Apple AirPods vs Bose QuietControl 30

Airpods vs QC30

This Christmas I was gifted a nice pair of Apple Airpods. They were extremely easy to set up and use because of that Apple W1 chip they house. iOS is tailored for their integration, and they do not disappoint in regards to usability. I wish that I had some more options for left and right tap control, but I can make do with one of the options being Siri to access other functions without having to dig my phone out of my pocket. They sound decent, their charge is enough for my typical use, the case is rather nice, and while using my phone, it’s a match made in Apple-centric heaven.

I brought them to work today and paired them with my MacBook Pro. The connection was spotty. The Cloud properly had them already on my Bluetooth pairing list, but with an older name that I had given them. They sputtered quite a lot. I then used them with my phone again – and the experience was flawless. I went back to the MacBook Pro – spotty again. I do use a wireless keyboard and Magic Mouse with the laptop. I have no idea if this is causing some network traffic impeding the smooth delivery of audio or not.

I am currently using my Bose QC30s with my laptop – always smooth, always on the money. I don’t feel them, just like I don’t feel the Airpods. Of course, they have more charge to deliver a much longer audio experience. They work fantastically with my phone too. They are not pocketable. They do connect just about as fast, I just cycle through the device list on the QC30s until I get the laptop or phone included.

A conundrum. I am going to try the Airpods again with the laptop because the Siri control is quite nice in getting to what I want to hear without any fuss.

Update: While writing this post, I again put the Airpods in, got the chime that they are powered on. I then selected them from the laptop BT menu on my laptop. The same chime, this time for a successful Bluetooth connection. And now Solar Fields is playing through iTunes to the Airpods. There was exactly no sputtering this time. Nice. A noticeable difference in audio quality, but for now it’s alright. If someone approaches, I can simply double tap the back of my ear for play/pause and have a conversation. Repeat and I’m back into the music. I could remove a bud too, but there isn’t a pressing need to do that. It’s nice as an option as more of a social cue to the person I am speaking with (seems less rude). 

My left bud has Siri, I try that and nothing happens – probably because I am not paired with my phone. My Mac has Siri, I can only assume that might get enabled in a future OS X update. I emailed Craig about this to see if he responds in a positive way. I know I can activate Siri on OS X directly, but doing it using my Airpods would be even nicer.

I don’t have volume control either, but since I am on my Mac, that’s super-easy to do with the keyboard. 

Nits about using QC30s:

  • I can hear myself breathe at times when noise cancellation is up and the music is low or atmospheric.
  • They aren’t pocketable – I park them around my neck.
  • I have to remove a bud to speak to someone typically.
  • I still have wires, SoundSport Free would be a better comparison.

Nits about Airpods:

  • I can’t control volume directly, I use Siri to do it.
  • At times I get stuttering from my laptop – phone is fine.
  • Inferior sound to the QC30s. Not including anything about noise cancellation – here it’s good not to have it.

Typically I would say go for the QC30s, but using Airpods does have advantages, especially when you’re using your iPhone. If that is the case, and you want to use Siri, take calls, etc. there isn’t a debate – Airpods have more functionality at your disposal. They will never sound as good, but it’s a better general tool if you’re navigating the trails of an Apple iOS ecosystem only.

Bose QC35 and bass heavy tunes.

0017817725453_QC35_sl8_F.jpg

If you have recently picked up a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones, throw the song “Unfinished Sympathy” from “Collected (Deluxe Edition)” by Massive Attack at them. That track has some impressive bass in the intro and contains intricate instrumentation. Make sure your headphones sit snug against your skull and enjoy. You might be surprised at the response.

Continue reading “Bose QC35 and bass heavy tunes.”

Tagged : / /

Iron Maiden. The Book of Souls review.

32361

Before I begin, I have to say the longer tracks on The Final Frontier (the previous) offering were masterpiece level with me. The Talisman, The Man Who Would Be King, and When the Wild Wind Blows are simply incredible.

Coming into this album, I was very excited. My first listen or two left me wanting… coming of Final Frontier. I’ve listened several more times through on really excellent headphones and now I get it. This album is epic. Epic.

CD1:

Track 1: If Eternity Should Fail
The synthesizer texture and midi horn is campy. I assume the horn isn’t a real instrument. The vocals in the introduction are very good, and the lyrics are wonderful. The kick in sounds awesome. You can hear all the instruments on this album. The refrain is super nice. This song has a nice hook and the guitar work is what I would call pleasant. Nice gallops. We’re off to an awesome start.

Track 2: Speed of Light
Typical Air Raid Siren scream at the start. Groovier than the first track. This was the single so I’ve listened to it quite a lot already. This will definitely be a tour favorite – it sounds built for refrain sing along. It’s a decent track, if not a little bit expected.

Track 3: The Great Unknown
Nice Harris thumping along at the outset. Bruce sings loosely before the track takes off. The build up is awfully nice before McBrain starts thundering. It all comes together so seemingly effortlessly. Bruce’s voice struggles in spots – he doesn’t sound like younger Bruce at all and it’s apparent for the whole album. However in some songs it actually works for him – namely track 1 so far. On this track it’s a slight distraction. Guitar solos? Here we have some awesome work – not over the top with hammer taps and such, it sounds composed and perfectly in place. It’s not one of my favorites, but it’s decent.

Track 4: The Red and the Black
Really interesting lead in with quasi-acoustic guitar playing. This track in my opinion is freaking epic. It has a slight medieval vibe to the singing delivery and guitar presentation. This is going to be killer on tour. There are “whoa whoa whoa” bits to sing along to. Each section comes with head-banging vocal delivery. There is some almost pop-like stuff going on near the middle of the track. Solos – melt your face off and toss it in the disposal. One solo after another with decidedly different technique and skill brought to it. After the solos the song almost seems to turn into another song with the same groove. This band is so tight that they could probably play variations of their groove forever and it would be interesting.

Track 5: When the River Runs Deep
Bruce’s voice is strained at the start. This is a track that is not one of my favorites on the album.

Track 6:The Book of Souls
Very soulful guitar work up front. Synthesizer textures. A lot of complication and interesting lyrics here. It has an overall epic feel to it, like for the masterpiece movies of long ago. A medium beat to it. At 5:47 it starts to rip your face off with epic Maiden galloping and drum work. Masterful solo.

CD2:

Track 7: Death or Glory
A fun track but definitely not in the list of top tracks for me. It sounds like it could have come from A Brave New World but thrown out and not making that album. It sounds kind of scripted typical Maiden which is still better than almost any other band’s throw away. Filler? Hmmm. Maybe a little bit.

Track 8: Shadows of the Valley
The thing starts off a little like Wasted Years – a nice throw-back. Galloping guitars and thundering drums. I could say that about most of these songs, but there is a nice rhythm going here. Bruce sounds pretty decent here.

Track 9: Tears of a Clown
Dedicated to Robin Williams. Super progressive guitars and hooks. A decent tune about depression, etc. I almost wish there was less singing on this one so we could just hear the grooves more up-front and to continue the hooks more.

Track 10: The Man of Sorrows
Melancholy introduction with sweet guitar work. This song is epic in my opinion. Bruce oozing with emotion. I usually listen to this song first on the album. I liked the slower stuff from Final Frontier so I guess it makes sense that this song touches me. The lyrics are wonderful. The power tempered. At 1:55 the song is like honey and just drips with a unique gallop. Things are a little more simple – and perfect. The soloing is wonderful and sounds on par with Eric Johnson or Joe Satriani.

Track 11: Empire of the Clouds
Holy shit. Piano. 18 minutes. Epic. I don’t want to describe this song. It’s a great surprise and shows the musicianship of this band and their breadth.

Cœur de Pirate – Roses

CDPROSES-540pxAlbum artwork by Hsiao Ron Cheng. 

For some strange reason I’m sometimes drawn to music in languages that I don’t fully understand. Take Édith Piaf for instance. Her voice is soothing, melodic, and sometimes bird-like. In a language I studied for a few years in high school. Which means it turns into background entrancement for me. And if I’m in the mood, I love it.

Cœur de Pirate (Pirate heart) – her real name being Béatrice Martin, from Montreal, sings mostly in French. She’s created a rejuvenation in French music (la chanson française). She’s quite young and covered in tattoos. You wouldn’t think she would perform the type of music that she does. And that’s part of what’s so awesome about her.

Anyway, I’ve been following her a bit for a while. Her work has been catchy and fun and transports me into manufactured nostalgia. It’s been great – until her latest album hit not too long ago. It has both English and French versions of some songs, her voice sounds as effortless as ever, and the song writing and compositions seem so much more mature.

It’s probably odd that I’m posting this to my blog was is quite technology-heavy. I’d like to spread the word and share her music.

Roses (Deluxe) @Apple Music.

  1. Carry On 03:35
  2. Crier Tout Bas 04:21
  3. I Don’t Want To Break Your Heart (feat. Allan Kingdom) 04:05
  4. Drapeau Blanc 03:24
  5. Undone 03:12
  6. Oceans Brawl 05:10
  7. Our Love 02:44
  8. Cast Away 03:16
  9. Tu Oublieras Mon Nom 03:13
  10. The Way Back Home 03:43
  11. Oublie-Moi 03:36
  12. Can’t Get Your Love 03:29
  13. The Climb 03:17
  14. Oceans Brawl (Ash Workman Version) 02:47
Tagged : / / / /

A humble review of Rush R40 in Boston on Tue Jun 23, 2015.

#R40BOS. I was totally relaxed coming to TD Garden with my wife. Traffic wasn’t wonderful coming from the suburbs into the tightened roadways of Boston. The merging of several lanes of traffic mixed with an accident along the way slowed us down considerably. We had already purchased North Station parking, so we didn’t mind. That, and we gave ourselves plenty of time to get to the venue.

We planned on going to The Four Boston to grab something to eat for dinner before going to the concert, but the slow down on the way prevented that. Coming up from the parking garage into the ground floor of TD Garden, we were met by the usual pre-concert crowd milling about. We soon discovered that the line for entry had already formed, so we went outside to get in line. That was one enormous line – hugging the fence and then wrapping out onto the sidewalks as far as we could see. Three or four people wide. This show was going to be packed.

Something else was quite apparent and easily discernible. There were women in line. A lot of women, mostly older with their presumed husbands. And then the kids. Lots of young kids with noise-suppressing head gear. For all the many times I’ve attended Rush’s shows, this was a first for me to see. It was wonderful.

We finally walk into the venue.

We made our way in, and filed to the first concert retailer selling R40 memories of various types. We switched vendors as we discovered one nearby with nearly no lines. That probably saved us twenty minutes. We had about 30 minutes before the scheduled 7:30PM start. We grabbed a shirt, hat, and program – then made our way to the floor. Third row, seats 13 and 14. Right on the end, which we greatly appreciated. If we needed any extra room to move, we could take a step to the left. Need to get some more drinks or use the lavatory – quick and easy.

We people watched, fascinated by some characters in the rows in front of us. We watched the crew climb up into the lights, saw the guys in the red R40 suits getting ready, watched 3 photographers march into position in front of the barrier, and saw many VIPs go backstage. We later figured out a few people were tossed from the first and second rows – but we have no idea why… I believe the validity of their tickets was in question. I digress.

0

CIOhSqGXAAAsp2SWe were in a perfect spot. We noticed a lot of commotion to our right – Mike Portnoy (previously of Dream Theater) was there with his blue beard. Donna Halper was in the back by the sound board – too far away to see (I’ve seen photos from the concert of her).

We enjoyed our drinks, watched Lerxst’s guitar tech tune his double-neck, talked a bit to some of the fans, and I was quite relaxed. My wife was a little nervous as she only knows a few tracks (80’s material) and knew she was going to be left in the cold for most of the evening.

Then the video ended and the first shockwaves from Neil’s kit hit me squarely in the chest. Uncomfortable at first because of the unique and intrusive nature of the force. The power. The mechanical influence.

I was quickly covered in goose bumps. My face stretched from the smiling. My right leg stomping to match the beat. And the evening flowed like the sweetest intoxicating wine. Close enough to Alex to watch his unique personality shine as he hammed for the front row.

I have a nice video of part of Xanadu, but WP won’t allow me to upload it yet.

The sound at TD Garden did not suck. Which is unique to the place, as it’s notorious for it’s shitty sound. This night things sounded wonderful. Especially Alex. Where we stood, it was difficult to pick out a lot of detail from Geddy’s basses – but the fact one could hear much at all was a delightful surprise.

Concerning Geddy’s voice.

Geddy wouldn’t come over to our side for a while, but when he did we could see the wrinkles of time lining his smiling face. His voice was something to worry about because of previous tours and the all the singing he’s done – trying to hit some seemingly impossible notes at his age. Tonight – he hit them all with seeming ease. I’ve experienced hearing him strain in the past. And it’s painful to see a hero try and fail at times to do something he could easily pull off when younger. People on forums and fan sites bash him. Forget about that this tour.

There was a time when Neil tossed a stick which bounced off a cymbal and in front of his kit – failing to catch it in time. Alex picked it up and began to play his guitar with it for a while. It still sounded great. And the boys were having fun.

Neil is known to be quite serious while playing – and tonight was no different. But there were times where he cracked and smiled and played around making silly faces. Perhaps those moments were scripted. We may never know. But they only added to the vision of joy on stage being projected onto all of us. I got the feeling that they were thinking to themselves, “I wish we could play this bit of Jacob’s Ladder forever, it’s awesome.”

We were taken on a musical journey. Nearly three hours of sweet, glorious, nearly precise music. I could have not asked for a better evening. I haven’t gone into any specifics about the setlist (B) or songs. I’ll leave that for those who attend.

Boston kicks us in the genitals.

We left during the closing video. Many stayed to watch, but we wanted to beat the traffic. Since GPS doesn’t work under the garden, we relied on it being spot on as we exited the building. Not a good idea. We got turned around a time or two, but did ultimately get on track and got onto the Mass Pike heading east. Where we promptly were stopped in traffic waiting for something.

Turns out three lanes merged down to two, and then one, and then a few hundred feet more back to two, then one… which turned a trip that should have taken twenty-five minutes into an hour and forty-five minutes. Thank you Boston city planning. Tired and experiencing joy from the concert only to have our hopes of timely slumber dashed. By the time we slowly managed to roll to the Cambridge exit, things sped up. It was one of those moments where you wonder why in the world things were so slow to begin with – after all the merging. I’ll end this rant here since it’s not integral to the review.

#R40BOS Happy Rush Day

To say that I am a little excited about tonight’s show at TD Garden in Boston would be a severe understatement. Third row is the closest I’ve managed to get and tonight that’s where my wife and I will be. Her first Rush show was Hartford, Connecticut for the Vapor Trails tour.

I remember a lot of rain in the parking lot and before the show started the sun rang out, brining with it a gleaming rainbow. That was a momentous evening for fans and for Rush themselves. And my wife’s introduction.

We’ll be on Lerxt’s side of the stage. See you there – if not in body then in spirit.

Every morning an Apple commercial

Lucky enough to attend WWDC13 this year, when iRadio was announced and released to developers, one of the cooler parts of the at conference iRadio offering was a station called “Music Heard at WWDC”.

Apple culled together a lot of music into a playlist that would play during intermissions between developer sessions. All that music was put together into a iRadio station. I think since the conference ended it was removed from a station to access. However I saved it to my stations right away – and I have access to it still.

Every morning in the shower is an Apple commercial – complete with soundtrack. Using a wireless Bose BT speaker and my iPad mini, I am filling the upstairs with sweet Apple camp. A pretty nice way to help set the day right.

Tagged :

Apple TV Sunday… all smiles

Knowing someone who manages engineers working on Apple TV is a pleasant bonus in the back of my mind. Sundays with Apple TV devices scattered around our home hooked up to our Wi-Fi and widescreen television panels produces such a pleasant experience.

The kids are reading proper books. Our new rule is to read the pressed pulp version of books, not to read them on devices. It allows for a break with technology and it’s experience, and allows them to enjoy a time-honored tradition of ink and paper. You can’t remember the texture, the slight smell of the pages and cover adhesive, the elegant binding, etc. in a digital format.

We have radio classical music wafting through the large pockets of air, reaching their ears, calming them and allowing them to concentrate a bit more. It really does work. The Bose systems involved further enhance the experience.

Sorry Dad for having made a bit of fun at your expense growing up. When you put your LPs on the stereo and play those rare recordings of classical genius, I’d laugh and proceed to listen to a cassette of Megadeth or something else. That type of music still rings through me – but classical has truly grown on me and now I can see where you were coming from.

Classical was meant as music for the people, not for the elite as it’s often portrayed. I am happy that my children embrace classical at times too. It’s helping with their reading as well, so I can only be happy. The Apple TV allows for this in our home… be it directly connecting to radio services, or connecting from our multitude of iOS and OS X devices. I don’t need to mention video media – because it shines there for other reasons as well.

Tagged : /