Taylor Hawkins dies aged 50

The drummer with US rock group Foo Fighters, Taylor Hawkins, has died aged 50, the band have announced.

The band said they were “devastated by the tragic and untimely loss” in a statement on social media. No cause of death has been given.

Hawkins played with Foo Fighters for more than two decades, joining shortly after they finished making their 1997 album The Colour and the Shape… More here.

Watch the above video to see just how good a drummer he was. This is so sad.

King

Every now and then a song falls into my Apple Music and I end up playing it over and over again. This is one of them and the video is just as good. Time to explore more Florence who I have largely ignored until now.

Have you been stunned by a song recently? If so, add a comment below.

The Seiko 5 Sports x Brian May (again)

For more than forty years, Brian May relied on his Seiko 7548 (quartz) diver that he bought on a trip to Japan in 1975. When it came to designing his first watch with Seiko, the natural choice was a Seiko 5 Sports with its signature crown at 4 o’clock flanked by two crown guards. Like May’s former diver, the Seiko 5 Sports is a versatile and robust sports watch but it is equipped with an automatic movement. The case is water-resistant to 100 metres, and the hands and indices are treated with Seiko’s proprietary LumiBrite.The case is identical to the 2020 edition and has a diameter of 42mm, a height of 13mm, a length of 46mm and weighs 94g. The anodised aluminium bezel with its knurled edge features golden numerals to match the case. The flat glass over the dial is Seiko’s Hardlex glass and is placed just below the bezel for additional protection… More here.

Brian May? Yes, the best. Seiko? Yes, one of the best at a lower price point. EUR 620? Hmmm, not so sure. Would I wear it? No.

The Lenco LS-410WA

The Lenco LS-410 is a turntable with built-in speakers. The four speakers (two 15-Watt speakers and two 10-Watt speakers) provide a nicely balanced sound. The turntable is easy to use. Simply plug it in and instantly enjoy your favourite LP! Alternatively, stream your playlist on your smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth 5.0 to connect to the turntable’s speakers… More here.

This looks very good for the price and Lenco is a decent brand. My daughter has become very interested in playing vinyl records recently and this could be a decent Christmas present.

Spotify to remove Neil Young’s music

Spotify on Wednesday confirmed it will remove Neil Young’s music from its platform, after the singer demanded that the streaming giant take it down in response to vaccine misinformation being spread by Joe Rogan, a popular podcaster on the platform… More here.

The more I consider this, the more my head hurts. So many things enter my thoughts; misinformation, vaccines, freedom of speech, the power of organisation and people, and on and on and on. My head is really hurting…

Heaven Can Wait

The epic was developed from composer Jim Steinman’s rock musical called Neverland (based on Peter Pan) and produced by Todd Rundgren. In 1972 Steinman had Bette Midler sing the 1972 demo for “Heaven Can Wait,” but it found a home on Meat Loaf’s album and, thanks to his dramatic delivery, transformed. This over the top sound became Meat Loaf’s trademark—dismissed by some, but beloved by many… More here.

What a song this is. Many thought that Meat Loaf could not survive without Jim Steinman and this is true. But Jim Steinman, arguably, needed Meat Loaf to truly breakthrough. What a partnership they became.

iOS Music Player Showcase

There’s new and exciting developments every year in the realm of iOS third-party music players, and 2021 was no exception. While 2019 enjoyed an explosion of new players like Power Player and Albums that through time came to lead the space, 2020 in contrast received only a modest handful of new players and is instead remembered for the impressive growth the established player base received that year. This past year, 2021, managed to do both with a dizzying array of five new players and impressive growth across nearly all existing players… More here.

If you don’t like how Apple Music works, take a look at the above showcase.

JABRA Elite 45h Wireless Bluetooth Headphones review

It is hard to believe that headphones which cost £70 could be in any way comparable to the competition which often cost a lot more.

From the SENNHEISER HD 450BT (£150) to the BOSE Wireless Bluetooth Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700 (£300) to the SONY WH-H910 (£150) it can be difficult to know what represents good value for money. You can of course go a lot higher, AirPods Max, or lower from the likes of GOJI, but there will usually be a price range that suits the majority and I would guess that between £60 and £100 likely represents the sweet spot for value / quality balance.

I spotted the Elite 45h on sale for £69.99 and decided to have a try because of the quoted 50 hour battery life (USB-C as well), the fact that I have used Jabra in the past and always been impressed by the sound quality, and the subtle look of the product. The weight (233 grams) is impressive as well and so I got ready for my first listen.

Pairing to my iPhone took seconds and is done by simply moving the switch on the headphones towards the Bluetooth symbol. I then downloaded the Jabra Sound+ app and worked through the sound test to build a personal sound profile. A quick read of the minimal instructions and I was ready.

Oh yes, the sound quality was much better than I expected. Initially with far too much bass until I used my own sound profile at which point I was more than happy. It also made me realise just how average the AirPods Pro sound quality is. I kind of knew this already and have mainly used them for the sheer practicality they offer, but to get better sound for a quarter of the price is not to be ignored.

These headphones are not new to market by any means, but so far I have found every area of performance to be better than I expected-

Call quality is excellent and the hidden microphones offer excellent voice sounds to the recipient of a call. I was very surprised at this aspect.

They are super comfortable and barely noticeable after a few minutes of wear.

The buttons are easy to understand and not difficult to use once you remember where they are.

They do look a little silly, as almost all over ear headphones do, but in a working from home world I am not overly concerned by this.

I bought these because my balance issues have persevered a little in recent weeks and so I needed to try over ear headphones to see if this helped, and while time will tell regarding this I do feel more comfortable not passing sound directly inside my ears. Logically, these make more sense for day to day use.

I am not saying these are the best headphones in the world and I know that I may be somewhat out of touch in this area, but what I can say is that for £70 you can get a set of headphones with superb sound quality, features that work in every area and build quality that will likely last for as long as you need them. I cannot conceive that spending £200 extra would get me anywhere near a point where that extra money would be worthwhile. These, to me, feel like a bargain.