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Alesis Surge Electronic Cymbal Pack #2
Alesis Surge Electronic Cymbal Pack #2
Offered by Metrowalt
Price: $744.80
2 used & new from $400.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Noisy, limiting, but feel great., November 19, 2015
Alesis is known for making quality products for people on a budget. Their electronic drums are no different. In the persistent quest to make electronic drums respond as close to real acoustic drums as possible Alesis came up with a sort of hybrid electronic cymbal that gives you the authentic feel of a real cymbal as a trigger for electronic drums. The concept sounds great, but the execution leaves a bit to be desired.

Surge cymbals are created from a bronze alloy that has grooves similar to spun bronze. So technically you are striking the real thing. The sound is deadened with a vinyl coating on the bottom, and a special attachment on top. While this keeps them from ringing and acting like an acoustic cymbal it doesn't do much to reduce the noise made striking them. Don't get these if you are getting an electronic set to be quiet when you play. They don't connect to a cymbal stand like a standard cymbal, and have a special connection that keeps the cymbal from spinning. This is a good thing, because the biggest problem with the Surge cymbals would be even worse if they did spin.

The greatest drawback for these cymbals is you only have a limited amount of playable surface that actually triggers electronically. Essentially the spot on the cymbal where the Alesis logo is on is the only playable area (and angling up toward the bell). Strike anywhere outside that zone and you can get a dead zone, bad velocity translation and all sorts of misfires. The ride and crash cymbals to have a choke zone so at least there's that.

Surge cymbals are only for drummers who really, really hate rubber cymbal pads more than anything else in the world, and are willing to put up with the limited trigger range in order to eliminate them from their electronic sets. It's a great idea (I do love the way Surge feels when playing), but it's not really ready for prime time.

Camouflage: Shine (+Remixe) (RSD)
Camouflage: Shine (+Remixe) (RSD)
10 used & new from $16.45

4.0 out of 5 stars An eclectic array of remixes, November 10, 2015
Shine is from Camouflage's latest album, Greyscale. This album is filled with great songs, making it one of their best albums to date. Shine is the showcase track on the album and is arguably the best one too. The lyrics are inspiring and uplifting. The rhythms are make you want to move and the instrumentation is enough for any electronic music/synth pop fan to just melt over. This review is on the 12" vinyl for Shine along with the remixes inside. Here is what I can tell you about some select tracks:

Shine (Single Version) - This is essentially the album version, and is just about 20 seconds shy of what you would hear on the CD album.

If... - Is another song on the Greyscale track. I consider it among the best on the album so you aren't get a B Side here. Has a bit of a Depeche Mode feel to it, but just barely. It's a forward driving song with a sweet chorus.

Shine (Klaak Remix) - This one is remixed by The Klaak Syndrome. It's a bit more electro sounding with more analog sounding synths and voxes for instrumentation. The arrangement goes from minimalist to really busy with lots of 16th note synths filling the air. The chorus feels more understated than on the original, but is nevertheless lush and pretty.

Shine (Die Krupps Remix) - If any of you are familiar with the industrial/techno band Die Krupps you should know what to expect. While the singing is still smooth the instrumentation is hardcore 90's style electronic music. The bass is a detuned synth that does a play on the Peter Gunn theme, then when the chorus hits the song goes into overdrive with faster basses, distorted guitars and synths going for a more gothic/dance beat. It took me a bit to get used to, but I dig it.

Shine (Hans Nieswandt & Levent Canseven Remix) - A downplayed house mix with lots of atmospheric stuff going on all over the place. That's essentially what this mix is about. To sit back and soak in all the colors and textures the float around (or dance in a trance if you want). Kinda mellow vibe to it, but very nice.

Shine (Roedelius Schneider Remix) - Another electro sounding track using analog drums (Roland 808 sounding to be exact) and atmospheric rhythms and simple instruments to float the groove around you. A lot like the previous track in that respect, only this one is a bit more minimalist and even a bit jazzy in some respects. I don't think anybody will be dancing to this one as it has such a laid back feel while keeping the tempo of the song intact. At best something else to zone out to, at worst a nice background track to have throughout your day.

Shine (Pyrolator Remix) - My least favorite remix on this set. The song's tempo is slowed down significantly and it feels like a slowed down song. Some of the instrumentation gets a bit dissonant, but you do get some thick and lush synth pads that make the song interesting when the dissonant stuff is not playing. Still not a bad track, but it's half and half for me as parts don't do it for me while other parts do.

The Shine 12" record is the remix set to get, as it has about 70% more music than the CD single (which has just the single and two remixes). These remixes are very different animals, and are less geared for dancefloor DJs than you would expect. Still it's worth a look for electronic music fans who get into downtempo.

Price: $0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing comeback song., November 10, 2015
This review is from: Shine (MP3 Music)
Camouflage is back, and in rare form. Shine is a great track that gets your attention from the start, then almost calls out for you to reply, "yes you have my attention", then to bust open with a anthem style chorus that's catchy and uplifting. Shine isn't necessarily a dance track, as the rhythm doesn't hit your regular 4/4 club beat, however it's definitely a song to pick your spirits up and want you to get up and move. The synths are lush. The singing is inspiring. The music is completely accessible and catchy. I am hard pressed not to call this Camouflage's best song yet.

The sample is too short for you to hear this awesome chorus, so I recommend a video search on Youtube for this song to really get the full effect of it. If you are an electronic music fan you won't be disappointed.

Count On Me
Count On Me
Price: $5.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of really sweet remixes!, November 10, 2015
This review is from: Count On Me (MP3 Music)
Getting remixes can be a challenge sometimes. You never know if the mixes are worth it. I can say with confidence these remixes are worth it. Count On Me is an amazing synth-pop song from Camouflage with Peter Heppner of Wolfsheim fame singing duet with Marcus Meyn that has a super catchy chorus and hooks that make this song very uplifting and inspiring. Each mix in this single retains most, if not all, of the magic of the original song. Better yet you get to hear the song be explored in various interesting variations. Here's a breakdown of the tracks:

Count On Me (Single Version) - This isn't just a radio version of the album version. On the contrary it's an alternate mix produced by Camouflage's drummer Jochen Schmalbach. It can almost be considered an acid/downbeat mix reminiscent of the old Justin "Just Rite" Strauss remixes back in the 80's and 90's. The song is almost completely reworked with different synths and a straight four on the floor beat with lots of additional percussive instrumentation playing on the high end. It's a really neat way to make the song a single.

Count On Me (Demo Mix) - This is the song in its original, non album released form. There is no Peter Heppner in this version with Camouflage bandmate Oliver Kreyssig handling the duet with Marcus. The song is very close of the album version. It sounds like Oli does more harmonies in various parts of the song, which make this version a keeper even if it isn't the cut that made the album.

Count On Me (Die Wilde Jagd Remix) - Sounds like a very different animal, but still retains the hooks and grace of the original song. The song has a lot of rock elements on it like more acoustic sounding drums with marimbas, electric guitars and bass sounds laying down the rhythms along with the synth instruments making this a song full of texture from different music styles. This is essentially an instrumental where you get to soak up the atmosphere of the song with just some backing vocals coming in near the end.

Count On Me (Klaak Remix) - This remix was done by The Klaak Syndrome, and feels a lot more like a classic Camouflage song. Vintage synth instruments headline this version. It's a bit on the electro side of musical styles. Pretty much follows the song structure of the original version, but sounds like something the band made further back in their history. Very nice flashback.

Count On Me (Chevy Baccole Oceanside Mix) - Another rock sounding mix. This one feels more like something you would hear in pop radio. The drums and guitars are even more acoustic/rock sounding than on Jagd's mix. There is still plenty of synths, but this version goes further into the realm of something you would hear in a teen movie without losing the elements that still make the song great.

Shine (88 Ninety's "Orbiting The Sun" Remix) - Shine is the title track for the Greyscale album and is well worth your attention. This mix is a bit faster and is very much a dance floor mix. Vocals are vocoded and processed for a rhythmic effect. The drums are a dance beat and the bass more of a tight acid track. I think you lose a little bit of the impact of the chorus you had on the original version in this mix. Follows the original song framework, but with a longer tag at the end (likely for DJs to intermix the next song). This is one of the better Shine remixes I have heard.

The Count On Me single is what a remix set should be. Lots of good sounding variations of the song in question. Be aware these singles are also out on a limited edition CD digipak (1000 copies) and vinyl (500 copies) in case you want a hard copy. Camouflage is one of my all time favorite bands, and this single is definitely a keeper.

MotorMax Dyna City Playset - Gas Station
MotorMax Dyna City Playset - Gas Station
Price: $14.49
6 used & new from $6.65

4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of imagination potential. Kinda pricey for what you get though, October 29, 2015
This is an accessory for the DynaCity play system, which is a collection of little sets like this that you can combine together to make a larger cityscape via interconnecting roads and ramps. This particular set is a gas/service station with a little convenience store. The "pump" and store are on the top level while the service station is under it. Most of the interactive play is about driving the car through the station, but you also have a service ramp that lifts up, a drive through gate that opens and closes and a place to drive and park inside the station. Might not sound like much but with a kid's imagination they can go far doing things like pumping gas, getting a bag of chips at the store or getting their car fixed.

Assembly is easy, but a bit precarious. The top cover of the gas station is not very solid and can topple with rough play. The lifting service ramp not smooth by any stretch. The interconnecting parts that you connect to other playsets generally work fine, but there are those wayward pieces that connect too loosely.

In of itself it's hard to justify the current price tag for this little toy that is much better served as part of a bigger collection to connect to (which can add up in costs). You are better off investing in one of the larger sets, and the 6-in-1 actually includes this playset (has a different car though). My kid loves the Dyna City play system, and in spite of some quality control issues they really do deliver on the fun.

Despicable Me Minions Minions Sound Pad
Despicable Me Minions Minions Sound Pad
Offered by ETEB STORE
Price: $19.62
57 used & new from $19.62

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pricey for what you get., October 27, 2015
Here's my quandary. On one hand this sound pad is kind of a cheap product that doesn't quite deliver in a way I would consider worth the current price. On the other hand it's the only soundboard I know of available with the Minions characters, which my son loves. If your kid loves the Minions and you think they will enjoy hearing the giggles and other noises from these characters in spite of not getting as much as it could have been then you're all set.

The sound pad has 39 different sounds, which sounds like a wide variety until you look under the hood. There are three "banks" of sounds, or sound modes with 13 different sounds per mode: Singing, Laughing and Speaking. The singing portion is as it sounds with Minions having a tonal voice laid out on the keyboard. The thing is I only notice about four separate sounds while the rest are just the same sound pitched differently like the old samplers did back in the 80's. Laughing mode does seem to give you 13 different laughs, but many of them sound very much alike with not a whole lot of variation (lots of giggles, but not so much all out laughter, guffaws and whatnot). The speaking section is about the most disappointing, as I was hoping for a full set of 13 words or phrases that my kid loves to imitate. Instead it's more like vocalized expressions than actual speaking... and they even added additional laughs in this section. I have seen impulse items that felt like you got more speaking than this thing.

On a better note this is a multi-timbral sound pad. That means you can get up to three different sounds to play at the same time. That means harmonies on the singing bank, a chorus of laughs on the laugh bank and so on. The pad itself is very slim and can easily fit just about anywhere. The keys are numbered and include a little sheet as a number guide to play songs like Jingle Bells, London Bridge, Ode to Joy and I think five other tunes. The keys themselves are just pressure sensitive sections of a flat board and are not separate keyboard keys. Batteries are easily replaceable.

The Minions Sound Pad is a neat idea, but with so-so execution. If they'd have a better selection of sounds this would be a home run. As I said before if you you think your kid will love this regardless of the limited variations and don't mind the premium price point (I would have felt a little more comfortable at $9 instead of the current price) then I believe it will deliver well enough.

Lowrey's Beef Jerky, Original, 18-Count Sticks (Pack of 8)
Lowrey's Beef Jerky, Original, 18-Count Sticks (Pack of 8)
Price: $31.92
4 used & new from $31.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Favorite All Around Jerky Anytime, October 25, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have loved Lowrey's jerky since I was a boy, and now my son loves them too. It's been getting harder and harder to find them locally, and I have always been leery of buying foods online. We decided to take a chance and get these. And you know what? We have no regrets. The buckets of jerky came in and they are just as good as when we get them at the store (as in well ahead of the expiration date). If you know Lowreys and can't find them this is really a great way to get them.

If you never had Lowrey's jerky it's closest competitor is Slim Jim in regards to jerky. In other words you get thin strips of beef pre-formed that come six to a vacuum bag. You have three of these bags per package, which gives you 18 pieces of jerky per box. If you are thinking Jack Links or other jerky is kind of free form with various sized pieces, or the thick strips of jerky you see on single packages this isn't it. If you compare them to Slim Jim's Jerky they are fairly larger strips, and they have a heartier taste with a slightly less peppery spice to them. In a word: good.

I have been reading reviews that mention having mold on their jerky, and this is simply untrue. That's not mold at all. The truth may not be all that much better to some of you, but it's a fact of life for red meat. What they are seeing is congealed grease or fat. Remember this is real beef, which has fat in it. The pieces are formed from the real deal so now and then some of the fat from the beef will collect on the meat. There isn't enough to clog any arteries on its own so don't worry. And if it really bothers you it's not hard to just wipe off.

For me the recommended "freshness" on a Lowrey's beef jerky is six months from the expiration date or longer. Luckily that's exactly what we got in our order. It seems at that date you get a best level of moistness on the meat. And yes the jerky is good six month out or even longer. In the past I have had Lowrey's jerky past it's expiration date and the meat still tasted good, if just a bit dryer than I like. I did notice ordering online is a little bit more expensive than what we were paying when our local store carried them. So if you know you can get it locally I would check prices first. This isn't a way to get a bulk discount.

Lowrey's beef jerky is still my favorite all around jerky to have around the house. Sure there are better jerky's I like getting now and then, but to put something in my son's lunchbox or to grab a couple as a snack you can't beat Lowrey's.

The Making of Judge Dredd: In the Future, One Man is the Law
The Making of Judge Dredd: In the Future, One Man is the Law
by Jane Killick
Edition: Paperback
32 used & new from $2.82

4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of behind the scenes photos and covers lots of areas, October 25, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Lots of big movies out there use a lot of different techniques to make that film come to life. This is especially true for science fiction films. 1995's Judge Dredd may have not resonated with the public as much as it hoped, but the film certainly did have a lot of stuff going on in it. From special effects to costumes and props. From models and animatronics to full size sets and vehicles. A lot of effort was put into making Judge Dredd. This book gives you a pretty good look at that effort. I won't call the book perfect, and as a person who loves to find out more about the world they made it was a complete dud, however I will call it extensive.

The book is broken up into five parts, and is filled with behind the scenes photos. If you like seeing production stills this book delivers. To me this making of book feels a bit imbalanced. While a lot of space it taken on sections that don't seem to warrant it other sections end up just giving you just a little bit of detail (especially on the making of props and other interesting designs) when more on how it was done would have been better. Since there is so much to cover I guess I can't really blame them. Here's the break down on sections:

2000 AD - This section is all about where Judge Dredd came from. It's a long look at the comics and how they influenced the public at large. There are lots of comic images from various eras. You get to see examples of famed artists who worked on the comics like Ron Smith, Simon Bisley, Carlos Ezquerra and more. It shows just how much love there was for the source material to the producers of the film.

Judge Dredd in (development) Hell - This section talks about what it took to move from just an idea to make a movie based on a hard core and violent comic book character to actually getting the budget and greenlight to do it. It's a very long winded chapter that kind of goes on and on over little details or goes off into tangents hardly related to getting the Judge Dredd movie a thumbs up. Of all of the chapters this was the hardest for me to read without getting bored.

Making it Real - This is the real meat and potatoes of the book. Design and production of just about everything is revealed in this chapter. At 80 pages you get a lot, but like I said before this book doesn't go into too much detail on each aspect. Just enough to let you know how it was made, or how it was thought up. But if you are looking for a "how to" on any aspect of filmmaking you won't get much here.

Postproduction - This one also goes into design and production, but focuses more on stuff like the model making, green screen composites and other post production processing. It's about the same as the previous chapter in giving you a taste of what goes into these aspects of the film, but not so much to give you notes on doing it yourself. It is interesting reading on some of the decisions they made in the movie, including ones that sounded like bad ones (make the guns bigger!!).

Storyboards - If you like storyboards this is the chapter for you. 24 pages of nothing but storyboards of prominent scenes in the movie. The storyboards themselves are a bit small, but not hard to see (just not big and beautiful). The trade off for the small images is you get LOTS of storyboards.

The Making of Judge Dredd didn't deliver on what I wanted most, and that's some background information on the fictional world they created. It would have been great to get some more details on the cool stuff in the film like the Aspen Prison Shuttle, the venerable Lawgiver pistol, the flying Lawmaster bike and so much more. The book shows you how much detail that went into making all the vehicles, weapons, and locales for the movie. Would it hurt to let us in on the details you put into your work?

Considering this is a "Making of" and not "The World of" I really can't complain. Either way I really enjoy the massive amount of nice pictures this book holds, and reading about how they did a few things was cool. If you enjoyed the movie, or at least enjoyed the designs of the film, this book has a lot to offer.

Sonimart Premium Standard Replacement Toothbrush Heads 2-pack, replaces Philips Sonicare HX7022 E-Series Standard, fits Philips Advance, CleanCare, Elite, Essence, and Xtreme Brush Handles
Sonimart Premium Standard Replacement Toothbrush Heads 2-pack, replaces Philips Sonicare HX7022 E-Series Standard, fits Philips Advance, CleanCare, Elite, Essence, and Xtreme Brush Handles
Offered by Sonimart
Price: $14.95
2 used & new from $14.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Held out just as good as the Sonicare brand., October 22, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I got these replacement brushes due to their affordability. So far I'm not disappointed. They last just as long as Sonicare's own replacements. The one thing I did notice was the firmness of the bristles are a bit lower than what I normally notice from Sonicare. When I first get a Sonicare replacement the bristles are a bit hard and I can feel the difference on my teeth. After a while either I adjust to the firmness or they break in and everything feels normal. With these I never needed that break in period. Don't know if that's a plus or minus, but it is what it is. If you are looking for a good refill for your Sonicare electric toothbrush but don't want to spend the full price they charge this is a good alternative.

Roland JU-06 | Limited Edition JUNO-106 4 Voices Synthesizer Module
Roland JU-06 | Limited Edition JUNO-106 4 Voices Synthesizer Module

4.0 out of 5 stars A beloved synth comes back to life., October 22, 2015
Roland is bringing back some of their classic signature synths in a series called the Roland Boutique. They announce it as a limited edition series, but I am confident they intent to sell as much as they can. Of the three synths in the series this one I believe holds the highest distinction (some will argue the JP-08 holds that title) as it emulates the venerable Juno 106, an extremely popular analog synthesizer used by legendary electronic artist like Vangelis, Vince Clark, The Pet Shop Boys, The Chemical Brothers, BT, and dozens of others. Now you get a chance to own a really close emulation of the venerable synth along with the familiar control panel and some expanded features.

Roland uses their proprietary Analog Circuit Behavior technology to simulate the variances of the transistors and voltage controlled circuits of the original Roland Juno 106 to create an authentic analog sounding virtual synth. Like the other Roland Boutique synths you get a sturdy metal top frame and professionally tuned sliders and controls set on a backlit panel with two ribbon controllers for pitch bend and modulation (plus you can audition sounds using a ribbon slider). Just about all of the controls from the original synth are here. Every parameter slider and switch are present along with the patch buttons. The only thing really missing is the key transpose and patch load/save buttons. As an added perk the high pass filter on the JU-06 is a variable slider instead of the static four settings levels on the original Juno. An additional bonus that wasn't on the Juno 106 is the inclusion of a versatile 16 step sequencer.

This little tabletop synth uses a single micro USB connector to handle power, MIDI and 24bit 44.1kHz stereo audio outputs to connect to your DA using drivers provided on the Roland website (why they don't include a disc with the drivers is beyond me). This same driver can also back up or load your saved patches onto your PC for quick change outs. If you are on the road no problem. This baby can be powered by standard batteries and has a semi-decent mini-speaker for sound.

So how does it sound? I have heard the JU-6 and Juno 106 back to back and I will say it's a close call, but not all patches are a 100% match in sounding exactly like the original. The percussive patches are very, very close. Organ and piano sounds are pretty close, but I notice subtle tonal differences. Most important (at least in my opinion) are the strings, which are what made the 106 famous. The signature string sounds are really good with some of them 100% spot on! I do notice a few of the JU-06 string patches don't quick sound as "big" as the original. This may not make much of a difference for some of you. Especially after adding the patches to an ensembled arrangement. If I didn't hear them back to back I would likely not notice the differences at all. Still if I were you I would preview the sounds yourself just to be sure.

One other thing to consider. The JU-06 has only four voice polyphony, which is less than the original Juno 106's six voice. That limitation can make a difference for some musicians. One solution is you can pair two JU-06 synths together and get a superior eight voice polyphony. Also if you must have a keyboard Roland does offer the K-25M as a pretty slick two octave keyboard that attaches perfectly to a Roland Boutique synth.

It's not an absolutely perfect emulation of the Juno 106, but it is extremely close. Closer to it than anything else you can find out there. If you long for those glory analog days I'm betting this baby will deliver. Just keep in mind the polyphony issue.

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