Category Archives: Audio

Sound & Vision – The Bristol Show – Now in its 31st Year is next month – Full Details

Sound & Vision – The Bristol Show 2018 is happening next month on Friday 23rd thru to Sunday 25th February 2018.

This is the 31st year for the Sound & Vision Show and is not to be missed. There are many reasons to visit the show –

– Experience the Latest Hi-Fi and Talk to the Manufacturer’s
– Exclusive Product Launches
– Your Chance to Win Over £10K Worth of Hi-Fi
– Exclusive Deals & Special Offers
– FREE Headphones For Students

There will be over 180 exhibitors all under one roof which will provide a great day out. The show is so popular that tickets are available for one, two or even three days.

I have attended the shows several times and each time it has been an enjoyable experience hearing and seeing some amazing HiFi. Watch out for the show report too.

More info Sound & Vision Bristol Show website

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Focal Listen Wireless Headphones Review – Stunning sound from Focal

Welcome to my review of the Focal Listen Wireless headphones which sell for around £200. Focal are renowned for some of their audiophile headphones like the Focal Utopia that cost £3,500. So using the audio expertise, Focal have delved into the world of bluetooth audio.

Key Specifications and Features

– Portable headphones & comfortable, passive isolation
– Exclusive cone technology offering outstanding sound quality
– Bluetooth 4.1 for moving around freely up to 50 feet (15 metres)
– Up to 20 hours of battery life
– “Clear Voice Capture” double microphone system for even greater intelligibility of speech and conversations
– Bluetooth® wireless technology 4.1, Range 15m
– Battery Up to 20h
– Impedance (passive mode) 32Ω, Sensitivity (passive mode) 122dB SPL @ 1kHz – / 1Vrms THD @ 1kHz / 100dB SPL < 0.4%
– Frequency response 15Hz -22kHz
– Driver Electrodynamic (137/64“) Mylar Titanium
– Microphones – 2 Omnidirectional (Clear Voice Capture)
– Net weight 300g

Main Review

The Focal Listen Wireless consist of high density memory foam pads, that are not only comfortable but heat-sensitive. The headphones possess good dynamics, tight bass and a lovely tonal balance. No matter what genre of music I threw at these headphones, I was presented with a lovely sound and musicality. Bass was tight, mids and treble were well balanced and with a reasonable sound stage. Bear in mind these are closed back, so the soundstage is not massive.

To keep the weight down, plastics have been used, but at least the headphones fold into the cloth bag which is included in the box. If for any reason the power runs dry, Focal also provide a 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable to plug into a headphone socket. Unlike many bluetooth headphones, in wired mode, these are relatively easy to drive too. Review now continues with the video below.

Conclusion

A surprisingly lovely sounding wireless headphone from Focal. Recommended.

Useful Links

Focal Listen Wireless headphones latest pricing and more info on Amazon UK

Optoma NuForce BE Free8 – Truly Wireless Wire Free Earphones – Review & Comparison with AirPods & Sony WF-1000X

Welcome to my review of the Optoma NuForce BE Free8. These are a true wire free and wireless headphones. The quick review. The best ever truly wireless wire free earphone. Now read on to find out why and how they compare to other top earphones.

Key Specifications and Features

– Cable free – true wireless earphones
– Stable and reliable signal/connection – Bluetooth and NFMI technology
– Superior sound quality with deep explosive bass – enhanced with AAC and aptX for Apple, Android and Windows
– Non-stop listening on the go – 4 hour battery life with three additional full charges using the charging case
– Rain and sweat resistant – IPX5 rated

Main Review

The Optoma NuForce BE Free8 combine advanced audio coding and connection technologies including AAC, aptX LL and NMFI. This enables superb Hi-Fi sound with no lag or connection issues. One of the issues with a lot of wire free wireless earphones is lag and connection drop outs. The Sony WF-1000X suffer from drop outs and lag as do many others, which makes watching YouTube frustrating. AirPods do not suffer lag or drop outs and finally Optoma nailed this common issue with the BE Free8. I was able to walk around my whole house and not miss a beat.

In terms of fit, these fit snug in the ears without any discomfort. I was able to walk and jump and they did not fall out, Being IPX5 would be ideal for the gym.

Sound. Deep enhanced bass is one of the characters of these earphones. On some tracks the bass did interfere with the treble and midrange but overall the quality is excellent. Reasonable soundstage too. Compared to the audio quality of the Sony WF-1000X, the BE Free8 are far superior to the Sony’s. The BE Free8 are also superior in sound to AirPods, with more bass and passive noice cancellation.

The battery lasts 4 hours with another 3 full charges from the battery case. Also, the earphones are black which is a much better colour than white. So lets continue my review below.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a wire free in ear headphone, the Optoma NuForce BE Free8 are in a league of their own. Highly recommended.

Useful Links

Optoma NuForce BE Free8 – latest pricing and more info on Amazon UK

LG V30 – Audio Review – Speaker, Bluetooth, Type C, Wired – Over 12 Different Headphones Compared

Welcome to my LG V30 Audio Review. This review covers the loudspeaker, bluetooth headphones, type c headphones and wired headphones. Over 12 different types of headphones used for the review.

To recap, the LG V30 embraces the 3.5mm headphone jack and adds a Quad Dac. The Quad Dac can drive headphones up to 600 ohms. However, I would recommend up to 300 ohms max and dependant on the sensitivity of the headphone as well. Over 50 ohm headphones trigger the high impedance mode of the Quad Dac to ensure proper amplification. Sub 50 ohms and a wider dynamic range is engaged.

The Quad Dac features high end options from being able to choice digital filters, an equaliser and even supports the new high resolution streaming format MQA.

So now sit back and enjoy the LG V30 Audio Review!

Useful Links with Latest Pricing

High Impedance Headphones

VE Monk Plus – http://amzn.to/2mtZdZj
Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80 ohm – http://amzn.to/2AYqk42
Sennheiser HD 660s – http://amzn.to/2FARBxd
Sennheiser HD 579 – http://amzn.to/2DaDNer

Bluetooth Headphones

Sony WH-1000MX2 – http://amzn.to/2DaDT5N
Sony WF-1000X – http://amzn.to/2qZfafE
Optoma NuForce BE Free8 – http://amzn.to/2DbXRhn

In Ear Headphones

Sony In Ear headphones – http://amzn.to/2DfPAb8
Sennheiser In Ear headphones – http://amzn.to/2DaOSgn

Sennheiser HD 660s Headphone Review – The legend continues

Welcome to my review of the new flagship headphone from Sennheiser. The £429 Sennheiser HD 660s replaces the legendary HD 650 which was first sold over 10 years ago. So can the new HD 660s take the crown. Short answer is yes. But here’s why?

Design

From a design point of view the HD 660s look nearly identical to the outgoing 650’s. In fact, all the spare parts from the 650 will fit the new 660s. From a longevity point of view you are buying an investment and should you need to change pads, cable, in fact anything, you can just order the piece you need. The 660s take on a black paint job, with the Sennheiser logo on the grills and instead of the name Sennheiser spaced out across the top of the headband, it’s just placed on the left side. See video for visuals.

Comfort

The headphones are massive. Large ear pads comfortable fit over any ear. However, the clamping force is reasonable and due to the larger size might cause some people a little discomfort. With care it is possible to gently stretch the headband. I can wear these for hours and hours. However, I do find the cheaper HD 598s lighter and more comfortable.

Sound and Specs

The outgoing HD 600 and HD 650s were 300 ohms and therefore required some decent amplification to extract the most out of them. The 660s are now an easier to drive 150 ohms with a sensitivity of 104db. The frequency response is 10 – 41,000 Hz. Sennheiser designed these to work from some of the newer portable music devices like the LG V30 or Fiio Personal music players. However, these really need beefy amplification with decent voltage outputs to fully obtain music nirvana.

Before I tested these headphones, I gave them a 200 hour burn in. However, as you do, I had a quick listen straight out of the box and was instantly impressed. Now after 200 hours this is my verdict. The 660s are extremely detailed. Huge soundstage which has great positioning too. Speed and attack are present as well. With some of my favourite jazz, I had the hairs on my arm raise. There are very few headphones that can recreate that level of atmosphere and musicality. Bass is precise and not overdone. Being open back, you can hear everything around you and likewise anyone in the same room will hear what you are listening too. The open back design is what helps provides such a huge soundstage.

Video Review

Conclusion

The Sennheiser HD 660s are highly recommended. They have a legendary musicality and will deliver you years and years of satisfaction.

Useful Links

Sennheiser HD 660s latest pricing and more info on Amazon UK

USB C to 3.5mm Adapters Reviewed & Explained

USB C audio is a complicated mess. Very few manufacturers have adopted the format is the same manner, some doing their own thing and others following the system incorrectly. In my video below, I take a look at several different types and explain the differences, what works and what doesn’t. Due to the changing landscape, this is still an evolving landscape too!

Useful Links

USB C to 3.5mm adapters on Amazon UK

Razer HammerHead USB C Headphones Review vs Sennheiser Momentum

Welcome to my review of the Razer Hammerhead USB C headphones. Whilst these are made specially by Razer, these are quite unique at the moment being terminated with a USB C connection. Razer also has included a special DAC for an improvement performance.

I tested these with the Razer phone, Huawei Mate 10 Pro and a MacBook Pro and then compared then to the Sennheiser Momentum in ear headphones. So it back any enjoy the review.

Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless Headphones Review – Audio Nirvana without the wires

Welcome to me review of the Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless Headphones.

The Key Features

– Adaptive noise cancelling
– Advanced Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX-HD for hi-res streaming Natural UI, APT-X , SBC & AAC
– Built-in sensors handle functions like stopping audio playback when you remove the headphones
– World class acoustics from 40mm full range drivers Premium materials and build quality
– Rechargeable battery (up to 22 hours of battery life)
– Mobile companion app for personalising audio playback
– Inputs: 3.5mm stereo jack for optional wired playback USB-C (Audio, Battery charging, and Firmware update)
– Drive units: 40mm diameter Full Range Drivers
– Performance: 10Hz to 20kHz Frequency Range
– 22 ohms (passive) Impedance
– <0.3% (1kHz/10mW) Distortion (THD) 111 dB/V at 1kHz Sensitivity 1V Maximum input power
– 335g weight
– 4 x mics for ANC
– 2 x mics for telephony clear voice communication

Video Review

Useful Links

Bowers & Wilkins latest deal price on Amazon UK

Sony WF-1000X review vs Google Pixel Buds vs AirPods – The Battle of the Headphone

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Key Features

– Industry-leading wireless noise cancellation
– Chargeable carrying case for up to 9 hours battery life (3 hours battery life and 2 x 3 hours charges with case)
– Truly wireless hands-free calls, listen free from wires and unwanted background noise with one of the industry-leading noise cancellation
– Smart auto-settings to optimise listening settings automatically based on user’s behaviour

Video Shootout

Useful Links

Apple AirPods latest deal on Amazon UK

Sony WF-1000X latest pricing and more info on Amazon UK

Google Pixel Buds on Google Store

Google Pixel Buds review – Google’s headphones with Google Assistant & Translate Built-in

Welcome to my review of the Google Pixel Buds. In this review, I am going to cover off how to pair, use and a number of tips and tricks as well as my verdict on the sound quality.

Key Features

– Earbuds length: 20.4 mm, Earbuds width: 20.4 mm, Earbuds height: 20.5 mm
– Charging case length: 66.2 mm, Charging case width: 65.5 mm, Charging case height: 28.6 mm
– Weight: Earbuds: 14 g, Charging case: 57g with buds, 43g without buds
– Battery: Earbuds: 120mAh, Charging Case: 620mAh
– A single charge of Google Pixel Buds gives you up to 5 hours of listening time. the case provides up to another 20 hours
– Sensors: Microphone, Accelerometer,Capacitive touchpad

So for the full rundown, now take a look at my video review.

Video Review

Conclusion

The Google Pixel Buds are a surprising package, with good audio, Google Assistant and more. Recommended.

Useful Links

Google Online Store
Amazon Tech Deals

Roth Audio Zero III Sound bar Review – 90W of Sound!

Welcome to my review of the Roth Audio Sub Zero III Soundbar. This Roth Audio Sub Zero II retails for about £130.

Main Features / Specification:

Design:
– 4x 2.75-inch 4 Ohm Ferrite Drivers
– 2x Passive Radiator Bass Drivers
– Thick Wall 3.6L Reinforced Polymer Case
– Cloth Grill
– Wall Mount Capable
– LED Display with Auto Dimming

Performance:
– Wide Frequency Response 40-20,000Hz
– High Power Class D Amplifiers
– 90 Watts Peak Output Power

Inputs:
– HDMI x2, plus 1x HDMI output (ARC)
– 3.5mm Analogue Stereo Connection
– Optical SPDIF Format (Toslink compatible) – Stereo
– Bluetooth aptX A2DP Audio
– Power Input: AC 230-240V, 50 Hz

Dimensions:
– 85cm (W) X 8cm (D) X 8.8cm (H)

The Roth Sub Zero III has been designed to provide high definition for your TV. It has HDMI (2 in/1 Out, ARC enabled), Optical, Bluetooth and Analogue inputs. This means the Sub Zero III will connect easily to any TV or audio source – even wirelessly from your laptop, mobile phone or tablet. So lots of versatility.

There is no need for a separate subwoofer as the Sub Zero III has two built-in Ultra-Bass passive drivers, 2 bass drivers and 2 full range drivers, allowing full frequency range audio in a single discrete unit.

The Roth Audio Designed to perform in any room large or small. It features the Roth MA DSP sound processor, which provides a powerful sounding home cinema experience. With the additional modes, you can select between movie, music and voice. Sometimes, you don’t need lots of bass! Considering its size, the sound bar rocks and makes a huge difference over the built in TV speakers.

The Sub Zero III can be wall or table mounted. In the box is a right angle HDMI adapter which is handy as the connections end up fairly close to the wall or table top. It would have been a nice touch if a HDMI cable was included.

Video Review

Conclusion

A superb and versatile sound bar. Recommended.

Useful Links

More info on Roth Audio Sub Zero III and latest pricing on Amazon UK

Alpha & Delta JAAP Wireless Sports Earphones Review – They don’t fall out!

Welcome to my review of the Alpha & Delta JAPP Wireless Sports Earphones Review. These wireless earphones are named after the inventor of Bluetooth, Jaap Haartsen. They retail for $90.

Alpha & Delta designed the Jaap is to overcome the existing problems that plagued truly wireless earphones namely: poor fit, poor battery life and poor connectivity.

First up they feature a behind-the-ear hook design which ensures it stays secure during workouts. I even tried shaking my head to make them fall off, and they didn’t. The tips are using the patented SpinFit bud which is amazing from a comfort and sound quality point of view. They are also IPX5 sweat resistant, so ideal for working out.

The battery life is 6 hours plus the supplied battery bank/charger provides another 8 hours.

In terms of connection, I never lost a beat. Each earphone feature a dual antenna design. To start you pair the left side and then turn on the right earphone, which pairs automatically with the left. Neat.

Key Specifications

– Bluetooth Chipset: Bluetooth 4.2 CSR64110
– Driver: 11mm Dynamic Driver
– Battery capacity: 90 mah
– Portable battery charger capacity:
– Music playback time: 6 hours ( 14 hours with battery charger)
– Talking time: 7 hours (15 hours with battery charger)
– Charging port: Micro USB Type B
– Build in microphone: Yes
– Microphone sensitivity: -38 dB
– Supports Multipoint: Yes
– Supports HD hands-free: Yes
– Battery status on IOS devices: Yes

In use, the earphones fit really well and their design is also comfortable, despite its size. I felt the charging solution felt a bit cumbersome but it works well. It is also nice that a carry case to hold everything is included.

The sound quality is pretty good as the SpinFit earbuds provide a solid seal in the ears. Treble is controlled and bass fairly deep. Mids are reasonably clear too. Average soundstage but overall these are a pleasure to listen to music with for extended periods of time.

Video Review

Conclusion

Despite their larger size, the Alpha & Delta Wireless Sports Earphones sound good with decent bass, fit securely and comfortably and are recommended.

Useful Links

Alpha & Delta

Bluetooth Headphones on Amazon UK

Oppo UDP-205 4K Ultra HD Audiophile Blu-ray Player Audio Review vs Oppo BDP-105D

Welcome to my audio review of the Oppo UDP-205, a £1,500 4K Ultra HD Audiophile Blu-ray Player plus a comparison with the renowned Oppo BDP-105D.

The Oppo UDP-205 is a class leading, award winning blu-ray player that does more than just play DVDs. It has best-in-class audio performance, Dual ESS ES9038PRO Sabre Pro DACs, reference quality video with HDR & Dolby Vision; 4K UHD, Blu-ray, 3D, DVD, DVD-Audio, SACD and CD.

The UDP-205 provides reference level sound quality through the analog outputs, improves the clock precision of the HDMI audio output, and increases the power of the built-in headphone amplifier. For the analog output stages, the UDP-205 is equipped with two ESS Technology ES9038PRO 32-bit HyperStream DACs for both stereo and 7.1 channel analog audio. As the flagship of the ESS SABRE PRO series, the ES9038PRO sets a new benchmark for audio excellence with its best in class 140 dB of dynamic range.

It also features –

– HDMI Audio Jitter Reduction
– Asynchronous USB DAC and Coaxial/Optical Inputs (asynchronous USB DAC input supports sample rates up to 768 kHz PCM and DSD 512. For additional convenience and flexibility, the UDP-205 can convert digital signals from cable and satellite boxes, televisions, video game consoles and other digital transports with coaxial and optical digital outputs to analog.}
– Dedicated Stereo Output with XLR Balanced Connectors
– Advanced Image Processing Technology – MediaTek produce and manufacture a specialized 4K UHD Blu-ray decoder SoC – the quad-core OP8591, which offers the most advanced image decoding and processing technology available for 4K UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and user generated media formats
– Dolby Vision
– Upscaling to 4K
– Toroidal Power Supply – Clean Power for Clear Music
– Custom-Made 4K Loader
– Lossless High-Resolution Audio
– Support for the Latest Surround Formats
– Weight – 30lbs

Main Review

In case you still are in any doubt from the key features, the Oppo UDP-205 is a beast of a machine, whether talking about audio or video. It also has won many awards.

For the purposes of this audio review, I used the following albums:-

– Wallflower by Diana Krall – one of my favourites albums. With the Oppo UDP-205, Diana Krall’s voice was velvet smooth, full of emotion. The realism of her voice was fantastic. By contrast the BDP-105D sounded flatter and lacked the same level of emotion.

– Drones by Muse – another superb album. The Oppo UDP-205 produced wonderful bass attack and speed, with incredible separation of the instruments. The BDP-105D felt slightly congested in comparison.

– Greatest hits by Culture Club – With this album, vocals and instruments shone with the UDP-205.

– Les Contes D’Hoffman – The Tales of Hoffman – This is one of my classical albums that for some reason, I have never enjoyed until I played it using the Oppo UDP-205. The plan was to compare the first track between the 2 players, and then make some notes. I was 50% through the album using the Oppo UDP-205 when I remembered I had to listen to it through the BDP-105D. The Oppo UDP-205 delivered a musical masterclass. An epic masterclass. Energy, scale, soundstage, vocals and instruments just sounded brilliant.

So what do I think of the Oppo UDP-205 and how does it compare to the older Oppo BDP-105D. In its day the Oppo BDP-105D was magnificent. But time moves on, and the Oppo UDP-205 just rises to a whole new level. I can tell you now, you haven’t heard your CD collection properly until you play the discs on this player.

So now let’s take a closer look at the Oppo UDP-205 vs Oppo BDP-105D.

Video Review

Conclusion

The Oppo UDP-205 is something very special on the audio front as well as video. It also has so much more to offer that it gains the Gavin’s Gadgets “Highly Recommended” seal of approval.

Useful Links

More info and the latest pricing on Amazon – Click HERE

Sony WH-1000XM2 Wireless Noise Cancellation Headphones Review + Comparison with Beats & Bose

Welcome to my review of the Sony WH-1000XM2 headphones. These are the brand new killer flagship headphones from Sony.

The Key Features

– Digital Noise Cancelling lets you listen without distractions
– Personal Noise Cancelling Optimizing and Atmospheric Pressure Optimizing
– Wireless freedom with BLUETOOTH® technology and NFC
– Smart Listening by Adaptive Sound Control automatically adjusts ambient sound to your activity
– High-quality audio with DSEE HX™, S-Master HX ™ and LDAC, APT-X, AAC, APT-X HD
– Driver Unit 40mm, dome type (CCAW Voice Coil)
– Frequency response wired 4Hz-40,000Hz
– Frequency response (BLUETOOTH® COMMUNICATION) 20Hz – 20,000Hz (44.1kHz Sampling) / 20Hz – 40,000Hz (LDAC 96kHz Sampling, 990kbps)
– Impedance – 46 ohm (1kHz) (when connecting via the headphone cable with the unit turned on) , 14 ohm (1kHz) (when connecting via the headphone cable with the unit turned off)
– Sensitivities (DB/MW) 103dB / mW (1kHz) (when connecting via the headphone cable with the unit turned on) , 98dB / mW (1kHz) (when connecting via the headphone cable with the unit turned off)
– Charge time – 4 hours
– Battery life – 30 hours NC on, 38 hours with NC off
– Line of sight range 10m

Main Review

The Sony WH-1000XM2 are a technological masterpiece from Sony. With the Sony Headphone Connect app you can fine tune the sound quality options, adjust the noise cancellation and ambient sound, as well as adjust for atmospheric pressure. You will need to watch the video to see this all in action. Over bluetooth it has the ability to use AAC, SBC, APT-X, APT-X HD or LDAC as well as its own upscaling audio DSEE HX. The choice of codecs available will depend on what device you are using and what options your device can deliver. The headphone app also allows various surround sound options and placement of audio.

As an all rounder the sound quality of these headphones is excellent along with the noise cancellation. The noise cancellation was really powerful.

Colour. The gold version do not look gold. More grey and this is disappointing. Comfort wise these should be fantastic, but in my usage I found there is not enough cushioning in the headphone band and cups. See video for what I mean and a comparison with others brands.

Video Review and Comparison between the Beats Studio 3 with Apple W1 Chip and Bose Quietcomfort 35 II with Google Assistant

Conclusion

The best wireless and noise cancellation headphone available but with caution on the comfort due to inadequate padding.

Useful Links

More info and the latest pricing on Amazon UK – Click HERE.