Reviews related to : Music/CDs

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Deezer in 2021

While some may be content to listen to music on their phone or in their car there are those who want more from their streaming service like better quality output to be enjoyed through quality headphones or speakers and there Deezer have solutions for you with their Hi-Fi service that also offers some recordings in 360 degree surround sound.
I have looked at Deezer several times over recent years, the reason I keep looking is that they continue to enhance their offerings. They have long had a feature that allows you to find the title of a playing tune from the playing notes – providing the innovation is not too far from the original - now they have a new feature that allows you to find the title when all you have is some of the lyrics.
Having recently told you about Primephonic (Classical only), Spotify and Deezer here is another service this one however concentrates on the quality of reproduction their lowest level useful on SmartPhones is called Normal and then above that High, Hi-Fi and then Master the last only available from your PC.
Sixty million tracks are what they say they have, as regular readers will know my Genre is Jazz and certainly there is a good selection for me. So apart from the quality which as stated you do need a PC for is the ‘Master’ however a lot of older recordings are not available in this quality. What extra Tidal has is Videos as well as music and currently these are not available on Deezer or Spotify.
For less than £500 you can buy a rather nice electronic keyboard from Casio. While I do play a bit this deserved better than my touch so a retired dance band pianist friend of mine tried it in my garden and as I thought he would be, he was rather impressed with the sound.
What you get for your money is the keyboard, music stand, damper pedal and mains lead. The 8watt internal speakers are plenty for a home room and if you are a total novice this can be muted via headphones so the rest of the household do not need to suffer. However for me anyway this is not the total novice’s keyboard others are available at a smaller amount of octaves and lesser quality.
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Deezer 'Hi-Fi'

Most streaming services are only MP3 but just a few offer a Hi-Fi mode and while you have a subscription you can even download your music to play back when no Internet is available or when only more expensive mobile data is the only option.
Listening while on trains, buses or tube is not only a relaxation but it also avoids the extreme noise of some tube trains through tunnels when no signal to stream is available, you just get your own sounds at a level to suit your ears. While you can still log into Deezer via the Internet the long awaited Deezer Desktop is now finally out of Beta.
Not my Genre of choice, however I can appreciate it, and even if your Genre is whatever passes for pop music today a large amount of it is based on the notes of classical tunes even if they are sometimes delivered in a different order and often to a different beat. This is also true of what is my Genre jazz which now stretches back over 100 years.
While both Deezer and Spotify offer a good amount of classical music as well Qobuz to mention but three this service from Primephonic is totally classical. While this service is not new it now has extra features including something that is both useful and possibly vital for those travelling, first to save mobile data and second to save sanity when journeys do not run to time. My first look was as Sergey Rachmaninov and his Piano Concerto No.
Deezer is one of the most popular streaming services, however often people want to stream music when they are not at home on their Wi-Fi, and even if mobile data is available – it certainly is not on most tube lines – it is an extra cost. One solution is to save music when you stream on your Wi-Fi and then replay it when out and about, and with Deezer this is an option.
While you can only download for later playback with a ‘paid subscription’ you can investigate if your Genre of music is well catered for with a free trial and one of the best places to start is with one of the range of pre-selected playlists, find a tune by an artist that you like and then explore the whole CD to check if other tracks please you. For a while I have been tracking ‘Deezer Desktop’ as its very long BETA period has been evolving.
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Deezer Hi-Fi

One of life’s less arduous tasks is listening to music and streaming music from a site that has a great deal of music in my genre of choice is even better. I have told you about Deezer's normal offering recently. Here is a quality more suited to listening in the home through good quality speakers, this is Deezer Hi-Fi.
Anyone can view the content on Deezer and indeed stream the content in low fi but you will have to put up with adverts after around a couple of tracks and indeed some tracks and even some whole CD’s will be unable to be played.
With a range of versions, MAGIX has released its latest music making software.
MAGIX, the popular provider of multimedia software, has just released a brand new version of its Music Maker product.  Originally making its initial appearance some 23 years ago, this latest version of the MAGIX loop-based music production software is available in five different packages including a free download.
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Deezer 2018

There are a number of music streaming Apps out there and while most will perhaps settle on one, I get the chance to try several for an extended period. I first looked at Deezer four years ago and things have progressed since then.
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Qobuz (part 2)

Early in the summer I told you about what Qobuz expected and now after a few months of regular use I can tell you about what I have experienced, and, also what a rare answer from Qobuz has had to say to some of my concerns.
Another very mature product, as computers continue to get more powerful processors things that took a while to process can now be done almost instantly. Here is a good example you can manipulate your files easily and quickly and improve them effortlessly.
There are three versions of the latest edition of Magix Music Maker software the main difference between them is the number of instruments they come with. In the simplest terms this is electronic music creation software but as with all such software the simple part is putting the music down, the hard part is having the ear to know what is say an annoying earworm or perhaps just very occasionally a true classic composed piece.
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Qobuz Android

Last year I looked at a new high quality streaming service which also gave you a chance to download and save in 16 or 24 bit. Now with answers to some outstanding questions I look to a new version for Android (3.2) and more.
First for those new to Qobuz you pay a monthly fee and after that almost all the tracks they have are available to stream, in fact if you click a link you can also play them when offline. Their cheapest offering is for those happy with their music in MP3 quality. I was given a trial of their mid-range offering that allows you to stream in 16bit FLAC for most of their catalogue. Full details of all their offerings can be found on their site, link at the end.
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Spotify Premium

Most people will have heard of Spotify, the majority of them will have tried Spotify, the reason I am looking at the Premium version of Spotify is because I have recently reviewed another streaming product and it’s been a while since I last tested what Spotify has to offer.
After downloading the interface around 140MB I hardy recognised what I saw no difficulty in finding what you want and on not the most recent PC the search was fast. Vodafone is one of the Spotify content partners and you will find Spotify pre-installed on all their 4G offerings. Being able to play things offline on a PC may be less important when most now have broadband but could be useful when broadband is down.
Another of my rare forays into my passion – Jazz – before some think of various less pristine pastimes. I have known Nigel for many years and watched his undoubted talent grow and indeed I did feature some of his work in an earlier article.
Here there are two new albums which show his versatility as he is first shown as the powerhouse behind one of the UKs leading vocalists. Second in the format I first knew him in the Organ Trio with the excellent Pete Whittaker. However he has many other sides and I recently saw him light up a seven piece band and he also plays many other styles so ‘jazz guitarist’ must be the only way to describe the man who is at home with all styles of jazz.
These are both mature products and for not a great deal of money give you lots of control over your data. Both packages work with music and give the best output available from the data input. They are Samplitude Music Studio and Music Maker both from Magix and both 2014 versions.
Without spending thousands of pounds you can produce great sounding music. While it will work with Windows XP the other specifications probably mean it will be a Windows 7 or 8 PC as you need 1.5 GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. 4.3GB of hard disc space and at least a 1024x768 display. Finally to load the software you need a DVD Drive. This product has won awards between 2005 and 2013 for its software.
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CD v Download

With downloads becoming more popular is the CD in danger of going the same way as vinyl? In one of my occasional forays into my passion of jazz I tell you about one such release that is only available as a high quality download, while a couple of others are CD or download all are from the British label NAIM.
By download I do not mean low quality MP3 or even the higher quality 320kbps often used as downloads from places such as iTunes. In fact the download quality is more than twice that of Wav files found on CDs as it is 24bit and 96kHz. Mind you the downloads will be big the one I did is available in WAV or FLAC and in the WAV format is 1.8GB for a CD of just under an hour.
While better known for its DAB radio products, PURE offers an Internet-based service called the Lounge that you can inspect.
Owners of one of the more recent PURE DAB radio models with Wi-Fi and Internet radio capability will have already encountered the Lounge.  For those unfamiliar with this feature, I should explain that the Lounge is PURE’s online portal providing a gateway to an environment of Internet radio and on-demand content made up of podcasts, listen again programmes and a collection of ambient sounds captured from natural phenomena.
This is a small 32 key keyboard that connects via USB to your PC. The software is what makes this small keyboard something that really stand out it is Sibelius First a slightly cut down version of the full product that costs several hundred pounds.
The keyboard is 42x10.5x2cm, so the keys themselves are smaller at 7x2cm and the black keys 4.5x1cm in size. You have 19 white keys and 13 black keys however with the aid of the seven buttons on the left side of the keyboard you can raise of lower octaves to get a full keyboard. Here you will also find a volume knob to control sound. The box describes it as ‘32 note ultra-portable keyboard controller’ which although a bit of a mouthful describes it.
Did you realise the iPod first appeared over ten years ago? What started as a music player to challenge other manufacturers MP3 offerings has now become a brand that has spread its wings and gone on to be far more than that?
Here are twelve musical facts about those years. Do you know the year in which each of these happened? Check your answers with those at the end of the following review to see if you got them all. While I have not had an iPod for more than half that time it has still got lots of duplicates, untitled tracks and as for missing artwork …. So here Real Networks bring you Rinse that utilises the Gracenotes database to remove duplicates, give tracks correct titles and find that missing artwork.
While there are hundreds of iPod/iPhone docks around few products are currently coming to market that are in the hi-fi category. This product currently available in Aldi stores has CD and FM radio as well as the iPod iPhone capability.
The main unit is 26x16x24cm the last figure the depth is with mains and speaker cables inserted. The speakers are slightly bigger at 31x18x23cm. Both the main and speaker units have the same matt black colour. The speaker faces have two wire (effect) grills and the rear has a small indent and the speaker wires are hard wired. The only change from the matt black are two small silver grey areas between the speaker grills that match with a circular knob just above the central area of the main unit.