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Profile for Jeffrey N. Fritz > Reviews


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Customer Reviews: 545
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Jeffrey N. Fritz "Nikon Jeff" RSS Feed (Morgantown, West Virginia)

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Crescent CSD10 Cushion Grip Screwdriver Set, Red/Black, 10-Piece
Crescent CSD10 Cushion Grip Screwdriver Set, Red/Black, 10-Piece
Price: $28.26
4 used & new from $20.07

4.0 out of 5 stars Suitable Screwdriver Set for Most Household Tasks, November 26, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It seems that you always need a screwdriver for doing something around the house. And an amazing number of times, the type that you need (flat or Phillips) and the size that you need never seems to be handy.

I've solved this, in part, with a screwdriver set that has interchangeable bits. I say, in part, because managing and using the bits can be tricky. You have to find the proper bit, install the bit in the driver, and then (and this is the hardest part) return the bit to the holder. Having a flexible set of screwdrivers seems a better solution. And that's what the Crescent CSD10 Cushion Grip Screwdriver Set offers.

The kit comes with a decent assortment of screwdrivers and both flat and Phillips head styles. They appear well-made and have a large enough assortment to satisfy most needs. Two of the screwdrivers, a flat and a Phillips, have very long shafts. I find this to be very useful in reaching screws that are hidden deep inside of equipment.

The screwdrivers are not magnetized which has created some concern by reviewers. However, for me, not having a magnetized screwdriver is a definite plus as I work around sensitive electronic equipment and a magnetized screwdriver can cause problems with this equipment.

My concern is how the screwdrivers will hold up over time with normal abuse. I also am scratching my head over the so-called "forever guarantee". There is no information provided as to how to take advantage of the guarantee or exactly what "forever" means. I suppose one could contact the Apex Tool Group via email to file a claim but again nothing is set about this in the packaging.

Speaking of packaging...I truly dislike this kind of plastic packaging as I almost always hurt myself trying to remove the product. Perhaps there is a trick to opening it and I just don't know it, but I don't like his packaging.

I wish that a carrying case had been included with the screwdriver set. This would have made the set transportable and kept the screwdrivers together. However, I recognize that including a case would have increased the cost of the set. Each screwdriver does have a hole in the handle that allows it to hang it from a pegboard, so the lack of a case is not as big a deal.

Overall, the Crescent CSD10 Cushion Grip Screwdriver Set is a decent screwdriver set that appears to be well-made and hopefully will be durable overtime. It's offers flexibility by providing a generous number of screwdrivers--enough that the set should be suitable for most every household task.

Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story
Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story
by DK Publishing
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.00
54 used & new from $15.26

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Much New Material, But Still A Nicely Done, Entertaining and Informative Coffee Table Reference Book, November 16, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The history of musicals covers a great deal of ground. Besides the sheer number of musicals in general, there are musicals created for the theater, musicals created for film, and musicals created for TV. Then there are musicals that have appeared in one, two or all three of those medias. "Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story" attempts to cover it all--and in its 357 pages (including index) it does an amazing job.

This large, heavy and reasonable treatment of musicals offers some things and omits others. What you won't find in its pages is a great deal of new information. Much of what the book shares is readily available on the Internet (IMDB, Wikipedia, etc.) However, here is all of this information, capsulized to be sure, but all in one place. What you will find in these well illustrated pages is a treatment of just about every musical ever produced. Even lesser known musicals are given a paragraph or two at the end of the book. Plus "Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story" highlights the various composers and choreographers and even gives a nod to the audio experts who helped create the audience experience.

"Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story" is not a cover-to-cover read--although I suppose that one could dedicate several evenings to this task. What it offers instead is a nicely printed, impressive looking coffee table book and reference book that is both interesting and entertaining.

SteelSeries Siberia 200 Gaming Headset - Black
SteelSeries Siberia 200 Gaming Headset - Black
Price: $79.99
12 used & new from $79.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Gaming Headphones That Also Serve Well for Audio Listening, November 16, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The SteelSeries Siberia 200 Gaming Headset comes packaged as a microphone equipped headphone with padded, closed earpieces. The headphones have long cord but it is not coiled (some will like this, some won't.) There is a combination microphone on/off switch and headphone volume control built into the cord.

There no instructions included. Although instructions generally aren't super-important for headphones, they would have been handy.

An iPad, iPhone adapter mic jack adapter cable is included (it may also work for Android devices.) However, there is no 1/4" phone adapter included. Since this kind of adapter does come with similarly priced headphones, I was disappointed that none was included in the box.

The headphone and microphones plugs are color coded (green for headphones red for the microphone.) This is helpful because, although the molded jacks are marked, they are not easy to identity. The mic recesses into headphones when not in use--a very convenient feature.

The Siberia 200's audio quality was gauged by listening to DSD (two-channel SACD) files and uncompressed AIFF files played through a high quality headphone DAC. I sampled rock, jazz and classical music files. I also compared the same tracks played through both the Siberia 200 headphones and a Sennheiser HD598 headphone. The HD598 is a very credible mid-level headphone and a good reference headphone.

The sound of the Siberia 200 was listenable and largely clean--especially on vocals and acoustic guitars, although the headphones struggled to reproduce the bass in Michael Jackson's "Triller" and Dave Brubeck's "Take Five." The overall sound was not as up front or as sharp as my Sennheiser HD 598s, but the Siberia 200 are not nearly as costly at the HD 598s either. In comparison to the HD 598, the Siberia 200 headphone sounded pulled back and slightly muffled, but not objectionably so. (One thing that I always listen for in "Take Five" is the crack of Joe Morello's drums during his solo starting at 2:12 in the cut. The Siberia 200 headphone was not able to reproduce the sharp snap of his stick hitting the drums and the bass guitar sounded a bit fussy--almost like the strings were frayed.)

Connected to my iPad Air the Siberia 200 headphones fared better. Listening to a combination of FLAC and MP3 files, I found the audio quality to be more than acceptable. In the final analysis--and to be completely fair--the Siberia 200 headsets are intended as more as gaming than audiophile headphones. Based on this, when I listened to them on their own terms, they held their own even as audio quality headphones.

The audio quality of the headset's built-in microphone is decent. Siri had no trouble understanding anything I said through the headset. In fact, part of this review was dictated using headset mic and the interpretation of my words was nearly perfect. Recording the audio from the mic and listening back to it showed that a windscreen should have been included with the microphone. There was considerable popping of "Ps" resulting from the close proximity of the microphone to my mouth.

As for long term wear, the headphones are good but not perfect. They were comfortable to wear even for several hours. However, I found the self-adjusting suspension headband to be more of an annoyance than the traditional padded headbands on other headphones. It kept slipping to the back of my head. The acoustic isolation was decent. I was listening to songs at a relatively high volume while sitting next to my wife on the couch. She was watching the TV at the time. I could only hear the TV between songs. She indicated that she could hear the music playing in my headphones, but "only a little bit." She did not object to my listening to music as she watched TV--as she has with several other headsets used with my iPad.

In terms of durability, there are some questions. Despite the "steel" moniker, the headphones are made mostly from plastic with the head strap cushion held on by something that looks like a thin elastic strings. If either string snapped with wear over time leaving the cushion dangling, it wouldn't be surprising.

Overall, these are really a decent pair of gaming headsets. They are reasonably comfortable to wear, they sound relatively good, and, if treated carefully, should last for sometime. You could do much worse than the SteelSeries Siberia 200 Gaming Headset.

Q-See QTH916-9AH-1 16 CH 720p Analog HD DVR with 8 720p and 1 PT Cameras and 1 TB HDD (Black)
Q-See QTH916-9AH-1 16 CH 720p Analog HD DVR with 8 720p and 1 PT Cameras and 1 TB HDD (Black)
Price: $699.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Capable Security System, but Likely Not True HD and With Some Issues, November 12, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am no stranger to Q-See products. For several years now I've been using one of their older video systems to help secure our home. It gets the job done dependably when it comes to live streaming the security video around our home. However, I have found the interface to be more than a little mystifying. I can't get much more done with it outside of the live streaming. I'm an electrical engineer and you'd think that I could figure the durn thing out more easily!

The Q-See QTH916-9AH-1 16 CH 720p Analog HD DVR seemed to be a better deal. For one thing, with 16-channels it has many more channels than my older Q-See system. For another thing, it comes packaged with nine cameras--one being a 360 camera much as you see in shops. It all looked very good. However, there were some surprises and disappointments in store for me.

First, a misnomer: Q-See describes the system as having an "Analog HD DVR." So, which is it? Is it analog or HD (digital) or is it somehow both? One hint is that Q-See describes the system as "HD" but the QTH16 DVR and all the 'HD" cameras were clearly marked as being NTSC/PAL. These are not the same thing. NTSC is a the old US standard definition (SD) TV scheme and is definitely not HD. PAL is also SD but for Europe. True, the system does support the H.264 HD compression protocol, but that doesn't necessarily make it "High Definiton" (assuming that that is what Q-See means by "HD.") It's all very confusing and perhaps more marketeering than engineering.

Second, a concern. Something was rattling inside of the DVR--never a good sign. I heard the rattle as I removed the DVR from its plastic wrap. I removed the top case and found a lose extra screw inside the chassis. I removed it, but was puzzled because the DVR has a green QC passed sticker pasted on the case. Didn't they hear the rattling when they checked this system?

Unlike my older system that uses Cat 5 (Ethernet) cable for connecting the video cameras, this system uses BNC cables with a micro plug power adapter. This is good because BNCs make great connections. That's why BNCs are what the pros use for their video systems. It's bad because the BNC cables are rather bulky and hard to run. Plus this makes the unit incompatible with the older cameras. With the older system I was able to use a flat Cat 5 jumper to run the cable easily through my windows to the outside cameras. I don't believe that there is anything such as a "flat BNC cable." Getting the cables to outside mounted cameras will likely be an issue--plus the cable lengths, while generous are fixed. You can probably forget running a camera cable from one side of your home all the way to the other to reach far placed cameras. You also may need to loop the unused cable for cameras mounted closer to the DVR. For the best installation, you may need to hire a professional installer to handle the system--if so be sure to factor the labor into the cost.

Registering they system was a pain. Q-See asks for some questionable personal information, plus they want you to upload a proof of purchase in order to register the unit. As a Vine reviewer, I don't have a proof of purchase. Their site offered allow me to bypass uploading the proof of purchase, but this doesn't work. Clicking the Bypass button just put me right back where I started. Eventually I gave up--too bad Q-See!

You would think that turning off the DVR would be easy, but it wasn't. I attempted to do a safe shutdown prior to moving the DVR from my test bench to the network rack, but there is no power button on the DVR. The instructions said to "Use power button on remote," but there is no power button on the remote. The app has no shutdown button that I could find, so I had to pull out the power plug--never a good thing on a hard drive system. A safe shutdown power button should be part of the DVR hardware.

Macintosh remote access of the system via a LAN from a browser required the installation of a "WebkitPlugin." Raise your hand if you want to install something named like this on the same computer that you use to do your web banking! I'm not saying that this plugin is unsafe or is malicious in any way, but it made me far too uncomfortable to install it. PC LAN access (Windows) doesn't require the plug in as it is handled via software downloaded from the Q-See site. However, you need to know which system you have and, unfortunately, the appropriate software choice for remotely accessing the DVR isn't obvious. After a successful installation on my Windows 7 PC, I was never able to get the PC to find the system.

I fared better with their iPad app. It had no problem finding the system on my LAN and connecting to it. I just needed to figure out which Q-See app to use--there are at least three of them. (I wound up installing Q-See QT View HD.) I found the iPad app interface greatly improved over the Mac, PC and older Q-See apps. Still, Q-See has more work to do if they want to offer a system that is truly user friendly.

PROFOOT Dura-Sole Insoles, Men's 8-14, 1 Pair
PROFOOT Dura-Sole Insoles, Men's 8-14, 1 Pair
Price: $8.99
5 used & new from $8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Left or Right, Top or Bottom Unclear in The Directions Plus Poor Fit in My Boots, November 7, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have a pair of Boggs boots (I've reviewed them on Amazon.) I love the boots except for one thing--they offer virtually no arch support. I thought that adding the PROFOOT Dura-Sole Insoles would supplement these otherwise excellent boots with the arch support that they need. Sadly, there were problems.

The instructions provided by Profoot are confusing. Where does the right arch support go. It appeared that they had reversed the left and right insoles until I realized that the insoles had to be flipped over. What appeared to the the top of the insole was really the bottom. True, I should have known. The insoles are even marked L and R (left and right.) Still the directions were less than clear in pointing this out.

The fit in the boot was poor even after carefully trimming them. Profoot thinks that only the length has to be trimmed but the width may be too large or two small depending on the width of your foot and shoes. After several unsuccessful attempts to fit these to the Boggs boots, I eventually gave up. Trim carefully as I might, the PROFOOT Dura-Sole Insoles simply would not adapt to the boots.

Swiss Legend Men's 21819P-BB-11-RD Neptune Force Analog Display Swiss Quartz Black Watch
Swiss Legend Men's 21819P-BB-11-RD Neptune Force Analog Display Swiss Quartz Black Watch
Price: $59.65
2 used & new from $59.65

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Large, Heavy, But Never-the-Less Attractive Watch, November 6, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This isn't your small and dainty watch. Not in the least! This watch is large--very large. And it's heavy--very heavy. This is possibly the largest and heaviest watch that I've ever owned. You will definitely fell this watch on your wrist. It will remind you every time you move your arm that it is there.

Still, the Swiss Legend Men's Neptune Force Watch has some nice things going for it despite its bodacious size and weight. For one thing its large size makes the dial very easy to read. Even my poor eyes can read the time without any difficulty. For another, it is a handsome watch. I know that the red outer ring won't be everyone cup of tea, but it suits me just fine. It's an impressive looking watch that is sure to be noticed by others.

There aren't many bells and whistles included in the Swiss Legend Men's Neptune Force Watch. No digital display, no stopwatch, timer or even date. It's a basic watch. But as such it's a useable and attractive watch.

Belkin Apple MFi Certified Secure Wired Keyboard with Lightning Connector for iPad Pro, iPad 4th Gen, iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad mini 4, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 2 and iPad mini, Designed for School and Classroom
Belkin Apple MFi Certified Secure Wired Keyboard with Lightning Connector for iPad Pro, iPad 4th Gen, iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad mini 4, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 2 and iPad mini, Designed for School and Classroom
Price: $56.99
68 used & new from $48.44

4.0 out of 5 stars A Better Alternative In Many Ways Than A Bluetooth Keyboard--But Not Without It's Own Issues, November 3, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have never been a fan of Apple's soft keyboard. I hate it on the iPhone because it's so tiny and my big, clumsy fingers are too big to accurately type on it. It's better on the iPad (only because it's larger) but it's ridiculous placement of keys is a problem. (What "genius" at Apple thought it was a good idea to put the Backspace and Return keys next to each other!)

As for the alternatives, Siri is not my friend. Like a little child, sometimes she totally misconstrues what I've said, sometimes she completely ignores me and occasionally she gets it right. This, no matter how much I use Siri or how much I practice. Bluetooth keyboards are a mixed bag for me. They are easier to use (for me) than the soft keyboard. However, keeping their batteries charged and making sure that they are associated with my iPad is often more work than help.

Enter the Belkin Apple Wired Keyboard. It's better, but not perfect. It's wired with a Lightning connector (other connectors are available but only with different Belkin keyboard models) so this model is only compatible with more recent iDevices. However, there are not batteries to charge or replace and no Bluetooth pairing to worry about. Simply plug the cable in to the iPad and start typing. The keys are well placed and have a decent feel to them, so it's a nice keyboard to use with the iPad. Plus the battery drain from using the keyboard with the iPad should be nil.

So what's not to like? Well, a couple of things. For one thing the Lightning cable is quite short limiting where you can place they keyboard with respect to the iPad. For another, Belkin followed Apple's lunacy by placing the Home Key next to and below the left shift key (the shift key that is most frequently used.) You think that you are pressing the shift key, but instead you are thrown out of the app that you are using and right to the iPad's home screen. Nasty! A far better place for the Home Key would have been above the main keys near where the playback controls are located. (Strangely, when I wanted to use the Home Key it stopped working. So did a number of non-typing keys such as the lock button--go figure!)

Finally, you get no instructions with this keyboard. None. Zero. Zip! Okay, so a keyboard such as this should be mostly intuitive. Mostly, but not completely. A bit of instruction would have been appreciated.

Still, all-in-all the Belkin Apple Keyboard satisfies more than it disappoints. (This review was written with it--but you already guessed that!) I have no doubt that I will keep it in close proximity to my iPad Air on a regular basis.

Canon MG7720 Wireless All-In-One Printer with Scanner and Copier: Mobile and Tablet Printing, with Airprint(TM)  and Google Cloud Print compatible, Black
Canon MG7720 Wireless All-In-One Printer with Scanner and Copier: Mobile and Tablet Printing, with Airprint(TM) and Google Cloud Print compatible, Black
Price: $149.99
28 used & new from $149.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Full Featured Printer Very Mobile Device Friendly (And With Wired Ethernet), November 3, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have to admit it...Printers are not always my friends. I find them to be cumbersome and balky never doing exactly as I intend. It's almost like they have a mind of their own. "Do as I say not as you think that I said!" Make the printer to be wireless and that only adds to the headaches.

Happily, the Canon MG7720 Wireless All-In-One Printer with Scanner and Copier has made life much easier for me. The printer is truly full-featured offering wired, wireless and USB connectivity. It can print, scan and copy. Plus the MG 7720 can be easily accessed by mobile devices and tablets (iPads, iPhones, Androids, etc.) For Apple users, the printer supports AirPrint and that makes mobile printing from Apple devices even easier. Plus, in addition to it's Wi-Fi capability it also supports good old Cat 5/6 wired Ethernet. That is an important plus for me as it allowed me to connect the printer directly to my central Ethernet switch making it available to all devices on my networks all of the time no matter which Wi-Fi LAN that they happened to be on at the time. (Yes, my home has more than one Wi-Fi network for security reasons.)

The initial setup of any printer is alway the most complex part of using the printer. This is also true of the Canon MG7720. Reserve some time for the initial setup because the installation instructions, while not difficult, are time consuming. In fact, you will find two large pages (printed front and back) of getting started instructions. It's a lot to look over, but do study them carefully first.

While I did study the setup instructions I still managed a misstep or two. For example, I neglected to remove all the protective material (plastic tape) from inside of the printer prior to powering it on. The display informed me of this error and even told me where to look to correct that oversight. Also there is a plastic part inside of the printer held in by tape. I removed it, but I have no idea what is was for or how to put it back in the printer. That's a bit disconcerting.

After I had complied the initial set up process, the printer went though quite a lengthy initialization process. Next I was guided by the printer itself in configuring it. It instructing me how to install the ink cartridges and the paper. The color touch screen guides you through ink installation process--quite a nice touch.

Next the printer went through a long print test. A printed sheet emerged, but I was not told how to gauge whether the print test was successful or not. The next step was to select the connectivity to the printer (Wired, Wireless, USB, etc.) I selected wired and the printer went through its own magic process to connect to my router. It took a few moments but was successful and transparent to me. Finally the printer informed me that a firmware update was "ready on the server" (what server, where?) It suggested that I install it but was not clear as to where the firmware update selection was located.

I eventually figured out where to download and install the update. Now I was ready to give the printer a try. The documentation instructed me to download the Selphy/Print App to my iPad from the Apple App Store. I did as I was asked and installed the app. I'm not sure that this really was necessary (except perhaps to print photos) because my iPad could print perfectly to the Canon MG7720 simply by using Airprint directly. No app required. As for my Mac, there was no need to download anything. I simply added a new printer in the Print and Scan dialog in System Preference. The Mac immediately found the Canon MG7720 and installed the proper drivers. No fuss, no muss.

As for the printer itself, it features a very fast print time even for graphics. The quality is excellent as well. My complaints really are few. The setup process needs to be clearer and a bit more transparent. And, of course, like most every ink jet printer in this class, the print tray is much too small only holding a small amount of paper. Canon (and you other printer guys) it's well past time to fix this. We need a real paper tray that easily holds 250 sheets or more.

Those gripes aside, the Canon MG7720 is really a nice printer offering many more features and capabilities than I will ever use. But its very nice to know that they are there just in case I do need them sometime in the future.

Georgia-Pacific 1632014 Bathroom Tissue (Pack of 20)
Georgia-Pacific 1632014 Bathroom Tissue (Pack of 20)
Price: $27.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Soft Toilet Tissue That Cleans Well, Is Soft and Gentle, November 3, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What can be said in a review of toilet tissue? Quite a bit as it turns out...

There are many things that can be bought strictly based on price in bulk. Toilet paper, however, isn't one of them. Recently I purchased toilet tissue in bulk based solely on price. It was a mistake. Now I know where low-priced hotels get their sandpaper-like toilet tissue! The bulk toilet tissue is awful to use--and there is still an awful amount of it to be used.

Georgia-Pacific 1632014 Bathroom Tissue is not in the least like that terrible bulk-priced toilet tissue. It's soft, cleans well and is gentle. After all, isn't that what we need in such a personal use item? Furthermore, there are other uses for toilet tissue that require softness and toughness together. For example, my optometrist recommends that I clean my glasses with toilet tissue.

At this point, I have no idea what I will do with the 100 plus remaining roles of my sandpaper-like bulk toilet tissue. However, I have no doubt that the Georgia-Pacific 1632014 Bathroom Tissue will remain in our master bath, guest bath and powder room.

Mass Fidelity Relay Hi-Fi Bluetooth DAC, Silver
Mass Fidelity Relay Hi-Fi Bluetooth DAC, Silver
Price: $249.00
3 used & new from $249.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just Short of Audiophile Quality--But First Rate for What It Does, October 29, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was intrigued by the concept behind the Mass Fidelity Relay Hi-Fi Bluetooth DAC. They promise to provide a way to feed "high quality" audio wirelessly using Bluetooth from our iDevice (iPad, iPhone, Android, etc.) to our stereo systems. In fact, the Relay will work with just about every Bluetooth device including PCs and Macs. However, I was most interested in playing high quality audio from my iPad Air.

The Mass Fidelity Relay packaging is impressive. It reminds me of the packaging that Apple uses for its iPads and Mac Mini. The aluminum block look of the unit is impressive as well. My only objection was the LED indicator as it shines way too brightly in the on mode. All cables are included as is the power supply brick. Installation was a breeze. It took less than a minute to hook the relay up to my Yamaha amp and get the iPad to discover the Relay.

My system consists of a restored and adjusted Yamaha CA-810 vintage stereo amplifier, Polk Audio Monitor 60 speaker and Klipsch SW-110 Reference Series Subwoofer. The system is not the highest of the high end to be sure, but it is still very respectable for audio quality. I connected the Relay to the AUX 2 input of the CA-810. (I should mention that AUX 1 is connected to my MusicStreamer II DAC. This how I normally listen to computer audio files. I also have a Denon SACD player connected to the CA-810.)

Now, let's talk a moment about "hi-fi," audio chains and file types since they are very much related to the Relay's audio quality. I know that this discussion will be a bit technical, but bear with me.

The audio quality of a Bluetooth device depends on heavily on several important factors including the implementation of the A2DP (Bluetooth stereo audio) profile, the type of source files, the quality of the source material and how well the device itself is designed. In addition, there are limitations to using the Relay including the iDevice itself.

The audio chain in the iPad is quite good considering everything else that that Apple has to stuff into the iPad. It is good but not great. I would label it as "acceptable" (perhaps amazingly so) but certainly not as approaching "audiophile" quality. (Whatever that is!) The iPad is further hampered by the audio files themselves. Most of the tracks on my iPad are MP3s. Although they are encoded at high bit rates (320 kb/s and above,) MP3 by its very nature is a lossy, compressed media. That in itself removes some of the "fi" from "hi-fi." To listen to these MP3 files would not be a fair test to the Relay. Therefore, I downloaded several high quality FLAC (lossless compression) files to my iPad and listened closely to them. (One of my FLAC files is a direct digital copy of the mix down master of a classical music piece.)

What I heard exceeded every other Bluetooth audio device that I own including the TP-LINK Music Bluetooth Receiver that I had previously reviewed. In fact, it exceeded the other Bluetooth audio devices in quality by a large margin. That said, there were flaws. I heard a slight amount of high end EQ push and a touch of distortion. Don't get me wrong, although these both were evident and clearly there, they were not totally objectionable. Still, I wanted to find out of the Relay could do better.

To do that I connected the Relay via Bluetooth to my Mac Mini. (The Mac Mini also serves as my audio recording mix down computer. (Interestingly the Mac considers the Relay to be a Bluetooth Headphone.) Using the Mac and the Audirvana 2 Plus player I listened to several FLAC, AIFF (uncompressed) and DSD (SACD format) music files. I selected rock, jazz and classical songs and listened closely. Now I had the advantage of doing an A/B comparison of the same tracks played over both the Relay and the MusicStreamer II DAC. (Fairness statement: The MusicStreamer II is a different animal than the Relay. It is a USB connected asynchronous audio DAC able to decode PCM formats from 16-bit, 32kHz to 24-bit, 96kHz. The Relay decodes PCM 24-bit formats but not 32-bit without conversion. Mass Fidelity doesn't state at what bit rate however.)

Technicals aside, the audio from the Relay was good, very good in fact, but not excellent. Using the Mac Mini the distortion was no longer noticeable (therefore pointing a finger at the iPad Air.) However, the high end EQ boost was still evident. Still, the audio quality was good ---clear, clean and enjoyable.

Let me put this another way:

* Casual background listening: Just about any Bluetooth device will do including the TP-Link Music Receiver and the Relay.
* Casual listening: The Relay with the iPad will do fine.
* Serious listening: The Relay holds its own and in an impressive manner.
* Super serious (audiophile) listening: Here the Relay holds a second place to a direct USB connection via the MusicStreamer II. The exceptional clarity, flat response and super low distortion of the MusicStreamer II exceeds that of the Relay.

To sum up then, I am very pleased with the Mass Fidelity Relay Hi-Fi Bluetooth DAC. It has much going for it including a super simple setup, right out of the box operation, classy look and decent audio that is just short of the audiophile level. For really serious listening, I still will be using my SACD player or my MusicStreamer II DAC. However, for just about everything else the Relay will clearly get the job done.

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