All recipes at a glance by taste/texture


The matrix here shows the meals and snacks that met my own taste and texture cravings. Of course, most meals have a mixture of tastes and textures but I’ve just listed them under the taste/texture they had that was most dominant for me. You’ll likely come up with your own matrix but I hope these get you going. All of these foods

  • are fairly quick and easy to cook (I was a virtual novice to cooking a few months ago, having existed mainly on convenience food, so they had to be!)
  • have a lower proportion/total amount of carb (bulky green vegetables fill you up but have a low carb density so visually they will take up much more room on your plate than your protein source) than traditional meals – except for a handful (like those with pitta bread) which you can occasionally eat as part of a ‘normal’ diet when you’ve reached your weight goal.
  Sweet Spicy/peppery Savoury (salty) Acidic (sour) Bitter
Creamy Cocoa milk shakeYogurt and raspberry pudding Yogurt and cocoa
Soft Yogurt and pear pudding Avocado half
Boiled organic free-range egg
Cheesy Ryvita with cottage cheese and cucumber
Meaty Thai fish and vegetable curryThai chicken and vegetable curry AnchoviesBolognese with cauliflower

Bolognese with Ryvita

Beef/salmon with cauliflower and broccoli

Beef with sweet potato and cauliflower

Roast chicken with salad/cauliflower and broccoli

Tuna and tomato/cucumber yogurt pitta

Spaghetti bolognese

Chewy Yogurt, pear, walnut and prune pudding
Porridge and fruit
Spinach and oil/seasoning Mussels in garlic sauce
Penne with tuna, cucumber and tomatoBean salad and chicken slices
Scrambled egg and salmon on brown toast
Grapefruit half Cocoa powder spoon
Nutty All-Bran and skimmed milk Ryvita and peanut butter
Walnut half
Crunchy Apple Broccoli/sprouts and oil/seasoning Cauliflower and broccoli saladCottage cheese

Celery/cucumber/sugar snap peas

Pickled onion/cucumber
Refreshing Skimmed milk Lime and soda Green tea

In most cases I haven’t detailed the ingredients/quantities and instructions however the internet is overflowing with recipes and you’ll in any case have to develop a rough understanding of the nutritional value (amount of carb, protein, calories, etc.) of the ingredients and foods you commonly eat and a feel for how large given quantities look (like 100g – for which a food scale is very useful when starting out)  to make a permanent change to your lifestyle. Generally, I made my protein source (typically cooked in a way that kept bad and saturated fats low – e.g. supermarket-rotisseried in the case of roast chicken) half the size of the plate and low carb density vegetables (typically steamed in a microwave steamer) the other half. Make up your own recipes that adhere to the general biochemical principles you’ve learnt (that apply to everybody) and are tailored to your own experiences/findings from monitoring your weight loss against the foods you eat – just keep the grams of carb below the threshold that you can tolerate without spiking your blood sugar (signified by feeling hungry again a short time later) at one sitting (typically 20 to 30g and ideally less than the grams of protein/fat) and make sure you get your daily allowance of nutrients (vitamins/minerals are OK to come from a tablet during your period of fat loss). Personally, I found my hunger following a meal was kept lowest when I kept carbs very low (under 20g/meal) but the level of carb you can tolerate without spiking your blood sugar will depend on

  1. how quickly it’s absorbed into the blood – which itself depends on (a) how the carb is exposed to the stomach e.g. diluting the carb with protein/fat/fibre/water will reduce absorption and (b) how much work the body needs to do to turn the carb into glucose i.e. the GI and
  2. how quickly it’s being taken out of the blood by your muscles – which depends on how exhausted i.e. depleted of glycogen they are.

Of course, you’ll probably break the principles from time-to-time e.g. when socializing (even then your body probably won’t want to gorge anyway if you’ve kept it well nourished) or when pressure of work means you don’t have time to cook but if you follow the principles you’ve discovered the large majority of the time and continue to monitor your weight don’t worry about it!

Enjoy 🙂

The Secret of How to Lose Fat!


By far the biggest change was WHAT and WHEN I ate but here’s the full story:

1) I changed WHAT I ate to stomach-filling meals with a much lower amount of carbohydrate (90 grams total per day is fine if you have a fairly sedentary lifestyle but go as low as you can comfortably manage while ensuring you get enough fibre in your diet – read the grams of carb on the nutrition label on your foods or google their ingredients e.g. here) combined in the meal in a low-GI way (see the videos here if you don’t know what GI means) while at the same time ensuring I got essential nutrients (proteins, vitamins, minerals, essential fats, fibre) so my body was not denied what it NEEDED and my blood sugar was kept at an even level (rapid rises in blood sugar are always followed by rapid drops – which make you feel incredibly hungry!). I gradually learnt about the calories in various foods and limited my food intake so I ate 1000 fewer calories than my body was using per day (to lose around 1kg a week). I came up with a list of meals I liked  that both satisfied my cravings for specific tastes, textures and smells like spicy, savoury, sweet, chocolaty, acidic, tart, crunchy, nutty, meaty, cheesy, chewy, creamy, aromatic but ALSO met my lower carb/high nutrient criteria and then shopped for those meal ingredients only, preparing batches of the cooked meals in advance (that I stored in my freezer) – I’ve posted pictures of the staple meals/snack ‘faithfuls’ I settled on (including a Slim-Fast style meal replacement milk shake) in the Recipes section. A strategy I found useful was to eat the majority of ‘feel-good’ carbohydrates in a pudding (like this) after the main meal – that way I finished the meal on a carb high feeling completely satisfied but without having consumed too many in total. I took a cheap supermarket-branded multivitamin and mineral tablet daily to ensure I got the nutrients I needed on my calorie-limited diet and made sure my diet included foods containing Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. What you give your body is as important as what you deny it but I reduced saturated fats, eliminated products with artificial sweeteners (which stimulate appetite) and caffeine (which causes water and minerals to be lost from the body), drinking water or green/herbal tea (without sugar) when thirsty – note that you will feel more thirsty and need to drink more as you start to burn your fat reserves. Remember, you will eat a smaller quantity of food but once you get over your sugar cravings (which can last for a few days) your body will quickly adapt to burning fat when it needs energy and re-educate your body’s cravings for the healthier foods you have introduced into your diet – if you only source of XYZ vitamin or mineral is French fries then you will crave French fries; when your body has healthier food sources of the nutrients it needs it will actually crave those healthy sources and you will come to love several foods you didn’t before!

2) I changed WHEN I ate to (a) include a breakfast and (b) rarely eat anything substantial later than 8pm so I didn’t go to sleep on a full stomach and had a restful night’s sleep. I also only ate at a meal time or when I was really feeling hungry in my stomach – rather than when I wanted a food ‘high’/’hit’ to cheer me up because I felt stressed or down or tired or bored or wanted a pleasurable distraction giving life a purpose/goal. Distinguishing real hunger from thirst (dehydration) or just feeling low in mood/energy is a skill that can be developed fairly quickly by allowing yourself to drink water/unsweetened tea or eat a limited repertoire (like apples, low-carb-density vegetables and canned tuna) of nutritious but not highly pleasurable foods when feeling the urge to eat. I never starved myself and always allowed myself to eat one of my repertoire of nutritious but not highly pleasurable foods if feeling truly hungry between meals. By BALANCING your energy intake (how much you eat and when) against your energy expenditure (how active you are) before and after that intake you can ‘coast’ along at a comfortable medium-to-low (but not so low that you feel hungry and end up over-eating) blood sugar level and get your body to burn fat by doing nothing – even when you sleep! In fact, the easiest time to deal with low blood sugar is at night while you’re sleeping since your body ordinarily burns fat then anyway and you don’t feel hungry at all. Modern work life can be stressful but if you allow yourself the time to savour tastes on your palate and take at least 30 minutes over your main meal of the day from the first bite to the last your stomach will have time to register how full you are and you’ll naturally know when you’ve had enough to eat. Listen to your body (but not false hunger cravings) and eat until you are satisfied. Remember that whatever you do during your weight loss phase has to also be manageable comfortably long term – there is no point exerting lots of willpower to deny your body’s real hunger cravings since you will just end up compensating (and more) down the line.

3) I kept a weekly record of my weight and fat % (using a set of electronic scales) and took weekly photos of my body to monitor my PROGRESS. Seeing the results gave me feedback on how various foods impacted my weight loss and looking more conventionally attractive and feeling healthier motivated me to continue losing weight. Muscle in fact weighs more than fat and your weight can change by 3kg from one day to the next depending on your intestine contents and level of hydration so recording fat % and pictures of your muscle tone is vital to know how amazingly well you’re doing!

4) I did 1 minute (yes, that’s not a typo!) of INTENSE (heart rate up to 120bpm) exercise a day on 3 alternate days a WEEK – as 3 bursts of 20 seconds of intense running on the spot (or cycling or swimming) every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The effects of this small amount of exercise on your blood biochemistry are profound and extend well into the next day.

Prior to my new lifestyle (it’s now a way of life I enjoy rather than a temporary regime of denial) I had in the main eaten foods I mistakenly thought were healthy and good for weight loss (like brown bread, wild rice, baked potatoes, cereals) together with convenient supermarket ready-meals (lasagne, fish pie, curry, M&S ‘fuller for longer’ meals) and in fact spent more time exercising (though at a lower pace). I had also dieted from time to time in the past when I felt the waistline had gone too far but always ended up putting the lost weight back on.

This is a lot of information to take in presented in a condensed way but my hope is that this site will provide you with a sufficient understanding of nutrition and your body’s biochemistry to enable you to implement the lifestyle changes that will let you take charge of your weight and stay healthy throughout your life – as well as pass on the understanding you develop and good habits you learn to those you care about. If you have questions not answered here then do please ask/comment.

Some people find it easier to be given a more prescriptive approach to what to do when starting out – a kind of one-size-fits-all template – and I have provided such a ‘prescription’ here, however, it’s important that as you see positive results you understand why the regime works so you can continue to lead a healthy lifestyle and keep your weight at a healthy level forever.

Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro Sound Quality Meta Review

Here are brief sound quality descriptions of the Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro starting with some reviewers I trust the ears of, who typically describe sound as I perceive it, and including some of the most popular YouTube reviewers as well as some other review sources like websites and forums. They include links to their full reviews and sound recordings which I’d encourage you to check out for information about all aspects of the earphones and we conclude with my takeaways about one of the most highly reviewed TWS earphones ever and without getting too meta the nature of truth and how to decide who to believe about one of the most important factors when choosing a wireless earphone – sound quality.

Bart – “Bass strikes roll-off quickly and can follow each other in truly rapid procession – this is one heavy-hitting, fast-pacing bass. Higher frequencies got proper attention as well. On top of that, the soundstage is lovely wide. Make no mistake, though: the Liberty 3 Pro still has the rather aggressive Soundcore approach to music. That means center mid-tones fall a bit behind in between the outspoken bass and upper-mids. Snare drums and piano play can be a bit recessed, and some male or darker female vocals can lack body in the lows. The biggest problem might be that the treble is a bit hissy, however. Especially in rock songs – whether it’s Rage Against the Machine, Placebo, or plain Coldplay – guitars and higher-pitched vocals sound brighter than usual and somewhat artificial. They don’t sound harsh overall, but higher notes can be a bit overblown in their own songs. This artificialness is never gone, but it can be toned down by the various other sound options from the app.”

Instagram comments

CEONTHEMAKING – “plenty of bass that’s punchy and tight. The treble is not too sharp. Whatever type of sound signature you prefer you can tailor these to provide that” 7:19 @

EBPMAN Tech Reviews – “Sound fantastic” 13:10 @

“Audio and call quality test” 0:23 @

DHRME – “The Liberty 3 Pro smoke the Sony WF-1000XM4” 1:58 @

YouTube comment

Digital Slang – “These sound fantastic..really impressive for the price” 16:48 @

Brian unboxed – “Prominent deep tight bass. Mids and highs come in clean and clear. Vocals and instruments do stand out. There is good separation with a crisp wide soundstage. It does lean a bit towards a warm sound signature with the bass. I was a big fan of the previous model and this just took the top of the list for me” 6:50 @

New Stuff TV – “I really like the sound quality that I’m getting from these earbuds – it’s just that simple. The bass is strong enough to be boomy when you need it but it doesn’t bleed into your mids and highs” 2:30 @

Comment against Community post

GearUP with Aaron – “Sound quality is slightly more composed and brighter at the same time. Compared to the 2 Pros it’s lost some of the warmth that I do like. The bass is a little more muffled. You can dial some of the warmth back in with the EQ but its still no match for the Sony WF-1000XM4” 14:20 @

AREGINA Tech Review – “The default setting of Signature is a bit vague. This is a classic V-shaped sound with lower midrange, lower bass and higher treble that suits general users who like stimulating sounds. For those who like a flat sound there is no particularly useful setting among the equalizer presets. It is essential to apply my recommended EQ value (includes sound samples)” 6:52 @

EL JEFE REVIEWS – “Based on my personal HearID experience..the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro is going to be known for that bass response – it is strong and there is deep sub bass extension. The midrange has been improved but required a bit of tweaking to get it to my personal taste..can tend to be inconsistent. Vocal clarity is still very very good and there is good stage and width in the sound. The treble can become too bright or can be dialled back. In first place for sound quality we’ve got the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro, in second place the Sennheiser CX Plus, in third the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, in fourth the Sony WF-1000XM4 and in fifth the Apple AirPods Pro” 13:14 @

Gamesky – “These are bold, boomy, bright – that’s how I want them set up. The ability to change these to make them sound however you want is really crazy” 8:58 @

ShortCircuit – “Without LDAC, a little hollow sounding, not super rich. Find the highs almost too crisp out of the box but you can turn them down” 7:15 @

Sean Talks Tech – “The sound signature of the Soundcore and the Sony are pretty close and I would rate the Soundcore to have a bit stronger bass and also better clarity” 6:20 @

Flossy Carter – “Last year when I did the Liberty 2 Pro I had the same reaction. These sound incredible. The highs, the mids crystal clear, that bass was thumping just now and I could probably get more bass from the EQ settings on the app. The sound quality is major. You’re buying these for the sound quality you’re not going to be disappointed” 13:25 @

Brannon No d – “The sound is phenomenal without it (LDAC). I can’t imagine this being any better than what I just listened to” 24:53 @

TechOdyssey – “The sound is pristine. This is probably the best bass I’ve ever heard in a set of earbuds. You can hear the individual tones. Mids are good, vocals are good, the highs are very good as well” 16:35 @

MTG Productions – “I’m no audiophile but these perform really well in day to day use” 13:48 @

Jonathan Morrison – “They sound phenomenal on their own but just in case you want to tweak that you have endless control. Out of the box the stock profile is really aggressive with the low end – I personally really enjoy that” 8:40 @

Underground Tech – “Sound quality is an improvement. It sounds like the bass is a little more balanced with the mids and highs. These are a little more clear over the Liberty 2 Pros. It feels like the bass can overshadow at certain points but that’s when I had it on full volume. I think the sound is solid for the price” 5:37 @

Rich Music Tech Reviews – “Out of the box these were decent sounding but not the best. You can fix that quite easily. The sound quality is a step up on the Liberty 2 Pro. The bass is even deeper, the high even more crisp and the soundstage is even wider. Everything has been given that 10-15% improvement.” 8:42 @

English Dan Reviews – “The bass is really smooth bass. Imagine the Liberty 2 Pro bass but enhanced, clearer. The mids come through nice and strong. The lows don’t spill into the mids and your highs come through perfectly well detailed. It can be a little bit too high for me. You can control that with the app” 12:20 @

Geeky Stuff – “A nice amount of bass, crystal highs and fantastic mids. The quality is amazing. It sounded big” 14:48 @

ShoAndTech – “They took all the things we loved from the 2 Pros and threw them into the 3. The bass is still there, the quality is still crystal” 7:08 @

TK Bay – “A very good balanced experience. Bass heavy but does not damage mids and highs” 12:00 @

TechGuy SmartBuy – “Can be customised to a sound you prefer” 2:10 @

The D Show – “I don’t notice a huge difference compared to previous versions” 6:14 @

FishBee Productions – “Sound really nice, crystal clear” 4:25 @

OSReviews – “They offer by far more detail than regular AirPods can deliver. All frequencies shine with plenty of details and textures of instruments and vocals can be picked up. With the HearID custom mode activated they felt even better, just added a touch more detail and dynamic punch to the sound. It’s very good in terms of no distortion or static in the background” 7:04 @

DVZN Media – “The sound was that little bit of bass that they put into these without making it sound trash. These do really well with tuning. Overall you just have a great pair of headphones” 2:53 @

Ken Yanow – “It’s full, rich, the bass pops and you’ve got a tremendous amount of control over the sound you hear. Its just not quite as clean as the Bose (QC). If you’re really just into music that is more classical in nature and maybe more acoustic sounding the Bose is probably a really good choice for you, it’s just he Liberty 3 Pros give you a richer sound with a deeper bass.” 6:50 @

Videos continue to be produced and there are placeholders below with N/A (not available) against those YouTube reviewers who have not produced a video at the time of writing but whose opinions I tend to value.

Andy’s Tech Tone – N/A

mrkwd – tech guy – N/A

Aaron is Loud and Wireless – N/A

Ricky RDT – N/A

zpolt – N/A

Kenneth Tanaka – N/A

SoZen Gadgets – N/A


Picky Audio – N/A

My takeaway from the reviews above is that this is a TWS that can, after changing EQ settings, sound good if not the best, especially to those who prefer a V-shaped sound signature and has several features that would not normally be found at the price including reasonably effective ANC (for earphones), transparency mode, configurable frequency equalisation, multipoint connection allowing 2 devices to be connected at the same time, single bud ‘mono mode’ use either side, configurable touch controls with all tap and hold options as well as support for the high res LDAC codec (the value of which is debatable since tuning has a much more significant effect on what one hears). Ultimately, unless you need all the features then equivalent or better sound quality, especially for those who prefer a natural sound, can be had for less money. And if you can wait the Liberty 3 Pro will likely be discounted when no longer flavour of the month.

The driver construction is the same as the previous Liberty 2 Pro which for me lacked speed of transient response resulting in a slower woolier bass response and overall less realistic sound. Amplification is responsible for how quickly drivers are pushed and pulled and that takes current and battery in a mobile device. Hence there will be a tradeoff between audio reproduction realism and battery life. The Liberty 3 Pro has a long battery life of 6-8 hours so draw your own conclusions.

I have videos on

1) how effective earphone ANC is

2) free equalisers and techniques to change sound signature

3) sound recordings of the previous Liberty 2 Pro (that has the same driver configuration) against competitors.

I personally found the Liberty 2 Pro slug style a less comfortable, practical and stable form factor for my ears.

Other reviews identifying potential cons to consider including mic quality, responsiveness of controls and ANC quality:

“So, you won’t be disappointed by the sound quality on offer, but you can get sound that’s just as good for a lower price from its competitors.”

The mic issues for calls is a complete deal breaker. I used ANC at a outdoor cafe last night and it was horrible and harder any difference on vs off”

So can one believe the current hype around the Liberty 3 Pro? This is part of a bigger question of who does one trust and how does one know who to trust? Here are a few things I look for:

  • A history of opinions I agree with
  • Quality of analysis and language
  • Internal consistency, maintaining the same relative rankings over time where products are unchanged
  • Clarity of motivation*
  • A sense of fairness, presenting cons as well as pros
  • A respectful approach to others’ opinions 
  • Number and quality of followers, views and comments (all can be faked)
  • A trustworthy demeanour and genuine interest in their subject and audience
  • Similar musical tastes – genres make different demands of technical performance like bass, instrument separation, vocals and soundstage
  • A source of wealth independent from particular manufacturers
  • Consensus from your trusted sources

* Reviews and videos take a lot of time to produce and of course can cost money if you’re not provided the product for free so you’ve got to wonder what the motivation of a reviewer is – are they

  • mini specialised shopping channels
  • brand marketers
  • seeking recognition, celebrity and perhaps another career
  • creatives, wanting to publish and perhaps monetise their output
  • looking to develop their communication skills or experiences
  • wanting to share their knowledge to help others or develop esteem
  • wanting to connect with like-minded people.

That’s something you’re going to have to decide for yourself but keep in mind with everything you see and hear – and this applies to everything in life – what is the motivation behind the message I’m receiving? whether that’s from a person, a company or even a government.

Having said all this, even assuming no bias or outright lies, we all perceive things differently and there may be no single absolute truth. In the world of audio especially, sound signature tastes differ. Cultural differences have been suggested and even within an individual tastes can change over time. At the end of the day, unless you’re a sound engineer, arguably what matters most is the emotional impact of music and happily that is something available nowadays on any budget.

Feel free to drop a question/comment against my videos and if you got value then liking videos and subscribing to the channel helps bring the information to a wider audience and supports monetisation and production of new content – thanks for your support!

If you want a taste of the sound quality of the Liberty 3 Pro at well under half the price and don’t need ANC check out the Liberty 2 Pro.

So finally, my focus is always on sound quality, which is why I try to provide sound samples though of course other aspects of TWS earphones are important like control scheme and sensitivity, comfort and security of fit, waterproof ratings, battery life, connection reliability, mic quality, ANC quality and so on – some of these you can find out from the specs but I’d recommend reading or watching reviews in full to get a feel for these aspects too since sound quality becomes academic if you never use the earbuds.

When I’m quiet on YouTube check out my blog posts, Amazon reviews (I’m a top 3k reviewer) or even my playlist of tracks that move me. I get money (typically under $10 per month) from all my Amazon affiliate links, irrespective of manufacturer – using them costs you no more money but helps me devote more time to producing impartial content.

TWS Reviewers I trust

Following on from my previous post about how I discover the truth about cheap high sound quality earphones without actually having to buy all of them this is a work in progress ranked list of TWS (true wireless stereo – AirPods style Bluetooth) earphone information sources – mainly YouTube channels – I rely on. It’s based on how closely the reviewer’s sound descriptions match my own and the quality of the conversations I’ve had or seen with them.

Bart – I tend to concur with his very precise sound descriptions though he rates a few items, e.g. 1MORE ComfoBuds Pro, more highly than I would and only considers earphones below $100 – which I admire since one shouldn’t need to exceed that for great sounding TWS. If I haven’t heard a TWS I tend to refer to him first.

Andy’s Tech Tone – thorough reviews, responds fairly to questions and uses language precisely though his sound descriptions can be different to mine.

CEONTHEMAKING – I tend to concur with his sound descriptions and he responds to questions fairly.

EBPMAN Tech Reviews – I tend to concur with his sound descriptions though these are not the most detailed. Recordings are of variable quality but can give an indication of comparative sound signatures and microphone samples are good e.g.

mrkwd – tech guy – impartial and honest, focusing on practicality tests but still providing a fair impression of sound quality.

Aaron is Loud and Wireless – thorough reviews, responds fairly to questions and uses language precisely though his sound descriptions can be a little different to mine.

DHRME – provides sound samples so someone who cares about objectivism and talks about more wide ranging subjects. Recordings are of variable quality but can give an indication of comparative sound signatures.

Digital Slang – impartial and honest though uses less precise sound description language.

GearUP with Aaron – impartial and honest, focusing on practicality tests but still providing a fair impression of sound quality.

Brian unboxed – provides sound samples so someone who cares about objectivism. Recordings are of variable quality but can give an indication of comparative sound signatures. His sound descriptions can be different to mine e.g. describing bass as tight and punchy when I did not experience that and rating some products more highly than I would.

Ricky RDT – reviews few Bluetooth devices but I tend to concur with his sound descriptions and though his use of audiophile language is less sophisticated than some I get a good idea of how an earphone / headphone sounds through his comparisons.

zpolt – Derrick Mapagu focuses on IEMs but provides sound samples that usually give one a good impression of how earphones compare against eachother and clear sound descriptions using recognised audiophile terms.

New Stuff TV – genuine guy with a good ear though can over hype.

Kenneth Tanaka – genuine guy with a good ear though can over hype.

EL JEFE REVIEWS – genuine guy rating some products more highly than I would who has provided some answers that I disagree with e.g. around LDAC significance. I admire his creation of a ‘crowd-sourced’ tier list though disagree with some classifications:

Gamesky – has rated some products more highly than I would.

Flossy Carter – entertaining with less precise audio descriptions than some others. Hypes several products, some more than I think they merit.

Others I watch include SoZen Gadgets, GYMCADDY, Super*Review, totallydubbedHD, InsideTech, Picky Audio, Sean Talks Tech (for a list of all my subscriptions see my YouTube channel)

Sony X95H (X950H / XH95) TV v Sony X95J comparison

Sony X95H v Sony X95J TV comparison

I wondered what advantages the latest Sony high end FALD (full array local dimming) LED TV brought over the previous model, which is much cheaper, and found this free online tool from RTINGS very helpful.

Just with your web browser, you can use it to compare side by side 2 or more of the several hundred TVs that has tested over the years across all their important characteristics including contrast, motion handling, upscaling and user interface so a very valuable tool to know about.

If you found this helpful please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel, one of my reviews from which is on soundbars.

Other YouTube TV reviewers I watch to form an assessment of a TV include Rtings, HDTVTest, Digital Trends, B, FOMO and Tech With KG.

Reading the viewer comments against their videos can also be informative.

This reviewer puts the Sony X95J picture overall above its obvious LED competitors, the Samsung QN90A neo QLED (mini LED) and LG QNED 90 (mini LED) TV and succinctly describes why one would choose LED over OLED: (skip to 10:42 – 11:41)

And for free information about the insulin response and how I used this basic biochemistry to lose 4 stone in weight healthily check out

Covid vaccine statistics – is taking the vaccine worth the risk?

To inform the personal decision of whether to get the vaccine here are some statistics from authoritative sources. Should you have a more accurate source for any of these statistics please leave it in a comment.

The risk of death from Covid infection overall is 500000 / 10000000 so 5%

Source: “this virus has infected over 10 million individuals and resulted in at least 500,000 deaths world-wide”

John Hopkins University shows currently 4 million deaths from 200 million Covid cases worldwide indicating a 2% risk of death from Covid infection overall.


Non authoritative sources show a worst case death rate of 0.5% for those over 80 years old and 0.15% overall though these figures may be population fatality rates i.e. your risk of catching the infection and then dying from it rather than your risk of dying after having certainly been infected. Of course catching Covid is not a certainty so the risk of catching the infection and then dying from it is the risk it makes most sense to compare against the certain risk from deciding to have the vaccine and then going to get vaccinated.


A personal risk calculator from Oxford University is here

The current known risk of death following shortly after Covid vaccination is 0.002%

Source: “VAERS received 6,490 reports of death (0.0019%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.”

So short term overall taking the vaccine is between 250 and 2,500 times safer than not taking it according to the headline statistics, as far as risk of death goes. Taking the vaccine does not guarantee elimination of the risk of dying from Covid so it is more complicated than this, and the reduced risk of death from Covid having taken the vaccine should strictly be added to the risk of death from the vaccine itself, but we are dealing with ballpark figures so let us suppose for now that it does.

From the personal risk calculator, which excludes previous recovery from Covid infection as a risk (mitigating) factor, my own personal risk of dying during a 90 day period (based on data from the first pandemic peak) is 0.008% so taking the vaccine is 4x safer than not taking it, but only assuming I could catch Covid from the general population. Taking the risk of actually catching Covid into account, together with a previous positive test for Covid antibodies from previous Covid infection, the benefits of vaccination for me are more debatable. Furthermore, arguably morally, it would be better that the vaccine dose available to me in the UK be used to vaccinate someone in the world more vulnerable to succumb to death from Covid or spread Covid to others.

Of course, this figure will vary for individuals and the personal risk calculator can help one calculate an individual figure – though no provision is made for those who have already contracted and recovered from Covid.

The risk of long-term negative impact from Covid infection is at least 5% given that 5% of adults have “long Covid” from Covid infection.

Source: “A study of over half a million adults in England found that one in 20 had persistent COVID-19 symptoms.”

The risk of long-term negative impact from the vaccine is currently unknown. There are various reassurances about the mechanism the vaccine uses being well established and its elimination from the body.

Source: “mRNA doesn’t affect your genes in any way because it never enters the nucleus of cells, where your DNA is kept. After the mRNA does its job, it breaks down and is flushed out of your system within hours. It’s also important to know that although mRNA technology for vaccines is new, the mRNA technology itself isn’t. Therapies using mRNA have been around for years and are currently being used to treat cancer and viral diseases.”

Of course, the long term risks only come into play if you survive the short term risks.

These statistics and the reasoning above just consider one’s individual risk of death rather than the risk of ‘causing’ death to others by inadvertently infecting them while one is infected or the risks to public health from Covid infection treatment stretching the health service. While there is evidence (sources TBC) that vaccination reduces the risk of spreading Covid to others the question of whether one has any moral obligation to reduce the risk of Covid in others, and if so how best to do that through one’s actions, is more complicated.

There are arguments both ways and further questions. What level of risk and inconvenience should we expose ourselves to in order reduce risk to others e.g. should we all shield/isolate to minimise the risk to others? Should we be allowed to give our vaccine allocation to others who are more likely to die or spread Covid? Could it be advantageous to the species that some proportion of the population never develops Covid antibodies?

YouTube creator burn out and therapy

There is a huge number of videos on the mechanics of creating videos from setting up good sound and lighting to increasing engagement however not a lot of content on the typical concerns of YouTubers.

This video raised a number of points that resonated with me.

1) Feeling demotivated when the YouTube stats reward metrics (views, engagement, subs..) for a particular video don’t relate to the effort one has put into it, or when overall views for one’s channel drop for no reason one can fathom
2) Benefits of the YouTube video creation process for self development and one’s work life outside of YouTube, plus potential unexpected incidental opportunities arising from YouTube ‘work’
3) Not wanting YouTube creation to feel like a job/work. Keeping it fun/taking a break (days, weeks, months) while balancing that against one’s perception of audience expectations, and concerns about the impact of that on ‘the algorithm’
4) “I’m just leaving this here” and low expectations/high hopes mentality to videos i.e. just do and be damned..why not if view ‘rewards’ can come months or years later with ‘slow burners’
5) Family motivating influences, things we do to ‘decompress’ and generally stuff that keeps us sane! (e.g. listening to music, watching YouTube, sports/exercise in my case btw)
6) Massive checklist for prepping for videos and then everything that comes afterwards prior to publishing..and dreaming of having an editor/admin to do all the boring stuff!
7) “Just say no” / pushing back techniques and mental health / wellbeing
8) Finding good honest people with no ulterior motive to seek help from when needed
9) The ‘grind’ v ‘blow up’ reality of YouTube growth, appreciating/visualising every single subscriber/viewer and developing multiple income streams to balance income risks
10) Poor maintenance by public authorities and avoiding potholes 🙂

One more ?paranoid thought for the day – I sometimes wonder whether YouTube (or even manufacturers of items I happen to have a positive opinion of) has bots viewing my videos and subbing to/unsubbing from my channel to keep me motivated to produce content for their platform/products..maybe that’s just me! 🙂

In a nutshell there is a tension between

(a) the stress caused by the habits and goals and disciplines we set for ourselves and

(b) our constant evaluation of whether (a) is ‘worth it’.

How do we balance working for a better/happier future against enjoying the present? And to what extent do we trust received wisdom and the truths offered or perhaps even ‘sold’ (literally as well as metaphorically) to us – just as history is said to be written by the victors, perhaps our perception of the present is equally manipulated by those with their own agendas to push. After all, every piece of information takes time, effort and hence money to be propagated.

Cheap high sound quality earphone meta review

I have bought several earphones over the years (no pun intended) and will never be able to try every earphone on the market so rely on reviews from several sources for my purchasing decisions.

But to what extent do we trust received wisdom and the truths offered or perhaps even ‘sold’ (literally as well as metaphorically) to us? Just as history is said to be written by the victors, perhaps our perception of the present is equally manipulated by those with their own agendas to push. After all, every piece of information takes time, effort and hence money to be propagated.

I qualify and curate these sources based on the similarity of their descriptions of earphones I know to my own experience of those earphones, and the sound ‘signature’ preferences the sources express explicitly or implicitly. Some reviewers, like Super* Review and DMS for example, prefer a leaner bass and more open and less intimate ‘in your ear’ vocal presentation than I do so, while I respect their analysis, I know I may not necessarily enjoy the earphones they do (and vice versa).

Sources include YouTube reviewer videos and viewer comments against those videos, Amazon reviews, consumer websites like CNET and Rtings, enthusiast websites like Head-Fi and soundguys, Google searches for blog posts like the one you are reading and, most recently, the community around my YouTube channel.

So let’s start this investigation of the best sounding sub $50 earphones with a comment I posted against a video comparing several hyped budget earphones, that the reviewer agreed was a fair summary.

“Hi, very informative trying to summarise the cons (-) and pros (+) does this look right:

  • BLON BL03 $27: -cable/treble detail +bass/mids 
  • CVJ CSN $38: -bright +adequate bass/soundstage
  • Moondrop SSR $40: -lean bass +comfort/treble 
  • Tripowin TC-01 $47: -weight +adequate bass/mids/treble/soundstage
  • Tin T2 Plus $54:  -fit +cable/tight bass/mids/adequate treble
  • TFZ LIVE 3 $69: – boomy bass/mids/treble/soundstage +cable/sub bass”

So the winner from this bunch for my tastes looks to be the Tripowin TC-01, though I personally am not a fan of cold metal-bodied earphones such as that of the TRN v80 which was very widely recommended by the audiophile online communities in 2018 (and which, with a filter modification to reduce its exaggerated bright treble, becomes a very nice sounding earphone).

The group test reviewer, Ricky RDT, is less polished and articulate than some other reviewers however his less florid sound descriptions are often both much more quickly understandable and ring true with my own experiences.

Next stop, check out the Porta.Fi review of it. This is a reviewer who employs a consistent format and spends several minutes describing the sound of an earphone using a precise vocabulary of audiophile terms and through comparison to other known earphones.

So, he really likes it though keeps it real by saying there are earphones above $100 that sound better i.e. this isn’t a ‘giant killer’ which even the Blon BL03 has been touted as, e.g. by one of the most popular audiophile reviewers Z Reviews in this review.

Now the Honest Audiophile is someone I like the review style of. I don’t share his opinions of the Shuoer Tape and Monoprice Retro reviews, however, so take his often contrarian views with a large pinch of salt. He has a problem with the TC-01 bass (though video comments suggest he may benefit from better tips) and doesn’t rate them as anything special, or even beating the Blon BL03.

So we are starting to chase our tail and go in circles. Not unusual for this hobby.

Let’s take another starting point and check out $50 recs from inToit, an unusual reviewer who wears a mask but who I feel employs language and audiophile terms in a coherent way.

To summarise his video using the Head-Fi convention of ‘>’ meaning ‘has better sound quality than’:

Jade EA3 (musical and less technical but good to go cable and tips) > Jade EA1 (technical but ‘reference’ bass and poor tips) > Moondrop SSR (HD600 clarity, better soundstage, lean bass) > Tin T2 Plus (better extension, detail and clarity and less mid bass bleed than Blon BL03) > KBEAR Lark (treble rolls off)

Above $50 he recs Shozy Form 1.1, Tin T4, TFZ No 3, Final Audio A4000, IKKO OH10, Tanchjim Oxygen, Final Audio B3.

By contrast, employing one of my own YouTube channel viewers as a starting point, he recs the Blon BL03, Tin T2 and QKZ VK4 which has no overlap with the inToit recs.

Now considering his recs together with the inToit top rec, HiFi Dreams describes the Blon BL03 and QKZ VK4 as more even handed than the fun V shaped TRN v90 and Jade Audio EA3.

Furthermore, he has developed this impressively detailed and comprehensive spreadsheet

HiFi Dreams IEM spreadsheet

as shown in this video.

He strongly recs the KBear KS2 which he rates as competitive with earphones several times the price. He also likens the tonality of the VK4 to his $120 Thieaudio Legacy 3 (his 2nd favourite earphone after the $250 FiiO FH5) with the VK4 having a slightly lower technical performance.

In the search for independent verification, Ricky RDT compares the KBear KS2, which he characterises as v-shaped (more and less fast bass with recessed mids against the Lark), to the inToit recommendation the Jade Audio EA1 (better than the Lark, with more resolution and without sibilance) and the KBear Lark, described as bass light and with a peaky and sibilant treble in this video.

Zpolt compares the KS2 (balanced with sufficient tight bass and some treble shimmer) to the KBear KB04 (brighter and more analytical) and Blon BL03 (boomy bass and smoother treble with less shimmer) and KZ ZST X (boomy bass and smoother treble with less separation and less revealing vocals)

But then Vortex, a British reviewer of almost every ChiFi earphone of note, describes the KS2 vocals as a bit thin with upper mids elevation and prefers the less bassy (but still v-shaped) KBear KS1, which he describes as having more realistic vocals and overall puts on par with the QKZ VK4. The BA on the KS2 gives that earphone apparently slightly better instrument separation on complex tracks where there’s a lot going on and more detail resolution but also results in a brighter and even more v-shaped sound with an unnatural timbre.

So, once again no unanymity of support for the KS2 and for the combination of natural tonal balance with technical detail I’m yet to find a common recommendation from these sources.

From personal experience, I highly rate the clarity of the Etymotic MK5 in the sub $100 range, however only once modified with (a) the introduction of tissue paper into the nozzle to allow the bass level to be brought up without the treble becoming unbearable and (b) a flange being removed from the triflange tips to improve comfort of their deep insertion design which prevents the natural bend in the human ear canal from compromising the sound. One of the longest serving audiophile reviewers, and former audio salesman, Steve Guttenberg is also a fan.

From the various sources above, it seems the Blon BL03 or KBear KS1 or Jade Audio (FiiO) EA3 may be a good choice for those who are happy to forego some detail resolution to obtain a natural tonal balance at an affordable ‘budget’ sub $50 price.

I still rate my TRN v80, which for me are like a more comfortable if brighter sounding MK5 (the treble brightness can be attenuated by putting tissue or foam in the ear tips), and HiFi Dreams rates their later TRN v90 successor up with the Blon BL03. He recs both and describes the Blon as being more coloured and warm sounding, like the audiophile reference Sennheiser HD650 headphone and the TRN as being less coloured and with a sparklier treble.

Vortex also rates these two earphones in this comparison so we have some commonality at last.

These two earphones then deliver different but equally enjoyable presentations of music. Perhaps in the search for one earphone to rule them all, in the budget sector at least, one may be better served by two, whose complementary qualities together provide an experience of what is possible with audio reproduction. Mellifluous, smooth and musical or clear, resolving and analytical.

A little above the $50 price point, the FiiO FD1 is also recommended by Ricky RDT, HiFi Dreams and Audiophile Heaven for its bass quantity and slam, natural timbre and treble detail though inToit Reviews prefers the cheaper Jade Audio EA1, which has the same beryllium driver, and the EA3.

While earphones come and go all the time, and we can expect further value and sound improvements from new materials and technologies and economies of scale, I suspect we will see no major sound quality improvements until new technologies, like the magnetostatic drivers in the Shuoer Tape with their highly realistic transient response, become more widespread and mature.

Previous earphone models, that are no longer being touted as the latest and greatest, may offer the highest ‘sound per pound’ value at any point in time, which is not dissimilar to other areas of HiFi.

I find it curious how much representation ‘ChiFi’ has in several reviewer recommendations. Is this a reflection of their value for money or some unrevealed reviewer allegiance or sponsorship – or perhaps Chinese bots are ‘viewing’ these reviews to make YouTube serve them up to us more frequently?

I’ll add to this post as the research continues and tentative conclusions form!

Why YouTube has a new YouTube Studio logo

Everything happens for a reason.

New YouTube Studio logo

And sometimes even the smallest thing can reveal fundamental truths and speak volumes. Every fan of the American detective series Columbo already knows this of course.

When YouTube introduced a new logo, app and notifications icon for YouTube Studio, the tool creators use to check on and change their videos, various theories for the rationale arose.

The more obvious were around brand identity and consistency but digging deeper considers how YouTube connects with and expands its audience and begins to reveal the fundamental nature and direction of YouTube.

Check out this 1 minute ‘#Shorts’ video to learn more.

24 carrot gold

24 carrot gold

I asked an acquaintance who I’d seen had lost a lot of weight over lockdown, despite exercising even less, how he had managed it. “When I feel I want a treat I have a carrot” he said. Having tried this recently to address my own lockdown weight gain I have to thank him for this simple suggestion!

A kilo costs 50p which lasts me several days and peeling and trimming gives me a little routine to occupy my mind.

The calorie count is surprisingly low given how sweet they are and their famous use in carrot cake and while all the carbs are sugars there is a decent relative proportion of fibre, protein and even fat.

Carrot nutrients

Other snack staples are gherkins and pickled onions and steamed beetroot.

For a tasty quick snack wok stir fried bean sprouts (just a teaspoon of oil is needed) with a dash of soya sauce are another recent find that are also very nutritious with a good proportion of fibre and protein to carb..and super cheap at 70p for a 300g a packet.

Affiliate links

Here’s a list of Amazon affiliate links to products I’ve bought and reviewed on the YouTube channel.

Should you ever happen to purchase one of these items new then you will pay the same price and the channel will receive a small commission if you use my affiliate links below for your country – if you use the link from another country no commission is received unfortunately. Prices are those when added to the list and the current price will usually be less:

US links
* = sonic bargain!

*Creative Stage v2

Sony WF-1000XM4 $270

Sony WF-1000XM3 $180

Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro

Sony WF-1000XM3 (Renewed) $100

*Sennheiser CX 400BT $100

Sennheiser HD 600

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

Shure Aonic 50

Beyer Lagoon ANC

Sony WF-1000XM3 $180

Audio Technica ATH M50xBT

*AKG K371-BT

Anker Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro $145

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro $130

*Sennheiser CX 400BT $100

Sony WF-1000XM3 (Renewed) $100

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 $80

Moondrop Aria

*Anker Soundcore Life Q30 $68

*Etymotic MK5

*Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 (Renewed) $56

*Mpow H17 $50

Mpow M30 Plus (100h) $40

*Superlux HD668B headphones $40

AKG K175 studio headphones $39

*Aukey EP-T27

Aukey EP-T21S

*Monoprice Retro

*Mpow M30 $33

*TaoTronics SoundLiberty 92 $32

Blon BL-01

UK links
* = sonic bargain!

*Creative Stage v2

Majority K2

Sennheiser HD 600

Shure Aonic 50

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Black

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Silver

Beyer Lagoon ANC

Sony WF-1000XM3

Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro

Audio Technica ATH M50xBT

*AKG K371-BT

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro

Samsung Galaxy buds live

Yamaha TW-E3A

*Sennheiser CX400BT

Anker Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro

Moondrop Aria

Anker Soundcore Life Q30

*Anker Soundcore Life Q30 renewed

*Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2

Earfun Free Pro

*Etymotic MK5

*Koss Porta Pro

VE Monk Plus

SoundPeats Truengine 3 SE

Mpow M30 Plus

AKG K175 studio headphones

Aukey EP-T27

Aukey EP-T21S

*Superlux HD668B headphones

*Mpow H17

*Monoprice Retro

*Mpow M30

*Taotronics SoundLiberty

Blon BL-01

Soundpeats TrueAir2

*Samsung EHS64

Why music moves us

This is just the beginning of what may become a collection of musings on what aspects of songs/pieces of music that I find particularly moving might make them so emotionally affecting.

Starting with the live performance by the Chemical Brothers of The Golden Path

2021 and crying, laughing, inspiring.. absolutely chemical, bros! @1:26 the seamless transition from insistent staccato isolated almost plucked sounding notes searching high and low to melodic uptempo phrases integrated with vocal harmonies conveys for me a sense of learning, achieving togetherness and resolution. Certainly different to the album version tho both have a nostalgic/lamenting yet optimistic and loving upsetting times but older and wiser afterwards. Not really sure what I’m talking about or why it’s so emotionally affecting but love it.

‘Fragments of Bliss’ is a very appropriate title for this piece which again inspires and moves me to tears. Against a deep pulsating monotonic deep bass drone (a constant earth / environment) synth strings play and chords rise and fall in melodic washes that transport us on an epic journey from uncertain shifting places to a beautiful warm idyllic beach paradise.

A repeated haunting but jaunty plucked note melody conveys a sense of nostalgia but this is combined with a bassier driving guitar rhythm that says to me life goes on, keep those sad times and losses in mind but keep ploughing on, working through past upsets and happier times will come.

Not a piece of music this time but a principle which this tutorial sets out. Any repeating part (sequence of notes or rhythm), however dissonant or uncomfortable, is something we eventually become used to and get to like. This struck me as a potential analogy to life where even if something is unpleasant but we continue to live through that unpleasantness we come to associate that particular unpleasantness with continued life and hence as something ‘good’. Something may not be nice but it’s familiar and ‘what we know’. Perhaps this relates to what is meant by someone who is ‘twisted’ – their unhappy life experiences have formed them / they have grown around, and come to embrace, unhappy life experiences developing into a grotesque form as a way of surviving those experiences.

It takes ‘courage’ which is perhaps really ‘just’ the willingness to take a risk (i.e. accept the possible negative consequences of an action for the potential upside) to break free from such a way of living. Courage can I suspect be developed..maybe by doing things outside one’s comfort zone?..and doing them well enough that one survives them relatively unscathed. I guess the inspiring thing about the willingness to take risks is that there is the conviction or belief that there is or should be something better or more harmonious than where one is right now.

So my work in progress summary of why music moves me:

Notes, timbres and rhythms evoke aspects of nature e.g. low notes convey the idea of something big, high notes of something whimsical and ethereal.

The interplay of notes over time depicts a story or sequence of events giving us an idea of cause and effect.

Notes played together can convey harmony and peace of mind or disharmony and tension.

Repetition can create a sense of familiarity and stability.

Voices, sounds and words can bring some emotion, thought, character or action of the vocalist or instrumentalist to mind e.g. we can empathise and know the movements and energy required to create a frenetic drum pattern or the dexterity required to perform a sequence of notes or the feeling that evokes a vocal intonation or form of words.

Parts of a piece of music can remind us of other pieces of music and bring those associations to mind.

Music can lead us to anticipate what note comes next and when an ‘expected’ note arrives, maybe after a long period of tension, that can result in a sense of euphoria, perhaps because we experience a sense of connectedness to the composer/performer.