Category Archives: Music

Headphone Quest – I Think We Have A Winner!

I’ve blathered on a couple of times recently about my quest to find some decent earbuds or headphones. Thanks to a suggestion from my son who was visiting last weekend, I think we have a winner!

He had a really, REALLY good pair of Bluetooth, noise cancelling, over-the-ear, full sized headphones. So I grabbed a pair.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II. Not cheap. Worth. Every. Freakin’. Penny!

They’re light. I’ve been wearing them for three or four hours and except for the amazing sounds filling my head, I can barely tell they’re on. And given that they’re sitting on top of my head and completely covering my ears, they’re not constantly slipping out and changing the sound and having to be pushed back in like most of the earbuds that I’ve tried.

I can see wearing these while I run, as long as it’s not raining. I don’t think they’re built for that.

They’re supposed to last for over 20 hours on a full charge and recharge in under two hours, so that’s not going to be an issue.

They have the Google Assistant built in and a mike so I can take phone calls if I wish on them. Or I can push the button and ask for weather, news, make appointments, set reminders, and so on.

All of that’s nice. But the sound…

OH!

MY!!

GOD!!!

I’ve been at concerts where I was literally in the first dozen rows. Except for those experiences, this is the best I’ve ever heard.

I knew from trying out my son’s pair that I was going to like it. So I’ve hit the “Greatest Hits” list hard.

Hamilton. Brad Paisley. Jethro Tull. Dvorak’s New World Symphony 4th movement. Jean Michel Jarre!

It’s all of the “PLAY IT LOUD!!!” stuff. Jarre’s “Oxygene 11” or “Chronologie 2” or Supertramp’s “Child of Vision” or Paisley’s “Whiskey Lullabye” or Hamilton’s “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.” With these headphones they’ll bring on tears of joy.

As I said, not cheap. (And they’re my first noise cancelling headphones, so it’s still a little odd to not hear the keyboard as I’m typing.) But if you want to listen to music while you work and you need to be wandering around, or you need some really good workout or running headphones (assuming that sweating hard doesn’t kill them – have to watch out for that), these are SPECTACULAR!

Highly recommended. Finest kind.

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Too Exhausted For Angry Music

Anger is an energy, but as Captain Christopher Pike taught us, you can only sustain anger for so long. While last night was a night for angry music, tonight I just didn’t have the energy to spare.

Annie Lennox’s “Diva” was the fare that fit the bill. Except for that one weird “Roaring 20’s style” thing on the last track, it’s a wonderful, wonderful album.

Listen to the words of “Little Bird”

For I am just a troubled soul
Who’s weighted
Weighted to the ground
Give me the strength to carry on
Till I can lay my burden down

One foot in front of another.

If you fall, get up.

No cavalry coming.

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An Angry Music Night

Time for some Linkin Park tonight.

The Pink Floyd and Brad Paisley just aren’t cutting it. “Hamilton” would be great, as would some Jean Michel Jarre, but they both require more active brain cells than I can spare tonight.

The raw emotions in “Hybrid Theory” and “Meteora” are just what the doctor ordered.

Maybe I’ll finish off by putting the Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready To Make Nice” on repeat.

It might be time to cut back on the political news.

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Headphone Quest – Jan 15th Update

A while back I asked the group mind for suggestions about headphones and/or earbuds for when I’m running or just rambling around the office.

I got a number of good suggestions, most of which I haven’t had an opportunity to implement yet. I’m working on it.

One thing I have done was to buy a few pairs of wired earbuds to try, figuring that if I found something great I could follow up by buying a couple of pairs so that I would have spares for when I lose or destroy them.

My search criteria was simple – look at the pictures on Amazon and try to find some that had similar over-the-ear form factors to the ones I really, really, really liked but can’t get any more.

These guys – remember? GREAT running earbuds – no longer made.

So I went out and got these:

These green things are from a company called “Mucro” – never heard of them, but the shape was right. The fit is better than on the generic “NOT-over-the-ear” designs, but not real comfortable. This set has volume and next/back controls on the cord where the others don’t. But that’s not a benefit that offsets the fact that the sound is very tinny and marginal. In fact, the sound sucks.

The orange set is from Philips – it might be made by the “Philips” that’s the huge electronic conglomerate that has a lot of high end stuff, but for something I impulse bought on Amazon I wouldn’t bet my life on it. These are more simple than the green Musco set, lacking the in-line controls that I never use to begin with. But they fit pretty well (although not as über fantastic as the blue Sony set that is my gold standard) and the sound is much better than the Musco (although not as über fantastic as the blue Sony set that is my gold standard).

I suspect the orange set will be fine if I’m out running or exercising and sound quality isn’t critical. If I’m at mile eight of a twelve-mile run, I need distraction and entertainment, not concert-hall quality sound.

I would still love to find a few pair of those old Sonys…

The other thing I would note about both the Mucro and the Phillips – both were $19.90 including tax and shipping from Amazon, so it’s not like I was spending top dollar for premium sound. You buy something cheap, you get something cheap. On the other hand, for some applications, good enough is good enough.

Next step (sometime before the end of 2019 due to my copious free time being even more not-so-copious at the moment) is to go into a store and look at actual headphones (like Beats), wired and wireless, for that really good sound that I would like if I’m just listening at home or in the office. I might have to (and be willing to) spend a few more dollars there.

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Tonight’s Tunes

I’ve got nothing tonight, too much going on and too little time to do it and I’m feeling like Tia Lioni at the end of “Deep Impact” as she’s on the beach looking at that mile-high tidal wave coming at her at 500 mph…

But music, as it often does, has made a big difference tonight and last night. That’s a good thing, so let’s not be a buzzkill and talk about that for half a second.

Tonight it’s Dave Kendall’s “Party 360” on SiriuxXM Channel 33 First Wave. Lots of dance mixes and 80’s songs and some of the weird stuff along with the dancing stuff. It’s great to really crank it up (sorry in the next room!) when it’s time to Wang Chung, and I had completely forgotten about “Warm Leatherette.”

Yesterday was Jimmy Page’s 75th birthday, so it was “Led Zeppelin II” and “Led Zeppelin IV” for me. Tasty, tasty stuff.

What are you listening to in order to keep your head from exploding in the current shitstorm?

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STUNNING Holiday Insight!!

First, the annual Willett Family Christmas Card Deluge (WFCCD) has been consummated. 323 cards out in this morning’s mail. If you’re not on the list (did you get a card last year?) and you want to be, there are still a dozen cards left – let me know and I’ll make it happen.

This year we used the 2016 “Views Of Our Planets” stamps.

Image courtesy of USPS

 

Sweet! Sweeter was the fact that I actually was able to find them in the boxes – still sorting things out after the huge move earlier in the year.

Wait, you think that I went out and bought hundreds and hundreds of these amazing stamps from two and a half years ago? Yeah…no! They’re now only available as a collectible thing and on Amazon they’re running about $18.25 a sheet for $8.00 worth of postage. Thank you, I’m just slightly smarter than that and I am occasionally capable of thinking long term. Since I like having cool stamps for the WFCCD, when I see a cool new issue I go out and buy enough to do a whole year’s batch. Think of it as investing in Willett Christmas Cheer Futures (WCCF).

Last year was the Star Trek stamps

Image courtesy of USPS

(which are still available on the USPS Online Store, BTW), and in 2016 it was the “Pluto Explored” stamps.

Image courtesy of USPS

You should see what I already have lined up for 2019 and 2020!! (We need more holidays, I’m falling behind.)

Yes, I get tremendous amounts of Geek Cred Points for this nonsense. At least in my own head I do, and that’s the only place that counts.

Secondly, being in a household where the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies (HCCMs) are on about 24/7 from mid-November onward, I’m getting a great deal of pleasure from the @MallHarkXmas account on Twitter. It’s a bot that kicks out a new HCCM synopsis every six hours. For example:

or

Some of these sound better than the actual HCCMs.

Finally, while putting the cards together there were Christmas songs to listen to, including my all-time favorite:

Listening to this story I had a STUNNING Holiday Insight! (Thus today’s article’s title – took long enough to get here, huh?)

This song is basically an 80’s pop-synth punk version of a Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie!!

“And. They. Fell. In. Love!”

(I might also be easily stunned. Or maybe it was Christmas card envelope glue poisoning. We all know how deadly that can be.)

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Headphone Quest

I’m on a mission from God.

I need some good headphones or earbuds.

Years ago Sony made a really, REALLY good set that I just loved. This was before Bluetooth really worked well so they were corded, but that was fine. They had the BEST little hooks to go over my ears, they wouldn’t fall out or jiggle loose if I was running or exercising, they were comfortable, and they had great sound.

Of course, Sony stopped making them. No doubt just to spite me and piss me off. Well played, Sony…

I still have a pair, but they don’t work with my current iPhone since Apple in their utterly finite wisdom decided to get rid of the headphone jack on the iPhone 8.

Since I upgraded to the iPhone 8 a couple years ago it’s been one thing after the other, none of which is particularly satisfying.

The corded funky-shaped fancy ones that come with the iPhone give the best sound – but they don’t stay in very well.

I’ve got people at the office who sing the praises of the Apple Bluetooth ear buds, which are basically the same as the corded funky-shaped fancy ones but without the cord. They don’t stay in very well and then when they fall out they’re lost (and expensive to replace) because they’re not on a cord. Bounce, bounce, bounce, away they go, into traffic, into the gutter, into the bushes, into oblivion.

I researched ear buds for runners, corded and cordless, and got a pair of the best reviewed set.  The best thing about them is that they’re at least are connected together by a cord that hangs on the back of your neck. I’m not sure who reviewed them and said they were the best, but I have some strong disagreements on their assessment. They’re fine (mostly) if I’m sitting at my desk, but even walking around the house has them falling out.

So, falling out’s a problem! #1 on the hit parade when it comes to being useless. Screw that design!

I went on Amazon a couple of weeks ago and found a couple of different “cheap” (i.e., less than $30) corded “over the ear” ear bud sets. They stay on better than the ones without the “over the ear” plastic bits, but they’re nowhere near as good as the old, beloved Sonys. And while they stay on my ears, they’re not very good at staying IN my ears. They’re constantly creeping loose and wiggling out, so that while I can still hear the music, it’s tinny and a lot of outside sound gets in.

They’re better, but only because the bar wasn’t very stinking high.

Looking online it seems that possibly the best bet is to go to a full set of headphones rather than ear buds. I was sticking with ear buds because I want to run and exercise with them and I’m assuming that it’s awkward to do that with a full set of Beats (or whatever) on and that they would be heavy. But maybe that’s an assumption to be tested.

Of course, if I get a nice pair of wireless Beats (or whatever) and the sound is great and they’re lightweight for running and all of those wonderful things, then they probably cost $300 or more. And they may or may not be waterproof or water resistant, which is an issue since I tend to sweat when running long distances and sometimes do it in inclement weather.

Which, to be clear, at this point, I would pay if I could just solve the damn problem. I just don’t want to spend it and then find out that I simply have yet another set that are so-so at best and tend not to get used because they piss me off.

Any suggestions? Does anyone have anything that they’ve found wonderful for running and exercising that gives good sound but also is light and comfortable?

Alternately, if anyone sees that photo and says, “Oh, those are Sony XYZ87’s – I’ve got a whole box of them here we’re trying to get rid of, do you want four dozen pairs or five,” please let me know. I’ll worship at your feet.

As soon as I figure out how to plug the things into my iPhone 8. Or downgrade back to an iPhone 6.

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