Thursday, 26 November 2015

Alclair Curve 2.0 Review

Alclair Curve 2.0 Review

Thanks to Alclair for the sample.

First Impressions:  Oooooh it has a box!!!  I totally get why they are moving to havening a box but I actually found something so refreshing about them previously just coming in their little case.  Still if you want to get them into a real life shop, well or sell them anywhere really, you need a box.  Its err a functional box.  Spartan.  Ahhh and there is that little case.  Awwww no carabiner.  Okay so it wasn’t really needed but it was so different I grew to really like it.  Inside we got the Curves.  Comply something’s on them and two pairs and a cleaning thingy.  Though honestly, could you not just have left the medium Comply’s in their little bag rather than put them on?  I know they fit me but it saves leaving a pair of tips that otherwise might have no way to keep together and clean.

Anyway, in the ears, Studio V in hand and hmm.  Can I put my finger on what they have changed?  Erm no.  They feeling darker and a bit more staid.  Okay 40 min later I still can’t quite say what the diff is, though these do seem firmer and darker in the bass a bit but yeah, v1 were great and these are great too.  I was expecting rather more treble, not that I felt the needed more but I know others did.  You know I want to be all “oooooh yey these are so exciting” but they aren’t.  That’s the thing with a version 2.0 you have a pretty good idea of what’s coming so you just can’t get all excited as there is no surprise.  Given that on my recent CanJam London trip the IEM I used for the entire trip (though I had several with me) was the Curve 1.0, so it’s fair to say I like them and think highly of them.  Its pretty fair to say I’m going to feel similarly about 2.0 too.  Burn in time.

Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-650, 1G Ipod Shuffle, Nexus 5 and Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear.

Lows:  As these are a version 2 to the original Curve its likely what I’m most going to compare to.  The bass on the 1st Curve was big, really rather big, rounded, warm and rich.  Frankly the old one did all the things that it’s hard for a BA to do and it made it all look so easy.  The 2.0 however is aiming for a different sound.  Think of the 1.0 as the rich, bassy Curve and this 2.0 as the much more “neutral” Curve.  The bass is lighter, still a bit on the boosted side but it removes the excesses of the 1.0’s flavouring.  This is much cleaner, firmer, cleaner and it therefore feels more nimble.  All BA’s have rather swift bass but this retains a touch of the body and depth of the first one but…… I miss the first one.  I love that rich, warm, bit slow bit, bit rolled off highs etc etc that the 1.0 did so amazingly well.  I recognise that this is much more in the middle ground. I get that therefore its arguably “better” certainly its less flavoured but I miss it nevertheless.

Quantitatively its big for a BA, for a dual BA especially as most of them are lightning fast and just as bright.  These are still quite KC3 like in the presentation and elevation.  If you’re after a bass monster a BA isn’t the way to go but these are very capable.  If you want to push them you can greatly elevate their bass output.  I’m sure it’s the same innards in the 1.0 but it’s very much more restrained in comparison.  Anyway, it’s still pretty bassy by BA standards.

Mids:  Excellent.  BA’s always tend to shine in the mids and these do so magnanimously.  I’m a pretty much a midhead so I’m possibly a little biased at times, I try not to be but….. well you know.   When you personally love something and it plays to your own likes it’s hard not to maybe a little too praising.  The mids here are practically perfect.  I know they are missing a certain level of detail and they aren’t giving me quite the openness in certain vocals that there ought to be.  Blah blah blah whatever.  These are on their own merits fantastic.  They are just a hint warm, like the flavoured waters with a hint of peach.  Mostly its plain water but there is that little dash of something wonderful just to impart a light dusting of flavour.  That being a dash of cream in this case and thus vocals are for the most part, open and clean but there is a creamy base layer.  Sadly it’s not as creamy and luscious as the 1.0 but these just have enough of a hint to sound gorgeous.

Quantitatively they are overall middling.  A little ahead of the treble and a smidge behind the bass but overall it’s a relatively gently slope.  If your used to V shaped monsters then you’ll likely find the mids to me wildly prominent but strictly speaking these are a slightly middy, lightly bass centric IEM.

Highs:  Ahh the highs.  They are probably why there is a v2.0 to begin with.  Now I loved the 1.0, I still do, they are probably my favourite thing from 2015.  You see I’m fairly treble sensitive, so for me, rolled off treble is a good thing.  While the 1.0 had detailed treble it was rather subtle and unspectacular.  Something that it was a little bashed for.  The response it would seem is the 2.0 and it’s much more gentle acoustic curve.  The treble here is as good as before but it’s been bumped up in quantity and its warmth stripped away.  It’s not a treble monster by any stretch but where I found the Curve 1.0 with my bright Studio V a most splendid pairing, the slightly more cool toned 2.0 plays up the Studios V upper end eagerness.  It’s not like its DBA-02 levels or anything close but I so loved the melty creamy chocolatey notes of the 1.0.  I miss it.  This is the more grown up product though, I get that.

With the 1.0 having been called a “universal monitor” it really was a bit of a misleading name because it was too flavoured to be a monitor.  Sure it was super easy on the ear but the 2.0 is almost as easy but it is acoustically something that you can legitimately call a monitor.  Still if you want the furthest highs this gently slopes off and if you want aggressive detail, again look elsewhere.

Soundstage:  For a BA these sound damn big.  They aren’t so big and instrument separation as some BA’s do which is a little unusual.  Everything is a very full, full bodied and weighty with a hint of space and air.  Still while the mids are quite convincingly centre stage the bass feels a little more difficult to place. It’s just there, all around you even.  The treble is very near the centre stage, just behind and flanking the mids.  Integration though is great, seamless.  If they have a crossover in there I’ll be buggered if I can tell where.

Comfort:  Like the 1.0 these a have a shape that makes you double take.  Sure it’s weird and a friend who tried them, he couldn’t wear them at all.  I, however found them to be a perfect fit.  Supremely comfy.

Fit:  In the ears, a little shove and boom!  Done.  I know they won’t be for everyone but they fit me perfectly, completely perfectly.

Aesthetics:  Well cables aside, for I like the silvery one much better, these look almost exactly like the 1.0.  The difference being these have a black back to the earbuds rather than grey.  They also came with a black cable but the cables are replaceable so that’s just what I happened to get.  Honestly though I really like the buds.  They just look so peculiar and I do love that transparent outer shell.

Microphonics:  Erm, none.  The cable, plus the ear guides meant that you got nothing, well, I got nothing.

Amped/Unamped:  Just like the 1.0, they in no way “need” a lot of power.  You can run them easily out of any old thing you have to hand.  They will still sound excellent.  However……… they were noticeably at their best when amped well.  They just gain an extra layer or two, their breadth and depth, the dynamics, every aspect just seem to be more, better extended, wider, cleaner, etc etc.  It’s the difference between a good, solid, perfectly competent performance and one that can enrapture the soul.  When you power it well it’s just that bit better in every imaginable capacity and way you can possibly conceive.

Personally I’d edge towards warmer amping but hey that’s just me.  It’s a pretty even itself so you can push it happily in either direction.

Isolation:  It’s a little so so for o BA but it’s still a BA.  That means it beats practically every dynamic out there.  So while it wouldn’t probably be my first choice for a daily Tube commute I used v1.0 when last in London quite happily, every day too.  So naturally more than easy enough to use for most activities and certainly enough to not hear traffic.  So for god sake do use your eyes people when near traffic least you become a roadkill statistic.

Build Quality:  It all looks good to me.  Nothing I’m oooohing and aaaaaahhhing over but nothing I can find to complain about either.  Maybe it’s the braided black cable but I can’t help but be reminded of the UM3x.  Looks all fine to my eyes and fingers.

Accessories:  Well now that Alclair are trying to make these more “retail” they now come with a box.  If I’m honest I miss the quirky no box thing but I do get that if you want to put in a shop they have to come in some form of packaging.  So you get 3 pairs of Comply’s (diff sizes,) a cleaning thingy and a little case.  No carabiner???  Aww, sure not it was really that useful but again I liked its quirkiness.  It’s a clean basic bundle.

Value:  At US$250 or £165 at todays exchange rate.  I gushed over the 1.0 and technically this 2.0 is every bit as capable.  It’s basically flawless and I think its nearest acoustic comparable is the W4 which is considerably more costly.  So yes the value is excellent for a higher end product.

Conclusion:   I think it’s probably come across pretty clearly that I have not loved the 2.0.  It’s not that there is anything wrong with it, far from it.  It is only behind the q-JAYS in abilities of a dual BA IEM and its waaaaaaaay more expensive.  My issue is that I absolutely adored how the 1.0 sounds, it wasn’t by any stretch the “monitor” its name would have you thinking but it was perfectly matched to what I personally love most.  This 2.0 is the monitor its name would suggest.  I dearly hope that the two products can coexist as they are acoustically so different and I would be greatly saddened if the 1.0 has come to its end.

Tonally the 2.0 is pretty much flawless.  While it’s slightly slanted towards the bass, the way human hearing works, particularly the not “hearing” but feeling aspects, this bass boost and slant serve to make it “sound” like what you might get form real life.  So while it’s not actually “neutral” it feels natural.  Ah the human brain and its silly tricks it likes to play on us all.  What this is, is a dual BA version of the W4.  It may lack a little in resolution but it has a teeny bit more dynamism when well driven.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Alclair used the W4 as a benchmark to aim for. 

Should you buy?  Well if you want a practically flawless acoustic monitor this is it.  It gets you near everything the W4 can but at half the price.  So if that’s what you’re after, boom!  Uber bargain right?  Still while my brain says Mary Poppins (practically perfect in every way) I so fell for the original Curve that I can’t stop myself from thinking usurper!!!  It’s totally my own bias and I realise that, it’s not fair to the 2.0 as it really is a superb product, it’s a superb monitor however that means it’s not got the same passion and joie de vivre of the original.  Its dynamics give you a hint of wonder but it’s a monitor and it tries to retain composure.  It’s a fantastic product, a fantastic monitor with just a smidgen of excitement.

Alclair Audio Curve 2.0 Quick Review

Alclair Audio Curve 2.0 Quick Review

Thanks to Alclair for the sample.

Brief:  Alclairs not custom, not monitor.

Price:  US$250 or about £165 before HMRC gets you.

Specification:  22 Ohms, 10Hz to 20kHz, 110dB@1kHz.

Accessories:  Err, a little case, a carabineer and 3 pairs of Comply’s

Build Quality:  Very nice.  Cable is very nice, jack is too and the buds look nicely finished.  Plus they have a removable cables if you do manage to kill them.

Isolation:  Very good.  They are BA’s so while they aren’t Ety’s they are easily good enough for long flights or a daily Tube commute.  Learn to use your eyes when out or you’ll get yourself run over sharpish.

Comfort/Fit:  Given their shape I’m sure they can’t work for everyone.  They just can’t.  However for me they were pretty awesome.  Perfect fitting and could wear them all day long with no issue.

Aesthetics:  Weird, I like them.  A bit attention seeking but I’m okay with that.

Sound:  Ahh you know v1.0, those I loved soooooooooooooo much.  They were in no way monitors but they were basically what I would have made for me if I ran an IEM company.  The 2.0 however, they have presumably the same drivers so I know they are capable but…… these are tuned differently.  These are the monitors that I think the 1.0 was meant to be.  These have the acoustic balance of that on the Westone W4.  Yes it’s technically bass boosted and the treble edged down a fraction but due to how we hear, it sounds perfectly natural on the ear.  It is a dual BA Mary Poppins.  Practically perfect in every way.  It really is a little acoustic masterpiece and that a little company hidden in depths of Fargo land.  Okay so actually in Minneapolis which has like 4 million people but I can’t help thinking Fargo.  There is nothing that the Curve 2.0 cannot do, or does wrong.  It’s a pretty flawless monitor.  Sure its treble doesn’t extend uber far, no BA does but its decline is linear and impeccably behaved.  It’s bass too is a paragon of well-behaved with enough capability to oomf when it must.  Bass heads will want more air movement but again, it’s a BA, massive air moment isn’t what they do.  The mids are neutral.  Middling tonally and adding so little flavouring that it’s perfectly happy to play smooth or raspy.  It’s beyond exceedingly capable.  Over all it’s a monitor with a touch of dynamism.

Value:  Sounds frighteningly close to a W4 but at half the price.  It’s a fabulous monitor.

Pro’s:   A paragon of sounding acoustically natural.  Practically perfect.

Con’s:  Isn’t an aggressive sound.  Won’t thrill bass heads.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

RHA S500i Review

RHA S500i Review

Thanks to RHA for the sample.

First Impressions:  Unusually, these coming through my door isn’t the first time I’ve clapped eyes on a pair.  Waaaay back at Canjam London I got a little demo of them and I posted in the Canjam Impressions thread what I made of them at the time.

So box, weirdly laid out, it’s very much about the edges with the tip assortment on one side and the buds displayed on the other edge.  Curious but it works.  Opening up, the first thing I note in that the tips come in a plastic tray rather than the metal one, what what, no foamy tips?!?!?!?   Aww, sad face. I very much like RHA foamy tips and I may have a pair free so guess what’ll be happening sharpish?  The next notable is the baggy.  Hmm now as baggies go this is epically nice to the touch but it’s still a baggy.  I’d have preferred a little had case.

Buds in the ears and yeah I remember these.  If there is any justice in the world RHA are gonna shift plenty of these.  Look amazing and they have great sound quality, with a really vigorous bass.  Bass is a bit toned down from what I recall but I’ll put that down to sources.  The E7/E9 combo is clearly warmer and more mellow than my little Studio V.  Anyway, burn in time.

Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-650, 1G Ipod Shuffle, Nexus 5 and Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear.

Lows:  Curious.  They have a big, round feel to them, a big rotund dollop of bass that feels memory foam soft at the first and lightest touch.  Underneath though it feels like there a lump of steel.  Inclined to be hard, unyielding and it gets more so the more power through at it.  However when you play with something warm and softer like the 650 it thickens that memory foam layer.  The softness is what becomes more dominant.  Mind you if you crank the volume dial that hardness comes back.  Weird.  Is it the resonance form a hard, metal and unyielding enclosure?

It is really good.  As I turn to its natural competition (S0 and Hyperion) I’m forced to accept that the S500 beats them both.  Though it can be reasonably source dependant.  The S500 wants power and I have DAP’s that can supply it. However just out of the N5 its lead fades away.  The bass remains bigger on the S500 and a little more forceful.  They want to punch, with a good firm, solid punch with a layer of velvet on the glove.  The more powerful the DAP the more power the arm has.

Mids:  They are in a little bit of a valley but otherwise I’m very pleased with them.  Spacious and airy with a slight dryness tonally.  Breathy and open vocals are really nice though, they show off what dynamics are better suited to and giving you a vocal breadth and depth to the vocal staging.    There is a light purity to it.  I think its metallicness is coming out, it really doesn’t want to naturally go all soft and creamy.  Vocals can at times feel like they are a bit ethereal and lack the fullness and oomf behind them.  Though if you throw power their way, they really improve.  I get the feeling I’m going to be saying “if you throw power at them” a lot in this.  They just get so much better.  I can’t make myself go back to my crappy N5. 

Bugger me, out of the Ultra Linear and 75 ohm adapter in there, Beverly Cravens “Missing You” is jaw dropping good.  It’s been a while since I’ve heard it and its VERY good.  So light and airy, so mush casual delicacy in the mix.   Sans all that power and I recognise its good and as I flick about it may still be the best at it price but I miss what the added power can do.

Highs:  Here we have the mast marked differences between that power and impedance can give over neither.  Their metallic natures as I picked up waaaaaaaay back at Canjam and with my Studio V hold true.  It is metallic and the Studio does it no favours.  The HM-650 was a far more pleasant pairing, taming that crisp edge they have ever so slightly.  I might have liked a little more still.  Flicking over to the warm Iphone 5 and they actually pair up rather well.  It hasn’t the power to drive the highs hard and its mellow treble compliments the natural clean metallic edge of the S500.  I might be given to think that these were tuned with Apple products in mind and as such they go together well.

In quantity, they are a little above the mids, not quite matching the bass level but its naturally metallic clean edge will make very treble heavy tracks sound easily trebly enough. The treble isn’t subtle so it will be very audibly noticeable for its given quantity level. Owl City stuff can if anything sound over trebly.  Not to the extent the older 350 and 450 would but by treble sensitive ears recoiled a bit.

Soundstage:  Size is pretty good, width isn’t huge but they have a good depth and breadth, a good semblance of scale.  They don’t always sound the most full bodied as they have a rather airy feel to them.  Instrument separation is pretty reasonable.  The more power you throw at them the more clear everything feels from everything else. 

Fit:  Great.  No issues at all and given their fairly normal shape I’d expect most would get on fine with them, worn up or down.

Comfort:  As with the fit, great for me.  Though I did just right to a spare set of RHA foamy tips I had, in ever got and flex or air pressure issues but there was a bit of suction when I did try a silicone.  Reviewing you pull out all the time and shove back in so things like that become issues fast but in normal use you’ll never probably even notice.

Aesthetics:  One of the best lookers of the year.  RHA have a habit of making lookers and I feel visually these are big step up on the MA350 and 450’s.  Much, much pretty.

Microphonics:  Well if you wear them up like I did then you get none.  Worn down, well as with most things with a mic it sits just at that, hit my collar level.  It wasn’t bad actually, more annoying was the slight tug when it caught.  Frankly wearing up and over your ear is just better anyway.

Amped/Unamped:  If you have power and impedance (the Etymotic 75 ohm adapters) to add then I suggest you do.  With an abundance of power and with the additional impedance I was deeply impressed at how good they were.  When I looked at the Hyperions I thought they were little champs for the money and clearly RHA have risen to the challenge.  The issue of course with power and impedance is that the S500 is a pretty budget IEM.  So I find it unlikely that most of them will ever encounter either.

However unamped, they weirdly were at the best out of the Iphone 5, which I’m usually not at all a fan of.  It wouldn’t surprise me if RHA have targeted Apple products especially and it feels like the S500i really is.  I know that’s all completely contradictory, works best with an amp or a meh Iphone.  I could speculate why, it’s probably down to the Iphone not having the detail or oomf to drive the highs and make them over crispy but it doesn’t really matter.  They pair up nice.

Phone Use:  The play/pause/skip button worked on everything but the volume buttons only played nice with the Iphone.  Not unsurprising.  Call quality and everything were great however, if you still acttualy make calls anymore.  On the Lumia 735, play/pause yep but no volume controls, ditto on the N4 and N5.

Isolation:  A little bit less than I’ve been seeing from RHA, I mean it’s still fine for out and about, on a bus, etc etc, you know normal stuff.  Not one for Tube or flights.  Seriously, its middling for a dynamic so really not a big isolator.  Naturally it’s still more than enough to get you run over if you’re playing music because you won’t hear traffic behind you.

Cable:  It’s fine.  The build quality seems fine and I have nothing to fault it on.  The jack is metal and rather pretty.  The Y splitter is plastic though again is fine.  The cable mostly though has a woven covering.  Mostly the cable is perfectly flexible enough it’s a touch ridged and that woven cover just makes me think of the Klipsch Custom series.

Accessories:  You get a very nice selection of tips and in a little tip holder thingy.  I miss the metal one even if it is total over kill.  What’s more notable though are the lack of a case and of foamy tips.  Granted the normal RHA cases are somewhat meh but the foamie’s I really miss.  Case wise we get admittedly the nicest baggy ever but it’s still a baggy.  First thing I’d do is hit eBay and get a nice little hard case to keep them safe.

Value:  It’s excellent.  Right now, it’s as good as things get for the money.  That it also looks great is just icing on the cake.  I mean it’s not perfect, like I’d strongly suggest buying a little case for them and I’d love to have seen a pair of RHA’s excellent foamy tips included.  Acoustically however these are suspiciously good.  Like there’s got to be some catch or flaw that you’re not seeing.  There’s got to be a catch to an offer seemingly this good?  As far as I can tell so long as you don’t pair it with cold hard sources with brittle treble then I’m not really seeing a negative.  Well maybe that the mic version cost a whole £10 more, which a 33% price just to get a mic, that’s arguably poor value right?

What’s more is that these still come with RHA’s standard 3 year warranty just like their expensive stuff.  3 years for a £30 product, does anyone else offer that?

Conclusion:  I do believe Philip said it best.  Shut up and take my money!!!

I don’t know what really more to add to it than that.  They are just excellent for price, hell they are pretty excellent full stop.  I mean I get that Chinese makers have been hammering the bejesus out of that price to performance ratio.  There have been some areas where they maybe aren’t as savvy in, the marketing departments, in the West anyway.  Then we get the likes of RHA and I’m sure anyone who’s had one of their products in the hand, they don’t stumble anywhere.  The packaging is always very visually fetching.  Even on what is an “el cheapo” like the S500 it’s all immaculate.  The charcoal and silvery grey colour scheme, the little side windows to let you see the product, the tip holder and the 6 pairs of tips on show.  Now to Head-Fi people 6 pairs of tips seems perfectly normal.  To the likes of your typical John Lewis or Apple shop customer, 6 is mind blowing. 

So should you buy one?  No.  You should buy at least two.

They are staggeringly wow for the price. Just how they sound, the build quality, that warranty, the level of visual pretty, just what isn’t to love about them.  Buy yourself a pair and buy a pair for someone who could do with a little more of the wonder that is music in their lives.  I expect these will sell out in the run up to Christmas, so be warned.  Buy sooner rather than later.

RHA S500i Quick Review

RHA S500i Quick Review

Thanks to RHA for the sample.

Brief:  They sound even better than they look.

Price:  £30 for the S500, £40 for the S500i (about US$45 and US$60 respectively)

Specification:  Drivers Micro dynamic (model 140.1), Frequency range 16-22,000Hz, Impedance 16ohm, Sensitivity 100dB, Rated/max power 1/5mW, Weight 14g, Cable 1.35m two part material, Connections 3.5mm, gold plated

Accessories:  7 pairs of tips, a tip holder, a shirt clip and lastly the little baggy for storing them.  While it’s super nice baggy I’d have preferred a little case.

Build Quality:  First rate.  Okay it’s maybe not as nice as the T10 or T20, the cable isn’t super amazing and the jack’s much smaller but it’s still all first class.  For the price it’s exemplary.

Isolation:  It’s fine.  It’s about middling for a dynamic I found so a little less than some others out there.  It is fine for normal uses like walking about or on a bus but very high noise places like the Tube or flights, not so much.  Easily enough to get you run over though if you forget to look where your going with them in.

Comfort/Fit:  Both were good.  The mic as mics usually do liked to catch my collar if worn down but worn up it was high enough to not.  I prefer wearing up anyway.  Plus they are so small and light they should be good for most I’d think.

Aesthetics:  They are lookers.  I’m sure there is someone out there who thinks their ugly but it’s certainly not me.  Visually they look beautiful.  RHA are proving to be masters of making good lookers.

Sound:  Wow.  They are simply fantastic.  Okay it’s maybe not the bombastic adventure some way expect at this price, they are also much tamer than their 350 and 450 siblings.  These are flatter, much more a mellow V shaped sound.  The bass though is the side that dominates most readily however, oh noes, bass is above neutral.  Lol and what isn’t, its good bass too mind.  Not the deepest but what’s there stays clean, a hint of softness on top a layer of steel that stays firmly solid.  Depth suffers a little touch but so what.  It’s inclined to punch and cleanly rounded articulation.  Sculpted.  Mids are a touch dryish, cool and they do open breathy so well, a hint of delicacy to them with a faintly ethereal wisp.  Very creamy vocals get pushed towards openness which shows off how dynamics best do vocals.  It pleases me greatly.  Highs, they are inclined to go just like the mids, cool dryish and they meant to give that hard metallic, resonant metal enclosure hardness.  Feed them from a cold hard DAP, with crappy, brittle, abundant treble and on your own head be it.  They want either oodles of power and some additional impedance or they want a smoothly mellow and mediocre output, just like on an Iphone.  I was very surprised how well they complement my Iphone 5.  Very very surprised but there is no disputing the S500 play to their weaknesses and eek out every last drip the can from the phone.

Value:  I suggest not buying one but at least two pairs.  One for you and one for whoever needs the joy of music in their lives.

Pro’s:  Sooooo pretty.  Sound phenomenal.  Crazy long warranty.

Con’s:  They are going to sell out before Christmas.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Deezer Audio Streaming Review

Deezer Audio Streaming Review

First Impressions:  Okay, confession time, Deezer I have used sporadically for some time.  Up until now it’s only ever been the free version but after having recently reviewed Tidal, I wanted to give some others services a bash, see what I make of them.  I had been in contact with Deezer’s PR people but given the pace at which their PR people have been moving.  When I was emailed about their 99p 3 month trial, I thought the price / pain balance I was just as well to cough up the 99p.

The Deezer streaming page popping up and as I scroll down it, I’m wondering if Deezer has at some point got into my music library.  Much of what its throwing up at isn’t maybe stuff I listen to everyday but its stuff that’s making me go “oooooh not heard that in forever!!!!” maybe it’s just throwing up stuff that that statistically lots of people would react that way to.  Either way, it’s a cracking initial impression.  If you want to try it yourself they offer a free service, unlike Tidal, where you can fire it up and see to an extent what it’s like.

Compatibility:  It covers just about everything.  They have a browser based offering for computers, it seems equally happy with any browser you want to try as well.  Mobile wise it supports Android, iOS and Windows Phone too. So that covers the bases right?  Well the list goes on and I should point out I’m going to be skimming.  Chromecast, a bunch of TV’s, Sony Home theatre in a box’s, WDTV’s (which I have one,) a heap of music streaming devices, especially Sonos, which I’ll come back to in a sec, then weirdly a bunch of cars.  Yes, the things with 4 wheels, apparently some of their entertainment systems can use Deezer.  Now back to Sonos, for some reason Deezer have a special lossless “Elite” service but it is only available via Sonos.  I have no idea why, I mean how hard would it be to add to the browser or phone app’s?  However if you have a Sonos system and you want to pay more you can get the “Elite” lossless version.

Windows App:  Well, there isn’t a real windows desktop app, yet.  They say one is coming but what isn’t.  Interestingly there is a windows Metro app if you want to play with it.  For some reason it offered me Ibiza 2015, err no thank you.  Given Microsoft seem to be letting Metro die I suspect Deezer haven’t lavished much love on it.

Browser:  It is a nicely straight forward offering.  It’s good.  I feel I ought to have much more to say about it but well, I dunno.  There isn’t anything that’s made me go wow that’s so super amazing, neither has anything pissed me off.  It’s good it’s functional, it’s nice to use.  It’s very simply laid out but it’s all rather straight forward and usable.  While that really ought to be high praise as there is nothing it does wrong, it does not make for giving me much to write about.

Android:  The app seems really quite nice.  It seems mostly to want you to use a Pandora like “we will play you random stuff and you thumbs down or thumbs up it.”  You can also play things by artist, album, things you’ve favorited, related artists.  Ooh actually I always like related artists.  It’s a good music discovery method.  It really is very like the browser version.  It’s nice.  It’s clean and obvious to use and it’s so far done nothing that has pissed me off.  Everything just works, I don’t like that phrase but it applies. 

iOS:  First off, what I notice is that it’s almost identical to the Android one.  The settings menu is in a different location but that’s about it.  Just like the Android app its snappy, it’s efficient, it’s straightforward and everything works.  Sure you have to go in and change the quality settings to high, but seeing as the free only has standard I suppose it makes sense.  Maybe it might be nice if it specifically asked the user?  Anyway like with Android, it’s a rather nice, smooth, snappy app that does just what you want it to.

Windows Phone:  First of all, it’s nice to see there is a WP app.  Secondly. Its every bit as good as the other two.  WP sometimes gets forgotten about and left behind but the app here is (WP visual style changes aside) identical to the other two.  I can help but approve.  Everything else inside the app is just identical, not just similar but exactly the same which means is every bit as good.  It’s clear whoever is running Deezer’s app development dept. is great at their job.

Other Streaming:  Well, while there are a seemingly endless number of streaming devices that Deezer runs on I have is a WDTV and a Chromecast.  Firing up the WDTV, it’s a great little thing, so versatile and powerful but its UI is rubbish.  It’s a slow, horrible pain.  So firing up the Deezer app on it, it’s just like any WDTV app.  Its layout is fine but it’s not snappy for which I blame the WDTV.  Still audio, it plays nicely, easily, easy to control and it pulls in my songs and lists from Deezer.  Swapping onto the Chromecast, grabbing a phone and firing up the Deezer app.  I see in the corner the Chromecast icon, I hit it.  The thing spurs into life and out comes music.  Curiously what was on the screen of the phone bore no correlation to what the Chromecast was playing.  A stop and a restart brought them back into sync but it was weird.  Not that I am some great thrower of soirees but I’m thinking an old phone and Chromecast, boom!  Perfect party tunes box.  Well assuming you have real speakers, not just TV speakers.  Bugger me, Deezer is really nailing the random songs its throwing at me.  I think I may have just found a reason for owning the Chromecast. 

Musical Range:  Well it seems excellent.  They claim to have 35 million.  Though note that’s not all music, weirdly, or it seems weird to me, they have audio books too.  Yeah, book books, real books.  Do the other services do this?  If they do they don’t make it known very well.  Also the children’s music section.  Genius!!!!  The collection seems to be excellent, spookily so, they even have Mark Timothy, which I was surprised at.  Curiously they didn’t have any Moumoon, so maybe just not big in Japan?  That so far has been the only thing ive stumped it with.  Maybe it’s that the people at Deezer’s tastes in music happens to pair up especially well with mine?  At this point I’m either thinking that Deezer has some secret chip picking my brain or that its run by Skynet. 

From what they have thrown my way, there seems to be a lot of late 80 and throughout the 90s stuff.  Seriously it has plucked out songs I couldn’t have named, haven’t heard in forever and casually presented them to me.  I’m curious whether it would throw similar stuff to everyone or if it’s just me.  It feels like its drunken party karaoke night.  Presently Bananarama’s Venus is blasting out.  Oh ye olde timey hits from yesteryear.  The grown up audio snob in is mildly disapproving that I’m enjoying this as much as I am and at how much I’m singing and dancing in my chair.  “Lessons in Love” by Level 42.  Songs I couldn’t name that instantly ring bells in my head when I hear them.  Argh!!! Kim Wilde, “Kids in America” I feel like ought to a have a Bacardi Breezer or blue WKD in my hand.

Firing up one its “Genre” options, picking Electro Swing, mostly because I wondered what the hell it is.  First up Nina Simone “feeling good” and then “Tangled Up” Caro Emerald (never heard of her.)  So right off it’s still spitting out things I find I’m adoring.  Looking at its playlists and still its throwing up album covers that I instantly recognise.  Gaaa, I’m a sucker for girly vocals at this point I’m losing any sense of objectivity about this.  I’m stopping writing and coming back to this in a week.

Okay a few weeks later now and yes they do have stuff outside 80’s and 90’s greatest hits.  Disturbingly it consistently threw up playlists that have been recommended by random users that I found my self greatly pleased with.  It’s either creepy or awesome how well it seems to be at picking things to throw my way.

Value:  I have very mixed feelings here.  If you’re American you get a pretty sweet deal, at US$10 per month, however Euro users are 10 Euro’s and for those of us in the UK get charged £10.  That works out to over US$15 for UK subscribers.  On that issue alone I could not in good conscience say that Europeans and Brits are not getting screwed.  It’s not affair and its bull poop.  Get it sorted Deezer!!!

Conclusion:  Deezer, if I chose to ignore that pricing issue, is awesome.  I don’t really know why its musical suggesting abilities are so stupendously amazeballs but they are.  Every time I fire it up it just endless awesome stuff.  To the point it’s almost creepy how well it does it.  I just don’t know where it’s coming from.  I mean Deezer doesn’t really have access to anything, I think, beyond my account which I never remember to have set to scrobble.

Squeeeeee!!!!  If anything the worst thing about Deezer is that it’s pretty productivity destroying.  If you want the sort of put on in the background while you work.  You know you’re not really listening, its just to break the silence, well it is terrible for that.  Most because it’s so engaging and I find I can’t really not pay attention to it.  I may or may not find myself singing along and dancing about in my chair.  Again, productivity destroying stuff.

So, would I buy?  Despite my immense irritation at the pricing disparity I have been paying for it for the last two months (after my 3 months free ran out.)  So yes, I would and have been.  I kinda love it, its music prediction abilities are just nuts, soooooooooooo good it is without any question my favourite music streaming service.  It’s got the Pandora like but beating musical suggestion side and the pick what you want of Spotify, giving you not just the best of both but better than both.  Love it!!!