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Profile for Saint Richard > Reviews


Saint Richard's Profile

Customer Reviews: 47
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Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker, Charcoal
Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker, Charcoal
Offered by SBR Wholesale
Price: $58.98
25 used & new from $53.65

5.0 out of 5 stars FitBit has turned back my clock - I am feeling younger lately!, February 19, 2015
I am an older gentleman who - despite being "born round" - was once sufficiently fit as to have a resting heart rate in the upper 40s.

But fitness is a lot tougher to do when you get older. Having entered my 7th decade of life, and still being somewhat "round", I have often run into orthopedic problems that - though "minor" (plantar fasciitis and other annoying maladies) - have quite effectively knocked me off my exercise - for weeks at a time.

The problem was that each time I got my exercise re-started I'd try to ramp it up too quickly. A vigorous two mile walk in the park? No problem! But it was hard to anticipate how a long day's shopping or some yard work added to that vigorous two mile walk would impact the "old bod".

Things changed when my son bought me a FitBit. First I used it to figure out what my baseline activity level was. Then I started adding about 500 steps worth of activity once each week. If there was a shopping trip or some yard work, it counted. No walk in the part today!

I have now been free of exercise limiting impediments for several months and am walking about 6 miles daily. At least half of that walking is vigorous (some of it being done on an old-style Nordic Track ski machine). I have also added some cycling work recently. I don't suppose my resting heart rate will be back in the 40s anytime soon but it is now down in the low sixties, which is not bad for an old guy. And I have also lost over 40 pound this past year.

Of course, this could be done with an ordinary pedometer, as well, but Fitbit offers some additional options and advice via hookup with the internet. It is a good product and - though reasonably priced - one of the most USEFUL birthday presents I have ever received.

MagneTrainer-ER Mini Exercise Bike Arm and Leg Exerciser
MagneTrainer-ER Mini Exercise Bike Arm and Leg Exerciser
Offered by 3D Innovations, LLC
Price: $159.00
3 used & new from $110.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smooth & Silent. Not in the way when not in use., February 19, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Some time ago, my wife suggested that it would be nice for us to have an exercise cycle. I did some reading and decided that - operated from a high stool - this Magne-Trainer unit might actually be the equal of far more expensive gear. As a bonus, in anticipation of a downsized living space for our retirement years, the huge space savings and portability of the Magne-Trainer would actually make this a more desirable cycle option. That is, so long as the Magne-Trainer lived up to its promise. It does.

Both of us are exceedingly well pleased. As others have stated, this unit works silently. If your hear any mechanical noises while using this unit it is your chair protesting. The peddling motion is also smooth as silk - so much so that it almost feels effortless. But then comes the heavy breathing and the tell-tale muscle burn - both quads and hams - to remind you that there really is work being done here.

I do have two suggestion for use:

1. If you find that the hook & loop straps on top of the pedals are as big a pain as I did they are easily removable.
2. The magnetic resistance dial has no index mark to help you with repeatable resistance settings. Placing a strip of colored tape along the very top of the dial while set to minimum resistance resolves this problem.

Also, be aware that the same company makes something called a Desk Cycle, which seems just as well made. We almost ordered that one but then noticed that the cycling radius is two inches smaller on that one, yielding an overall sweep of just 16 inches for the Desk Cycle, compared to 20 for this one. The smaller cycling radius of the Desk Cycle no doubt makes it a better unit for under desk use but for general purpose use, the Magne-Trainer is IMO better.

All in all an excellent product.

Stravinsky: Rite of Spring / Firebird Suite
Stravinsky: Rite of Spring / Firebird Suite
Price: $17.62
47 used & new from $1.36

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just a bit disappointed with how "polite" this performance is., July 8, 2014
Compared to some older renderings, I find these performances, albeit superbly well recorded (what else, on the Delos label?), to be just a bit too tame.

Another reviewer - who is certainly entitled to his opinion - praised this performance for reminding us that the Rite was originally intended as a ballet. Apparently, this was his way of describing what - to my tastes - seems a somewhat subdued or polite performance.

My own view is that music depicting the Pagan Sacrifice of a young maiden (which is what the Ballet is about) was not intended to sound too civilized; this music - in my opinion - is SUPPOSED to be wild and primitive.

For this reason, there are PERFORMANCES (though not necessarily RECORDINGS) of "Le Sacre..." that I prefer; The offering of Michel Tilson Thomas with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, for example (DG LP 2530 252).

As for "The Firebird", also included on this disc, it isn't a bad performance at all. But I doubt that anyone will ever publish a more delightful "Firebird" than that of Robert Shaw and the Atlantic (on Telarc CD-80039). This Telarc CD was arguably the world's best CD demo disc when it was first released a few decades ago and is good enough to remain a contender for that honor even today. For those with sound systems that can handle it, the Telarc CD-80039 "Firebird" is a MUST HAVE, block-buster recording that also includes some beautiful selections from Borodin.

On balance, weighing the performances along with the very high quality of recording, the DePreist / Oregon offering is actually quite good. I am giving this disc four stars.

Living Stereo Collection 1
Living Stereo Collection 1
Price: $96.03
43 used & new from $74.45

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You can believe the glowing reviews given here., June 28, 2014
I will keep this brief: This is a fine collection, featuring many selections of the core classical repertoire. The performances are excellent, as are the recordings.

Yes, you can now find some better RECORDINGS of certain selections in this set. In many cases, though, it would be tough to find better recordings that are also better PERFORMANCES.

On balance, this is an excellent set and superb value. It will be an especially fine purchase or gift for those who have a newly developed interest in classical music.

Schubert: Masses 2 & 6
Schubert: Masses 2 & 6
Price: $18.17
59 used & new from $1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "The Most Beautiful Music In The World", June 28, 2014
This review is from: Schubert: Masses 2 & 6 (Audio CD)
I remember a review of this disc in one of the "Hi-End Audio" periodicals years ago that said exactly that: "the most beautiful music in the world". And though such a statement is necessarily hyperbolic, I find myself - each and every time I listen to it - wondering if it isn't true. Since I haven't heard all the music in the world I can't say that it is the most beautiful. But it is such a delight that I can't say that it isn't either.

This recording of the Schubert masses was the the first of the classical choral works I ever bought. I now have a fair collection of such works, including sacred music scored by such masters as Bach, Mozart, Van Beethoven, Verdi and Berlioz and recorded on labels ranging from the old RCA living stereo to Harmonia Mundi.

But after all these years this disc by Schubert - the one that got me started in this genre of classical music - remains among my most favorites.

It is hard to imagine a performance more inspiring than what Shaw and the Atlanta give us here. And the recording is Telarc at their best. This is one of just a handful of discs I would consider taking along for audition in a high end audio salon (if such places still exist).

Hosa BRR003X2 Beatport Stereo Dual RCA to RCA Cable, 3-Feet
Hosa BRR003X2 Beatport Stereo Dual RCA to RCA Cable, 3-Feet
Price: $21.56
7 used & new from $15.56

5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Kept Secret In Audio, November 18, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Good cables - and CLEAN CONNECTIONS - will definitely improve the clarity and focus of your audio system. But the best kept secret in audio is that you don't have to spend a huge sum of money to get truly GOOD interconnects.

These Hosas are the most expensive this company markets under their own name. They are EXCELLENT cables at quite a reasonable price.

I am, however, told by an audio insider - one who (unlike the salesman at the hi-fi shop) has no vested interests in this company - that Hosa does the actual manufacturing for MOST interconnects branded with other company's names, including many of the BIG names.

You can spend a lot more buying over-hyped, HIGH-MARKUP audiophile jewelry for your system if you want. It is your money. But in terms of true audible quality, you won't do a lot better than what you get with these cables.

Before you remortgage the house for "High-End" cables, upgrade you Amplifier, Pre-Amp or SPEAKERS. Those are the links in the audio chain that make the biggest audible difference. Once maxed out on those items, upgrade your cables if you like - speaker cables first then interconnects.

A final remark: Please note that complaints against some retailer that sells this product have nothing to do with the quality of the product itself. Not only are the 2-star reviews posted below rants against a retailer they are both basically identical and posted by the same guy. And how many of these cables did he order, anyway? 2 pair, as the one review says, or 5? Or did he order 2 the first time and 5 the second?

Festival Of Light Classical Music
Festival Of Light Classical Music
Price: $13.98

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars THIS is what I have been waiting for? Not exactly!, September 30, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Maybe I am being overly literal here. But I am seeing remarks to the effect that these downloadable MP3s make up the finest set of classical music recordings ever. Sorry but it simply isn't true.

Perhaps they meant that this was one of the finest "selections" of popular classics ever assembled in one set. Or that this set contained some of the finest "performances" of this music. I would agree with and endorse either of those statements.

But that is not what they said. What they said was that this set contained the finest RECORDINGS ever. The truth is that these recordings leave A LOT to be desired.

They are very low amplitude. At times the tape hiss and rumble intrude conspicuously on the music. There is no excuse for THAT, not with the software tools that are now available for elimination of such noise.

Really the only thing this set has going for it is that the original LPs from which they were taken seem to have been quite clean and undamaged. But I seriously doubt that the phono system used for the transfers was of much account.

We had this set of LPs at home when I was a kid - and I still have them. The basic recording quality of the originals was actually pretty good. But the set of LPs that I have suffered a lot of abuse during their early years.

Even so, I transferred my own set over to digital format (FLAC) a couple of years ago. To effect this transfer I used what most people would consider a high end phono system, preamp and dedicated digital recorder. I then massaged the files with Audacity software to eliminate hiss and reduce surface noise as much as possible (even the clicks & pops). But there is only so much you can do in cleaning up damaged LPs.

So... I was hoping that a high quality remastered set of these recordings would become available. But this isn't it. Despite the flaws of my original LP set, there is simply more life in the transfers that I did and they sound a whole lot more like music.

The real shame is that now that this set is available for sale all hope of a professional remastering, such as those done for the Mercury Living Presence, Decca Sound and RCA Living Stereo sets is gone.

Boston Acoustics PV350 subwoofer - BOSTON PV350
Boston Acoustics PV350 subwoofer - BOSTON PV350

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent entry level sub for music playback, August 31, 2013
I have one of these installed beneath the desk in my home office. It is mated with a pair of classic mini-monitors that I had rebuilt for better sound. Those mini-monitors needed some help in the lower registers and the PV350 does a good job of adding a sense of fullness to the sound on music playback.

I had to fiddle with the settings a while to get the sub to blend well, of course, but that's true of any subwoofer.

This sub-woofer isn't the sort of component I would ordinarily buy by the way. But this one was given to me and I have been satisfied with its performance in the application I have just described.

Factoring in the asking price, I am giving the PV350 a four star rating. It is a decent entry level sub-woofer, suitable for smaller systems and smaller rooms. And Boston Acoustics would tell you that. They make better subs and so do a lot of other people. Those ones cost more money. I don't really know whether there are better values in subs at this price point or not.

What I do know is that this unit is not "crap" as one reviewer has said. I advise questioning any review that talks about tearing a unit apart to see what is inside; unless the one writing such a review is an expert in audio engineering.

January 2014 Update:

In the interests of making this a more objective review, I recently did some test-tone sweeps on the PV350 as installed at my desktop listening location.

At typical volume control settings, the output of the integrated system actually stays fairly strong and even, without notable roll-off to about 50 Hz and remains audible - though down just a bit in level - at 40 Hz. I hear and feel NOTHING below 40 Hz and expect this is by design.

Something else I do not hear is "doubling" within the PV350s usable frequency range. Doubling is the substitution of a higher frequency harmonic for the frequency that is called for. Doubling can sometimes give the false impression of strong bass response when all you are really getting is loud and phony bass response.

What this means is that with the exception of the deepest synthesizer or organ pedal tones the PV350 can reproduce most every kind music in the lower registers cleanly. Some perspective on the useful range of the PV350 comes in recognizing that the lowest string of an electric bass guitar is tuned to produce 42 HZ.

The ability of the PV350 to deliver tones in the 40-50 Hz range CLEANLY is actually pretty commendable performance for a Sub in this price range.

The other limitation of the PV350, of course, has to do with its maximum level of sound output. Though the PV350 might be suitable for very modest home theater setups it is really best suited for music listening in smaller more intimate spaces.

If you ask too much of this little sub it will surely disappoint. I think that folks who use it for music in small to medium size rooms, however, will be fairly well pleased with what it has to offer.

No Title Available

4.0 out of 5 stars You MIGHT want to get one while you can, August 12, 2013
Sherbourn Technologies has been under the management of the same people who own Emotiva for a while and their audio equipment is now being merged into the Emotiva line. Sherbourn products, including this model, are therefore being cleared out at outrageous prices and many are already gone.

Near as I can tell, the Sherbourn PA 2-50 is the luxury version of Emotiva's Mini-x a-100. Or maybe the a-100 is a stripped down 2-50. I am not sure which model came first. Unlike the Mini-x a-100, the Sherbourn PA 2-50 has two sets of RCA inputs with the capability to switch between them. It can be set up to automatically power on and switch itself to whichever set of inputs has an active signal. It can also be remotely controlled. It basically has all the convenience features you might wish for in the spartan Mini-x a-100.

Though I had not heard of Sherbourn until recently, the Mini-x a-100 has had glowing reviews here on Amazon AND elsewhere. These little amps (I own one of each) deliver higher volume levels than you'd normally expect considering their "50-Watt" RMS / Ch. ratings. And the QUALITY of the sound is quite good, too. It has been a while since I have heard new audio COMPONENTS (rather than speakers) deliver the level of sonic improvement I am noticing here.

Build quality? In addition to feeling quite solid, Sherbourn has been selling this little amp with a 10 year warranty (which I believe Emotiva will be honoring).


It is because of the peculiar "two-terminal Phoenix type" speaker connections. I really don't know what Sherbourn was thinking, designing the amp with these odd speaker connections. The "Phoenix-type" connections are designed to accept bared wire only. And they won't accept thicker wires either. My 18 gauge cables worked fine and you could perhaps go 16 gauge. After that, though, all bets would be off as far as I am concerned. It may be that bared CAT-5 would work and if so, that might be a good option for the cable conscious. I am not sure.

The terminal blocks themselves do pull conveniently from their sockets to do the wire hookups and then plug back in. This makes the process of making your wire connections much easier. But it would be nice if the user manual told you that this is how they worked. Thankfully, I knew about this. A lot of buyers wouldn't. It seems to me that there are a lot of ways that a novice audiophile could go wrong trying to hook up their speakers to this amp.

Fortunately the speaker hookups actually worked out pretty well for me since the PA 2-50 has TWO SETS of these Phoenix connectors and I purchased it for use with a subs-sats system. I hooked up one set of the terminals for my subs and the other for my sats. I also use short cable runs in my particular setup, so any liabilities introduced by being limited to the thinner cables are minimized. Anyway, the speaker hookups work fine once you get them right but some people will have a problem figuring them out. And PEOPLE WHO ARE INTO FANCY THICK CABLES WILL DEFINITELY HATE THIS AMP.

It would also be nice if the PA 2-50 had a nicer remote. The one they include is pretty cheesy, considering the generally high build quality of this little amp. But that is a non-issue compared to the speaker connections Sherbourn has chosen.

As of the date of this writing (Early August 2013) the Sherbourn PA 2-50 is clearing out for $189.00. If you can deal with those strange Phoenix speaker terminals you should go ahead and get one while the getting is good.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 2, 2013 12:54 PM PDT

Emotiva USP-1 Stereo Preamplifier
Emotiva USP-1 Stereo Preamplifier

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Preamp for the right buyer, July 16, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Nervous about a couple of decades-old Adcom components (a GFP-565 Preamp and GFT-450 Tuner-Preamp) I read the USP-1's reviews and ordered one. After all, even the good stuff (and Adcom IS good stuff) wears out over time. So I figured I should ebay the Adcoms while the ebaying is still good and grab this Emotiva piece.

On arrival I was excited about the Emotiva. It seems rock solid in its build quality. The unit's appearance is quite seductive - to my tastes, at least - with all those blue lights glowing in a dimmed room. And you have got to love that hefty milled aluminum remote. The USP-1's spartan control feature set suggests "High End". There are no balance or tone controls and since the self-appointed audio gurus tell us that "such features are naughty and people who use them are tin-eared" this piece had to be better than either of my old Adcoms right?

The problem is that the Emotiva wasn't - better than either of my Adcom pieces, that is. Not only this, the USP-1 did not sound as good.

I contacted the nice people at Emotiva - they really do have good customer support - and they suggested that I wait until after some burn-in time to make a decision and that it would be no problem to return the unit if I was not fully satisfied.

The USP-1's sound quality DID improve with some burn in time. High Level sources in particular improved - almost to the point where they rivaled the sound quality of the Adcom gear.

This was, however, not the case on phono reproduction. The GFP-565 continued to sound much better. The Emo's LP playback quality was bettered even by the GTP-450 running with an inexpensive outboard phono stage (the Art DJ Pre-II). My wife actually walked through the living room one evening - I was listening to a gently used old LP by Gentle Giant at the time - and she asked what was wrong with the stereo, why did it sound so muddy? If I'd not already decided by then that the Emo had to go (I had) that would have finalized my decision.

Perhaps my expectations of the USP-1 were unrealistic and maybe even unfair. My GFP-565 sold for $900.00 in 1990 and the GFP-450 for $500.00 five years later. The USP-1 is - after all - from Emotiva's "Ultimate Value" line and sells for $400.00 (in 2013's deflated dollars). You can't have everything on the cheap.

Also to be considered is that my Adcom Preamps were matched to Adcom Amplifiers (the GFA-545 and GFA-535 respectively) which might make a difference. The USP-1 might have made a better impression if matched to an Emotiva amp. This would not have helped the USP-1's anemic sounding phono stage, however. Apparently the USP-1 design team decided that the phono section might be a safe place to cut production costs.

This being said, I believe that Emotiva is a good company and have a very high opinion of their Mini-x a-100 "Flex Amp". My Adcom gear will eventually reach its useful lifespan and when it does I will definitely consider some of Emotiva's offerings (though probably not from their Ultra-Value line).

The Emotiva USP-1 seems to be well built and is not a bad piece at all. For the right buyer, someone trying to move in the direction of "High-End" audio and away from HT gear for the first time, the USP-1 might be a great piece. But I have become spoiled by many years of listening to excellent sounding audio gear and was not the right buyer.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 13, 2014 7:24 PM PST

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