Archive for the ‘ musings ’ Category

Beat-up by Beats

Warning: long rant ahead.

A little background: Tommy, my oldest son, wanted “Beats HD” headphones for his Birthday back in October. We being the nice parents decided to get them. My first mistake was getting them at WalMart instead of my usual B&M choice of BestBuy for that type of thing. I would have ordered them online, but I put it off too long.

The “Beats HD”s are the over-the-ear type, and one step down from the most expensive models at only $200. I purchased the extended service plan for $9 since they were certainly going to see some abuse.

After about 5 weeks, one of the drivers went out. We took them back to Walmart, and read the return terms posted on the wall behind the customer service counter and found that we could just exchange them since it was within the specified time frame (60 or 90 days, can’t remember). He decided that he wanted to go with the in-ear model instead, and got the “iBeats”, which were half the price ($100) – fine, whatever.

Shortly into owning the “iBeats”, the newest model came out – the “urbeats”. Not sure what the difference is aside from the fact that they are no longer made by Monster apparently. Back we go with receipts in hand and are able to do another exchange, along with a service plan. This time we were told by the customer service person at the big W, that since we’d already done one exchange, and had the exchange receipt with us, not the original, we’d need to find the original if we needed to exchange them again. This didn’t worry me since I’d purchased the 2 year service plans from the start.

A few weeks into owning the “urbeats”, the wire going from the mic/volume pod to the right headphone popped out. Back we go. This time, the big yellow smiley face wasn’t smiling upon us. The customer service person explained to use that there was only a 15-day exchange period (while standing in front of the giant sign that contradicted what she was saying). I also explained that I had the service plan, to which she replied that that doesn’t start until the manufacturer’s warranty stops, which made no sense whatsoever. The little folder you get with the service plan boldly and brightly says “Coverage from Day 1”.
From the website:

I registered the latest ear buds and will have to file a claim of some sort, we’ll see how that works out. I’m sure that will be the subject for a future post.

To summarize:

  • Don’t buy anything from WalMart that you would normally get from BestBuy or Amazon (still can’t remember why I went there)
  • Beats headphones (and probably probably most other “Celebrity” headphones), in my opinion, are over-priced, over-hyped pieces of electronic poo. I know most of the Beats were made by Monster, so you end up paying probably an 80% mark-up for lower-end Monsters. I know it’s hard to talk a kid out of what’s cool, but if they really are into it for the sound quality, they could do so much better for the money. I have a pair of in-ear Altecs with cloth-covered cords that are still going strong after about 4 years of daily use, and they sound better (to me) that the in-ear Beats that we’ve had in the house. For over-the-ear, you can drop a pretty penny, but for my budget, my Skull Candy Hesh models sound better than the Beats HDs did.
  • If I see another device with “Audio by Beats” listed as a selling point, I’m going to go find a dolphin and punch it in the face.
  • Well played Dr. Dre, well played.

Beats suck.



I’m thankful for…

I’m thankful that my hardest decision today will be choosing between a Padron 1964 Anniversary and a Fuente Añejo.

Oh and also for

“…peace, love, and good happiness stuff.”
Steve Vai, “Blue Powder”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wonderfully under productive Saturday

I didn’t do any work today. I think over 21 days straight (a couple were only around 4 hours) is enough, and I needed some down time.

I did manage to give my new drums a satisfactory tuning, and spent a couple hours disassembling my bass pedal while trying to figure out how to adjust the throw. You’d think they would include some instructions. This helped.

I also found some good video lessons to start working on. I need to set a goal for myself.
Also, I took a nap.

On a more somber note, I learned that my primary and junior high band director/music teacher died today. He was a great brass player, and was truly passionate about teaching kids about music. He had such a profound effect on my life. He really helped nurture in me an absolute passion for music.

Ironically, the last time I saw him was 16 years ago, almost to the day, at a funeral – my father’s
Rest in peace, Mr. Howcroft. You too, Dad.

Cheap cymbals are cheap

So I got a drum kit. I had a very specific budget, did a ton of research, watched video reviews, etc. I chose the kit due to the excellent reviews, the smaller size (good for jazz), and of course because it looked cool.
The kit I chose, the Sonor Safari, is what’s called a “shell kit”. That means the price you pay only includes the four drums, and you have to shell out more money to get all the other parts. This include buying cymbals.
Now, being a musician and having worked in a music store (r.i.p. String Shoppe) I’ve learned that pretty much any musical instrument, no matter how cheap, usually has some redeeming quality that a little work and effort can bring out.
Cymbal “starter packs” are the exception to this rule. There’s nothing you can do for a crappy-sounding cymbal: you can’t rebuild it, you can’t set it up properly. I knew going in that I was going to have to cut corners on my cymbals.
When I was making my purchase at the Home Depot of music stores, the guy working in the drum department suggested a cymbal set from Meinl. The only time I’ve ever seen Meinl cymbals was on Lamb of God’s drummer Chris Adler’s kit. My sales guy, who was very cool and helpful, said they’d sound better than the Zildjian set I was originally looking at. Since I’ve been out of the music scene for so long and really had no idea, I decided to take his word on it.
I could have assembled a better sounding set of cymbals from my kitchen and garage. To my ears, these things sounded like random round pieces of metal. The 10″ splash actually sounded like a pie tin.
The next day I boxed them up and took them back to the store to exchange them. I grabbed the original Zildjian set I wanted and actually took them out and tried them, they actually sounded like cymbals! I even played the pie tin next to the Zildjian splash, which sounds like a splash, and the guy actually said “you think that sounds better?!”.
The lesson learned here is that even if you’re buying a cheap cymbal package that costs as much as one “good” cymbal, make sure you play them before shelling out the cash.
Now to figure out how to tune these drums…

It’s a bit blurry, but here’s the happy new cymbals:


Update: I think I’m going to write a WordPress plugin that automatically replaces the word “actually” with a synonym.

Note to self: look up synonyms for “actually”

Used CD’s

I picked up a few used CD’s the other day at a local used video game shop while my kids were looking for games. At $1 each, it was completely worth it for some 10-15 year old discs.
I have a CD player in my car, but it also has Bluetooth which I use more to stream Mog or Pandora while driving.
Anyway, I started to realize that I was going to have to rip them all to MP3 and get them on my phone, or in the cloud or something. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a service that would allow you to take a picture of the disc or scan the barcode and automatically get streaming access to it.
I know there are some serious holes in my idea, like walking through BestBuy scanning barcodes with your phone, but it would still be pretty cool. Maybe I can find an Angel to finance it 🙂

From my mom

So I got this from my mom…


I replied back that electing one of the current Republican choices might be like getting rescued from the Titanic by the crew of the Lusitania.