Today, I got the KZ DQ6. This IEM contains 3 dynamic drivers per side, which is a bit different than the usual BA and dynamic drivers combination they usually make. It is made of a single 10mm “Xun” unit that handles the bass and 2x 6mm drivers that handles the mids and treble. KZ is well known to experiment with different driver configurations and this is no exception. We’ll see how they perform below.
The box is the usual we get with KZ IEMs. It’s small and practical.
In the inside, we can see both units. The form factor is similar to their previous KZ ZSX “Terminator”.
We get the usual offering with these IEMs: A silver 0.75mm 2-pin cable, which is what KZ is now packaging, the tips, and the usual instruction manual.
The headphone tips are no longer the “star” tips. Rather, they decided to change them to a soft white tip. Unfortunately, these tips are way too soft and they make the DQ6 not fit the ear properly. This is no problem, as most would use third-party tip, but there is actually another problem: The nozzle diameter is smaller than the previous KZ IEMs, making some of the tips not compatible with them.
I tried the SednaEarFit Light to replace the stock tips, but the nozzle diameter of them are bigger than the KZ DQ6 and therefore, they would get out and not seal properly. Fortunately, the SednaEatFit Xelastec fits as well as the Spinfit CP100:
This IEM has a great tuning and I consider it an improvement over their latest hybrid IEMs. In the bass region, there is more presence without being overblown or being too fast. The mids are less recessed. Vocals are clearer, not metallic and warmer. The treble sounds extended without being sharp and fatiguing, something I had issues with their hybrids. The instruments are very well separated and well coordinated. None of the frequencies dominate the audio and seem to work together to produce a beautiful, musical, detailed, warmer sound.
I also own the KZ ZS7, ZS10 Pro, AS16, ZSX and ZAX, and I feel these DQ6, while being cheaper and having less drivers, do sound better than all of the previous mentioned models. I can also listen to these for more time without having ear fatigue. For me, these are the most balanced KZ IEMs I have ever tried.
It’s interesting to see KZ try something different than their usual hybrids. They nailed it with the tuning on these, really! Just be sure to change those stock tips to something better like the SpinFit CP100 or the SednaEarFit Xelastec. You’ll note how comfortable they will be and the sound will not disappoint you.
You can get these on Amazon at the following link:
The ALKOO Case for the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. Edition
Since I got the Super Mario Bros. Edition Game & Watch, I’ve been playing with it occasionally, since it’s a good time spender. I must say that I’m kind of addicted to playing Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels. The game is so hard that I can’t even pass the 3rd level.
I’ve also been playing Ball, but I don’t like when the game starts as it’s very slow. However, as it progresses, I’m enjoying that challenge. The other thing I like is how the Game & Watch saves the progress so I can continue playing where I stopped last time.
Because of how I like this product, I decided to get a case to keep it safely stored. You can find a bunch of cases on Amazon, but I went with the ALKOO Case:
The case seem to be of good quality and it’s sure to keep our Game & Watch safe.
The interior is soft and allows us to store the Game & Watch as well as a charging cable:
The Game & Watch fits perfectly inside and is easy to take out too.
This way, it is not gathering dust, especially on the screen, since it is not protected by anything.
This case comes in 2 colors: Black and Blue. You can get them on Amazon at the following links:
These discs can be burned up to 12x. However, my drives can only burn them up to 10x. I don’t remember owning a drive that actually allowed me to burn at 12x. For some reason, they all can burn these at 10x.
The discs are top logo branded:
On the data side, it has a dark grey color:
Once burned, it is a bit darker. Notice in the inner ring the light color and then it turns darker.
The burned shade will depend on the burner used. In this particular case, the burned area is a bit lighter. Note that, however, the disc had previous data before, which is why the rest of it looks darker.
The discs are perfectly compatible on my Oakcastle Portable CD Player and this is how I’m testing them before finally moving the disc to a CD-R.
Early this week, I ordered more Double Layer Blu-Ray discs. Unfortunately, the Philips 10pk BD-R DLs that were at $9 each were out of stock, so I had 2 options, both listed at $11 dollars:
Philips BD-R DL 10pk – Logo surface
HP BD-R DL 10pk – Logo surface
I decided to go with the HP ones since I’ve already tested the Philips BD-R DL 10pk printable discs, and maybe the Logo surface ones were the same CMC Magnetics discs. With the HP ones, I have the opportunity to review these and see if they are the same or different than the Philips discs. Because the Verbatim 100GB discs are still very high on price and seem to be low on stock, I need to get more BD-R DLs than usual. This is why I ordered 5 of these packs again.
Basically, last time I wasted a full 10pk of the Philips discs doing tests, until realizing that the Pioneer BDR-2212 drive was the one that handled them best. Will the same happen here again? We’ll find out.
The disc packaging is very similar to the Philips discs, except that these spindles have a paper on the top as well as the branding on the sides. Both were made in Taiwan. They are also rated to be burned up at 6x, although the burning speeds available depends on the burner capabilities and firmware itself.
Opening it, we have the shiny top logo surface discs:
The discs does look to be very well made. The data surface also look very smooth too.
It also has a dark gold-colored look, as opposed to the dark grey color of the Philips discs. This is important because it may tell us that the manufacturer is different.
My first thought was to insert this into the Panasonic UJ-260, to see what it thinks of this disc.
ImgBurn says these discs are made by Verbatim! The media code ID is VERBAT-IMf-000. The Panasonic UJ-260 can burn them at 2x and 6x. This is higher than the RITEK-DR3-000 and CMCMAG-DI6-000 discs, both of which could be burned up to 4x on this drive (Note that the CMCMAG-DI6-000 failed on this drive, but it could burn the RITEK-DR3-000 perfectly fine).
Given this, let’s try to burn a disc with Nero at 6x.
It did seem to start burning great, but unfortunately, the disc failed to burn with just a generic burning error:
This is the first time the Panasonic fails on me while burning a disc. This is also unexpected, given that Verbatim discs should be the best of the best. Usually, this drive would burn a disc fine but may fail on the verification, like it did on the CMCMAG-DI6-000 discs. Maybe it couldn’t handle burning at 6x.
As we can see, it failed at the first layer.
My next try was of course, on the Pioneer BDR-2212. It burned all of the Philips spindles flawlessly, altough on just one of the discs, it wrote a bad sector and this drive was able to read it back while the others failed on that sector. I discarded this disc, but the others wrote and verified just fine.
The Pioneer drive reports that this disc can be burned at up to 8x.
I fired up Nero and attempted to burn the disc at 8x. The CMCMAG-DI6-000 burned great at this speed and the verification went really well too. No speed slowdowns happened at all when reading them.
Nero was able to burn and verify this disc successfully. In fact, it also read back fine in my LiteOn iHBS112.
The finished disc has a dark grey burned color. Here we can see it compared to a burned CMCMAG-DI6-000 disc:
The CMCMAG-DI6-000 on the left has a darker burned color than the VERBAT-IMf-000 disc on the right.
Next are the usual quality scans. I really don’t pay attention to it, as it’s been proven that the drives can handle high amounts of LDC/BIS numbers and the only discs that failed on me were scratched or rotten ones. This happened some years ago, but none of the discs I’ve burned so far has given me issues.
Test results of an 8x burn
The LiteOn iHBS112 seem to read the disc just great but reports high numbers on the first layer and a bit on the 2nd one before going back down to numbers that stays within the limits. Besides this result, the disc was completely readable.
Now, let’s move on to scanning and verifying it on the LG WH16NS58:
The LG drive stayed between the tolerance numbers except once it reached the 20GB mark, where it went up. It stabilized again on the 2nd layer at around 29GB and stayed within its limits. The disc once again was completely readable according to Nero DiscSpeed.
Test results of a 6x burn
I burned a disc at 6x, which was successful too. The difference between a 6x and 8x burn is about 5 minutes.
Now, let’s see how it scanned:
The scan on the LiteOn drive is very similar to the 8x burn. On the LG drive, however, it seems the first layer was burned better. The start of the 2nd layer did present a spike but seem to correct itself. Remember that the Pioneer drive performs some calibration while burning. It usually does it at around 56% after starting to burn the second layer of a BD-R DL disc. The rest of the disc burned with good quality and no spikes.
Even with those spikes on both scans, the disc read fine on both instances.
Burning on the Panasonic UJ260 at 2x
I decided to give this drive another try, but this time burning at 2x. Surprisingly, it handled burning it and succeeded in the verification stage.
Testing on the LiteOn and LG drives looked way, way better too
We can see once again that the LG scanned it a bit better, but the difference between the LiteOn and LG is not so much. Overall, this looks way better than the Pioneer burns at 6x and 8x.
This is very good to know because before the Pioneer drive, I was always burning on the Panasonic drive. This means that the only media this drive cannot handle well is the CMCMAG-DI6-000, but it could be because of the tint of those discs that I mentioned on that review and may not be the case with other branded CMCMAG discs.
The discs from the batch I got are all Verbatim 6x media. They are burning reliably on the Pioneer drive and at 2x on the Panasonic drive. The LG and LiteOn drives can read back the data on all of the above cases regardless of the quality scans without any speed slowdown. I’d recommend this media because of how cheap it is, considering they seem to be Verbatim media but branded for HP.
You can order these discs on Amazon at the following link:
The Oakcastle CD100 Portable CD Player with Bluetooth
Today, I’ll present you the Oakcastle CD100 Portable CD Player. Yes, a CD Player, and this one has Bluetooth in it. As you may know, nowadays people use streaming services to listen to music, which includes services with lossless audio quality. However, some people also prefer to buy CDs and listen to them, as some may argue that CDs offer better quality than lossless streaming services. Others buy them to collect them.
I’m one of the few who prefer to listen to Audio CDs, collecting them if I find it worth it after listening to them on streaming services. I do listen to them, but on my PC, as I didn’t have a CD player. My last one died lots of years ago, probably due to battery leakage. Thankfully, CD players are still being made and now comes with a rechargeable built-in battery, but the biggest new feature that’s coming to them is Bluetooth audio transmission. This is really important because, in a world that has shifted toward digital streaming and Bluetooth headphones, this means we can pair them to this CD player. It also means we can pair it to cars that no longer have an internal CD player.
I was suprised by the small, simple box.
Opening and starting to take out what’s inside, we first see the instruction manual and the CD player behind:
The box on the left contains all of the cables and the included in-ear headphone:
The CD player is very well protected with a foam container:
Let’s take a look at the CD optics:
This CD player states that it can read Audio CD, CD-R, CD-RW, and discs containing MP3 files. I have tested it with some burned CD-Rs and can say that it works flawlessly. My discs are specially burned because I tend to create a LabelTag label on the data side. These discs are therefore considered multisession discs, as the label counts as a session on the disc structure. The CD player could read it without any issues at all.
The audio quality is very good, both when connected to the 3.5mm jack and when using Bluetooth.
The volume is very loud, so the IFI IEMatch comes in handy here, to reduce the volume by -24db. The Bluetooth sound is very clear. The difference I noticed is that the bass is a bit less present. It’s there, but it’s just not as dynamic as when using the headphone jack. The treble, on the other hand, seems to be the star of the show, along with crystal clear vocals. Maybe it’s the treble that may be shadowing the bass. Overall, everything sounds finer, even considering that it only transmits audio using the SBC codec.
The CD player charges via USB at a max of 1 amp. This basically allows you to use any USB charger you may have around. You can also use it while charging it.
My first impressions of this product are very positive. I’m pleased with the sound quality, both wired and on Bluetooth. It paired easily with my FiiO BTR5 and Hiby W3, both of which use a Qualcomm chipset. This means it should theoretically pair with headphones and receivers having one of their chips.
This CD player can also read MP3 files, and it worked really well on these discs too. It does take a second or two to load it, but works, and the audio quality is also very, very good. I just wish the next generation of players can read FLAC files directly too.
Regarding the battery life, I’ll play audio CDs non-stop to know how much time I can listen to music without having to recharge it.
UPDATE 3/26/2021: This CD Player can also play WMA files.
So far, I’m really impressed with it.
You can order this CD player on Amazon at the following link:
Today, I will be showing you the Kolude KD-k1 All-In-One keyboard.
It is a USB-C keyboard that also acts as a USB hub, having 4 USB 3 ports, SD and Micro SD Card reader, Power Delivery, and an HDMI port.
The keyboard contains the entire layout as well as the numeric pad keys, which is great for those who prefer to use them.
It is made of aluminum and the keys have a great typing feeling.
It also comes with a long USB-C cable that we can use to plug it on a Desktop PC. Is is really long.
The keyboard layout is strange. It seems to be designed primarily to be used on Macs, as we can see on the layout that before the space bar we have the Command key followed by the Alt key. On a Windows layout keyboard, you would have the Windows key first, then the Alt key, followed by the Space bar.
The amount of USB ports on the keyboard means we can easily plug our devices, like a USB mouse dongle, for example. Also, for photographers, it’s good to know it has the SD and Micro SD card readers right there.
Kolude released a firmware update for the keyboard that improves compatibility with Windows machines and switches the Alt and Command keys for Windows users. However, I thought the keyboard was reversing itself to the Mac mode. Turns out there are some keyboard shortcuts to alternate between the 2:
fn + A switches to the Mac mode.
fn + S switched to the Windows mode.
Because of this, I switched the Alt and Command keycaps to better fit my setup. It’s way easier to use now than it was before that firmware update. Also, the function keys now work as expected on Windows too. Just press the fn key followed by one of the function keys.
It’s been almost 9 months since I received it and I can say it is my very favorite keyboard. My previous one was a basic Wireless Logitech keyboard but this one really improves the typing experience, since I’m used to laptop-style keys. The hub feature is also very convenient as I can easily plug my devices. The supplied cable is connected to the back of my AMD desktop machine, which also has a USB-C port. Of course, it only works for data, so the HDMI port doesn’t work with it and I get the “Limited connectivity” message, which is expected.
Last month, I got this USB cable to be able to charge my Game Boy Micro:
The cable is USB-A in one end and has the Game Boy Micro connector on the other side. It fits flawlessly in it:
It also charges well when connected to a computer USB port:
The Game Boy Micro draws about 160-180mA of power when charging, as we can see on the USB meter. It took a while to charge, but it’s been working fine. It also has to be noted that the Game Boy Micro rated input voltage is 5.2V. Since it is being plugged into a laptop USB port, the voltage is lower. This, however, didn’t seem to affect charging.
It feels good to be able to play games again on it, after losing the original charger. It’s also more convenient to plug it on a USB port to charge it when needed.
Today, we will be looking at the Philips BD-R DL White Inkjet Printable Blu-Ray Recordable media:
These discs were at a surprising price of just $9 dollars on Amazon, so I picked up 5 spindles of these.
These discs holds up to 50GB and are rated to be burnt at up to 6x. Let’s take a look at the disc surface and label sides:
The discs have the Philips brand at the center of the disc. Also, we can see that the discs have some sort of tint on the data side. Hopefully, these will not affect the recordings. Or will it? Let’s find out how my burners handle these discs.
Burning on Panasonic UJ-260
My first attempt to burn these was with my old but trusted Panasonic UJ-260 drive. It has been successfully burning discs with media codes RITEK-BR2 (25GB), RITEK-DR3 (50GB), CMCMAG-BA5 (25GB) and VERBAT-IMk (100GB).
The disc was recognized as CMCMAG-DI6-000 and can be burnt at up to 4x in this drive:
The disc was able to burn fine, but unfortunately failed verification. Let’s see the disc burned surface:
We can see that there are burning issues. The Panasonic UJ-260 writes double layer media in two zones. It starts at 2x, and then burns at 4x. On the 2nd layer, it goes from 4x to 2x. The red zones are when the drive spins down to 2x to burn the final parts of the disc.
Still, out of curiosity, somehow this disc was readable on the LG drive when I did a ScanDisc run on Nero DiscSpeed:
I burned another disc, this time at 2x. The burn again went fine, but the verification failed on the 2nd layer again.
The disc looks awful. You can see the rings in the recording surface. The scans also points this issue out:
Both drives agree that something is wrong at the end. The disc should technically be looking darker like the rings look, which would explain why the second layer was scanning properly until the rings started to appear.
Few days later, I burned another one at 4x using ImgBurn. The previous 2 were burned with Nero, but that shouldn’t had be an issue. This time, the disc burned and verified fine, but it still did rings at the disc surface:
Scans looks better, but I wouldn’t trust the disc in its condition:
It’s still clear that the rings are affecting the burn.
Burning on the LiteOn iHBS112
I burned another disc on the LiteOn iHBS112. This drive is able to burn them at 4x and 6x:
The disc burned and verified fine, but the drive produced rings on the disc surface too.
This burner also burned this disc in 2 zones, one at 4x and the other at 6x. The first layer burned fine, but we can see it struggled on the 2nd layer at the 4x zone:
Regardless of the scans, the disc was completely readable.
This drive is interesting in that if I burn with Nero, it fails immediately with “Write Error” and closes the disc, effectively not allowing us to retry burning anything since it changes the book type to BD-ROM somehow. I tried with ImgBurn at 6x and it managed to burn and verify the disc, but again, it came out with rings:
The drive did seem to produce a better burn except at the layer break. Also, the several rings do have an effect too:
I burned another disc, but this time it failed verifying:
It seems this time the issue is mostly at the layer break.
I have this slim drive, and surprisingly, it did not produce any visible rings in the disc surface. It is also able to burn it at 6x:
The disc was verified successful too. Let’s see how it performs at the graphs:
The LG seem to tolerate the disc better than the LiteOn. The first layer scanned fine. In both cases, the disc was completely readable without errors.
Pioneer BDR-2212 (BDR-212ULBK/BDR-212M)
I recently got this recorder to try burning these discs and see if it would offer a better burning experience. It is able to burn these discs at up to 8x on this drive.
I burned some discs with Nero 2017, which I haven’t upgraded since that version since every version is essentially just the same, and it burned the discs fine at 8x.
The disc surface looks very good. No rings are present either. However, when I first scanned the disc with my LG drive, it gave a really bad result:
So I re-ran the test again and got a way better result:
The LDC numbers may look high but the BIS numbers are almost within the standards. High, but the disc works fine across all my drives. The above scan was also performed at 8x. Below, we have the scans from my LG and LiteOn drive, from the same disc burned at 8x:
As we can see, the LG drive scanned the disc better than the LiteOn drive, but it was read without any issues there.
This drive seem to have better results when writing the 2nd layer, which is unexpected. Usually, the 1st layer is the one that gets burned the best. I did noticed that this drive seem to do a power calibration when switching layers, which can explain why the LDC/BIS numbers are low at that point. I think of this because the drive seem to slow down and pause when it reaches the layer break. The drive then proceeds to burn the disc as usual. My other drives would just keep burning immediately at this point.
These Philips BD-R DL use discs from CMC Magnetics with media code CMCMAG-DI6-000. These discs seem to have compatibility issues with some drives. In fact, go to Amazon and read the reviews and you’ll see some people are also having issues when burning these discs. Unfortunately, drive vendors that update their firmware are low. LG and Pioneer seem to keep their drives up to date, but the LG doesn’t seem to have the best luck burning them, as some discs may come fine and some may fail. The Pioneer seems to handle them the best and can even overspeed it to 8x. I think the investment on the drive paid off. Considering these discs spindles can be found cheap now, I think I’ll keep purchasing them for my archival needs.
Yesterday, I wrote about how my 2020 was in terms of audio gear. Today, I’ll be talking about my initial purchases and what’s to come over the next few days and weeks.
I’m always looking to try new digital audio players and DACs mainly, followed by some headphones, usually from KZ. This year, I’m starting it with new products from Hiby, Hidizs, and Fiio. Let’s see the products below.
The Hiby R2 is Hiby’s newest ultra-portable player, which has most of the features of the R3, but in a smaller body. It is able to decode and render MQA, and can stream music from Tidal via Wifi. I’m a huge user of the Hiby R3 Pro Saber, so I’m really exited to give the R2 a try!
The Hidizs H1 is a neckband Bluetooth cable that comes with the Hidizs MS1 Rainbow. For the price, it is a real bargain, considering you get both items and also considering that most people will already have 2-pin 2.5mm or 3.5mm cables. Since I already own the Hidizs MS1 and MS4 which I backed on Kickstarter, the MS1 Rainbow is the only one I still don’t own. I also already have Hidizs’ 2.5mm and 3.5mm cables, as well as their BT01 Bluetooth cable. This means that this cable will be new in my collection. The Hidizs H1 is also compatible with the Hiby Blue app. It supports the SBC, AAC, aptX and aptX Low Latency codecs.
The Hidizs H2 is Hidizs newest Bluetooth receiver adapter. It shares a few design details from Hiby’s own W3 adapter, having physical buttons as well as the LED which will be green or blue depending on the audio sample rate. It supports the main Bluetooth codecs, while also having support for LDAC and Hiby’s UAT codec. The Hidizs AP80 and AP80 Pro, as well as Hiby’s products already support UAT, so it is guaranteed we will have the best audio quality when listening on those products with the Hidizs H2. It also supports the Hiby Blue app and can also be used as a USB DAC.
The Hidizs S9 is Hidizs newest DAC, sporting an AKM AK4493EQ DAC. It has both 2.5mm and 3.5mm outputs and supports up to 32bit/768Khz.
The FiiO BTA30 is a Bluetooth receiver and transmitter. It claims to transmit audio using LDAC when using an optical or coax cable. My main purpose of this product is to attach it to my TV and see how much the audio quality improves and to try LDAC with it.
And that’s my initial purchased for products I should be receiving in the next couple of days. The Hidizs S9 is the product with the most far date, presumably due to AKM DACs shortage due to their factory fire. I’ll patiently wait, and I’m really looking forward to try all of these new products.
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