Sunday, February 26, 2012

Review: dbE PR10 earphone

To be honest, I actually rather dislike earphone because my rather special (yes, I'm special. Get over it) ear shape which causing discomfort after wearing earphone for several minutes. Those shape also make wearing earphone a hassle because it fall out easily. But I got stuck to earphone because when I'm at work and want to listen to music, I can't wear my trusted AudioTechnica SJ33 headphone because its pretty big (it's supra-aural after all), while my MEElectronic M6 isolate too much noise so I can't hear if the phone ringing or if someone call me. So I get this cheap earphone which from our local audiophile forum said great (for the price).
Warning: as I said before, I haven't got many experience with earphone/earbud as I rather dislike them. Take this review with grain and salt.

The Package.
This earphone come with a thin cardboard box. Inside is the earphone itself, a pair of foam, a cloth pounch (which is great, I even used it to store my cellphone sometimes lol), and some papers.

The box. Simple and elegant.
The Build.
The build is pretty decent, the construction is much better than those cheap earphone which come with your cellphone, your portable music player or buy at those electronic store. Not as good as my MEElectronic M6 (which priced higher) but I think it can stand some rough handling (yes, I'm clumsy). The cable is on the thin side. Better than those cheap earphone, though, and made from some rubber which nice to touch. Again, not as good as M6 cable (which very good, and very nice to look at).
The earphone and the cloth pouch included.
Another view.

The Sound.
This earphone got about 100 hours usage, so I'm pretty sure the sound wouldn't changed again (burned in, so to speak). So, how the sound? To state it simply: bright.

This earphone got those nice sparkle on high register, making guitar bite, and female vocal sounded nice and forward, just the way I like it. BUT, high male vocal just neither as nice nor as forward the way female vocal is. Not recessed, just not as forward as female vocal. I tried this earphone with wide range of male vocals, from Il Divo, Sam Sparrow, Il Volo (this trio young classical crossover is GREAT!!!), Joe Jonas, Gregorian to Scotty McCreery, it's always the high male vocals which bit strange while low male vocal are pretty nice and forward.

Mid-tone are pretty nice, again, with sparkle to it, while low are tight and punchy. Drum sounded so nice and punchy on this. Compared to M6, PR10 low are mostly centered around mid-bass. I can hear it clearly on Joe Jonas 'See No More' both on vocal version and instrumental version. The dark, sultry cello on the song didn't as clear as on M6. Sub-bass is almost non-existent, but then maybe because it didn't isolate at all, so the sub-bass tone got loss dunno where (dimanaa~~ dimanaa~~ Ayu Ting-Ting, anyone?)

Sound-stage (or head-stage) is pretty cramped, creating on-stage and in-your-face feeling. Instrument separation is so-so, again, my M6 is better. On simple arrangements like on solos or acoustic sessions this isn't seen, but move to more complex, many layered piece, like Florence + The Machine or some Mozart classical piece, and you can hear how the instrument just smashed together.

Isolation, like I said before, is practically non-existed. None. At. All. So, if you plan to listen to music on the public transportation, please use IEM instead. Save your ear and hearing by not blasting LOUD music to it, IEM will isolate noise so you don't have to BLAST your music volume. Also, IEM will good to your karma, or sin-level, or whatever you call it, as you won't disturb fellow passenger with those tiny-tiny sound from your earphone just because you BLAST is to the MAX. Please, use IEM (In Ear Monitor) instead.

What this earphone do better from my M6 is how the high and mid sounded so airy and... free. No more cramped and boxed sound, everything is just has this nice breath to it. M6, because of its IEM nature, just didn't have the same airy feeling.
Also, PR10 gave me this feeling how the sound frequency is whole, while M6 sounded like it got some drop on mid then peak on high-tone. Okay, maybe male vocal isn't very good, but it's not that bad. Vocal on M6 sounded rather thin compared on the PR10. On PR10, vocal is thicker with sparkle on it, not thin and boxed like M6 is.

The Verdict.
For about USD 11 (it's priced IDR 100.000 locally), I think this earphone is great. Maybe not as good as MEElectronic M6, but then M6 is priced higher (about USD 15-18). And yes, my AudioTechica SJ33 absolutely murder both on sound-quality. But then my SJ33 is priced at USD45-58, which 5 times PR10 price. So, if you still stuck with those cheap earphone from your portable media player or cellphone, or any others, try this earphone from dbE acoustic. It's really bargain for the price: cheap but good.

Thank you, Arif, for the photos, they are great!!! :D

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Ugh, sorry for making you read this. I just can't make myself to write anything right now. So I'll just rant what I got on my mind.

I got several books to review, several more to read, several to finish (uh, A Game of Throne is just too heavy on politic that it pissing me off). And I just got better after several nasty and sudden attack of fever. I mean, I was sleeping peacefully when I suddenly woke up shivering, I was so cold inside, while outside I was burning. Seriously, my whole body just locked up in this nasty shivering, I can't even get up to switch the light on. Thanks God its better after several hours of sleeping with blanket. The fever went down, but going up again the next day so I skipped work. Ugh, and I got some kind of training scheduled the next day.

The week been hectic, with my fever, two days training, then, I got sick AGAIN. This time I got influenza. So last Friday I skipped work again. Feels better after drinking some drugs. So here I now, not in the mood for writing, reading, even listening to music (which I LOVE, life without music is not life. Yes, I'm music addict).

Got some movies from a friend, just finished Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I. If what I do count as watching as I repeatedly press fast-forward button. I mean, that movie is just..... horrible, as in why-they-even-think-to-made-it? and what-the-hell-the-director-do? (or maybe more correctly put as, who-the-hell-the-director-is?) and is-that-suppossed-to-be-acting? and I-just-want-to-burn-it kind of horrible.

Okay, some scenes is nice, like the wedding (although it wasn't like the novel description. Or what my mind conjure from the novel description, anyway), and when Bella open her red newborn vampire eyes. Now, that's what you call dramatic. But the others? Hell, thanks God I didn't watch the previous movies. Why, because it was such a MESS (okay, the baby is cute). Nothing like the novel said. And yes, I'm purist (as in, novel-to-movie-purist and music-purist).
I think Harry Potter movies was bad (the first is ok, second u-hum, third is ok, fourth meh, fifth bleargh, sixth what-the-hell-is-it, seventh is....dull (part 1) and disappointing (part 2)), but Twilight movies give me new standard for BAD.
It's not films based on Twilight novels, but films loosely inspired by Twilight novels.

My body is tired, my eyes is heavy, but my mind is running 200km/h on the wrong line (t.A.T.u anyone?). Tomorrow is another working day, and I think I successfully annoy you enough by now, so I'll just shut up. Thanks for reading this rant. Bye!!!

ps: I got two review waiting on my mind: a cheap-but-good earphone, and a debut novel by an American soldier. Yupe, an American soldier write novel. Fantasy novel. Can you imagine that? Army - fantasy novel?!? Okay, I'll shut up for now.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Review: Demon Squad by Tim Marquitz

I got lot of recommendation of good books (especially from fantasy genre) from Fantasybook review site. But I kind of bored, because lot of those fantasy novels are placed on somewhere far away, or unknown world, or or, oh you know what I mean. And most of those stories using this old kind of story-telling, which bore me to death. Okay, not to death, and I still LOVE fantasy novels. But I want something DIFFERENT, story take place on simpler setting, place easier to imagine. Good were my imaginations, it still need break now and again.

So, I browse and browse and browse, and stumbled upon this novel by Tim Marquitz. It's from his series called 'Demon Squad' and took place on alternate version of OUR world. Fantasy with demon, angel, magic took place on OUR world (albeit the alternate version one)? I'm on it.

The first novel is titled "Armageddon Bound", the second one is "Ressurection", and the third is "At the Gates". I will review only the first two book, because I haven't got my paw on the third book (just you wait, book!!!) YET. So here you go.

On the first paragraph, we already meet violence. The main character, Frank "Triggaltheron" Trigg, is assaulted for information of an angel called Scarlet, although it's not for long because he didn't know where the angel in question is. From there the story continued. Yup, no 'proper' character introduction etc, even I learned the history of the main character (which is part Devil, btw, and direct nephew to Lucifer himself. And yes, that Lucifer, you know, the one who was the brightest angel then fallen etc etc?) some where along the story line.

Like I said before, this books took place on alternate version of our world, where angel, devil and magician (or wizard) are live together on earth (not ALL of them of course, some still dwell on heaven or hell), what with the  departed God and Satan. Ops, did I say departed? Yes, in this novel world, God make truce with Satan then depart to unknown place (possibly void, as Trigg think later), leaving the world (as in heaven, hell and human realm) to take care for it selves

Lot of intrigues and double crosses and heavy dose of Trigg remarks of women bodies (he's a horn dog, if I have to say so) and lot and lot of actions. Actually, most of story line are composed of actions (in which Trigg usually got out-classed - both physically and magically - and got pounded and generally got lucky), with several recurring characters.

Character development is rather sparse. Almost all character in this novel are having those 'set' character with limited or none development. On good side, it refreshing because there are none of those psychologist-like character delve. But on bad side, it made the characters rather two dimensional and too simple, almost no dept to it.

From story side, I think this novels rather interesting. The twisted world, lot of actions, rather simple but funny main character, several surprise and twist on ending are very nice. Really, this novels are what I need, nice break from stuffed world of fantasy novels. The pace are rather fast, with nice story building. But I got this feeling like, the ending on first novel are too abrupt. The 'bridge' to finale are too short, not enough suspense building before the characters got to main actions. The second novel are better, but still not long enough. Or maybe I just too used to those nerve-racking finale fantasy novels (Wheel of Time series, anyone?)

I really like the simple, funny, rebellious but very manly Trigg. He is really different with the main character from other fantasy novels I've read. I think this is the first time I read a novel where the main character is a street prowler, a thug, to speak. I just wish other characters are as strong as him. Strong as in characterization, not on power level. In fact, Trigg placed on rather low power level, what with his rejection on Anti-Christ position. Ops! Did I just spoil it for you? :D

For you who want light fantasy novel, or just want a light reading (although with lot of actions packed on this novels it can't be called 'light'), or liked angel-demon book, or just want to try something else, I recommend you to try this book. Maybe you'll like it, maybe you won't. I personally can't wait to get my paw on the third book...

Review: Lana Del Rey - Born To Die

Note: this is my first review on English, so I apologize for any wrong grammar. English isn't my mother language.

This album Born To Die is an album by Lana Del Rey. For you who doesn't know her (yet), she also known as Lizzy Grant. In fact, she has already release an album (or mini-album or EP) before, using Lizzy Grant alias, but all trace of her persona were deleted when Lizzy (or Lana) sign to her current label. In fact, her management make sure ALL trace of Lizzy Grant was deleted, including her EP, website, etc. This "persona killing" is kind of make internet-crowd rather... unhappy. Yes that big italic-bold font I used there.

Anyway, regardless to what internet-crowd said, I would like to make a review (to stretch it a bit) for Lana Del Rey debut album. This album, released January 30th, titled 'Born To Die', composed of 12 tracks (mine is the Special Edition, which included 3 bonus tracks).

The album tracks list:
1.     Born to Die  
2.     Off to the Races  
3.     Blue Jeans  
4.     Video Games  
5.     Diet Mountain Dew  
6.     National Anthem  
7.     Dark Paradise  
8.     Radio  
9.     Carmen  
10.     Million Dollar Man  
11.     Summertime Sadness  
12.     This Is What Makes Us Girls
while the Special Edition bonus tracks are:
13.     Without You 
14.     Lolita 
15.     Lucky Ones   

Del Rey vocal is rather unique. Her voice reminds me to those old songs, when stereo record haven't invented yet. Low, dark, and sultry. Her voice really make 'Born to Die' shine. This dark song, with touch of orchestra, really nice to listen to. Third track 'Video Games' (which gone viral several months ago) also has the same nice tone because Del Reys vocal. And, yes, I'm kind of partial to low and dark voice.

Pity Del Rey didn't use the same voice on the other songs. Yes, she still maintain the same breathy low voice, but the high tone is more like..... bitchy, pardon for the french. Her high on the other song lost the dark and mature voice 'Born to Die' and 'Video Games' has, instead, she sounded whiny.
Don't take me wrong, on some song, this bitchy sound kind of in line with the song, like on the 2nd track, 'Off to the Races', and 'Dark Paradise' (which my 3rd favorite track), but I wish Del Rey go for dark and mature version of her voice.

From lyrical side, I have to point that Del Rey album didn't has the best lyric. It, more or less, has the same tone of 'good girl gone bad' or 'good girl fall for bad boy' etc, but some are rather nice, like when she sang Now my life is sweet like cinnamon / Like a fucking dream I'm living in / Baby love me cause I'm playing on the radio / How do you like me now? on 'Radio'. Or how she sang Money is the anthem of success / So put on mascara, and your party dress on 'National Anthem'. It's all about love, money, party, sex and fame.

So, after listening to this album several days, my opinion is rather mixed. On one side, this album has this dark atmosphere, which I kinda liked, and unique sound to it. Some of the songs has this nice beat, which make me tap my feet. But on the other side, the tone of the songs are kind of similar. This similarity made the album felt whole. BUT, it also could make it dull. Which one is this album lay, I'll let you decide it by yourself.
And we're off to the races, places / Ready, set the gate is down and now we're goin' in / To Las Vegas chaos, Casino Oasis, honey it is time to spin