New Favorite Tunes

These albums are either new/newer releases or are just new to me. I’ve been listening to these albums quite a bit recently and highly recommend Vampire Weekend, it’s becoming one of my all time favorites.

Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

Paramore – Riot!

The New Pornographers – Challengers

The Fratellis – Costello Music

Fountains of Wayne – Traffic and Weather

Presidents of the United States – These Are the Good Times People

These have all been added to my favorite albums playlist and I have no problem listening to them multiple times. That’s a big indication of a good album to me; if I can enjoy the whole thing without getting bored and skipping songs then it is a keeper. If you are adverse to profanity I think track 2, “Oxford Comma”, on Vampire Weekend drops the f-bomb a couple times, but everything else above should be pretty clean. Have you discovered any good tunes lately?

Sennheiser PX 100 Headphones Review

There’s a ton of headphone/earphone/canalphone/earbud options out on the market and it can be hard to filter through the crap and find headphones that perform well while keeping aesthetics in mind. The white earbuds that come with Ipods have become a staple on college campuses where they help complete that all important hipster look, but they don’t do much for the music you’re listening to.

A few years ago I came across the Koss SportaPro headphones and was very impressed with their sound and comfort level. I handed those down to the wife to work out with and looked for another pair to use at work (programming requires good tunes). My requirements weren’t too strict:

  • Reasonably priced (under $50)
  • Good sound quality
  • On ear pads to allow in ambient noise (to avoid startling taps on the shoulder)
  • Comfortable and easy to put on and remove

These few parameters helped eliminate a lot of products. I eventually ended up looking at the Sennheiser PX 100’s, another pair of SportaPro’s, and Grado SR60’s (pricier and bulkier than I wanted). This review at Dan’s Data finally sold me on the Sennheisers and I couldn’t be happier.

In the 2-3 years I’ve had the PX 100’s I estimate I’ve put 1500-2000 hours of music through them. The best way to describe how they sound is that they don’t sound like headphones. They’re clear and fairly detailed without being fatiguing in the high end and quite possibly pump out the perfect amount of bass. I highly recommend the Sennheiser PX 100’s if you are looking for a good moderately priced pair of cans.

Sennheiser PX 100 at Amazon

Foo Fighters: Acoustic at the Pantages

Sarah scored some tickets to the sold out acoustic Foo Fighters show at the Pantages theater on August 29th. It was the first concert I had been to in a while and all I can say is wow. I’m not a diehard Foo Fighters fan but I enjoy music and good production and engineering qualities. My short recap of the concert is that it was not just good, but is possibly the best live musical performance I have ever been too.

If it had been a traditional plain old rock concert with outrageously loud Marshal stacks and little interaction with the audience then my overall impression would not be so ecstatic. The acoustic setup allowed the band to double in size to keep a fuller sound and add something new. They added on one more guitarist, original band member Pat Smear, a keyboard/organ/accordion player, full time percussionist and Petra Haden on violin/mandolin/vocals. The extended band added a very enjoyable dimension.

When it came down to it though, the show just totally rocked. The Pantages is a pretty small venue for a band of this size and our seats were in the orchestra, 11 rows back, barely off center, couldn’t ask for better seats. Dave Grohl was interacting with the crowd and actually responding to shouted comments which made the performers feel much more accessible. At one point Grohl was telling how he joined Nirvana and was staying in Curt Cobain’s apartment and paused at a point in the story and someone yelled out that “the rest was history” and Grohl went with it.

From a production standpoint things were done pretty well. Lighting was spot on and I couldn’t find anything to complain about with the mix. They were filming for a DVD so we might very well have shot of us since we were right on the aisle and they kept panning by us.

We saw Wicked at the Orange County Performance Arts Center a couple weeks ago so if I keep this up I might be in danger of becoming “cultured”.

Video from concert with pretty good video but clipped audio (I guess tiny digital cameras aren’t designed to handle sound levels over 100 dB SPL). I’ll post another clip if a better one shows up.

Methods of connecting an Mp3 Player up to your car stereo

Posted a comment on a friends page and inspired me to post on this subject.

I wouldn’t even consider an FM transmitter and would only resort to tape at last resort.

The best option is to plug directly into your car’s head unit through an auxiliary input. Even with stock car stereos there is a chance an adapter is available. And if not, I’d try a FM modulator (different from transmitters, they plug directly into antennae on the stereo to minimize interference).

I use to have a Kenwood head unit in my old truck and I got the adapter that plugs into the cd changer port and it worked great. Just ran the RCA cable out from under the dash and up to the center console and plugged straight in.

The best list of available adapters I’ve found is at

So in summary:

  • FM transmitters (the cheap toys you get at Radio Shack) – avoid like the plague.
  • Tape Adapters – Final resort if you are strapped for cash and you actually have a tape player (which is becoming quite rare on newer cars and head units).
  • FM modulator – plugs directly inline with your car’s antennae, final resort if you value sound quality.
  • Auxiliary input – Stereo manufacturers are finally catching on and Aux inputs are becoming more widespread. They offer the least amount of sound quality loss and depending on your setup can be pretty affordable.

I think a lot of people view hooking up their Mp3 player the same as the headphones they use, they simply see no reason to upgrade. After dropping $200-300 on a very capable Mp3 player, most people will not spend the extra money to upgrade their headphones. This is why you see the trendy Ipod masses on college campuses walking around with their white earbuds stuffed in their ears. Spend another $35 on something like these Sennheiser PX 100‘s and increase the quality of your music, unless looking trendy and “cool” matters more.

The same goes with hooking your Mp3 player up in the car, don’t spend $15 on the FM crap emitter, invest a little more and get a higher quality signal with less hassle. I look at it this way, how much is it worth to not have to listen to crappy radio music and commercials? Stick it to the man and hook your mp3 player up to your car stereo.

Flight of the Conchords

During the Superbowl, Outback Steakhouse launched a new television campaign featuring an Australian guy in some cleverly written spots. I enjoyed the commercials and didn’t think about the actor being in anything else until I came across this clip on CollegeHumor today. Turns out he is Jemaine Clement and is half of “New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo”, Flight of the Conchords. The other half, Bret McKenzie, has been around, played in The Black Seeds and played the role of Figwit in the first and third Lord of the Rings movies.

I’m a big fan of comedy and they just seem to click for me. I’m a fan for sure now and hope to see more of them. Here’s their clips from HBO’s One Night Stand which is going to be re-run Saturday night. Check out the rest of the special with the two 15 minute clips. Their set is pretty clean, one f-bomb in their last song of Part 2, but overall probably not suitable for kids. The embedded clip is their parody on rap/hip-hop.

HBO Special: Part 1
HBO Special: Part 2
Conan O’Brien: Business Time