So, I was perusing the Robb Report and saw some interesting questions in their interview section and I thought it might be fun to answer these questions myself. While I typically don't write a lot about myself, this gives a peak into a little bit of my personality and interests.
Outside of obvious apps like mail, I would say Flickr…. I still haven’t really jumped on board with instagram and prefer the iPad app from Flickr anyway. Also, with the Apple Pencil on the iPad, Pixelmator has shot up to be one of my favorite photo editors.
What do you do that’s still analog?
I play vinyl records when I am feeling nostalgic or just have more time for the process. Something about pulling out an album my mom or dad listened to when they were young is just too cool. I also have some of the albums I had as a child, so picking up that same record decades later really brings me back to a time and place.
I thought this question was a little strange, but they were interviewing someone in the fashion industry, so I guess it makes more sense. Anyway, the answer is still yes. For work, Bills Khakis and Long Sleeve button-up Polos have been a typical staple for years. Lately, I wear shorts and a t-shirt since I am working from home. Unfortunately, I need to lose a little weight before I go back to the office or those Khakis are gonna be tight!
I thought about moving to a larger house several years back. We saw one we liked, but started thinking about the trouble of moving and about the hassle and backed out. I still wish I had that extra room for a home theater, but we have managed to build our living room around the idea since then. There are definitely more compromises with this approach, but the upside is that we probably watch more movies when we don’t have to leave our main living space.
iPad Pro 12.9 M1 - I love editing photos with this thing and the Logitech Case and third party pencil make it my go-to computer when I am off from work. It is also my main music source during the day because it can play anything that Apple Music can throw at it.
To be with my sweetheart and relax with my pets.
The Ocean, though I am far enough away that I don’t get the opportunity to enjoy it as much as I like. As a result, I find music to be a great substitute and I can take it with me anywhere.
Gregory Porter’s Liquid Spirit since it was the last album I listened to and my favorite track on that album.
The only thing I can think of is my own photography. I have an always growing collection. I have never really been someone that collected things to just have a collection. I did collect CDs for a while, but streaming has killed that pursuit.
Yes, I have a few watches..Seiko and Omega, but I mainly wear an Apple Watch. My favorite app is Clockology and it will probably be enough to get me to upgrade to the next Apple Watch because of its always on face…assuming it works as planned with the new WatchOS.
Probably my Jeep JK..assuming my pets aren’t my possessions (at least I don’t think of them that way). It is just so much fun and I plan to keep it long after it’s paid off. The thrill of having something that can take you anywhere, and the fun of switching from hard top to soft top to no top and no doors is something one should experience. No it isn’t the most practical thing, especially for gas milage, but I love it. Also, there is so much personality you can add to a Jeep. When I got it, I added bigger tires, new gearing, new shocks, a new front bumper, etc. I never did anything like that with the cars I had before it.
Great food. We have Butcher Box delivered to get meat that has been humanely treated and Misfits for organic veggies they can’t sell in the store for one reason or another. I would recommend both.
Aruba. We have talked about going there since before the pandemic. Once we are comfortable to leave the country, it will be the first designation. Well, unless my gal wants to visit her homeland in Poland first.
Nothing too fancy…Knob Creek with a little coke. I also like Buffalo Trace, Makers Mark, etc.
This is a tough one, but if I had to go with one easy to prepare, it would be ribs. I sous vide them for hours then finish them off on the Big Green Egg. Fall off the bone delicious. For something I don’t cook all that often, it would be brisket slow cooked for 20 hours or more.
Just watched all six seasons of the Sopranos. James Gandolfini was a genius.
Dylan and its not close.
I have mentioned this service in prior posts, but I thought it would be a good time to talk about my experience and how I am using the service.
We have one of the supported 4K versions of the AppleTV. It was updated, but my 3rd Gen version wasn’t, so not all AppleTVs are created equal. Just out of the gate, I have no idea why the prior AppleTV did not get the update. It should easily be capable.
The AppleTV sends everything out 48 kHz, so I am not getting bit perfect audio with the hi res files, but it still sounds very good. I would say it sounds at least as good as Qobuz via Audirvana in my system playing 24/192. In fact, my girlfriend mentioned that my audio system sounded better without even knowing I was using a different service, so there is some noticeable differences.
My Denon x3700h has a virtual Dolby Atmos sound feature and the Dolby Atmos tracks on my 5.1 setup have been intriguing to say the least. The sound quality has been everything from amazing to slightly disappointing, but that has been the case with stereo mixes for years (loudness wars), so consistency and audio mixing aren’t typically synonymous. That being said, I really enjoy hearing these mixes.
The iPhone and prior Generation iPads can play pretty much all the files in their native format with many DACs if you use their adapter. I have a HiDizs S8 that is small and portable and can handle the high resolutions. My Dragonfly DAC also works with 24/96 files and under. Personally, I recommend the HiDizs if you want a great measuring DAC at a decent price that can play all hi res formats of Apple Music.
The new iPad M1 has a USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port. It doesn’t need an Apple adapter and it works with more DACs than the lightning port . It seems to provide more power to external DACs that run off of USB power, so it can work with my Topping D10 DAC, while the iPhone doesn’t. I find it to be the most versatile of all the devices at this point.
Assuming you have a compatible Mac running the lastest OS, you can run Apple Music lossless. Unlike the iOS and iPad OS devices, you will not get bit rate switching on the fly at this point. This means you would need to go into Audio Midi and manually change the bit rate for each song independently when the resolution changes. Not ideal. You may want to test different resolutions to see if it makes any difference to your ears. I would probably just default to 24/192 and let the Mac just upconvert everything with a lower bitrate. You could also just set it to 16/44.1 since that is far and away the most popular bitrate.
In theory, Apple Music should be able to send a lossless signal over Airplay via Apple Music. Airplay cannot currently handle Hi Res files, so hopefully that gets updated, but they would also need to update associated equipment to handle this resolution and that may not be possible in some cases. Naim, a respected audio company, has said that Airplay 2 does not currently send out a lossless signal for Apple Music. I have no way to verify this, but thought it was worth mentioning given the source of the information.
I do use Airplay in a couple setups... HomePods, Denon X3700H, Belkin, and Airport Express, so I am hoping they at least fix the issue... assuming Naim is correct.
Not currently available. I really don't understand why Apple would ignore such a huge part of the market. Hopefully, this will be resolved by year end.
In Beta, but if it gets a full update, you should be able to send audio to a Chromecast Audio device at 24/96. Hard to believe that the best streaming device for Apple Music could be a Google product using an Android phone, but it does look like we are heading that direction.
Nope, not available on their web app, either. This would fill in a lot of issues if they can add it. There are a ton of unsupported Mac and Windows products out there that could use the Web player as a backdoor to getting the better audio.
How am I using the service?
As I mentioned, in my main system, I main use AppleTV 4k. During the day, in my office, I use the iPad connected to a Topping DAC since this is the easiest way to get hassle free bit perfect audio. Luckily, I am close enough to it to make manual adjustments. I have a BYEasy stand that allows it to charge while using it.
I also have a setup with a Satechi stand in the living room that has HDMI running video to my display. I can control it from the iPad or using a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse (I have a keyboard with a trackpad built in next to the couch..it is a cheap iPad case that I detached the iPad cover). On the go, I either use Bluetooth headphones (I'm currently testing the Belkin Wireless Earbuds) or if I am going to plant myself in a spot for a while, I use the HiDisz DAC with either the iPad or iPhone.
All in all, it is less flexible than Qobuz running out of Logitech Media Server software. That setup gave me Airplay, Casting and DLNA with the service. However, for me, I can live with the differences and some of the headaches. I have a feeling Apple will eventually fix some of the gaps.
As a side note, I was watching one of YouTube's Audiophiles.. or recovering audiophile.. videos and he went on and on about Apple Music's CarPlay setup. Apparently, he doesn't understand how to use Siri. If I want to hear an album or Artist, I just tell it to play it and I never interact with the CarPlay on-screen display. It is one of the main upsides to using Apple Music over some of the other streaming options.
I was so excited to get the Alienware m15 R4. It really is one of those ground breaking devices that could get me to ditch the Desktop PC I have in my office. I should mention that I like gaming, but I am not hardcore enough to build my own PC. Also, I use my laptop for editing photos, surfing the web, watching video, etc. What I have wanted for years is a great "all-arounder" and this is the first laptop I have had that fits the bill.
The specifics of my build:
With 10th Gen Intel Core processors enabling 8-cores and 16-threads of multi-threaded performance, the latest generation of Alienware m15 goes beyond its predecessor.
Right out of the gate, I messed around with the Alienware app that allows you to change the LEDs on the keyboard and on the back, so you can have your own individual style. There are also settings for individual games as well as some thermal, audio and battery settings.
Note: I may get paid commissions for purchases made through any links to Amazon products on this page. Also, I get some products for free to review from Amazon (though, I do have to pay taxes on them).
The port situation is pretty good. However, I wish it had an SD input rather than a microSD slot. This means that if I want to move files from my camera's SD card, I am back in dongle-town. That being said, they have ports you don't see on many modern laptops including USB 3.2s, Security cable, network port, USB 3 PowerShare port, headset port, HDMI, mini Display port, External Graphic port, power port, and a Thunderbolt 3 port. The power cable itself has a huge power brick hanging between the two ends, but it is fairly flat, so it would be easier to fit in a bag than if the brick was built into the plug.
The 300Hz display looks great and creates a silky smooth gaming experience. It is a mat finish which is nice to keep reflections at bay! Of course, if you are going to be away from power for a while, it makes sense to move it down the 60Hz setting to help save battery life. The battery life out of the box is pretty bad... maybe 2 hours. So you have to be careful with settings if you are going to be out and about with it. It has USB-C charging, but your typical power bank isn't going keep it fully charged. I have a large imuto power bank (we take on Jeep trips) that can put out 60 watt of power over USB-C PD2.0, so it can put up a fight in a pinch. It can charge it completely if you aren't using the laptop to play games or using it for other challenging tasks.
I really like the keyboard. It has a lot of travel compared to my 2016 MBP. I also have a couple PC laptops and this is my favorite out of all of them. The trackpad is a little stiff in comparison to my MBP, so I am still getting used to it.
I really enjoy the USB-C Thunderbolt port. I mentioned above that the laptop will charge off of this port, which I find very useful when I want to use it in my office with my Samsung Thunderbolt Ultra-wide display. For office work, I can use one cable to run the display while it also charges the laptop. That being said, the laptop takes a lot more power in with its power cable, so keep that in mind if you want to use it for gaming.
As for performance, I ran it on a few games and it looked and performed great. I ran some benchmarks right out of the box without any changes and they came back in the PassMark 89th percentile which is pretty awesome for a laptop. Keep in mind, my version has 16GB of RAM, so you may get even better performance if you go with 32Gb. I provided a couple screenshots, but you can probably change some settings to get even better gaming performance. Be aware that the fans did some some spinning during my tests. However, the speakers are great and do a good job of drowning out the noise.
All in all, this is the first laptop that I have used that has this type of performance. For me, it can replace my desktop PC and my old Windows laptop. I don't want to go into the organization benefits to having one computer for everything, but this makes it easier to transition from one space to the other. My only complaint is the battery life, but I am usually near an outlet, so it isn't enough to kill my enthusiasm since this is a true desktop replacement for my needs. All in all, I would recommend this for all but the hardcore gamer. For most others, this will be the perfect laptop that they can take from room to room or on vacations...assuming they have a power outlet nearby.
300Hz 15.6 inch Screen
Cool gamers style design with many personal options
Very versatile thunderbolt port
Several other useful ports
Can get loud with fans spinning
Can get warm, though thermals are good for such a small case
No dedicated SD card slot
If you haven’t heard by now, Apple has discontinued their original HomePod in favor of the HomePod mini. I guess their typical statement that this is our greatest “ name Apple product here” to date won’t be said in this product line anytime soon.
I should mention that I bought the original HomePod when it first came out. It was ideal for the space between my kitchen and living room. When I first got it, I was completely blown away by just how perfect it was for the space. The bass is incredible for a device with such a small footprint. I think you would be hard pressed to find any speaker this size that sounds as good.
So what disaster? Well the middle of last year my HomePod developed a ticking noise. I guess something broke inside. I called Apple twice and the last supervisor I talked to told me they were moving my issue up to Engineering and I never heard back. I was planning to call them again, but I felt like it was a dead end.
Enter the Homepod Mini
Well, I figured I would save some money and get a HomePod mini to fill that space. After all, it was supposed to sound decent, was a lot cheaper, and did some of the same AirPlay2 magic as the original ( mainly controlling AirPlay 2 on my main system).
I have to say, my first impression of the mini wasn’t good. The sound felt like the bass had been sucked out. It wasn’t close to the original. You heard of diminishing returns? It is no where in sight. The original is at least three times better sounding. It isn’t close.
I hear people saying there is no market for a speaker at this price even if it sounds better. Well, that is true only because Apple crippled it. It requires an iPhone to set it up. It needs Apple Music if you want to control music by voice. That means millions of Android users and millions of Spotify users needed to look elsewhere. Not to mention the audience that actually care about sound quality using Tidal, Qobuz, and Deezer.
Where was lossless Apple Music? Yeah, it is here now, after their great sounding speaker has been discontinued and for some unknown reason it doesn’t support Apple Music lossless out of the box …though, you can AirPlay lossless to it from a different app, like Qobuz. Apple is supposed to fix the lossless issue at some point.
Bluetooth where are you?
Oh, and let’s not forget that it needs Bluetooth to set it up, but for some reason it can’t accept Bluetooth audio. It also doesn’t have any inputs or outputs. By comparison, a cheap Echo Dot takes Bluetooth, will send out a Bluetooth signal, supports more services (now including Apple Music) and has Aux out!!!
The fact is that the Homepod is a niche device by design. I am surprised they ever thought it would sell all that well given the above limitations alongside what may be the worst performing assistant on the market.
Homepod makes a return
Personally, I never got used to the anemic sound of the HomePod mini in the space. The joy I felt listening to music in the area went away and I would just carry my phone into the space and use its speaker for podcasts. We no longer sat around the kitchen table after dinner talking and being surrounded by beautiful sounding music even at lower volumes. It was a change I didn’t like.
As a result, I bought one of the white Homepods before they went away. I got the Apple warranty just in case, so I hope they keep a few around for backup. I moved the mini to the bedroom and it actually sounds a lot better when it doesn’t have to fill a huge space. Next to the bed it gets a lot more use than it ever did in my kitchen area.
Below is a pic that shows the two rooms. As you can see, the HomePod is now mounted high next to the door. It feeds three rooms this way. Even with my main system in the living room, the convenience of the HomePod is unmatched.
I really hope this Homepod lasts at least a couple years. I have seen some new speakers from Sony that are at least on the right track. Maybe when my Homepod is on its last leg, someone will have something even better. I guess we will see, but I expect it will be hard to match the sound quality with a speaker this size that also has 360 degree sound which so perfectly fits my space, but I can still hope. Maybe with lossless audio also coming to Spotify, we will see more decent sounding speakers in this space.
But it’s a niche
I did a video (see below) when the original HomePod came out and pretty much acknowledged it was a niche product, but one that was so singular and perfect for the right person that it was still a great Apple product. I think if Apple could have opened it up more or improved Siri, it may have been more competitive. Heck, if it just activated the Bluetooth already built into it, my girlfriend could have used it with her Samsung phone. As it was, when we wanted to stream something off her phone, she was forced to use my inferior sounding Echo Dots. No way she would ever do that if the HomePod wasn’t so limited.
Sometimes products come along that perfectly serve a specific part of the market, but don’t have mass sales because of price or features. When I was in college I had an engineering calculator from HP. It perfectly served my purposes, but anyone that didn’t have a background in mathematics or engineering wouldn’t even begin to know how to use it. It was still a great device, even with its limited appeal. This is how I feel about the outstanding sounding Homepod with its meager footprint. It is a technological wonder to the right person and a source of complete confusion to others. I guess a company the size of Apple can’t justify making an engineering calculator or a Homepod. However, it is still sad to see a company that was once based on being the rebel and being so devoted to quality that they would “paint the back side of a fence” as well as the front, suddenly digress to a cheaper inferior product for the masses… just shows how far they have gone from their initial culture. They will never be able to call the HomePod Mini “our best HomePod” ever… kind of sad.
I have seen numerous articles and videos over the years discussing the fact that the iPad is not a a laptop replacement. Every year, it seems we seem the same articles again when Apple doesn’t add “pro” apps to their updated iPadOS. In the case of the upcoming iOS15, YouTube videos titled like “Why I am selling my iPad” have been everywhere.
The discussion of the iPad not being a laptop replacement is obviously a story, but why don’t we talk about why the MacBook isn’t an iPad replacement?
There are numerous things that make the MacBook deficient in comparison to the iPad Pro M1. Below I will discuss several of them. Keep in mind that this list are the things that mainly affect my personal usage of the iPad, but I am sure there are other issues with the MacBook when comparing them at this moment in time (7/10/21).
So, as you can see, the MacBook leaves a lot to be desired when being compared to the iPad. Quite often these features are completely overlooked when comparing the iPad to a MacBook. In fact, most reviews simply come to the conclusion that the iPad isn’t useful because it doesn’t run Final Cut.
Sorry to say this, but there are a lot of iPad users that don’t give a crap about Final Cut. Not everyone is making professional YouTube videos that require Final Cut. However, there are plenty of people editing video with apps like LumaFusion and editing photos with the numerous other photo apps on the iPad (including Lightroom CC and amn iPad version of Photoshop). Essentially, what I am saying, is that the iPad is a better substitute for a MacBook than the MacBook is for the iPad…outside of very specific use cases like coding or some professional editing work.
So, I finally decided update my original iPad Pro (9.7) to a larger 12.9 version. Yes, I read the many reviews complaining about it not being a laptop. Duh! I have one of those along with many other computers and still use the iPad on a daily basis. Not saying that I don't want pro apps, but I still find the iPad quite useful. Anyway, after having it for a few weeks, I thought I would give some of my initial impressions.
Note: I may get paid commissions for purchases made through any links to Amazon products on this page. Also, I get some products for free to review from Amazon (though, I do have to pay taxes on them).
Whether we are talking about every app looking better or just how freaking heavy it is, there really is no comparison to my old 9.7 iPad. This guy looks a lot better, but it comes with the trade of having to deal with an uncommonly heavy tablet. As a result, I would say that if you didn’t have a reason to go big, you may want to really consider getting the smaller version.
My Particular Needs
So why go big? For me, this is mainly related to photography. I take a lot of photos with both the iPhone and my regular Sony A7RIII camera. I wanted something that could eventually do all my editing so that I could leave my laptop home on trips or pull up a photo I shot with the iPhone and have that available for editing without doing a lot of extra work.
I also have Lightroom CC, so I can have access to photos I shot with the Sony and dumped into Lightroom CC on a computer.
All that being said, the photos simply pop on the gorgeous screen. It is really like you haven’t seen the photos until you have seen them on such a beautiful “Liquid Retina XDR” screen. This weekend, I took a bunch of RAW files with my Sony camera, sent them to the iPad in RAW format over the air and they showed up right in the photos app.
Some were macros, so I had to crop down the file to see just how much resolution was in the file, simply expanding the photo with two fingers showed up as blurry, so be careful deleting stuff if you think it isn't sharp once zoomed in.
Of course, you also get the benefit of the large screen with media apps like Disney+ and the Apple New+ app. Everything simply looks better.
Size has some downsides
As I mentioned, there are downsides to the size, which mainly means holding it in the hand and surfing through a bunch of magazines (or whatever) isn’t something you want to do for hours. Yes, its okay if you prop it up on something, but then you start looking at cases.
While I don’t intend for this to be a full review of the Logitech Combo Touch iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th Generation) Keyboard Case, I will say that it has made the size issues less of an issue. It has a fold out stand that means if you want to use the iPad in bed, you can prop it up and take less stress on the arms. I also like the added protection you get with it because the back stays on when you removed the keyboard. I will review it separately, so stayed tuned for that, but it really makes the iPad more usable in more situations. Of course, the keyboard helps when you want to have that attached, as well.
Apple Music Lossless (this section for audiophiles or audiophile curious people)
Apple released their lossless, hi res and Dolby Atmos update, but that came with some issues. First off the MacOS version doesn’t have bit rate switching on the fly… I know that may not mean a lot to everyone… but if you are interested in getting the most out of the added resolution, it makes more sense to use an IOS or iPadOS device in the process for the time being (I expect that Apple will eventually update some of the shortfalls, but right now the iPad and iPhone have the advantage).
With the iPhone, I could never get it to work with my Topping D10 DAC. It will come up with a message saying that the accessory requires too much power. This issue went away using the iPad’s USB-C out. I plugged in their USB-C to USB-A adapter and I was up and running with bit rate switching on the fly.
That being said, this particular solution means you can’t charge at the same time. Luckily, I have a Satechi Aluminum Stand & Hub – 6-in-1 USB-C Hub Foldable Stand in for review! I connected it to a USB-C charger and ran the USB out from the Topping into the USB port on the stand. This works!!! While most of the power goes to the Topping, this keeps the iPad from draining power over long listening periods. It also looks great in the process. Of course, when you are ready to get up and go, this stand folds down and fits in a bag.
I had an Apple Pencil with my original iPad Pro, but rarely used it. However, I am now reviewing a cheaper Stylus for iPad with Palm Rejection, Apple Pen that is in the $30 range from URISICO. It may not have every feature of the Apple Pencil, but it still magnetically connects to the iPad and I was able to draw and take notes without any issues. While I am still working with it, I don’t see a reason for me to pay a lot more for Apple’s version, but we will see how it goes with further testing. Another great thing about that Logitech Case is that you can fold down the stand to really get a nice angle for touch ups and drawing.
I realize those that want to use Final Cut Pro and other pro apps are very disappointed with this upcoming release because the iPad has the exceptional M1 chip and should be able to run pro apps at this point. However, I am looking forward to their Universal Control for iPad and Mac. I hope this allows some flexibility using the full Adobe Photoshop without some of the trade offs inherent in the current iOS version of the app. Also, while I like the Logitech Case for on the go, it is also a plus to be able to use the same mouse and keyboard I use with the Mac. Looking forward to this feature for sure. Of course, if Adobe could make the iPad Photoshop app more similar to the desktop app.....that would be more useful to me.
Just General Stuff
My original 9.7 iPad was starting to crash apps like News+, so it must be getting long in the tooth. The experience is just smooth and nothing chokes with this new iPad. I did go with a lower tier storage option, so I have 8GB of RAM, rather than the 1TB tier that comes with 16GB. Right now, apps can only access 5GB of RAM, but Apple is changing that in iPadOS 15, so that should make things even faster.. if that is possible.
The Thunderbolt USB-C ports also means quicker movement of files for when I am on the road and want to transfer photos for backup. It definitely will speed up my process all around.
I guess the BIG upside and downside of the iPad are the same. The huge screen is a joy, but it comes with a very heavy tablet which will not be for everyone. Luckily, I still have the 9.7 around for using in more of a book style fashion. As an example, if I am reading a book on the Kindle app, I am going to pick up the the lighter iPad. If I want to edit photos, I will go with the M1 iPad. I do think that accessories are more important than ever and I am very happy with the accessories I am using with it. If you are considering the more expensive Apple Case, I would recommend at least looking at the Logitech.
Gorgeous high tech screen (nothing like it that I have seen)
Very fast and smooth when using
Apple Music Hi Res with proper DAC
Bigger screen for more impact when viewing or editing media
More Room for Multitasking
Lack of Pro Apps (no Final Cut and a dumbed down Photoshop)
Very heavy and awkward for tablet only mode (unless you have the right case)
Apple announced today that in June they would be bringing lossless audio, hi res audio and even "spatial audio" to market. The incredible thing is that they will do this at the current cost....essentially moving the market. Amazon has already moved as a result.
I never understood this extra charge to get "CD" quality audio. Have you ever went to buy a CD and been given two options for pricing for bitrate? My guess is that you haven't, so the extra cost has never made sense other than the fact that it was an exclusive to certain services, but that has completely disappeared with this announcement and Spotify announcing that they would have lossless before the end of the year.
Can anyone actually hear a difference?
I see this mentioned all the time and the answer is difficult to come by when doing comparisons. For certainty in these type of tests, you need a 90 percent success rate. Typically, these tests are over several songs, while you go back and forth to compare.
This requires memory of how things sound and that is a different skill than just plopping down and listening to music. Also, let's say you hear the difference on 7 songs, but not on 3...in a 10 song cycle. This is failing. Does that mean you didn't hear a difference on those 7 songs? Is every song the same? Does every song have the clarity of certain instruments to show a difference? The list of possible issues goes on and on.
As a result, if all else being the same, I would go with lossless audio over compressed. Not saying I could hear a difference in every song, but why not go with the fact that one is lossy and the other is lossless? At this point, with the pricing being the same, I see no reason to use lossy unless I am losing a signal over cellular. I have an all you can eat cellular data plan, so even in my Jeep, with the top off, I will use lossless, even if there isn't a human on earth that could tell the difference.
Of course, spatial audio is a whole different thing. I am curious how that sounds over headphones.
Out of the gate, I see a few issues compared to the Audirvana/Qobuz setup I use now. Maybe they will fix the issues prior to the launch in June?
1. The Remote App - Truly awful app in the world of streaming on the Mac. You have to add a song to your library from Apple Music before the Remote app can see it. That means you can't just control any song in the Apple Music library without using a mouse and keyboard. Audirvana gives you full access to your own library and the entire Qobuz library from the app.
2. Airplay - Will there be some firmware update that allows hi res audio (Apple has also announces music up to 24/192) in its native format? In the past, you could only send 16/44.1 via Airplay.
3. Casting - As of now, you can't Cast with the Apple Music app on iOS (not sure about Android). With the Qobuz app, you can Cast 24/96 files. I doubt Apple will add Casting, but it would allow for some high res files.
4. DLNA - Audirvana gives you the ability to send audio, even at 24/192 wirelessly. I doubt Apple will give us this ability, but it would be a way to add Apple Music hi res to a lot of systems without needing anything extra. It would be ideal if they didn't have an Airplay update. The open source LMS (Logitech Media Center) software gives you access to Airplay, DLNA, and Casting. However, Apple Music doesn't currently have a plug in for it, so let's hope they update the AM app to do more.
5. Apple TV limitations - Not sure about their most recent AppleTV, but the previous models would only send out a 48khz signal. Older Airport Express units are capped at 16/44.1.
All in all, I am not sure how Apple expects people to take advantage of hi res audio at this point. Lossless CD quality (16/44.1) is easily available now, so this update is still worthwhile. I guess they expect you to sit in front of the Mac you are using for music to use hi res, so if that isn't possible, you get some remote desk access software or something like that. I don't expect to hear much difference between 16/44.1 and 24/192, but if it is available, it would be nice to be able to play it.
Personally, I do have the Dragonfly setup I can use with the iPhone and iPad to get 24/96, but most of my listening is on my main system, so will have to figure out the best way to handle it. Will post again when I know more. Below is my video about the Dragonfly if you are interested. There may be 24/192 portable DACs available at this point, but I haven't looked into it.
First off, one of my passions is photography. It is the thing that allows me to capture memories while helping me take a renewed look at my surroundings. The Meural isn’t like any photo frame I have had, to say the least. I have had the kind that you load up photos via an SD card slot, but the Meural connected easily to my network and allowed me to put my photos in a more prominent spot with ease using an iPhone.
For full disclosure, I received this for free (though, I pay taxes on it) in exchange for a review (for Amazon) and I may get paid if you click and buy from Amazon links.
We decided to put the Meural on the mantle over the fireplace in landscape orientation (it has a stand that can be oriented in landscape or portrait). It makes quite the impression! Of course, I have to hide the cord to the outlet as best as I can. I wish they had used a regular plug at the end because the cable isn’t long enough to take the heavy plug to the ground and it is pretty ugly hanging in midair, so the solution I have come up with is to wind up the cable behind the frame while running a longer extension cable from the power to the back of the frame. Not a big deal, but a much longer cable would have been much appreciated.
That being said, I have tried many of the different options in the app. I have uploaded 84 photos and two videos without much hassle. I have an Orbi Network in the house that is pretty fast, so adding photos to a playlist and sending them to the canvas has been pretty easy and fairly quick. It does show the photos in my folder by organizing them for view by when they were taken, but sometimes that makes it easier to find photos, so it has it’s up and downside.
The frame gives you a lot of options. You can only show photos with the same orientation as the frame or let it show everything with bars on the side, when necessary (we use “contain”, which I think works best if you have photos with different orientations). They let you chose white, gray, or black for the side bars. I see some light bleeding in on the black, which is typical of LCD frames, but if that annoys you, white and gray are good substitutes. We have it on gray for now, but will probably change it periodically. The white looks great, too, if you want to give it some “pop”.
The other very cool feature is that you can set it to go off when the room is dark. That means it will put the frame in standby for the night without having to turn it off manually. Heck, I have mine setup so that I can tell Alexa to “turn off Canvas” or “turn on Canvas” by voice, so that is an option, as well.
While I am not using the art they have available, the samplers they provided are very nice and they look spectacular on the frame. I would guess that some people will find it useful to pay more and join their club to get discounts on more classic artwork.
The one feature that takes some time to master is the gestures. I have the best luck when I use the back of my hand slightly above or to the side of the frame. It is less hit and miss now than when I first got it.
I could go on and on, but the thing I mainly want to say is that photos look amazing on it. I found the app easy enough to use and I love the ability to load up short videos alongside my photos!! While the app may take a bit of time to get used to, the gestures are a little awkward, and the cable is too short for my needs, I have to admit that I still love this thing! In fact, I highly recommend it for photographers that want to showcase their photos/short videos, as long as they can live with the issues I mentioned.
To end the year, I have a big office update. I purchased an Uplift Standing desk, which means I get a chance to look at my wiring again and take a renewed look at what I have in the area.
Why Change Desks?
I have been using my desk more in 2020 than in all the years I have had the house. I spend every single workday with it. As a result, I have had issues I never would have known about. First off, my current desk is just too short for me. I am 6’5, so it isn’t a surprise. I ignored it when I would only be working on it for a few hours a week (or less), but when you spend over 40 hours a week with it, it cannot be ignored.
My desk at the company’s office is one of those old hand crank models. It is too short at its highest point to use for standing, but I like being able to put the desk at the proper height when sitting. I guess it is the inspiration for my new desk.
I am sure I would have been happy with several other options, but I went with them because they were giving away a lot of stuff with the purchase over the holidays and I had a $75 off coupon. I guess it is kind of a coin flip, but there are things that I can add down the road that seemed to set it apart.
How does it fit in the space?
It is more narrow than my current desk. That is actually a good thing because I have to pull it away from the wall a bit so that when I raise it up, it doesn’t hit my wall mounted TV. The things I have on that extra 10 inches or so space on the current desk can easily be moved. The USB BluRay drive should probably go in a drawer since it gets so little use. Since, I will be sitting a little closer to the monitor, I may add an arm mount if it feels too close. That would allow me to move it back to the wall when I am sitting and pull it forward when standing. I will wait and see just how everything feels to be sure before I try making more changes.
I also have to move the SACD triangle rack I have on the wall. I may move it up higher or just move the SACDS to a "CD Wallet" and throw out the cases...like I have already done to most of my CDs. Not sure yet. I will have to see how high it needs to be mounted first, but I can already tell it will be in the way.
I got a few accessories to hold me over for now (will have a review of those things once I have everything setup). However, I am interested in their rolling “under desk” cabinet, but may get that down the road or try to find something similar that costs less. I have a closet door that needs to be opened on occasion to the left of the desk, so I would like to be able to roll the cabinet into that area when the door is closed and roll it under the desk when I need to open the door. This will give me more space for my legs most of the time. I have a mesh drawer system under the desk now and it has gotten beat up and the drawers are bent and hard to open, so something in better shape will need to be added at some point.
A couple notes about one accessory
The one thing that I am really looking forward to is the castor wheels. I can’t tell you what a pain it is to get behind the current desk when I change something out. When I need to remove something, half the time, I just unplug that thing from above the desk and just leave the power brick plugged in until I can get behind it again. Cord management becomes a nightmare…. I did that over a weekend once, but failed to realize that tying everything up and pushing the desk back to the wall makes even the slightest changes a complete nightmare. With the wheels, I can just unplug it from the wall and pull it out into the room. So much better! The wheels also make the desk taller, which is another major upside!
To Wrap Up
These are just a few notes until I can get everything up and running. It is a huge endeavor because of all the cables and wires I have running behind the desk. I know that all the work it will cause will be worth it, though. I will post an update when it is all wrapped up!
Below is one of the last pics of the setup. However, I will try to see if I have one since I added the Tivoo Max. Not sure if I have one, so this may be it...
I started using several apps and services a lot more this year with home confinement being the theme for 2020. Below are some of my favs:
Hopefully, I won't be home as much in 2021, but I am sure I will use all of these apps/services in the future.
Dog loving, Big Green Egg worshiping, Tech enthusiast, residing in Memphis, TN. Home of the Tigers, Grizzlies, Elvis, Al Green, Stax, Hi Records, Ardent Studios, Beale Street, Peabody Ducks, etc.. I have also added the Jeep Wrangler to the list of things I am enthusiastic about.
Flickr pics below