Tag Archives: tech

My review: Chromecast audio

When google announced this little box of tricks that connected to your speakers and turned any normal system into a fully connected one, I was intrigued to try it out.
I’m going to run through getting it out the box, setting it up and how I find the range of apps available. My main one that I will be using though is spotify connect however I will me trying out other services like google music.

Google music

Speaking of Google music, I’ve been having a bit of trouble with uploading my own collection. The music manager application is completely inaccessible to mac and windows users due to the way its designed and built. I tried the web app for chrome and on mac it’s a little bit difficult as chrome isn’t the best of browsers to get around, but I managed to get a few tracks uploaded. However, I tried uploading a big folder but I can’t see the status of the upload; progress, ETC. Anyway, back to the main point of this post.

Unboxing

It’s a very nice google style box; the same type (just a bit smaller) that my nexus came in. You don’t get a lot in the box but the device itself is presented first. If you don’t know what one looks like, it’s a small round disk, with grooves on it like a vinyl.
A picture of the Chromecast audio
It has an input for the micro USB cable, a 3.5 output jack and a button which I think resets the device although I’m not sure. Surrounding the device in the box is a small 3.5MM to 3.5MM cable; trust me it’s small. Once you’ve lifted the device out there is a very nice power adapter and a longer usb to micro USB cable then I was expecting. Good quality as well. And that’s it.
Setup was the easiest thing I think I’ve ever done, plug the device in to power and your system, choose add a device in the Chromecast app, choose Chromecast audio, join the WiFi network it has created, play a test tone, enter a name, join your WiFi and then you’re ready to start casting things. It is as simple as that.
Of the apps I had installed on my phone, I could cast from: Google play music, spotify and TuneIn radio.

First impressions and review

Spotify was my first choice as it’s the service I use the most and pay for. I loaded up a playlist, hit the button to choose a spotify connect device and my Chromecast appeared straight away. One double-tap, and pleasing tone later, music stopped playing from my phone and through my speakers. Honestly it was so easy I found myself thinking “surely it can’t be this simple”, but it really is.

I went into the Chromecast app just to play around and see what settings I could tweak and fchange. You can change the name of your device, the WiFi network, timezone, time format, language, turn the feedback sounds on and off, turn on and off guest mode (more that in a bit) and turn on something google is calling “high dynamic range, for AVRs and HiFi systems”. I turned this on as I had it connected to my 2.1 system at the time and it made one hell of a difference. Before it sounded a bit flat and boring but this made the sound louder and boosted all the frequencies. As I write this (not at the time of posting) I’ve got it connected to our sound bar playing a spotify station and the ‘high dynamic range’ is making a big difference there as well. I then moved on to tune in because I thought “Hey! £35 internet radio!” But alas, this was not to be had. Every station I tried to cast brought up an error saying that I couldn’t cast it. I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to use this as a radio but Spotify is good enough.
Screenshot of error in TuneIn radio
I also tried a couple of tracks that I had stored in my google music library and no problem there, tap cast and they start playing. I also just tried Rdio and the app is a little bit difficult to get around but I managed to get that playing through the Chromecast audio no problem.

I would like to see more apps, e.g. it would be nice to have an app that could cast your music stored on your phone, but I suppose google users have that with play music. Also, Google did try and get Apple music support on board but it never came through. I have yet to try this with android but as soon as I do I will be back with my experience.

Verdict

It’s a lovely little device that works like a dream, as long as you have a Rdio or SPotify subscription or are a google play music user. It does exactly what it says on the tin though, it’s turned my speakers from boring offline speakers to WiFi-enabled ones that I can play Spotify one without paying over the odds for a dedicated streamer or something like a Sonos system.
Thanks for reading, and keep watching out for more reviews in the future.
Thanks!

My Review: AKG K451 headphones

Introduction

Hello there and welcome to another tech review. This time I’ve got the AKG k451 on the go headphones. I picked these up for just under £40, and I’m really excited to try them out.

Background

I had been interested in buying a new set of headphones for a while. I’ve got an in ear pair that I like, and a pair of Sennheiser PX 200-II’s which are really good for travelling with but I’ve gotten a bit bored with how they sound.
I first came across these headphones while browsing WhatHifi as I like to do. I read their review and was quite impressed that they hadn’t actually been able to fault anything. I thought “surely these things are going to cost quite a bit!” But was pleasantly surprised when I clicked on the Superfi link in the “Where to buy” section and saw £38.99. I proceeded to purchase them with free delivery (always nice) and it is now Wednesday (2 days on), and I’m expecting them to be delivered well, about now. Side note: I like delivery companies that let you know exactly what’s going on with your parcel and text you with the delivery window. According to the tracking info, I’m stop 62 and am next on the driver’s journey. Massive shout to UK Mail for providing such a brilliant service. In fact, there goes the door bell now. I should probably go and get that. Ok, got them, let’s get these bad boys out of the box.

What’s in the box

So, once I’d gotten in to the box, we have a nice hard carrying case which includes all the paper work that you get with the headphones which is well, I have no idea. I’ll get someone sited to tell me and update this post accordingly. Update: It’s your warranty card and a peace of paper that tells you what the remote’s functions are on the cable. Also in the case you get a cable without the remote and mic should you want to use that. Ok, so under that we have the headphones themselves which have been very cleverly cable tied in to the packaging. As has the cable with the remote and mic. Several cable ties later, I have the headphones and cables out and assembled. The headphones themselves look very nice, but we’ll get in to my full review later on. Also in the box you get an adapter to convert the normal 3.5MM plug to a 6.3MM jack should you want to use that. One thing I will note which I think is a nice touch though is just above the ear cups themselves there is braille (A L and a R) to indicate left and right, obviously. The cable looks to be a really nice quality and is 1.2M in length. Each end has a 3.5M connecter, something that I like an I wished my Sennheiser’s had.

First impressions

My god!!!!!! I just happened to be sitting on the sofa with my mac writing this post when the headphones arrived so I unboxed them and plugged them straight in. I had iTunes playing in the background but the song that was playing had just ended so I was waiting for it to transition. My playlist was on shuffle so i had no idea what would come up. It turns out it was Marvins Room by Drake.

The pounding baseline soon braced my ears and I was blown away. The headphones fit really comfortably and are very well padded. I wrote the unboxing section listing to voiceover and my iTunes in the background and I am very impressed. For their size, you wouldn’t really be expecting them to sound as well as they do, but they do. Alex and voiceover’s sounds don’t sound half bad with them either which is always a plus. They go bloody loud. However they do block out background noise very well; I have my music at a moderate volume, and I can barely hear myself tapping away on the keyboard. Like WhatHifi, I haven’t found anything to fault them on yet but I’ve only had them about half an hour. I’ll use them for the next day or 2 and then get back to you with a more in-depth review.

My full review

Ok so I’ve been using these headphones for a bit now and have decided. I really like them. Even as I sit here in the same situation I was originally; iTunes in the background, on the sofa, I’m still impressed by the quality of sound these headphones produce. However I will say they do leek a little bit, especially at the high volumes, but that’s kind of to be expected with headphones this size and this design. My Sennheiser’s don’t leek noise as much but personally I don’t think they go as loud.
They fit really comfortably; the headband allowing for plenty of adjustment. The headband itself is nicely padded, giving the AKG’s extra comfort. They also just feel sturdy on your head; they’re not going to fall off in a hurry. I do like a pair of headphones that can fold, I just think it looks neat when the headphones aren’t in use and the AKG’s manage to tick that box rather finely, however I still haven’t really figured out if I’m putting them in the case the right way yet. Update: I think I’ve figured out how to get them in the case. They do fit in there but it’s a bit awkward to get them in. When the cups are folded, there are spaces for them
to go face down and the case just zips shut.
I’m still impressed with the level of comfort they have to offer and the way they fit snuggly over your head and don’t grip. They aren’t like other headphones I’ve tried that hurt your ears when you wear them for a considerable length of time either. Honestly, they are that comfortable that when I plugged them in to my DAB radio to listen too while I was in bed last night, I ended up falling asleep wearing them. For a good few hours. I suppose I just got lost in the sound.
I’ve been listening to a varied range of genres over the last day or so with them and I have to say, they do perform exceptionally well with a wide range of music styles. I played probably one of my favourite albums to come out in a good while (X By Ed Sheeran); just on iTunes, and that’s when i truly noticed how well these headphones performed with acoustic music. Bass is well presented and the headphones do a good job of separating different instruments in the mix. You can also appreciate effects like reverb more.
After that I thought I’d try them with a very different genre of music. So I put on Royal Blood by Royal Blood and I found out it’s not just acoustic music these headphones do well. The pounding drums and guitar lines are very well presented however they leave plenty of space for the vocals to come through.
I have yet to play anything other than iTunes 256 KBPS AAC and Spotify’s “extreme” quality (equivalent to 320 KBPS) however, and I really need to get my FLAC collection out to really make the most of how they sound. That’ll be next week though so I’ll stick a bit at the bottom of the post when i do dive in. Even now just listening to iTunes again, I’m noticing how well Daft Punk’s ‘get lucky is presented. A very good buy I think.

Conclusion

Am I telling you to buy these headphones? Should you run out and snap some up for yourself? That’s not for me to decide. I’m just putting forward my review and experience of them. If you want to purchase a pair on my judgement then go right ahead. All I’m saying is if you’re looking for a pair of foldable affordable headphones that sound great then go right ahead.
I’m really happy with my purchase and hope if you go ahead with it you will be too.
I know I don’t post here very often but that’s because I run out of things to say quite quickly which is why I like my twitter more because it forces me to get to the point.
If you enjoy my blog posts however, and want to see more of them, give me a subject to talk about. Either tweet me, or contact me through the contact page.
Thank you very much for reading, and see you next time.

Update

Ok, it’s been a few weeks now (sorry), (well I did go on holiday; and yes, I did take the headphones), and I’ve been listening to them pretty much exclusively. In fact, I’m listening to them now and I’m still as impressed as I was when I first received them. I did say I would update once I’d listened to some high resolution audio with them, I don’t really know what I thought I was going to tell you, “It sounds, … the same as the difference between if you listen to a 320K MP3 and flac file on any good hardware” (it does sound bloody good). In fact, I’m sitting at my actual desk on my windows PC listening to foobar shuffling my flac library at the present time of writing this. (Which is a Saturday at 22:06, cause you know, all the 18 year old kids sit updating their blogs on a Saturday) … I digress. In case you care, I’ve got the headphones plugged into my Behringer UCA222, using the cable without the inline remote. If you didn’t care, too bad, you can’t unread it. I did have one problem though; when I was using these with my nexus7, I noticed the volume controls on the remote weren’t working but when I complained on twitter, a very kind person informed me that that’s an android problem so it’s nothing to do with the headphones. I have listened to a few more albums with these though and I’m still in love with them. I’ve also been listening to a few audio books and movies and it’s not just music they perform well with. As I mentioned before, TTS doesn’t sound bad through them either, especially on iOS, which is my preferred book reading medium these days. Anyway, that’ll do for now, so I hope you’ve enjoyed this little update, and see you all in the next one.

My review: Belkin N300 wireless WiFi range extender

Hi guys, in this post I’m going to be reviewing a new product I
have obtained. This is the

WiFi extender.

Background

I’d been noticing for a while that in our house the WiFi signal
never quite reaches the back of the house, where my bedroom was,
so much so that if I turned over in bed, my phone would switch on
to 3G as it had lost signal completely. I had been wanting to buy
a WiFi extender for a while, but hadn’t really done any research
in to it. It only really crossed my mind when I acquired an old

router from about 6 years ago. I thought to myself, why don’t I
try and turn this in to an extender. I googled it, and it looked
like it could be done when you rebranded the router and flashed
it back to the net gear default firmware instead of sky’s custom
one.

Cut a long story and about 2 hours of work short, I couldn’t do
it. I have no idea why, but a lot of files I needed weren’t
around anymore and once I had acquired them, they just wouldn’t
work. So I gave up. Oh well, I got a couple of ethernet cables
out of it if nothing else.

So it was a day or so after doing this
that I was browsing through twitter and I spotted a review from Geekanoids (who doesn’t seem to want to link here for some reason)

I thought I’d look for myself on
amazon, so I clicked the link in his video description, and
thought I’d do a bit more research so I looked at the amazon
reviews, and people seemed to be satisfied with it, so I thought
I’d do a bit more looking around to see if this was actually a
good one, turns out it’s one of the best for its price (£25). So
I thought well it’s 25 quid, may as well give it a go.

Setup

A few days passed, and it arrived. I opened it up, and the first
thing I noticed was the size of it. It was smaller than I thought
it would be. It’s a small square with a UK plug on the end of it.
There’s one button on the top, which is a WPS button. There’s an
LED light, and a small reset button, and that’s it. The product
documentation said it was very easy to set up, and it could even
be done from a smart phone or tablet, so I grabbed the trusty
iPhone and got to work.

I plugged it in, and started searching for the device in my WiFI
settings. Eventually, I found it, connected, and opened Safari. I
was presented with a screen asking me which language I wanted. I
chose english, and clicked next. It then started searching for
broadcasting SSID’s, and eventually pulled up a list of networks.
I chose our BTHub 3, and clicked next again. It attempted to
connect, which I knew it wouldn’t be able to, but it then popped
up asking for the key. I gave it the key, pressed next and hoped
for succession.

Now this is the bit that confused me. It asked me to enter a
password for its interface, and told me to leave blank if I
hadn’t chosen one yet and it was the first time I was being
asked. I did as it said, and clicked continue. I didn’t know
this, but my phone had switched back to the BTHub, and the Belkin
network had disappeared, so I just got rerouted to my DNS page
telling me that it couldn’t find that address. I logged in to the
hub, and sure enough there was the Belkin device in the connected
section. I noted its IP, browsed to it, and sure enough there was
a status page telling me the device was functioning correctly and
some general info about it; serial number, firmware version, etc.

I then decided to move it to another socket in the house to one
that wasn’t used as often, (well basically not at all because
it’s in a cupboard), so it was more on the edge of the signal.
According to the documentation, this would make it function
better.

Thoughts?

I’ve been using it for around 2 days now, and what a difference
it’s made. I now see 3 bars of WiFi in my room instead of 1, or
3G. I haven’t seen a dramatic speed decrease, but then again I haven’t tried FaceTime or Skype on it yet, so that will be
something I shall update on once I’ve tried it; I just wanted to
get this post out there.

If you find yourself in need of a WiFi
extender, I would highly recommend this one. We’ll see if it
holds out but for now, it seems to be happy. One thing I will
note, it gets rather hot, but a good thing is it can be moved
around without losing its settings, so if ever I need the WiFi to
be extended outside, I can just move it closer to the outside. If
you’d like to pick one up, you can get one for 25 quid in the UK
from
,
or $39 if you’re in the US on

If you’d like to contact me, please do via the

page, or tweet me

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!