced myself from the mainstream rap that constantly plays on the radio and more towards the artists who branch out and attempt to be different. In this search, I’ve found many hip-hop artists that have captured my interest but as of late, I’ve found myself listening to the lyrical stylings of Lupe Fiasco. Of course, I’ve known about the guy for a long while, since hearing one of his debut singles “Kick Push” on the radio, but up until now, I haven’t been listening to much of his music. Having heard one of his latest singles, Superstar, played numerous times on the radio and greatly enjoying what I’d heard, while I was walking through Target early yesterday morning, I happened upon Lupe Fiasco’s “The Cool” from which “Superstar” is culled. Soon after, I was walking out of the store with the album in hand, feeling confident in my purchase.

How right I was to purchase the CD with such confidence, since The Cool is one of the best hip-hop albums I’ve ever heard.

I was stunned as I listened to “The Coolest”, the album’s namesake for the first time. The dark, haunting beat hypnotized me as Lupe’s lyrics told an equally dark story with a level of grace and style I haven’t heard in quite a while. Lupe delivers his message in rhyme with a complexity and intricacy I haven’t heard in quite a while. Before you ask, the redundancy of the previous statement is intentional. Why? Because, listening to this album was like a slap in the face, forcing me to wake up to the harsh realization of how much I had lowered my standards listening to “radio rap”. Hearing this one song was like the first breath of fresh air after being trapped underwater for far too long, except in this case, the “water” was the mediocre mainstream rap that now floods the industry.

But I digress. Lupe Fiasco’s sophomore album is filled to the brim with the same complex, meaningful rhymes his fans have come to expect but what makes this album truly stand out in my mind is the numerous sociopolitical messages strewn throughout in several of his songs. Lupe Fiasco draws a connection between video game violence and child soldiers of third world countries in “Little Weapon” produced by (of all people) Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy fame and addresses immigration in the song “Intruder Alert”. Interestingly enough, Lupe also takes shots at the masses who want rap to be “dumbed down” in “Dumb it Down” which effectively sums up how I feel about the new face of the industry.

It should be easy to tell by now that I am thoroughly impressed by this album and heartily recommend it to all fans of hip-hop who want more than just mediocre. I recommend this to people who enjoy listening to songs that carry a message about something other than guns, cars, clothes and money. The sheer complexity and thought provoking subjects of Lupe’s rhymes, coupled with his refusal to dumb himself, or his songs down to the masses, is one of the reasons I’ve come up with to explain why this CD hasn’t garnered the sales I believe it deserves. It’s a shame really, because it’s this kind of music that represents a viable future for the hip-hop industry as a whole, versus the mainstream rap the masses have taken such a shine to.

In short, hip-hop fans everywhere need to hear this album, chances are you’re going to enjoy it.