Sunday, 29 June 2014

CD Haul 28/06/2014

In a change from my usual CD hauls from car boot sales, this one comes from good old HMV. Despite having a lackluster selection of electronic and dance music (no surprises there I guess), there were quite a few gems on offer that I liked the look of.

Friday, 27 June 2014

More Bass in Less Space - the MicroBrute is here!

A while ago I made a big deal out of the MicroBrute that Arturia announced last year. Shoehorning some of the more popular features of the MiniBrute with some other features in a smaller box, there seemed to be enough in this new offering to warrant buying one to compliment my original MiniBrute. Having had store credit with Wunjo burning a hole in my pocket for some time, I finally opted to pony up the difference and get one - the only problem being that I have only had a few days to play with it before going on holiday, so this is kind of a rambling review of my new toy and some comparisons I have found with the MiniBrute.

I got a new toy: it's a bit of a brute

Whatever could it be? Review coming soon!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

CD Haul: 07/06/2014

Another quick look around my local car boot fair and I came away with a few CDs that looked worth having.

Switched On: The Cool Sound of TV Advertising

I'm really pleased with this find, as both the discs and the case are in completely mint condition - almost as if the copy had been given to someone and thrown in a cupboard as an unwanted gift. It's basically a cheap cash-in compilation of tracks used on adverts, but there's a good selection of end-nineties dance, big-beat and electro stuff. Basically a big trip down memory lane, if you like that sort of thing.


Dance Tip 95

Another double CD release and in not amazing condition (though the CDs play fine), the only reason I bought this was to replace the cassette version that I had as a kid. And what an excellent double album of releases, with hits like Coolio/Gangster's Paradise, Outhere Brothers/BoomBoomBoom, Perfecto Allstars/Papa's Got A Brand New Pig Bag...pretty much all the big dance hits of the mid-nineties (check the discogs entry for a full run down). I think I remember playing Doom on my dad's Atari Jaguar listening to this pumping away - especially as the Jag version doesn't have music playing in the background.


Age of Love - Age of Love Remixes

To be honest, I just bought this for the kooky folding cover and the fact that, as a React label release it had to be good. Actually it's a track I remember from Human Traffic and that I have on other late nineties dance mix releases, but either way it's a nice find and remixes.


Sunday, 8 June 2014

Dr Dre sells Beats Audio

Commitstrip got it right
This is less of a music piece and more something to do with music technology and business, but the news has just broken of Apple having agreed to buy Beats Audio for $3 billion pounds. Let that sink in - three BILLION dollars.

Whilst I understand the implications for Apple, in that they can offer Beats Audio headphones and speakers exclusively to their customers who buy iPhones and iPods, I still can't believe the high price tag for a company that makes overpriced headphones with uneven dynamics. Sure, they work really well for hip hop and rap, where the music is usually biased towards the low and high end frequencies but for listening to music that requires full range else they are absolutely rubbish and especially useless for production. It's event worse when you you remember they are simply rebadged Monster Headphones and you're paying for the name badge, something that Apple are no doubt familiar with: Commitstrip were spot on with their recent webcomic.

This poses an interesting question about quality vs popularity, something that often pops up in format wars, where consumers and support from third parties determine which format emerges the winner from competing standards. VHS vs Betamax or Bluray vs HD-DVD are good examples. Here, customers believe they are buying a superior product that delivers "proper" audio and that other products don't offer the same quality of sound. Without getting into the old argument of sound quality through expensive technology, the popularity of these headphones - and no doubt the profits to be had from such a product - might determine how manufacturers design the dynamics of their future headphone products. No doubt some will use them as a reference and copy them to mimic the bass-heavy aspect of the Beats with a similar price tag, meaning that customers will grow up with a skewed expectation of how consumer-grade headphones are supposed to sound, but I remain hopeful that others will continue to offer more balanced options at a reasonable price. 

There is also the question of market saturation, as I am sure that a fair few pairs of these headphones have been sold already and how many pairs do you really need to buy? Though perhaps if iPhone users are as careful with their iPhones as they are with their headphones, maybe having to buy expensive replacements makes this a smart move.*

*Judging by how many smashed iPhones I see on the tube everyday, they must have to replace their headphones and other equipment a lot too. Jeez guys, use cases or be more careful with your expensive smartphones!

Either way, good on Dr Dre as I think he sold this at the right time. As for Apple, no doubt they are looking forward to putting that purchase to good use and get back some cash - iBeats anyone? 

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