Saturday, June 9, 2012

FaceOff: Skullcandy Mix Master Mike vs V-MODA V80s ... FIGHT!

Hello peeps!

I'm amazed that I haven't updated this blog as often seeing that I've bought more headphones lately than I've bought underw... Ok ok... TMI I know. :-p

Anyway, I figured I should do this write up seeing that I had the notes already made a few weeks ago and that I had the time.
Now, usually I don't go around buying "on-ear" headphones because usually I find ALL of them kind of uncomfortable (not sure if it is due to me wearing glasses, having tiny ears, the combination of those or just being used to over-ear headphones) but once I saw the V-MODAs, I knew I had to have them! They're a relatively new company and I just loved their style. They do have over-ear offerings but I decided to go with their HBO branded True Blood  headphones. It's really a stunner!
And speaking of "brandings" and cool-looking, the first time I saw the Mix Master Mike's, I wanted to try them. They looked over the top (as most of Skullcandy line looks) but actually had a couple of features that I found interesting even though they are targeted to DJs and... I'm not.

Skullcandy Specs:
* Speaker Diameter: 50mm
* Driver Type: Mylar
* Magnet Type: Neodymium
* Frequency Response: 20-20K Hz
* Impedance: 19 ohms
* Cable Type: PU Coil, TPE
* Cable Length: 0.8m Relaxed
* Plug Type: 3.5mm Gold Plated with 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter included.

V-MODA Specs:
* Type: Supraaural (on-ear)
* Speaker Drivers: patent pending 40mm Dual-Diaphragm 
* Impedance: 28.5 Ohms
* Frequency Response: 5 - 30,000 Hz
* Pressure Level: 105 dB
* Standard Cables: Kevlar® reinforced, 52” 1-Button mic cable, 52” audio only cable
* Plug: 45 degree, 24k gold-plated 3.5 mm (1/8") stereo plug
* Weight: 180g (headphone only)
If specs don't tell you anything, then keep reading! (don't worry, they usually don't tell me anything either! Most of the headphones carry similar specifications and most of them sound different to one another!)

Build Quality, features, comfortability and looks:
Mix Master Mike sport an all black motif and it's BIG. Also, they are all plastic, a finger-print magnet and they make a lot of noise (squeaky) so I'm pretty sure it's not going to be as durable as other Dj headphones on the market which are big and rugged but do not feel flimsy like these Skulls. These are around-the-ear and seal very well bringing a bit of passive isolation. But the most important thing on these are a couple of features that Skullcandy brought to the table:

1) The right earpad carries a Mute button! Yep, push it and sound goes away (pretty cool if you need this for Dj-ing or... applyable to me, if you work in a cube area and have people coming to you asking questions, don't need to press pause, lower the volume, etc. just press the button! Very nice.

2) When the earcup is rotated 90 degrees, it actually produces a stereo sound on that earpiece! Yep, not mono!

3) Two cables are included and both feel pretty good. Also, you can connect one of these on EITHER END of the earpads (i.e. if your console, mp3 player, etc. is on your right-hand side, you can connect the audio cable on the right earpad. If your sources are on the left-hand side, you can connect the audio cable to the left earpad! NICE!) And speaking of earpads, the "leather" material used on them is not too fluffy and they are very soft so I actually felt part of the outside plastic when listening to them. It became uncomfortable during long listening sessions. Too bad!

All in all, build quality suffers a bit.

V-MODAs all I can say is... WOW! Love the Black and red combination (True Blood Trademark) used throughout the headphone. First time I took them out of their case, my jaw almost dropped. I THOUGHT THEY WERE BIGGER but they are SO TINY! Once I placed them on my hand... ok... they are tiny but FEEL rugged, definitely WAY BETTER than the Skullcandy MMMs! These, as mentioned before, are on-ear so they don't cover your whole ear. Clamp is good and do not isolate as good as the Skullcandy's. They are STEEL headphones (like I said, rugged) mixed with a bunch of mumbo-jumbo naming conventions that although rugged, they look and feel great and comfortable. Also, since the headphones were designed to be stylish, you can also make your own logos and submit them to V-MODA to create your own "shield" (part of the cup). How cool is that?

These also come with a couple of cables (one designed for use with cellphones and one audio-only) but lack the features that come with the MMMs. Actually, they don't have any features! LOL (understandable seeing as these are NOT for Dj-ing uses).

Even though I don't like on-ear headphones, these I found more comfortable than the Skullcandys probably because I didn't have a piece of plastic bothering my ears! The little earpads are quite comfy.

Point goes to V-MODA.

What's in the box (Accessories)?:


* Skullcandy Mix Master Headphones 
* Straight cable with Mic3 
* Coiled DJ cable with angled input 
* Carry case + Clothing pad (to clean all the smudges you WILL leave behind! :-p ) 
* 6.3mm gold-plated adapter


* V-MODA for True Blood® V-80 headphones
* Exoskeleton blood vial hard case 
* Detachable Kevlar reinforced 1-Button mic/audio cable 
* Detachable Kevlar reinforced universal professional/home audio cable 
* Carabineer clip.

Point goes to both (great accessories!!)

Sound Quality:
This is where it gets interesting! First time I put on the Mix Master Mike's I was pleasantly surprised! The headphones sound was warm and very inviting. Bass, similar to a lot of what's on the streets right now, is overpowering but good. It takes over really quick on every song in every genre so if you the reader don't appreciate that, these headphones are NOT for you. Mids I found rather good but lower-mids were actually gobbled up by the bass. Still, vocals were very clear, guitars sounded good but not really too forward. Treble definitely rolls off... they are 'there' but you wont find the clarity that a lot of genres need. With this comes the illusion that there's lack of details... it's not lacking too many details, just sparkle up top. 

So all in all, WARM, BASSY headphones but delivers good mids. Wasn't a fan of the highs... The thing is though that they were very easy on the ears in the sense that NO fatigue set it at all. I would have used them for hours on end if it wasn't for the earpads being so soft that I could feel the plastic press my ears...

V-MODA's though? A WHOLE DIFFERENT SOUND. I was actually kind of expecting another "bassy" headphone since this seems to be the "norm" of most companies today. But no. To my surprise (yep, I was surprised twice! :-p) they are really great sounding throughout the whole spectrum! Bass is NOT overpowering at all but it definitely can extend and provide good sounding sub bass. Listening to Drum and Bass, Electro-pop, Techno and Dub was a pleasure. The Mids, crystal clear. Female vocals were great, guitars exploded left and right and you felt you were not missing anything. Since bass is not overpowering, I didn't really noticed it "stealing" from the Mids. The Highs, really really great! You get clarity, sparkle and great details. I was surprised that such little cups and this type of construction would provide such a great sound! 

Basically, the V-MODAs deliver on every end, from low to highs with good clarity, precision and power.

Both of these headphones are very easy to drive. I tested them with my Nuforce Icon HDP Dac/Amp and my portable setup which consist of an Archos 7 and a JDSLabs c421 amp.

Point goes to V-MODA.


I have to say, both of these headphones deliver great contents, and a very good sound. One caters to a specific crowd (Dj's) and the other to mostly everyone. If I have to recommend one of these to a "normal" person, my vote definitely goes to V-MODA! They are stylish, seem VERY durable, and it sounds extremely good especially for the price.

If you are a DJ and like the features from the Mix Master Mike set, then by all means get it. I believe the price is kind of steep though so if you could buy it for $200 or so, I think it's a good deal. 

Anyway, rating-wise, and taking into consideration the package contents, sound, and... PRICE:

V-MODA V80s: 4 out of 5 chocolates!! 
(if it would have come with an extra set of shields, a solid 4.5 :-p )

Skullcandy MMMs: 2.5 out of 5 chocolates!! 
(good sounding but extremely expensive and it doesn't seem to be durable due to that extreme use of plastic.)

Extra pics:

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Shure SRH1840 -- now 'Open' (mini Review)


If you have read this blog before then you surely know that I LOVE Shure headphones. I think they manage to capture what I like most about music: details, vocals, acoustic performances, etc. Overall, both SRH440 and SRH940 perform admirably so once I heard that Shure was developing an "open-back" variant for their new flagships, I HAD to get me one of them. And I did...

Pros: Great instrument separation, good clarity, just 'enough' bass presence.
Cons: Price, too similar sounding to a cheaper headphone...

The SRH1840s come in the biggest package for a Shure headphone that I have seen! LOL. But as always, everything comes neatly packaged and completely secured.


* Transducer type: Dynamic neodymium magnet
* Driver size: 40 mm
* Sensitivity (1kHz): 96 dB SPL/mW
* Impedance (1kHz): 65 Ω
* Max. input power (1kHz): 1000 mW
* Frequency range” 10 Hz - 30 kHz
* Net weight (without cable): 0.59 lbs (268 g)
* Length of cable: Coiled: 6.9 ft (2.1 m)
* Type of cable: Dual-exit, detachable oxygen-free copper
* Plug: Gold-plated 1/8" (3.5 mm) stereo mini jack

What's in the Box:

 * Shure SRH1840s
* Carrying Case
* Extra Velour earpads
* Detachable Cable (2x)
* Threaded 1/4" adapter
* Manual


This is something that definitely needs to be discussed a bit. You see, I (and I believe that a LOT of Shure past owners) was looking for something game-changing. I basically THOUGHT that this new flagship headphone was going to be similar to the SRH940s but "open-sounding" and with more bass presence... and I think we got something a bit... different.

Don't misinterpret though, I'm not saying that that is bad!! I actually liked the sound of the SRH1840s. Highs were not as pronounced like on the SRH940s (which is good especially for "faster" genres like Punk and Metal) but they still extended quite well. Mids were not as pronounced either but still you got great reproduction of guitars and vocals (love female vocals on these!). Bass, which was quite anemic on the 940s, is definitely present here so these actually sound... "full"... but still... they just sounded too similar to my Sennheiser HD600s!!!!

Doing A/B comparisons they were just so similar sounding! Now, where the Shure really took the cake was: sound stage and instrument separation! Good God! Some tracks just shined on the SRH1840s leaving the Sennheisers crying in a corner! But other than that, I kept using the Senns more and more...

What else can I say... The Shure SRH1840s definitely comes with extremely comfortable earpads!! The pressure on top (headband) is similar as the SRH940 and it feels better since it's actually a lighter headphone.

For a whole month I kept comparing and testing this new offering against the 940s and HD600s and I definitely came away impressed but only with the "right" tracks. Other than that I was left asking myself: Why would I choose these over my Sennheiser HD600s as my open-back headphones of preference... and I didn't.


So... Shure has definitely come to the "open-back" headphone market with a Great offering. The headphones feel great, are good-looking, come with a great deal of accessories (every other Headphone maker should take note dammit!!!!) and the sound is very balanced throughout the whole spectrum. Again, highs are present but not ear-piercing, mids are not recessed but don't JUMP out on you either, and bass is ... 'there'... (just not enough sub-bass, but still make the headphones sound 'full') But still, if you are in the market for this type of sound, you can do a similar buy and spend $300 less...

All in all, Like them NOT Love them.

If I was going to give them a rating, I'd give them a 3.5 out of 5!

Hope you enjoyed the review.

P.S. For sources I used my PC --> MP3s/FLACs --> Nuforce Icon HDP. Also tested on portable amp by JDSLabs, c421.

Bonus Pics:

11 blinks of Death! (Panasonic Plasma)

So my trusty Panasonic Viera TH-42PX60U which I bought in 2007 finally met its maker... but I wasn't going down without a fight. You see, if you reader don't know by now, I'm a #CompulsiveBuyer ... I always say that if something breaks, I'll just go ahead and buy a replacement and that's it.

So I did, I bought a huge 55-incher Sony TV which really kicks the Pannies ass all over the place but still... it was my Panny...

Bored one weekend, I decided to troubleshoot. Noticed that I turned on the TV, received the signal, the display came on but then... it turned off and the power light started blinking... and I started counting. It blinked 11 times. Thank God for the internet! People were saying that if the TV blinked 11 times the error pointed to the "Fan Board Module". Good enough for me! Took my screwdriver, and started disassembling the TV:

After like half and hour disassembling, I started playing with the connections, replacing fans, etc. andddd FAIL! LOL could not get it to work. BUT.. BUT... I did take it to a technician and all is well now... it seems to work Ok and it was exactly that (the guy just put new Fans and that's it... it was fairly cheap too!)

So, for being impatient, now I have an extra 42-inch TV in one of my rooms not getting any "play" time... hehehe Ohhh well....

Bonus Pics:

New TV...

Who doesn't love Peter Cetera?!?

LOL! I know right? Who doesn't?

Darn eBay!!! :-p

Fernando Madera -- Self Titled album Review

Another indie CD, another review... and it's not really a surprise that I like this latest buy. I first heard of Fernando Madera last year when a good friend of mine suggested I go to reverbnation and listen to the demo posted. I did. The song was the second track of the CD, Aquellos Tiempos, and I loved the sound. It surprised me because the page lists them as "Alternative" and to me, that track didn't really fell on that category. Anyway, it was definitely a funky track and I wanted more... well, I had to wait a year but here it is!

Listening Setup:
PC connected via USB to NuForce Icon HDP Dac/Amp, Denon D5000s and Beyerdinamic DT70 Pro 80
Archos 7 with FLAC copies running through JDSLabs c421 amp using same headphones.

* I did not test with the Sennheiser HD600s...
** I like to post gear used because different setups == different levels of enjoyment/details (i.e. most people like listening to music in their cars stereos, others in their home theater setups and me, over good headphones...)

On to the tracks... we start with:

1) Agua Pasada: This track is a bit of a trip... Mixing great drumming, dreamy guitar and percussion bits which really gives life to the track. Fernando's voice comes into play very laid back and pleasant. Minelis "Mina" Mendez takes care of the second half of the song and masters the song as well as Fernando. They sound good together. Guitar solo is kind of lacking but the song is good  to start up the CD. 

Note: "I heard a great deal of sibillance with their voices... Headphone users with cans that accentuate the high-end region, be aware..."

2) Aquellos Tiempos: As mentioned, had already heard this track a while ago. Seems it was already finished as I didn't really catch any differences other than a better quality output. This one has a Chorus SO catchy that I find myself singing it from time to time! Trombones/trumpets play a very BIG role on this one and it is what I like the most here, they give such great life and atmosphere, they really stay with you. The bridge of the song, Fernando singing, I noticed so much coloration on his voice... kind of like "acting". It seems it's his style though, a lot of singers do it...

3) Magnifica Ecuacion: Again we go back to a soul-ish/funky track but this time with hints of Bosa Nova! Using subtle "wah" on the guitar, Fernando voice soothes on this one. What I like the most though, the bass playing! Love the progression of it from a "normal" pace, to bosa, to "normal" again. Very laid back song great for a rainy afternoon sitting on the sofa and just doing absolutely nothing.

4) A la Vuelta: This is DEFINITELY my favorite song of the whole album and the most "pop" sounding one. Surprisingly is also the one with less instrumentation. Call me a sucker for just an acoustic (probably because that's the only thing I can play! ;-)) but the guitar, his voice and that freaking sweet violin on the  background, GIVES ME CHILLS!!! I really hate that Alberto Graulau (violinist) hehehe. I first heard of his work on his CD with Camuy's Ricky Santiago (I have two of them: "Boricua en Turquia" and  "Influencias") but on this track, he really nails it! Love the final verses too (used them as a Facebook status! lol):
"Alucinando letras, haciendo del papel algo de mi.
Cual extenuado poeta, que se entrega a la palabra para vivir..."

Those dug deep because for the longest time I've had writer's block and those words made me figure out why...

5) Tuvos: Great song, nice tempo, reminds me of soul, kind of, with decent use of acoustic and a "wah" effect. Great use of the wind instruments here. Regarding lyrics, I'm not sure if it was a "play on words" but the title of the song is "Tuvos" and I'm not sure if they meant "Tu Voz" (Your Voice...) The only "bad" thing is that I associate this song to porn!! LOL I know, don't laugh! The mix of 70s "wah" and Mina singing: "El tunel de tu boca alejandose..." I don't know... Still great laid back song, really "loungy" and for some reason, the song I like Mina's singing the most. Can't grasp the "why" yet...

6) Pretexto: Very nice song, keeps the pace similarly to the other songs on the CD. This, to me, dwells on that Alternative/Pop genre. In fact, it kind of reminds me of another great band that I haven't heard in a long time, "Jarabe de Palo". A couple of "cliche" lines, and some vocal "misses" (especially when going low) but good work nonetheless.

7) Beso de abril: Piano-driven ballad track with Alberto again adding his violin. Such good story-telling on the lyrics a couple of great lines too! I think this is the track which showcases the lyrical ability of Fernando. Lovely track, great delivery.
8) En otro Lugar: Pace stays slow but instrumentation picks up. It's an "Ok" track, but I guess that after listening to "Beso de abril", this one feels "dull" maybe even too similar in style to the previous ones.

9) Debajo de tu Piel + Bonus: This is in my opinion the most "trippy" track on the CD. Again, tempo is similar to the previous tracks, "wah" is called upon again to perform its magic but what surprised me the most was the chord progression when singing: "Hoy te vuelvo a ver, hoy te vuelvo a ver...". It feels weird, different but in a good way! After the song is done, an acoustic bonus track is played... can be skipped... :-p

Conclusion: This CD shows the talent we have here in Puerto Rico, talent that sadly no one pays attention to. If it was an "insert random at the moment hot producer" CD, we would have the tracks on the radio but THANK GOD for the internet and indie shops such as this one. Unlike the last PR indie CD I bought (the latest from Mima) this one is completely enjoyable with excellent instrumentation and delivery. I can envision giving it a lot of play time in my Car stereo, in fact, some of the tracks just call for that, you know, driving along 'x' road, clearing your mind for a bit and just listen...

Anyway, I give it 4 out of 5 "chocolates"... ;-)

Only a couple of misses, production is not the best out there, but a great job by all.