Friday, 18 September 2015

Barefoot Update 6 Months In

Barefoot 6 Months In

So so it's been six months since I started to wear barefoot shoes. Namely Vivobarefoot. It's been a odd time getting used to having no support at all an so much more information about how and where I'm walking compared to regular shoes.

I've had no exceptions where I switched back to supporting shoes or boots. I go to work and enjoy home life barefoot. I've also noticed so big changes to my feet and lower body which I attribute to minimal shoes.

My ankles have fallen more inline with my legs and are a lot more central. My feet are developing less hard skin and the skin which does go hard is slow to come about but also a lot more even across the foot rather than in one spot.

I've also noticed less issues with Sciatic pain (I sit a lot at work and with regular shoes it gave me a lot of pain) I'd say it's pretty much gone and I haven't had any problems for at least four months. My lower back has also had no problems since going BF.

My feet and muscles surrounding them have seen a big improvement and are a lot firmer.

I'll give another update at twelve months.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Vivobarefoot Gobe II Hopewell - Review

Unleashing Your Feet…

Purchasing shoes can be a tedious task for most men as we know what we like but always find it difficult to buy what we want. It’s a difficult compromise between what we want to wear and what we should wear, women have it easier than we do.
You have to have smart shoes for work if your in an office and they can’t be too garish in colour otherwise you look like you're having a midlife crises or slept in and didn't pay attention to what you put on your feet and either way your boss is going to frown at you and be worried.
You also have to consider the type of shoe you have on your feet, are they too dull or are the just hip enough to be down with the spotty teenager the boss hired last week that is making everyone around him look like sloths?


What you haven't considered is how your feet are going to be locked up under duress for the best part of your day all sweaty and cramped. Now for a second consider putting on a pair of stiff, closed in and unforgiving gloves on your hands… I know its unfathomable isn't it?
Your hands and feet are pretty much the same appendage in so many ways. Your feet drew the short straw and hands won the lottery. Every day when you nip to the loo or do some gardening etc you wash and dry your hands, you may even put a little hand cream on them to stop them from drying out (unless your a mans man and rugged and don't believe in that kind of stuff) but in most respects compared to your feet you pamper your hands.
So why do your feet have to suffer and not get the same treatment? Its because you don't interact with your feet on the same kind of level, they’re there at the bottom of your legs (you probably care more about your legs than your feet) doing the job they’re supposed to and most of the time they do a fine job.
What you may not know is your feet are just as sensitive as your hands and play a huge role in your wellbeing and probably more so than your spoilt rotten hands.
So why am I going on about this when I’m supposed to be telling you about the Vivobarefoot Gobe II Hopewell boots? Well if you take a look around Vivobarefoot’s website you’ll notice they aren't just in the business of selling you shoes or boots, they are trying to educate you about your feet and the correct treatment of them to ensure they are looked after and your health is positively affected.
Now before you stop reading and think this is some hippy-dippy shiznit it isn’t. Look into the studies being done now; in to the way in which we walk and run. Also consider this…

We have been walking and running for thousands of years with no shoes and in the history of man its only very recent that we have made shoes for our feet.
The shoe is a very modern invention in relative terms to our evolution and companies who make these shoes have been perpetrating a lie just to sell you these carefully constructed and supported cells for your feet. It’s such a shame really that we’ve allowed it to go on for so long. Squeezing our feed into ill fitting shoes with tiny toe boxes just for vanities sake.
However Vivobarefoot and a few other companies have been making efforts to let runners of the barefoot verity enjoy their sport but have the knowledge they have at least something on their feet to stop unwanted dog muck and glass etc coming into contact with what is our main means of getting about. There are some out there who feel even minimalist style shoes are an affront to mother natures gift. I don't see them as extremists I feel they are the purists of our group, I’m not 100% confident in going everywhere totally un-shod and so this is where the people at Vivobarefoot come in.
As I said they started out catering to the barefoot running crowd but even the sports person has down time from their activities and will have day jobs. So as an answer to this; shoes and boots have been designed to provide a barefoot experience with style and protection of regular shoes and boots. 
The Gobi in all the variations fit into this leisure/work boot. I was fortunate enough to be bought a pair by my fiancĂ©e for my birthday and I’m happy to report I love them. I could stop my review here declaring everyone should buy a pair and be happy and I’d be right but there are a few things you need to know first.

Not everyone is going to enjoy barefoot, and this is ok. Don't think you have to go barefoot all the time to get all the benefits. Like running barefoot you have to gradually move towards this way of living. If you jump in feet first (pun intended) you may do one of a few things, either hurt yourself and put yourself off barefoot and have your mind made up for you or just find your always uncomfortable and after a few weeks give it up as a bad job and go back to supportive shoes.
Don’t think the benefits of barefoot living are instant, it takes time to strengthen your feet and for them and your legs and in some ways the rest of your body and mind to adapt to not having any support. Also you may get some burning of the heels and forefoot. Don't worry though this is normal as you transition from a heel strike (every step taken your heel hitting the ground first) to a mid to forefoot strike.
You’ll read all over the internet that barefoot is a cure for all ills foot, leg and back related but this isn't entirely true, what is true is that if you have injuries or RSI problems in your feet, legs or back this could be from your shoes and going barefoot will ease this eventually, I’d also recommend you keep up any medical checkups if you have severe problems as you don't want to make anything worse.


Anyway the Gobi are a series of boots made to facilitate a barefoot lifestyle but while maintaining a look of normal boots. Depending on what you plan to use them for they will perform admirably and if cared for should last a long time. They are well put together and the sole provide enough grip on most surfaces, I’ve yet to test them on wet polished surfaces where they might slip (manhole covers, train station walkways etc) but like any other shoes you’ll get used to it, unlike other shoes however is the tactile feedback these give to your feet, you’ll feel a lot more of the whatever it is your walking on and this will feed your brain with the much needed information to help you walk safely.


The leather on the Hopewell version I have is fantastic and after a few wears is holding up nicely and starting to soften in the places where my feet bend. They’re also surprisingly warm for a minimalist shoe and I’m hoping when the warmer weather arrives I wont have an overheating problem. As you can see from the photo above they’re very flexible and will bend to your will and ways.
Like all Vivobarefoot shoes/boots there is no heel so the sole is flat from back to front with a very small and in some peoples eyes blasphemous arch., but it is only very slight and isn't in anyway a support. Also like other minimalist shoes they have a lovely wide toe box to allow your toes to splay. I ordered a size 11 as I have some running shoes from Vivobarefoot and they are size 10 which with socks are a little on the smaller side. As with any shoes consider the width and length but also consider your toes splayed out not cramped and bunched up.

Also on the leather front as well as softening up they should develop a nice patina with age and will look good with smart jeans or chinos.
So bare in mind the slow start to barefoot living if you're new to it and enjoy a nice pare of Gobi’s. I’ve heard the sued ones feel lovely against bare feet so I maybe adding a pair to my growing collection over the year. I know the review has seemed a little preachy on the pros of going BF but I think shoes and boots like this may be the starting point for a lot of people who don't do BF running.

Pro’s
  • Comfy (if you know what to expect)
  • Good construction
  • easy to remove insole

Con’s
  • Small arch
  • slightly tighter fit than other Vivobarefoot shoes/boots


9/10

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Run like crazy - Barefoot Running 1 week on

Hello people, as you're aware I've taken up running for fitness and fun. This isn't running in fancy, super cushioned shoes that have air bubbles or springs in the heel and crazy arch support. In fact my running shoes have Kevlar!

My shoes Vivobarefoot Evo shoes have a nice slim sole, wide toebox and great flexibility. They are designed to allow my feet move and bend like a foot should. If you subscribe to barefoot running you won't need convincing and I doubt the ramblings of a noob runner such as myself with no prior experience will encourage runners who ware classic type shoes. All I can say is read as much as you can and listen to the studies being done and you'll soon see the footware industry have been lying to us all the time.

The best thing about barefoot running is how easy it is. I say this only because if you run in classic type trainers etc you are forced to land heel first creating huge preassure on you knees, hips and back also your foot isn't flexing how it should and in turn restricting it's use and causing harm.

Now take off your trainers and run again and you'll automatically start to land mid to forefoot instead of the heel. This auto reflex is ingrained deep within our mechanical makeup. We evolved to run like this to prevent injury and help us cover vast distances.

Before tools and weapons were used to kill animals what did we use, persuasion? "Please mr Deer, lie down and let me bash your head in with this rock" I don't think it worked like that, but new studies are postulating we chased our food over long distances because unlike a lot of other animals we can cool down while we run, so chasing a Deer who gets exhausted because it's being chased over a long time and distance collapses and then we go in for the kill.

Now on to my experience this week. I've found the most challenging part of this endeavour to be my own personal fitness, the running part feels natural and fun. I'm increasing my distance slowly and training 3 times per week. I'm also changing my diet to match my running and my protein intake has been increased. I'm currently running about 1 mile per run now and that's over a bit of elevation and mixed road and off-road running. My mile is at about 10 minutes so quite a slow pace but I'm not too bothered by this yet, I just want to get my distance up. I'd love to run a half marathon next year but this depends on a lot of factors.

Thanks for reading. 

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Barefoot Running

Barefoot Running - A Total Noobs Journey

Ok lets get this out of the way. I'm going to blog a little bit this summer on my trials and tribulations while trying  to learn to run. I know I have crazy fads and don't usually stick to them. I spend the money needed to get the gear, I learn everything I can about the activity and I live a breath it for a few months before getting board and moving on.

I do want to stick with running for two things. One is fitness, I'm pretty unfit and don't do much exercise apart from ride my bike a little in the summer. Two to help make my other activities more fun and easier to do. So years ago I had another fad of learning to play golf. I realised I was a reasonable ball striker for a first timer and I got swept away in the romance of hitting the course every now and then and playing a round with friends. This didn't last long fast forward 8 months of going to the range and £900 spend on clubs and a bit more on extras like shoes etc and I wained and haven't struck a ball in a while.

I'd like to get back to golf but I feel my level of fitness and flexibility have held me back a little. So running seemed to be the cheaper choice over cycling.

Now on to why barefoot.

I've always walked about at home and in the close vicinity to home completely barefoot, in the summer no socks and when its a bit colder either in socks or a pair of Trekmate Slippers, these are a duck down filled upper (a bit like a sleeping bag) and a very thing (less than 3mm) sole.

I also walk to work in a pair of Vibram Five Finger classics and I've had them for a few years and when the weather is better I'm in them for most places.


Untitled

This is a reason why I chose to go barefoot running, I know it was a thing and I loved the sensation of being barefoot. What I didn't know is how passionate and dedicated the people were who took part in this sport.

scouring around the net for more info I found plenty of stores selling minimalist shoes, lots of videos of demonstrations on how to run and also a lot of medical studies backing up the claims that running in this way is better for you as your less likely to get injured from typical running problems.

Well over the coming months I'll be reading more or technique and what I should and shouldn't be doing and in a couple of days I'll be buying a dedicated pair of running shoes.

I'm currently looking at the 2014 Bikila Evo or Vivobarefoot shoes.

If you have any advise or know of any barefoot running groups in the Wakefield area drop me a line.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Digital Audio SD to HD





Digital Audio SD to HD
An honest look into what problems I’m facing
By Martin Pearman

Ok guys, as you know I recently purchased a pair of Bowers & Wilkins In Ear Monitors (IEM) and I found the reviews online to all point to one troubling conclusion. Even though they were great they tended to be bass crazy, here are what some reviews said:

“And bass. Wheelbarrows of bass. At times it’s great, providing depth and detail you won’t find in any rival; but with some tracks it’s simply too much, drowning the rest of the track and making us feel like we’re sat in a boy-racer’s souped-up XR3i.” - What Hifi Magazine

“Moving back to comments on the bass some might be initially confused by the rather bold bass presence. In some cases it feels as if the bass frequencies need to be tamed in so that the overall composition has a more polished and articulated focus.” - The Pro Audio Web Blog

In my own review I found this to be partly true, the C5’s do have an abundance of bass and sometimes this is detriment to the overall listening experience. But I only had this experience with the iPhone, when playing the same music through and Arcam amp with an Arcam CD as the source the C5’s performed beyond what they are capable of with the iPhone, putting the weak link as the source not the IEM’s.

This got me wondering what could be the cause of this issue, it clearly isn't the IEM’s so is it the iPhone? or maybe the audio source itself?

So I’ve decided to try and find out what it could be and what I could do to get the best from these headphones while out and about and I’ve found some interesting things, and it paints an interesting picture of the whole digital audio marketplace and also the manufactures of our audio equipment.

Now I'm presuming that B&W tested their headphones with a variety of components to make sure sound was acceptable across a wide range of products on the market. I also presume they tested iPhone, iPod and iPads as this would be the main target for such a premium priced pair of IEM’s like the C5’s. Based on my basic tests (I’m not an audio engineer but I have sensitive ears) I find it hard to believe that B&W would push out something with such poor bass control and dynamic timing.

So I decided to try one CD knowing it was recorded with care and also knowing it has very high levels of low frequencies, it also mixes Classical and electronic elements so has a wide range of sounds. This CD was Tron Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk. I decided to use my Macbook Pro running OSX 10.9 and it uses Intel HD Audio.

First up was the MP3 320kbps. It sounds ridiculously booming so much so the small sounds of sheet music being turned and breaths from the orchestra were lost and the midrange got so muddy it was a dog to listen to.

Next was the CD directly played via VLC, as predicted it was a sheer delight to play and all the small and delicate sounds were there, bass was controlled and the mids and highs were never swamped by anything else. The headphones also showed a nice sense of space and pacing that was lost in the MP3 version. The problems arose then as in parts it was too bright and bass was lost entirely, I put this down to VLC and tried Quicktime, low and behold the audio settled down and became solid again, one thing I did notice was the noise reduction used and this seemed odd. I then tried Track 5 and I can clearly hear noise reduction kicking in, this was audible in three stages 1. zero noise before play was pressed, 2. play was pressed and noise levels were high, 3. music started and noise was then cut down, but this was causing some audio loss. At the end of the track you can hear the audio noise being cut again down to a whisper then a ‘click’ and total silence.

This suggests that the Intel HD audio is playing around with sound levels but to what benefit or cost to the audio reproduction. Clearly this is not good and very distracting. So playing CD through a Mac is not going to work.

Ok so on to an AIFF rip of the CD. I did this using XLD to ensure the best quality I could get and as its an uncompressed file the size compared is relative.

The MP3’s took up 141.1MB of space while the uncompressed AIFF’s took up 622.9MB.
So why the AIFF over say FLAC? Well for me as much as I love my music I don’t want to have to use different players and streaming software to play the damn stuff. I want to be able to use my Apple TV and stream my music if needed for example AIFF -> iTunes -> Stream -> Apple TV -> HDMI -> Sony TV -> Analogue Out -> HiFi -> Speakers -> Ears. This is a long way for data to travel and its going to get messy on its trip but most of the time I don’t care and its not critical I have the best audio.  But when I do decide to listen I prefer the CD or Vinyl but this isn't always practical so a digital file as close to will do. AIFF is supported more on the Mac through iTunes and will be playable on my many devices and FLAC won’t, not because its a poor codec but because Apple wont bloody support it.

I can say now that out of the tests I’ve done so far the AIFF sounds great and is a fantastic compromise when using my Mac to play sound, its clear and doesn't seem like it employs much if any noise reduction when playing back files. Bass is under control and doesn't overwhelm the rest of the frequencies and mids are clear and seem well balanced, the highs do seem a tad bright so maybe iTunes is boosting this as its used to playing MP3’s that might be missing this data and is resulting in this slightly over bright reproduction.

The MP3’s being played in iTunes do sound poor and clearly are missing something, so is it worth the space and time to rip to a lossless file like AIFF? If your a critical person and want to get the best from your CD’s then yes, if you’re tight for space and use mediocre audio equipment then no. iTunes or Intel HD audio is boosting the MP3 conversion so should help it sound like its better than it is. To some people ears this will be fine and you can go on knowing that it sounds ok, but if you’ve just ripped your CD collection and sold the CD’s and you’ve not done it as an AIFF or FLAC then oops!

So what does this mean for the headphones and the reviews done by these respected publications? Well I can’t say for certain but its evident that they haven’t tested them in every way possible and maybe they didn't need to as most people who use these IEM’s maybe playing low quality MP3s and their review fits what people will hear, this then makes the publication seem accurate and people will listen to them again in the future ensuring sales of said publications. At the same time though they are masking a problem for HD audio lovers that companies like B&W are clearly providing excellent products but their potential is being stopped by what can only be described as inferior audio source such as an Apple or Intel product designed for the masses.

Now I cant say at this time if outputting a digital source and doing the conversion on an external DAC will help, I presume it does as a lot of people who audition HD audio use them. I’ll let you know about this once I get a DAC that can do this for me.


My statements are all subjective to my own ears and I’m sure that others will have a different opinion. I may also be advised I’m going about my HD audio quest in the wrong way. Unlike video however sound is a much tricker concept to sell and perceive and music makers, audio hardware makers and software developers have a long and difficult road to go down if they want to have the public listening to HD audio.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Bowers & Wilkins C5
Review By Martin Pearman

Part 1: What to buy?
When looking for a pair of headphones I don’t really pay much attention to how a pair looks in terms of logos, size or glitzy colours. I look for functional design power ratings and pedigree. I’ve owned a fair few pairs of headphones from Shure, Grado to cheap Sony. One thing that while listening to my favourite music is how each pair adds and detracts from each song.

So in my opinion what makes a good pair of headphones and what makes a great pair? Well if you can get something that is comfortable and can be worn for a couple of hours without causing your ears or surrounding area to ache, or make your neck ache from being heavy, couple this with lovely well balanced sound or various sources (you don’t want a pair that sounds garbage on an iPod but sounds great on your home HiFi only).

The above statement may sound obvious (pardon the pun) but it can be tricky to get the balance just right. Now some people will just be happy with the ear pods they got free with their iPhone / iPod and this is just fine because they will probably be listening to poor quality streams or low quality encoded MP3’s. If this is you then this review may not be for you but you may want to keep reading to see what spending a little more money on a decent pair of headphones can do.


So the reason I decided to purchase the Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) C5 in-ear monitors (IEM’s) is because I was using a pair of RHA MA450 and while for £40 they sounded stella and had great build on the body of the phones the 3.5mm jack plug decided to break laving me with intermittent sound problems. Now I could have settled for another pair but I was brought up with the old adage “You get what you pay for” and I have found this to be mostly true in life. I also don’t abuse things I buy and I tend to have things a long time so after having the RHA’s for less than a year and only using them for maybe 30 hours of listening, having them break left a sour taste and I decided to spend a little more money.

 I wanted to find a pair of Shure IEM’s but I also didn't want to have to spend a full day looking around. Well I’m glad to report I didn't and the first place I visited, the Trinity Apple Store Leeds was the last place I visited, they stocked a huge range of Can’s and IEM’s ranging from cheap and nasty to the more exotic. After looking at what was on offer I found two pairs of phones both at £150 the NAD Viso HP20 IEM and B&W C5 IEM. Both have in-line volume and mic and both looked interesting.


After looking at the packaging and using my iPhone to check what people had to say I chose the B&W over the NAD, simply because the NAD’s were not reviewed much. Now the B&W had some once reviews but nothing that suggested they were the best of the best, I was a little worried about style over substance but I know B&W build some of the best loudspeakers in the world and their history and pedigree helped alleviate any fears I had.

Part 2: Packaging & unboxing
The B&W’s come in a very attractive and quite heavy card box that has a magnetic front flap that opens and reveals a small window showing the headphones in all their glory. There is some basic information on the outside of the box, sadly some info I always look for was missing, this is the frequency and impedance details. I always look for this and it helps in deciding if they will match your equipment at home or in your pocket, but as B&W make a great iPod dock I didn't think they would make a product that wouldn't play nice with an iPod or iPhone.


Opening the box your greeted by a separate box/enclosure that has a material tag you pull on sliding the insides from the heavy card outer. siting atop another heavy card box is a moulded plastic holder for the headphones and you can tell that they have aimed this at the Apple lover as its got a very similar look and sensation when opening your new headphones. Under the plastic lid are two other back boxes made from thin card, a word of warning when pulling these out. Be very careful as  its easy to tear the pull tags as its a very tight fit. The smaller box houses the booklets containing your usual guarantee and marketing fluff. Nothing worthy of note. The bigger of the two boxes hold your faux sued carry case and inside this are the spare silicone tips.


Be careful when removing the headphones from the plastic holder as its a bit finickity and you don’t want to damage your new shiny IEM’s. Overall the packaging is nice and good change from what is usually a dull experience, you can defiantly tell you hold a product from a premium company. If Apple ever wanted to team up with an audio company to work on headphones or other audio projects they should team up with B&W as they both have a acute eye for detail and quality.

Part 3: Fit and finish
So what about the IEM’s themselves? Well I have to mention the weight, being made from tungsten these are no featherweights, the weight only adds to the quality feel but I was a little worried they maybe too heavy for my ears to cope with and lead to pressure pain. On the side you have the Bowers & Wilkins moniker in case you were worried people wouldn't know you had a high-end pair of IEM’s in. Speaking of which the one thing you do notice when these are in situ is the large round metal cap like area on the end, this is made from micro perforated material allowing the driver to breathe like an open-backed can. This is designed to give a more open and specious sound.

Another striking thing you may have notice so far from the images used in this review are the looped wire over the top of each bud. This is an odd looking thing to behold and really sits in an awkward juxtaposition to what is a generally clean design. Its also a little bit of genius as this wire sits inside your ear and acts as part of the whole to make sure they are seated inside your ears correctly, they  also adjust to make sure a perfect fitment. So far I’ve found this to be generally comfortable but after a very long time 3 hours or so it does become a little sore, but pull them out and give your ears a rest and you’ll be fine, I guess after a while you’ll get used to them. One thing this will help with is the flexing of the cable and stop it from breaking at the top near the bud (hopefully).


The cable is also a nice thing to behold as is thin and flexible, so wont be prone to kinking in a specific place and lead to breaking the wire inside. The 3.5mm jack on the end looks like a professionally finished banana plug of a high end speaker cable. Also attached to the top of the wire on the left hand side is the volume control and mic. It’s a simple affair and nothing special, it works and looks part of the package.


One thing I had read from web reviews are that the silicone ear pieces were prone to tearing due to being made from two types of silicone, a stiff black centre that attaches to the bud and a clear outer that goes into your ear canal. apparently where the seam is they tear here and a quite costly to replace. I found that the best way to get around this is to unfold the clear outer and take hold of the back part and pull straight out without wobbling them or moving side to side etc, they should just pull off and this has worked for me while trying the different sizes.

The overall feel is that these are built with the same care and dedication as their loudspeakers and should last quite some time.

Part 4: Wall of sound

So the part allot of you have been waiting for, how do they sound? Well this is a mixed and delicate subject. For one we all love a different sound some like clear crisp mids other like sharp yet delicate highs and some like thunderous deep bass. It’s difficult to find a loudspeaker that can get all three spot on let alone a pair of IEM’s.

These IEM’s don’t disappoint when paired with HiFi but lack when paired with an iPhone. Before you go an head off to another review let me explain. As I type this review I’m sat with the C5’s attached to an Arcam Alpha 8 amp with an Arcam Alpha 7 CD. I’ve listened to Alison Krauss & Union Station - Paper Airplane, The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac 2 CD & now The Orb Metallic Spheres. These IEM’s are beyond outstanding, they are considerate and delicate with intricate guitars and vocals but bombastic when fed deep bass electronic or otherwise, these can dig as deep as the best closed back cans but be as light and airy as the best pair of Grado’s.

They truly are a sonic treat. 

So what goes wrong when paired with an iPhone? Well they seem to get bogged down and loose that special fidelity they shine with when on the Arcam. They get muddy in the mids and the highs seem to be cut off and the bass seems to come to the forefront and take control.

I haven’t had the chance to try a dedicated headphone amp (portable or otherwise) but I think this could make a difference when using a source like the iPhone or iPod. Now it may sound like I’m being overly critical of these headphones and maybe I am but you’d expect when looking at a product from B&W, nothing but specific & thorough judgment is worthy of such a company and not doing it this way would be an injustice to such a great pear of IEM’s.

Now don’t get me wrong I’ve heard worse performances from phones more expensive and only the most critical ears would be picky and disregard such a great sound. I’ll still use these are my daily walkabout pair and that is saying something.

Other aspects of these IEM’s is the external noise is kept to a very minimum, plus I have a very delicate ears and the sound leaked from outside might not be heard by others. The mic works well and the conversation I had on my iPhone was heard by the other party just fine, and the voice of said person to me was very clear and much better than the earpiece of the phone itself.

Part 5: Conclusion
So what can I say to sum up these In Ear Monitors? Well if paired with a full HiFi (possibly with a portable amp) they really shine and across the board they don’t disappoint. Not to my ears anyway. The problem lies with their intended job, providing sound to someone out and about rather than in a recliner at home. In this respect they falter slightly and could have been a little better. Its not that they are horrid, far from it. I don’t know what changes B&W could make to remedy this slight bass overdose when coupled with inferior hardware but I’d like to hear their improvements. Plus we have to remember one thing here. This is B&W’s first foray into the IEM’s market and if I were Shure, Logitech or Sennheiser who are the market leaders for IEM’s I’d be worried.

If you want a pair of IEM’s that are going to give you an un-skewed sound when attached to home equipment then these are for you, if your looking for a dedicated pair just for iPhone/iPod only listening and you’re not going to use a portable amp then I’d look at the class leaders as for the money you may get a more rounded sound.

Disclaimer: The images used in this review are from B&W's own site, I didn't hotlink to the images to stop bandwidth issues for them. For more info please visit their site at www.bowers-wilkins.co.uk I've also uploaded a PDF version of this review here.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Fuji X-E1 & XPro 1 Firmware (Also XF Lens Firmware)

Its time people to fire up your internets and visit the Fuji website as the firmware is out and downloadable.

Focus peaking works a treat and works with full manual lenses which is great. The firmware for the 18-55 coupled with the new firmware for the body makes for a lot snappier combination but its still slower than some other cameras, especially at the long end of the zoom.

Have a great day and get updating.