6.23.2011

handmade...


gold/brass hex nuts from the hardware store, suede cord from any craft store

Saw this bracelet on the wrist of a friend of a friend while in NYC. When she said it was DIY I knew I had to make it, so I did. I rather like it. Gives off a boho chic kinda feel, and would look phenom in brighter hues of suede for the summer months. Also made one with twine instead of suede (gotta use what you have in front of you!) and that has a different, more earthy feel to it. Going to try some brighter colors and different materials soon.

Directions: Tie a loop with the cord, braid down a bit, insert one hex nut on each strand alternating sides, use as many/little nuts as you like, finish by braiding the rest of the length of cord and tie a knot at the end.

I like it extra long so you have extra length to wrap around, but you could also do it as a straight bracelet. The one I saw had findings to attach the ends, but I found the simple loop closure secure and low-profile enough to not need anything else. YNMV.

art, innocence, memory

clear, white, green vs red and reds that lean toward yellow

back in l.a. after an extended weekend in new york. more on that later. first, there are a few things on my mind....

while i was there i went to visit a friend’s studio and we talked art. we are both feeling the drain, albeit for very different reasons. while i was there i thought about my own process, how so much of it is informed by the things i’ve experienced, what i hope for, what steals my soul from my body. how my desire to be understood and to understand, forgiven and to forgive in return (oh, st. francis! one day i will light a candle and recite the words in the porziuncola!) marks for me the worth of my work.

the day before i left another friend gave me a book. i read the first hundred or so pages as the sun was rising, illuminating brooklyn, new york, and in a few hours, the coast i call home. as i was reading i was struck with the realization that innocence must be lost. one can hold onto it, but all the strength of this broken world cannot bind it to one’s body for very long. it made me wonder who on this earth is lucky enough to hold onto it the longest?

in the book, the protagonist is plagued by her memory. her innocence was lost. she navigates the world through color and art. she is catholic. she visits the clares and the scene is so beautiful and heartbreaking i almost burst into sobs on my flight. the author lives in l.a. so her character often drives up an down the coast. i can relate. the view of endless ocean does wonders...even in the complete darkness of night. was this book written just for me? my memory always fails me until the very last moment...

so, these things. these undefinable, incredibly complex, unique to each person, cathartic, beautiful, sad, full of truth things. they are on my mind. funny how it takes getting out of your own hood to see things clearly. a prophet is never appreciated in his own town, and i bet he/she could never think clearly there either.

6.22.2011

my fickle h(ear)t

Sennheiser HD25-1-II

It's only been two weeks since I picked up the Audio Technica M50s but I just couldn't fight the desire to upgrade so now I am the proud owner of the legendary Sennheiser HD25-1-II!

I loved the M50s, there wasn't really anything wrong with them. They were almost perfect in every way. They were suuuuper comfy with HUGE cups that were truly circumaural on my ears, great sound, great details and clarity, folded up for portable use, solid build quality, great isolation, I could go on. However, there was a bit of a problem. The pair I picked up initially started to crackle on the low end, no bueno. I exchanged for a new pair so hopefully it won't be there next time I plug them in.

What ultimately made me upgrade is that the WHOLE time I was listening to the M50s, I kept thinking about the HD25-1-II. When I finally took the plunge and headed over to GC (Guitar Center) to exchange the AT's and pick up the Senn's, the awesome sales guy let me test out a few pairs before making up my mind. I was so glad he did, because the Senn's were just amazing. The clarity and details on the HD25 is just so much more present over the M50. The mids were a lot better too, which was my main gripe with the M50. I also got to try the new-ish Shure SRH940 and WOW. Let me say that again. WOW. If I ever need to upgrade again, it will be for these. Sound wise they are amazing. They by far blow the rest of the SRH line out of the water. I'd say the sounds was just as good, maybe even better then the HD25 I tested. They also are really stylish, foldable, are suuuper comfy, light, and are packaged beautifully. At $300 street and a few hundred more retail, these are out of my grasp for now, but they sure are tempting!

The not so good news: I got home and tried on my brand new Sennies, only to be confronted by this awful noise! The bass was too heavy, everything else seemed muddled. The detail and clarity also wasn't there, as well as a pretty much nonexistent sound stage. I've heard that these don't have much to begin with but these are far worse than other examples I've heard. If they don't improve over the next few weeks, then these will sadly have to go back, and I'll happily return to my M50, with no complaints. If they improve, the M50s will be relegated to back up/home duties. That's a big if though. I've heard that these phones need a lot of burn in, and there is significant improvement after 100 hours. I sure hope so because I love the way other HD25's I've tested have sounded, and those had definitely been burned in. Fingers crossed!

Some initial observations, from memory, no time to do a real side by side right now:

Sound: As it stands, I'll have to say the AT's with about 50 hours burn and the crackle beat out the brand new unburned Senns. CRAZY! I know, but on these ears...true. I also think the M50's are a lot more forgiving than the HD25's in that almost any genre will sound "good" which is not true for the Senns.

Comfort: The AT's also have the Senns beat on comfort. While the M50 can start to feel heavy after a while, it really feels like they were designed to perfectly fit my head, maybe even a little loose. The HD25's are supra, which is not my fave, but are actually pretty comfy. I don't find the clamp too strong, even without stretching them out first. It does get a bit much after a few hours though, even if the force isn't too bad.

Isolation: Ok, for once, the out of box HD25's have the M50 beat. The isolation on the HD25 is simply pronominal, and they're supra! I would not believe it unless I (didn't) hear it!

Leakage: Senns also win here. I took them off, cups were not touching, and with my face just inches from the cups, I could barely make out the sound! Now THAT is leak control! I had the volume at about 1/3 which was plenty loud enough too.

Microphonics: Senn wins again. The microphonics on the M50 is horrible in comparison.

I'm really hoping the Senns improve with burn in. I'm so ready to love these...but just can't. Not yet






6.03.2011

New Phones!!! Audio Technica ATH-M50s!!!




ATH-M50s

I finally broke my no-more-buying-shit-I-don't-need-a-thon. It was a nice 5 weeks while it lasted. These were a bit pricey at $160 but I've been corrupted enough to actually think they are worth it! My first pair of real headphones were the M30, also by Audio Technica, and at only $30 were so worth the money back then. True, the sound was too muddled but it was still so much better than everything I had put in my ears up to that point. I loved the isolation and bass and took them everywhere with me. I used them for years until they finally broke. The M50s is such a vast improvement it's ridiculous. 

The clarity and detail is amazing. This is even without any burn in, straight out of the box. The bass is nice, not overpowering at moderate volumes, although a tad boomy at times. Crank up the volume though and it will FEEL like an elephant just ran across the room. Haven't cranked it up enough to actually see but at a little over half volume (which is pretty darn loud, imo) I could feel it in my head. Like others, I agree that the mids are a little recessed, but as long as the bass doesn't get any bigger after burn in, I think it will be fine. Despite it's tendency to favor the bass, I find that these are actually very natural sounding, and very clean. What is really amazing though, is the detail that I can pick up with these. I plugged into my macbook and played a few faves off itunes and was shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, by what I heard. On a few tracks, I felt like I was listening to a completely different song. I even had to take them off and look around the room because I was hearing things in the music I had never heard before! 

Now, let me just say straight out, that I am an isolation junkie. I simply cannot stand it when headphones leak sound. It drives me nuts. I'm getting nitpicky here, but these leak just a bit too much for my liking. I actually think my M30's did a better job of keeping the sound in than these! With the volume on low, you can't really hear them if the pads are right up next to each other. At 50% volume you can definitely hear sound. Any louder than 50% and I can make out actual lyrics! This is only a problem if you have someone inches away from you though. These observations are from me, sitting at my desk, in a quiet room with next to no ambient noise. Once I got out of my chair the sound leakage isn't as noticable, and if I take a step back, is even less noticable. At two steps away, maybe a yard or so, I can't hear them anymore. So yeah, I'm nitpicking here for sure. :) The sound isolation with these are pretty good though. I can barely hear a thing outside of the music with these on. I haven't tried them in a really noisy spot yet but for moderate ambient noise these do an excellent job of blocking it out.

Another aspect worth mentioning is how awesomely comfortable these are. In fact, it almost feels as though they were built for my head! I didn't need to adjust the headband at all and the cups completely, and I mean COMPLETELY, cover my ears. The leather/leatherette pads are soft and cushy, but as with all closed phones with this type of padding, they can get warm. The pressure is also perfect, maybe even a tad bit on the loose side for me. I do however, start to feel the strain after a few hours but nothing a quick rub of the ears doesn't get rid of. By far the most comfortable cans I've owned. And that's saying a lot. I have an industrial and these cans act like it's not even there. I don't feel any sort of pain or pressure on that ear, which is what happens to varying degrees with almost every other pair of phones I've tried. They are also really comfy around the neck, which not all headphones are, for me at least.

As for styling, I tend to think most audiophile headphones are pretty ugly looking with a few exceptions, and only in the context of their environment. On the flip side, the ones that look cute are severely lacking in sound quality. I think these are neither stylish nor ugly, which is fine by me. They are mostly black with a silver cirlce trim on each side and silver dots indicating L and R, and have Audio Technica silk screened on the top band. They are definitely not as stylish as Beats if you're walking down the street, but a lot less hideous looking than other phones out there. I would definitely feel comfortable walking around town in these, which I will probably end up doing a lot of since these are also collapsible and come with a pouch to tote it around in. They can either fold up into a little half circle with the cups under the top band, or the cups also rotate so it lies flat, which is great.

I've heard these get better after 100+ hours burn in so I can't wait to see how the sound changes for me once I hit 100 hours. I picked these up locally at Guitar Center for $160+tax, which is how much they are going for everywhere, even Amazon. I don't know why but the price on these jumped like crazy in the past few months. I wanted to wait for it to go down again but figured the extra $50 was worth it to be able to actually enjoy music again, and like I said, I got impatient. Guitar Center also has a protection plan that will replace them should anything happen to them, and with my track record the extra $27 will surely pay for itself in a year or two. :P I also tried out a few other cans before buying these; Pioneer HDJ1000 which I actually liked, Denon HP500 which were crap, a higher end pair of Denon DJ phones, which were good but too bass heavy for me, the Shure SR840/440 (the 840's were a demo and sounded awful, the 440's were new out of box and were MUCH better as crazy as it sounds!), Senn's HD280 which were ok but made me question all the hype, and a few others. Had I not bought the M50s, I probably would have gone with the Pioneer or Shure 440. If you're looking to get into the game, I would say the M50's are a great way to go. For half the price, the Shure SR440 are also great, closed, portable phones with excellent sound for the money. If you have unlimited funds and are willing to spend it on headphones...well then that's another story. And also, we should chat. :)