25 January 2013

The Love Below

Listening to: Pop Etc, "How Will I Know." They used to be the Morning Benders, now they are the less offensive but boring Pop Etc. I am not entirely sure how I feel about this cover, even weeks later, but I love watching Chris Chu's awkward yet endearing facial expressions. And well, it's Whitney.

My friend Ameer, who captains our music blog, is a huge speakerphile. Speakerhead? He cruises audio forums, he's got speakers on top of speakers, his goal is to own McIntoshes. Lots of McIntoshes. AMR has regaled me with many a detailed break down of why such and such an amp is good, or how to compare different set ups. All of which is fantastic, because I can always appreciate learning something new. But it's also ruined me.

Yes, ruined me. I can't have shitty audio anymore. Before I could've cared less what the sound coming out of speakers was like. Give it to me heavy and give it to me loud. That was all. I was more concerned about content than audio quality. Now that I've seen the light, I am prone to scrunching up my face if the sound is bad.

For the past five years, I'd been living with these shitty speakers. They squawk when plugged in, the wires are all fiddly, and occasionally the sound drops. It was a desktop audio disaster. I told AMR that I needed to upgrade my speaker situation and after diagnosing my needs, he was ready with an answer. For $15, I got these beauties: Artic USB-Powered Portable Stereo Speakers. I'd link you to the ten minute YouTube video reviewing them but you'd definitely fall asleep. Let's just say that these are the best bang for your hard earned bucks.

As my fellow Artic owner Meggo puts it, "[they] are petite and portable." To that I'll add that they are plenty loud also, with great highs and acceptable lows. Pump too much bass in there and they'll fail, but for fifteen dollars, these little guys are a steal. Upgrade your life, get some now.

And if you are in the market for great but not overly expensive over the ear headphones, may I pass along AMR's recommendation there too? Purchase some Grados. I recently joined the Grados club -- an exclusive place indeed -- and even though I have yet to test them extensively, I am sure they are the best value out there because I trust AMR. After all, he's the genius who came up with the CD for testing audio, so he can't be wrong.

For all you undiscerning buyers who purchase shams like Beats by Dre or something similar, know that we laugh in your general direction. I'll admit that my dream headphones -- Skullcandy Aviators in white -- are a bit cash for flash, but only suckers buy the celebrity endorsed headphones. If you are really that susceptible to marketing and hype, then please contact me because I have some books to sell you. An outdated Rough Guide to Blogging perhaps?

While I'm here, some more endorsements. Lately we've been all in on Clash of Clans. It's a freemium half farming, half tower defense game. The best part of it is that you can give your clan mates stuff like giants, barbarians, skeleton manned balloons, and wizards. The worst part of it is that the game is a total time suck. According to my in-depth research, if you are a new parent with a compelling reason to be awake every few hours, this game is for you! (Currently I am trying to make the move to Arcane Empires, a slightly more complex and in-depth Clash of Clans. The steampunk theme and artwork alone has sold me.)

A goal this year is to be more organized and on top of my tasks. I tried out Bring Home the Milk, Wunderlist, Astrid, and Orchestra. In the end, I went with Orchestra because it's the prettiest. That and the web interface is the best. Did I mention it's pretty? I've been at least 150% more productive already.

My friend Mel goes to a ton of concerts and she introduced me to Songkick, which is an app that scans your iTunes library and then serves up upcoming concerts you might be interested in. I was testing out Thrillcall before but didn't find it all that useful. Songkick has been a delight already and I'm scared I'm about to blow crazy money on live music.

New York has way too many bands coming through and now I know exactly which artists I'm missing. Ignorance really was bliss -- and cheaper. I'm in the process of trying to figure out a metric for which concerts I should attend but right now it's just a free for all. Seen or about to see: Dwele and Anthony David, Jose James, Tegan and Sara, Walk the Moon, Freelance Whales, XXYYXX, and if I can motivate to Staten Island, maybe I'll be lucky enough to see my OTP, Jewel.

So much of me really wants to use/like Spun, a slick looking guide to food, fashion, and music, but so far I've found it lacking. The interface and design are neat, but the utility has yet to be determined. I'm keeping it around and hoping it gets better. I am also on the hunt for a good weather app. Please recommend.

Also, I'm pretty certain I used "OTP" incorrectly. Oh well. Baby steps.