Friday, February 12, 2016
Instrumental music is alive and well. Here are a few favorites, all released within the last couple of years. The final YouTube track below is an oldie, showing the robot band above in action!
Monday, January 25, 2016
Until recently I was never much of a headphones kind of guy. Back in the ’80s I owned a couple different crappy Walkman-style portable cassette players, and typically just used whatever equally crappy headphones were included with the players. In those days I was much more inclined to spend whatever disposable income I had available on music rather than on gear. I think those shrill-sounding little ‘phones eventually put me off from using headphones altogether for quite some time afterwards, and I just naturally transitioned to doing my listening via speakers of one kind or another.
Fast-forward to the 2000s, when I finally started owning things like computers, DVD players, and an iPod…having some kind of headphone for personal listening suddenly seemed like a good idea again. I still didn’t feel compelled to spend much. For about $16 I purchased a pair of JVC Flats (aka the JVC HA-S160):
For budget ‘phones these sound quite nice…they have a relatively flat frequency response, decent bass, and also fold flat for easy portability. They’ve received numerous positive endorsements over the years (most recently via CNET). I made do with these as my only headphones for 2 or 3 years, but eventually got frustrated with them…they’re rather small, and though I liked their sound I had a hard time keeping them positioned on my head and ears. I began researching potential replacements…
The Koss KSC75 ear clip headphone gets a lot of love at audiophile forums like Head-Fi, and for good reason…these little ‘phones have remarkably great sound for the price. Here’s a link to a thread on Head-Fi extolling the virtues of this budget powerhouse. It took a while to convince me to try them out…even after reading page after page of glowing user reviews, I was concerned that I wouldn’t care much for using headband-less headphones that clip to the ear. But when I saw an open-box pair on markdown at Sears for $9.93, I succumbed to curiosity and grabbed ‘em. Right out of the box they were impressive…outstanding balance & tone, with a fun, punchy, expansive, open and airy quality. I highly recommend these for casual listening. The KSC75 typically sells for around $15 - $20, but is sometimes offered for less. Recently Kmart had them on sale for $9.99, so I scooped up a couple extra pairs. I was surprised to discover that I actually like the ear clips…for me, they’re so comfortable that I hardly know I’m wearing them, and the music almost seems to be coming from out of thin air…
That being said…getting the ear clips on and off can sometimes be a slight hassle, so I decided to look into ways to put the KSC75 drivers onto some kind of headband for more convenience. The Head-Fiers recommended using a headband from a cheap headphone sold by Parts Express (see below). I tried this, but eventually opted for solutions which seemed more substantial, reliably durable and portable (also below).
|My "KossHeisers" - KSC75 drivers on a Sennheiser PXC 250 headband.|
|My "75 XLs" - KSC75 drivers on a 2XL "Shakedown" headband.|
Although easily portable, the KSC75 is a semi-open headphone…that is, it leaks sound, so it’s not necessarily appropriate for all situations (for example, at the library, on public transportation, etc.) So I’ve been gradually building up a small arsenal of closed-back ‘phones for private listening. I’ve had some luck finding a few very decent-sounding used headphones and related gear at local thrift shops like Goodwill.
I really like the sound of these JBL E40BT headphones. They’re Bluetooth-enabled but can also be used wired. This model has already been discontinued, but can often be found on closeout lately at a significantly reduced price. I got mine at Goodwill, new-in-the-box, for just $25.
These Sony MDR-NC40 noise canceling ‘phones have surprisingly good sound for a relatively inexpensive portable, as long as the NC is turned on…the built-in amplification adds a lot of bass! I do think they sound much better with the player EQ set to “Treble Boost.” They fold up, which is very convenient. Goodwill again, five bucks.
I was lucky enough recently to get a used pair of Bowers and Wilkins P5 Mobile Hi-Fi headphones for only $50 (these typically retail for around $300.00). Some don’t consider these to be truly “audiophile grade” ‘phones, but they are definitely head and shoulders above anything else I currently own as far as build and sound quality are concerned.
Finally…I found a used Fiio E6 headphone amplifier for five dollars. I never imagined I’d have any use for such a thing, but now I find it comes in very handy, at times. In addition to amplifying the sound it also has a couple of different bass-boost settings. It has a rechargeable battery & is small enough to attach to my iPod case via a bit of Velcro.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Happy New Year! Yup, I'm still kickin'. Just wanted to mention a couple up-and-coming thangs to be on the lookout for, both of which will eventually be found over at the WFMU ICHIBAN! blog.
First up...the annual WFMU RADIO pledge drive will soon be in full swing. As a pledge drive "premium" I've thrown together a collection of (mostly instrumental) music from classic biker flicks, which also includes selected tracks from other Mike Curb-produced "teenage rebellion"-type exploitation movies. The DVD-R MP3 collection, titled CYCLE PSYCHOS & MOTOR MANIACS, will also feature a number of radio spot ads. Watch WFMU ICHIBAN for details.
Kogar the Swinging Ape is finishing up his latest compilation. The individual tracks have been posted weekly for the past few months or so; the finished comp (titled SWITCHBLADE PANIC!!) should be available in its entirety soon (also at the ICHIBAN blog, naturally!)
Saturday, December 19, 2015
Sunday, December 6, 2015
December 5th, 2015 - Bremerton, WA
|With Denny's wife, Jane|
|With Denny's daughter, Sarah|
|With R.L. Crabb|
|With Jim Blanchard|
|With Pat Moriarity|
|With Jim Woodring|
|With Colin Upton & Mary Woodring|
|With Roberta Gregory|
|With Max Clotfelter|
|With Tom Van Deusen|