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Focal: Sound goes to Las Vegas!

Focal, the flagship of French acoustic quality, will once again be demonstrating its emblematic expertise and unique experience at the Consumer Electronics Show 2014 (CES) to be held in Las Vegas from 7th to 10th January.

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The best travel accessory ever

Flying for me is quite a painful experience. I struggle to get into a position where my neck doesn’t hurt after a very short period of time.

Yesterday I flew for 11 hours with only minor pain and managed to get some sleep – a real result.

The massive improvement is from a £10.99 neck pillow from Amazon

This memory foam neck pillow deforms to the shape you need it to be and offers support at the back and sides so wherever my head was positioned it was supported.

The best tenner I’ve ever spent.

Neck Pillow

Beware QNAP NAS Firmware upgrades

I’ve been a huge supporter of QNAP Network Attached Storage drive for years and they have been solid, reliable and quiet. What more can one ask?

However I’ve recently had problems with two of my NAS drives.  My backup music drive, a TS-212P with two 3TB Western Digital Red Hard drives failed to connect to any windows computer or a smb share from my mac  This after a firmware upgrade to Version 4.02.

A half hour or so on the phone to tech support fixed the problem with a reinstall of the same firmware.

Far more significantly, I recently upgraded my TS-469 Pro – including four 3TB Western Digital Red Hard Drives – to firmware version 4.05 and immediately could not connect to the two USB3 external drives I have connected to my NAS. Again a quick call to support confirmed the problem and enabled me to downgrade the firmware to 4.02 where everything worked again.

The strong recommendation is: Do not upgrade the firmware on a QNAP NAS drive until it has been available for a good long time and all checks on websites and forums indicate it’s safe.

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Logitech Squeezebox Touch with M2tech hiface Two

Having successfully ‘hacked’ my Squeezebox Touch to add the linux drivers necessary to enable the hiface One it seemed only logical to try using the new M2tech hiface Two.  The hiface Two is USB 2.0 audio compatible – it uses a XMOS solution – so does not require drivers for OS X or Linux.

Comparing the original hiface to the new version Two was just a matter of plugging in the hiface and selecting it in the Advanced/Digital Output menu options (assuming Triode’s excellent Enhanced Digital Output App is enabled). Each change of convertor requires a SBT reboot, but it happens automatically and takes very little time.

The sound quality differences between the hiface and its newer sibling were not as great as the difference between using the SBT from its S/PDIF output and using a hiface – that’s a complete no brainer imho – but they were obvious and the hiface two was the clear winner.

The original hiface in comparison was a little more raw, a little rougher round the edges, a little less ‘relax back into the chair’. To put it into some sort of perspective, if I owned a original hiface I wouldn’t upgrade unless I also owned a SBT and couldn’t face the ‘hacking’

If I owned a SBT was using the S/PDIF output and didn’t try the hiface Two I’d potentially be missing a huge chunk of performance.

hiface Two, USB to S/PDIF device

Keith Monks launches discOveryOne

discOveryOne from Keith Monks. Inventor of the original electric Record Cleaning Machine, brings the record cleaning quality so prized by the BBC, the US Library of Congress and the British Library National Sound Archive among others, in an easier and more affordable package.

Keith Monks today announced that the new discOveryOne Record Cleaner had started production in the UK. It will shortly be available worldwide.

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New Motive SX Series from Neat Acoustics

The next generation of Motive speakers, the SX series, are now shipping. These new models maintain the essential appeal of the original Motive models but introduce significant improvements in all aspects of performance.

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