Category Archives: Audio

Yamaha MusicCast 50 Wireless Multiroom Speaker with Amazon Alexa & AirPlay – Unboxing & First Impressions

Welcome to my unboxing and first impressions of the Yamaha MusicCast 50 wireless speaker with Amazon Alexa voice control built in. The Yamaha MusicCast 50 retails for around £449.

The MusicCast 50 offers a wide range of options to listen to your favourite sounds with ease. It can be used as a standalone speaker, paired, or acting as surround speakers with a compatible MusicCast AV receiver or sound bar. The MusicCast 50 is one of the new speakers from Yamaha released in August 2018. Other features include –

– Music streaming services built-in
– MusicCast multi-room technology
– Alexa voice control compatibility* (*Availability varies by region)
– High-Resolution Audio
– Connect to a TV for upgraded sound
– Stereo pairing (requires 2 units)
– Ability to be used as surround speakers with an AV receiver or sound bar* (*Select MusicCast models only)
– Soft-touch, simple presets for instant playback
– Alarm

Built in streaming services include Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, Pandora, Napster, SiriusXM and qobuz. Apart from the multi-room options, Yamaha provide an app that allows full control of the speaker, its nultiroom options and more. MusicCast takes the headache out of multi-room audio. Simply connect all MusicCast devices to the same network and start sharing audio throughout the home. Apart from built in WiFi, it has bluetooth and Apple AirPlay. With all this functionlity, this really makes this speaker a great offering. It also puts out a respectable 70W of music.

Video

Conclusion

The Yamaha MusicCast 50 is an extremely powerful wireless speaker. It is extremely versatile too offering tons of different ways to connect to it, Amazon Alexa voice control, bluetooth and AirPlay. It is also available in black and white finishes.

Buy from Amazon UK – Click HERE.

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Yamaha MusicCast 20 Wireless Speaker with Amazon Alexa & AirPlay – Unboxing & First Impressions

Welcome to my unboxing and first impressions of the Yamaha MusicCast 20 wireless speaker with Amazon Alexa voice control built in. The Yamaha MusicCast 20 retails for around £199.

The MusicCast 20 offers a wide range of options to listen to your favourite sounds with ease. It can be used as a standalone speaker, paired, or acting as surround speakers with a compatible MusicCast AV receiver or sound bar. The MusicCast 20 is one of the new speakers from Yamaha released in August 2018. Other features include –

– Music streaming services built-in
– MusicCast multi-room technology
– Alexa voice control compatibility* (*Availability varies by region)
– High-Resolution Audio
– Stereo pairing (requires 2 units)
– Ability to be used as surround speakers with an AV receiver or sound bar* (*Select MusicCast models only)
– Soft-touch, simple presets for instant playback
– Alarm

Built in streaming services include Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, Pandora, Napster, SiriusXM and qobuz. Apart from the multi-room options, Yamaha provide an app that allows full control of the speaker, its nultiroom options and more. Apart from built in WiFi, it has bluetooth and Apple AirPlay. With all this functionlity, this really makes this speaker a great offering. It also puts out a respectable 40W of music.

Video

Conclusion

At £199, the Yamaha MusicCast 20 represents great value for money. It is extremely versatile too offering tons of different ways to connect to it, Amazon Alexa voice control, bluetooth and AirPlay. It is also available in black and white finishes.

Buy from Amazon UK – Click HERE.

Focal Clear Headphones Review – £1,400 of Audiophile Nirvana

Welcome to my review of the Focal Clear Headphones.

The Key Features

– Low Impedanceat 55 ohms so easier to drive
– 104db sensitivity
– Frequency – 5Hz to 28kHz
– Leather and microfibre perforated headband
– 20mm memory foam cushion with a perforated micro fibre fabric
– The ‘M’-shape Aluminum/Magnesium (patent pending) dome with a new copper voice coil

Music Tracks Used for Review

– Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton – Play the Blues Album , Careless Love – Epic, Moving, great separation

– Seasick Steve – You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks – husky voice sounded wonderful.

– Amy Winehouse – I heard Love is Blind – wonderful guitar strings, vocals, layering, hidden depths of the music.

– Katie Melua & Eva Cassidy – What a Wonderful World – awesome vocals and piano.

– Michael Buble – Cry me a River – scale and drama, excellent vocals and bass impact.

– Bastille , Bite Down – Great attack, moving.

– Audiomachine – The Lions Heart – impact, scale, bass, drama, superb performance.

– Philip Glass – Symphony no 8 (2005) – great soundstage, scale and drama. Excellent mids, treble and bass. Instruments clearly defined.

The Focal Clear headphones provides remarkable dynamics over the entire audio spectrum; bass that is always controlled, even at high volumes, and exemplary linearity in the high-end.

There appeared no sibilance or distortion with the Focal Clear headphones.

Video Review

Conclusion

Totally mesmerising to listen too. Focal have hit the perfect balance between detail and musical tone. My advice, book a world cruise and take these with you. Plus they come with a luxurious case, with high class finish, comfort, and decent accessories. Highly recommended.

Useful Links

Focal Headphones on Amazon UK
Focal Website

Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones Review + Comparisons with other headphones

Welcome to my review of the brand new Sony WH-1000XM3. In my review I am going to compare these to the older Sony WH-1000XM2 and Bose QC35ii. The Sony WH-1000XM3 retail for £329.

I will also document the differences between these new Sony headphones and the older version.

Key Features

– Industry leading noise cancellation so the music sounds even better
– Amazing battery life of 30 hours and super quick charging so you’re never without your headphones
– Improved design to make the 1000XM3’s even more comfortable and lightweight
– High resolution audio packed with technology and features to give truly authentic sound
– Even smarter technology to keep your hands free and give you total control with Google Assistant
– 30 hours battery life. 10 mins quick charge provides 5 hours battery life.
– New Sony QN1 processor
– 40mm driver unit, dome type (CCAW Voice coil)
– DSEE HX music upscaler software
– 3.5mm Stereo Mini Jack
– Frequency Response wired – 4Hz-40,000Hz
– Frequency Response via bluetooth 20Hz – 20,000Hz (44.1kHz Sampling) / 20Hz – 40,000Hz (LDAC 96kHz Sampling, 990kbps)
– Frequency Response via active operation 4Hz-40,000Hz, passive operation included.
– 3.5mm Headphone cable is 1.2m, OFC strands, gold-plated stereo mini plug

Review

Sony is back with an update to the Sony WH-1000XM2. On paper the updates don’t seem extensive, but in reality the new WH-1000XM3 blows it away.

Firstly, Sony has improved the earcups and headband. The earcups are larger and more comfortable. The headband has more padding over the head, although it does make the headphones look cheaper. However, removing the steel from the previous model reduces the weight by 40g. This makes a difference and improves the overall comfort.

But headphones are about sound quality and in the case of these Sony headphones, also the noise cancellation. This year Sony introduces a processor into the headphones. And Sony does not disapoint with these headphones.

This year Sony has introducsed a processor into the headphones, called the Sony QN1. The Sony QN1 processor boosts the range of frequencies from which noise-cancellation occurs. This allows control over the sounds you can block while listening to your music.

The QN1 processor has a 32-bit audio signal processing. Add this to the headphones 40mm driver with its Liquid Crystal Polymer diaphragm. This allows for handling heavy beats and at the same time can reproduce a full range of frequencies up to 40 kHz. Even if you don’t have high-resolution music, DSEE HX intelligently upscale compressed music files giving your music a clear, rich sound. Sony’s LDAC codec transmits approximately three times more data than conventional Bluetooth, which enable the high-resolution audio content. The 1000XM3 on-ear headphones are packed with technology to get the most out of your music.

The WH-1000XM3 also comes with a high res audio cable to provide an incredible a wired listening experience.

Other options on these headphones include smart settings by adaptive sound control to optimise listening settings automatically based on your listening behaviour and environment. This also allows customisable controls based on your own preferences. The equaliser option is available using the Sony headphone connect app (works with Android and iOS). The app also provides firmware updates.

Touch controls. The Sony WH-1000XM3 include touch controls. By placing your hand on the headphone housing, you can quickly communicate with the outside world, without having to take your headphones off or adjust the volume too and a quick double-tap enables hands-free calling. And now, with the google assistant, you have an ideal control and get access to even more information by using your voice.

For me the QN1 processor makes a large improvement to the sound and noise cancellation to the point that it makes the older Sony WH-1000XM2 sound dull! That’s crazy.

What’s in the Box

– Sony WH1000XM3 Headphones
– Plug Adaptor for In-flight usw
– Headphone cable (approx. 1.5m, OFC strands, gold-plated stereo mini plug)
– USB Cable C
– Carrying Case
– Operating Instructions

Review

Conclusion

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are truly an amazing headphone and a leap forward from their previous model. This is a must buy headphone!

Buy Sony WH-1000XM3 on Amazon UK
Buy previous model Sony WH-1000XM2 and saves some money via Amazon UK

Sony WH-1000XM3 vs Bose QC35II

Previous Headphone Reviews

Sony MDR-XB70BT Extra Bass In-Ear Bluetooth Headphones Review – Feel Your Music!

Welcome to my review of the Sony MDR-XB70BT Extra Bass In-Ear Bluetooth Headphones. I decided to look at something less audiophile in design, yet with tons of fun. After testing the Sony MDR-XB70BT I can say these are an absolute blast if you want deep bass that makes your sense/feel your music.

Key Features

– High-quality wireless freedom: Enjoy deep punchy bass while maintaining sound clarity across the spectrum
– Convenient neckband design: Slim and lightweight with music/calls controls in the band
– Hands-free calls: Clear voice with built in mic and HD Voice support
– 9 hours battery life. EXTRA BASS sound with deep, punchy low end
– Additional earbud sizes included for individual fit
– 12 mm (Dome Type) driver type
– 4 Hz-24,000 Hz Frequency Respone
– 9 hours battery, 2.5 hours to fully recharge

The Sony MDR-XB70BT normally retail for £75, although at time of writing this review there were on offer for £52. Worth checking out the current price as it does vary.

Video Review

Conclusion

Bass lovers will love these earphones. In fact, many more people might enjoy these too.

FYI. The next headphone to be reviewed next week is the new Sony flagship, the WH-1000XM3 with comparisons to the Bose QC35ii and the older WH-1000XM2. I also have some Hi-Fi audiophile headphones being reviewed soon too.

Pick up the Sony MDR-XB70BT on Amazon UK Click HERE.

Focal announces 3 new premium Hi-Fi speakers – Kanta N°1, Kanta N°3 and Kanta Center

The Kanta family has expanded: Focal is delighted to unveil its entire range of high-fidelity loudspeakers. After the resounding success of Kanta N°2 in October 2017, the French acoustics brand has launched three new Premium Hi-Fi loudspeakers: Kanta N°1, Kanta N°3 and Kanta Center. Once again, their DNA is marked by the impressive performance achieved by exclusive Focal technology. These three new products will be showcased to the public for the first time at the CEDIA Expo show on September 6, 2018.

Since the launch, Kanta N°2 has been widely acclaimed by the press and won numerous awards. This Premium loudspeaker has become a market leader thanks to technologies forged by Focal Research: a Flax cone combined with a Beryllium inverted dome tweeter provides exceptionally clear and precise sound rendering. Its bold design has also seduced music lovers, proving yet again that, at Focal, design is a close ally of acoustic performance.

A STRUCTURED OFFER With the launch of Sopra four years ago, Focal provided an allround solution and extremely coherent sound architecture; today it goes one step further with Kanta. This range of loudspeakers is now made up of four models and is designed for music lovers who love listening to their sound systems, as well as for film fans searching for a Home Cinema set-up with a striking design. They contain the same technologies as Kanta N°2: a speaker driver with flax cone, an IAL 3 Beryllium tweeter that combines the IAL (Infinite Acoustic Loading) and IHL (Infinite Horn Loading) tweeters, features, a TMD (Tuned Mass Damper) suspension and an NIC (Neutral Inductance Circuit) motor.

Kanta N°1 is the Premium solution for rooms under 269 square ft² (25m2). This discreet loudspeaker is particularly suited to a bookcase setting. When positioned in an enclosed space such as this, or near to a wall, a piece of foam can be slid into the port, which will have the effect of optimising the bass. It can also be installed on a stand. UK retail £4,499.

Kanta N°2, launched in October 2017, best displays its potential in rooms measuring 269 to 431 ft² (25 to 40m2). UK retail £6,999.

Kanta N°3 is the gold standard of this line. Generating power and bass that are structured and generous, this will be the perfect choice for larger rooms of up to 861 square ft² (80m2). The technological innovations in these speaker drivers make it possible to recreate neutrality in the midrange with higher definition. The latest generation IAL tweeter reproduces the tiniest details with clinical precision. UK retail £8,999.

ENJOY A HOME CINEMA EXPERIENCE WITH KANTA Finally, Kanta Center (UK retail £2,299) is the ideal complement to a traditional system, regardless of the configuration considered for the front and rear loudspeakers within the Kanta range. Indeed, its ability to reproduce the vocal range with extreme neutrality, at both low and very high volumes, makes it a formidable weapon in any premium Home Cinema set-up. Whatever the film’s background noise, film fans will be surprised by the sound clarity and speech intelligibility, both of which are far superior to the norm. For a top of the range Home Cinema configuration, the Sub 1000 F subwoofer, also featuring a flax cone, is the ideal addition. Its extended infrasound frequency response, its high SPL capacity and its stable tonal balance, even at very high volume, will immerse you deep into the heart of the action. When combined with a set of classic loudspeakers, Kanta Center and the Sub 1000 F form an extremely structured system, which will provide cinema lovers with a fully immersive experience. The sound finesse, treble precision and bass generation will certainly set tongues wagging. And in a system linked up with the 300ICW4 in-ceiling loudspeakers, the most exacting film fans will enjoy an incredible 3D audio experience in Dolby Atmos, DTS X or Auro-3D. Guaranteed to blow you away…

1MORE Triple Drivers Earphones Review – THX Certified – Sound so powerful it’ll blow your mind!

Welcome to my review of the 1MORE Triple Driver earphone.

The Key Specifications

– Model – 1MORE Triple Driver IE E1001
– Impedance – 32 ohm
– Sensitivtiy – 99db
– Frequency Range – 20-40,000 Hz
– Cable – Enameled Copper Wire
– THX Certified
– 3 Drivers. 1 x dynamic driver and 2 x dual balanced armatures
– Patented “triple-layered” design in dynamic drivers with dual PET layers and inner aerospace metal layer for clear human voice
– Expertly tuned by four time Grammy winning sound engineer Luca Bignardi

The 1MORE Triple Driver earphone is made from an aluminium alloy, making them lightweight and comfortable. In the box there are 9 different sets of ear tips. 6 x silicone and 3 x foam, although the ones fitted by default worked great for me.

The earphones were the first THX certified earphones. The are also Hi-Res. They have won at least 12 media awards and recommendations and 17 international design awards over 4 years. That’s quite an impressive feat.

Opening the box, reveals a beautiful presentation. As we all know, presentation shows good attention to detail, but these are earphones, so sound is what ultimately matters. And OMG, the 1MORE Triple drivers delivery sound with authority and depth. I used these with an iPhone 6S, Samsung Galaxy S9, iPad Pro 10.5, Shanling MO and Shanling MO/Q5 combo. I listened to every genre and watched a few movies on Netflix using my Galaxy S9.

The 1MORE Triple drivers have lovely bass with good treble and mids. Being THX certified makes using these for movies ideal too. I listened to rock, jazz, classical, blues, dance and more with these earphones and just loved the presentation and quality. When I used them with even more powerful amplifcation the treble and mids were so clear.

Now have a look at my video review for more thoughts and a closer look.

Video Review

Conclusion

The 1MORE Triple driver earphone is highly recommended. It delivers satsiying sound across the entire spectrum and shows why the 3.5mm headphone jack will continue to live on. These have replaced all my existing wired earphones too!

Useful Links

Latest pricing on 1MORE Triple Driver Earphones on Amazon UK

Shanling MO Review – World’s Smallest Portable Hi-Res Music Player

Welcome to my review of the £99 Shanling MO. In this review I will show you how to operate the device, what’s in the box, all the options, look at bluetooth and USB and a range of headphones both wired and wireless.

Apart from being tiny the specs are –

Shanling M0 includes Hi-Res audio certification, in a tiny size, with Bluetooth wireless capability, the M0 digital audio player represents the pinnacle of portable, high-fidelity listening. Pushing the limits of technology the Shanling M0 incorporates everything required of a Hi-Res portable player, with the size of a wristwatch. It has the capability to hold SD cards with up to 512GB and features a high-definition touch screen developed by LG.

It also has a newly developed side-wheel design that offers precise control with higher durability. The core of the M0 comprises of a multi-layered Microvia HDI high-density PCB board. Compared to ordinary PCB boards it provides better electrical performance and helps avoid signal interference in the circuit. These design elements allowed Shanling to make the M0 smaller while pushing its performance to higher levels.

In fact its really light too at just 38g. It is 40 x 13.5 x 45mm. Its made from curved glass and a double curved body design. The glass is 7H tempered glass and the body is a unibody CNC aluminium. In real life, it looks stunning. The photos dont do it justice.

Bluetooth is a two way affair. It can stream music to headphones or speakers or receive bluetooth from your phone or other source. It can do this using LDAC codec too.

Review

Useful Links

Shanling MO more info & latest pricing on Amazon
Shanling MO Leather case on Amazon UK

Shanling MO – The World’s Smallest Hi Res Certified Player – First Impressions

The Shanling Mo arrived today. It had been on pre order from Amazon for quite a while. My expectations were low, I was expecting a cheaply constructive device with huge specs. especially as it only costs £99.

Shanling M0 includes Hi-Res audio certification, in a tiny size, with Bluetooth wireless capability, the M0 digital audio player represents the pinnacle of portable, high-fidelity listening. Pushing the limits of technology the Shanling M0 incorporates everything required of a Hi-Res portable player, with the size of a wristwatch. It has the capability to hold SD cards with up to 512GB and features a high-definition touch screen developed by LG.

It also has a newly developed side-wheel design that offers precise control with higher durability. The core of the M0 comprises of a multi-layered Microvia HDI high-density PCB board. Compared to ordinary PCB boards it provides better electrical performance and helps avoid signal interference in the circuit. These design elements allowed Shanling to make the M0 smaller while pushing its performance to higher levels.

In fact its really light too at just 38g. It is 40 x 13.5 x 45mm. Its made from curved glass and a double curved body design. The glass is 7H tempered glass and the body is a unibody CNC aluminium. In real life, it looks stunning. The photos dont do it justice.

Bluetooth is a two way affair. It can stream music to headphones or speakers or receive bluetooth from your phone or other source. It can do this using LDAC codec too.

USB is USB C. Yes. This means it has two way USB C interface. It can be used as an external sound card for your computer, or just as a digital transport transmitting the digital sound to another USB DAC.

So first impressions. I never read the manual. Just inserted a micro SD card (Sandisk 200gb) which had about 10,000 songs. Using the easy to use gesture interface, I added them to the players library. And hit play. Well I got my wife to have a listen first to a piano concerto. She did not want to give it back as the sounnd quality was fantastic. The MO comes in 5 colours. I have the titanium finish. There is black, red, blue and purple. They all look gorgeous.

I have had a listen too and am impressed. So far I have tried it with 3 different wired headphones and 3 bluetooth headphones. I have also used it as a digital transport. I cannot believe this Shanling MO only costs £99.

Head over to Amazon UK to get more info and pick one up too.

OnePlus 6 Audio Review – Bluetooth, Loudspeaker & 3.5mm Headphone Jack vs The Top Flagships

Welcome to my OnePlus 6 Audio review, covering the bluetooth, speaker and 3.5mm headphone jack. I also discuss how it compares to other flagships phones like the Honor 10, Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9+, iPhone X and more.

Useful Links

OnePlus 6 deals and accessories on Amazon UK

Honor 10 Audio Review – Everything Audio tested from Bluetooth, 3.5mm Headphone Jack & Speaker #Honor10 #BeautyInAI

Welcome to my Honor 10 Audio Review. In this review I run through bluetooth, the 3.5mm headphone jack and loudspeaker. Many headphones are used to test the Honor 10 too.

The Honor 10 is a superb phone. It has the following specifications –

– Android 8.1 (Oreo)
– Processor Kirin 970
– CPU Octa-core (4×2.4 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A53)
– GPU Mali-G72 MP12
– AI
– Display 5.84 inches IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
– Resolution 1080 x 2280 pixels, 19:9 ratio 432ppi
– Dimensions 149.6 x 71.2 x 7.7mm
– Weight 153g
– SIM Dual SIM
– 4GB RAM and 64GB/128GB ROM storage
– Rear Cameras – Dual: 16 MP (f/1.8) + 24 MP B/W with AI v2
– Front 24 MP, f/2.0 with AI v2
– Front Fingerprint sensor

The cameras on the Honor 10 are great too but whilst all the focus is on these, the audio side of the phone reveals some hidden secrets.

So find out more with my Honor 10 Audio Review.

Useful Links

Latest deal/pricing on the Honor 10 on Amazon UK

Fiio F9 Hybrid 3 Way Balanced IEMs Review after 4 months

Welcome to my review of the Fiio F9 Hybrid 3 Way Balanced IEMs Review after 4 months.

Key Features

– Detachable MMCX connector
– Comes standard with a 3.5mm single-ended audio cable
– Customised hybrid 3-way (2 BA + 1 Dynamic)
– Comes with in-line control and a 2.5mm TRRS balanced cable

Video Review

For more info and latest pricing on Amazon for the Fiio F9 Hybrid , click HERE.

Fiio Q1 MK II Portable Headphone DAC Amp Review after 4 months

Welcome to my Fiio Q1 MK II Portable Headphone DAC Amp Review after 4 months.

Key Features

– Supports up to 384kHz/32bit for PCM format, and native DSD up to DSD256
– MFI certified, compatible with iPods, iPhones and iPads.
– Native DSD decoding
– AK4452 DAC chip, and supports up to 384kHz/32bit for PCM format, and native DSD up to DSD256.
– Hi-Res Audio Certified
– Dual crystal oscillators for faithful audio decoding as well as dual headphone outputs, which both support standard 3.5mm and balanced 2.5mm headphones.

Video Review

For more info and the latest pricing on Amazon for the Fiio Q1 MKII , click HERE.

Huawei P20 Pro Audio Review vs iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S9+ & Google Pixel 2 XL

Welcome to my Huawei P20 Pro Audio Review.

In this review I take a look at the audio options and quality of the Huawei P20 Pro covering speakers, bluetooth, wired (dongle) and other options including some external DACs.

Useful Links

Huawei P20 Pro, cases & accessories latest deals on Amazon UK
Latest deals on bluetooth headphones on Amazon UK

Aune B1s Portable Headphone Amp Review – Class A Amp

Welcome to my review of the new Aune B1s Portable Headphone Amp. The Aune B1s was sent to me by Aune to evaluate.

The Key Specifications

– Frequency response (from 10 Hz to 20 kHz): ±0.02dB
– THD + n: 0.00015% @300Ω
– SNR: 124dB @300Ω
– Crosstalk: <110dB @300Ω
– Max output: 6.443Vrms 18.4dBu(10Hz to 20kHz)
– Headphone output power: @300Ω 84mW , @600Ω 42mW ,@32Ω 74mW
– Class-A: 25mW/16R 50mW/32R
– Size: 125×65×18(mm)
– Weight:230g

For the review of the Aune B1s a range of headphones were used. Sennheiser HD579, HD598 HD660s, Sennheiser Momentum in ears, Sony XBA-1 Balanced Armatures, Fiio F9 Pro in ear and Beyer Dynamic DT770 Pro 80 and 250 ohm headphones.

Genres tested included rock, pop, classical, blues and jazz.

The main video part of the review covers off the sound in more detail along with the results using the above headphones.

In summary, warmer headphones like the Sennheiser sounded much nicer and were a good match. The Sony XBA-1 sound awful.

Using the Aune B1s allowed for plenty of power to drive my Beyers DT770 Pro, both the 80 and 250 ohms. The same applied to the over ear Sennheiser.

Where the pairing worked, more detail and soundstage occurred. Jazz and blues genres in my opinion worked the best.

Conclusion

The Aune B1s is a neutral sounding amp and therefore its pairing is best suited to warmer sounding headphones. Otherwise the sound lacks excitement as it is so neutral.

Useful Links

Best selling Aune products on Amazon UK