Saturday, March 26, 2011

Panasonic HJE-900 Headphones

It's been a while since I gave some of my equipment a review, so here goes another! :)

The pair of earphones I'm reviewing today are a set with a bit of an underground following. Panasonic isn't well known for their earphones, and in fact, most electronics they produce are far from top-tier brands. These earphones however, are some of the best I've heard in a long while. 

Appearance: These are supposedly made from zirconia. Hm, never seen that in a pair of headphones before. Whether it's just a marketing ploy or not is irrelevant. These bad boys don't get scratched up. AT ALL. And they glisten in the sunlight and are quite a beautiful blue. The wires themselves are a pretty thick gauge, definitely the sturdiest I've ever used, which is great since most headphones break because of flimsy wires. Speaking of broken wires, with these, you don't have to worry about a short in the wire. Like some DJ style headphones, the cables are actually DETACHABLE, meaning you can just disconnect them from the drivers if they ever short out and pick up a new pair of cables. Pretty fricken sweet, huh? =]

Sound: Very VERY similar to the S4, except more well controlled. The bass is tighter, and with less bleed, and the machine-gun-like drumming and bass riffs of Industrial music is precise in its impact, rather than feeling floaty. The highs also shine, perhaps a bit too much of being harsh (which can be handled by inserting a little bit of foam into the driver nozzle CAREFULLY). My only gripe? The isolation is a littleeeeee poor, and obtaining a good fit is harder for me than the S4 were.

Verdict: These are worth their weight in diamonds (get it? zirconia? cubic zirconia? nevermind >_>). But unfortunately, they're not sold in the U.S. through most retail channels anymore. Last summer they could be found for as low as $70, around the price of the S4, but with better sound! Unfortunately, they're hard to find for under $175, with most being sold for MSRP through ebay now, of $250! Are they worth $250? Probably not. But for $70, they're worth every penny.

Final Grade: 9.5/10

Friday, March 25, 2011

Queens of the Stone Age Tonite!

Supposed setlist:
Regular John 
If Only 
Walkin' on the Sidewalks 
You Would Know 
How to Handle a Rope 
Hispanic Impressions 
The Bronze 
Give The Mule What He Wants 
I Was a Teenage Hand Model 
You Can't Quit Me Baby

Turnin' on the Screw
Long Slow Goodbye
The Fun Machine Took a Shit and Died
Go With the Flow
No One Knows
A Song for the Dead

Looks to be intense!

Anyway, the Strokes are back this week with the release of their first reunion album. 

Now, I was stoked for this album, but after listening... I'm sorry, I just don't feel it. On no level can it compete with Is This It or Room on Fire. It just lacks their original energy, feels too forced. Have they just been washed out? Casablanca's solo albums weren't too hot. Was the album done for all the wrong reasons? Like I said, his solo albums sold horribly, perhaps he needed the money and decided to do a "service to the fans." Or perhaps they've just grown too old? Yes, they're only in their 30s, but some bands just burn out after 1-2 CDs, maybe these guys just don't have what it takes anymore.

Or maybe their next album will be better. Who knows really.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Friday, Friday, Gotta Get Down on Friday [Tomorrow.]

Sorry about that, but I just had to make the reference.

After a long week, it's finally time to kick back and relax! As a blogger interested in music, it's only natural that this entry has something to do with music, other than a Rebecca Black allusion. Tomorrow is Queens of the Stone Age concert! And guess who'll be going? Exactly.

I've heard they'll be playing songs mainly off their debut, self-titled album, which rocks considering it's my favorite. The desert/jam influence from their parent band Kyuss was still present on the album, which was sort of lost during their recording of Rated R. Speaking of which, does anyone else think it's over-rated? It's not as exciting as their debut, not as catchy as songs from Songs for the Deaf or Lullabies to Paralyze, and just off as too dull. Feel Good Hit of the Summer and Monsters in the Parasol being the two exceptions of course.

So tell me bloggers, what are you plans for this weekend?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Alice In Chains Unplugged

Has it really been 15 years since this album came out? Back when MTV was about the music, and grunge and 90s alternative rock filled the airwaves? Unbelievable, I'm starting to feel old. MTV's Unplugged series were an interesting take on modern music of the time- get a band that was usually pumped with raw energy and heavily distorted electric guitars to sit down, performing an intimate performance with a purely acoustic set. Naturally, songs needed to be reworked and reimagined for these performances, lest they come off as dull. 

Nirvana's unplugged performance was one of the most highly regarded of the 90s, being the epitome of what an Unplugged session should be. However, there's just something about Alice In Chain's Unplugged session that makes it all the more attractive to me. Perhaps it's the focus on Staley's voice, blending rather than clashing with the acoustic guitar and bass; it gives the sound of quiet desperation at times, of a man struggling with drug abuse. Perhaps it's the sound itself, beautifully mastered and a real treat to listen to. Or maybe it was purely sentimental, being one of the last shows ever performed before Staley went into hiding for years, putting AIC on hiatus while battling his demons. Whatever the reason, this is a beautiful album, and a must have for any fan of rock music in general. Pick it up if you haven't already.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Shure 750DJ Headphones

For today's review, I'll be covering the Shure 750DJ Headphones, a spectacular set of closed-back headphones from Shure. Shure of course is well known for performance audio gear, such as microphones, in-ear monitors, and more for concert performers. Their expertise in the pro-audio world has been applied to their consumer line of products, with these set of cans being no exception!

Appearance: Once again, I'm reviewing a silver/black colored set of headphones, except with a matte finish as compared to the glossy finish of the Klipsch S4 IEMs. Unlike the S4 however, the Shure 750DJs are full-sized headphones, though they can be folded up and placed in their included leather carrying bag when not in use. Because of their size, they aren't well-suited for use while actively commuting/walking around. These are built like a tank however, and with user-replaceable cables, you never have to worry about your cables failing on you, causing you to have to spend money on a new set of headphones. 

Sound: As compared to the S4, these are much less V-shaped, though an emphasis on the bass is still present. The 750DJs shine exceptionally in the bass, with a more well controlled mid-bass punch, and less of muddy boom as compared to the S4s. In general, the 750DJs are less dark and boomy sounding than the S4, leaving more emphasis on the midrange and treble. In all, these are more well balanced than the S4, while maintaining an exceptional bass response. This all of course, at the expense of a larger set of headphones. 

Verdict: Ahh. An exceptional sounding set of headphones, especially for bass lovers who don't want to sacrifice treble and midrange for booming bass. For $129, they can be quite expensive, but as compared to $50-$75 Skullcandies that kids walk around with today, these are LEAPS and BOUNDS ahead in terms of sonic quality. 

Final Grade: 9.3/10

Friday, March 18, 2011

Klipsch Image S4 Headphones

Today I'll be reviewing my lovely pair of Klipsch Image S4 headphones/in ear monitors (IEMs). I bought these for $79 on amazon a few months back, and I've been enjoying them ever since. Let's review how they sound, look, and my overall opinion on these high end earbuds. 

Appearance: As you can see, these earbuds look beautiful! The silver chrome and glossy black give the IEMs a sleek and stylish look, though this comes with the side effect of being fingerprint magnets. These buds are pretty well built, and have stood up to the test of normal use/abuse that comes with daily usage during my morning and evening commutes. The drivers still work perfectly, and with the exception of a few micro scratches still look like they did when I first bought them. These are definitely a stylish pair of headphones that stand up to normal usage well. 

Sound: The most important aspect in judging a headphone is its sound. And certainly the Klipsch Image S4 hold their own pretty well. I'm a fan of rock and metal, thus I tend to prefer a more V-shaped sound, with emphasis on the mid-bass and treble; these Klipsch's fit the bill quite nicely. Emphasis is definitely placed on the bass, with a powerful and boomy mid-bass, that unfortunately slightly bleeds into the midrange. Subwoofers these are not, but they definitely have a strong boomy sound, and when first used caused nausea. This subsided with repeated use as my ears became accustomed to their sound, and now I'm loving every minute of them. The midrange is definitely its weak point though, with vocals feeling less intimate than other high end headphones, sounding more receded. The treble however, is beautiful, with guitars shining above the pounding bass. 

No, these aren't the best sounding headphones/earbuds/in-ear monitors ever, but for the price they're amazing. The isolation is superb too, thanks to their custom oval tips, being THE best I have ever experienced. And with a 2 year warranty these guys will keep me busy for a while. 

Verdict: Worth the price of admission, especially if you can get them on sale. 

Final Grade: 8.5/10