Top Gun: Maverick wasn’t what I was expecting but was none the less enjoyable for that.
We know from the now 2 year old ‘making of’ trailers how much effort went into capturing the real life flying scenes but for me the visual spectacle didn’t translate to the big screen significantly more than the equivalent scenes from the original.
What did unexpectedly move me was the maturity of the story elements around the characters. Top Gun was almost a coming of age movie about internal conflicts but TG2, rather like Trainspotting 2 finds new material in the things that matter to its now older and somewhat wiser protagonists. Managing relationships in a new mindset with less bravado but more recognition and acceptance of oneself and others and knowing that sometimes we just don’t know.
Yes, the plot may be ridiculous and we can see the manipulations coming but nevertheless I found myself welling up at those moments of mass audience acknowledgement of some of life’s truths and values. Hard work, honesty, tact, camaraderie, courage, compromise, humbleness, mutual respect and understanding.
We may not know the answers but perhaps the message is that sometimes just trusting our instincts is more valuable than thinking, conveyed in the somewhat hackneyed but pithy line:
Like a son, TG2 may inherit some of its forebear’s characteristics but is an entity of its own. Enjoy the ride.
There are a lot of glowing reviews of the latest flagship TV from Samsung, the S95B. Samsung Display’s new and much awaited QD-OLED technology brings extra brightness and colour volume to the inky blacks of regular W-OLED technology, but if you scour the TV reviewer videos, AV websites and shopper reviews you’ll find a surprising number of less than positive aspects reported too.
I’ve summarised those I’ve found so far below but leave a comment if there’s anything I’ve missed.
Starting with a thread of 15 issues based on this TV YouTuber’s findings:
I’ve lumped these problems, plus those from other sources, into a set of categories:
Cheaper LEDs like the Sony X95K and its kin have as many strengths and come in larger screen sizes
Finally, trust your eyes – look at some footage of a real life scene and see which TV looks more realistic and involving. And if the measurements of the TV you prefer are worse than some other TV then the measurements are measuring the wrong things – things that don’t necessarily reflect our perception.
And beware the shills and bots lurking in the comments – you need look no further than those in my last video to see the kind of unsubstantiated hype they come out with!
In a nutshell, this latest evolution of Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless Bluetooth earphones offers an adaptive codec that should handle dropouts over distance better, improved ANC and call quality in noisy environments and more secure fit with a popular tuning that emphasises female vocals over the previous generation.
Love: sound quality is among the top tier with, by default, more forward female vocals than its predecessors which, while not to my taste, has a fresher, livelier sound that many may prefer.
Like: comfort, security of fit, the unobtrusive design that sits more flush in the ear, responsiveness of touch controls, lightness, microphone quality, water resistant IPX4 rating, long battery life, Qi charging, removing from the ear automatically pauses a track and replacing it resumes, activating transparency mode automatically pauses a track and deactivating resumes, transparency mode works well, ANC is good for an earphone (tho headphone ANC is much more effective) and does not affect EQ when switched on, the App offers good configuration of touch operation and EQ with my ideal touch configuration for volume (hold), pause (tap) and skip (double tap) by default, and there is no noticeable latency when watching videos.
Dislike: looks which are less distinctive and premium than the previous model, difficulty connecting to a 5y old Windows laptop, the charging port being at the front, the default tuning slightly emphasising upper mids with less bass rumble, single bud use only working with the right bud, there being no multipoint pairing allowing connection to and automatic switching between 2 devices at the same time like your phone and laptop, without unpairing and repairing, Sennheiser make you register to use the Sound Check custom EQ and Sound Zones location based EQ, there is some hiss at the higher levels of transparency mode, and finally value for pure sound quality, which is always my number one priority, is only fair.
I’ve characterised the review this way since a love can outweigh a dislike and vice versa, making simply totting up points in categories like sound quality, comfort, control scheme, security of fit, battery life, connectivity, etc. rather academic. In the final analysis, arguably the best buds are the ones you end up using the most.
The MTW3 maintains the solid foundation of the previous model but with a popular Harman style tuning that brings female vocals more forward in the mix. Such a tuning can emphasise female vocals at the expense of male however the MTW3 remains a good performer with both male (Peter Gabriel’s Heroes) and female (Nitin Sawhney’s Nadia) vocals being involving. They have a tight and deep but marginally less rumbly bass than their predecessor though the sub bass at 3:27 of Hans Zimmer’s “Why so serious?” still comes across as satisfying, if slightly less so than on my reference TWS earphones (that also conveys the plunging into water sounds at the beginning of Dario G’s “Voices” better). Soundstage is also slightly less wide on “Fly Me To The Moon” bringing the higher registers of Sinatra’s vocals more to the foreground.
So sound wise these are a sidestep from the previous generation, with a tuning that I find less natural but that many may prefer.
As someone who rarely uses earphone ANC, for me the new and improved features do not make up for the significant additional cost over alternatives, though admittedly these are much cheaper than the launch price of Sennheiser’s previous equivalent flagship model.
If you’re happy to forego some features like the ANC and top tier transparency, lower profile, more secure fit and auto track pause there are cheaper alternatives from the same manufacturer like the CX400BT and CX series that offer the same level of sound quality in a comfortable form factor.
I’ve reviewed a lot of products and focus the channel on high quality high value audio, technology and wellbeing which, in a nutshell, is bang for buck, so the entirely new level of performance the QD OLED technology of the Samsung S95B promises looks really exciting BUT you need to know there are some uncomfortable truths that almost none of the reviewers are talking about.
Now I love the almost 3d look of OLED and the Samsung S95B quantum dot or QD oled is the latest evolution of OLED technology and looks to offer the most realistic picture yet, combining the impactful brightness of LED with the black levels, depth and gaming response times of OLED.
If you’ve been through the hours of reviews from Digital Trends, HDTVTest, Stop the FOMO, Quantum TV, Tech with KG and others and managed to stay awake you’ll have heard all the excitement about what this new technology, currently only available in the Sony A95K and Samsung S95B, delivers. In a nutshell:
1) Impactful brightness conveying energy due to use of light producing quantum dots rather than regular OLED’s light absorbing coloured filters
2) High Colour volume making the picture pop due to absence of the white sub pixel in traditional WRGB OLEDs that brightens but also washes colours out
3) Perfect blacks with high contrast and depth making the picture look almost 3 dimensional and life like
4) Convincing upscaling of less than pristine content and blur free motion processing.
Digital Trends 922k
Stop the FOMO 117k
Quantum TV 65k
Whisper Status 74 19k
Tech With KG 15k
Keep It Classy Tech 11k
Some reviewers have gotten very excited and I’d encourage you to check them out.
But we need to get into the technology of these quantum dots. Now bear with me on the science lesson because this will become relevant to the dark truths we’ll get to in a minute, that few reviewers have hinted at.
Colour conversion in QD-OLED displays is done by quantum dots that are placed or patterned at a sub-pixel level over Blue OLEDs.
So, we have a blue OLED emissive layer in the backplane where all pixels are blue. And then green and red quantum dot materials are printed on pixels that need to be green or red.
Just like in regular OLED however, in QD OLED organic materials are the source of the light and these materials wears out. The Blue OLED lights get dimmer with time and over the lifetime of your TV, its display will get less bright.
But this is a new tech right? Well yes its new in that no white sub pixel is employed to increase brightness at the expense of colour purity and there’s no colour filter to reduces brightness, but rather quantum dots which emit photons HOWEVER the underlying light production is still organic and will degrade over time. And there’s the rub.
Now Avforums, a respected av enthusiast website, has over 20 pages of posts on problems due to OLEDs wearing out with sets purchased as recently as Summer 2018, under 4 years ago, and furthermore warranty claims being rejected.
There’s even a whole video on how you can wear your TV out just by watching normal content and I don’t mean screen burn or image retention by having static images frequently on screen. Many people, including me, relate to the problem and there are several comments against this video describing their experiences
Now while the panel will get dimmer over time, that of itself is no big deal since especially with QD oled it was much brighter than traditional OLED panels to begin with, BUT if some areas of the screen typically use certain colours more than others like pink faces in the middle of the screen from news and chat show programs then those areas are going to have pixels that are more worn out potentially causing a colour shift in those areas.
Ah but there’s compensation nowadays I hear you say with pixel shifter and pixel refreshers and screen savers. Well yes, but if you have a patch of red say and shift one red pixel with the red pixel next to it you’ll still have a red pixel being shown and then the only way to compensate is to burn out all the other leds to the same extent making the whole display dimmer each time.
And different rates of wear by different colours, for example with human pink faces typically centre screen can cause those portions of the screen to show a colour cast which is an unpleasant green tinge exactly where faces, which as humans we’re very sensitive to, typically appear. I’ve got another video on how to mitigate the problem, one I experienced myself on a 3 year old Panasonic OLED (tx55hz980b), to make the picture more watchable but it’s a workaround and introduces a wholesale colour shift of the picture so is far from ideal.
And did I mention the price.
Now clearly the QD OLED picture more or less successfully combines the impactful brightness of lcds with the blacks, depth and almost 3d realism of oleds. But the price is double that of competing mini LED, Full Array Local Dimming and OLED TVs so unless you buy into the 100% better view there’s no way it can reasonably be considered worth double the cost of some other still great looking televisions, especially when you consider things like the user experience of the TV operating system, sound quality and picture processing.
So to summarise the S95B may well be a fantastic looking set but bear in mind that
Depending on the content you watch and for how long, because of the technology used and nature of typical TV content, the screen may wear out in such a way that the picture becomes noticeably degraded with jarring patchy colour casts within 4 years so make sure you get a warranty against this – or are rich enough to consider your expensive tv disposable
At double the price of some lesser but still great looking alternatives there may be a new king in QD OLED but for now at least value isn’t its strong suit.
I’ve written the most helpful Amazon UK reviews for some of the latest and most premium Bluetooth earphones including Apple AirPods 3, Sony WF-1000XM4 and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro but as a recognised Amazon vine reviewer Sennheiser hasn’t offered me their most highly anticipated wireless earphones in years, the Momentum True Wireless 3 for review. Now why?
Well I focus the channel on high quality high value audio, technology and wellbeing which in a nutshell is bang for buck or sound per pound in the case of audio and the TW3 is retailing at well over £200.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love my Sennheiser cx400bt and its very natural sound. I rotate it with my ipx4 rated Sony wf-xb700 which has a more artificial V-shaped but exciting and spacious sound with deep bass and forward female vocals and between them I have everything I personally need for sound quality and practicality in Bluetooth wireless earphones.
Let’s do a quick review of the specs of the new Sennheiser momentum.
In a nutshell it offers a fancy high res codec, longer battery life, more secure fit, improved ANC and better call quality in noisy environments.
Now I suspect the codec will make no to little noticeable difference to sound quality and much less of a difference than basics like tuning and amplifier components.
The longer battery life is great since there have been times when I’ve wanted more than the 4 hours my cx400bt offers however if that means they’ve gone for weaker magnets and a lower current amplifier that doesn’t push and pull the driver so strongly then we’ll lose that wonderfully realistic sound of the cx400 and it will be a sound quality downgrade.
Now fit is one area where the TW3 may be a step up on the TW2, especially if you wear them while exercising however fit alone is not enough since the IP rating would also have to improve to make them practical to deal with sweat and rain. And sealing sound producing components typically adversely affects sound quality so is that a trade off a hifi audio manufacturer would want to make?
And of course we’ll expect the ANC to be world class, both the noise cancelling and transparency but none of the clever triggering features of the Samsung or Sony are mentioned where transparency starts if you or someone else starts talking for example.
And while the microphone quality may improve in noisy environments the previous generation wasn’t exactly poor.
Now I don’t use earphone ANC and unless there’s some very significant difference from the cx400 I can’t imagine the TW3 being worth over twice the price – even if you have no other wireless buds and the full package of capabilities just happens to marry up with your particular use case.
Now one area where, perhaps with the change of owner to Sonova, Sennheiser has been a bit slow is pre release to the influencers and sponsored deals, something that brands like Anker are world class at. If that means more of the purchase price goes into the product then I’m all for that though it’s a balancing act and if they don’t sell enough units consumers won’t benefit from economies of scale. The reputation of Sennheiser may be enough to carry them this time.
Well, whatever the case, mine is ordered with my own money and arriving later this month so subscribe if you want to see whether any of these predictions prove true when I post my recording of how they sound.
If where that whoop pipe sound in the January 2022 Virgin mobile advert with the bouncing car comes from has been bugging you, the music is from “Drop It Like It’s Hot” by Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell Williams. The penny whistle two-tone whoop starts at 1:47 which may evoke memory of the sound of inhalation through a bong. Might make one wonder whether Virgin is targeting dealers 😄
Interesting how gangster/drug culture has become part of mainstream media advertising and of course Virgin Media as far back as 2012 used a reworking of Dan Black’s “HYPNTZ” (reworked as “Symphonies” for copyright reasons) which was itself a reworking of the lyrics from Hypnotize by The Notorious B.I.G. combined with the theme from the John Carpenter film Starman by Jack Nitzsche.
If you got value and enjoy music on good audio consider subscribing to my YouTube channel
I mean if you listen at too high a volume for too long you risk permanent hearing loss.
But AirPods 3 have no wireless touch volume controls – controls that are on everything nowadays from cheap wired and wireless earphones to the premium TWS earphones from Samsung, Sony, Sennheiser and every other major manufacturer.
You have to talk to your phone to change the volume. And if you’re using your buds on another device, like a laptop, you can’t even do that.
But Apple is a pioneer right. After all it got rid of earphone jacks to make its phones slimmer and so you had to go wireless – and stop listening when your wireless buds run out of juice.
Unless you use a proprietary Apple lightning port to jack plug adapter:
which they charge you for.
To plug in good old fashioned wired Apple EarPods with inline volume controls
which they charge you for.
Or you can change volume by rotating the crown of your Apple watch
which they charge you for – handsomely.
But Apple has some grander vision right? A world where volume isn’t needed because its players auto level.
What like the “Normalize volume” setting in Spotify you mean?
Or maybe their vision is of a world where AirPods magically know how much volume you want at any time?
Erm they don’t – and they tell you how to change volume remember. You need to talk to it, or buy an Apple watch.
Or is it that Apple got it wrong – but they can’t admit that because of the God argument. You know the one: God can’t change because any change is for the better or for the worse. Ergo, Apple can’t change for the better since that would mean some goodness was originally missing. And of course it can’t change for the worse because that would mean it losing some goodness.
Or does Apple hold its users in some kind of trance, some kind of Apple reality distortion field. I mean, this is a chat with an Apple user I know.
But guess what, Apple gives you a feature request form
Though they don’t publish upvotes like Microsoft do (or used to) – so you can’t see how much discontent there is or demand for a particular feature.
So take a listen to some recordings of the 3rd generation AirPods
Or take a look at some of their flaws
and see whether things make any more sense – if they do please leave a comment there to illuminate me!